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Are my relatives really Polish or would they be considered Russian?

sunbreak 14 | 20  
3 Apr 2009 /  #1
If Poland did not exist as a country for many years and my grandparents were born in the Russian part of Poland during the time that Poland did not exist, wouldn't they be considered Russian with Polish heritage just as I am considered American with Polish heritage?
Wroclaw 44 | 5,384  
3 Apr 2009 /  #2
They were Polish, under the rule/thumb of Russia
3 Apr 2009 /  #3
i guess they would be polish but russian citizens so they would be polish & russian like lets say your navajo & you live on a reservation your navajo but an american citizen
7 Apr 2009 /  #4
Unlike your choice to think of yourself as American with Polish heritage, Poles living in the Russian-controlled area rarely chose to think of themselves as Russian, and most of them intensely disliked what they perceived as Russia's heavy-handed policy of Russification, which included coerced education in the Russian language, and suppression of the (Roman) Catholic church, though this policy was only weakly enforced. If they were Catholic or Jewish or even Lutheran as in parts of western Poland and spoke Polish, they were Polish. Almost all of the Russian tsars beginning with Alexander I until the abdication of Nicholas II referred to themselves as "kings" of Poland, among their other self-aggrandizing titles.

This can be confusing when looking for genealogy records, 'cause if the relatives immigrated before the Second Republic (i.e., "II Rzeczpospolita") prior to November, 1918, they were often identified in immigration documents as being from Russia, or Austria if they were from Galicia, including the Krakow area, or other major towns in present-day Ukraine like Lwów. If they were from the Baltic area, they may have been listed as being from Prussia.

Hope this helps.

19 Apr 2009 /  #5
If they were from the Baltic area, they may have been listed as being from Prussia.

Yes, that helps alot. My father said my grandfather called himself a Prussian and Polish. Would that be a correct take. I think grandfather came over about 1894 or there abouts. Plus, just before my father died, he told me someone on his father's side came from Lithuania. Sadly, just stories, I have no documents or proof...yet! :)
Softsong 5 | 495  
19 Apr 2009 /  #6
I am Polish and German by ethnicity, but my grandfather who was ethnically German, was born in the part of Poland controlled by Russia. When he emmigrated to the USA in 1912 he was listed as a Russian. He never considered himself Russian.

When he applied for USA citizenship in the 1930's, he had to renounce his Polish citizenship. He came to America when Poland did not exist, so I when I saw the documents I was surprised. I am wondering since Poland did exist after WWI if the USA was just making sure he renounced whatever place he was from.....Or, maybe he since he still had family in Poland, he somehow received Polish citizenship.

This is an interesting question for me because I was thinking of getting Polish citizenship through my ethnically Polish grandparents, but they came to America when Poland was partitioned and were citizens of Germany. That means they could not bestow Polish citizenship on their children or grandchildren.

Would be funny, if I could get Polish citizenship based on my German grandfather! LOL

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