Causes, Conduct and Consequences

Russian Enrichment Program hosts lecture on Soviet-Polish War

By Sophia Gravatt
On February 21, 2020

 

Photo by Cora Bishoppetty:
Dr. Roger Reese, a professor from Texas A&M University, speaks on the Soviet-Polish War.

 

ASU’s Russian Enrichment Program on Feb. 10 hosted a lecture about the causes, conduct and consequences of the Soviet-Pol­ish War.

Dr. Roger Reese, a history professor at Texas A&M University, discussed the Sovi­et-Polish War in the context of World War I.

Reese said the origins of the war are not obscure but not that well-known, either.

“Poland was there, in the hearts and minds of the Polish people, but they were di­vided between three different empires,” he said. “They had been conquered and divid­ed in 1772, 1793 and 1795 between Prussia, Austria and Russia.”

He said the desire to reunite their country had never gone away but the only way to get Poland reconstituted as a nation-state would be if all three empires disintegrated si­multaneously.

In 1919 and 1920, Poland was at war with the Soviet Union and the Czechs and part of Lithuania. Romania was at war with Hunga­ry, the Czechs were at war with Hungary and Poland. All of the Baltic States were at war with the Soviet Union.

“So, this is really the Polish-Ger­man-Czech-Soviet War," he said.

Reese said the Soviets did finally get the Civil War under control in 1920.

“The Soviets start amassing forces to kick the Poles out and get their territory back or establish that border where they want it,” he said.

One of the premises Vladimir Lenin was dealing with was the Russian Revolution leading to the world-wide revolution.

“The Red Army, advancing across Eu­rope, would definitely spark that in Europe and then onto the rest of the world,” he said.

The Soviets created a cavalry army that was responsible for pushing the Poles back to Warsaw.

“The border is very much in favor of Poland,” he said. “They get a big chunk of Ukraine. It’s a mixed population. Is it really Poland, is it really Ukraine?”

One of the reasons the negotiation took as long as it did, until March of 1921, was because the westward Poles kept trying to move the border back, in the Soviet’s favor.

“So, Poland saved Europe from the Bolshevik Revolution,” Reese said.

Christian Borders, president of the Russian Club, said he thought it was good the Russian Enrichment Program brought Reese to ASU.

“It’s important to bring and expand on Russian and Polish culture and history on campus,” he said.

Senior Darby Cheek said he wanted to go because he is interested in Russian history.

“Dr. Reese was a captivating speaker and he did a good job,” he said. “I look forward to coming to the next one.”

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