At the turn of the twentieth century most Polish political activists dreamed of recreating the Polish state, although they disagreed about where the new Poland should be located and whom it should include. In the years before 1905 the National Democratic movement—the “Endecja,” as it was commonly called—envisioned an expansive Poland stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and from the Dnieper to the Oder. How could a movement which came to be known for its pragmatism and tactical flexibility espouse such an unrealistic, if not absurd, ambition? How could nationalists who insisted upon cultural unity desire a nation which would include millions who neither spoke the Polish language nor considered themselves to be Poles? This article will argue that these questions can be illuminated by examining the Endecja's definition of that enigmatic Polish term, naród (nation).
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