The collapse of the Central Empires (November 1918) paved the way for the formation of an independent Poland, with Paderewski as prime minister and Piłsudski as head of state and armed forces. An advance into Ukraine carried the Polish flag to Kijev; but Tuchačevskij’s Red Army repulsed Piłsudski and threatened Warsaw (August 1920), where he suffered a decisive defeat. The Treaty of Riga (1921) fixed the eastern borders of Poland; the political life of the new state was agitated by the disputes between the parties: a president of the Republic, G. Narutowicz, was assassinated (1922). In 1926 Piłsudski carried out a coup d’état and organized a dictatorial government, called “reorganization” (Sanacja), formed by colonels of the ancient “legions”. In foreign policy, he sought peace with the USSR and Germany; he died in 1935 after having enacted a constitution that made Poland a presidential republic. Trusting in the treaties, Piłsudski’s successors hoped to avoid war with Hitler’s Germany even if, out of prudence, they asked Paris and London for a guarantee for the integrity of the territory. But on September 1, 1939, Germanic operations against Poland began, aimed at obtaining the immediate annexation of Danzig to the III Reich. and the humiliation of the enemy nation. Hitler’s troops simultaneously entered Poland from Pomerania, East Prussia, Silesia and Slovakia. The enormous air superiority allowed the Germans not only to bomb Warsaw, Krakow, Katowice, Gdynia, Łódź and other cities, but to disorganize the movements of the Polish armies by destroying trains, railway junctions, bridges and roads. The Polish defense suffered from precarious preparation and a decidedly mediocre high command; but the soldiers bravely resisted, inflicting substantial casualties on the invader. The Reich army advanced in pincers towards Warsaw which surrendered only on 27 September. But already on the 17th Russian troops had entered Poland from the eastern border, since the Soviet government believed, with the disappearance of the Polish government, of having to protect the Ukrainian and Belarusian minorities. On September 28, the Polish army capitulated: while a part of it was repairing in Romania, the territory of the Republic was divided between Russia and Germany, with the course of the Bug River as a border; some regions were directly annexed to the Reich. The Nazi domination was very hard: the cultural elite dispersed, secondary and high schools closed, according to a2zdirectory.org, Poland was condemned to constitute the reserve of workers and laborers that was needed for the construction of Germanic hegemony. After 1942 the persecution of the Jews became fierce. Meanwhile, the German-Soviet war broke out (1941), Moscow favored the formation of a Polish army which, under the general Anders, fought with great honor in Italy (1943-45). Other Polish departments joined the Franco-British in Norway, Great Britain, France, North Africa. In the Polish territory the anti-German resistance was alive, of a democratic-nationalist color (Armja Krajowa) or Marxist (Gwardja Ludowa, later Armja Ludowa). A Polish government took office in London (1940); later Moscow recognized a (Marxist) National Council of Lublin. Between August and October 1944 Warsaw rose up against the Germans, but was destroyed. In the first months of 1945, Poland, liberated by Soviet troops, began a new democratic life under the aegis of the USSR, becoming a People’s Republic in 1947. Deprived of territories with a predominantly Russian or Ruthenian population, received compensation in the north (Gdansk, part of East Prussia) and in the west (Silesia, Pomerania). The new Polish government was born from the National Council of Lublin, an emanation of the Polish Unified Workers’ Party (POUP) which brought together Communists and Socialists. Power was assumed by B. Bierut, a Moscow-trained, party secretary and president of the Republic. More faithful to a Polish interpretation of the proletarian revolution was W. Gomułka, who came to power in 1956, who sought to relieve Soviet pressure, to find a modus vivendi with the Church and to obtain the consent of the peasants. Its fall (1970) brought E. Gierek to power, which attempted to introduce some economic reforms, but soon, after an initial period of relative prosperity, a rapid deterioration of the situation ensued in the aftermath of the 1973 international crisis, largely due to the growing foreign account deficit . The workers’ protest against the increase in food prices, decided in June 1976, gave way to the development of an organized dissent that saw the unprecedented convergence of workers, intellectuals and the Catholic Church.