Anna M. Cienciala (
History 557 Lecture Notes
Spring 2002 (Revised Jan. 2004)
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LECTURE 6 POLAND: 1864-1914. (Revised Jan. 2004).


1. Economic development was uneven in the three parts of Poland, with industrialization strongest in Russian Poland, especially textiles, and processed agricultural products in Prussian Poland. Oil was discovered and extracted in Austrian Poland (Galicia)..

2. In all three parts, there was an increase in the numbers of Intelligentsia (educated people, mostly of gentry descent), as well as the emergence of a small middle class of business people, and a working class. The latter was most numerous in Russian Poland.

3. There was organized resistance to Germanisation in Prussian Poland and to Russification in Russian Poland.

4. Only in Austrian Poland, beginning in 1868, did Poles have full freedom of education and cultural development. They also filled most administrative positions. This was resented by the Ukrainians, who formed the majority of the population in East Galicia.

5. All three parts of Poland witnessed the emergence of modern political parties.

6. It is estimated that about 4 million people emigrated to the U.S. from Polish lands in the period 1885-1914; these were ethnic Poles, Jews, Ukrainians, and Belorussians. Ethnic Poles settled mainly in Chicago, Buffalo, and Detroit, also in New York,while the Jews also settled in big cities. This period saw the growth of Polish-American communities known in Polish collectively as "Polonia. They had their own churches, elementary schools and newspapers. In these respects they were similar to other emigre communities such as the Irish, Italians, Greeks, Ukrainians, and others.

I. Developments in the three parts of Poland.

1. Russification, Peasant Emancipation and Industrialization in Russian Poland.

After 1864, education was in Russian, even in elementary schools. Private education in Polish was forbidden, and young men were liable to conscription as ordinary soldiers in the Russian army if they failed to pass Russian High School exams. Likewise, no one could go into the civil service or into universities in the Empire without passing these exams. Warsaw University became a Russian university in 1869. Administration was carried on in Russian, which was also the language of the law courts. All street names had to be in Russian, while other names, e.g. of hotels, were in both languages..
    However, Polish newspapers, periodicals and books could be published and theater plays staged, though all were subject to censorship. From the late 1880s to 1914, people who wished to study subjects not taught in Russian schools and universities, such as Polish History and Literature, could study in illegal groups called "Flying Universities" because they moved from place to place to avoid drawing the attention of the Russian authorities. If they could afford it, they studied at one of the two Polish universities in Austrian Poland, in Krakow and Lwow [Lviv].

Peasant emancipation was decreed in Poland by Alexander II in March 1864, though it had been proclaimed by the "Reds" in January 1863, at the beginning of the Uprising. Polish peasants were better off than Russian ones because Polish landowners received less compensation than Russian landowners in Russia proper.
Emancipation released a large labor force for industry. However, in the period 1870-91, there was - as elsewhere in Europe - a large increase in the birthrate. This meant that the number of people, especially landless peasants who worked for wages on the land, increased fourfold. This increase could not be absorbed by the developing heavy industry, while small family farms could not feed many people. Therefore, there were great waves of emigration to western Germany and northern France (coal mines), but especially to America.
  Russian Poland already had a well developed textile industry centered in Lodz. After 1860, England allowed the export of textile manufacture machines to Russian Poland. There was also a coal and iron/steel industry, and the railway network was expanded. The total value of industrial production in Russian Poland increased in 1864-85 from 30 to 190 million Russian rubles, and to 228 mln. rubles in 1892. The Russian Empire was the market for some 70% of Polish textile production, but after 1890 tariffs were introduced to protect Russian textile industry, which hurt the economy of Russian Poland.



[from Topolski, History of Poland].

The number of industrial workers increased between 1864-1890 from 80,000 to 150,000. Most of them worked in the textile industry, but their number also increased coal and steel production. Foreign investment, mostly French, increased after 1892 (Franco-Russian alliance). Banks also developed and a small Polish middle class appeared. However, shopkeepers found stiff competition from  the Jews, who dominated retail trade as well as artisan production such as tailoring and shoe making. The Intelligentsia was largely Polish; they worked in the lower ranks of the civil service, but also provided many engineers to build railroads in the Empire. Political leaders now came from the Intelligentsia.

The Jewish population of Russian Poland grew to about 10% overall of the population by 1914, but in the cities and towns it often reached 30% or more, for example in Warsaw, while in the eastern market towns it sometimes reached 80%. Most of the Jews were unassimilated Hasidim (Hasidic), that is, strictly Orthodox Jews. They lived in their own compact communities in certain parts of large towns, or predominated in small towns they called "shtetls." However, some assimilated (polonized) Jews appeared in banking, industry, law and medicine.
    After 1864, there was an increase of anti-Semitism, though not as strong or violent as in Russia proper. Polish anti-Semitism was largely economic stemming from competition between Polish and Jewish small business. This was aggravated by different religions and languages . (Most Jews spoke Yiddish, based on German, though they knew enough Polish for trade purposes). At the same time, Poles resented most educated Jews' adherence to Russian culture, as well as the influx of russified Jews from Lithuania, called "Litwaks." (Pron. Leetfacks).

2. Germanisation and Resistance in Prussian Poland.

Intensive germanisation began after the establishment of the German Empire (Jan. 1871), with Bismarck's "Kulturkampf" (Cultural War) against the Catholic Church in the Empire, because the Catholic Center Party opposed many of his measures. At the same time, he believed that the Polish upper class (nobles) and the Catholic Church in Prussian Poland would always be anti-German, so he set out to limit the power of the church and germanise the schools. German lay teachers replaced Polish priests in the schools, and German became the language of instruction except for religion. The church was persecuted for refusing to comply with the government regulation that all priests have a high school certificate (roughly equivalent to a B.A. or B.S. today). This requirement was opposed by the church all over the Empire as an infringement on its independence from the state. However, it had special meaning in Poland, where catholicism was part of national identity. Polish priests went into hiding, so many Poles could only hear mass said by Polish priests in secrecy. Therefore, this regulation aroused great anger, strengthening Polish national consciousness vis-a-vis the Germans.

Another German attack on the Poles came on the land. In 1886, the Prussian government established the Colonization Commission. It received heavy government subsidies to buy up land from Poles and bring in German settlers. This measure was a reaction to the great German exodus from Prussian Poland to Berlin and the Ruhr -the industrial heart of Germany - where they could earn more money. This exodus, coupled with the high Polish birthrate and a lower German one was sharply reducing the German population, so Berlin feared loss of control over the territory. However, when a farm was up for sale, the Poles borrowed money from their savings banks - which had such good records that they often succeeded in borrowing from Berlin banks! Thus, most of the land stayed in Polish hands.

Agriculture, based on large estates and sizable peasant farms, developed along with a food processing industry. Indeed, Prussian Poland came to be known as the granary of the Reich (Empire). The development of railway lines and canals was very important for the economy.

German fears of losing Prussian Poland led to the establishment of the "Ostmarkenverein," (Eastern Marches Association) in 1892. Poles called it the H-K-T or "Hakata" (pron.Hahkahtah), because it was headed by three German landowners: Hanneman, Kennemann, and Tiedemann. The Association subsidized German civil servants to make them stay at their posts, and also helped German  farmers  and landowners. The H-K-T developed a racist ideology, teaching German superiority to the Poles, fostering hatred and contempt of the latter. (The same was true of the attitudes of German-speaking Austrians toward the Czechs and other Slavs of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, e.g. Adolf Hitler).

The most extreme German land measures against the Poles of Prussian Poland were "the exceptional laws" passed at the turn of the century, allowing expropriation of Polish-held land. However, this was used very rarely because it met with strong opposition from German landowners in other parts of the Empire, who saw it as a dangerous precedent that could be used against them.
Another measure often used against Poles was to forbid them, once they bought land, to live in houses allegedly unfit for sanitary or other reasons, or even to build a house on their land without prior approval by local authorities - who generally refused such permits. The most famous case of resistance to this law is known as "Drzymala's (pron. Dzhymahlah's) Caravan" (1904). A Polish peasant farmer, Edward Drzymala, was refused a building permit, so he lived with his family in a circus caravan, and when he was refused permission to do that, they moved to a dugout . They were finally left in peace.

In 1904, the Prussian government made another move against the Poles, this time in the schools. It decreed that religion was now to be taught in German. Children were also beaten for speaking Polish in breaks. These measures led to the school strikes of 1901-07, that were ruthlessly put down, which provoked protests in other parts of Poland as well as in the Western press.

                                                    [from Topolski, History of Poland]

All these measures provoked widespread Polish resistance and therefore the spread of national consciousness on all levels of Polish society in Prussian Poland. It is not surprising that the National Democratic Party (Dmowski), which saw Germany as the Poles' enemy no.1 had it largest following in Prussian Poland. (See section on the growth of modern political parties in Lec. Notes 6 b. below).

3. The Poles in Austrian Poland [Galicia].

After Austria's defeat by Prussia in 1866, the Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph (1830-1916, ruled 1848-1916), agreed to the "Compromise" which created Austria-Hungary, giving Hungary self-government and equal status with Austria. (See Lec. Notes 7). He rewarded the Polish nobles of Galicia for their loyalty to him vis-a-vis Prussia by granting them home rule, but without the same status as Hungary. The provincial legislature was located in Lwow (German: Lemberg, Ukr. L'viv, Rus. Lvov),

Polish became the language of education, though students had to learn German as a second language in middle school and high schools. The universities in Cracow and Lwow now became Polish. The Polish Academy of Sciences was founded in 1869, with its seat in Cracow.
Galicia now became the center of Polish culture, allowing for the development of Polish art, literature, theater,  as well as university studies. Polish deputies formed a "Polish Circle" in the federal parliament, Vienna, and worked for Polish interests. (Jerzy [Yezhy] Cienciala was the first Polish deputy from Austrian Silesia, 1870). They could do this much more effectively in Vienna than their peers in the federal German parliament in Berlin, and in the Russian "Duma" which began to function in 1906. This was so because the Polish deputies in the Vienna parliament were more numerous than those in the  St. Petersburg and Berlin, so they could often obtain concessions in return for their votes.

Galician Problems.

(A) Poverty and Emigration: poor land, small farms, strip farming (strips owned by one familiy but located in different parts of village land), a high birthrate and lack of heavy industry, all combined to produce a very high rate of emigration in the period 1884-1914, mostly to the U.S.

(B) Ukrainian-Polish tensions: About 60% of the population of East Galicia - east of the San river - was Ukrainian-speaking. Most were peasants of the Uniate or Ukrainian faith, while the Poles were Catholics, landowners, and civil servants. There were, however, also Polish peasant villages interspersed with Ukrainian villages and sometimes villages with a mixed Polish-Ukrainian populations. A Ukrainian middle class and Intelligentsia developed in the period 1868-1914.

East Galicia became the center of Ukrainian nationalism because oppression in the Russian Empire made free cultural development impossible there; even printing in Ukrainian was not allowed. The Austrian government, for its part, followed a policy of playing the Ukrainians off against the Poles. It allowed the establishment of a Chair of Ukrainian History at the Polish University in Lwow in 1904, which was held by the great historian Mykhailo Hrushevskyi (1866-1934). His Outline History of Ukraine, (1904) was the first of a ten volume History of Ukraine, which inspired and strengthened Ukrainian national consciousness.

(In March 1917, at the time of the first Russian Revolution, he became the first President of of the Ukrainian "Rada," [National Council], Kiev. He settled in Kiev, Soviet Ukraine, in 1924 and published a 5-volume History of Ukrainian Literature, 1923-26. However, Stalin had him arrested and deported in 1930. He died in Kislovodsk in 1934).

In the years 1890-1914, Ukrainian political leaders aimed at the creation of a Ukrainian Crownland in the Austrian Empire. This led to clashes with the Poles because the Ukrainians claimed all of E.Galicia, as well as Bukovina (then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire) and part of Bessarabia (then in the Russian Empire), which had Ukrainian- speaking populations. Polish-Ukrainian clashes developed at the University, also in the Galician Diet (Legislature) in Lwow.

[For a brief and succinct historical account of early modern Ukraine, 1560-1914, see Timothy Snyder, The Reconstruction of Nations. Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Belarus, 1569-1914, New Haven & London, 2003, pp. 105-132. For more detail on the Ukrainians of former East Galicia, see John-Paul Himka, Religion and Nationality in Western Ukraine, Montreal, 1999].

(C) Galician Jews. The Jewish population of Galicia more than doubled in the period 1857-1890, forming 11% of the total population, but 30-80%  of the urban population. Jews worked in money lending (mostly in village taverns), retail commerce and small artisan business. They also owned 16.2% of the land, for in the Austrian Empire they were permitted to own land. The second part of the 19th century saw the growth of anti-Semitism, mainly on an economic basis. However, we should also note that some educated Jews chose assimilation with Polish rather than German culture.

[On the Jews of Galicia, see Stanislaw Grodziski, "The Jewish Question in Galicia," Polin, vol. 12, Oxford, 1999].

II. The Growth of Modern Political Parties and Programs for the Future.

A. 1864-1905.

1.1864-1887/90. Polish society was traumatized by the failure of the 1863-64 uprising, so the next 20 years or so were characterized by passivity and pessimism. This was reflected in the pessimistic interpretation of Polish history by the Cracow school of historians, who condemned old Poland for its weak government and the uprisings of 1830 and 1863 for being romantic/unrealistic. Headed by M. Bobrzynski, they taught loyalty to Austria and "organic work" to develop Polish culture. The Warsaw "Positivists" preached organic work too, but they did not condemn old Poland and the uprisings out of hand. They stressed the importance of education for the masses and worked for equal rights of women and Jews.

The two most prominent Polish writers of this time were Eliza Orzeszkowa 1841-1910, pron. Ozheshkovah) and Boleslaw Prus (pron. Proos; real name: Aleksander Glowacki, 1847-1912). Orzeszkowa came from a middle gentry family and helped insurgents in the uprising of 1863-64. After her husband was deported to Siberia (no great loss because he did nothing aside from hunting and she didn't love him), she lived by her pen. She wrote positivist novels protesting peasant poverty, feudal anachronisms, and the exploitation of women. She also wrote a novel dealing with the education, assimilation, and thus emancipation of a Jew from the constraints of Hasidism (Meir Ezefowicz, (pron. Yezefovitch) 1878).

Prus came from a poor gentry family and participated in the 1863-64 uprising. His greatest work, the The Doll, was first published in segments in a Warsaw newspaper, 1887-89, and then in 3 vols in 1890. It is a lively and colorful portrait of Warsaw society of the time, highly critical of the life style of contemporary Polish aristocrats, whom he potrayed as living lives of idle luxury and doing nothing for their country. (This was by no means true of all of them). It is considered to be the greatest Polish novel of the 19th century. (The Doll in available in English, translated by David Walsh).

2. 1887/90-1905.

(a) The National Democrats. In the mid-eighties and early 90s a new generation matured, which set out to work for Polish independence. In 1887, the Polish League was founded in Switzerland by an old revolutionary, Zygmunt Milkowski (1824-1925, pron. Meelkofskee) whose pseudonym was "Teodor Jez" (pron. Yezh). The PL strove for Polish independence. In 1892, it was taken over by Roman Dmowski (pron. Demofskee,1864-1939),who reorganized it as the National League, and then as the National Democratic Party in 1897.


               Roman Dmowski

Roman Dmowski's parents were members of the petty gentry who settled in Warsaw. His father became a road paving contractor there. To make more income, he leased two lakes for fishing and sold the fish. He believed that his son would do great things for Poland.

Roman studied biology at the Russian University in Warsaw, and became active in the Assoc. of Polish Youth called "Zet," then in the "Polish League," which as mentioned above, he took over and reorganized as the National Democratic Party. His long-term aim was Polish independence, and he set out to attain it by developing a special concept of Polish national consciousness. He wrote articles and books, teaching the concept of "national egoism" (also a popular idea elsewhere in Europe at the time).

In Dmowski's version, this meant that Poles had to be intolerant of other ethnic groups, especially the Jews. He saw the latter as blocking the development of a Polish middle class. He also pointed out that educated Jews in Russian Poland identified with Russia, with Austria in Austrian Poland, and with Germany in Prussian Poland. He taught loyalty to the Catholic Church, which was to him the hallmark of Polishness.  [See: Roman Dmowski, "Thoughts of a Modern Pole," in: Peter F.Sugar, ed., Eastern European Nationalism,
pp. 205-207].


B. The Socialists. The "Polish Socialist Party Abroad" was founded in in Paris in 1892, while the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) was established in Warsaw in 1893. Its most prominent leader was Jozef Pilsudski (pron. Peewsoodskee, 1867-1935). He was born into a Polish landed gentry family in Lithuania, and was at first educated with his siblings at home by his patriotic mother, who taught them Polish history and literature. She also taught them that they must fight for an independent Poland.

Pilsudski hated the Russian High School in Wilno (Vilnius) and barely avoided being thrown out. He spent a year studying medicine in Kharkov (now in Ukraine), but had to leave because of involvement in student protests. He was denied admission to the Medical School, University of Dorpat, because he had been forced to leave Kharkov. Furthermore, his older brother became involved in a plot to assassinate Tsar Alexander III. The Russian "Okhrana" (secret police) discovered the plot and Pilsudski's older brother was arrested along with Jozef, who was quite innocent, but was arrested because he was assumed to be an accomplice. (Lenin's older brother, Alexander, was also arrested and admitted his participation in the plot; he might have been spared but was executed when he refused to plead for mercy).

Jozef was just 20 years old when he was exiled to Siberia, where he stayed in1887-1892. He read a great deal, met older Polish exiles, and became a Socialist. He later said he discovered that Russian Socialists were also Russian Imperialists, so he did not trust them. When released, he returned to Lithuania and in 1893, headed the party there. The PPS  aimed at establishing an independent, socialist Poland.
[See: Aims of the Polish Socialist Party, 1892, in K.Olszer, For Your Freedom and Ours, pp.150-151]

Pilsudski began to write and print a paper for the workers, called The Polish Worker, first in Lithuania and then in Lodz, the textile center in Russian Poland. He was arrested with his wife and imprisoned in the Warsaw Citadel. There he feigned madness and, due to a Russian Siberian doctor there, who loved Pilsudski's descriptions of Siberia, he was transferred to a mental hospital in St. Petersburg. He escaped from there dressed in whites with the help of a Polish doctor, and went to Cracow, Galicia. (For continuation see: 1905-1914).

C. The Peasant Party was established in Galicia in 1893, and renamed the Polish Peasant Party in 1903. It stood for peasant rights and a broadening of Galician autonomy. After it split in 1913, the right wing, Piast was led by a self-educated peasant Wincenty Witos (1874-1945), who was to be the Premier of Poland in 1920-21.

D. The Social Democratic Party of the Kingdom of Poland was founded in 1894, later adding Lithuania to its name (Polish acronym: SDKPiL). It was "internationalist" in opposing an independent Poland and working for a worldwide socialist revolution. Its most prominent leader was Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1918), who came from a polonized Jewish family in Russian Poland. She was, however, much more active in the German Social Democratic Party than in the SDKPiL, where the real leader was Felix Dzherzhynsky (Polish: Feliks Dzierzynski, 1877-1926). He also came from a Polish gentry family in Lithuania, but is best known as the first head of the Soviet "Cheka," or security police in December 1917. (In Dec. 1918, members of the SDPKiL joined with left-wing Polish Socialists to found the Communist Workers' Party of Poland, renamed the Polish Communist Party in 1925).

B. 1905-1914.

Russia's defeat in the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-1905, and the Russian Revolution of 1905-07, which also turned into a socialist, anti-Russian revolution in Russian Poland, polarized Polish political thought.

[from Topolski, A History of Poland]

In  summer 1904,Pilsudski travelled via W. Europe and U.S. to Japan, where he tried to persuade the Japanese government to subsidize a Polish uprising against Russia so as to divide Russian forces. In Tokyo, he ran into Dmowski, who had gone to Japan from Russia to arrange help for Poles taken prisoner as soldiers in the Russian army - and to oppose any idea of Japanese support for a Polish uprising against Russia. The two leaders had a long talk in a tea house, but could not reach agreement. In any case, Japan won the war and the U.S. President Teddy Roosevelt mediated peace, signed in the Treaty of Portsmouth, Sept. 5, 1905. Nevertheless, Pilsudski did get some money from the Japanese, which he used for intelligence, military training of Polish students abroad, and attacks on selected Russian objectives.

In 1906, Russia became a semi-constitutional monarchy with a parliament. Dmowski decided that the best course for Russian Poles was to cooperate with the Russian government, the ally of France. Indeed, in 1907, England, France and Russia formed the Triple Entente which faced the Triple Alliance of the Central Powers: Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy. National Democrats were elected to the Duma (Russian legislature) and Dmowski hoped for gradual concessions in education and self-government in Russian Poland.  He made a public offer of Polish cooperation to Russia in his book: Russia and the Polish Question, published in French in 1908. He was also thinking along lines similar to those of Prince Adam J. Czartoryski during the Napoleonic Wars, that is, of uniting all the Polish lands under the Russian crown as  the key step to later independence.

Jozef Pilsudski had a radically different program. Not only did he work for a future socialist Poland, but he was also anti-Russian. In 1906, he formed the "Revolutionary Fraction" in the PPS, with the stated goal of fighting for an independent Poland. This broke the party in two: the Revolutionary Fraction on the right, and the "internationalists" on the left. During the Balkan crisis of 1908 between Russia and Austria, he formed the "Riflemen's Association," a sort of ROTC in Austrian Poland. Austrian authorities allowed it to exist in return for Pilsudski's intelligence reports on Russian military objects and preparations.

According to the memoirs of a Russian Russian Social Democrat, Victor M. Chernov, Pilsudski told him in Feb. 1914, when they met  at a Socialist congress in Paris, that he would not cooperate with Russian socialists. He said that he foresaw a world war in which the Central Powers would first defeat Russia, and then be defeated themselves by France, Britain, and possibly also the U.S. Therefore, in the first part of the war, the Poles should side with the Central Powers against Russia, and in the second with England, France, and the U.S. against Germany. (See: Waclaw Jedrzejewicz, Pilsudski. A Life for Poland, New York, 1982, pp. 52-53. Jedrzejewicz does not cite any sources, for this popular biography and his book does not have notes, but Chernov's account is to be found in his memoirs: Pered Buriei [Before the Storm] published in the U.S. in the 1950s. There is no confirmation of Pilsudski's statement to Chernov in any other source).

Until the crushing defeats suffered by the Russians in World War I, Dmowski seemed to be right in predicting that Russia would emerge as a victorious power alongside the French and British. Therefore, at first Dmowski had more support among the Poles than Pilsudski.


III. A Brief Note on Polish Culture in the period 1880-1914.

This was a period of great artistic flowering. Many Polish painters studied in France and were much influenced by French Impressionism. However, Jan Matejko (1838-1893, pron. Maateykoh), produced large, historically researched canvasses showing the glory of old Poland, e.g. The Battle of Grunwald, July 1410. One of his students, Jacek Malczewski(1854-1929, pron. Yatsek Malchefskee), at first painted scenes related to Polish history, then turned to half realistic half mythical paintings. Stanislaw Wyspianski (pron. Wehspianskee, 1869-1907) was both a great painter and a playwright. His most famous play is "The Wedding," showing a peasant wedding, interwove the festivities with dreamlike scenes from Polish history. In this play, he hinted very broadly that the Polish intelligentsia of Austrian Poland talked much of an independent Poland, but were too comfortable under Austrian rule to revolt. (This was, indeed, true).

Henryk Sienkiewicz (1846-1916) wrote historical novels about the glorious Polish past. His Teutonic Knights and his trilogy about the eastern wars: With Fire and Sword, The Deluge, and Pan Wolodyjowski,  have been perennial favorites with Polish readers, fascinating them in times of peace, and comforting them in times of foreign occupation. Some were translated into a pseudo old - English by the American Jeremiah Curtain in the late 19th century (who made money on them), but the trilogy has  appeared recently in a new, more readable translation by the Polish-American writer W.S. Kuniczak (though he did take some liberties with the text). The best known Sienkiewicz novel in the West is Quo Vadis, set in ancient Rome, where the Christian heroine symbolizes Poland. Sienkiewicz won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1905.

Wladyslaw Reymont (1867-1925) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1924 for his great 4 volume novel on Polish peasant life: The Peasants. It is divided into the four seasons of the year and is available in English.

Stefan Zeromski (pron. Zheromskee, 1864-1925), is another great writer of this period. His first novel, Sisyphean Labors, 1898, is a moving, autobiographical account of Polish students, first in a village school where uncomprehending Polish children are taught in Russian, and then in a Russified high school, in which the boys are taught that everything Russian is modern and progressive while everything Polish is outdated and bad. (This was also the program in the Russian High School in Wilno, attended by J. Pilsudski, and a similar line of teaching prevailed in Polish schools in the period 1948-56, this time claiming all things Soviet to be modern and progressive). Thus, the boys were to forget their national identity. However, a student just arrived from Warsaw speaks about great Polish poets, especially Mickiewicz, and awakens in the others a feeling of pride in their nation. We should note that in Russian Poland a Russian High School Certificate was mandatory for acceptance to University studies, or into the Civil Service.

Zeromski's novel The Ashes describes the hero's experience in the Polish Legions under Napoleon, ending with his return, blinded from walking in the snow, to his home in 1812. The Faithful River, deals with the Polish revolt of 1863-64. Before the Spring is a somewhat rambling picture of Polish intelligentsia attitudes at the dawn of independence in 1918.


[from Lukowski and Zawadzki, A Concise History of Poland, (Cambridge, 2001)

The most outstanding Polish scientist of the 19-20th centuries was Marie-Curie Sklodowska, who married a French scientist, Pierre Curie, and became a French citizen. This is a little known but striking photograph was taken in 1913. Her face expreses both determination and suffering. (For biographies, see Bibliography).


                  Short  Bibliography.

For an analytical survey of Polish history during the partitions, see Piotr S. Wandycz (b.1923), The Lands of Partitioned Poland, Seattle, Wash., 1974 (and reprints). The British historian of Poland, Norman Davies (b.1940) takes a more thematic approach in, God's Playground. A History of Poland, vol. II. New York, 1982 (and reprints).

For a study of the National Democratic brand of nationalism, see: Brian A. Porter, When Nationalism Learned to Hate, Oxford, New York, 2000. (Note that the PPS brand of Polish nationalism was democratic and inclusive of all nationalities. Pilsudski dreamed of a Polish-Lithuanian-Belorussian Federation allied with an independent Ukraine).

For a popular biography of Jozef Pilsudski, see: Waclaw Jedrzejewicz, Jozef Pilsudski. A Life for Poland,
New York, 1982 (and reprints).

For a social history approach to the 1905 Revolution in Poland, see: Robert Blobaum, Rewolucja: Russian Poland, 1905-1907, Ithaca, N.Y., 1995.

For Polish literature, see: Czeslaw Milosz, The History of Polish Literature, London, 1969, and U.S. reprints. Milosz (b.1912) , a poet who was once a communist sympathizer, escaped from Poland in the 1950s and taught Polish Literature for many years at the Berkeley Campus of the University of California. Milosz won the Nobel Prize for Poetry in 1980.

On Polish painting of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, see: Jan Cavanaugh, From the Outside Looking In. Early Modern Polish Art, 1890-1918 Univ. of California Press, 2001.