The Fatherland is in need! All men of good will and capable of carrying arms are called to the colours. The entire nation must resist like a solid, immovable barrier. It is on our breasts that the flood of Bolshevism will be broken. May unity, amity, and undying toll bring us together for the common cause. All for victory! To arms!
-Council of National Defense, July 3, 1920
As Soviet forces invaded Poland in summer 1920, the Polish army retreated westward and observers predicted a decisive Soviet victory. The battle of Warsaw was fought from August 12–25, 1920 as Red Army forces commanded by Mikhail Tukhachevsky approached the Polish capital of Warsaw and the nearby Modlin Fortress. On August 16, Polish forces commanded by Józef Piłsudski counterattacked from the south, disrupting the enemy’s offensive, forcing the Russian forces into a disorganized withdrawal. Estimated Russian losses were 10,000 killed, 500 missing, 30,000 wounded, and 66,000 taken prisoner, compared with Polish losses of some 4,500 killed, 10,000 missing, and 22,000 wounded.
Vladimir Lenin, the Bolshevik leader, called the battle “an enormous defeat” for his forces.In the following months, several more Polish follow-up victories saved Poland’s independence and led to a peace treaty with Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine later that year, securing the Polish state’s eastern frontiers until 1939.