Józef Klemens Piłsudski[a] (Polish: [ˈjuzɛf ˈklɛmɛns pʲiwˈsutskʲi] (About this sound listen); 5 December 1867 – 12 May 1935) was a Polish statesman; he was 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 Polish Republic in 1918, 123 years after it had been taken over by Russia, Austria and Prussia.
Describing himself as a descendant of the culture and traditions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Piłsudski believed in a multicultural Poland – a home of nations, recognizing numerous ethnic and religious nationalities and finally existing in strong historical alliance with independent states of Lithuania and Ukraine. His main opponent Roman Dmowski by contrast called for an independent state of Poland narrowed to the lands of historical Crown and founded mainly on an ethnically Polish demos and Roman Catholic identity.