diplomat, historian, activist of the Polish Socialist Party (Polska
Partia Socjalistyczna, PPS), publishing also under the pennames
Os...arz and L. P³ochowski. B. Aug. 24, 1870, St. Petersburg,
father of Wanda Wasilewska, who in 1941 joined the Soviet Communist
Party, and in 1944 became vice-president of the Polish Committee
for National Liberation (Polski Komitet Wyzwolenia Narodowego, PKWN).
1893-94 Wasilewski was a member of National League (Liga Narodowa),
but in 1896 joined PPS. During World War I he was active in the
Polish National Organization (Polska Organizacja Narodowa, 1914),
Supreme National Committee (Naczelny Komitet Narodowy (NKN, 1915-1917),
and Central National Committee (Centralny Komitet Narodowy, CKN,
1917), as well with the Pi³sudski'ite Convent of Organization
A (Konwent Organizacji A) and Polish Military Organization (Polska
Organizacja Wojskowa, POW). In 1918-19 foreign minister, member
of various delegations for international conferences. From 1928,
member of the Head Council of PPS, from 1931 its vice-president.
From 1924, president of the Institute for Study of Recent Polish
History (Instytut Badania Najnowszej Historii Polskiej), from 1929
editor of Niepodleg³oœæ, from 1931
president of the Institute for Study of Nationality Issues (Instytut
Badania Spraw Narodowoœciowych). Author of many works, among
them Litwa i Bia³oruœ ("Lithuania
and Belorussia", 1912), Ukraiñska
sprawa narodowa w jej rozwoju historycznym ("The Ukrainian National
Cause in its Historical Development", 1925), Zarys
dziejów PPS ("A Short History of the PPS", 1925).
The selected fragments
are from the article "Skasowanie Rosji" ("Cancelling Russia"), Przegl¹d Polityczny, May 1924, vol.
3, pp. 71-73.
There can be no doubt that the Bolsheviks are masters of destruction. What
war weakened and undermined, they brought to ultimate ruin. Moreover,
they caused a further disintegration of social and political life.
The fanatical elimination of the intelligentsia, the liquidation
of a better part of the industrial proletariat, the dramatic fall
in the civilizational standards of the masses, the breakdown of
the means of transportation, the mental depravation of the masses
- all of this accompanied the Bolshevik regime. However, inflicting
ruin and destroying previous forms of life, the Bolsheviks simultaneously
- and unintentionally - created conditions that made the development
of new forms and patterns possible. Moreover, these new forms and
patterns, once they take root, make it impossible to recreate the
The dissolution of large agricultural properties
and the taking possession of land by peasants did not produce the
effects expected by the Bolsheviks and did not make peasants supporters
of communism. Nevertheless, a peasant landholder will under no circumstances
allow the return of pomyeshchiki.
Moreover, the Orthodox Church, so closely allied with the monarchy
and the class of large owners in former Russia, will not regain
its former importance. The Bolsheviks managed to bring about the
internal disintegration of the Church even in Great Russia, where
new feuding tendencies and currents have sprung up. [...]
There is one more area where the Bolsheviks
brought about the destruction of relations established under the
Tsars. This is the area of
nationality, in which the Bolshevik economy, should it perpetuate
itself, may lead to far-reaching consequences. Nationalist movements
within the Russian State, repressed with utmost effort under the
Tsars, assumed new forms of development as a consequence of Russia's
war defeats. It was already during the first Russian Revolution
(1905) that nationalist tendencies came to the surface, not only
in the western reaches of Russia, but also among the semi-barbarian
tribes of Eastern Siberia. The post-revolutionary reaction, however,
hampered their growth. It was only the disasters experienced by
Russia during the World War and the German occupation that drove
these movements onto the path of undisguised separatism. Yet not
all peoples held under the heel of Tsardom managed to detach themselves
from Russia. Even if we omit the Finnish and Turkic peoples and
tribes in the North and East, or Belorussia, where the national
movement was very feeble, the Ukraine, Georgia, Azerbaidzhan and
the mid-Asiatic khanats fell back under Russian domination.
The life of the tribes, peoples, and nations
of former Russia, awaking to independence, forced the Bolsheviks
to take their cultural aspirations into account. Perceiving their
power base in the Russian urban workers and in the urban population
in general, even in Great Russia the Bolsheviks had difficult access
to the countryside. What can we say, then, about regions inhabited
by integrated masses of alien tribal origin, which did not speak
Russian and therefore were totally inaccessible for the communist
propaganda, but were already entertaining national aspirations,
incipient or well-established? Driven by the desire to bring this
non-Russian-speaking peasantry into their fold, the Bolsheviks sought
ways to approach their mentality. Exploiting the nationalist aspirations
proved an efficient tool for taking control of the non-Russian countryside.
They started creating autonomous regions (oblast') and republics with homogenous
national populations, within the boundaries of former provinces.
The use of local languages in schools, courts, offices, self-government
bodies, etc. was introduced. A class of Communist intelligentsia
began to be developed by means of special schools and courses. This
intelligentsia, speaking in their native language, developed communist
literature and press, established reading rooms, theatres, etc.
In some places, for example in certain tribes of the Caucasus, the
communist intelligentsia began creating new literatures, previously
not existing in the given language. This was a formidable effort,
but ideological communism often gave way to practical nationalism,
far more appealing to the minds of the peasantry, especially those
professing Islam. [...] The Ukrainian, Tartar, Georgian, and other
nationalist elements joined the communists in their work and started
to have an ever-growing impact on the course of the nationalization
of life in particular republics and autonomous provinces. The cause
of combating Great Russian chauvinism was put on the agenda of the
Communist Party congresses. Comrades from Georgia, Turkestan, etc.
did not refrain from charging Russian comrades - communists like
them - with russificatory tendencies. Russia was eliminated and
today Soviet authorities publish decrees intended to combat the
tradition of using this word.