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    June 13, 1919: The Establishment of the Central Military Library in Warsaw

    The Central Military Library, named after Marshal Józef Piłsudski, was established on June 13, 1919, by the order of the Minister of Military Affairs, Gen. Józef Leśniewski. Initially, it began with 5,000 volumes, which grew to 500,000 by 1939, making it the third largest military library globally.


    The library’s rapid expansion necessitated frequent relocations, initially housed in the Palace under the Tin Roof, then the Military Courts building, and finally in the former Cadet School on Ujazdowskie Avenue. CBW was instrumental not only in scholarly work and collection accumulation but also in creating a military librarianship system and the country’s first central catalog. From 1921, it published the “Bibliographic Bulletin.”

    Wartime Destruction and Legacy

    The library held significant collections, including deposits from the Rapperswil Library and the Archives of the January Uprising. The first director, Lt. Marian Łodyński, was succeeded by Jan Niezgoda until September 1939. Despite the near-total destruction of its collection during the defense of Warsaw in 1939 and subsequent German actions in World War II, the library persevered. Its legacy continues, with the modern CBW finally surpassing the 500,000-volume mark again after decades.

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