Piłsudski the Patriot?

Piłsudski CartoonPoland’s greatest hero and perhaps greatest leader was without doubt Józef Piłsudski, affectionately known by the masses as “the Marshall” (Marszałek = head of the armed forces) or “Granddad” (Dziadek). He is regarded as the father of the Polish post WWI independence movement and the person who single-handedly made Poland’s independence a reality. In a word, the father (or even grandfather) of the nation. The man is Poland’s ultimate hero. Thanks to Piłsudski’s military nous (and a great big slice of luck), Poland was able to defeat the Red Army in 1920: the so-called Vistula Miracle (Cud nad Wisłą) and fortify their newly regained independence and position within Europe. Many claim that had Piłsudski lived into the 1940s (he died in 1935), Hitler would never have had the balls to move on Poland.

Proud PiłsudskiChoice Words
Anyway, I love the guy because despite the mythical status that he holds among average Poles, he was quite the character. I’ve been doing some research on the man and it seems that he wasn’t quite the chivalrous knight we might think him to be. In fact, Piłsudski had quite a temper on him and a particularly interesting way with words.

In this post, I’m recounting some of his choicest statements, opinions and words of wisdom. Well… the most interesting opinions according to my humble self, of course. A great leader? A hero? A patriotic? Take a look at this selection of jewels and judge for yourself. Here are the quotations:


Piłsudski is doing the battlefield rounds when he spots one of his severely wounded soldiers screaming and shouting:
“Czego krzyczysz… tylko noga? A tamtemu głowę urwało i nie krzyczy…”
(Why are you shouting? It’s just your leg? That guy had his head torn off and he’s not shouting…)

Describing Poland and the Poles:
“Naród wspaniały, tylko ludzie chuje.”
(A wonderful country but the people are arseholes/pricks/dicks)

Commenting on the importance of religion:
“Religia jest dla ludzi bez rozumu.”
(Religion is for people with no mind)

Piłsudski was asked what the policies of his party were:
“Najprostszy z możliwych. Bić kurwy i złodziei…”
(The simplest possible: beat the hell out of the prostitutes and thieves…)

Commenting on the nature of Polishness:
“Umiłowanym stanem Polaków jest niezdecydowanie.”
(The preferred state of Polish people is indecisiveness)

Asked what he thinks about Poland, the ‘Marshall’ said:
“Rzeczpospolita to wielki burdel, konstytucja to prostytutka, a posłowie to kurwy!”
(The Republic is a great big whorehouse, the constitution is a prostitute and the MPs are whores!)



24 thoughts on “Piłsudski the Patriot?

  1. The great man spoke a lot of truth… You can tell he didn’t have an army of spin-doctors and PR specialists primping him.

    Actually this ties in to something I’ve been thinking about recently; people in this part of the world (Russians, Slovaks among others) often moan that they can only follow a ‘wódz’, a single, strong leader, and can’t evolve communal decision-making democratic structures for themselves. Whither Solidarity without Walesa and the late Pope, for example? Is there any truth in that, youthinks?

    Wd Poland have established a post-1918 identity under some other contemporary politician? What about a Poland formed under Dmowski? (something which sends chills down my spine, from what I know of his views….)

  2. Would Dmowski do better? I definitely think not. I too find his ideas pretty frightening but I suppose that isn’t surprising with him being one of the major ‘endecja’ (Narodowej Demokracji) figures. Interestingly, Jarek Kaczyński sees himself as the next great endecja leader while trying also to mimic Piłsudski’s policies which I find utterly confusing, in much the same way that Kaczor is a right-winger with very leftist policies. That’s Polish politics for you.

  3. Where do you get the idea that Kaczyński sees himself in the Endecja camp? He idolizes Piłsudski, which would put him firmly on the Sanacja side of things. The Kaczyńskis, despite all the mind-boggling things they’ve said on various occasions, have never shown themselves as either racists, anti-Semites or hard-core nationalists. And PiS is all Sanacja, at least on the rhetorical level – whipping the country into shape, getting rid of crooks and corruption, putting things right again.

    The Piłsudski thread would also partly explain the Kaczyńskis leftie leanings. Piłsudski had a stint with the Polish Socialist Party before becoming Supreme Leader, and he was always a great believer in state power. Remind you of anything?

  4. I beg to differ. By the very fact that they power-shared with LPR and the buffoons of the Samoobrona clearly shows their lack of moral scruples.

  5. Labels are very dangerous but neither Lech or Jarosław Kaczyński are ANYTHING like Piłsudski. Not even close.

  6. I did say “on the rhetorical level”. Obviously the reality of the thing wasn’t pretty. Neither was the reality of Sanacja, which from what I gather was in fact very corrupt and even adopted some of Endecja’s uglier policies after Piłsudski’s death.

    @Borek – I didn’t say they were LIKE Piłsudski, but that they idolized him and were under the strong influence of his ideas. I agree that the two of them together don’t have half the intellectual stature of the old man, but that doesn’t change what I wrote.

  7. Labels, either way, do not really mean much. Different epochs, different people. Endecja and Sanacja cannot be compared to either of the Kaczyńskis but I think that they have a lot in common with both factions.

  8. What do the Kaczyńskis have in common with Endecja? Mind you, I’m not a fan, but if you dislike someone you might as well do it for the right reasons.

  9. The views of the former PiS-LPR-SO government coalition were full of xenophobic and bigoted (people and) views. To be more accurate, LPR is the true child of Liga Polska (later becoming ND) rather than PiS but many politicians within PiS have a distinctly frightening affection for right-wing politics. Thankfully, many of them (Marek Jurek et al) have jumped ship (and are fast sinking).
    However, back to the main point… it is this right-wing tilt which smells of ND and that was the point I was trying to (poorly) make. Much appreciate your comments, by the way. 🙂

  10. Raf,

    This is an excellent post. JOZEF reminds me of a few people that I have associated with in the past. ‘Larger than Life’ characters.

    To answer the question you posted on my blog about what Lithuanians think about this particular Polish National Hero is no simply task! And I wanted to share this with perspective future members of a new forum for discussions about Lithuania and Lithuanians. So I’ll refer you to post that I’ve added to the forum. I would like to think that as the forum gains some momentum we will be able to share some thoughts with Poles who are interested in subjects of common interests.


  11. As an ignorant foreigner I would just like to point out that Kopeic Piłsudskiego is by far the coolest kopiec in Krakow and I am, therefore, a fan.

    I thank you.

  12. He was very handsome… Handsome and clever. “With one auspicious and one dropping eye”. And the rest – of course – is silence 🙂
    All good wishes.

  13. Pilsudski the Patriot…? Is he realy ?
    The honest discusion about J. Pilsudski can be only in Polish and after you read a books written by todays historian not those from the time of “Sanacja”.
    Here are some of this books;1) Wincenty Witos MOJE WSPOMNIENIA, Instytut Literacki Paryz 1964,2) Antoni Polozynski MARSZALEK JOZEF PILSUDSKI ODBRAZOWIONY – 2004,3) Henryk Pajak PONURA PRAWDA O PILSUDSKIM – 2005r
    4)Andrzej Garlicki JOZEF PILSUDSKI 1867 – 1935 and 5)
    ks. Jozef Warszawski PILSUDSKI A RELIGIA WYD 1999 r
    After you read this books you fid out the real Marszalek. There is no question about his contribution to Poland independent but also he is to blame for many wrong doings

  14. Pilsudski was in fact a socialist, a left leaner, a person who wanted people to be taken care of. He gave all minorities the same rights. He must not be mistaken for a nationalist (eliminating minorities and glorifying his own nation), he was more a patriotic socialist who tried to allow the independent nations that made up the USSR to be independent (Prometheianism).

  15. Well he was successful by the standards of success set by others attacking russia!
    Szumnarski stated he persecuted minorities, therefore it was a counter argument.

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