Nation without a State – Divided Poland (1795–1918)

By | August 26, 2021

The partitioning powers endeavored to consolidate their acquired territories quickly and to adapt them to the conditions prevailing in their states. The hope of being able to induce Napoleon I to restore Polish statehood by deploying a legion set up by J. H. Dąbrowski in Italy seemed to be fulfilled after the Prussian defeat in 1806. The Duchy of Warsaw, formed in the summer of 1807 from Prussian partition gains (except West Prussia and the Białystok district, which fell to Russia) underFriedrich August von Sachsen with 102,700 km 2 and 2.6 million residents, received one from Napoleon drafted constitution and an administration based on the French model. In 1809, enlarged by the Austrian portion from the 3rd division to 147,000 km 2 with 4.3 million residents, the Duchy of Warsaw had to make heavy sacrifices in the Russian campaign of 1812.

At the Congress of Vienna in 1814/15, the original division boundaries were significantly changed. While Austria was able to defend the majority of its acquisitions in Galicia, Prussia had to forego the profit from the 3rd division and the Grand Duchy of Poznan, which extended to Prosna grant a special status. Krakow became a »Free City« (until 1846). A »Kingdom of Poland« (Congress Poland) formed from the central Polish areas with 127,000 km2 and 3.3 million residents, which was granted a small army in addition to its own constitution and administration, came to Russia as a personal union. The promise of the dividing powers to preserve the unity of the nation by maintaining economic ties and promoting the Polish language met the national consciousness, which was particularly lively among the nobility and the Catholic clergy.

The repressive policy pursued by the Russian Emperor Nicholas I triggered the November uprising of 1830/31 in Congress Poland, which was brutally suppressed militarily as smaller uprisings in Austrian Galicia in 1846 and in Posen, which was under Prussian rule, in 1848, as well as the January uprising in Congress Poland in 1863/64.

Denationalization measures and economic sanctions accompanied the dismantling of special rights. The subsequent “Great Emigration” failed to induce the European powers to intervene in favor of the re-establishment of a Polish state. After 1864, in Congress Poland, which had been downgraded to “Vistula Governments,” the defense of attempts at russification and the economic upturn were the focus of “organic work”, which was increasingly supported by the bourgeoisie. After the founding of the German Empire in 1871, the Kulturkampf and the pushing back of the Polish share in the province of Posen brought about the development of a community awareness that encompassed all sections of the population. In the economically backward Galicia, which was granted self-government in 1868, they were found The Ruthenians were confronted with a Polish nationalism that was still strongly influenced by the nobility and that also affected the Russian and Prussian partition. Since the turn of the century, the discussion about the future political course began, especially in the Russian part, which was affected by industrialization (with the centers of Warsaw, Lodz, Białystok, Dąbrowa Basin). While the predominantly bourgeois National Democrats under R. Dmowski pleaded for cooperation under Pan-Slavic auspices with Tsarist Russia and the Social Democrats led by Rosa Luxemburg and Julian Marchlewski (* 1866, † 1929) gave priority to the social revolution, those of J. Piłsudski took priority founded socialists first for the re-establishment of statehood and then for a fundamental social transformation.

According to ehistorylib, the Russian promise made at the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 to enable the reunification of a Poland “free in faith, language and self-administration” after a victory was initially only welcomed by the national democracy; the Central Powers supported by the Polish Legions proclaimed the restoration of Poland as a constitutional hereditary monarchy on November 5, 1916. But the demand for the cession of a broad border strip stretching from East Prussia to Silesia to the German Reich, the limited rights for the Polish self-government organs, the recognition of the right to statehood by the Russian Provisional Government in March 1917 and the willingness of a national committee operating in Paris (Dmowski, I. J. Paderewski) influenced allies and especially the American President W. Wilson to promote the re-establishment of a sovereign Poland, caused a change of mood against the German-Austrian conception. After the capitulation of the Central Powers, Piłsudski, who had returned from Magdeburg imprisonment, took over military command on November 11, 1918 and became “Provisional Head of State” (since November 14, 1918).

Divided Poland