Jacek Burdowicz–Nowicki, Was the Order of the White Eagle Established for Russian Generals? On the Beginnings of the Order 1698/1701–1705


The origin of the Order of the White Eagle was described in 1730 by J. F. Sapieha — the date of the first medal mentioned in his book (early November 1705) was universally accepted as the term of the Order’s creation. Nonetheless, Sapieha’s publication was of a propaganda character, and its purpose was the establishment (“restoration”) of the Order, at odds with the principles of egalitarianism, binding in the Commonwealth of the gentry. Omitting Sapieha’s book, the author based himself on diplomatic correspondence and proved that during a meeting with the tsar held in Birże in 1701, or perhaps already in Rawa Ruska in 1698 Augustus II promised an “order–knights’ cross” to three of the closest collaborators of Peter I. The king’s intention was to win over supporters among the tsar’s nearest entourage, and to facilitate the pursuit of Saxon interests at the court of Peter I. Russian dignitaries yearned for novelties, and obtaining the Order of St. Andrew remained an extremely difficult feat. The cross in question was awarded for the first time to the Saxon diplomat F. Königsegg on 17/28 June 1702 in Archangelsk, and its first knights of the cross were F. Golovin, A. Menšikov and G. Golovkin. A drawing extant in a Berlin archive makes it possible to ascertain that already in 1702 the shape of the Order was that of a Maltese cross, featuring a white eagle with spread wings and topped with a crown — preserved up to this day. We cannot tell whether already at that time certain elements had been added to the cross — a star and studs (as well as probably a blue sash), which were certainly present at the beginning of 1704. Quite possibly, the Order was received in 1702 also by A. Repnin. In 1704 it was presented to B. Šeremetev, I. Mazepa and G. Ogilvie. The Order was bestowed only on Russian dignitaries and nothing indicates that it had been received by anyone outside the tsarist court. We cannot recreate the original intentions of Augustus II, and cannot tell whether from the very outset he planned to grant the Order also to the Poles (an act forbidden by republican law), but we do know that he ordered the execution of the cross specially fo Russian ministers and generals, and presented it exclusively to them. This is the reason why the answer to the titular question should be affirmative.

Translated by Aleksandra Rodzińska–Chojnowska



Hubert Stys, “We Would Prefer to Treat the Russian Nation as a Brother, and Not Acknowledge Its Leadership as a Master”. The Publicistic and Political Activity of Milovan Đjilas at the Time of the Political Conflict between Yugoslavia and the USSR (1948–1953)


The conflict between Stalin and Tito, commenced in 1948, came as a great surprise to the whole world. Its outcome proved to be contrary to the anticipated effects. Yugoslavia abandoned the Soviet camp and set off on its independent path. A characterstic feature of the controversy was the “battle waged with quotations” — the search conducted by Yugoslav ideologues for a new trail, concurrent with the Marxist teachings and emphasising the deviations committed in the Soviet Union. Milovan Đjilas (1911–1995), the head of agitprop, made a significant contribution to the criticism of the USSR and the creation of the foundations of Titoism. Upon the basis of the Marxist theory he justified the thesis that the USSR was an example of state capitalism. He was also one of the first to indicate the governance of a narrow group of bureaucrats, profiting from the results of the work conducted by millions of Soviet citizens. These theoretical quests granted Marxism–Leninism a fresh approach, comprised an alternative vis a vis musty Stalinism, and proposed new solutions and conceptions. In 1950 Đjilas still regarded the Party to be the motor force of development and a causal force in the destruction of bureaucracy. Subsequently, he became firmly convinced that considerable reductions in the state apparatus had not wakened the rule of the bureaucracy, since the latter remained enrooted in the Party hierarchy. The struggle against bureaucracy thus had to come down to weakening the rank of the Party in the state, since the former became, logically thinking, an obstacle for further progress. Đjilas did not intend to conceal his views, and in 1954 he ultimately parted ways with Tito.

The Yugoslav criticism of Stalinism in 1948–1953 was a fascinating process, constantly discovering new facts and drawing equally novel conclusions; contrasted with the colourless and ineffective anti–Yugoslav Stalinist propaganda, it managed to win numerous supporters. Milovan Đjilas was the actual star of this critical current, and in view of an encroaching conciliation with the USSR the Yugoslav authorities decided to dissociate themselves from him.

Translated by Aleksandra Rodzińska–Chojnowska