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1919-1920 Polish-Soviet War

Following World War I, borders of nations not only changed, but new ideas respected no borders, old or new.

Nathan Patulski

on 12 October 2014

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Transcript of 1919-1920 Polish-Soviet War

Nie rzucim ziemi, skąd nasz ród.
Nie damy pogrześć mowy.
Polski my naród, polski lud,
Królewski szczep Piastowy.
We shall never forsake the homeland of our ancestors.
Our language shall never be extinguished.
We are Poland, we, the Polish people,
Descended from the royal line Piast.
Polish-Soviet War, 1919-1920
What is it...
What happened...
Why does it matter...
It was a war over ideals as much as territory.
Communism tried to conquer the world, literally.
With a different outcome we would not be
living in a free society today.
World War I ends with German, Austria-Hungarian, and Turkish defeat.
President Woodrow Wilson presents his "Fourteen Points".
The "Fourteen Points"
5. Border adjustments according to local support.
6. Russian self-determination, though an
expeditionary army was maintained to
assist Russia's fight against Communism.
13. Poland will be acknowledged as a free and
equal European nation.
Europe Before World War I
Select Ethnic Groups of Europe
Ethnic Ranges of Europe
1914: Russia enters World War I.
Receives millions of tons of munitions.
1917: Czar Nicholas II is captured with his family.
Russia sues for peace; exits World War I.
Lenin becomes the supreme communist leader.
Russia plunges into civil war, "Whites vs. Reds".
1918: Czar Nicholas II is murdered with his family.
Fears of the communists capturing the munitions.
Allied troops land to retrieve the munitions.
Evacuated six months later.
Slide A.
Slide B.
Slide C.

Border disputes
"There is no avoiding war;
except to the advantage of others."
No natural barriers to define a border.
Before World War I.
Ethnic Ranges Recap.
Borders following World War I.
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, c.1620
Commencement of Conflict
Lenin refused to recognize the new borders of Europe and ordered his new "Red Army" to reclaim the disputed areas and "liberate" the people.
Russian units begin an invasion of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
March 1919: The Polish Offensive
Seeing that war was certain, and that Russian forces were soon to arrive on Poland's borders, Józef Piłsudski, ordered a general offensive to take the fight to the Russians.
Russian Offensive, June 1919 - August 1920
Nearly a million Russian soldiers, under the command of Mikhail Tukhachevsky, overwhelm the Polish army of less than two hundred thousand, forcing them to retreat in a series of rearguard actions.
The Battle of Warsaw, August 12 - 25, 1920
Three Russian armies approach the Polish capitol, Warsaw, intending to take the city by force.
The Polish army digs in, training university students as plans are made for the battle.
Russian Plan of Attack
Polish Defensive Movements
The Russians attack with two armies against Polish trenches, machine gun, and artillery. By shear numbers they overwhelm outer defenses and storm suburbs surrounding Warsaw through strong resistance. Lenin celebrates in Moscow of Polish defeat, promising aide to other communist movements in Germany and France, to eventually "liberate" the world.
The Miracle on the Vistula
The university students hold the trenches and in areas attack the Russians, encircling Russian units and endangering the entire Russian expeditionary force.

At the Battle of Ossow, Father Ignacy Skorupka, who encourages the young men and leads them to victory is shot through the head.
The Russian army continued to fight forward even though the veteran troops of Poland's army strike on the northern and southern flanks of the Russian army. When the Russians finally retreat, Polish cavalry cut them to pieces.

England and France, who refused to help Poland because they believed the fight was hopeless, are stunned at the astounding scale of the victory.
October 5, 1920
Russia accepts terms of peace following the annihiliation of its army.
Peace of Riga
Russia recognized Poland and other countries according to the Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I.
Polish Victory
Russian dead: 60,000
wounded: Unknown
prisoners: 160,000

Polish dead: 48,000
wounded: 114,000
prisoners: 52,000
Communism remained isolated in Russia until the end of World War II.

Hitler comes to power ten years later promising to protect Germany from the "evils" of communism.

Communist movements in western Europe grow weak until the beginning of the Great Depression when their membership peak.

Following the death of Lenin, Stalin eliminates many in the old regime whom he blames for the defeat of the Polish-Soviet War, promising future revenge.
"For our freedom and yours."
Flanking Movement
Frontal Attack
Flank Attack
Flank Attack
Encirclement Movement
Full transcript