UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)


Poland Restored, Reborn, Regained: One Hundred Years On

09 November 2018, 9:00 am–5:30 pm

polonia restituta

This event is free.

Event Information

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Denys Holland Lecture Theatre
Bentham House
4-8 Endsleigh Gardens
United Kingdom

In the UK, France and many other countries, the centenary of the end of the Great War on 11 November 1918 will be marked with solemn commemorations. The emphasis will be on the terrible human cost of war, with victory downplayed. For several Central and Eastern European nations, however, the end of the First World War brought the achievement or restoration of independent statehood, whose anniversaries are celebrated. In Poland, 11 November is the principal national holiday, marking the re-establishment of an independent Polish state, 123 years after the final partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 1795.

In cooperation with the Embassy of the Republic of Poland, SSEES is hosting a major international conference to consider the meaning of the events of 1918 one hundred years on. Leading academics from Poland, the USA and the UK will reflect on the causes, consequences and contexts of Poles’ regaining of independence, at several levels, including the longue durée of Polish history. The topics to be discussed include the challenges of transformation from three empires to a single nation-state, albeit with numerous national minorities, faced by different communities – literati, soldiers, Jews and the Catholic clergy. A key theme will be the elements of change and continuity – particularly acute in the lands formerly part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, which became the eastern borderlands (kresy) of the Second Republic of Poland, as well as in the west, where the specific path of Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) merits particular attention as it involved the only entirely successful uprising in Polish history. Two papers deal with interactions between reborn Poland and its southern neighbor, a country which gained statehood in 1918, but which no longer exists – Czechoslovakia. A further vital question is the balance between the Poles’ own efforts and the decisions taken by world statesmen – notably President Woodrow Wilson – in the restoration of Polish independence.

The speakers will be Professor Andrzej Nowak, Professor Antony Polonsky, Professor Bolesław Biskupski, Professor Tomasz Schramm, Professor Anita Prażmowska, Dr Thomas Lorman, Professor Joanna Gierowska-Kałłaur, Dr Hubert Zawadzki, Dr Katarzyna Zechenter, Dr Andrzej Suchcitz and Dr James Bjork. The event will be introduced by Professor Diane Koenker, Professor Arkady Rzegocki (the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland), and Professor Richard Butterwick-Pawlikowski, and among the chairpersons will be Professor Anne White.

Draft Programme: