THE LEGION OF THE YOUNG — THE ACADEMIC UNION OF LABOUR FOR THE STATE
After Pilsudski's political camp carried out the May Coup, organizations were set up at the Jan Kazimierz University promoting slogans in support of the sanation in their programs. Among them, there was the Legion of the Young (pol. Legion Młodych), created in Warsaw in February 1930. Its aim was to prepare future statesmen. The first structures of the newly formed organization arose in Warsaw and Wilno (Vilnius); later the association also started its activities in Lviv, Lublin, Krakow and Poznan. In Lviv, the Academic Union for the Polish National Idea functioned from November 1929. Its participants were several young activists whose aim was to educate young people after the model established by Marshal Piłsudski. In 1930 this small group decided to join the Legion of the Young — the Academic Union of Labor for the State" (as the Lviv regional branch). According to the founders, the activities of the organization were supposed to be counterbalance to the All-Polish Youth (pol. Młodzież Wszechpolska), but as early as March 1932, at the second congress of the organization, left-wing views became noticeable, which were actively developing in the subsequent years. They were supported by a group centered around Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, the Chief Commandant. In 1934 the Lviv Legion of the Young was split: some members joined the ranks of the nationalist National Radical Camp (pol. Obóz Narodowo-Radykalny).
In their ideological declaration, the Legion of the Young referred to the liberation movements of the time after the division of Poland; the name of the organization was to allude to the traditions of the Polish Legions. The organization provided absolute support to Marshal Piłsudski, who was attributed all the merits in the reconstruction of the independent Polish state. For the members of the Legion of the Young, a value, around which all work and effort was to be concentrated, was the state. They wrote: "The people without the State — as we have experienced during the years of bondage — are deprived of the living pulsation of blood, being a formless and helpless mass spoiled by the most diverse forces; the noblest political impulses, cultural or economic intentions must endure losses and lead to ever greater passivity and dotage." The organization members believed that only the state could provide citizens with a holistic social and cultural development. They were also convinced that the pledge of the independence of both the state and the people was a strong army. Often, they repeated that "the state is built by labour and protected by blood." They also believed that only a man of labour and a soldier could be a full-fledged citizen of Poland. They adhered to freedom of conscience and religion, advocating the position that no religious unions should take part in political activities. The Legion opposed both capitalism and communism. They were resolute opponents of the endecja (National Democracy) and supported understanding between national minorities and the state in the spirit presented by Tadeusz Hołówko.
According to the founders' concept, the Legion of the Young was first of all to counteract the influence of the endecja in higher schools. Young people, concentrated in the Lviv national camp, tried to draw attention to the organization’s links with socialist or communist movements. In May 1934, activists distributed propaganda leaflets emphasizing the fact that, on the occasion of the May Day, a red flag was hung out over the house where the Legion was located, on Piłsudskiego street (now the beginning of Ivana Franka street). The nationalists tried to prove that the Legion of the Young opposed the Church. At the Jan Kazimierz University, there were conflicts between members of the both organizations. On 2 March 1935 a few members of the All-Polish Youth attacked Antoni Batorski, a member of the Legion of the Young, in the university corridor and beat him up. The fact that the Legion supported Janusz Jędrzejewicz's legislation on higher education (1933), which significantly restricted university autonomy, was not much liked either.
The activities of the Legion and other organizations supporting the sanation policy were approved by the professors of the Jan Kazimierz University, who were on the side of the Non-Party Bloc for Cooperation with the Government (a pro-sanation political organization, established in 1927 by Walery Sławek, who worked closely with Józef Piłsudski). Among the academics sympathizing with the Legion of the Young at the Jan Kazimierz University, there were, for example, prof. Stanisław Zakrzewski, prof. Konstanty Chyliński, prof. Zygmunt Czerny. The latter was the organization curator.
One of the most famous members of the Legion of the Young at the Jan Kazimierz University was Jan Kozielewski (later known as Jan Karski). Among other Lviv chairmans of the organization, there were Marian Chirowski, Erazm Kostołowski and Marian Bartoń.
1. Державний архів Львівської
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9. Waldemar Piasecki, Jan Karski. Jedno życie. Kompletna opowieść, t. 1 (1914-1939): Madagaskar, (Kraków: Insignis, 2015), s. 101.
10. Andrzej Tyszkiewicz, "Legion Młodych we Lwowie. Przyczynek do dziejów młodzieży sanacyjnej w przedwojennej Małopolsce Wschodniej," Lwów: miasto, społeczeństwo, kultura, t. VII: Urzędy, urzędnicy, instytucje, red. Kazimierz Karolczak, Łukasz Tomasz Sroka, (Kraków: Wydawnictwo Naukowe Akademii Pedagogicznej, 2010), s. 524-533.
Written by Ewa Bukowska-Marczak
Scientific editing by Vasyl Rasevych
Translated from Polish by Myroslava Kit
Translated from Ukrainian by Andriy Maslyukh