“Hromada’s Day” in the Polish Sejm (Feb. 4, 1927). The Belarusian national movement under the early Sanacja Regime

On the night of January 14-15, 1927, five deputies were arrested in Poland despite Article 21 of the Constitution which stipulated the privilige of parliamentary immunity. They were all Belarusian politicians, and four of the deputies were from the Belarusian Peasants Workers Union (Hromada). Hromada was founded in June 1925 as a result of a split in the Belarusian Club in the Polish Parliament. The other deputy belonged to the Independent Peasant Party, which had been formed in November 1924 by radical pro-Communist elements of the Polish Peasant Party “Wyzwolenie.”

Stormy debates in the Sejm on the matter began immediately after the arrests. They peaked on February 4, 1927, which historian Aleksan- dra Bergman called “Hromada’s Day in the Sejm.”1 Later, after further heated discussions, the Sejm voted to approve the arrests of the five dep- uties and send them to court. This was a turning point in the policy of the Polish government, toward not only the Belarusian minority, but also all of the other national minorities in the Kresy (eastern borderlands). At the same time, it can be said that, in the sense of the infringement of parlia- mentary immunity, this was one of the turning points in the decline of par- liamentary democracy in interwar Poland. This article discusses the sup- pression of the Belarusian national movement under Piłsudski’s regime (Sanacja) in its early days, focusing on analyzing specifically the discus- sions in the Sejm on “Hromada’s Day” (February 4, 1927).

By the time of the coup détat led by Józef Piłsudski on May 12, 1926, it was already clear that the parliamentary government had not been able to deal effectively with not only the pressing problems of national minor- ities, but also the social and political issues in Poland. The national mi- norities in Poland were disillusioned and disgusted with the successive governments’ policies toward minorities. Therefore, Piłsudski’s seizure of power raised hope that matters concerning national minorities might im- prove. The coup aroused enthusiasm, especially among most of the Jews. Although the action taken by Piłsudski was evidently against the Con- stitution and rule of law, it was acclaimed, with only a few exceptions, by the Jewish politicians in the Polish parliament. They regarded it as a rescue – not only of the Jews, but of Poland as a whole – from the political sit- uation which was inevitably leading to “anarchy and ruin.”1

Both the representatives of the German minority and most of the Ukrainians in the Polish parliament also accepted this upheaval in Pol- ish politics with acclamation.2 This favorable attitude toward Piłsudski, particularly on the part of the moderate nationalists among the Ukrai- nians, reflected his past of struggling against the Bolsheviks along with Symon Petlula, president of the Directory (the Ukrainian nation- al government).3

The Belarusian Club, which was formed by the deputies who did not join Hromada, approached Piłsudski’s power grab cautiously.4 Despite this, there was some hope of reconciliation with the Poles, for example, among the Belarusian Christian Democrats, but it soon turned to disil- lusionment.5 When the anti-democratic and anti-parliamentary charac- ter of Pilsudski’s regime became evident, the Belarusian Club started to turn against the government.

Hromada, on the other hand, took a hostile attitude toward Piłsudski from the start, immediately after the coup. This can be clearly seen in the speeches of Branislaŭ Tarashkievich, who was the leader of Hromada and was later arrested despite his immunity as a deputy. On June 22, 1926, in the first Sejm debate under Piłsudski’s power, Tarashkievich – in the name of Hromada, the Belarusian Club, the Ukrainian Club and two Pol- ish communist groups – proposed a motion for amnesty for political pris- oners.6 Three days later, in his first speech after the coup, Tarashkievich already began to condemn Piłsudski. He provocatively stated: “Piłsudski is himself a former revolutionary, a terrorist, a former Socialist who fought for freedom for his nation. But now he treats the thousands of peo- ple who are fighting for peasants, workers and oppressed nations with indifference.”1 Tarashkievich’s critical stance toward Piłsudski and the Sanacja regime did not change until his last speech in the Sejm, which was delivered on November 16, 1926.

Here, it should be emphasized that Tarashkievich himself was – and this was well known – a former “Polonophile” politician who had close contacts with many prominent Poles, including politicians who followed Piłsudski.2 In 1924, a revolutionary and pro-Soviet trend grew to prom- inence in the Belarusian Club (Tarashkiewich was its president at the time) as a result of the inability of the Polish government to deal with social issues in the Kresy and the growth of pro-Soviet Union sympathy among the Belarusians in Poland due to the extension of the Belarusian Soviet Republic territories, its policies of Belarusization, and so on. Even then, Tarashkievich was still not against cooperating with the Polish left- wing parties.3

The mentions of Tarashkievich by his political oppornents confirm his former Polonophilism. For example, Juliusz Zdanowski, a senator from the Popular National Union (ZLN),4 which was the most powerful right-wing party and extremely hostile to Hromada, wrote in his diary on January 21, 1927, that Tarashkievich had previously been “an excellent Pole.” It is interesting that – according to Zdanowski – Tarashkievich had been “a tutor of the stepson of Marian Kiniorski,” a deputy from ZLN. Zdanowski noted that Tarashkievich’s former pupil was Stefan Sosnowski, the “cur- rent public vice-prosecutor of Vilna” and it was he “who arrested his for- mer tutor.”5

However, Tarashkievich felt betrayed and disillusioned by the policy of the Polish government, especially by the colonization of the Kresy, the language laws of 1924 and the land reform bill of 1925. Thus, he changed his political opinions and created Hromada, an openly pro-Communist po- litical party. What was Hromada? According to Tarashkievich, it was “the expression of the woeful experiences and struggles of the last ten years, of the disappointments and hopes, an expression of the daily needs and as- pirations of all the working people of Western Belarus.”1 It was reported that when he stated this, Tarashkievich looked like a completely changed man, and that his previously “tenor” voice had taken on a “bass” tone.2

Neverthless, it seems to be characteristic that in his speeches we often see Tarashkievich’s mortification at Piłsudski’s radical change of course. Because of his Polonophile past, his mortification seemed to be all the stronger. For instance, he argued: “During the time Piłsudski was Head of State [1919-1922 – M.Y.], the peasants [in the Kresy - M.Y.] did not pay as much in taxes as they pay now, or as they paid under the Grabski and Skrzyński governments. […] But immediately after Piłsudski’s coup d’état, the enforcement of payment of taxes and arrears became stricter, and taxes are raised ruthlessly, as if the very skin of the peasant is being flayed.”3 Even in his last speech in the Sejm, he said: “We never expected much from Piłsudski, from the Piłsudski whom we knew in 1919-1920, who made such empty promises to give us a truly democratic government. But even so, we never imagined that Piłsudski’s government would be so dark and so openly reactionary as they are now.”4

Piłsudski’s change of course became evident soon after he took power. When Piłsudski first formed his own Cabinet on October 2, 1926, he nominated Karol Niezabytowski as Minister of Agriculture and Aleksand- er Meysztowicz as Minister of Justice. Both were eminent landowners of the Kresy. The appointment of Niezabytowski, who was “a former school- mate of Piłsudski” – according to an expert of the history of Vilna – was “perhaps a reward for his support to the Polish Socialist Party after the ‘Bezdany raid’ in 1908.”5 On the other hand, Meysztowicz was one of the pro-Russian and conciliatory Poles who had participated in the ceremo- ny for the unveiling of a monument to Ekaterina II in Vilna in September 1904 (a so-called “kataryniarz”).1 The proposal of the position of Minister of Justice to Meysztowicz seemed surprising, knowing Piłsudski’s hatred of the policy of conciliation toward Russia before Poland’s independence. However, this was just a prelude to Piłsudski’s turn toward the conserva- tives of the Kresy. On October 25, 1926, he visited Nieśwież, the Radziwiłł family estate, and had the opportunity to meet a large number of promi- nent landowners. Afterwards, the Kresy saw the dynamic evolution of the Belarusian national movement led by Hromada.

The disfunction and paralysis of the Polish administration and po- lice in the Kresy caused by Piłsudski’s coup made it possible for Hroma- da’s influence to spread quickly among not only the peasants, but also among the workers in towns and the Belarusian intelligentsia.2 The re- port by the Ministry of Internal Affairs concerning the months August- November 1926 gave the following explanation for Hromada’s organiza- tional success:

In the villages, circles called “hurtki” were set up. They form a dis- trict (powiat) organization or a regional (okręgowy) one which brings to- gether some neighboring districts. Each local organization is divided into three sections: political, cultural-educational and sports – the last is also a squad (bojówka). In many of the “hurtki”, a women’s section was also or- ganized to draw women to political activity and auxiliary work in the or- ganization. All the activities of the Hromada movement and of its deputies in the Sejm was led by the Central Committee, whose excutive organs are the Central Secretariat in Vilna and the local excutive committees. The Central Committee of Hromada is lead by the Presidium of five members with Tarashkievich as president.3

According to the Central Secretariat of Hromada, the number of “hurtki” had increased to 1,720, and the number of members to 66,996 by December 10, 1926, while in June of the same year, it had only had 19 hurtki and 569 members. Moreover, in January 1927, by forming two new district organizations (Baranowicze and Wołożyn). Hromada claimed that membership had reached 100,000.4

With the rapid growth of Hromada, the landowners of the Kresy, espe- cially in the north-eastern borderlands, saw dangerous factors which could menace their dominant socio-economic position. The conservative newspa- pers such as Słowo, as well as nationalist ones such as Dziennik Wileński, undertook a campaign against Hromada. They even propagated a “fairy tale” about “[Soviet – M.Y.] airplanes that dropped batches of weapons for Hromada.”1 All this seems to show how much the Polish landowners and nationalists were unnerved by the Belarusian movement. On November 13, 1926, ZLN submitted a proposal that the Sejm demand that the gov- ernment immediately abolish Hromada.2 Meysztowicz – it is said – ac- cepted his nomination as Minister of Justice only on the condition of be- ing allowed to crush Hromada and the Independent Peasant Party.3 His appointment as Minister of Justice seemed to be a warning of the coming suppression of not only these radical parties, but of the Belarusian nation- al movement as a whole.

On the night of January 14-15, 1927, the Polish authorites made mass arrests of communists and pro-communist affiliates, particularly mem- bers of Hromada. This took place in Warsaw and in the northeast provinc- es. Three deputies of the Hromada Club in the Sejm – Tarashkievich, Sy- mon Rak-Michajloŭski and Pawel Valoshyn – were arrested despite their privilege of immunity as members of parliament. On January 16, the ar- rest of Piotr Miatla, a deputy of Hromada, and Feliks Halavach, a deputy of the Independent Peasant Party, followed. At the same time, the police made a search of the Belarusian School Association. The Belarusian Co- operative Bank was also forced to close.4 About 800 people were arrest- ed in these actions.5

The suppression of Hromada had already begun by the end of 1926. The mass actions had been planned by the Polish authorities, which, tak- ing the external and internal situation into account, had been waiting for an appropriate occasion to put them into action. However, the plans of mass arrests against Hromada were to meet opposition from a group within Sanacja that was democratic and radical in character, and felt a need to deal fairly with national minorities.6 Moreover, at the beginning,

Piłsudski himself was reluctant to agree to the plan because the Kresy landowners’ apprehension of Hromada was – as he saw it – a sign of their “cowardice” or resulted from an exaggerated fear of Hromada’s power.1 The discordance of opinions within the Cabinet resulted in Meysztowicz’s ten- dering his resignation – as a protest – from his post on January 5, 1927. His resignation, however, was not accepted.

However, already on January 3, 1927 – as Kazimierz Świtalski, head of the Political Department of the Ministry of Interal Affairs, wrote – Piłsudski had spoken with Maciej Rataj, Marshal (speaker) of the Sejm about “the expected arrest of some deputies.”2 Piłsudski mentioned it while talking about the adjournment of the debate in the Sejm on the budget for the year 1927-28 to February. According to Świtalski, Rataj ex- pressed his sympathy for Piłsudski’s ideas and agreed that if it could not be clearly proven that these deputies received money from foreign sourc- es, it would be enough to give evidence showing that they acted according to the instructions of a foreign country. The Marshal of the Sejm said that he would ask Minister Meysztowicz to explain the arrest of the deputies, but he would do no more than that. Rataj’s memoirs confirm that there had been prior meetings between him and the government. “Piłsudski, [Kazimierz] Bartel [vice premier – M.Y.] and Meysztowicz asked me many times,” noted Rataj, “how I would react in the case of the arrests of these deputies. I answered: ‘Arrest them in the very act of a common crime. I will not make any difficulty and I will go along with you while going through the motions of my duties as Marshal of the Sejm.’”3

In the morning of January 15, 1927, Rataj knew three deputies had been arrested and soon sent a letter asking the Minister of Justice to ex- plain the reasons. However, Meysztowicz’s reply was not sufficient, so Rataj helped him in formulating it appropriately in order to block the ex- pected opposition of the leftist parties. But it should be noted that Rataj himself realized that the above document could only help him pretend that the arrests of the deputies were not in contravention of Article 21 of the Constitution which ordained parliamentary immnunity. Thus, as Andrzej Garlicki points out, the government’s infringement of Article 21 was carried out with the cooperation of the Marshal of the Sejm. Never- theless, Rataj was embarrassed by the further news that two more depu- ties were arrested within only 24 hours of the previous arrests, and espe- cially by the fact that Halavach was arrested when he was cleaning up a cow-shed.1 It seemed to Rataj that this “blunder” by Meysztowicz would make it difficult to claim that Halavach was arrested “in the act of com- miting a crime.”

 

Furthermore, Rataj came to understand that neither of the points that he had stipulated – neither had they been “caught in the act” nor were they arrested for commiting a “common crime” (zbrodnia pospolita) – had been proven clearly in the documents provided by the Minister of Justice, the public prosecutors office of the Wilna district, and so on. In fact, the terms “in the act of commiting a crime” and “common crime” were key questions in the Sejm debates. The issue of the interpretation of these terms – as Dariusz Szpoper, author of a biography of Aleksander Mesztowicz, right- ly suggests – was a determining factor in the question of whether the gov- ernment actions could be justified or not.2

On January 24, 1927, the Committee of Regulations of the Sejm was convened to discuss the government’s proposal to send the arrested deputies to court. The Committee consisted of 15 members, and its chairman was Karol Popiel, who was a eader of the National Workers Party, one of the center parties. Meysztowicz attended it with some representatives of the public prosecutor. Rataj also was there. It should be noted that it was not normal procedure to hold such a meeting before a plenary session of the Sejm decided to send a matter to a Committee.

At the beginning of the Committee, Rataj explained that “indeed, from the point of view of parliamentary custom, the debate in the Commission should not be started until the plenum formally directed it to deal with the government’s proposal, but the matter of the arrest of the deputies was an exceptional case that should be resolved as soon as possible.”3 Thus, he decided – with the agreement of its chairman – to convene the Commis- sion to immediately discuss the proposal. Despite this, Rataj claimed that he would withdraw the decision if any single member would not agree to it. Fabian Jaremich, a representative of the Belarusian Club, protested against it, stating that as the arrest of the deputies had violated the consti- tution, it shouldn’t be necessary to breach regulations even further to deal with the matter in such a hurry. As a result of his protest, the chaiman closed that day’s meeting of the Committee without a debate.

Already during the meeting of the Council of Elders (Konwent Se- niorów), which was held just before the Committee of Regulations, Jaremich expressed his distrust of the Marshal of the Sejm’s behavior. Rataj said that he would not deal with the matter of the arrested deputies as an item of the agenda of the January 26 plenary session because it would be sufficient – as he saw it – for the Marshal to inform the plenum about having received the government’s proposal and entrusting the Committee with the matter. Jaremich protested adopting such a procedure, criticizing Rataj for doing nothing to liberate the arrested deputies. Rataj challenged him to call for a motion of no confidence against the Sejm Marshal.1 The Belarusian Club along with the Ukrainian Club decided to do it.

During its next meeting (January 26, 1927), the Committee began to discuss the government’s proposal and chose Stefan Dobrzański – a dep- uty of ZLN and a lawyer – to report back to the plenum of the Sejm. Many deputies and senators came to the hall to observe the Committee meeting, but before the start of debate, the Minister of Justice demanded that the chairman make it a closed discussion. Popiel accepted this and ordered all non-members to leave the hall. Meysztowicz explained to the commit- tee the situation in the Kresy which had finally forced the government to arrest the five deputies. He placed great emphasis on the growing influ- ence of the Soviets, referring even to the words of Józef Szujski, a historian of nineteenth-century Poland who belonged to the Kraków conservatives (Stańczycy): “Poland had once been [before and during its partition – M.Y.], as it were, a guest house for foreign powers. But I can affirm that it will not be that way in reborn Poland.”2 In this committee – as he noted in his memoirs – the Minister of Justice tried to speak slowly and carefully and to avoid using any rhetoric which might be unnecessarily inflammatory. And his “tactics” – according to Meysztowicz – brought him a good result, because he succeeded in minimizing the effects of the criticism by mem- bers of the left parties and national minorities, who were represented there only by the Jewish Club and the Belarusian Club.3

The details of this closed discussion are unknown, but we can glean some of them from the discussion in the plenum on “Hromada’s day,” be- cause there, all its members repeated their speeches. It was reported that Dawid Schreiber, a representative of the Jewish Circle, demanded to set up a sub-committee which would consist of three members – one from the right, one from the left and one from national minorities – which would cooperate with Dobrzański in formulating the report.4 Along with the na- tional minorities, the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) and the Peasant Party supported the motion, but it was voted down (5 to 8).1 The Peasant Party had been founded in March 1926 as a result of the constantly changing alignment of the peasant parties. Józef Sanojca represented this party in the Sejm Committee of Regulations, but his voting – as we can see – was not consistent. It, perhaps, reflected his party’s favoring of Piłsudski in those early days.

 

The last meeting about this matter (February 3, 1927) was also “a closed-door session,” despite Jaremich’s demands for it to be open. Dobrzański, a representative of the Committee to the plenum, gave a five-hour speech arguing for the arrest of the deputies. According to a Zionist newspaper, in his speech, Dobrzański classified Poland’s national minorities into two types – “conscious nationalities,” like the Jews, who know what they want and what they are striving for, and “unconscious nationalities,” like the Belarusians. Communism is predominant among them, and it was the arrested deputies who made communism so influential in the Kresy. Therefore, they should not be released. Jaremich opposed Dobrański’s opinion, stating that communism was the greatest tragedy for the people of the Kresy, but it was the Poles who boosted communism by their governing and excessive arrests, which brought nothing.

Schreiber demanded once more to set up a sub-committee, but was again rejected. This time, too, only the five members mentioned above supported it. After the discussion, Dobrzański’s motion was passed by a vote of eight to four.2 It demanded that, in accordance with the proposal of the public prosecutor of the Vilna district dated January 21, 1927, the Sejm allow the case against the arrested deputies to proceed to trial. Here, Schreiber proposed another motion which reads: “The Committee affirms that the arrest of the deputies without the Sejm’s previous permission is not in accordance with Article 21 of the Constitution.” This was also re- jected, receiving only the votes of the same five deputies.

On February 4, 1927, the Sejm was convened to discuss the issues concerning the arrested deputies. At its start, Dobrzański, as the representative of the Committee of Regulations, presented the report sent to the Minister of Justice by the prosecutor of the Appeals Court in Vilna of January 21, 1927. It can be summarized as follows:

The five deputies took part in the Central Committee of the Commu- nist Party of Western Belarus (KPZB) and of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Poland (KPP). Under their instructions they es- tablished Hromada and the Independent Peasant Party (NPCh) as new political organizations which would seemingly act legally, but would ac- tually be guided by the Communist International (Comintern). When Tarashkievich and Rak-Michajloŭski participated in the meeting which was held in Gdańsk in 1925 by representatives of the Soviets and Com- intern, along with ones from KPZB and KPP, they agreed that Hromada would follow without qualification the Communist Faction in the Polish parliament and, at the same time, were promised to get continuing finan- cial support from the Soviets. Judging by the testimonies of the deponents and Hromada’s resolutions, Hromada’s obligations were: 1) in the case of war between Poland and the Soviets, to support the latter by diversion- ary and armed actions; 2) to attempt to cause an armed insurrection in the north-east provinces (województwo), regardless of its possibility of suc- cess, as long as the Soviets needed it from the standpoint of their policy to- ward Poland. In order to fulfill these obligations, the five deputies creat- ed armed communist “jaczejki” (cells) in their parties and “kom-jaczejki” (communist cells) in the army under instructions from Soviet agents with financial support from the Soviets. There is reliable circumstancial evi- dence which confirms that in their respective parties, they had been spy- ing in favor of the Soviets. The decision to establish a bank which would work exclusively for these political aims had already been made at the above-mentioned meeting in Gdańsk. This resulted in the foundation of the Belarusian Cooperative Bank in Vilna. Through this bank these Be- larusian deputies could get a large amount of money which was sent via Riga from the Soviets and Comintern.1

Here, it should be remembered that Andrzej Garlicki noted: “it is dif- ficult to judge what kind of a role the communists played in forming the Hromada Club.”2

Subsequently, Dobrzański read out the accusations against each of the arrested deputies. As we see (Table 1), the charges against each of the arrested deputies were different.3

Table  1.   Contents  of   the   charges   against   the   accused. (T: Tarashkievich W: Valoshyn R: Rak-Michajloŭski M: Miatla H: Halavach)

Deputy … is accused:

T

R

M

W

H

that, until his arrest, as president or a member of Central Secretariat of Belarusian Workers and Peasants Hromada [1] [in the case of Halavach: a member of Central Board of the Independent Peasant Party – M.Y.] and a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Western Belarus and of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Poland [2], he participated continuously in conspiracy which was connected with subversive attempts against the constitutionally established state system of Poland in all its territory, and that he was a leader of this conspiracy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that, as a leader of all the actions, he wrote by his

own hand, a statement of principles of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Poland which became a basis for the entire activity of the communists by comprehensively describing tactics which were to blame for bringing about anti-state and treacherous action.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that he gave all the members documents for illegally en-

tering a neighboring country [the Soviets – M.Y.] with criminal intent. [3]

 

that, with criminal intent, he continued to be in contact

with a neighboring country and illegally crossed the border many times and made others illegally cross the border with these same criminal intents.

 

 

 

 

 

that he promoted people sent by Comintern to Poland to develop anti-state agitation to high positions in the orga- nizations he directed. [4]

 

 

 

 

 

that he participated in the above-mentioned conference in Gdańsk, where he received 15,000 dollars for anti- state and treacherous activities from an agent of a foreign country.

 

 

 

 

 

that he directed evident rebellious and treacherous action, using resources received from a neighboring country via the Belarusian Cooperative Bank, himself being part of the management of the bank.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

that, finally, he kept many writings at home whose con- tents are obviously criminal, with intent to disseminate them further. [5]

 

 

 

 

 

that he instigated the Belarusian masses against the Polish administration and people, and called on them to slaughter police and officials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

that he directed weapons practice in the “hurtki” and ordered to register the possession of weapons in the “hurtki” for armed action.

 

 

 

 

that he encouraged the Belarusian masses not to pay

taxes and to resist military conscription.

 

 

 

 

that he encouraged the local people not to pay taxes.

 

 

 

 

that in Vilna, he sent the mob to the prison and fomented an armed rebellion.

 

 

 

that he organized fighting squads in the territory of the Dzisna District to bring about armed insurrection and undertook to deliver weapons from a neighboring country for it.

 

 

 

 

 

that he organized diversionary bands in the Nowogródek Province in 1924 and acted in concert with the organizations of a neighboring country.

 

 

 

 

 

that he spread many writings among the local Belarusian masses whose contents are obviously inflamatory.

 

 

 

 

  1. Only Tarashkievich was described here as “president of the Central Secretariat of Belarusian Workers and Peasants ‘Hromada’.”
  2. Only Tarashkievich was additionally described as “a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Poland.”
  3. Concerning only Tarashkievich, it was additionally noted that ”these documents are acknowledged to be valid passports of this country by that authority.”
  4. Concerning Rak-Michajloŭski, it was noted “in organizations under his influence” instead of “in the organizations he directed.”
  5. Concerning Miatla, the charge was written differently – “that he spread writings whose contents are obviously criminal among the local Belarusian masses.”

 

Dobrzański concluded that the arrested deputies had instigated numerous murders and attempted murders of police officers, as well as acts of violence against peaceful and loyal citizens, merely because they had informed about the spying or crimes of other people. After presenting the report of the prosecutor of the Appeals Court in Vilna, the opinon Dobrzański gave can be summed up as follows: As the report shows, the action which was intended to cause armed insurrection against the Polish state and break up its territories, must have been planned on a large scale and with sufficiently equipped combat units waiting to go into action at the appropriate time. Such a big plan to disrupt the Polish state could not be put into practice by a small number of squads nor by the “hurtki.” Therefore, it seems to be natural – he reasoned – that this kind of revolt was planned

 

in agreement with a foreign country that supported it. In fact, “Poland has two neighboring countries which are seeking their revenge on it. One of them is a country where even leading politicians do not hesitate to mention this revenge in their official statements, and that country is preparing military forces to cross the border of our country.” In his speech, Dobrzański used the words “a neighboring country” to refer to the Soviets, but his arguments were so undisguised that Rataj, the Sejm Marshal, warned him to tread carefully, considering Poland’s diplomatic relations with a state with which it had concluded a peace treaty.

Dobrzański particularly emphasized the close connections between Hromada and NPCh and various communist organizations, referring to the resolutions of the conferences of KPP and Comintern. For exam- ple, quoting passages from the resolutions of the KPP’s Third Congress, which was held in Moscow in March of 1925, he presented a part of the KPP’s program which said: “The liberation movement of the Belarusian and Ukrainian masses is a powerful revolutionary factor which is break- ing up the frame of the imperialistic Polish State. Because the Party de- mands the victory of workers and peasants, it concentrates all its energies on supporting that movement and must lead it.” And he drew attention to a part of the resolutions which stated that, along with “anti-serfdom ac- tions,” it is necessary to awaken active energy among the peasant masses. The party attests that it is possible to attain victory in the struggle only under the banner of communism, propagating the idea of incorporation of the Belarusian territories into a neighboring power among the peas- ant masses in Belarus.”1 In short, according to Dobrzański, the program of striving for the incorporation of the Kresy into the Soviet Union had al- ready been openly proclaimed at the Third Congress of KPP, as is con- firmed by the statement: “Our provincial land should be separated from the Polish State in favor of a neighboring power.” Finally, Dobrzański as- serted that the accused deputies were planning to incite an armed insur- rection in the Kresy in the spring of that year (1927), at latest by Easter, to separate Belarus from Poland. Furthermore, his accusations against the five deputies and their parties were based on materials sent by five district courts to the Committee of Regulations.

Looking at the entirety of Dobrzański’s speech, we can see that he described the political and social background of the arrests of the dep- uties while deliberately simplifying it. For example, despite his descrip- tion about the relations of Hromada and NPCh with the KPP, Gabriele Simoncini, a researcher on KPP, writes that the KPP leaders demand- ed NPCh openly declare itself a Communist organization, supporting the annexation of the Ukraine and Western Belarus by their respective Soviet republics, but “this was too much for the radical Polish peasant party [NPCh – M.Y.] to stomach.”1 Aleksandra Bergman also suggests a variety of opinions among Hromada’s activists as well as its adherents. Accord- ing to Bergman, the idea of the unification of all the Belarusian territo- ries was a slogan which all the Belarusian parties proclaimed, but this does not mean that all the activists of Hromada regarded it as incorpora- tion of these territories into the Soviet Union.2

At the end of our analysis of Dobrzański’s speech, we should look at his explanation on the issue of whether the arrests infringed Articles 102 and 110 of the Criminal Code. According to Dobrzański, Article 110 does not refer to a “political crime,” but exclusively to a “common crime.” and one which is “continuous” in character. The question arises whether Arti- cle 21 of the Constitution had been infringed or not because of the defini- tion of the “continuity” (ciągłość) of the offense (przestępstwo) and the def- inition of crimes of Article 110. Article 21 says that a deputy of the Sejm can be arrested if he is caught in the very act of committing a common crime. Judging from the fact that Article 110 clearly belongs to the sec- tion of “common offenses” (przestępstwa pospolite) in the Criminal Code, and from authoritative commentaries concerning this Article, it must be concluded that a person who, before a declaration of war against a for- eign government, makes an offer to cooperate with military operations by that neighboring power, should be prosecuted. An offense under Arti- cle 110 – according Prof. Wacław Makowski, an authority on the Crimi- nal Code – can be interpreted properly only in each individual case. Fi- nally, by quoting a passage from “Principles of the Criminal Code” by Władysław Borowski3 (“The moment of commiting a continuous offense will be the whole of the time in which a perpetrator acts to realize his aims”), Dobrzański claimed as follows: “that the examining magistrates (sędzia śledczy), district courts, the Minister of Justice and the Sejm Mar- shal rightly acknowledged that the deputies were arrested in the very ac- tion of committing a common crime, high treason, and this did not infringe Article 21 of the Constituion.”4 The Polish laws of the time did not have clear definitions concerning the terms “caught red-handed” (na gorącym uczynku) and “common crime” (zbrodnia pospolita).5 This allowed the pub- lic prosecutor and the authorities to use such rhetoric.

Following Dobrzański’s long speech as a representative of the Committee of Regulations, ten deputies delivered speeches. Two of them (Jan Marweg and Stanisław Stroński) were members of right-wing parties, so they attempted to endorse Dobrzański’s arguments. On the other hand, the rest consisted of four national minority deputies (one Jewish, one Ukranian and two Belarusian deputies) and four members of left wing parties.

Bazyli Ragula, who represented the Belarusian Club, protested Dobrzański’s arguments and stated: “If all the lawyers in the world came here, they could not defend the arrested deputies because you had already decided [to send them to court - M.Y.].” He continued by urging that “every [Polish – M.Y.] government considered promising to improve the situation in the Kresy as merely a kind of obligation, but in fact it oppressed the Be- larusians more, violated their elementary rights as citizens. Yet, what the present government did went beyond all expectations and limits.”1 Ragu- la admitted that if a deputy commits murder, he could be sent to court. However, according to Ragula, Valoshyn and Tarashkievich were arrest- ed when they were sleeping in bed. Concerning Halavach, Ragula argued: “Although I do not know whether it is true or not, peasants say that depu- ty Halavach was milking his cow [when he was arrested – M.Y.].”2

His condemnation was directed not only at the government but also at the Sejm Marshal, who “gave his silent consent to the infringement of the deputies’ immunity, without doing anything for Poland or Pol- ish parliamentarism.”3 Futhermore, he exclaimed to the members of the Sejm: “You are sending our deputies to court and menacing them with rigorous imprisonment. But why didn’t you send the biggest subverter [Piłsudski – M.Y.] to court? And why are you now kissing his hand?”4

Interestingly, Ragula remembered the “Bezdany raid” of 1908 (see note 14) and “Fonarny” (the robbery of a bank in the Fonarny Pereulok in St. Petersberg by radicals of the Russian Socialist Revolutionary Party in 1906), while discussing the charge that “the accused deputies worked for their nation with foreign money.” He stated: “With what kind of mon- ey did you, the deputies, lead your [national – M.Y.] movement and pre- pare for the rebirth of Poland? Did you use your own money?” He conclud- ed that “the important thing is with what aim did they use the money, not from whom they received it.”5

Dawid Schreiber, as he had been in the Committee, was a sharp crit- ic of the government’s actions. It should be mentioned that during the debate, he recalled the case of 1925 in which the district court in No- wogródek had asked the Sejm to approve the arrest of Ragula and Halavach. At that time, they were charged with attempting an armed insur- rection, but “up to now, it did not break out.”1 Besides, neither deputy was arrested, because it became clear that the motion by the district court de- pended solely on the testimonies of unreliable deponents, one of whom, for example, was soon sent to jail for theft. Schreiber argued that, just as in the above case, the evidence in the matter of the five deputies’ arrest was shown to be unreliable. He demanded to set up a sub-committee to inves- tigate again the materials submitted by the Minister of Justice, although this would be the third time. However, this motion was rejected in voting (106 for and 163 against).2

Here, Marweg (ZLN) tried to defend the motion of the Committee against the preceding two minority politicians’ speeches. It seemed that, as he was from Wielkopolska (the former German Poland), he did not know the problems of the Kresy well, and his understanding about Hromada was clearly superficial. Instead, he drew attention to differences in the concept of the state between the Jews and the Poles, and to the Polish tradition of tolerance as a reason for the decline of the Polish state.

Lieberman (PPS) pivoted the topic of the debates back to the issue of the arrested deputies and protested against sending them to court. His speech was characterized by the prophetic nature of his statements. He said: “We are setting a precedent for the future. As political relations are not stable, we do not know who will belong to which side of a barricade and when. We do not know against whom this precedent we set today will be directed some day.” He later repeated that: “The arrest of these depu- ties without permission of the Sejm was an infringement of the Constitu- tion, an act of violence against the law and an attack against democracy. You will realize this one day if this precedent is drawn out of an arsenal of arguments at a suitable moment and directed at you.”3 As we see below, this came to be true in 1930.

Aside from Lieberman, two other deputies of the radical left-wing par- ties took the floor. Stanisław Ballin, who was Belarusian albeit a deputy of NPCh, and Czeszejko-Jerzy Sochacki, who belonged to the Communist Faction. Both of them severly protested the deputies’ arrests. Ballin heav- ily emphasized that the main reason for the arrests of the five “peasant deputies” was the fact that Hromada came to be such a powerful organi- zation which menaced the landowners and the government. Ballin admit- ted the rapid grouth of Hromada and asserted that the number of mem- bers of Hromada amounted to 98,000, although Dobrzański gave a little more than sixty thousand as its most recent number. It is interesting to

note that Ballin tried to defend Halavach, a comrade of his party, against Dobrzański’s argument in this way. Dobrzański claimed that Hołowacz crossed the border in March 1924, but Ballin argued that this was false, because the records of attendence of deputies in Sejm debates confirmed that Halavach was present in the Sejm at that time. On the other hand, it seems worthy to note that Sochacki openly attacked the passive atti- tudes of PPS, “Wyzwolenie” and the Peasant Party toward the matter of Hromada, using the words “conciliatory workers and peasants camp.”1 He pressed that these parties were also responsible for the government’s vi- olence against Hromada.

Jaremich, along with Ragula, delivered a speech as a representative of the Belarusians. He drew particular attention to some of the contra- dictions in Dobrzański’s arguments. For instance, Dobrzański had stated that the decision to establish the Belarusian Cooperative Bank in Vilna was made at the meeting of members of the KPP and delegates from the Soviets which was convened in the summer of 1926 in Gdańsk, and that Tarashkievich had received 15,000 dollars from the Soviets to establish this bank.2 Neverthless, according to Jaremich, he was himself one of the founders of this bank and it was established already at the beginning of 1925, when Hromada was not yet formed. Jaremich refuted Dobrzański’s arguments on the growth of communism in the Kresy in the following way: Why were the Belarusians inclined to be communists, to flee from Poland to the Soviets, to separate Belarus and to incorporate it into the Soviets? All of this was a result of Polish policies in the Kresy and “You [deputies in the Sejm – M.Y.] are their instigators.” He argued further that he was not a communist, but he had to admit that in the Soviet Union, the Belarusians had schools, a university, and a high school of agriculture, although they did not enjoy any political rights whatsoever. Meanwhile, the Polish gov- ernment did not give even one school, not even one grammar school (gim- nazjum), not even a scholarship for Polish univerisities to the Belarusian students. “I affirm to this tribune that I respect Czechoslovakia, because that country gave scholarships to 150 Belarusian students.”3

After Jaremich, a politician from the right-wing parties gave a speech again. Stroński, who belonged to the Christian National Party – an ally of ZLN, naturally, supported the arrest of the Belarusian deputies, freely making use of his knowledge of the history of the laws in Europe.4 Next, Serhii Kozytsky, a leader of the Ukrainian Club, harshly criti- cized the whole of the Polish policy toward the Belarusians and the Ukrainians since the rebirth of Poland. He saw that the struggles between the Polish government and these two persecuted nations continued, and the matter of the five deputies’ arrest was only one episode of these struggles. He condemned not only the government but also the Sejm, because to him it appeared to be no better than the government. Kozytsky finally stat- ed that the Ukrainian Club “regards the whole of the issue of the arrest of the Belarusian deputies and the attempt to send them to court as the peak of lawlessness of the Poland in which the Ukrainian nation and Be- larusian nation have been forced to live in, and as a blow against the re- generation of the Belarusian nation.”1

Jan Dąbski, leader of the Peasant Party, took the floor as the last speaker of the debate. He opposed Dobrzański’s report, especially its at- titude towards the national minorities, which he called “almost an opin- ion of the police.” Indeed, his party agreed, Dąbski said, that proven cas- es of high treason must be punished, but the matter at hand seemed not to be such a case because there was insufficient documentation to prove it. Therefore, his party could not vote for sending the deputies to court. On the other hand, his party – as a pro-Pilsudski one – had to take its re- lations with the present government into consideration, and so, he assert- ed that his party would abstain from voting as it did in the Committee of Regulations.2

After Dąbski’s speech, the Sejm Marshal proceeded to voting on the motion of the Committee. An open vote was adopted here, because not only the Right but also the Left and the national minorities demanded it. In ac- cordance with the suggestion of the Sejm Marshal, who insisted that there were some differences in the points which five deputies were charged with, voting was conducted separately for each of them.3

The results were as follows: a motion by the Commiittee of Regula- tions which – in accordance with the government’s proposal – called on the Sejm to grant permission to send Tarashkievich to trial was passed by a vote of 163 to 89 (with 10 invalid votes); concerning Rak-Michajloŭski, 165 for and 83 against (with 11 invalid votes); concerning Miatla, 166 for and 83 against (with 4 invalid); concerning Valoshyn, 165 for and 85 against

(with 9 invalid); and concerning Halavach, 165 for and 84 against (with 10 invalid).4 It should be emphasized that for each of the accused, the num- ber of the deputies who voted – ranging between 253 and 262 – was only slightly more than half the total number of deputies (444).

When the Sejm Marshal closed the debate that day, Kozytsky (from the Ukrainian Club) cried out: “You shattered the Constitution! You lost the Kresy!”1 The Belarusian and Ukrainian deputies, together with members of NPCh and the Communist Faction, stood up and protested against the previous decisions by singing a Belarussian national song. When, suddenly, the light of the hall was turned off, they went out and the singing continued – only now, they were Ukrainian songs.

At first glance, the results seem to clearly show that the right and center parties voted for trying the deputies, while the Left and the na- tional minorities were against it. However, if we take a closer look at the results, we can see some indecision, particularily in the center and left parties (other than the pro-Communist ones). On the next day of vot- ing, Zdanowski, a senator of ZLN wrote in his diary: “Even the Goverm- nent party of premier Bartel, which consists of 6 members [in fact, there were 5 at the time – M.Y.], was divided in voting. [Wincenty] Witos was taken aback by our decisive position, especally by the fact that our Club [ZLN] allowed one of its members [Dobrzański - M.Y.] to be chosen to re- port about sending the deputies to court. As a result of this, they [the Pol- ish Peasant Party “Piast” – M.Y.] had to take part in voting.”2 As is seen here, the Labor Party, whose leader, Kazimierz Bartel, who had been a premier three times after the coup and was a vice-premier in Pilsudski’s current government, was split on this issue. Three of its five deputies vot- ed for the motion, but the others acted differently and soon left the party.3 It is interesting that Marian Kościałkowski – the future premier (1935-

36) – who was among the deputies of the Labor Party who voted for the motion, did not hesitate the next day to express his sympathy for the Be- larusians during the debate in the Sejm, emphasizing – it was reported that tears were in his eyes when he said it – the malfunction of the Pol- ish administration, and as a result, the miserable situation in the Kresy.4 According to Zdanowski’s diary, the attitude of “Piast,” led by Wincenty Witos – the most powerful party in the center – toward the arrest of the deputies seems to have been unclear, although this party ultimately vot- ed for the government’s proposal along with the Right.

The Polish Socialist Party and the Polish Peasant Party “Wyzwo- lenie” were confronted with a dilemma as well, probably a much great- er one. Already at the end of January 1927, “Wyzwolenie” declared in its weekly newspaper that the attitude of this party depends on what kind of documents the Minister of Justice presents to the Sejm, denying the re- ports that the party had already passed a resolution to vote for the gov- ernment proposal.1 Their newspaper repeated this position in the report about the Sejm vote of February 4th: “Our Club, along with all the Left, voted against the motion.”2

The Jewish dailies gave fairly reliable accounts about the matter of the arrested deputies. In their reports about “Hromada’s day,” they com- mented that “the members of PPS were not so visible” in the debate and that “a considerable part of Wyzwolenie abstained from voting.”3 In fact, the results of voting confirm that – according to my counting – 25 of 41 PPS deputies took part in the vote, while only ten members of “Wyzwo- lenie” in the Sejm (probably numbering 23-25 at the time) voted. Robot- nik, PPS’s main newspaper, only commented as follows, without mention- ing any details of the voting results: PPS “had to affirm that 1) Article 21 of the Constitution was infringed; 2) There is no evidence which would permit the Sejm to send the jailed deputies to court. Thus, the party vot- ed against it.”4 As we saw, it is apparent that, despite their formal state- ments, neither of the powerful left parties – PPS and “Wyzwolenie” – were active in the matter of the arrests of the Belarusian deputies. This con- firms the fact that among the members of PPS, only Lieberman openly criticized the violent infringement of the Constitution by the government and delivered speeches in the debates in both the Committee and the ple- num supporting the arrested deputies. Nevertheless, no one from “Wyz- wolenie” took an active part.

Generally, the discussions about the supression of Hromada and

the arrests of the Belarusian deputies, as well as the voting, present us with a strange panorama because the Right and Center, which were hos- tile to Piłsudski and the Sanacja regime, supported the arguments of Piłsudski’s government and voted for its motion in this case. In contrast, the Left had a more-or-less critical attitude toward these matters and in voting was against or abstained from it, although it was – with the excep- tion of the pro-Communist groups – an ardent supporter of Piłsudski. It may be worth citing Zdanowski’s diary again. He noted: “Yesterday was the first time that the government received a majority [in the Sejm – M.Y.] thanks to our [ZLN] votes against the Left which had been supporting it. Even Dąbski abstained from voting. Even ‘Wyzwolenie’ voted against the government’s motion to send the deputies to court, regarding the arrests as wrongful.”1

Here, I would like to call attention to the fact that some deputies did not vote consistently. As we see (Table 2), twelve deputies who voted for the motion gave an invalid vote or did not vote in some cases. For example, even Dobrzański, who was chosen by the Committee to report in the plenum, voted for sending four deputies to court but gave an invalid vote or abstained in the vote concering Rak-Michajloŭski. Nevertheless, it is difficult to know whether this fact reflects Dobrzański’s hesitation to acknowledge that Rak-Michajloŭski’s actions constituted a crime.

Table 2. The deputies who behaved inconsistently in voting

(T: Tarashkievich R: Rak-Michajloŭski M: Miatla W: Valoshyn H:

Halavach)

  • – gave a vote for sending the deputies to court

х – gave a vote against sending the deputies to corut

▲– gave an invalid vote or abstained from voting

 

deputy

Party

T

R

M

W

H

Stefan Dobrzański

ZLN

Maria Holder-Eggerowa

ZLN

Józef Markowicz

ZLN

Father Marceli Nowakowski

ZLN

Jan Piotr Szturmowski

ZLN

Józef Chaciński

Christian Democratic Party

Nikodem Hryckiewicz

Christian Democratic Party

Stefan Posacki

Polish Peasant Party “Piast”

Ludwik Waszkiewicz

National Worker’s Party

Stefan Brzeziński

Former deputy from “Wyzwolenie,” Independent from May 1926

Stanisław Nowak

Polish Peasant Party

“Wyzwolenie”

х

Ivan Dutchak

Agricultural Ukrainian Peasant Party

х

х

Tomasz Arciszewski

PPS

х

х

х

х

Kazimierz Dobrowolski

PPS

х

х

х

Herman Lieberman

PPS

х

х

х

Józef Niski

PPS

х

Zygmunt Piotrowski

PPS

х

х

х

Zofia Praussowa

PPS

х

Kazimierz Pużak

PPS

х

х

х

Maksymilian Malinowski

Polish Peasant Party “Wyzwolenie”

х

х

х

х

Tadeusz Niedzielski

Peasant Party

х

х

х

х

Artur Hauner

Jewish Circle

х

х

х

Leon Reich

Jewish Circle

х

х

х

х

Henryk Rosmarin

Jewish Circle

х

х

х

х

Salomon Weinzieher

Jewish Circle

х

х

х

х

Wacław Wiślicki

Jewish Circle

х

х

х

Eugeniusz Franz

German Club

х

х

х

х

Father Józef Klinke

German Club

х

х

Serhii Nazaruk

Ukrainian Club

х

х

Father Nicholas Ilkov

Agricultural Ukrainian Peasant Party

х

х

х

х

This inconsistency is the same with some of the deputies who voted against the motions. Eighteen deputies did not consistently vote against them. Among these, Ivan Dutchak and Stanisław Nowak may catch our eyes with their characteristic behavior. Dutchak – a deputy of the Agri- cultural Ukrainian Peasant Party, which consisted of pro-Polish Ukrai- nians – voted for sending Rak-Michajloŭski, Wołożyn and Halavach to court. But concerning Tarashkievich and Miatla, he voted against the motions. On the other hand, Nowak, who belonged to “Wyzwolenie,” gave an invalid vote or abstained from voting concerning Tarashkievich, Rak- Michajloŭski and Miatla. He voted for sending only Wołoszyn to court. It should be remembered that Nowak had severely criticized the Indepen- dent Peasant Party, which Halavach belonged to.1 Interestingly, despite this, he voted against sending Halavach to trial. Why did Nowak do this? Was it the result of his personal relationships with the men? As we saw, it is true that the offenses which each of the arrested deputies was charged with were not the same. However, it is difficult to know why the attitude of these deputies in voting was inconsistent.

The above-mentioned actions taken by the Polish government against the Belarusians – the oppression of the “hurtki” and the arrests of the Belarusian deputies – and the Polish Parliament’s decision to authorize the arrests drew a certain amount of attention in Europe. For example, the Communist group in the German Reichstag signaled its intention to send the Polish government their “strongest protest” against its policy.1 In France, critical comments on the Polish government’s policy toward Hro- mada appeared in the February 1, 1927, issue of the Socialist journal Le Populaire. Despite his favorable position on Poland and close contacts with the Polish ambassador in Paris, its author criticized the Polish policy in the Kresy, comparing it to the Tsar’s Russification policy.2

Yet, this incident was probably given the most attention in Britain. The Times published detailed reports on the arrests of five “White Rus- sian” deputies which contravened the privilege of parliamentary immuni- ty as defined in the Constitution.3 The British attention to the situation of the Belarusians seems to be mainly thanks to two politicians from the Labour Party – John Warburton Beckett4 and Arthur Lewis Shepherd. From the end of 1926 until January 1927, they, as members of the House of Commons, made an inspection tour to Eastern Europe and observed some places in Poland. In Lwów, they saw the wretched situation of the Ukrainians, especially the Ukrainian workers, and on December 10, 1926, they visited Vilna, where they witnessed the harsh persecution campaign against Hromada and also had the opportunity to visit the jails.5 Accord- ing to Adolf Warski, a deputy of the Communist Faction, during their stay in Vilna, a mass protest against the “hideous” maltreatment of prisoners took place with the police dispersing it by force.6

During the British parliamentary debates of February 8, 1927, Beck-

ett made the following remarks in a speech: “The White Russians and the Ukrainians are being rounded up, prosecuted, beaten, tortured, op- pressed and driven from their employment. Naturally, they are in a constant state of revolt, and, unless something is done about it, it must pre- vent the pacification of Europe.” He asked the Government to “make some kind of friendly representations to the Polish Government” on the question of the treatment given to the White Russians and the Ukrainians. He end- ed by saying: “It would be a very great help if the [British – M.Y.] Govern- ment would at once ask the League of Nations to inquire whether the ob- ligations incurred when the white Russian [sic] and Ukraine were taken over by the new [Polish – M.Y.] Governments have been met and whether the people are receiving ordinary humane and civilized treatment.”1 Fur- thermore, after the Polish government’s decision to delegalize Hromada (March 21, 1927), in the debates of the House of Commons of April 6, 1927, Colonel Josiah Wedgwood (who belonged to the Labour Party) asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he had received any infor- mation from the British Ambassador in Poland as to the suppression of part of “the White Ruthene Minority” by the Polish Government, and, “if so, whether he will summarize the matter of the communication.” In re- sponse, Austen Chamberlain stated that the reports on this subject from Warsaw “do not differ substantially from the full accounts which have ap- peared in the press” and dismissed the need to summarize them. When Colonel Wedgwood pressed further and asked, “May we take from that an- swer that the party [Hromada – M.Y.] has been suppressed, and can the League of Nations do nothing in the matter?” – there was no reply.2

On the night of September 9-10, 1930, 18 politicial leaders of opposition parties were arrested in Poland. As the second parliament had al- ready been dissolved on August 29, they were officially “former deputies” at the time of their arrest. Therefore, the government could avoid the ques- tion of parliamentary immunity in this case. Nevertheless, the arrested politicians had been deputies up until that time, and would, without doubt, have campaigned as candidates in the upcoming parliamentary elections (November 1930). Moreover, the arrests were made without a court or- der, and the arrested former deputies were later confined in the military fortress in Brest. These actions explicitly violated the law. By the middle of October, several thousand people were in custody, including 84 former deputies and senators.3 Among the arrested former deputies were such PPS leaders as Lieberman, Nobert Barlicki and Adam Pragier, who had all voted against sending the Belarusian deputies to court on “Hromada’s day.” On the other hand, along with them, many politicians of right and center parties which had supported the supression of Hromada and the arrest of the Belarusian deputies were also detained. Karol Popiel, who had played an important role as the chairman of the Committee of Regu- lations, was among them.

At the end of December 1926, Piłsudski changed his course toward parliament from a hostile to a more conciliatory approach. Historian An- drzej Garlicki points out two reasons for this: firstly, the establishment in December 1926 by Roman Dmowski – founder of National Democracy and an old rival of Piłsudski – of the “Camp for a Great Poland” (OWP),1 and secondly, the attempt to crush the revolutionary Left organizations, particularly Hromada.2 After destroying Hromada, the conflict between the Sanacja regime and parliament began to grow. In the second Parlia- ment, which was inaugurated in 1928, the conflict led to a head-on colli- sion that peaked in the mass arrests of 1930. Taking this political devel- opment into account, the resolutions by the Sejm on “Hromada’s day” can be regarded as an important step in the decline of parliamentary democ- racy in interwar Poland.3

Michihiro Yasui (Nagano)