Above: Brigadier Józef Piłsudski with his staff in front of the Governor’s Palace in Kielce, 1914
IWP professor Dr. Marek Jan Chodakiewicz has completed a YouTube lecture series on the effects of World War I in the Intermarium, the region that rests between the Baltic and Black Seas in Eastern Europe. The series is entitled “A Lesser Apocalypse: The Intermarium in the First World War and Its Aftermath, 1914-1921.”
The series’ first lecture, The Great War in the Intermarium, begins by outlining the catastrophic nature of World War I with a series of quoted assertions and recollections. Using these quotes as a segue into the war’s effects in Poland, Dr. Chodakiewicz discusses World War I’s impact on the Intermarium region in its entirety.
The Intermarium’s Nationalisms: Old and New, the second installment of the 12-part series, considers the region’s forms of nationalism, historic and non-historic, and how the two operated in juxtaposition with each other during the war. Those practicing historic nationalism emphasized the legacy of the old Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, while those practicing non-historic nationalism included Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and Belarusians.
Dr. Chodakiewicz’s third lecture, National Self-Determination: Proletarian or Liberal?, examines differing versions of national self-determination, as considered by Lenin and Wilson. Lenin’s version of the concept reflected proletarian national self-determination, which sought to support Communism. On the other hand, Wilson’s version reflected support for parliamentary democracy as procured by a liberal internationalist conception of national self-determination.
The series’ fourth lecture, Brest Litovsk: Roots, Impact, and Implications, December 1917-March 1918, examines the Treaty of Brest Litovsk – an agreement between the newly-installed Bolsheviks in Russia and the Central Powers, which effectively removed Russia from World War I. In exchange for its ceased participation, Russia agreed to recognize Ukraine, Georgia, and Finland’s independence, in addition to ceding approximately 1 million square miles. In doing this, Russia opened the door for German dominance in the Intermarium.
His fifth lecture, Toward the Catastrophe of Armistice, covers the period between the spring and autumn of 1918, during which America joining the First World War reversed the war’s course. While several military leaders called for a complete victory over Germany, the Armistice that resulted failed to beat Germany decisively, paving the way for the Second World War.
In his sixth lecture, German and Austrian Occupation of the Intermarium, 1915-1919, Dr. Chodakiewicz discusses the division of the Intermarium between the Germans and Austrians. After a successful offensive in the east, Germany found itself in the occupation of land in Western Russia. In seeking a permanent geopolitical advantage, Germany capitalized on the region’s economy and labor.
Bolshevism, non-Bolshevism, and anti-Bolshevism in White Ruthenia, 1917-1920 is Dr. Chodakiewicz’s seventh lecture in the series. He discusses the ideological developments and political movements in post-World War I White Ruthenia, which encompasses the eastern portion of present-day Belarus and was occupied by both the Poles and the White Russians.
The series’ eighth lecture, Russia: Revolution and Civil War, discusses the February 1917 Russian Revolution. After the Tsar’s ousting, the country devolved into anarchic chaos, paving a path for the Bolsheviks to gain power in October of 1917 and remove Russia from World War I in 1918. The series discusses the country’s further devolution into civil war, in which borderland nationalities tried to assert their freedom, only to find themselves at the hands of the Bolsheviks once again.
In 1918: Germany Wins and Collapses, the ninth lecture, Dr. Chodakiewicz discusses Germany’s short-lived success. After Russia’s withdrawal from World War I, Germany gained a strong foothold in the Caucasus and Middle East regions, in part inspiring the U.S. entry into the war. By August 1918, it was clear the Allies had beaten Germany, and the armistice was signed in November 1918.
Tenth in the series is Revolutionary Slaughter and Pogroms, a discussion of Russia’s governmental and social shortcomings, such as its economic failure, maximalist dissatisfaction, and food supply failures, which culminated to inspire the 1917 Russian Revolution. The lecture also examines Lenin’s Red Terror policy and the violence that ensued.
In the eleventh lecture, Poland’s Power and Others vs. the Revolution, Dr. Chodakiewicz examines the history of Poland and its citizens. This lecture explores the Polish struggle for independence in the face of wars, uprisings, conspiracies, and defeats. Fighting to restore the Old Commonwealth of Poland-Lithuania-Ruthenia, the Poles were the benefactors of the collapse of Russia, Germany, and Austria-Hungary. However, they still had to balance non-historic nationalism as they faced Lenin’s legions alone.
Poland at War (1914-1921), the series’ concluding lecture, discusses the relatively positive reception of World War I’s outbreak by the Poles, viewing it as a chance to regain independence for their nation. Dr. Chodakiewicz asserts that although they received some assistance during the war, the Poles themselves were singlehandedly responsible for procuring their nation’s freedom.