Józef Klemens Piłsudski (5 December 1867 – 12 May 1935) was a Polish statesman; Chief of State (1918–22), "First Marshal of Poland" (from 1920), and de facto leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic, Minister of Military Affairs. From mid-World War I he had a major influence in Poland's politics, and was an important figure on the European political scene. He was the person most responsible for the creation of the Second Republic of Poland in 1918, 123 years after it had been taken over by Russia, Austria and Prussia
From November 1918, when Poland regained independence, until 1922 Piłsudski was Poland's Chief of State. In 1919–21 he commanded Poland's forces in six border wars that shaped the nation of Poland. His forces seemed almost defeated in the Polish-Soviet War when they fought the battle for Warsaw in August 1920. In the "miracle on the Vistula," they routed five Russian armies and saved Poland.
In the aftermath of World War I, there was unrest on all Polish borders. Regarding Poland's future frontiers, Piłsudski said, "All that we can gain in the west depends on the Entente — on the extent to which it may wish to squeeze Germany", while in the east "there are doors that open and close, and it depends on who forces them open and how far". In 1918 in the east, Polish forces clashed with Ukrainian forces in the Polish-Ukrainian War, and Piłsudski's first orders as Commander-in-Chief of the Polish Army, on 12 November 1918, were to provide support for the Polish struggle in Lviv.
Piłsudski was aware that the Bolsheviks were no friends of independent Poland, and that war with them was inevitable. He viewed their advance west as a major problem, but also considered the Bolsheviks less dangerous for Poland than their Russian Civil War opponents. These "White Russians" — representatives of the old Russian Empire — were willing to accept only limited independence for Poland, probably within borders similar to those of the former Congress Poland, and clearly objected to Polish control of Ukraine, which was crucial for Piłsudski's Intermarum project.
This was in contrast to the Bolsheviks, who proclaimed the partitions of Poland null and void. Piłsudski thus speculated that Poland would be better off with the Bolsheviks, alienated from the Western powers, than with a restored Russian Empire. By ignoring the strong pressures from the Entente Cordiale to join the attack on Vladimir Lenin's struggling Soviet government, Piłsudski probably saved the Bolshevik government in the summer and fall of 1919.