1937 peasant strike in Poland

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Chlopi-strajk (HistoriaPolski str.247)

1937 Peasant Strike in Poland was a significant series of protests and strikes carried out by peasants in Poland during the summer of 1937. This event is notable for its scale, intensity, and the government's response, marking a critical moment in the interwar period of Poland's history. The strike was primarily a reaction to the economic hardships faced by the peasant population, including low agricultural prices, high taxes, and the lack of land reform.

Background[edit | edit source]

The interwar period in Poland was marked by significant social, economic, and political challenges. The re-establishment of the Polish state in 1918, after over a century of partitions, brought about the task of integrating diverse territories with different levels of development and various legal systems. The rural economy, which was the backbone of Poland's economy, was particularly affected by these challenges. The majority of the peasant population lived in poverty, with limited access to land and modern agricultural technologies. The situation was exacerbated by the global economic downturn of the 1930s, which led to a decrease in agricultural prices and an increase in unemployment.

Causes[edit | edit source]

The immediate cause of the 1937 Peasant Strike in Poland was the government's failure to implement effective agrarian reforms. Promises of land redistribution to the landless and poor peasants were not fulfilled, leading to widespread discontent among the rural population. Additionally, the introduction of new taxes and the increase in existing ones placed a further burden on peasants, who were already struggling to make ends meet.

The Strike[edit | edit source]

The strike began in the summer of 1937, with peasants refusing to work their fields and demanding better economic conditions and political rights. The movement quickly spread across various regions of Poland, with significant activities reported in the provinces of Lesser Poland, Silesia, and Pomerania. The strikers employed various forms of protest, including marches, demonstrations, and the blocking of roads and railways.

Government Response[edit | edit source]

The Polish government, led by the Sanation regime, responded to the strike with a mix of negotiation and repression. While some officials were open to discussing the peasants' demands, the overall response was characterized by the use of force to suppress the movement. The police and military were deployed to disperse demonstrations, leading to clashes that resulted in the deaths and injuries of several peasants. The government's repressive measures also included the arrest and imprisonment of strike leaders and activists.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

The 1937 Peasant Strike in Poland did not result in immediate significant changes in agricultural policy or land reform. However, it highlighted the deep-seated issues within the Polish countryside and the urgent need for reform. The strike also had a lasting impact on Polish politics, contributing to the radicalization of the peasant movement and the strengthening of peasant parties, which would play a significant role in the country's political landscape in the years leading up to World War II.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

The 1937 Peasant Strike is remembered as a pivotal moment in the history of Poland's rural population, symbolizing their struggle for rights and better living conditions. It is a testament to the peasants' resilience and their willingness to stand up against oppression, despite the odds being stacked against them. The strike also serves as a reminder of the complexities of Poland's interwar period, a time of significant turmoil and change.


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Contributors: Prab R. Tumpati, MD