The Polish-Soviet War of 1919-1921 was a conflict over territory in present-day Ukraine and Belarus between Polish nationalist forces headed by Józef Piłsudski and the Soviet Red Army, whose commanders included Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. In July 1920, the British government announced that they would send military supplies to Poland to assist the Poles in their fight against the Bolshevik forces. Amidst fears that "war is being engineered between the Allied Powers and Soviet Russia on the issue of Poland, and ... that such a war would be an intolerable crime against humanity", the Trades Union Congress and Labour Party responded by threatening national strike action and established Councils of Action to resist any possible efforts by the British government to supply Poland with either arms or military personnel.
- 'The Third International to the Workers of all Countries concerning the Polish Question'. Published statements on the Polish-Soviet war made by the Executive Committee of the Comintern, and its President Grigory Zinoviev, in February and May 1920. They condemn France, Britain and the United States for "egging on Poland to fight Soviet Russia".
- 'For Galicia! Appeal to the world democracy', 1920. Protest by the Ukrainian Socialistic Revolutionary Party against the occupation of Eastern Galicia "by force of arms by the Polish government, with the active moral and technical help of the Powers of the Entente". Galicia is now divided between modern-day Poland and Ukraine. A similar appeal "To the civilised nations of the world" from the Committee of the Independent Ukraine is also available online.
- 'Munitions for Poland', 4 June 1920. Extract from the National Union of Railwaymen's newspaper 'The Railway Review', which hails the actions of the dockers in refusing to load munitions onto the ship 'The Jolly George', and commits the railwaymen to "refuse to handle any material which is intended to assist Poland against the Russian people." A debate on the merits of direct action is included in the 27 August 1920 edition of 'The Railway Review'.
- Manifesto of the Labour and Russia Council of Action, 1920 - the Council of Action opposed Britain's involvement in a potential new world war, arguing that "the workers are profoundly convinced that if now, when world war or world peace is in the balance, they consent to aid by their labour a policy which means war, then they would have their share of guilt in the crime which that act would constitute".
- "Now all the moderate men have turned extremist..." - report of the Special Conference on Labour and the Russian-Polish War, 13 August 1920 - speakers included Members of Parliament and leading trade unionists, including William Adamson, Ernest Bevin, J.R. Clynes, J.H. Thomas, Robert Williams, Robert Smillie and Margaret Bondfield.
- "Form your Councils of Action!", 17 August 1920 - leaflet which contains instructions for the setting up of local Councils of Action.
- The Post, journal of the Union of Post Office Workers, 21 August 1920 - many of the articles are about the Polish-Soviet War and formation of the Council of Action, including a report on the special conference on 13 August 1920 (J.W. Bowen, the union's General Secretary, addressed the conference).
- Memorandum summarising the activities of the Labour and Russia Council of Action and possible future policy, issued by the Council of Action Press Committee, 28 Aug 1920.
- 'Ernest Bevin at Woolwich: Startling Criticism of Lloyd George' - report of speech published in The Dockers' Record, October 1920, journal of the Dock, Wharf, Riverside and General Workers' Union of Great Britain and Ireland. Bevin claims that "I am more responsible than any other person in the country for bringing the Council of Action into being", in response to Winston Churchill's claims that it was a Bolshevik inspired agency, and describes the formation of the Council of Action and their dealings with the Prime Minister David Lloyd George.
- Declarations of the Russian Soviet Government on Polish Independence, Council of Action leaflet published on 12 August 1920.
- Appeal to the Labour Party from the Polish Socialist Party, 16 August 1920 - they argued that "the independence of Poland was menaced with destruction and ruin" by the imperialist "military-aggressive party within the Soviets", and appealed for British socialists to support the independence of smaller nations. The response of the Labour and Russia Council of Action is given in an analysis of the Polish Socialists' statement and letter of reply.
- Russia and Poland: To the British Workmen, Polish Socialist Party leaflet circulated by the Polish Workmen's Society in London, 1920 - it appealed for British working class support for Poland, arguing that "Soviet Imperialism" was using the Red Army as an "instrument which was to crush and break the independence of non-Russian nations".
Report of the Council of Action, August to October, 1920. The report covers the formation of the Council, its relationship with the British government, Russian delegation, and Polish and French representatives, the Council's publicity campaign, local organisation and finances. It also contains a summary report on orders for transportation of military supplies in Britain between August-October 1920 which the Council suspected were intended for Poland.
Additional documents on Britain and the Polish-Soviet War are available through our digital collection on the Russian Revolution and Britain, 1917-1928.