Józef Piłsudski

Polish politician, First Marshall, and Prime Minister (1867–1935)

Józef Klemens Piłsudski (December 5, 1867May 12, 1935) was a Polish statesman who served as the Chief of State (1918–1922) and First Marshal of Poland (from 1920). He was considered the de facto leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic as the Minister of Military Affairs. After World War I, he held great power in Polish politics and was a distinguished figure on the international scene. He is viewed as a father of the Second Polish Republic re-established in 1918, 123 years after the final Partition of Poland by Austria, Prussia and Russia in 1795.

To be defeated and not submit, is victory; to be victorious and rest on one's laurels, is defeat.
A great nation, only the people are cunts.


  • I am not going to dictate to you what you write about my life and work. I only ask that you not make me out to be a 'whiner and sentimentalist.'
  • Only the sword now carries any weight in the balance for the destiny of a nation.
  • All that we can gain in the west depends on the Entente — on the extent to which it may wish to squeeze Germany, [while in the east] there are doors that open and close, and it depends on who forces them open and how far.
  • Poland can have nothing to do with the restoration of the old Russia. Anything rather than that – even Bolshevism.
    • Joseph Pilsduski. Interview by Dymitr Merejkowsky, 1921. Translated from the Russian by Harriet E. Kennedy, B.A., London & Edinburgh, Sampson Low, Marston & Co., Ltd., 1921. Quoted from this site.
  • [About Russians] They are all more or less disguised imperialists, including revolutionists. The trait of these minds, always longing for the absolute, is a vivid centralism. They loathe varieties, cannot conciliate dissonances - such things dull their will and imagination to the extent that they cannot combine varieties into one whole; they reject even the idea of conscious social organizations. [...] Let everything happen by itself, vividly - that is the wisest solution according to them, because it is the simplest and the easiest. Which is why there are so many anarchists among them. A strange thing, but I have never met any republicans among Russians!
    • Wacław Sieroszewski, Józef Piłsudski, Piotrków: 1915, p. 19
  • Bolshevism is a disease which is peculiar to Russia. It will never grow deep roots in any countries which are not entirely Russian.
    • Aleksandra Piłsudski, Memoirs of Madame Piłsudski, 1940
  • You, the Poles, have a funny nature. When the people going along the road are attacked by a dog with its insistent and noisy barking, you immediately feel like jumping off the vehicle, standing on all fours and starting to bark back at it. We, in the Vilnius region, let the dog bark because that is what its canine nature is like but we do not stop out journey because of its canine barking and without any war against dogs we calmly continue our journey until we reach our destination. It seems that you care more about barking more than the dog does and about winning the war with any lousy puppy than about reaching the destination quickly.
    • Jerzy Robert Nowak, Na przekór skorpionom. Wyznania upartego Polaka, Warszawa 2005, p. 52.
  • [About Poland] A great nation, only the people are cunts.
    • Józef Piłsudski, Myśli i wypsknięcia, Warszawa 2010, p. 41

Quotes about Piłsudski

  • In other cases, it was the army that seized power. General Josef Pilsudski, Poland's Cromwell, marched on Warsaw in 1926 to become de facto dictator until his death in 1935, when much, though not all, of his power passed to another soldier, Edward Smigly-Rydz.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. 230
  • Józef Piłsudski will remain in the memory of our nation as the founder of independence and as the victorious leader who fended off a foreign assault that threatened the whole of Europe and its civilization. Józef Piłsudski served his country well, and has entered our history forever.
    • Declaration of the Sejm (Lower House) of the Polish Parliament, May 12, 1995, the 60th anniversary of Piłsudski's death. Józef Piłsudski
  • [H]e was king of our hearts and ruler of our will. Through half a century of his life’s travails, he took into his possession heart after heart, soul after soul, until he had drawn the whole of Poland under the purple of his royal spirit.[...] He gave Poland freedom, boundaries, power and respect.
  • Whoever had the choice, would choose an eagle's nest on the cliffs in place of a home. May he know how to sleep, though his eyes be red from the thunder, and listen to the cries of the wild spirits in the murmur of the pines.
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