Back to WHKMLA Main Index . WHKMLA, Students' Papers Main Page . WHKMLA, Students' Papers, 17th Wave Index Page

The Impact of Wars on the Polish Economy :
From the Jagiellon Dynasty to World War II

Korean Minjok Leadership Academy
International Program
Sung, Ho Kyung
Term Paper, European History Class, July 2012

Table of Contents

I. Introduction
II. Background
II.1 A Brief Summary of Polish History and the Context of Wars
II.2 Framework of Analysis
III. The Characteristics of the Wars Affecting Poland
III.1 Cause
III.2 Location of Battles
III.3 Size of Battles
III.4 Destructiveness of Weaponry
III.5 Behaviour of the Occupants
III.6 Results of Wars
III.7 Summary
IV. The Impact of Wars Affecting Poland
IV.1 Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War
IV.2 The "Deluge" - Second Northern War and Russo-Polish War
IV.3 World War II
V. Conclusion

I. Introduction
            Most of today's history textbooks in the English language focus on the vicissitudes which have affected Western European nations, namely countries like Britain, France, Germany, etc. The textbooks talk about the revolutions, the battles, and such little details of their history and emphasize the impact of these details. In stark contrast, however, is the miniscule amount of coverage Eastern European history receives in the same textbooks. It is to such extent that in many cases, a properly educated student will know the individual names of British monarchs while ignorant sometimes even of the names of the kingdoms that rose and fell in the eastern part of Europe.
            This situation is clearly concerning. Eastern European history, if not more important, is at least no less important than the history of the rest of the world. Poland, especially, has an influential role in history; not only a crippled victim of history at one time but also a major power that governed the largest territory in the entire continent at another. Poland also went through a unique experience when it reconceived itself as an elective monarchy in 1572, a bold step hailed as one of history's three great experiments on broadly based politics, along with Rome and the United States, according to the American historian Robert Howard Lord. [1] Compared to its significance in European history, it seems Eastern European history has clearly not been given enough attention. The first goal of this paper, therefore, is to inform the readers of the general happenings in Eastern Europe from the 1400's. Although this paper focuses mainly on Polish history, since Poland was a major power in Eastern Europe, hopefully this paper can serve as a fine general overview of Eastern European history as well.
            The main purpose of this paper, however, is not to simply summarize Polish history but it is to find the historical relationship between war, economy, and the power of one nation. War is arguably one of the most impactful events in a nation that can change the nation's fate for the next several hundred years, and the war's economic impact?both short-term and long-term?contribute considerably to such fate. Analyzing the impact of wars on the economy is therefore essential in helping us understand why a kingdom went down its road. Such analysis also might have significant future implications since identifying the critical factor that makes one war a catastrophe for one nation and another war a blessing will help in future strategic planning.
            By looking through the historical examples of Polish warfare and assessing the impacts the wars had on its economy, this paper wishes to reach a general conclusion on what aspects of war roughly conclude a war's impact on the economy. For the readers, hopefully this paper works both as a nice narrative of Polish (Eastern European) history and a way into a deeper understanding of the relationship between war and economy.

II. Background

II.1 A Brief Summary of Polish History and the Context of the Wars

            Before actually moving on to analyzing Polish wars, it will be helpful to present a brief summary of the history of Poland to inform the readers of the general context in which the wars took place in.
            Until the tenth century, the central eastern part of Europe had remained an un-reclaimed land of opportunity with only some forms of rudimentary political organizations here and there. In 966, Mieszko I, the first ruler of the Polans tribal union [2] and later the historically recognized founder of a Polish state, was baptized, and he went on to unify the West Slavic tribal lands, in turn introducing Latin Christianity to them. This choice of Roman Christianity actually threatened Poland's independence as questions on its merging into the Holy Roman Empire arose, but Mieszko and his son Boleslaw I's struggle to assert its independence prevailed in the end. After his father had established a distinct political entity, Boleslaw 'the Brave' established the Polish Church Province, pursued further territorial conquests, and was officially crowned as the first king of Poland in 1025. This was the beginning of the independent Piast Dynasty, the first historically identifiable dynasty of Poland that lasted until the 14th century. Soon after Boleslaw I's death, however, Poland was jeopardized as monarchy collapsed for a moment under Mieszko II, and even after its restoration by Casimir I, a division of the country among Boleslaw III's four sons and the following fragmentation of the state for the next few centuries further weakened and confused the state's status throughout the 11th to 13th centuries.
            Such internal disunion were fortunately settled and the state blossomed under the last two vigorous monarchs of the Piast dynasty, namely Wladyslaw the Elbow-high who ruled from 1305 to 1333 and his son Casimir the Great who succeeded his father and ruled until 1370. The two leaders brought about the golden age of Polish Middle Ages, and Poland "emerged as a powerful central European state controlling a considerable territory and playing the dominant role in the region." [3] Their achievements include: the reconstruction of the Wawel Castle in Krakow, the establishment of the University of Krakow, etc.
            Although Poland had elevated greatly in status by the 14th century, it was facing enormous threats from its enemies nearby. In 1226, one of the regional Piast dukes named Konrad I of Masovia had invited the Teutonic Knights to help him fight the pagans in Baltic Prussia. Ironically, the Teutonic Knights, with their wealth and power ever-growing, began to independently settle in large areas along the Baltic Sea, taking advantage of Polish political instability and over-stepping the lines set by the Polish duke. This inevitably brought about conflict regarding territory between the two parties which lasted until the beginning of the next dynasty, the Jagiellon Dynasty. Along with Poland's reunification in the 1330's and its marriage with Lithuania in 1386, it was in this context that in 1410, during the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War, the conflicts between the Teutonic Knights and resurging Poland culminated into the Battle of Grunwald (also called the First Battle of Tannenberg).
            While the Teutonic Knights presented a threat to Poland near the northern borders, the Mongols, on the other hand, pressured Poland from the east. The Mongols invaded Poland for the first time in 1240, severely damaging and depopulating the regions that they passed by, and they remained a threat to Poland from the east until the 14th century, invading the country several times more.
            After Casimir the Great's death, Poland experienced an absence of leadership as he had left only one daughter. At the same time, the pagan Grand Duchy of Lithuania was on the verge of being subjugated under the Teutonic Knights, expanding unstoppably with the raison d'etre of spreading Catholicism. As a desperate gamble, the ruler Jogaila of Lithuania accepted Latin Christianity in 1386 and married the daughter of Casimir the Great, Jadwiga of Poland. This dynastic union between the two made Poland the largest country in Europe, commencing the Jagiellon Dynasty which lasted until 1572.
            The first century of the Jagiellon Dynasty was mostly focused on strengthening the ties between the two states and stabilizing this largest state in Europe. During this dynasty, Poland expanded its sphere of power more to the east.
            In 1572, the last Jagiellon monarch died and then came another era of profound transformation for Poland. The Commonwealth took a bold step in turning the country into an elective monarchy, a system in which the szlachta, the nobles of Poland, elected the king who was to have life-long tenure but no right to designate his successor. This system was hailed as a great experiment inspired by the model of the Roman Republic. Under this system, the elite, about 10 % of the total population, could vote for its king. But at the same time, some historians have condemned this step as a commencement of the enfeeblement of the central government and in turn the gradual withering of Polish international competence. [4]
            In 1573, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth again took a great leap forward in history when it officially announced complete religious toleration for the first time in European history. This was also the result of the great influence of szlachta, a religiously heterogeneous group of Polish nobles, had on politics and their efforts to establish a decentralized, religiously tolerant state. [5]
            The elective monarchy ultimately proved to boost the power of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's power. It became an expansionist nation and went on several expeditions in the beginning of the 17th century. Its international standing had never been stronger, and Poland's continuous military victories over Sweden and Russia even put the Polish troops in control over the Kremlin for a period after the Battle of Kluszyn in 1610.
            In 1652, the liberum veto was introduced. Liberum veto, an enactment that stated a single veto among the noblemen could obstacle the legislation of the entire law, again showed how strong the szlachta were in this period of the Commonwealth. This, however, was a critical mistake for Poland, as it put the state in crisis. A single vote could jeopardize any law, and this meant that nothing could work normally.
            It was in this context of a weakening Poland that in 1654, the Russians, and in 1655, the Swedes invaded Poland respectively. This began the Russo-Polish War and the Second Northern War. This period of occupation by the foreign powers is known as the "Deluge" [6] for Poland, resulting in terrible damage to its status as a major power in Eastern Europe.
            The Commonwealth, unable to recover from the influence of these and many other wars, continuously receded in power until it was partitioned several times and disappeared from the map in 1795. The Polish lands were then occupied by three major powers of the age, namely Russia, Prussia, and Austria.
            Poland did not regain her independence until the end of World War I, but this did not mean the abolishment of Polish national consciousness during this period of partition. The Poles frequently revolted against the occupying powers, most notably through the November Uprising of 1830-1831 and the January Uprising of 1863-1864, both in Congress Poland (Russian Poland).
            In 1914, the three partitioning states finally went to war with each other in the outbreak of World War I. The Poles, in and out of the country, sought to regain independence and actively organized movements to restore the old Poland. In 1918, they succeeded and the Second Polish Republic was established. However, about after 20 years of independence, it was once again invaded and partitioned by the belligerent Nazis and Soviets. Under these occupants Poland suffered the most among the states involved in World War II.
            After regaining its independence in 1945, it has gone through great turmoil regarding communism, and it is now hoping to restore the glory of its old Poland as a major power.

II.2 Framework of Analysis
            Once again, the main purpose of this paper is analyzing the impact of Polish wars on the economy. So the characteristics of the wars that I will be dealing with will be the independent variables and the Polish economy's various aspects will be the dependent variables of my analysis.
            First of all, the list of major Polish war names that I will analyze the characteristics of are: Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War (1409-1411), Russo-Polish War (also called the Thirteen Years' War, 1654-1667), Second Northern War (also called the Swedish "Deluge" 1655-1660), Great Northern War (1700-1721), War of Polish Succession (1733-1735), Polish rebellions against Russian Occupation (Novermber Uprising 1830-1831, January Uprising 1863-1864), World War I (1914-1918), Polish-Soviet War (1919-1920), World War II (1939-1945). In chapter III, I will examine and determine the individual characteristics of the wars thoroughly and among them, pick a handful number of wars to analyze in detail the impact on the economy of Poland in chapter IV.
            The dependent variable of this analysis is the Polish economy. Nowadays much more specific figures of economic data are available, but for economies from the 14th to 19th centuries, such data are utterly lacking. Therefore most of my analysis of the impact on the economy will have to depend on the population changes over time, as manpower was the critical factor in medieval agrarian states. (Poland remained a relatively agrarian state until the 19th century.) But most historical demographic data are also not specific or complete enough and sometimes even unavailable. To make up for this, I will also examine the territorial variations before and after the war and estimate the impact on the economy. A war might also affect the economy in the long term by swaying the nation's fate. Poland was occupied by outer powers many times during its history, and this must have affected the fundamental way Polish economy worked. The most representative is World War II that engendered a nationwide modification of the economic system, which I will elaborate in detail in chapter IV. A war¡¯s impact on the general status and power of one country will in turn influence the economy, and this is also a point where an analysis of the impact of wars is possible.
            For the independent variables, i.e. the characteristics of the wars, I will analyze the causes, the location that most of the battles took place in, the size of battles, the destructiveness of the weaponry involved, the behavior of the occupants (if there existed a period when Polish land was occupied by outer powers during the war), and lastly the result (victory or defeat) of the wars.
            The causes of these wars may be an important variable that affects the war¡¯s impact on the economy. If territory was the primary goal for both (or all) belligerents participating in a certain war, then we can hypothesize that the impact of these battles would be more limited to the territory being disputed. But a war to settle years of hostility would be much more vicious and the battles might affect the whole country instead of the center of dispute. We can also speculate that if a war has an economical purpose then it would be less destructive than a war that is fought to kill and ground each other till death.
            The assumption that the second independent variable, the location that most of the battles took place in affects the level of impact on the economy is not hard to make. The battles of a military expedition to assist allied nations or to gain new territories will naturally take place outside the country's border, limiting the impact of the deadliest possible war to the loss of soldiers. On the other hand, an invasion into Poland or a civil war, even a mild one, would not only depopulate the country severely, but it would also critically damage the Polish economy by destroying numerous valuable economic assets.
            The third and fourth variables follow a similar straightforward logic too; more casualties mean a larger decrease in population, and thereby a greater impact on the economy.
            The fifth variable, the behavior of the occupants, is a factor to take special notice of. In cases where Poland was occupied, the motive of the occupation determines if the economic impact will be devastating or not. The continuous persecution under the control of despotic enemies would surely dismantle the economy of one nation, arguably more than the impact of the actual wars. It is my hypothesis that in presence of an occupation, the behavior of the occupants, whether it is genocide, exploitation, or conciliation, constitutes the impact of war on the economy considerably.
            Finally, the last variable is also another straightforward factor that can influence the dependent variable, the result of the wars. Let's assume that Poland thoroughly defeated its enemy in a war. Then the impact of the war necessarily does not have to be negative on Poland. The spoils of war collected through looting and plundering might actually ameliorate and invigorate the Polish economy. Therefore, along with other pre-conditions of the war, the actual result might be the decisive factor on a war's impact on Polish economy.

[Chart 1] The Framework of Analysis

            With this framework of analysis in mind, and with help from several Internet sources and some major books on Polish history, this paper will attempt to identify the conclusive aspect that explains the relationship between war and its economic impact.

III. The Characteristics of the Wars

III.1 Cause
            A war might break out simply as a contest for more territory, but it also might commence as a culmination of hostility towards each other accumulated for a long period of time. Religious or ideological clashes might also ignite a deadly war. In some cases, the war might begin randomly as a one-way invasion with the purpose of economic or political gains, or sometimes the simple destruction of the enemy.
            Polish wars also had a variety of causes, ranging from territorial disputes to invasions sprouting from simple hatred. Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War (1409-1410), as narrated in the chapter II, was mainly a territorial dispute between Poland and the Teutonic Knights. Since the Teutonic Knights have German origin, some of the scholars have interpreted this and Poland's many wars with the Teutonic Knights to be a vast ethnic clash. But M.B. Biskupski strongly disputes such suggestions, stating that such interpretation is "an anachronistic simplification" and a reduction of "complicated phenomena to caricatures." [7] It was the invitation two hundred years ago by Konrad I of Masovia that led the two Latin Christian countries into a long-standing conflict. It is also argued that trade considerations were the motive of the conflicts, as the Teutonic Knights occupied the lower reaches of the three largest rivers in Poland. [8]
            The Russo-Polish War (1654-1667) was also majorly a conquest for power and territory. The Ukrainian Cossacks had lived under the rule of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth for years, and they frequently stood up against the Commonwealth to the extent that the Commonwealth had great difficulties suppressing such uprisings. This escalated in 1654 when Russia, until then a bystander, chose to step in. It put the Cossacks under its protection, and it inevitably led to a Russian invasion into Poland. The war was a result of Russian ambition to expand its borders.
            The Second Northern War (1655-1660) occurred during the Russo-Polish War when Russia had already occupied the eastern half of the Commonwealth. Sweden, at that time, was a country wishing to expand its economy by starting wars; its army could only be financed by the occupied land or some subsidies from its allies. Not only this, Poland had a Catholic king who could enforce his claim to the throne of Protestant Sweden once he had sufficient military power. This meant that Poland could bring about counterreformation in Sweden, and therefore Sweden regarded Poland its archenemy. [9] In 1655, seeing Poland preoccupied with its war with Russia, Charles X of Sweden decided to invade Poland. Such economical, territorial, and religious concerns were the cause for the Swedish invasion of Poland.
            The Great Northern War (1700-1721), unlike many of the other wars Poland was involved in, started as a set of invasion from the anti-Swedish allies in which the Poland-Lithuanian Commonwealth was part of. But unlike the ambitions of the king Augustus II the Strong, the Poles themselves attempted to distinguish themselves from such pursuit of territory. However, Charles XII of Sweden was not persuaded by the Poles, and he invaded the Commonwealth, only to realize the actual situation and turn to attack Saxony after devastating the Commonwealth. It was also a mainly territorial dispute coupled with innate hostilities towards each other residing underneath.
            The War of the Polish Succession (1733-1735) was a political war aimed at the major powers of the days securing its pre-dominance of power in Poland. Poland, already receding in its power, could not even play a major role in a war deciding who its king was going to be.
            After the partitions, the name Poland disappeared from the map, but the national consciousness of Polish tradition continued on. It was brought up again in November 1830 when a secret group inspired by romantic dreams of Polish independence began the November Uprising. Such domestic uprising for Polish independence was the cause for armed conflicts once again in 1864 when the January Uprising occurred.
            World War I (1914-1918) began with the Austria-Hungarian invasion of Serbia, and escalated largely into a conflict between Germany and Austria against Russia. The long-term cause of this war is largely thought of as the imperialistic foreign policies of the major powers of that day which inevitably called for a big clash. Poland, having still not reappeared on the map, sought a chance of revival as the three partitioning states went in war against each other.
            The Polish-Soviet War (1919-1920) was another territorial dispute regarding the control of what is present day Ukraine and part of present day Belarus. After Poland's restoration, there was divided opinion among the leaders in Poland on foreign policy. Between the nationalist view that wished to yield Eastern territory to Russia and the traditionalist view that sought to center its pursuit against the old enemy of Russia, the latter prevailed and this is closely connected to the outbreak of Polish-Soviet War. The vague borderline set by the Treaty of Versailles also contributed to a fiercer dispute over territory.
            World War II (1939-1945) was another disaster for Poland. It began with the German invasion of Poland, and the occupation of Poland continued until 1945. Nazi Germany invaded Poland for several reasons including the hatred against the large Jewish population in Poland, an ambition to take control of Eastern Europe, etc.

III.2 The Location of Battles
            Some Polish wars took place outside Poland, but most of the wars were fought inside her borders. The largest battle of Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War, the Battle of Grunwald was fought in what was then Poland, and most of the other battles too near that region.
            The Great Northern War was originally planned top be an invasion of the allies of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth into Sweden, but through the process of the war, the Swedes once invaded the Commonwealth to defeat Augustus II and the battles were fought inside Poland.
            The battles of War of the Polish Succession, although it was a war to decide the next king of Poland, mostly took place outside Polish borders because it was a contest of power between the major powers of the day such as France and Russia.
            There were several invasions to Poland which accompanied occupation of Polish land, them being Russo-Polish War, Second Northern War, World War I and World War II. During these periods of occupation, the Poles frequently revolted against their occupants. Such domestic uprising was also the case for November Uprising of 1830-1831 and January Uprising of 1863-1864 against the Russians when Poland was partitioned.
            World War II was especially made Poland a major battleground as the Nazis and the Soviets confronted each other in the regions between them, which was, in essence, Poland.

III.3 The Size of Battles
            The Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic war was a long-standing, ever-occurring war that did not seem to have an easy solution. But there was one critical battle that weakened the Teutonic Knights so severely that it could not restore its power. The Battle of Grunwald, taking place in 1410, is explained to be "one of the largest battles in Medieval Europe and the most important victory in the history of Poland and Lithuania" by English historian Stephen Turnbull. [10] According to the latest estimates, the Polish army was comprised of 18,000 cavalry soldiers and 9,000 foot soldiers. The estimated number of armed servants and soldiers amounted to about a dozen thousand. The Lithuanian army is thought to have amounted to about 15,000, while the Teutonic Knights had an army made up of 21,000 cavalry and 6,000 infantry soldiers. [11] The Polish-Lithuanian armies included Muslim Tatar mercenaries and pagan Samogitians.
            For the Russian invasion of Poland in 1654, the Russian army consisted of 41,000; a considerable figure. [12] The sizes of the Second Northern War battles that took place between 1655-1660 were almost similar to the figures from the Battle of Grunwald. Considering that the Battle of Grunwald was one of the largest battles in that age, this data shows a general increment in the size of Battles since the normal size of battles in this era matched the large size of battles in the 15th century. The main Swedish invasion involved 14,000 soldiers who were later joined by an army of about 13,000 to attack Poland. Another 7,200 men attacked Lithuania. When a national insurrection broke out in the winter of 1656, the Swedes set out an army of about 8,000 soldiers, but this expedition turned out a failure. [13]
            During the November Uprising of 1830-1831, about 120,000 people were mobilized, allowing us to estimate the large scale of the battles between Polish insurgents and Russia. The Russians led an army of 114,000 soldiers against the Poles throughout the uprising. [14] The January Uprising of 1863-1864 embraced almost the entire Kingdom of Poland, the armed struggle resembling the features of guerilla warfare. A total of 120,000 people at once or another time belonged to the ranks of the insurgents, and the number of soldiers in each battle reached a maximum of 25,000.
            For the wars that took place during the modern era, i.e. WWI, Polish-Soviet War, and WWII, the figures vary greatly battle by battle, but it is clear that the sheer number of people in the military generally increased. In 1919, for example, the united Polish army had about 580,000 soldiers in total. [15] For the wars that do not have sufficient data, it would be safe to conjecture that this general trend of increase in battle size by time also applies.

III.4 Destructiveness of Weaponry
            Weapons used in Polish wars were not very different from those of other civilizations. As it is the case for most civilizations, the notion that as time passed by, the general destructiveness of the weapons increased would be valid.
            However, there is one notable fact about Polish weaponry is a kind of cavalry that the Poles created called the Polish Winged Hussars. The Winged Hussars were a special kind of cavalry unit with huge "wings," which were a wooden frame carrying usually eagle or other birds' feathers. Most of the historians' theory is that these wings made loud clattering noises that made the cavalry look much bigger than it actually was. This cavalry unit proved very effective in the battlefields, and between 1577 and 1683, the Hussars won most of their battles. It was a decisive factor often against overwhelming odds, for instance, heavily defeating the Russians who outnumbered the Poles 5 to 1 in the Battle of Kluszyn. This special type of armament was a factor that affected the result of the wars, and thereby a war or a battle's impact on the economy. [16]

III.5 Behaviour of the Occupants
            Throughout its history, Poland was occupied by foreign powers several times. Second Northern War, the uprisings against the Russians, World War I, and World War II are the armed conflicts that involved occupation of Polish land. The occupants' behavior varied according to the purpose of the attacks. The Swedes, as mentioned in III.1, wished to expand its kingdom through wars and finance its army with the resources from the land they were occupying. During its occupation of Poland from 1655-1660, the Swedes exploited Polish civilians, looted Polish villages, and plundered valuable economic assets. Such behavior by the Swedes had considerable effect to the economy, as we will examine more thoroughly in IV. 1.
            Partitioned Poland went through a disastrous, long 19th century. The Russians' policies, directed towards Russification of Poland, were harsh, and there were many repressions, especially after the November Uprising of 1830-1831 and January Uprising of 1863-1864. Many Poles were exiled to Serbia. Polish culture, including its language, was discriminated against under Russia. Prussians also pursued Germanization policies aimed at limiting Polish ethnic presence in the newly gained territories. In parts where the Austrians were occupying however, great struggles to gain autonomy proved fruitful. Polish language was an official regional language in that region, and Polish political parties could partly participate in Austro-Hungarian politics too. [17]
            World War II was an even more devastating horror. Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia occupied the Western and Eastern territory of Poland respectively and brutally repressed the Poles under them. The Nazis' savage treatment of Poles can easily be imagined from Hitler's war directive:
            "I have given orders ... . that the aim of the war is not to reach a certain line, but the physical destruction of the enemy. Thus I have ordered?for the time being only in the East - my SS Totenkopf divisions to kill mercilessly and pitilessly man, woman, and child of Polish descent and speech ... . Poland will be depopulated and settled by Germans ... . Be hard, be pitiless, act faster and more brutally than others." [18]
            British historian Simon Sebag Montefiore has argued that "Soviet terror in the occupied eastern Polish lands was as cruel and tragic as the Nazis in the West." [19] Amidst the terror of concentration camps, kidnapping of children, forced labor, and much more unimaginable methods of oppression, the Poles were, in short, living a nightmare.

III.6 Results
            The Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War ended as a complete victory for Poland and Lithuania as a decisive blow in the Battle of Grunwald prevented the Teutonic Knights ever from regaining the power they had before. In the Peace of Thorn (1411) which terminated the war, the Teutonic Knights were able to minimize territorial losses. The conflicts did not end here and regional territorial disputes continued until the Prussian Civil War (1453-1466).
            Late in the 17th century, however, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth experienced painful defeats in Russo-Polish War. The eastern region of the Commonwealth was invaded and occupied by Russia. The Commonwealth also went through an occupation by the Swedes in Second Northern War during the same period as Russo-Polish War, but eventually fought back and defeated Sweden.
            In Great Northern War and War of the Polish Succession, the result of the war itself was not important since Poland either participated as a belligerent from both sides under different rulers' control (in Great Northern War) or it was a civil war. In Polish-Soviet War, the Poles were able to pull together and defeat Soviet Russia.
            World War I and World War II where Poland was simply a powerless victim that could not play any major role also were wars that the result did not mean much to Poland. Germany was defeated badly in both wars, and as a result, it could be said that Poland was a shabby "victor" in both wars.

III.7 Summary

[Chart 2] Characteristics of Wars
Categories/Wars Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War Russo-Polish War Second Northern War Great Northern War
Cause Territorial dispute Territorial dispute Economical, Religious, Territorial Territorial, result of hostilities
Location Near the northern border Grand Duchy of Lithuania, Ukraine Invasion & occupation of Poland Expedition outside Poland & Invasion into Poland
Behaviour No occupation No sufficient source Exploitation, Plundering No occupation
Result Polish Victory Russian Victory Polish Victory Coalition Victory

Categories/Wars Polish Uprisings Against Russians World War I Polish-Soviet War World War II
Cause Political, a Call for Independence Geopolitical, territorial territorial dispute territorial, economical, emotional
Location In the heart of Poland Poland occupied Present-day Ukraine, Belarus Poland occupied
Behaviour Brutal repression Brutal No occupation Brutal, Simple Destruction
Result Russian Victory Allied Victory Polish Victory Allied Victory

            The chart above illustrates the summary of the characteristics of wars mentioned above. Please note that the summaries for weaponry and size of battles were omitted. Also keep in mind that the causes written in the chart are only the major causes, and that they do not necessarily mean that it was the sole cause of the war. Also, for wars including several powers clashing in several different regions, only the location and impact of battles closely involving Poland were considered.

IV. The Impact of Wars

IV.1 The Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War (1409-1411)

IV.1.1 Population
            In the largest battle of the war, the Battle of Grunwald, Poland and Lithuania won a landslide victory over the Teutonic Knights, depriving the enemy of about 8,000 Teuton soldiers and 200 knights. In contrast, Poland and Lithuania suffered only a loss of 4,000-5,000 lives. [20] Since the battle took place outside Polish borders, there were probably few additional Polish civilian casualties. In 1370, the population of Poland is estimated to have been around 2 to 2.5 million, which probably means that even with the combined casualties of other battles, this war did not affect the economy much. [21]

IV.1.2 Territorial Changes
            In the Peace of Thorn (1411), the Teutonic Knights ceded the Dobrin Land to Poland. However, Poland and Lithuania could not translate the military victory into further territorial or diplomatic gains. [22]

IV.1.3 Long-term Political Impact
            The Commonwealth¡¯s victory was a decisive blow to the Teutonic Knights' international competence, forever eliminating the Knights from being a major threat (although minor territorial disputes continued until 1466). This secured Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth's status as a major political power until the 17th century.

IV.1.4 Other Impact
            While Poland and Lithuania could not gain territorially much from the war, they were able to impose a heavy burden to the Teutonic Knights. The Knights were to pay an indemnity in silver, estimated at "ten times the annual income of the King of England in four annual installments." [23] This, also a proof of how well-organized the Knights were, even after making up for the loss, must have boosted the Polish-Lithuanian economy profoundly.

IV.2 The "Deluge" - Second Northern War and Russo-Polish War

IV.2.1 Population
            A brief overview of this war done by Durham University Polish Society mentioned the number of casualties during the Swedish "Deluge" to be about one third of the whole Polish population. [24] M.B.Biskupski states that Poland had lost perhaps a third of its population and was in economic ruins, [25] suggesting that the one-third population figure from Durham University is not only limited to the impact of the Swedish "deluge." The U.S. Library of Congress Country Studies [26], however, states that by 1668 the population had been almost halved by war and disease. Regardless of which figure is correct, it is clear that there was huge depopulation in the Commonwealth during the Second Northern War and that the war greatly jeopardized the Polish economy at that time.

IV.2.2 Territorial Changes
            Major territorial changes were made through the Russo-Polish War, not the Second Northern War. Through the Treaty of Andrusovo, Poland-Lithuania ceded the fortress of Smolensk and the Left-Bank Ukraine (which included the city of Kiev), most of the land near its eastern borders, to Russia.

IV.2.3 Long-term Political Impact
            The Second Northern War, along with Russo-Polish War, was the beginning of great decline for Poland. The war's impact prevented Poland from regaining its glory before in 1648, and the state gradually receded in power during the next century, eventually disappearing from the map in 1795.

IV.3 World War II

IV.3.1 Population
            The historical demographic data of Poland reorganized by Jan Lahmeyer shows that in 1939, the population of Poland was around 34,775,700, while the population next year was sharply reduced to 26,916,000. [27] This does not necessarily mean that death counts of the first years reached nearly 8 million; this is because Poland was partitioned among the Nazis and the Soviets. Therefore, the actual population loss figure is significantly lower than the superficial data.
            But the notion of World War II as the deadliest war of all time still stands. Demographic Effects of World War II by Kazimierz Piesowicz estimates the number of deaths due to German occupation to be around 5.6 million and the number of deaths due to Soviet occupation to be around 150,000. [28] M.B.Biskupski estimates the total death count in Poland throughout the war to reach over 7 million. [29] Other than casualties, about 8 million chose to stay in the Soviet Union, and about 480,000 emigrated to the west. According to Piesowicz, about 1.2 million were the population gained after the Poland recovered its lost territories in 1945. In summary, the population of 35,000,000 in 1939 had plunged to 25,000,000 by 1950. [30] Such fatal loss of population was the result of both occupiers' ambition to not only gain Polish territory but destroy the Polish culture and nation as a whole.
            10 million out of 35 million is less than 30 % of the total population, and it is remarkable to note that the Swedish "Deluge" which resulted in the death of more than one third of the population had greater impact, albeit slightly, on Poland population-wise. This may work as a counterexample to the hypothesis regarding the size of battles, the destructiveness of weapons, indicating that bigger size and more destructive weapons does not necessarily mean more impact on the economy, or at least the population. (This assessment is possible because the Swedish "Deluge" and World War II were similar wars that both involved brutal occupants, with only the factors mentioned above showing notable difference.)

IV.3.2 Further Impact on the Economy
            World War II affected the Polish economy profoundly not only by the physical destruction of Polish citizens and resources. The sheer number of people killed under Nazi rule is not enough in describing the war's economic impact. The Nazis sought to assimilate the Polish occupied territories economically into the German Reich, and exploited heavily from the Polish economy. Between 1939 and 1945, at least 1.5 million Polish citizens (many of them teenage boys and girls) were moved to the German Reich to do forced labor. [31] Under Nazi rule, many Polish-owned buildings and enterprises were confiscated, while all jewelry, furniture, money, and clothing were subject to forced confiscation. All executive positions held by Poles or Jews were given to Germans. Higher taxes and obligatory contributions were enforced to the Polish population, and all employed Poles were given the lowest possible pay for their work. The Nazis also discriminated the Poles heavily regarding education, planning so that future Poles would become slaves to the Germans. [32] Such extensive exploitation and meticulous destruction of the Polish economy certainly prevented the economy from recovering quickly after its liberation.
            On the other half of partitioned Poland, the occupiers were completely altering the fundamental structure?the system?of Polish economy. The Soviets, during its occupation, virtually turned Poland into a "red" country by strongly imposing communist policies along with Russification policies. For example, they initiated a land reform program in which most owners of large lots of land were dispossessed of their land which was then divided among poorer peasants. [33] The nationalization of private property continued, and the Soviets even created a communist political party, influencing Poland economics throughout the latter half of the 20th century, even after its liberation.

V. Conclusion
            Up until now, this paper examined the characteristics of the major wars that Poland was involved in, and among them, selected a few to assess the impact on the economy of. Through these processes, I have been able to roughly identify the critical factors in deciding a war's impact on the economy, though it stills calls for an addition of more thorough details and more cases of wars to examine.
            The first independent variable, the cause of a war, largely proved to be a minor factor to the dependent variable. There was no definite correlation between whether religious, political, territorial, economical, etc. and a war's impact on the economy. Some territorial disputes such as Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War actually brought more benefits to Polish-Lithuania, but at the same time, Russo-Polish War and the Deluge was quite critical to the Polish economy. But for wars fought to kill and only kill, as was the case in World War II for the Nazis with that horrifying war directive by Hitler, the negative impact on the economy was mostly always significant.
            The role of second and fourth variables, the location of battles and the destructiveness of the weapons, were disproved by the counterexample drawn from the "Deluge" and World War II in IV.3.2. Therefore a general increment in the size or destructiveness of battles does not necessarily constitute a larger impact on the economy.
            The location of battles, the third variable, was a factor proved to be relatively influential to the impact on the economy. Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War's major battles were mainly fought outside Polish borders, leading to a miniscule impact on the economy. The wars involving occupation of Poland usually resulted in much more severe damages, both to the population and the economy.
            The behavior of the occupants turned out to be another decisive factor that can affect the economy also in the long term. For the "Deluge" and World War II, the occupants' either economic-gain-oriented or destruction-oriented behaviors critically swayed the fate of Poland. The former war weakened Poland to a state that led to its disappearance from the map a more than hundred years later. The latter war altered Polish modern history by the occupants influencing the fundamental economic system Polish economy was founded upon into communism. Such is the evidence that being occupied by a foreign power during a war is a signal of an ominous fate in the future for one nation.
            The nominal result?the winning and losing?of wars was not an important variable. For example, the Poles were eventually able to challenge the Swedes properly during the "Deluge." But the actual devastation of Polish economy was considerable, as shown in chapter IV. However, if the war was a landslide victory, which, by its definition, hints at small number of casualties, then not only did the war have little negative impact on the economy, it actually worked as a boost for the economy, as was the Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War's case.
            In conclusion, the most decisive aspects of war that influence the war's economic impact, as roughly identified through the historical impact of war on the Polish economy, turned out to be the location of battles, the behavior of the occupants (in presence of an occupation), and the possibility of a painful defeat or landslide victory.

(1)      Biskupski 2000 p.13
(2)      The Polans are a West Slavic tribe, literally meaning "people of the fields." Mieszko I was the first ruler of the Polans tribal union. Refer to Article: Wikipedia: History of Poland during the Piast dynasty
(3)      Biskupski 2000 p.9
(4)      Ibid. p.13
(5)      Ibid. p.14
(6)      In this paper, the term "Deluge" is defined as the series of military campaigns that took place in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth between 1654 and 1667, thus comprising the Russo-Polish (Russian invasion of Poland) and Second Northern War (Swedish invasion of Poland). However, the definition of the term Swedish "Deluge" which is found later in the paper is limited to the Swedish invasion and occupation of the Commonwealth of the Second Northern War (1655-1660) only. This definition is based on Article: Wikipedia: Deluge (history)
(7)      Biskupski 2000 p.9
(8)      Article: Wikipedia: Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War
(9)      Ganse, Narratives: New States
(10)      Article: Wikipedia: Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War
(11)      Czaplinski 1981 p.11
(12)      Article: Wikipedia: Russo-Polish War (1654-1667)
(13)      Czaplinski 1981 p.17
(14)      Ibid. p.21
(15)      Ibid. p.23
(16)      Article: Wikipedia: Polish Hussars
(17)      Article: Wikipedia: Austrian Partition
(18)      Biskupski 2000 p.101, In English, the name "SS Totenkopf division" means "Death's Head Unit."
(19)      Article: Wikipedia: Occupation of Poland 1939-1945
(20)      Article: Wikipedia: Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War
(21)      Article: Wikipedia: Demographic History of Poland
(22)      Article: Wikipedia: Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War
(23)      Ibid.
(24)      Durham University Polish Society
(25)      Biskupski 2000
(26)      Library of Congress Country Studies
(27)      Lahmeyer. Poland Historical Demographical Data of the Whole Country
(28)      Article: Wikipedia: Demographic History of Poland
(29)      Biskupski 2000
(30)      Article: Wikipedia: Demographic History of Poland
(31)      Article: Wikipedia: Occupation of Poland 1939-1945
(32)      Article: Wikipedia: Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
(33)      Article: Wikipedia: Occupation of Poland 1939-1945

Bibliography The following websites were visited in June 2012

1.      Bideleux, Robert, and Ian Jeffries. A History of Eastern Europe: Crisis and Change. London: Routledge, 1998
2.      Lukowski, Jerzy, and W. H. Zawadzki. A Concise History of Poland. Cambridge [England: Cambridge UP, 2001.
3.      Davies, Norman. God's Playground: A History of Poland. New York: Columbia UP, 2005.
4.      Biskupski, Mieczyslaw B. The History of Poland. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000
5.      Czaplinski, Wladyslaw. The Historical Atlas of Poland. Warszawa: Panstwowe Przedsiebiorstwo Wydawnictw Kartograficznych, 1981.
6.      Leslie, R. F. The History of Poland since 1863. Cambridge [Eng.: Cambridge UP, 1980.
7.      Turnbull, Stephen R. Tannenberg 1410: Disaster for the Teutonic Knights. Oxford: Osprey, 2003.
8.      Jasinski, S. A., Polish Renaissance Warfare
9.      Casson, Catherine, European State Finance Database
10.      Lahmeyer, Jan, Poland Historical Demographical Data of the Whole Country
11.      Ganse, Alexander. Poland in World War I
12.      Pogonowski, Iwo Cyprian. Poland A Historical Atlas - online academic paper
13.      Ganse, Alexander. Narrative: New States
14.      Wikipedia: History of Poland
15.      Wikipedia: History of Poland (1939-1945)
16.      Wikipedia: Poland in World War I
17.      Wikipedia: Deluge (history)
18.      Wikipedia: Polish-Soviet War
19.      Wikipedia: Polish-Lithuanian-Teutonic War
20.      Wikipedia: War of the Polish Succession
21.      Wikipedia: Russo-Polish War (1654-1667)
22.      Wikipedia: Great Northern War
23.      Wikipedia: Polish Hussars
24.      Wikipedia: World War 1
25.      Durham University Polish Society. About Poland
26.      Wikipedia: Russian Partition
27.      Wikipedia: Prussian Partition
28.      Wikipedia: Austrian Partition
29.      Wikipedia: Occupation of Poland (1939-1945)
30.      Wikipedia: Demographic history of Poland
31.      Wikipedia: History of Poland during the Piast dynasty
32.      Wikipedia: Polish areas annexed by Nazi Germany
32.      Library of Congress Country Studies: Poland: The Deluge, 1648-67

Back to WHKMLA Main Index . WHKMLA, Students' Papers Main Page . WHKMLA, Students' Papers, 17th Wave Index Page

Impressum · Datenschutz