Polish history (1831-1914)
Artur Grottger, Battle, “Lithuania” cycle, 1864-1866
Polish history from 1831-1914 – the history of Poland from the fall of the November Uprising (1831) and the Great Emigration until the outbreak of World War I (1914), at the end of which Poland regained sovereignty (1918).
During 83 years in the history of Poland, many events took place, including the Spring of Nations, the January Uprising and the revolution of 1905. The time was also characterized by the development of national culture, primarily in writing, the fine arts and music.
All this, together with the development of Polish political thought, the formation of political directions and parties, armed and paramilitary organizations, as well as efforts to build a modern society in the social and economic sense, constituted the history of this period.
In historical terms, one can distinguish:
the post-insurrection Great Emigration, which in the years 1831-1863 created and decided the direction of Polish national-independence movements
organic labor, which laid the foundation for the economic development of Poland under the partitions independence movements (Zaliwski’s partisanship, the Cracow Uprising, the Spring of Nations, the January Uprising) the labor movement and the 1905 revolution the activities of leftist, national and people’s organizations in the early 20th century.
Table of contents
1 General outline
2 The Great Emigration
2.1 Repression after the November Uprising
3 The beginnings of organic labor and the development of industry
4 The conspiratorial movement
4.1 Zaliwski’s expedition and martial law in the Kingdom of Poland 4.2 The year 1846 4.3 The Spring of Nations and its consequences
5 Polish lands in the second half of the 19th century
6 The January Uprising
6.1 Preparations and causes of the outbreak 6.2 Course and significance of the uprising
7 The annexations after the uprising
7.1 Russian partition: abolition of autonomy and Russification 7.2 Prussian partition: Germanization and kulturkampf 7.3 Austrian partition: autonomy and economic stagnation
8 Revolution of 1905
8.1 Causes 8.2 Course 8.3 Consequences
9 Main political camps in the Polish lands
9.1 Socialist movement 9.2 National movement 9.3 People’s movement
10 Struggle for the Polish cause
10.1 The Endetian Polish Circle in the Duma 10.2 The extra-parliamentary activities of the PPS-FR
11 On the eve of the Great War
11.1 Polish Legions
12 Notes 13 Footnotes 14 Bibliography
General outline[edit | edit code].
Joint maneuvers of the Army of the Russian Empire and the Prussian army in Kalisz in 1835, in the presence of Russian Emperor Nicholas I Romanov and King Frederick William III of Prussia, to commemorate the conclusion of the Treaty of Kalisz in 1813
Separate article: Münchengrätz Convention (1833).
The defeat of the November Uprising in 1831 strengthened the Russian Empire’s position in Europe and negatively affected Polish society. Czar Nicholas I departed completely from the policies of Alexander I[a], which also encouraged the other partitioners to introduce a harsh course on their own territory.
In accordance with the provisions adopted at Münchengrätz in 1833, the partitioners guaranteed mutual surrender of political fugitives and cooperation in the prosecution of new conspiracies and insurrectionary attempts. In addition, they were supported by the papacy, which, with the encyclical Cum primum by Gregory XVI, sharply condemned the November Uprising as a “revolution.” The Pope was particularly allergic to any uprising of this type, as the Italian revolutionaries threatened him in the Church State. In the future, Russia, Germany and Austria-Hungary were to use the encyclical to urge the Polish clergy to oppose the Poles’ struggle for national liberation.
In the Congress Kingdom (commonly referred to as Congress Poland) and in the other partitioned territories, attempts were made to preserve national consciousness. Although there was no shortage of conspiracies and insurrectionary preparations, often inspired by circles of the Great Emigration (such as Zaliwski’s partisans), there was also the idea of organic labor, which placed a premium on economic development, science and national culture, through which increasingly intense Russification and Germanization were resisted. Important centers of the struggle to preserve Polishness were (besides Kraków, which was independent for the longest time) Warsaw in the Russian partition, Lviv in the Austrian partition and Poznań in the Prussian partition. The period in question also saw several important independence uprisings, with the January Uprising at the forefront. As a result, Poland suffered huge losses in both human and material assets.
At the same time, it was a period of increased urbanization, significant industrial development and the emergence of – previously unknown (or not playing much of a role) classes in Poland – the working class, intelligentsia and bourgeoisie, and with them new socially motivated political currents. The abolition of serfdom led to the creation (contrary to the intentions of the partitioners) of a people’s movement, an important factor in social and national education in the countryside. These changes led – at the end of the 19th century – to the formation of political groups that, in addition to nationalist slogans, also preached social slogans, and at the same time (at the end of the period in question, in Galicia) numerous organizations of a paramilitary nature, which formed the basis for building the beginnings of the armed forces needed during the upcoming global conflict, which was to be a world war.
Great Emigration[edit | edit code].
Prince Adam Jerzy Czartoryski, leader of the conservative camp of the Hotel Lambert
Separate article: The Great Emigration.
Welcome to France
With the collapse of the uprising, the era of the state as an institution ended in Poland. From the public life of the country departed the people of Napoleonic times. They found their way into the ranks of the masses – mostly soldiers – who were drawn westward through Prussia and Saxony, and even through Austria, towards Belgium, France and England. Polish exile soldiers were received almost everywhere[b] with expressions of sympathy and sometimes even with enthusiasm. The exodus mass consisted of members of the national government and politicians, officers and soldiers, as well as the most prominent artists of the era, headed by the three bards (Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki, Zygmunt Krasiński). The main place of settlement of the Great Emigration was France.
The Great Emigration was an exodus movement with a patriotic and political background after the fall of the November Uprising, one of the largest emigration movements in Europe at that time (more than 8,000 people). The emigrants mainly included Polish nobility, insurgent soldiers, members of the National Government, politicians, writers, artists, intelligentsia. The center of emigrants was France, minor ones were also located in Saxony, the Ruhr, Belgium, Great Britain, Switzerland, Turkey[c] and the United States.
The main center of the emigration’s conservative camp was the headquarters of Prince Adam Czartoryski – the Lambert Hotel in Paris (from which the camp took its name), but soon others began to emerge, such as the Towarzystwo Demokratyczne Polskie (hereafter: TDP), the Polish National Committee, the Gromady Ludu Polskiego, Zemsta Ludu, Młoda Polska, and the Zjednoczenie Emigracji Polskiej.
Emigration enriched Polish culture, especially in the fields of literature and music. Emigration journalism deepened patriotism and influenced the views of society. Emigrant books and writings reached the country despite bans and penalties for their storage and reproduction.
Overall, the Great Emigration – admittedly internally quarrelsome and fragmented[d] – was a force that for more than three decades exerted an influence on the formation of Polish thinking throughout the period discussed in this chapter. It was a unifying factor in the activities of all organizations that considered the liberation of the nation from the rule of the partitioning states as a primary goal. In this sense, the Great Emigration achieved success, although the last Polish national uprising (the January Uprising), triggered in accordance with its assumptions, suffered defeat.
Repression after the November Uprising[edit | edit code].
Separate articles: Cassation of monasteries in the Russian partition and Conscription of Polish children into the Army of the Russian Empire 1831-1832.
Kidnapping of Polish children by Russian soldiers at Castle Square in Warsaw
The missionary monastery in Vilnius, which was canceled by the Russian authorities in 1832, painting by Zygmunt Vogel from around 1800.
After the fall of the November Uprising, Emperor Nicholas I Romanov said the words: I do not know if there will ever be a Poland again, but of this I am certain, that there will be no more Poles.
Post-insurrection repression affected all layers of Polish society. Insurgent leaders and activists – with the exception of those who left the country (their estates were confiscated) or took an oath of allegiance – were sentenced to imprisonment or many years’ exile deep into the Empire, more than 22,000 officers and soldiers were conscripted into the Russian army and sent to the Caucasus, where they were forced to pacify the Caucasian peoples fighting for freedom and fight the Turks. Similar persecution was meted out to insurgent administration officials, journalists, and Jews sympathetic to the uprising.
The main punishment for the Kingdom, on which a contribution of 22 million rubles was imposed, was to be the abolition of previous freedoms. The Russian governor, Field Marshal Ivan Paskevich, ordered the closure of the University of Warsaw and the liquidation of the existing government commissions, handing over administration to Russian ministries. Provinces were replaced by gubernias, Polish weights and measures and the monetary system were replaced by Russian equivalents. Education also underwent slow Russification, and the Russian language pushed Polish out of offices at all levels.
However, the most expensive punishments reached the inhabitants of Lithuania and other former lands of the Commonwealth incorporated into Russian governorates. The small-scale gentry, who did not own property, were stripped of their nobility by a special tsarist decree and were considered peasants[e]. Residents of these lands were excluded from the amnesty that covered the Kingdom, and several thousand estates were confiscated from participants in the insurgent activities. In 1839, the Uniate Church was abolished, and the faithful were forcibly converted to Orthodoxy. Vilnius University and other Polish schools were abolished and replaced with Russian ones.
In the other two partitions, repression was admittedly milder, but here too hundreds of people were imprisoned, and Germanization clearly intensified. Austria waited for a convenient moment to – with the consent of the other partitioners – liquidate the Republic of Cracow.
See also category: Polish exiles in the Russian Empire (November Uprising).
Beginnings of organic labor and development of industry[edit | edit code].
Monument to Karol Marcinkowski in Poznań
Separate article: Organic labor.
After the defeat of the uprising, there was a slow but visible development of cities and an increase in grain exports, which vouched for the improvement of agriculture. Potato and wheat production grew, thanks mainly to increasing acreage acquired from forests and wastelands, however, poorly fertilized land yielded low crops. Only on the larger manors could technological advances be seen (blade plows, forage harvesters, mowers, switching from three-field to crop rotation). The backwardness of the small peasantry meant that its economy was falling further and further behind, while the wealthier farmers were gradually switching from serfdom to rent, which soon resulted in the differentiation of the rural population into landless, smallholders and renters.
Industry, on the other hand, grew rapidly, albeit employing only 50,000 people in the mid-19th century[f]. The prohibitive tariffs introduced in Russia after 1831 required manufacturers in the Kingdom to offer high quality products or move factories (such as in the cloth industry) deep into Russia. The fight against competition resulted in technological progress, and thus the use of ever more perfect machinery.
The greatest industrialization took place in Upper Silesia in the Prussian partition. Iron and zinc metallurgy and coal mining expanded there mainly, with output rising from 37,000 tons in 1800 to 4.6 million tons in 1864. In Poznan, large metallurgical plants were established by Hipolit Cegielski, and in Cracow by Ludwik Zieleniewski. In 1853, in Lviv, pharmacist Ignacy Lukasiewicz made one of the greatest inventions of the century, constructing an oil lamp. The consequence was the beginning of the exploitation of oil deposits in the Jaslo region.
The emergence of industry was accompanied by the development of communications through the introduction of railroads. One of the first railroads on Polish soil was the route connecting Warsaw with Cracow and Vienna, built in 1840-1848. In all three partitions, education was spreading, reading and writing developed.
Significant progress was also made in agriculture, especially in the Prussian partition, through the initiation of land reclamation and the use of fertilizers and mechanization of agricultural work (seeders, threshing machines, choppers, grain mills). The situation was worse in the agriculture of the Russian partition, where feudal and serfdom structures lasted longer, and in Galicia, as a result of the great fragmentation of farms there. Everywhere the area’s manorial estates were strengthened, benefiting from hired labor, provided mainly by the landless rural population. The area of arable land increased significantly, allocated especially to sugar beets and fodder crops, due to the great development of animal husbandry.
Lodz – the new center of textile and textile industry – rapidly became the largest city in the Kingdom after Warsaw. The development of iron railroads gave a boost to the steel industry. The railroads revolutionized transportation[g]. Representatives of the intelligentsia and enlightened landed gentry initiated actions to speed up development. In the middle of the century, such actions began to be called organic labor or, otherwise, grassroots work.
“Organists”, whose task was often to draw society away from the struggle for national liberation, proclaimed that by their actions they were serving the Polish cause better than conspiracies and uprisings. Such activities began primarily in Greater Poland, where – after the accession of Frederick William IV to the Prussian throne (1840) – there was a softening of the anti-Polish course in domestic politics.
It began with the founding of the so-called Casino in Gostyn in 1835, a society for raising the economy and culture in the region. Such societies – and more were formed – promoted new technologies and farming methods.
In 1841, the Society for Scientific Aid in Poznań was founded, and soon afterwards the land company “Bazar”. Both ventures were the work of Karol Marcinkowski, a physician, philanthropist and social activist. Thanks to him, Hipolit Cegielski launched a workshop that was to turn into a large factory in the future.
In the Kingdom, the Paskevich system left far fewer opportunities for action. The pioneer of organic labor here was Andrzej Count Zamoyski, who deeded the peasants on his estates and advocated moderate reforms. Organic work contributed to the activation of society in other directions, although it was hampered by the partitioners and landowners reluctant to change. Preparations for the next uprising pushed this kind of activity into the background.
Conspiracy movement[edit | edit code].
The conspiracy movement revived almost immediately after the fall of the uprising. Its ranks were supplied by the petty and middle nobility, intelligentsia and youth. Opposed to the conspiratorial movement were the landed gentry and richer peasants (although a Peasant Union, a national and conspiratorial organization by design, was formed among farmers after 1840).
In 1832-1839, the main conspiratorial centers were the Republic of Cracow and Galicia, from where emissaries of the Great Emigration circles reached the Russian partition, expanding the already existing conspiratorial network. However, as time passed, the emigration’s influence on domestic activities waned. The new generation took over the task of regaining independence by way of another uprising, but on the basis of domestic experience, and thus departing from the ways of thinking of their predecessors.
Zaliwski’s expedition and martial law in the Kingdom of Poland[edit | edit code].
Separate articles: Zaliwski’s Partisan Expedition and Martial Law in the Congress Kingdom 1833.
In March 1833, several guerrilla units under the overall command of Colonel Józef Zaliwski, a participant in the November Uprising and a friend of Joachim Lelewel, infiltrated the Kingdom of Poland from Galicia. The groups of a dozen or so, mostly poorly armed emigrants, were not well received by the population, and after 3-4 months of trying to take action, evading the patrols of the Russian army and police, they returned to Galicia. The Russians killed 18 partisans, captured three and hanged them, while the rest managed to escape.
The Austrians caught most of them, with Zaliwsky in the lead, and deported all those who were not Austrian subjects. The fate of the expedition proved that triggering an uprising is not an easy task and that it is necessary to prepare for it. Such preparations were made in November by Karol Borkowski, but after arrests the following year the conspiracy under the name of the Union of Polish Coal Miners had to temporarily suspend activities, although it did not cease to exist.
On June 26, 1833, martial law was declared in the Kingdom of Poland, based on Emperor Nicholas I Romanov’s decree of April 11/23, 1833.
1846[edit | edit code].
Death of Dembowski
Watercolor by Juliusz Kossak The Charge of the Cracovians on the Russians in Proszowice 1846
Piotr Sciegienny, photo from before 1890
“Slaughter of Galicia”, painting. Jan Lewicki
Separate articles: The Cracow Uprising, the Galician Slaughter and the 1846 Greater Poland Uprising.
The new conspiratorial work began – primarily in Galicia, where the terror from the partitioner was weakest – almost immediately after the fall of the November Uprising. In February 1835, on the basis of coal mining, the Association of the Polish People was formed in Cracow, proclaiming reformist slogans with civil liberties at the forefront and denouncing the magnates and their sell-outs. The organization developed best in Galicia, but also in the Kingdom and Ruthenia, where Szymon Konarski was active, and in Lithuania, preaching enfranchisement of peasants without compensation and universal suffrage.
Meanwhile, the occupation of Cracow by partitioning troops and arrests greatly weakened the movement. The organization’s authorities moved to Lviv, and the helm was taken over by activists of the moderate wing, headed by Franciszek Smolka, who turned to the intelligentsia and nobility with moderate attitudes. In this situation, the left formed a new organization called the General Confederation of the Polish Nation (1837), which, however, was soon detected and liquidated by the Austrian police. The Association of the Polish People decided to self-dissolve, and the wave of arrests in late 1840-1841 put an end to its activities.
Szymon Konarski’s Ukrainian organization had more than 3,000 members and established contacts with Russian officers and students both in Vilnius and Kiev. In 1838 Konarski – denounced by the merchant Rozental – was arrested in Vilna and publicly executed on February 27, 1839. Despite the torture, he did not betray his comrades, but others who were arrested did. The revolutionary movement was partially destroyed.
In the Prussian partition, the center of conspiratorial activities was Poznań. They were led by the philosopher and journalist, TDP activist Karol Libelt, who in the pages of the Literary Weekly promoted the so-called “mild propaganda” that did not touch the landed gentry and was favorable to the peasants (already enfranchised, by the way). More radical members of the Union of the Polish Nation (hereafter: ZNP) Henryk Kamienski and Edward Dembowski were active in the Kingdom. Both preached the need to enlist the enfranchised peasantry in a future uprising (immediately after its outbreak), but Kamienski recommended prudence and good preparation, while Dembowski pushed for the quickest possible solution, counting on the masses of the people to decide the victory. Arrests in 1843 made these plans impossible. Dembowski took refuge in the Prussian partition, where he strengthened the activities of the left (the so-called Union of Plebeians, founded in 1842 by bookseller Walenty Stefanski), but the popular uprising in all three partitions in 1844 did not take place.
Another ZNP activist, Father Piotr Sciegienny, was active in the Russian partition, and was particularly active among peasants in Swietokrzyskie. He distributed handwritten pamphlets (e.g., The Letter of St. Gregory the Pope and The Golden Book or History of the Human Kind for farmers and artisans, for peasants, burghers and soldiers, for butlers, writers, economists and other officers), urging participation in the struggle against the invaders, for which he promised indulgences and God’s blessing. In October 1844, in Krajno near Kielce, he gathered a handful of supporters with whom he intended to strike at Russian garrisons, but the police swung into action. Sciegienny was arrested and sentenced to death, which was commuted to a fine of 3,000 sticks and life imprisonment in Siberia.
The defeat of Sciegienny prevented the outbreak of the uprising in 1844. Now the ZNP came to the fore again, especially the so-called Poznań Centralization, where Ludwik Mieroslawski, considered an expert in military affairs, was created as the leader of the future uprising. As a result of extensive conspiracy work in Greater Poland and Galicia, it was agreed that the outbreak of the uprising would take place in February 1846, which Mieroslawski – at a meeting in Krakow – agreed with representatives of underground groups in January of that year.
Meanwhile, the partition police were liquidating all conspiracies at the grassroots. An attempt to stir up the Kashubians in the Prussian partition failed, in the Kingdom Pantaleon Potocki tried to strike at Siedlce, but was captured and hanged. Only in the south, near the border with Galicia, managed to smash several Russian outposts, after which a peasant detachment reached Krakow, where the uprising began on the night of February 20-21. On February 22, the National Government was formed in the liberated city, and it proclaimed a Manifesto to the Polish Nation, announcing enfranchisement without compensation, which could have prompted the peasants to join the uprising. However, Austrian propaganda calling for resistance against “noble oppression” gained more traction, and even before the uprising was announced, on February 19 peasants set out en masse to burn and loot manors. More than a thousand people were murdered during this so-called “Galician slaughter,” one of the leaders of which was, later rewarded by the invader, Jakub Szela.
Dembowski was killed by an Austrian bullet while leading a defenseless peasant pilgrimage, and thus the uprising[h] ended in defeat, with the death of at least several hundred and the arrest of several thousand people. However, it was an important contributor to the pan-European uprising two years later.
A further consequence of the failure of the uprising was the loss of any semblance of independence for the Republic of Cracow, which was annexed by Austria in November. The authorities immediately filled positions in the city with their own people, and the language in offices and the university became Germanized. It is worth mentioning, however, that economically the city of Krakow benefited greatly from incorporation into Austria-Hungary.
The Spring of Nations and its effects[edit | edit code].
General Jozef Bem
Separate articles: The Spring of Nations and the Greater Poland Uprising of 1848.
Since the end of the Napoleonic wars, during which the peoples of Europe became accustomed to the notion of a constitution and the revolutionary slogans of France, the struggle between capitalism and feudalism, along with the accompanying currents of social and national revolts, intensified with each passing year. Between 1845 and 1847, there was an economic crisis in Western Europe, which became the flashpoint for a series of revolutionary struggles waged in many countries in 1848 and the following year.
An important component of the Spring of Nations was the Polish cause. The Polish struggle for independence weakened the partitioning powers, that bastion of European reaction, and thus made it easier for other nations to fight for their own causes. European revolutionaries increasingly declared their readiness to support the Poles. More than 3,000 Poles took part in the Hungarian uprising, where such commanders as Henryk Dembinski and Jozef Bem stood out.
The outbreak of revolutions in Germany and Austria activated society in Galicia, Silesia and Greater Poland, and although the Spring of Nations both on Polish soil and throughout Europe ended in defeat, the activity of the popular masses – along with agrarian reforms – was the most important achievement and harbinger of change in the struggle for national and social liberation.
Polish lands in the second half of the 19th century[edit | edit code].
The breakthrough after the upheaval of the Spring of Nations was characterized throughout Europe by a rapid increase in industrialization and urbanization, which was associated with an increase in the size and strength of the working class and intelligentsia, and thus with the emergence of a qualitatively new group, oriented more towards social than national liberation. In terms of industry, England and western Germany developed the most, where coal and iron ore mining grew, which was associated with the expansion of strong large-scale industrial centers. In agriculture, mechanical equipment appeared in the form of lawnmowers, sheaves, steam locomotives driving threshing machines, windrowers and forage harvesters. The network of iron railroads covered larger and larger areas of the continent, and the textile industry had long since moved out of the manufactories into large factories employing thousands of people.
The situation was similar in the Polish lands, although development proceeded unevenly in the various annexations. Galicia continued to be the poorest, although it was here that the concessions of the Viennese government began to be felt most quickly – first (and on the largest scale) towards the Hungarians, but soon also towards the other nations that were part of the monarchy. Multinational Austria, which had lost the war with France and Piedmont in 1859, expected reforms. The Emperor entrusted the drafting of the draft to Agenor Goluchowski, Minister of the Interior – the first Pole in such a high post – of the powers, but the so-called “October Diploma” created by him disappointed and outraged everyone. Goluchowski was dismissed.
Industrially and agriculturally, the Prussian partition developed the fastest, but here there was no question of national freedoms. On the contrary, the Germanization of Greater Poland, Pomerania and Silesia took increasingly severe forms. In 1894, a German nationalist organization was founded, commonly called Hakata.
In the Russian partition, Russification was still moderate in the years 1830-1850, but the political police closely monitored the emergence and development of new nationalist conspiracies. At the same time, industry and education, transportation and banking developed. Political activists appeared (such as Count Aleksander Wielopolski) attempting to resolve Polish affairs within the existing reality, to bring about the polonization of education and the leavening of peasants. Only after the January Uprising was there to follow, lasting for almost 40 years, an intensification of Russification and repression affecting all layers of society.
After the defeat of the “Polish cause” during the Spring of Nations, repression of all Polish independence organizations took place in all three partitions. However, this often had the opposite effect, contributing to a growing sense of national unity and consciousness. Of particular importance in this regard was the popularization of the contemporary works of the three Romantic national bards Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki and Zygmunt Krasiński, as well as the musical works of Frederic Chopin, and the numerous books on historical subjects by Jozef Ignacy Kraszewski, the creator of the Polish mass novel.
Some political hopes were created by the accession of Alexander II to the Russian throne, especially when he carried out a partial liberalization of political relations. Namely, there was an amnesty for political prisoners, press censorship was relaxed, and the Agricultural Society was established, which heralded agrarian reforms. In preparing them, Alexander II sought the favor of the Polish nobility and landed gentry for his plans.
The Russian authorities tried to resist the independence mood and decided to make partial concessions. The Commission of Religion and Public Enlightenment, headed by Margrave Alexander Wielopolski, was reinstated, the Council of State was established and local government elections were introduced. Manifestations, however, did not cease, and the bloody police-military repressions that were applied doomed any chance of cooperation between the Polish population and the Russian government and Wielopolski. The movement of passive resistance then spread widely in the Kingdom, consisting mainly of gatherings of the faithful in churches, where patriotic songs were sung and anti-tsarist agitation was carried out.
The second half of the nineteenth century was characterized by a flowering of culture and art, which began at the end of Romanticism and Classicism, and continued in the era of Realism and Young Poland, as evidenced by a review of the names of artists of the era: Kajetan Koźmian, Franciszek Wężyk, Ludwik Osiński, Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz, Jan Potocki, Joachim Lelewel, Wojciech Bogusławski, Aleksander Fredro, but above all the three Polish bards – Adam Mickiewicz, Juliusz Słowacki and Zygmunt Krasiński. The situation was similar when it came to fine arts and music, with the most famous representatives in the persons of Frederic Chopin and Jan Matejko. Later artists included Artur Grottger, Maria Konopnicka, Stanisław Witkiewicz, Stanisław Wyspiański, the father and son Kossaks, and in the final period artists headed by Paderewski and Modrzejewska.
The years from 1831 to 1914 were a period of rebirth of the Polish nation and state, which under the partitions, subjected to harsh actions of denationalization, persisted in the struggle on many fronts to regain and preserve Polishness.
On the other hand, this period marked the beginning of a great wave of emigration and labor – especially to the USA, Canada, Argentina and Brazil, where many hundreds of thousands of Poles – both political fugitives and peasants from the poorest (or forcibly expropriated) regions – left “for bread” in the years 1870-1914. According to estimates, there were more than 4.5 million Poles living outside the country in 1914. It should be added that this emigration – in the footsteps of the Great Emigration – became the mainstay of patriotic thought and the leaven for the creation of the Polish state at the outbreak of the Great War.
January Uprising[edit | edit code].
Funeral of the five fallen on March 2, 1861
Administrative division of the Republic within the pre-partition borders introduced by the National Government during the January Uprising in 1863
Separate articles: The January Uprising and The January Uprising in the Partitioned Lands.
Preparations and causes of the outbreak[edit | edit code].
In the second half of the 19th century, Warsaw became the center of anti-Russian resistance, where numerous patriotic demonstrations, increasingly violently dispersed by the Russian army, took place from 1860. On February 27, 1861, during a demonstration in Krakowskie Przedmieście, organized by students of the School of Fine Arts and the Medical and Surgical Academy, people were killed in a clash with the Russian army. On April 8, a massacre took place in Castle Square (110 people were probably killed by Russian infantry bullets), and demonstrations in the provinces were increasingly numerous. In order to pacify the Kingdom of Poland, Russian governor General Charles Lambert imposed martial law on October 14.
On October 15, despite prohibitions, Varsovians took part in the celebration of the anniversary of Tadeusz Kosciuszko’s death, which ended with the Russian army breaking up the demonstration and kidnapping people from churches. In protest against the arrest of 1,878 worshippers at the Warsaw Cathedral, which was raided by the military, diocesan administrators ordered the closure of all churches and chapels in Warsaw.
On October 17, Apollo Korzeniowski formed the City Committee, which took charge of preparing the outbreak of the uprising. Count Lambert yielded and released most of the detainees. After a few days, Lambert resigned, and General Aleksandr Lüders became the new governor.
In 1862 the head of the government of the Kingdom became Alexander Count Wielopolski, a supporter of a settlement with the tsar, who – seeing signs of an impending insurrectionary uprising with incalculable consequences for Poles – tried to pacify the mood.
Meanwhile, the activities of the underground centers were in full swing. In 1861, the Red Party was formed – a camp of political revolutionary activists preaching multiple social and liberation slogans, which soon led to the division of the party into a left and right wing. At the head of the camp (first the Municipal Committee and then the Central National Committee) stood Jaroslaw Dabrowski, Ignacy Chmieleński, Konstanty Kalinowski, Zygmunt Padlewski, Stefan Bobrowski, or Zygmunt Sierakowski. Alongside them a party of whites was formed, representing the landed gentry and intelligentsia, led by Count Andrzej Zamoyski, Leopold Stanislaw Kronenberg and Karol Majewski.
The two parties differed in their approach to social issues (such as the issue of enfranchisement of peasants), but neither of them denied the need for an armed uprising. The course of events (branka) left them no way to choose. Throughout its duration, the leadership of the uprising passed from Reds to Whites and vice versa, but – in view of the indifference of Western European states and an America embroiled in the Civil War – the outcome was easy to predict. Despite more than a thousand battles and skirmishes fought, the uprising had to fail, and the Polish people – in the Kingdom, but especially in Lithuania – paid a high price for the last attempt to rebuild the Polish state through armed uprising.
Course and significance of the uprising[edit | edit code].
In the first days, the insurgents struck at Russian garrisons in Podlaskie, Augustow, Plock, Lublin and Radom provinces. Insurgent actions on January 21-25 took place in Malkinia, Stelmachow, Sokolow, Lukow, Biała Podlaska, Hrubieszow, Krasnik, Szydłowiec, Suchedniów, Bodzentyn, among others. Most of the attacks, due to poor armaments among other reasons, were repulsed, and the insurgents began to organize camps to train volunteers.
The Provisional Government (Oskar Awejde, Narcyz Jankowski, Jan Maykowski and Karol Mikoszewski) initially envisioned that Zygmunt Padlewski, operating in the Plock province, would become the uprising’s leader, but the latter’s failures led to the appointment of Ludwik Mieroslawski, who was in Paris, as dictator (January 26).
At this time the insurgent magazines “Watchtower” and “News from the Battlefield” were published. Instructions to the insurgent troops recommended that they avoid fighting with larger enemy units, ordered that communications be obstructed and that prisoners and recruits be recaptured. Bobrovsky, in order to expand the scope of the uprising, issued proclamations To the Brothers of Lithuania and To the Brothers of Russia, in which he called for a general insurrection. Edmund Rozycki’s cavalry unit operated in Volhynia, harassing the Russian corps there with drive-bys. The uprising gained a permanent foothold in Zhytomyrshchyna.
In March, the whites joined the uprising, taking over the leadership of the uprising in short order. This happened after the deaths of the Red leaders, Stefan Bobrowski (in a duel) and Zygmunt Padlewski, who was executed by the Russians. From April, the insurgent troops were led in turn by General Ludwik Mieroslawski and the dictators of the uprising, General Marian Langiewicz and Romuald Traugutt.
Seals of the National Central Committee
The vast majority of Polish officials in the administration of the Kingdom of Poland secretly carried out the orders of the National Government. On June 9, in broad daylight, the Polish staff of the Bank of Poland at Bank Square in Warsaw handed over to the insurgents, led by Aleksander Waszkowski, the deposits of the Kingdom’s Central Bank in the amount of 3.6 million zlotys, 500,000 rubles and many mortgage bonds.
The uprising, due to the significant disproportion of the fighting parties’ forces, took the form of guerrilla warfare. 1,229 skirmishes and smaller battles were fought, including 956 in the Congress Kingdom, 236 in Lithuania and the rest in Belarus and Ukraine. Polish troops avoided a pitched battle, which could have ended in the total defeat of the uprising. A total of about 200,000 men served in the insurgent troops, but no more than 30,000 at a time took part in the fighting. The 1863 uprising was the largest of the Polish uprisings of the 19th century – both in terms of the number of participants and duration. Despite the catastrophe, the uprising also had positive consequences for the Polish nation. First of all, it decided to carry out the enfranchisement of peasants in a much more radical way than in neighboring countries, and it also contributed to the internal strengthening of Polish society and the consolidation of its attitudes toward the invader.
After the uprising, 669 executions were carried out (both in the Kingdom and Ukraine), a number that is certainly incomplete; including 89 officers of Russians, Ukrainians and Byelorussians. A much larger number of participants faced deportation to Siberia and to detention rotas in the Russian army. The number of exiles is estimated at 38,000, 10% of whom were sentenced to katorga. In the Austrian and Prussian annexations, prison sentences were imposed on several hundred insurgents. The victorious Tsar deprived Poles of all autonomous concessions, introduced full Russification in education and administration, with particular intensity in Lithuania.
There is no data on the number of those murdered, especially during the first months of the uprising, when Russian troops took no prisoners, slaughtered the wounded and massacred villagers deemed to favor the “rebels.” About 10,000 participants in the uprising fled abroad, a significant number of whom – especially the intelligentsia – returned to the country after a few years and settled in Galicia.
See also category: Polish exiles in the Russian Empire (January Uprising).
Partitions after the uprising[edit | edit code].
Russian partition: abolition of autonomy and Russification[edit | edit code].
The Kingdom of Poland and other western gubernias of the Russian Empire
Separate article: Russian partition.
The January Uprising made the tsarist administration aware of the “Polish problem.” The Russian Empire sought a solution in the intensified Russification of Polish lands. It included a whole series of restrictive steps, such as abolishing the Administrative Council, which was replaced by the Arrangement Committee for the Kingdom of Poland, incorporating ten governorates of the Kingdom of Poland directly into the Empire in 1866, banning the use of the Polish language in administration and education in 1867, and depriving cities that actively supported the uprising of their municipal rights, causing their decline.
In 1874, the governor of the kingdom came to be colloquially referred to as the Warsaw Governor General, and the kingdom itself as the Privyland (Russian: Привислинский Край). Formally, however, the Kingdom of Poland was never abolished by the Russians, and even the last tsar, Nicholas II, was crowned in 1894 also as Tsar of Poland. The title was distinguished in the most abbreviated form of the full title, described in paragraph 38. of the Constitution of the Russian Empire: Божиею поспешествующею милостью, Мы, Николай Второй, Император и Самодержец Всероссийский, Царь Польский, Великий Князь Финляндский и проч, и проч, и проч (We, Nicholas the Second, by God’s grace Emperor and Self-Reigner of All-Russia, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Finland, etc., etc.). , etc.)[i].
Russification was not a process of uniform intensity. Times of increased restrictions – Yosif Hurko, Governor-General of Warsaw in 1883-1894, stood out as a Russifier – were interspersed with periods of greater freedoms. In the Russian Empire, there was no concrete concept of policy toward national minorities and Russification was carried out rather through ad hoc decisions made by local governors and senior officials. Of the latter, favorable toward Poles stood out, for example, Sokrat Starynkiewicz, who, as mayor of Warsaw in 1875-1892, felt he represented the interests of the governed city, or Aleksandr Imeretinsky, governor-general in 1896-1900, who in 1897, for example, allowed prayer in schools in Polish. After the disaster of the subsequent uprising, representatives of the aristocracy and landed gentry circles – which were heavily influenced by the conservative weekly “Kraj”, edited by Erazm Piltz and Vladimir Spasovich – began to be loyal to the tsar, pursuing a so-called policy of appeasement.
Poles made up almost 60% of Russian administration officials, Polish officers served in the tsarist army, Polish-language press and publishing flourished[j], monuments to prominent Poles, such as Adam Mickiewicz in Warsaw, were erected. Later, the Russian administration approved the formation of Polish organizations, even those of a social-national nature, such as the Polish Landscape Society[k] and Polish political parties.
Russification was not aimed at transforming Poles into Russians, or Catholics and Jews into Orthodox Christians. The rulers were concerned with subjugation in the administrative and legal sense and, to some extent, educational and cultural unification. In the Russian administration, nationality was defined for a long period by membership in the main confessions, hence the joining of the Uniates to the Orthodox Church as the “Russian element.” A distinction was thus made between citizens of the Catholic and Mosaic faiths as elements foreign to Russians.
The sharpening of divisions and more intense confrontation with the foreignness of the occupying forces, together with the penetrating new ideology of nationalism, based on the philosophy of Johann Gottfried Herder, in which ethnicity and culture were the basis of national belonging, contributed, on the one hand, to a more rapid awakening of national consciousness in Polish society, and, on the other hand, the “Polish problem” played a significant role – thanks to Russian officials returning to their homeland with Warsaw experience, who “popularized” relations in the depths of the empire in the Polish lands – in the awakening of national thought in the Russians and the nationalization of the tsarism.
Prussian partition: germanization and kulturkampf[edit | edit code].
Coat of arms of the Grand Duchy of Posen
Separate article: Prussian annexation.
In 1867, the Grand Duchy of Posen was incorporated into the North German Union. The assumption of the position of Reich Chancellor by Otto von Bismarck resulted in a tightening of the Germanization policy in the Polish lands and directed it against Polish education and the Catholic Church (kulturkampf, or the struggle for the purity of German culture, started in 1871).
Between 1872 and 1874, the Polish language was almost completely eliminated from schools, Polish teachers were removed and Germans were hired in their place. In 1876, the Polish language was finally withdrawn from the judiciary and offices. The fight against the Church was aimed at weakening its influence on society. Archbishop Mieczyslaw Ledóchowski tried to prevent the deterioration of relations with the German authorities, but conflict arose as a result of the persecution of the clergy. Ledóchowski was imprisoned (1874) because he opposed the 1873 law making the Church dependent on the state.
In 1886, the Prussian government set up a Colonization Commission to buy land out of Polish hands and settle Germans on it. The process of Germanization further intensified. A Society for the Advancement of Germanness in the Eastern Borderlands (1894) was established, which at the end of the 19th century changed its name to the German Association of the Eastern Borderlands (it was popularly known as the Hakata – from the first letters of the names of its founders: Hansemann, Kennemann and Tidemann). The union’s task was to restrict Polishness in the Prussian partitioned territories. Hakata’s activities enjoyed the support of the new Reich Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow. The organization consisted mainly of Prussian officials.
The partition authorities issued laws against the establishment of new farms by Poles and banned the use of the Polish language at meetings. Poles did not remain passive, resisting the invaders in various ways. An example of this was the school strike in Września in 1901, declared because of the ban on the use of the Polish language in religious classes. A symbol of the fight against Germanization became the attitude of Michał Drzymała, who was not allowed by the Prussian authorities to build a house (1904), so he purchased land in the village of Podgradowice and lived in a circus wagon. The authorities, “for security reasons,” ordered him to remove the cart, but thanks to the contributions of the people, a new one was purchased. After five years, the Prussians forced Drzymala to leave this location as well – he then settled in a dugout.
Austrian annexation: autonomy and economic stagnation[edit | edit code].
Kazimierz Badeni, prime minister of Austria-Hungary 1895-1897
Separate article: Austrian partition.
In the late 1860s and early 1870s, Galicia was granted autonomy. Among other things, the National Diet and the National Council were established, and the Polish language was introduced into schools, offices and courts. A sitting minister – a Pole – in the government had the right to give opinions on draft resolutions having to do with Galicia. There was no shortage of Polish ministers in the government in charge of various ministries, and twice Poles were prime ministers. A Pole also headed the provincial administration of Galicia. Most of the lands under Austrian annexation were economically backward.
However, Polish education, science and culture developed in Galicia with much greater freedom than in other annexations. Autonomy in Galicia gave Poles the most favorable conditions since the First Republic.
Numerous Polish political organizations were formed here. From 1869 a conservative group, whose members were called “stańczyks,” was active in Cracow. Its activists included: Stanisław Kostka Tarnowski, Józef Szujski and Michał Bobrzyński. While maintaining loyalty to Austria, they wanted cultural development in Galicia. They criticized underground activities and were against holding any demonstrations.
In 1895, the Peasant People’s Party (SL) was formed at a congress in Rzeszow. In its program, it demanded that the partitioner respect civil rights, reform electoral laws and develop education. In 1903 it changed its name to the Polish People’s Party (PSL).
In 1897, the National Democratic Party (later known as the “National Democrats”), headed by Roman Dmowski, was founded in Lviv. Its main slogan was the fight to regain independence, and there were also anti-German and anti-Jewish voices. Over time, Dmowski began to preach slogans against national minorities and seek an agreement with the Tsar.
In Galicia, as in the other partitions, workers’ organizations were also formed, such as the Galician Social Democratic Party (1892).
Revolution of 1905[edit | edit code].
Causes[edit | edit code].
Bloody Sunday in St. Petersburg gave rise to the revolution
Separate articles: Conference of Opposition and Revolutionary Parties of Russia in Paris and the 1905 Revolution.
On September 30-October 1, 1904, a conference of Russia’s opposition and revolutionary parties was held in Paris, attended by representatives of the National League and the Polish Socialist Party, among others. The adopted resolution spoke of the autonomy of the Kingdom of Poland and the need for a constitution in Warsaw.
The immediate cause of the revolution was the economic crisis in the Russian Empire, aggravated by the Russo-Japanese War, which broke out in 1904. For the first time, an Asiatic state became involved in the wars between European powers, defeating one of the guarantors of the Holy Alliance. The conflict caused the two most prominent political orientations, commonly called socialists and nationalists, to decide to gain the trust of Japan and use its support for their own interests in the future struggle for power. Pilsudski and Dmowski arrived in Tokyo, almost simultaneously. The former’s aspiration was to obtain financial and military assistance in the future clash with Russia, while the latter did not want to allow a confrontation, seeing the main enemy of the Polish cause in Germany. As a result, the confused Japanese actually did not allow themselves to be persuaded by either delegation, with the Socialists gaining token material aid. The effects of the war were felt in the Kingdom of Poland primarily by the industrial centers recently created as a result of industrialization. Rising prices of foodstuffs, falling wages, as well as military recruitment, caused a number of workers’ uprisings, which took place as early as the end of 1904. On November 13, the first armed demonstration of the Polish Socialist Party (PPS) took place at Grzybowski Square in Warsaw. In addition, the Japanese victory undermined the authority of Nicholas II in society.
Course[edit | edit code].
Separate article: Revolution of 1905 in the Kingdom of Poland.
The crisis covered the entire empire. The bloody suppression of the people’s demonstration in front of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg on January 22, 1905, dubbed Bloody Sunday, set off a series of further demonstrations and street fighting in many cities, including St. Petersburg, Riga and Odessa, which recurred over the next two years. The most significant riots and strikes on Polish soil occurred in Warsaw, Lodz, Ostrowiec, Radomsk and Lublin. In Warsaw in January 1905, about a hundred people were killed in clashes between demonstrators and the army. Young people began a school strike that spread to many cities, including Kielce (Kielce School Strike of 1905). In early February, 24 to 32 people were killed in Kamienna during a workers’ strike, while approx. 40-100 were wounded. The Warsaw May Day demonstration ended with the death of 32 people, after which a general strike broke out across the city. Strikes and demonstrations in defense of the condemned to death Stefan Okrzei, an assassin of the police station in Warsaw’s Praga district, filled the summer of 1905. The climax of the workers’ speeches was a demonstration in Lodz on June 23, which turned into two days of street fighting, in which more than 200 Polish, Jewish and German workers were killed. In the Lublin region, there was a strike by agricultural workers demanding, among other things, freedom of the Unitarian religion. In Ostrowiec, demands for a wage increase turned into an anti-Russian armed struggle. On December 27, 1905, the Ostrowiec Republic was proclaimed there.
Demonstrators throughout the empire demanded an improvement in existence – an increase in wages and an eight-hour workday, and democratization – the establishment of a constituent assembly and even the overthrow of the tsar. In the Polish lands, this was joined, in some political circles, by the demand for independence. In the course of the revolution, which, however, was mainly proletarian in character, the various sections of society fought for their interests, and the contradictions between them also led to mutual clashes. Polish industrialists, the Catholic Church and conservative circles cooperated with the tsar in stifling workers’ speeches.
Effects[edit | edit code].
Nicholas II gave in to demands on issues of constitutional change in the Russian Empire, which he had ruled absolutistically until then. On February 16, 1905, he issued a manifesto announcing the convening of the State Duma and the holding of free elections to it. These transformed the empire into a constitutional monarchy. In Poland, the revolution brought a number of positive changes. There was the possibility of creating Polish institutions and legalizing political parties that could send their representatives to the Duma, the cooperative movement was launched. Freedom of development was restored to private Polish education, libraries, teachers’ seminaries, people’s universities, orphanages were established. The use of the Polish language in municipal offices was permitted. The so-called Tolerant Decree allowed conversion from Orthodoxy to other faiths, which in practice ended the persecution of Uniates. However, the Revolution did not bring independence to the Kingdom of Poland or even restore the status of autonomy, and the Tsar’s concessions to Poles were temporary. Besides, the revolution also led to a clear division of society into supporters of the right and the left.
Main political camps in the Polish lands[edit | edit code].
Ludwik Waryński, founder of the Great Proletariat
Jozef Pilsudski, in 1899 an activist of the Polish Socialist Party
Roman Dmowski, leader of the National Democratic Party
A. Świętochowski, founder of the Progressive Democratic Union
Marian Zdziechowski, founder of the Party of Real Politics
The evolution of Polish political thought since the time of the national uprisings has been influenced by the emergence of national consciousness (influenced by the ideology of nationalism) and class consciousness (influenced by Marxist ideology) in European societies and the growing conflict of interests between the partitioners. At the turn of the century, three political orientations – socialist, people’s and national – began to play a dominant role in Poland. Each of the political parties that emerged from them had to take a position on the two main issues moving Polish society: the question of the rebirth of Polish statehood and the struggle for social class rights. In addition, the parties had to make a choice of instruments for the realization of these goals: active armed struggle or struggle through the parliamentary route, which was made possible by the emergence of parliamentarism in the partitioned states.
Socialist movement[edit | edit code].
The first parties with socialist overtones were established in the Polish lands: The Great Proletariat, founded by Ludwik Warynski in 1882, the Second Proletariat (1888) and the Union of Polish Workers (1889). They championed the revolutionary struggle against capitalism, while the independence program received marginal attention from their side. Similarly, the Social Democracy of the Kingdom of Poland (SDKP) (1893) – renamed SDKPiL in 1900 – had no independence program. Influenced by prominent proletariat theoretician Rosa Luxemburg, who considered the struggle for independence to be detrimental to the interests of the labor movement, SDKPiL activists believed in a coming universal revolution that would wipe out capitalism and abolish borders. They considered Polish independence activists to be chauvinists. The reformist movement of the socialist camp held a different position. The National Socialist Commune, active in Paris, called for liberation preparations and an uprising after the outbreak of war between the partitioners. The Foreign Union of Polish Socialists, also formed in Paris in 1892, considered independence slogans to be leading. The party’s program put forward the demand for the establishment of a free, democratic Republic, which, through reforms, would be transformed into a socialist state. In the country, the union appeared under the name of the PPS, with one of its wings (Jan Stróżecki) linking national liberation to social liberation in a general revolution, while the other (Jozef Pilsudski) brought the struggle for independence to the forefront, without shying away from social issues. The grouping considered Russia to be the greatest enemy of the Polish nation, as the Russian Empire was the greatest obstacle to realizing the PPS vision of reviving a multinational Poland within the borders of the pre-partition Republic. The party also distrusted Russian revolutionaries; it hoped for a war between the partitioners, and with it an anti-Russian uprising. In the Austrian partition, the Galician Social Democratic Party was founded in 1892, co-founded by Ignacy Daszynski and soon transformed into the Polish Social Democratic Party of Galicia and Cieszyn Silesia (PPSD). Activists of this party proclaimed a desire to build socialism without revolution.
National movement[edit | edit code].
In 1887, the Polish League (Zygmunt Miłkowski, a.k.a. T.T. Jeż) was founded in Switzerland, and at the same time the Union of Polish Youth “Zet” (Zygmunt Balicki) was established in Galicia. After the merger of the two organizations, the National League was formed, and from it, in 1897, emerged the National Democratic Party headed by Roman Dmowski. In the so-called “October Program” of 1903, National Democracy proclaimed the idea of solidarity among all Poles and advocated fighting for the Polish cause through parliamentary means, the basis of which was to preserve and develop the national substance in alliance with Russia. On the other hand, it saw in Germany the most dangerous enemy of the Poles, which prevented the realization of the National Socialist vision of the rebirth of Poland as a national state within the borders of the state ruled by the “Piast” dynasty. Officially, the party abandoned its aspirations for independence, and its goal became to regain the status of autonomy for the Kingdom of Poland. In domestic politics, it represented the interests of landowners, blocking land reforms in the Russian Duma.
People’s movement[edit | edit code].
In the second half of the 19th century, a people’s movement arose in Poland, which was initially preoccupied with the struggle to improve the peasant plight and for land, but soon began to put forward economic and electoral programs. These were formulated within the framework of the People’s Party, founded in 1895, which changed its name to the PSL in 1903. The party’s activists also took up the slogans of Poland’s rebirth at the turn of the century, the basis of which was to improve the situation of the peasantry[l]. The PSL (Wincenty Witos), together with Ignacy Daszynski’s Socialists and conservative deputies from Juliusz Leo’s Polish Circle at the Vienna Council of State, sought a solution to the Polish question on the parliamentary road, while the peasants were only openly called to fight for independence during the war[m]; for example, in the program of the Peasant Union of 1915: The Polish cause has ceased to be the cause of the privileged classes, it has become a people’s cause, the cause of the whole nation; it is becoming through it the people, who have already matured to the rights they will gain for themselves in an independent Poland.
Struggle for the Polish cause[edit | edit code].
Separate articles: Polish Circle in the Duma and the National Sejm (Galicia).
The emergence of parliamentarism also in the last absolutistically ruled partitioned state, the Russian Empire, allowed Poles to choose two options in the struggle for Polish interests. In addition to the armed struggle against the occupying powers, Polish political parties could now seek influence in the legislative processes, as well as in the administration of the administrations of Prussia, Austria-Hungary and Russia. In the parliaments of these countries, Polish politicians formed separate national representations, the so-called Polish Circles.
Endetian Polish Circle in the Duma[edit | edit code].
After the outbreak of the revolution, faced with the threat of repression by the Russian authorities, which could also turn against the privileged strata of the Kingdom of Poland,[n] the Polish conservative-nationalist parties: Stronnictwo Polityki Realne and Stronnictwo Narodowo-Demokratyczne, as well as the liberal Progressive Democratic Union, decided to take part in the elections to the First Duma on May 3, 1906. Roman Dmowski later wrote that the goal of the National Democrats was “to create a serious Polish representation in the Russian state, which by its conduct would force Russia to reckon with Poland and which would gradually win for Poland the importance of a factor in European politics outside. By persistent political struggle in the Russian state we expected to regain for the Polish question the place lost after 1864 on the international scene.”
The SND’s victory in the elections in the Kingdom of Poland was indisputable. Of the 35 possible seats for the kingdom’s representatives in the First Duma, the party filled 34; the 35th seat went to an MP from Suwałki, Lithuanian Andrey Bulat. The remaining two deputy seats, for representatives from Warsaw and Chelmshchyna, were reserved for Russians. The first Duma met in April 1906. It consisted of 524 deputies, including 55 Polish deputies: 34 deputies from the Kingdom, who formed the Polish Circle, 19 deputies from the Borderlands Circle and two from the hinterland of the Russian Empire. The Polish Circle did not join politically similar Russian groups, which caused distrust among the other deputies. The First Duma did not function for long: it was dissolved by the tsar as early as August 1906. The first general elections to the Second Duma were held on February 19, 1907. In the kingdom, they brought victory to the Central Electoral Committee, which was an electoral union of conciliatory parties (the Party of Realpolitik and the SND, as well as splittists from the Progressive Democratic Union (pedecja)), whose goal was to regain autonomy. Roman Dmowski declared: We are going to the State House for autonomy!. Separately, the election committee of Pedecja, as well as the electoral agreement of the boycotting SDKPiL and the Jewish Bund in the first elections, suffered defeat. The PPS again boycotted the elections, betting on further armed struggle.
In the 518-member Second Duma, assembled in February 1907, Polish deputies (35 from the Polish Circle and 11 from the Borderlands Circle) constituted its third largest “grouping,” often being the “tongue-in-cheek” when the Duma passed resolutions. This gave Polish deputies confidence. As chairman of the Polish Circle, Roman Dmowski submitted an official request on April 23, 1907 for autonomy for the Kingdom of Poland, modeled on Galician autonomy – with the post of governor and independent: Sejm, treasury and judiciary, as well as the appointment of a Polish minister to the government of the Russian Empire. The proposal was not accepted, as was a later one for the spoliation of state education. Disappointed, Dmowski called the tsarist government Asiatic in a speech to the Duma in May. In June, Nicholas II dissolved the Duma again, and the electoral constitution for its third iteration was reformed to the detriment of Poles. In Russia, the nationalization of politics began to progress, and in order to avoid provocation, the Polish Circle even moved away from the push for autonomy in its program[o]. After losing the autonomy cause, Dmowski resigned his parliamentary seat in 1909. Four months later, the tsarist parliament passed a motion to exclude Chelmshchyna from the kingdom, and the Polish Circle, seeing the hopelessness of resistance to these territorial changes, abstained from voting and appealed only to the goodwill of the government. Soon it also adopted a nationalist course, which led to the fact that during the next elections to the Fourth Duma in 1912, the German and Jewish population of the kingdom elected a German-Jewish candidate in Lodz, and in Warsaw a representative of the PPS-Left and Bund, who joined groups close to them in the Duma. Endecia reacted to this with an already open anti-German and anti-Jewish campaign.
The struggle for the Polish cause through the parliamentary route was unsuccessful, and in seeking the favor of the Duma and the tsar over the autonomy of the kingdom, the Polish Circle agreed to far-reaching compromises. However, the Russians did not want to change the political status quo of the kingdom, remembering the uprisings against them, which were a “great psychological shock” to them. The activities of Polish MPs served the Polish cause in other ways. First, it kept in the minds of the ruling powers the existence of a “Polish problem,” as a result of which, in the face of war among themselves, they began to court Polish favor. Second, the experience of Duma deputies, as well as those from the German and Austrian parliaments, contributed to the development of parliamentarism and democracy in the Second Republic.
Extra-parliamentary activities of the PPS-FR[edit | edit code].
A different option than the National Democrats was chosen by the PPS socialists. They boycotted the elections to the First Duma in May 1906 and advocated further armed struggle against the Tsar, being particularly active during the 1905-1907 revolution. However, the formation of the Duma encouraged some PPS members, for whom workers’ rights were a priority, to participate in the next parliamentary elections, while for older members the most important issue was Polish independence. As a result, at the Ninth Congress in Vienna, the party split into the PPS Revolutionary Faction (Jozef Pilsudski), whose goal was primarily to fight for independence, and the PPS Left (Felix Kon), directed mainly at fighting for workers’ rights. Over time, PPS-Left activists moved closer to the program of the SDKPiL and rejected the postulate of regaining Poland’s independence, betting on the path of workers’ revolution, as a consequence of which a multinational republic of councils was to be established. In the elections to the Fourth Duma, the joint candidate of the PPS-Left and Bund, Eugeniusz Jagiello, first won in the primaries against Roman Dmowski in Warsaw, and then won a parliamentary seat.
The PPS Revolutionary Faction waged a regular partisan struggle, especially in Swietokrzyskie and Vilnius regions. The PPS Combat Organization undertook an extensive terrorist campaign in the summer of 1906, which included assassinations and expropriation actions. On August 18, the OB PPS carried out an unsuccessful assassination attempt on the Warsaw governor-general, Georgi Sklon. Wanda Krahelska threw bombs at the governor’s carriage, whose explosion Skałon, however, survived. In addition, the organization carried out assassinations of the head of the gendarmerie, General Markgrafsky, or the wartime governor of Warsaw, Wonlarski. Another action was the one near Bezdanami in September 1908.
The PPS Revolutionary Faction re-adopted the name PPS in 1909. It remained faithful to the insurrectionary tradition and consistently boycotted elections to the next Duma. It also rejected the path of workers’ revolution, wanting to exercise power in the future Polish state through parliamentary democracy. Its struggle was aided by the fact that it could use its base in Galicia, which was enjoying increasing freedoms, and where paramilitary organizations were expanding, conducting military training in anticipation of an impending conflict.
On the eve of the Great War[edit | edit code].
By the 1870s, the alliance of the three partitioners remained in place, but the first conflicts of interest were already drawing out. Their main arena was the Balkans, where the interests of Russia and Austria-Hungary clashed. Finally, in 1879, a secret treaty (the Two-Alliance) between Germany and Austria-Hungary was concluded in Vienna with a clearly anti-Russian bias. This pact[p] lasted until 1918, contributing to the development of economic relations between the two countries. In 1882, Italy, desiring rapprochement with Germany, joined the pact, and thus the Triple Alliance was formed. In 1887, a war between Austria-Hungary and Russia (the so-called “Balkan crisis” over the occupation of the Bulgarian throne) almost occurred, averted at the last minute by Bismarck, who concluded a secret pact of “benevolent neutrality” with St. Petersburg and immediately began to pressure the new “coalition partner” to make concessions to Vienna. Russia resisted, so he applied economic sanctions, closing the Berlin Stock Exchange to Russian industrialists seeking credit.
The effect of Bismarck’s actions was different than intended. The Russians obtained credit in Paris, and several important political acts followed with the 1894 military treaty, which provided for mutual military assistance in case of war with Germany or Austria-Hungary.
At the same time, in 1904 France and Britain, after years of wars, agreed on the division of spheres of influence in Africa and Asia and concluded a peace and defense treaty (the so-called “entente cordiale”), and in 1907 England concluded a similar offensive-defense agreement with Russia. The Triple Alliance was thus formed, and the alliance of the three partitioners disintegrated completely. The outbreak of world war was getting closer.
Polish Legions[edit | edit code].
Jozef Pilsudski with his staff in Kielce in 1914
Separate article: Polish Legions (1914-1918).
On November 10, 1912, the Provisional Commission of the Confederated Independence Parties was established in Galicia. The purpose of its establishment was to coordinate independence activities based on Austria-Hungary, in view of the expected outbreak of world war. In the event of an armed struggle, the commission was to emerge from itself a national government to take power in the territory of the Kingdom of Poland, liberated from Russian occupation.
On December 1, 1912, with the outbreak of the First Balkan War, the TKSSN appointed Pilsudski as commander of the military forces. The Military Department of the TKSSN was created, to which the Polish Military Treasury and the “Strzelecki” Riflemen’s Association were subordinated.
On July 28, 1914, the Austro-Serbian War broke out, giving rise to World War I. The very next day Pilsudski issued the first mobilization orders. On July 31, Marian Januszajtis-Zegota finally subordinated the Polish Rifle Squads in Lvov to his command.
Under the auspices of Austria, the 1st Cadre Company was formed from the Riflemen’s, Falcons and Bartosz Squads, and was formed on August 3 at the Blonie Park in Krakow. It numbered 144 soldiers, commanded by Tadeusz Kasprzycki. Pilsudski regarded this unit as a forge of cadres for the future Polish army. The company marched towards Miechow on August 6, knocking down Russian border posts in Michalowice.