A poster documenting the moment Józef Piłsudski took over power
The Regency Council of the Kingdom of Poland was established on 12th September 1917 on the basis of patents issued by German and Austrian governors. It was composed of Count Józef Ostrowski, Archbishop Aleksander Kakowski and Duke Zdzisław Lubomirski. The Council was to exercise supreme power in the Kingdom of Poland until it was handed over to a regent or king. Together with the government it established, it exercised administrative power (to a limited extent), mainly in the field of education and justice.
On 3rd January 1918, the Regency Council issued a decree on the temporary organisation of the Supreme Authorities in the Kingdom of Poland, and on 7th October it announced the message “To the Polish Nation”, proclaiming Poland’s independence. At that time, the members of the Council began activities aimed at transferring power. On 11th November 1918, supreme military authority and the supreme command of the Polish army were entrusted to Józef Piłsudski. A 56×38 cm poster signed by Piłsudski and the three members of the Council was printed on this occasion. It read as follows:
Regency Council to the Polish Nation!
In the face of imminent internal and external danger, for the purpose of unifying all military decisions and maintaining order in the country, the Regency Council hands over military authority and supreme command of the subordinate Polish army to Brigadier Józef Piłsudski.
After creating the National Government, Brigadier Józef Piłsudski – who shall obtain the superior state power from the Regency Council, according to its previous declarations – shall hand over military power, which is a part of the superior state authority, to the National Government. This commitment is confirmed by his signature on this proclamation.
Warsaw, 11th November 1918.
A Decree confirming the transfer of power and the dissolution of the Regency Council was published on 14th November. It contains, among others, also the following words: guided by the good of our Country, we dissolve the Regency Council, and we hand our duties and responsibility for the Polish nation over to you, Supreme Commander, to be transferred to the National Government.
A copy kept in the National Library bears seven stamps of the D.O.K Archive Board. No. 5 (Command of the Corps District No. V with headquarters in Cracow, active in the years 1921-1939).
An electronic copy of the poster is available on polona.pl.