National Democracy

National Democracy
This article is about a Polish political movement. For Italian party, see National Democracy (Italy). For a Jamaican party, see National Democratic Movement. For the Swedish party, see National Democrats (Sweden).

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National Democracy (Polish: Narodowa Demokracja, also known from its abbreviation ND as "Endecja") was a Polish right-wing nationalist political movement active from the latter 19th century to the end of the Second Polish Republic in 1939. A founder and principal ideologue was Roman Dmowski. Other ideological fathers of the movement were Zygmunt Balicki and Jan Ludwik Popławski.[1]

The National Democracy's main stronghold was Greater Poland (western Poland), where much of the movement's early impetus derived from efforts to counter Imperial Germany's policy of Germanizing its Polish territorial holdings. Subsequently a focus of National Democracy interest was countering Polish-Jewish economic competition with Catholic Poles. Party supporters were mostly ethnic-Polish intelligentsia, bourgeoisie, middle class and youth.

During the interbellum Second Republic, National Democracy was a strong advocate for Polonization of the country's German minority and of the non-Polish (chiefly Ukrainian and Belarusian) populations of Poland's eastern Kresy.

With the end of World War II, the National Democracy movement effectively ceased to exist.


The origins of the ND can be traced to the 1864 failure of the January 1863 Uprising and to the era of Polish Positivism. After that Uprising – the last in a series of 19th-century Polish uprisings – had been bloodily crushed by Poland's partitioners, the new generation of Polish patriots and politicians concluded that Poland's independence would not be won on the battlefield but through education and culture.

In 1886 the secret Polish League (Liga Polska) was founded, in 1893 renamed National League (Liga Narodowa). From 1895 the League published a newspaper, Przegląd Wszechpolski (The All-Polish Review), and from 1897 it had an official political party, the National-Democratic Party (Stronnictwo Narodowo-Demokratyczne). Unlike the Polish Socialist Party (PPS), the ND advocated peaceful negotiations. Influenced by Roman Dmowski's radical nationalist and social-Darwinist ideas, National Democrats turned against other nationalities within the Polish lands, most notably the Jews; anti-Semitism became a key element of ND ideology.[2]

During World War I, while PPS, under the influence of Józef Piłsudski, supported the Central Powers against Russia (the Polish Legions), the ND first allied itself with the Russian Empire (supporting the creation of the Puławy Legion) and later with the Western Powers (supporting the Polish Blue Army in France). At war's end, many ND politicians enjoyed much more influence abroad than in Poland. This allowed them to share power with Piłsudski, who had much more support in the military than they did. Still, due to their support abroad, ND politicians such as Dmowski and Ignacy Paderewski were able to gain backing for some Polish demands at the Paris Peace Conference of 1919 and in the Treaty of Versailles.

Second Republic

In the newly independent Second Polish Republic, the ND was represented first by the National Populist Union (Związek Ludowo-Narodowy), and from 1928 by the National Party (Stronnictwo Narodowe). A chief characteristic of ND policies was their emphasis on Polonization of minorities: ND politicians such as Dmowski and Stanisław Grabski contributed to the failure of Piłsudski's proposed Międzymorze federation and of the alliance with the Ukrainian leader Symon Petlura, and to the alienation of Poland's ethnic minorities. After Piłsudski's May 1926 Coup d'État, the ND found itself in constant opposition to his Sanation regime. To fight the Sanation movement, the ND created the Camp of Great Poland (Obóz Wielkiej Polski).

Simultaneously the ND emphasized its anti-Semitic program, aimed at excluding Jews from Polish social and economic life and ultimately at pushing them to emigration from Poland.[3] Antisemitic actions and incidents – boycotts, demonstrations, even attacks – organized or inspired by National Democrats occurred during the 1930s. The most notorious actions were taken by a splinter group of radical young former NDs who formed the fascist-inspired National Radical Camp (Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny)[4]

World War II

During World War II, the ND became part of a coalition which formed the Polish Government in Exile. It was closely linked with the National Armed Forces (Narodowe Siły Zbrojne), an underground organization which became a part of the Polish resistance movement. ND armed organizations fought not only against Nazi Germany but also against the Soviet Union. Both occupying forces regarded members of the movement as their mortal enemy, and its leaders were killed in mass executions, in concentration camps and in the Katyn massacre. Among those killed are:

  • Leopold Bieńkowski (father of Zygmunt Witymir Bieńkowski), arrested by the NKVD in early 1940, died in a Gulag near Arkhangelsk in 1941
  • reverend Feliks Bolt, a senator of the Republic of Poland, died in Stutthof in 1940
  • Tadeusz Fabiani, a lawyer, shot at Pawiak in 1940
  • Stanisław Głąbiński, died in NKVD prison in Lubyanka in 1940
  • doctor Wincenty Harembski, shot in NKVD prison in Kharkiv in 1940
  • Tadeusz Zygmunt Hernes, journalist, killed in Katyń massacre
  • reverend Marceli Nowakowski, shot in Warsaw in December 1939
  • Stanisław Piasecki, writer, shot in Palmiry in June 1941
  • reverend Jozef Pradzynski, died in Dachau in 1942
  • Michał Starczewski, murdered in the Katyn massacre
  • Tadeusz Szefer, murdered in the Katyn massacre
  • Jan Szturmowski, murdered by the Germans in September 1939
  • Jan Waliński, murdered by the NKVD in Kharkiv in 1940
  • Jan Wujastyk, murdered in the Katyn massacre
  • Czesław Jóźwiak, murdered by the Gestapo in 1940 in Dresden prison
  • Jozefat Sikorski, murdered by the Gestapo in the Berlin-Plotzensee prison in 1942
  • Antoni Wolniewicz, murdered by the Gestapo in the Berlin-Plotzensee prison in 1942

After the war

After the war, when Poland found itself controlled by Polish communists and the Soviet Union, most remaining NDs either emigrated to the West or continued an ultimately futile struggle against the Soviet occupation. Others joined the new regime – most notably, the ONR-Falanga leader Bolesław Piasecki, who co-organized a regime-controlled Catholic movement.

Today's Poland

Since the fall of communism, when Poland became once again a democratically governed country, several political parties have sought to re-establish some ND traditions; their adherents prefer to call themselves the "national movement" (ruch narodowy). Currently the only significant party that declares itself a successor to the ND is the League of Polish Families (Liga Polskich Rodzin)[citation needed], founded in 2001 by Roman Giertych, grandson of Jędrzej Giertych, pre-war ND politician; it received 8% of the parliamentary vote in 2001, rising to 16% in 2004, then failing to receive the necessary 5% of the vote in 2007 and losing all of its parliamentary seats.



  1. ^ Davies 2005, 40.
  2. ^ "Hardly surprisingly, anti-Semitism became a key element in the ND ideology." – J. Lukowski and H. Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, Cambridge University Press, 2001, Google Print, pp. 173-74.
  3. ^ André Gerrits, Dirk Jan Wolffram (2005). Political Democracy and Ethnic Diversity in Modern European History. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9780804749763. 
  4. ^ "The appeal of fascism and of anti-Semitism was most pronounced among young radical NDs, who in 1934 formed the National Radical Camp (ONR), from which emerged the distinctly totalitarian ONR-Falanga under Bolesław Piasecki." – J. Lukowski and H. Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, Cambridge University Press, 2001, Google Print, pp. 217-18


Further reading

  • Friszke, Andrzej (1989). O kształt niepodległej. Warszawa: Biblioteka "Więzi". ISBN 83-7006-014-5. 
  • Grott, Bogumił (1993). Religia, kościół, etyka w ideach i koncepcjach prawicy polskiej: Narodowa Demokracja. Kraków: Nomos. OCLC 35198390. 
  • Holzer, Jerzy (July 1977). "The Political Right in Poland, 1918-39". Journal of Contemporary History 12 (3): 395–412. doi:10.1177/002200947701200301. 
  • Kawalec, Krzysztof (1989). Narodowa Demokracja wobec faszyzmu 1922-1939: Ze studiów nad dziejami myśli politycznej obozu narodowego. Warszawa: Państwowy Instytut Wydawniczy. ISBN 83-06-01728-5. 
  • Maj, Ewa (2000). Związek Ludowo-Narodowy 1919-1928: Studium z dziejów myśli politycznej. Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej. ISBN 83-227-1585-4. 
  • Porter, Brian A. (Winter 1992). "Who is a Pole and Where is Poland? Territory and Nation in the Rhetoric of Polish National Democracy before 1905". Slavic Review (Slavic Review, Vol. 51, No. 4) 51 (4): 639–53. doi:10.2307/2500129. JSTOR 2500129. 
  • Rudnicki, Szymon (1985). Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny: Geneza i działalność. Warszawa: Czytelnik. ISBN 83-07-01221-X. 
  • Terej, Jerzy Janusz (1979). Rzeczywistość i polityka: Ze studiów nad dziejami najnowszymi Narodowej Demokracji (2nd ed.). Warszawa: Książka i Wiedza. OCLC 7972621. 
  • Wapiński, Roman (1980). Narodowa Demokracja 1893-1939. Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy Imienia Ossolińskich. ISBN 83-04-00008-3. 
  • Wapiński, Roman (1989). Roman Dmowski (2nd ed.). Lublin: Wydawnictwo Lubelskie. ISBN 83-222-0480-9. 
  • Wapiński, Roman (1991). Pokolenia Drugiej Rzeczypospolitej. Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy Imienia Ossolińskich. ISBN 83-04-03711-4. 

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