The Pilsudski Institute of America located in New York City is a non-for profit educational center with archives, library and art gallery dedicated to history of Poland and Polonia? Since 2008 the Institute has been working on digitization project. Lately some new collection has been added online:
1. The digitization of all documents from the Office of Head of State and Commander-in-Chief (Adiutantura Generalna Naczelnego Wodza) Józef Piłsudski has been completed. Now you can reach them on the Internet from every corner of the earth. This is a great convenience for all those who for various reasons are or will be interested in the history of Poland, Europe and the World in the period from November 1918 to the end of 1922. This does not mean, however, that we will not continue to provide these documents to people who come in person to the seat of our Institute in New York's Greenpoint. Not only professional historians, researchers from different disciplines and journalists, but also people who want to expand their knowledge of history or access to information about these interesting facts and events are welcome in the Pilsudski Institute. We will also provide e-mail assistance for those using our collections in the internet.
Our archival collection “Adjutancy - Commander-in-Chief” consists of 17,000 documents with a total of 40,000 pages. Searching, browsing or perusing them will be easier in the electronic form in the Internet than at the Institute, where you have turn over page by page in portfolios and folders to locate the information you need. Based on these documents one can capture the events of newly established Polish state, coming out of the partitions and the World War I. One can detect in them the great joy of independence and the great struggle for the shape of the reborn Poland, pulling the territories from the hands of the invaders and fighting for recognition of its sovereignty by the world. One can also see an almost unbelievable effort coupled with an equally incredible skills to quickly create, out the three former partitions, a functioning state able to defend itself against enemies attacking from the East, West and South. These documents reflect the struggles of the new state received often by hostility, not only by Germany and Bolshevik Russia, but also by the Czech Republic and Lithuania, the neighbors who like Poland obtained an independence as a result of the Treaty of Versailles. The United Kingdom under Lloyd George is not an ally, the Scandinavian countries and Belgium and the Netherlands are rather indifferent towards that fate of Poland. Only France sees Poland as its ally, mainly in the strategy towards Germany and to the Soviet Union. The resurgent Poland is supported by the United States led by its President Woodrow Wilson, but United States is far and the continuing threat posed by Germany and Bolshevik Russia are close. In these archival documents also comes through a sad truth that in the Bolshevik onslaught in 1920 Poland was completely alone, except for the advisory and moderately helpful French Military Mission. The fact that Poles saved Europe from the Bolshevik invasion indeed reached the politicians who know the imperial plans of Russia, but they quickly forgot about it.
2. Piłsudski Institute of America has completed the digitization of the fonds “Chief of General Staff of Polish Army, General Tadeusz Rozwadowski Papers”. All documents in this archival collection are now available on the Internet. They constitute a very important material for historians and people interested in the course of fighting the Bolshevik invasion of Poland in 1920. Most of the documents speak about the happenings in July, August and September of 1920. Among them are reports on the dramatic situation of Polish troops retreating from the Red Army and the report retracing the course of the Battle of Warsaw on 15 and 16 August. There are also reports showing the successive phases of Polish counter-offensive and pursuit of the Bolsheviks. Among many invaluable documents is the Operational Order No. 8358 / III of the Chief of General Staff, showing the organization of the three anti-Bolshevik fronts and defining strategic goals for each army. There is also the famous Secret Operational Order No. 10000 of 10 August 1920 written personally by General Rozwadowski after discussion with Jozef Pilsudski, with situational sketches depicting two variants of encirclement of the Bolshevik forces advancing on Warsaw, signed by all the commanders of the individual sections of the anti-Bolshevik front. Of key importance it is also the Supreme Commander Operational Order released on August 15, in which he announces his acquisition of the army high command. The next day Marshal Pilsudski himself joined the battle, directing the Wieprz river thrust against the rear of the Bolshevik troops. Subsequent orders and handwritten correspondence between Pilsudski and Rozwadowski speak of an exemplary agreement and cooperation of both commanders. One can also notice great respect and loyalty of Rozwadowski to Commander-in-Chief Piłsudski. Pilsudski appreciated his contribution in the form of promotion to Lieutenant General and an official letter of commendation.
The development a winning strategy would not be possible without the capture and decoding of the Soviet cipher messages, which included plans aimed at defeating the Polish army and capture of Warsaw. Those have also been digitized and can be seen in the Files of the General Rozwadowski.
3. We are presenting the next digital collection of the Pilsudski Institute: Maps Online. The online exhibition covers the maps from the archival fonds “Adiutancy - Commander in Chief”, as well as maps from other collections. The browser shows the historical map, the map area on a modern map and allows to zoom in bigger maps.
You can find a very interesting set of original maps of different parts of Europe in the years 1918 - 1922. The Battle of Warsaw is illustrated by daily maps presenting the situation on the fronts, the Bolshevik offensive and the retreat of the Red Army after the Battle of Warsaw. There are maps of state boundaries, planned and settled by treaties, location of bunkers, positions of the German armies and may other details, like the map of provisioning for the Lithuanian-Belarussian front. A rare 1941 map shows the details of the Fifth Column in the USA (nazi, communist and fascist).
As we progress with the digitization of our archival resources, we will add more maps. We invite all map lovers to visit our collection.
Dr. Iwona Korga, 2VP PAHA