-->"''Only the sword now carries any weight in the balance for the destiny of a nation.''"
-->-Field Marshall '''Józef Piłsudski'''

This was a war in from 1919-1921 over the existence and size of Poland. Since the late [=XVIIIth=] Century, there had been no such a thing as independent Poland, the country having been partitioned between the neighbouring powers, with the title of the King of Poland ultimately claimed by the Russian tsars. During WorldWarOne, the Germans formed a puppet Kingdom of Poland out of Russian territory with King Friedrich Hohenzollern (crowned Wilhelm II) of Germany. The heads of the German army wanted Poland to be under Germany's direct control and eastern Europe to be filled with small, weak states which would be under German economic and military leadership after the war. When [[RedOctober the Russian Red faction]] signed The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk with Germany in early 1918, Poland's status as a German satellite was affirmed by both sides. However, Germany went on to suffer staggering losses in her 1918 Spring Offensive and her army was shattered by the Entente Cordiale's ''Hundred Days' Offensive'' that summer. Faced with a starving populace threatening to rise up in revolution against them, the German Junta gave control over to the civilian government which promptly arranged a cease-fire and promised to formally surrender in the near future. The Poles, having long hoped for a world war to break out between their oppressors, wasted no time in disarming the Germans, Austro-Hungarians and whoever else. Taking advantage of the breakdown of German control over their country, the Poles declared ''full'' independence.

But while Russia had collapsed into Civil War and the Central Powers had been defeated and were being disarmed, the future of eastern Europe was left unclear. However, Poland's borders were disputed, in particular Poland's border with the ''de facto'' successor-state to the Russian Empire, the Soviet Russia (later 'Soviet Union') was not properly defined. Although the Russian Reds had been swept to power on promises of ending the food-shortages in Petersburg and Moscow, the continued economic crisis and Civil War severely disrupted Russian agriculture and led to the shortages becoming outright famine. Desperate to secure enough food to feed their troops and power-base in the cities, the Red Army began to raid the Russian countryside for food - causing artificial famines. Since the Polish-Soviet border was unclear, Red Army food-raiding parties soon clashed with Polish Army forces who refused to let them plunder 'Polish' villages (though the population in those areas was generally Belorussian or Ukrainian).

In 1919 the anti-Bolshevik forces had finally rallied under Admiral Kolchak's leadership and were waging a furious campaign to attempt to link up their forces in Russian Asia with those in the Caucusus before marching on Moscow. With the Red Army strained to its limits trying to fend them off, the Polish Army saw this as a perfect opportunity to strike against the Reds and launched an offensive/intervention/territorial-consolidation operation into Soviet-held [[UsefulNotes/{{Belarus}} Belorussia]] and [[UsefulNotes/{{Ukraine}} western Ukraine]] to improve Poland's bargaining position with the Reds in the negotiations over their mutual border. The early phase of the war was more an extended 'incident' (with little government support in terms of reinforcements, food, or ammunition being sent to either side) than a proper war, but in any case things soon got a bit more heated and neither government was particularly fussed about how it started.

With the Red Army otherwise occupied fighting the Whites and Greens, the Polish army occupied territory ''far'' in excess of what it could realistically hope to control with the forces and logistical train she had available - the war had ''devastated'' the horse-population of near-eastern Europe, but more importantly Poland lacked trains and train-cars she needed to supply such big forces over such incredibly long distances. So when the more-numerous and better-supplied Red Army finally crushed the back of White resistance, regrouped opposite the Polish forces, and launched an offensive operation they met with quick and thorough success. While they captured huge swathes of Polish-occupied territory, they too advanced to the limit of their own supply lines in their haste to advance. In the very heartland of Poland, on the outskirts of Warsaw itself, the Russian offensive was brought to a halt. Worse, their positions on the outskirts of Warsaw were unhinged by a [[DeadlyDodging flank attack]] [[ScrewThisImOuttaHere which caused the lead elements of the Red Army to rout as fast as they could while malnourished]]. This engagement became an important part of the mythos surrounding Poland's military dictator, Marshall Pilsudski, and Polish national history in general. In both narratives it is called 'the Miracle of the Vistula' (after the river that runs through Warsaw).

With the Poles looking like an un-palatably tough nut to crack at a time when the Soviet economy was teetering on the brink of collapse under the strain of (by that point) seven years of non-stop warfare - and Red Army forces needed elsewhere to crush the last White, Green, and Black holdouts - the Soviets resigned themselves to the reality of Polish independence and signed a ceasefire soon afterward. The French, taking advantage of their numerous contacts within both Poland and Russia and the high regard in which they were held by both, mediated at the peace-talks that followed and the border the three agreed upon remained in-place until 1939. The Soviets later coughed up the money to fortify their half with the so-called 'Stalin Line', but the Poles were too poor to reciprocate.

At the time the Battle of Warsaw was credited with saving Europe from the Bolsheviks, who've been stating their intention to carry the Revolution to the West, [[WeimarRepublic especially Germany]]. The basis for this claim is the heavily turbulent political climate in Germany and other countries of the region (Hungary had its own failed Red revolution), which might've been tipped to the favour of local Communists if the Red Army appeared on the doorstep. Of course, opinions vary on reality of that. What is clear, anyhow, is that the battle kept Poland from becoming a Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union.


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!!The Polish-Soviet War contains tropes such as:
* AristocratsAreEvil: What the Soviet Russians said about Poles. Conversely, Poles didn't support [[EnemyMine remaining Russian tsarist loyalists]] because the latter [[WhatAnIdiot were overt]] that they were planning to recreate TsaristRussia, Poland included (funnily enough, Soviet propaganda claimed that White general Wrangel was in league with Poland). However, the Russian General Tuchachevsky actually was a nihilist aristocrat who used poison gas against civilians in the Russian Civil War.
* BadassMoustache: Semyon Budionny, who came to prominence during the war, sported an extremely flamboyant version of those. As in, even in comparison to all the others in the war.
* BornInTheWrongCentury: Semyon Budionny, who was described as being closer in spirit to a leader of a Cossack warband[[note]]he had been [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin born and raised in a Cossack]] host[[/note]] than modern military commander.
* TheCavalry: The "miracle of the Vistula", which as it happens was done with actual cavalry.
** Large cavalry armies were more like norm than exception, due to the configuration of the land: very flat ground, large distances to be made on horseback due to sparse rail heads, abundant grass for foraging, the vast majority of recruits were countryside people who were accustomed to horses since childhood. IsaacBabel lampshaded it by saying about the Ukrainian leader Makhno: ''"he could raise an army with mounted riflemen and tachanka machine guns in one hour, and dismount it and hide it throughout farms in another hour, how are people supposed to fight that?"''
* TheChessmaster: Lenin, Trotsky, and Pilsudski.
* ChurchMilitant: The Polish Catholic Church. Poles were very devout Catholics as well as being very [[PatrioticFervor nationalistic]] and sometimes you get the impression that it is really ''Poland'' that is a ChurchMilitant.
** Slightly averted as [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jozef_Pilsudski Pilsudski]], the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naczelnik_Panstwa head of state/dictator/commander-in-chief]] at this time, was Protestant (he converted from Catholicism in 1899). He proposed a federation of independent states on the Soviet border - unfortunately it didn't succeed. While it is true that he had opposition and Poland was Catholic, it is less black and white.
** The future Pope Pius XI, papal nuncio to Poland, gave services in the trenches outside Warsaw, becoming the first representative of the Vatican to face Christendom's enemies on the battlefield since the Battle of Vienna.
* CrazyAwesome: Adrian Carton de Viart, a Belgian officer of the British Army who came to Poland as a military advisor and stayed for random saber combats with the Cossacks, big game hunting and wars with half of the neighbors.
* CrowningMomentOfAwesome: Battle of Warsaw. As a state-level example of HeroicResolve, it was dubbed "The Miracle of the Vistula". Ironically, it was also intended as an EmbarrassingNickname for the Polish victory by Piłsudski's enemies.
** Also of note: [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Komarów Battle of Komarów]], "the last great cavalry battle of the world", and the fact that Polish radio operators jammed Soviet communications by spamming the aether with Literature/TheBible.
*** Of course, "Last Great Cavalry Battle" is subjective, and probably subject to spin. A lot of the hype about it (largest cavalry battle in the 20th century, pure cavalry battle, etc) are basically overhyped nationalist chest-thumping. Of course, this does not detract from Polish cavalry gaining revenge for what happened in the Ukraine and effectively knocking the main Soviet cavalry Army out of the war.
** To the other side, this could be the battle of Kiev, where the Russians swiftly defeated the invading Polish army.
* DirtyCommunists: What Poles said about Russians.
* EagleSquadron: The Kosciuszko Squadron, a band of American Volunteers who flew for Poland, named after a Polish volunteer officer in UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution.
* EnemyMine: Subverted. Many notable figures among the Russian White emigration rooted for their bitter enemies, the Bolsheviks, viewing the war as a yet another installment of the 500-year long Poland vs. Russia struggle. For them, it was Communist Russia - [[MyCountryRightOrWrong but Russia nonetheless]].
** Also played with by Piłsudski, who saw Soviet Russia as an enemy of his primary enemy -- that is, Imperial Russia who had claims to Polish territory -- and never got into close cooperation with the Whites despite fighting against the Reds.
* FightingForAHomeland: what Poles started out as, and Petliura's Ukrainians.
* GambitPileup: Seriously, the Russian Civil War had almost a dozen sides with various agendas. The Polish-Soviet War itself wasn't as bad, but still had its share.
* GloriousLeader: Piłsudski was a less nasty version of this then some.
* TheHorde: How the Red Army was depicted by the Poles. Aside from obvious propaganda, Budionny's Horse Army ''had'' at least ''some'' features of a Cossack host.
* ImprovisedWeapon : As [[SchizoTech odd as it sounds]], scythes and pitchforks were often used en masse as makeshift polearms against Russian cavalry (mainly by the countryside militias).
** Somewhat of a traditional weapon of polish peasants ever since the 19th-century uprisings, a straigh-mounted scythe was described by the people who happened to find themselves at the wrong end of it (i.e. Imperial Russia soldiers) as one of the most [[NightmareFuel horrifyingly efficient weapons ever]] in the skilled peasant hands.
* ModernMajorGeneral: Stalin's interference seriously undermined the Soviet war effort and presaged his later bungling against NaziGermany in UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, which nearly led to the USSR's destruction.
* MyCountryRightOrWrong: The Bolshevik leadership hoped that Polish workers and peasants would rebel against the ruling class and turn to their side in the war. However, Polish propaganda successfully invoked this trope, managing to quell class struggle and unite the country's society under the banner of nationalism.
* NearVillainVictory: Again, by the middle of 1920, Poland had lost over half of its territory, was considerably outnumbered, was on the verge of losing both Lwow and Warsaw, and generally had no fat left to burn while Western shipments were being delayed by the Fifth Column elsewhere and it was even feared that a limited capitulation would be necessary to prevent outright Communist revolution throughout Central Europe. Then the Battle of Warsaw happened.
** From the other side of the barricade, this could be said of the war's beginning period, when the Polish army pulled a CurbStompBattle on the fledgling and still rather rag-tag Red Army and advanced as far as Kiev.
* PeoplesRepublicOfTyranny: What Poles said about Russians.
* PolesWithPoleaxes: Nearly literally, if you count the ImprovisedWeapon entry above.
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits: Played with. The Poles started without an army as they hadn't gotten around to forming one. What they did have was lots and lots of ''soldiers'' for recent events had left Europe with more soldiers then it knew what to do with. Enough of these were ethnic Poles or Polish sympathizers for the Poles to put together a reasonably proficient army in time to take the field.
* RapePillageAndBurn: all sides involved committed atrocities. IsaacBabel, as a Russian Jewish correspondent, talked with great pity and sympathy of the way Poles and Russians ravaged the countryside, wantonly killing, and how Jews were furiously hated and hunted by both.
* RedsWithRockets: One of the first wars of the Communist Russia's army, besides the ongoing Russian Civil War.
* RebelLeader: many on both sides were, once were, or claimed to be this. Notably, Symon Petliura and Semyon Budyonny, two former rebel leaders in the Ukraine, joined separate sides in the war.
* SchizoTech: radio jamming, machine guns mounted on peasant carts, war scythes, tanks, cavalry sabres and lances, airplanes. Military theorists drew literally contradictory conclusions from this war's experiences.
* {{Spinoff}}: This can be considered a spinoff of the [[RedOctober Russian Civil War]], which itself was a spinoff of WorldWarOne. And the ''spinoff of it'' was Polish conquest of (then Lithuanian-held) city of Vilnius/Wilno. It raised UnfortunateImplications by fueling a maniacal hatred of Polish aristocracy among Russian Bolsheviks and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_repressions_of_Polish_citizens_%281939%E2%80%931946%29 the atrocities of]] WorldWarTwo and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalinism_in_Poland#Stalinist_era_.281948.E2.80.931956.29 of immediate]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piotr_%C5%9Amieta%C5%84ski afterwards years]] were themselves a spinoff of the conflict.
* WeAreStrugglingTogether
* WonTheWarLostThePeace: The Polish government was dominated by the Nationalists, who wanted only as much territory as it could be [[YouWillBeAssimilated assimilated]] into Poland, as opposed to Piłsudski, who wanted as much ground as he could to make it into allied buffer states. So, the Poles took less than the Reds were willing to offer, screwing their Ukrainian allies in the process.
** LesserOfTwoEvils: gaining most of the Ukrainian and Belorussian territory would have restored the historical Commonwealth of Poland, but at the same time create a country with less than 30 million Poles and maybe 20 million of Ukrainian and Belorussian citizens, enough for the Poles [[OhCrap to loose the majority in their own country]]. During [[TheThirties the turbulent 1930s]], this might have been the death sentence of the Polish Republic before [[WorldWarTwo the first bullet of 1939]] was fired.

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!!The Polish-Soviet War in fiction :

* Perhaps the most well-known work of fiction set in this era is the ''Red Cavalry'' cycle by Russian author IsaacBabel.
* The war has unsurprisingly been also covered by several Polish works, among them the recent 3D film.
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