Prominent Poles

Ignacy Ewaryst Daszynski , politician, PPS (Polish Socialist Party)leader, first prime-minister of reborn Poland (1918)

Photo of Ignacy Daszynski, PPS leader

Born:  October 26, 1866, Zbaraz, Austrian partition of Poland (presently Ukraine)

Died:  Ocrober 31, 1936, Bystra, Poland

Summary. The selected fragments written by Ignacy Daszynski are from: Czy socjalisci moga uznac "dyktature proletariatu"? ("Can the Socialists Recognize the 'Dictatorship of the Proletariat'?"), Lubelski Okregowy Komitet Wyborczy PPS: Lublin 1927, pp. 4-11. They represent his point of view and that of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS). ‘Today the most ingenious authors of radical "simplifications" are the communists, and central among these simplifications is the dictatorship of the proletariat offered to the world as a panacea all the more confidently now that it has been ten years since they organized a vast state on the basis of this "dictatorship of the proletariat". Let us reflect, then, on the Russian "dictatorship of the proletariat". European socialists have collected such a rich dossier on this matter that we can avail ourselves of a number of certitudes, or rather established things. After three years of a gigantic war in which over ten million soldiers were called to arms, after thrusting the country into economic ruin, after revealing high treason at the top, after terrible defeats in war and the disorganization of the army, a revolution breaks out in 1917 in which the most revolutionary Bolsheviks, by way of revolutionary logic, come out on top and convene the Constituent Assembly. They spoke on behalf of the entire nation. Now, however, it turns out that an overwhelming majority of representatives of this nation is in favor of parliamentary democracy! If the will of these representatives were carried out, an immense field for civil activity and political struggle would open for one hundred and fifty million people. The frontiers of Europe would expand to the Urals. [...] The Bolsheviks simplify the matter, surround the Constituent Assembly with machine guns, shamelessly disperse it, reject parliamentary democracy and against the overwhelming majority of the nation proclaim the dictatorship of their own party, spuriously calling it the "dictatorship of the proletariat". Despotism triumphed. Asia expanded its frontiers to Zdolbunov. [...] From the outset, the "dictatorship of the proletariat" in Bolshevik Russia is a government based on a minority that violently forces its will on the majority. The governing minority does not amount to half a percent of the population and remains in power by means of such cruel and bloody violence that no other civilized country would endure such a savage tyranny. It is impossible to imagine a country in Western Europe submitting to a government under whose rule seven, or, as other researchers say, eleven million people died of starvation in one year! However, by the perpetration of atrocities worthy of the former Tsars, the Bolshevik "dictatorship of the proletariat" did not achieve any of the ideological ends of the proletariat. Quite the contrary, it denied them all. The Russian worker for many years struggled heroically for political freedom, and the Bolsheviks gave him bondage; he struggled for improved material conditions, they gave him poverty; he struggled for civil development, they gave him Soviet bureaucracy. The violence of such a tiny minority naturally had to enlist the aid of three times the number of foreign helpers, often hostile to the Soviet government, and could not organize society on the basis of the proletarian principle, and still less the socialist one. Hence soon after the murders and butcheries, after the allegedly most "dictatorial" power revealed its might, the Bolsheviks willingly make concessions to capitalism and rich peasantry, and they organize the rest of industry and commerce into state-run trusts, which have nothing to do with socialism or with the proletariat. The abject poverty of two million unemployed, thousands upon thousands of orphans wandering all over Russia, the despotic oppression of the whole population, and incessant attempts of the government to get money from foreign capitalists by selling off the treasures of the Russian land: such is the fruit of the monstrous "dictatorship of the proletariat"… ‘ And that’s what Lenin had to say about Daszynski: (from Lenin’s order Nr.232, July 1920) “…The significance of what Deputy Lafont said, as this is set forth by Comrade Sadoul, is that the social-chauvinist Daszynski, one of those most guilty of the Polish attack, and now a member of the Polish Government, looks on an armistice with Russia as a breathing-space that will serve to facilitate the concentrating of armed forces for a fresh onslaught on Soviet Russia…”

Early days. His father, Ferdynand, was a county official. Mother, Kamila nee Mierzenska, was from Polish gentry. Both helped the insurgents participating in the January Rising. Ignacy had three brothers and one sister. In 1872 he went to the elementary school run by the Bernandins order in Zbaraz. As a child he knew Ukrainian and Yiddish and understood German. He had colleagues of various ethnic backgrounds and was free of any national or religious prejudice. After his father died in 1875 his family moved to Stanislawow where in 1878 he started attending the high school. To supplement his family’s meager income he tutored. He also studied history of Poland. In 1882 he was expelled from the high school for political reasons. His mother moved with him and his sister to Drohobycz (now Dorohobych, Ukraine) where he worked in an attorney’s office. He also became familiar with the poverty of the working class. In 1884 his family moved to Lwow (presently Lviv, Ukraine then Lemberg, Austrian partition) where Ignacy worked as a tutor of children of poor craftsmen. He continued to educate himself (he was not allowed to continue formal high school education) and also became politically active starting a socialist group. In 1886 he began working as a tutor at an estate of his parents’ friends. In 1888 he was allowed to participate in a high school final exam (matura) which he passed in April. In the same year he became a student of the Natural Sciences at the Jagiellonian University in Cracow. He worked hard but lack of funds forced him to do tutoring again. In 1889 he moved to Russian partition where he worked as a tutor for the Gniazdowski family in Czarnostaw. In 1889 the Russians arrested him mistaking him for his brother, Feliks, who was a socialist activist. Ignacy spent six months in a jail in Pultusk. After that he was expelled from the Russian partition and moved to Cracow.
1890-1899. In 1890 he wanted to emigrate to South America but the death of his brother Feliks made him change his plans. Thanks to financial support of Stanislaw Mendelson he went to Zurich to continue his studies. He also founded a union of Polish workers “Zgoda” and got acquainted with the future President (murdered by a right-wing fanatic) Narutowicz. Later this year he moved back to Lwow where he participated actively in socialists’ work under pseudos “Daszek”, “Zegota”, “Ignis.” In June 1891 he became the delegate to the Viennese congress of Austria’s Social-Democratic Party and in August that year- the delegate to the II International Socialist Congress in Brussels. In 1892 he took part in the founding congress of the Galicia’s Social-Democratic Party. Some of their goals: the same voting rights for everyone, 8 hour working day, no nightshift, ban on employing children younger than 14 years etc. Also: emphasis on national liberation. At this time Daszynski had relation with Felicja Nossio-Prochnik with whom he had a son Adam-Feliks. In 1893 he moved to Cracow where he became the editor of “Naprzod” and later back to Lwow. In 1894 he publishes a brochure “A short history of the development of the socialist party of Galicia” in which he explained the positive attitude of the socialists with respect to patriotism. In 1894 he returned to Cracow to continue his editorship of “Naprzod.” In 1897, Daszynski was elected as a socialist candidate to the Viennese State Council. He received 75% of the votes in his electoral district thanks to the support of workers, left wing students, and majority of peasants and Jews. The same year Daszynski married the actress Maria Paszkowska. At this time Daszynski was mainly concerned with terrible economical condition of east-Galician peasantry (mostly Ruthenian) and urban craftsmen. The salaries were the lowest in Austro-Hungarian empire and the working day lasted between 14 to 16 hours. There was an endemic hunger causing about 50,000 victims yearly. Illiteracy reached 90%. Servitude caused major problems for the peasants.
1900-1914. In 1900 Daszynski was again elected to the parliament where he was very active and instrumental in introducing a new election law. The program of Daszynski’s PPSD (Polish Social-Democratic Party) included: universal election law, separation between the state and the church, free lay schools and others. In every speech in the parliament Daszynski attacked the conservative Kolo Polskie (Polish Circle). The new election law was finally implemented in 1907. All men 24 years of age and older got the voting rights. First elections according to the new law resulted in a considerable victory for the socialists. In October 1912 Daszynski and other representatives of PPSD declared that “in the case of a conflict between the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Russia all forces should be directed against tsarist Russia which is an intransigent and cruel oppressor of the vast majority of Polish people.” In 1912 PPSD started organizing Workers Groups of the Riflemen Union. After two weeks it counted 1500 people.
1914-18. In August 1914 a Supreme National Committee (NKW) was chosen including all political factions from conservatives to socialists. Daszynski became a member of the Executive Branch that created Voluntary Polish Armed Forces called popularily “Legions” (Legiony). The members of the socialist workers and students associations were the most numerous. Daszynski was overjoyed when in 1917 erupted in Russia Kierenski’s Social-Democratic Revolution while United States entered the war. In September 1918 on Daszynski’s initiative a motion supported by ND (Narodowa Demokracja, a right wing party) was presented in the parliament. It stated that “the only goal of the Polish people is to regain independent and united Poland with the access to the sea.” As the result of Pilsudski’s imprisonment in Magdeburg Daszynski grew more and more opposed to the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and stated in 1918 in the parliament that Galicia wants to be a part of united and independent Poland. In November 1918 in Lublin a Temporary Popular Government was created with Daszynski as its prime minister. It proclaimed the political equality of all citizens, 8 hour working day, nationalization of mines and of great estates. Future Polish state was declared a parliamentary democracy. Upon Pilsudski's return from Magdeburg, Daszynski's government resigned; the mission of forming a coalition government failed, as National Democracy was opposed to it. Two sons of Daszynski- lieutenant Adam Prochnik and legionnaire Feliks Daszynski took part in the battle in Lwow between Poles and Ukrainians.
1919-1921 In January 1919, after a failed right wing coup, Pilsudski nominated Ignacy Paderewski to become Prime Minister. Later this month in the first free election of the Sejm, Daszynski was elected as a representative of PPSD. PPSD and PPS (socialists from the Russian partition) created in the Sejm a group ZPPS (Union of Polish Socialist Representatives) with Daszynski as its leader. In April 1919 PPSD, PPS and PPS of Prussian partition united into one party PPS with Daszynski as one of the chairmen of its Supreme Council. This new party was in favor of a decisive fight against the communists. A Government of National Defense, with Daszynski as deputy Prime Minister, was created in July 1920. In August 1920, facing the Soviet offensive under Marshal Tukhachevski, PPS created “Workers’ Regiment of Warsaw’s Defense.” This symbolic gesture was a message for the West that Polish workers see in the Soviets an aggressor. In 1921, at the request of the Supreme Council of PPS, Daszynski resigned from his governmental position. He returns to his work in the Sejm where he attacks the conservatives. He scoffed at Roman Dmowski (leader of ND) for fleeing Warsaw in the time when Poland’s independence was in danger. He supported Pilsudski rejecting ND’s claim that it was French general Weygand whose tactics decided of the Warsaw victory. From 1922 to 1927 he was the Deputy Speaker of Sejm. In December 1922 new Sejm and Senate elected the first President of independent Poland. There were five candidates; among them three PPSmen - Daszynski, Prof. Narutowicz and Wojciechowski- and a right winger, Zamoyski. When Narutowicz was elected the right wing press called for rebellion and using violence. On the day of swearing in the President in the Sejm the right wing armed bands surrounded Sejm and forced Daszynski and PPS Senator Limanowski, who were supposed to participate in the ceremony, to flee. They barricaded themselves in one building. When it was announced in the Sejm that they were beaten up the left wing representatives and Warsaw’s workers hastened with relief. During the skirmish a PPS member, worker Kaluszynski, was murdered. Ultimately Narutowicz was sworn as President but soon thereafter he was murdered by an ND member. This was the result of the right wing propaganda. The left wing groups wanted to retaliate but Daszynski strongly opposed this action and warned members of PPS not to participate in it. This dampened the fighting mood and prevented a bloody revenge. In 1926 Daszynski supported Pilsudski’s May coup but soon went over to the opposition camp. In 1930 he help to organize Centrolew – an alliance of left wing and center parties (PSL Wyzwolenie, PSL Piast, National Workers Party, PPS, Peasant Party, Polish Christian-Democratic Party).

Main source:
Piotr Trochymiak (in Polish)

Other sources:
Osrodek Mysli Politycznej (Daszynski about the communists)
Lenin’s order
Don Binkowski
Encyclopedia Britannica
Time Magazine

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Prominent Poles