Józef Klemens Piłsudski (Polish: [ˈjuzɛf ˈklɛmɛns pʲiwˈsutskʲi] ( listen); 5 December 1867 – 12 May 1935) was a Polish statesman; he was Chief of State (1918–22), "First Marshal of Poland" (from 1920), and de facto leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic as the Minister of Military Affairs. From World War I he had great power in Polish politics and was considered a distinguished figure on the international scene. He is viewed as a father of the Second Polish Republic founded in 1918, 123 years after the 1795 final partitions of Poland by Russia, Austria, and Prussia. Deeming himself a descendant of the culture and traditions of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth, Piłsudski believed in a multicultural Poland—"a home of nations" including ethnic and religious minorities—that he hoped would establish a robust union with the independent states of Lithuania and Ukraine. His principal political antagonist, Roman Dmowski, leader of the National Democrat party, by contrast, called for a Poland limited to the pre-Partitions Polish Crown and based mainly on an ethnically-Polish population and Roman Catholic identity. Early in his political career, Piłsudski became a leader of the Polish Socialist Party. Concluding that Poland's independence would have to be won militarily, he formed the Polish Legions. In 1914 he correctly predicted the outbreak of a major war, the Russian Empire's defeat by the Central Powers, and the Central Powers' defeat by the western Allies. When World War I began in 1914, Piłsudski's Legions fought alongside Austro-Hungary against Russia. In 1917, with Imperial Russia faring poorly in the war, he withdrew his support for the Central Powers and was imprisoned in Magdeburg by the Germans.
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