Exhibition: M/S Pilsudski
History, aims and objectivesThe Piłsudski Institute of London continues the work of the Institute for Research into the Modern Polish History established in Warsaw in 1923. Following Piłsudski’s death in 1935, the name of the organization was changed to the Józef Piłsudski Institute for Research in Modern History.
The reinstatement of the Institute in post-war Poland was not feasible because of the Yalta Agreement, leaving the Polish nation for the next half-century within the Soviet sphere of influence.
In 1947 the Piłsudski Institute of London was founded in order to continue the mission of its pre-war predecessor. In this new geopolitical reality, it became one of the first cultural and educational institutions established to promote Polish history in the United Kingdom.
The primary aims of the Piłsudski Institute of London are collecting, safeguarding and providing access to documents, historic artefacts, and books related to modern Polish history, and in particular those connected to the work and political vision of Marshal Józef Piłsudski, the father of the free Polish state, and his associates.
The Institute also recognises its continuing educational role in disseminating knowledge and public understanding of Poland's history and cultural legacy, whilst promoting historical research. The Institute fosters public engagement by means of exhibitions, lectures, book launches, and celebrations of anniversaries related to Polish history. The Institute emphasises its open character by addressing a wide range of audiences, from scholars to school children, across both the Polish and English communities.
The operations of the Institute rely on the expertise of three employed heritage professionals, supported by the workforce of a multi-generational group of committed volunteers, as well as periodical work visits of archivists from leading Polish heritage organisations.
Our PatronJozef Pilsudski was a fighter for Polish independence, a socialist, a political prisoner, the founder of the Polish Legion, the head of the newly independent Polish state and the architect of Poland’s victory over Soviet Russia.
He is viewed as a father of the Second Polish Republic established in 1918 with one of its core aims being the creation of a multi-ethnic and mulitfaith state, a new Poland, “a home of nations”.
Pilsudski, born in Russian Poland, found himself exiled by the Russians to Siberia for five years from 1887 after campaigning on behalf of the Polish independence cause. He nevertheless returned in time at the head of the National Socialist Party and became editor of left-wing newspaper Robotnik.
Aware of the Russian Empire’s structural weakness and foreseeing a European war, Piłsudski concluded that it was imperative to organize the nucleus of a future Polish army. In 1908 he formed a secret Union of Military Action. In 1910, with the help of the Austrian military authorities, he was able to convert his secret union into a legal Union of Riflemen, actually a school for Polish officers.
When war in Europe broke out in early August 1914 Pilsudski seized the opportunity to personally lead Polish troops in an invasion of Russia on 6 August.
With the Russians subsequently ousted from Eastern Poland by the Germans he accepted a position on the Polish Council of State in November 1916 following Poland's 'liberation' from Russia (a state of affairs declared by Germany and Austria-Hungary).
Finding his aims at odds with those of the controlling German authorities Pilsudski tendered his resignation from the Council (and as Minister of War) in March 1917 and was arrested by German forces in July following his repudiation of the German Warsaw Governor Hans von Beseler, and imprisoned until the armistice of November 1918.
Thereafter re-entering political affairs Pilsudski governed Poland with his formal election in February 1919 as its Chief of State; he was also made a Marshal.
The following year, 1920, Pilsudski fought against Russian Bolsheviks in the Russo-Polish War and succeeded in driving the latter from Poland following an engagement at the Vistula. Pilsudski's command of the Polish troops to victory and halting the Bolshevik invasion of the west as been described by Lord Edgar d'Aberon as the 18th most significant battle of all time.
Not All Is History:
The Piłsudski Institute of London is an independent self-supporting charity, which has operated in the United Kingdom for the past seventy years. Today, in its seventieth year, it is of paramount importance to safeguard the Institute’s financial future, in order to enable it to continue fulfilling its mission in the years to come.
70th Anniversary Fundraising Appeal
The Not All Is History 70th Anniversary Fundraising Appeal, is aimed at securing the long-term future of the Institute and we would be most grateful if you were able to offer your support through making a donation, leaving a legacy, or putting us in touch with prospective individual or corporate donors, trusts and foundations, which may be interested in sponsoring our work.
The Piłsudski Institute of London is a not-for-profit organisation and any donations are subject to tax relief. Any form of support would be of huge help.
Payments can be made by cheque made out to Pilsudski Institute, or via a bank transfer to:
Instytut Jozefa Pilsudskiego, IBAN: GB2 BARC 203 9000 5408 03