Poland commemorates the 98th anniversary of the May Coup

Poland is commemorating the 98th anniversary of the May Coup of 1926, also known as the May Revolution.

While the coup is often viewed through a lens of controversy and division, it’s essential to examine both its necessity and the excesses that accompanied it.

At its core, the May Coup was born out of a political crisis gripping Poland in the 1920s. The fledgling democracy was grappling with internal strife, economic instability, and external threats, presenting a formidable challenge to national unity and progress. Against this backdrop, Marshal Józef Piłsudski, a talented and respected military leader and statesman, intervened to safeguard the nation’s interests and restore order.

Piłsudski’s supporters argued that the coup was a necessary measure to prevent Poland from descending into chaos and to uphold the ideals of the Polish state. They contended that the existing government, led by President Stanisław Wojciechowski, was ineffective in addressing the pressing issues facing the country and that decisive action was imperative to ensure Poland’s survival in a volatile geopolitical landscape.

However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the May Coup was not without its controversies and excesses. The manner in which power was seized, bypassing constitutional norms and democratic processes, raised legitimate concerns about the erosion of democratic principles and the concentration of power in the hands of a select few. Historians estimate that the number of casualties of the violence which emerged approximates 300, from which about half were civilians. 

Nevertheless, despite its flaws, the May Coup ultimately laid the groundwork for stabilising Poland and consolidating its independence in the face of external threats. Piłsudski’s subsequent tenure as the de facto leader of Poland saw significant reforms aimed at modernising the country and bolstering its defence.

In the aftermath of the May Coup, Marshal Józef Piłsudski spearheaded the establishment of a Sanation government from 1926 to 1939, aimed at rejuvenating public life and governance in Poland. Throughout this period, Piłsudski wielded significant influence in Polish politics, holding key positions such as defence minister and Inspector General of the armed forces until his death in 1935. 


Image: IPN

Author: Sébastien Meuwissen


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