Germany is overrunning Russia’s Polish territories. Warsaw has already fallen and German troops are continuing to push eastwards. The question is beginning to arise as to what should be done with these Polish lands. If some kind of compromise peace with Russia is reached then they will most likely have to be given back to the Tsar. But there does not seem to be any immediate prospect of a negotiated end to the war. This leads people to think of other possible futures for Russian Poland.
Some in Germany favour the outright annexation of the conquered Polish territories. Others talk of creating a Polish client kingdom under a junior member of the Kaiser’s family. But the problem with both of these solutions is that they risk upsetting the leaders of Austria-Hungary. They have their own ambitions to extend their Polish territories northwards from Galicia into the areas now conquered by Germany. They also fear that creating a Polish kingdom under German control could give rise to Polish nationalist agitation in Galicia.
Although it is German troops who are overrunning Russian Poland, the Germans still want to maintain the friendship of Austria-Hungary. Accordingly, Bethmann Hollweg, the chancellor, agrees that Poland can become an Austro-Hungarian sphere of influence after the war For their part, the Austro-Hungarians are wary of upsetting the internal ethnic balance of the empire by incorporating territory containing a large number of Slavs into Austria-Hungary. They propose instead that Poland will be constituted as client kingdom of the Habsburgs.
The reconstruction of Poland will of course have to wait for the successful conclusion of the war.
image source (Lithuanian Maps)