Sanacja regime

Sanacja regime. The popular name for the political leadership of Poland during the years 1926–39. The Sanacja regime was founded after the armed coup of Józef Piłsudski in May 1926. The name referred to the healing (from Latin sanatio) of Polish social, economic, and political life Piłsudski hoped to achieve. The major political organizations under the regime were the Non-party Bloc of Co-operation with the Government (1927–35, led by Walery Sławek) and the Camp of National Unity (1936–9, led by A. Koc). The Sanacja regime's main goal was the creation of a strong executive, with restricted civil rights (April Constitution, 1935) and a stable economy. Following Piłsudski's death in 1935, the regime split into two opposing groups: the liberals, centered around President I. Mościcki, and the totalitarian nationalists, under Edward Rydz-Śmigły. The Sanacja regime was brought to an end by the German occupation in September 1939 and the beginning of the Second World War.

With regard to the Ukrainian question the regime engendered various programs (such as those drawn up by B. Miedziński and S. Srokowski) as well as strong pro-Ukrainian tendencies (Leon Wasilewski, Tadeusz Hołówko, and P. Dunin-Wąsowicz). From a planned policy of state assimilation (realized essentially only in Volhynia by Henryk Józewski) the Sanacja regime shifted toward the Polonization ideals of the National Democrats. Despite its undertaking provisional and tactical attempts at political resolution (discussions in 1931, the Normalization of 1935), repression was more often applied (the 1930 Pacification, the construction of the Bereza Kartuzka concentration camp in 1934). Toward the end of the 1930s the Sanacja regime strongly advocated the strengthening of the Polish presence in the outlying territories through forced Polonization, colonization, restricted national development, and the creation of artificial divisions among the Ukrainian population (Lemko and Hutsul separatism, the yeoman movement, and the Polish Greek Catholic and Polish Orthodox movements). The activity of pro-Ukrainian circles of the Sanacja regime was limited.

Andrzej Zięba

[This article originally appeared in the Encyclopedia of Ukraine, vol. 4 (1993).]

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