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"Form your Councils of Action!": Britain and the Polish–Soviet War

Cartoon from the Railway Review, 27 August 1920The 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.

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Additional documents on Britain and the Polish-Soviet War are available through our digital collection on the Russian Revolution and Britain, 1917-1928.