THE POLITICAL ASPECTS OF THE RELEASE OF JÓZEF PILSUDSKI FROM MAGDEBURG
The titular question has been discussed in literature on the subject upon numerous occasions. One of the heretofore unexamined sources are the papers of General Hans von Beseler, the German general governor, kept at the Bundesarchiv-Militärarchiv in Freiburg. They cast new light on the controversies between the German central authorities in Berlin and their occupation counterparts in Warsaw, the negotiations conducted with Pilsudski, the premises observed by the German government while making the decision about Pilsudski's release, and the protest voiced by Beseler and other representatives of the General Government in Warsaw. The key to the release of Pilsudski was the stand represented by the new authorities in Berlin. Prince Maximilian of Baden took this step because he wanted to guarantee a further economic exploitation of Polish lands and to protect them against their seizure by the Bolsheviks. On the other hand, the authorities in Warsaw - General Beseler, Colonel Nethe, the chief of staff, and Erich Schultze, commissar of the secret field police - opposed Pilsudski's return to Warsaw. At the beginning of November 1918 Beseler intervened in Berlin both personally and through the intermediary of Count Lerchenfeld, but to no avail. In view of the revolution progressing in Germany, on 5 November the German cabinet decided to release Pilsudski under the condition that he would sign a declaration promising not to embark upon anti-German activity. Despite Pilsudski's refusal, the possibility of his longer internment was excluded by the outbreak of the revolution. The German government dispatched a mission headed by Count Harry Kessler, who transported the Commander and Kazimierz Sosnkowski from Magdeburg to Warsaw. Pilsudski conducted a conciliatory policy towards the Germans and avoided bloodshed; at the same time, he skilfully achieved a withdrawal of the German army from Poland and thus prevented it threatening the construction of an independent Polish state.
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