Jozef Pilsudski


The Full Biography



World War I

Independent Poland

Polish-Russian War

Coup D'Etat

Later Years


Gallery I

Gallery II

Gallery III

Gallery IV

Gallery V

Gallery VI

Paintings by W Kossak



Modernistic Images

Writings by Jozef Pilsudski

Short extracts and quotations from Jozef Pilsudski

Jozef Pilsudski as seen through the eyes of others

Books, Videos, CDs & CD Roms related to Jozef Pilsudski


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MS Pilsudski

Visit the site devoted to MS Pilsudski - the famous pre-war Polish Ocean Liner named after Jozef Pilsudski and bearing at its bow the badge of the First Brigade.


1867 - 1935

“Jozef Pilsudski 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 civilisation. Jozef Pilsudski served his motherland well, and has entered our history forever.”

- Declaration of the Seym (Lower House) of the Parliament of the Republic of Poland on 12th May 1995 – the 60th anniversary of his death.

Jozef Pilsudski was undoubtedly the dominant figure in Polish history in the first half of the twentieth Century. He was without doubt a major figure in European history and, at two points at least, in the November of 1918 and in the Summer of 1920, World history was profoundly influenced by his actions.

In the West his name is barely known except to historians and even then many who should know better dismiss him as a minor “dictator” in an age of dictators.

Under his shadow...

In Poland his shadow still lingers today. In nearly every town there is a major public thoroughfare bearing his name. The very pageantry of the Polish state unfolds before his statue on Warsaw’s Pilsudski Square. Even today his views and values, although often misunderstood, still influence Poles perception of their national identity. He is still invoked as a national symbol.


Yet his legacy remains controversial. Even today there are those who will denounce him with true venom as an "agent of the devil" and, displaying their own prejudices, as a “jew lover”.

To others he is the very epitome of every Polish virtue, real or imagined.

To many of course he has, with the passage of time, simply merged into that pantheon of the great and the good of Polish history - but in modern Poland you cannot avoid him!

In the wider context...

His image and his memory play, as a symbol of Polish identity, a far greater role in Polish national life than does the memory of De Gaulle in France.

In the United States Roosevelt, who outlived Pilsudski by a decade, is now consigned to a distant past.

In Britain Churchill Avenue is not to be found on the maps of our towns and no great ceremonies take place before his statues. He is remembered by the older generation with genuine love and respect as the saviour of wartime Britain but nobody would suggest that his views today in anyway shape or influence British politics or national life and yet he outlived Pilsudski by 30 years and so, in real time, is much nearer to us.


So where exactly does this Pilsudski stand? Has he crossed that strange immeasurable barrier that seems to separate those who were important from those who are “great”?

I think he has.

To be a great leader, soldier and statesman it is not enough to wield great power or even to wield great power successfully. More is demanded. Of course the great inspire strong emotions. They inspire great love and devotion. They can also inspire total hatred. Pilsudski certainly inspired both.

It goes without saying that the great can claim great achievements to their names and most of this site is about the achievements of one Jozef Pilsudski.

The great have also often struggled in the face of adversity and of rejection – even by their own countrymen. Pilsudski would certainly argue that he had overcome both.

Embodiment of the nation...

The great are often those who at a moment in their nation’s history seem to come for a time to actually embody the hopes, virtues and aspirations of the nation. For a moment they become the embodiment of the nation. So it was with De Gaulle in France, Churchill in Britain and Pilsudski in Poland.

Traits of greatness...

The great also often embody two seemingly contradictory traits both of which pull us towards them emotionally.

On the one hand they often visibly possess our weaknesses and foibles on a sometimes truly grand scale so making it possible for us to warm to them as fellow human beings. No Briton would begrudge Churchill his brandy, his cigars, his rudeness or even his recklessness. Few Poles begrudge Pilsudski his stubbornness, his temper, the coarse language of his later years, or his sheer perverseness.


On the other hand the great possess a wider vision and aspiration which may not always be achievable but which inspires the rest of us and raises our vision as well.

The great also value and respect life and our shared humanity, traditions and culture as the building blocks for the future.


It is these latter two points that distinguish the truly great (the Churchill, the Roosevelt, the De Gaulle and, yes, the Pilsudski) from the Stalin and the Hitler whose main legacy remain the misery they inflicted and the unimaginable piles of corpses which they created.

I will not pretend to be impartial. I am "for" Pilsudski rather than "against" him. Indeed I cannot be against him. I was brought up in that tradition.

Modern Polish history without him is utterly unimaginable.

This site...

However, my aim is to offer as balanced a web site as I can manage for English speakers and readers, whether of Polish descent or not, to discover this remarkable man.

For me this site will be an ongoing and long term project so please do come back from time to time to see how I am progressing and what I am learning.

This web site is respectfully dedicated to the memory of:-

Jozef Pilsudski, First Marshal of Poland;

Colonel Czeslaw Oborski, my grandfather, a loyal officer and adherent to Pilsudski, soldier of the First Brigade; Officer of the 21st Children of Warsaw Regiment; Officer of the 36th Warsaw Academic Regiment; and Quartermaster General of Army Group Modlin.

Czeslaw Oborski, my father, who loved them both and loved to tell me about them both.

Honorary Consul of the Republic of Poland

So now let's meet...
"A certain Jozef Pilsudski"
1. The young Jozef Pilsudski;
2. Jozef Pilsudski the conspirator and revolutionary;
3. Jozef Pilsudski, the Legions and World War I;
4. Jozef Pilsudski and Independent Poland
5. Jozef Pilsudski & the Polish-Soviet War;
6. Jozef Pilsudski and the "Coup D'Etat";
7. Jozef Pilsudski - Later Years

Gallery I : Gallery II : Gallery III
Gallery IV : Gallery V : Gallery VI

Paintings by W Kossak
Modernistic Images

Writings by Jozef Pilsudski
Short extracts and quotations from Jozef Pilsudski
Jozef Pilsudski as seen through the eyes of others

Books, videos, CDs & CD Roms related to Jozef Pilsudski

Mike Oborski

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