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Fascinating account by von Moltke-Prussian chief of Staff: Poland: A historical Sketch.


hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
25 Jul 2011 #1
It is always interesting to subscribe to someone else's perspective, and this historical account is quite fascinating both for its nature, time period, uniqueness, as well as the author-the chief of staff in the Prussian Army.

ia700406.us.archive.org/23/items/cu31924097313237/cu31924097313237.pdf
Bartekk
25 Jul 2011 #2
He made interesting observations regarding Polish Jews (from page 134):

As the Jews marry when they are still almost children, they are soon surrounded by a numerous progeny. Their number shows an incredible increase. An eight of the Polish population consists of Jews.

Their costume is the same everywhere, and quite Oriental, flowing black garments fastened as far as the waist with many hooks, and reaching to the ankles, high fur caps, worn even in summer, and under them a black cap, their heads shaved with the exception of two long ringlets on each side, and long beards. Except when traveling they wear slippers; their custome, the great poverty of the majority, their uncleanliness, render their appearance more conspicuous than agreeable.

Was Field Marshal Moltke right about Poland?

von Moltke who was a German Field Marshal, during the time of Bismarck, stated that "Poland before her partitions was the most civilized country is Europe", truth ?? archive.org/stream/cu31924097313237#page/n9/mode/2up

Well, I read stuff about the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It used to be one of the most powerful states in Europe, and one of the most advanced.

They even sometimes call this commonwealth the REPUBLIC of the Two Nations. I should read again the Wikipedia article, but yes, I believe this Moltke guy was right somehow ;)
Nathan 18 | 1,363
26 Jul 2011 #3
receives from him the chief power over the peasanty without mercy, and without consideration for the oppression which such a man will exercise

No surprise they were cut like crazy back then and I don't mean circumcision.
OP hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
26 Jul 2011 #4
He made interesting observations regarding Polish Jews

He goes on to say "Poland for a time was justly called 'the promised land' of the jews. p 20

He also makes the observation that: "We may add that the Poland of the 15th century was one of the most civilized states of Europe. It is true that the virtues of the citizens had much to atone for in the badly organised constitution of the republic, so that the moral qualities had to supply the place of good laws." p22

His observation of the Polish peasant:

"It is remarkable that the Polish peasant
enjoyed these privileges at a time when
- villeinage existed in all the rest of Europe,*
and that his slavery began when other
nations became free. Villeinage ceased in
Germany as early as the twelfth and thirteenth
centuries, except in Mecklenburg,
Pomerania, and Lusetia, which had had a
Slavonic population. Louis X. put an end to
it in France in 1315. Elizabeth emancipated
some English serfs as late as 1574. In
Bohemia and Moravia villeinage lasted till
the reign of Joseph II., 1781. In Poland it
began in the sixteenth century." p51-52.

He proceeds this quote by describing the lifestyle of the Polish peasant.
pgtx 30 | 3,156
26 Jul 2011 #5
Please, discuss the book here and do not quote all of it. Otherwise, this thread won't happen. Thanks.
Palivec - | 380
26 Jul 2011 #6
Interesting read. Straightforward and easy to read (unusual for something written ~1830), as you would expect from a Prussian officer. Also from a interesting time, shortly after the Prussian reforms and before the age of nationalism.

The most interesting part IMHO is the description of the Polish society as a society without a middle class, only with a large nobility and even more peasants. While in Western Europe the middle class was responsible for the social progress, the szlachta was to proud for it and imported western ideas and achievements, while the Polish lower class didn't have the means for it.
Des Essientes 7 | 1,291
27 Jul 2011 #7
"We may add that the Poland of the 15th century was one of the most civilized states of Europe. It is true that the virtues of the citizens had much to atone for in the badly organised constitution of the republic, so that the moral qualities had to supply the place of good laws."

This observation from the Prussian chief of staff points to an all too often overlooked truth about humanity, and heralds a day when anarchy will replace the silly political systems that currently exist. "Therefore the Master says: I let go of the law and people become honest." Tao Te Ching 57
David_18 68 | 982
27 Jul 2011 #8
I hope you understand that this guy came from a country that had just partitoned Poland. He had to paint Poland as a country in anarchy and in need of Centralization and that the peasents did not enjoy freedom before the Prussians came into power.

He was just another Propaganda tool of the Prussian state.
isthatu2 4 | 2,703
27 Jul 2011 #9
He had to paint Poland as a country in anarchy and in need of Centralization and that the peasents did not enjoy freedom before the Prussians came into power.

Odd how Poles of the time were saying exactly the same thing though. maybe not specificaly about prussians but the rest stands. Just got to read (or watch ,as I did...;) ) Pan Tadausz to see how messed up and unviable Polish sociaty was in those times.

But,everyones sociaty was in the early 19th century,why else the explosion of uprisings and riots in the 1830s and 40s.
David_18 68 | 982
27 Jul 2011 #10
But,everyones sociaty was in the early 19th century,why else the explosion of uprisings and riots in the 1830s and 40s.

Don't get me started on how miserable it was in London and the industrial cities in the 19'th century. I would rather be a poor peasent in Poland then living in those slums in London.
isthatu2 4 | 2,703
27 Jul 2011 #11
Amen to that. I had ancestors in Shrewsbury around that time.
Today it is a very pretty town with ancient streets and chic shops...........back then it looked like Dantes inferno.
David_18 68 | 982
27 Jul 2011 #12
Same with Lodz though, the "Polish Manchester" . The textile industry was one of the most dangerous places you could work at, all those chemicals....
isthatu2 4 | 2,703
27 Jul 2011 #13
"Mad as a Hatter" is exactly what it sounds like, Hat makers used chemicals that resulted in them being completly insane by their 30s......

Getting back on track though;
I have never heard a Pole complaining about the Austrian part of the partitions,ever. In fact Ive been shown highly treasured old photos of peoples relatives proudly wearing their Austro Hungarian Army uniforms in the Far East.

Any deep explanations to this or were the Austrians just the "best of a bad lot"?
andrzej_modrzej
27 Jul 2011 #14
Any deep explanations to this or were the Austrians just the "best of a bad lot"?

We are talking the second half of 19th century here - while Prussians and Russians pressed on with ruthless germanization and russification, the Austro-Hungary empire was more cosmpolitan in nature and granted autonomy to Poles.
David_18 68 | 982
27 Jul 2011 #15
Any deep explanations to this or were the Austrians just the "best of a bad lot"?

Austria was the best of the bad for sure.

Plenty of the Polish nobles alredy had old connections to the Austrian and Hungarian noility dating back to the 13'th century.

For example Count Agenor Maria Gołuchowski was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Austria-Hungary.

Out of 516 Delegates from the Imperial Council 70 were Poles.
isthatu2 4 | 2,703
27 Jul 2011 #16
Thanks,both explanations make sense,though the first one seems to be more wide covering if you like. I mean, Nobles back then were pretty much incestuosly related all over europe and had far more in common with each other than the prols in their own countries.

Also, "Nobles" is a tricky one for westerners to get a grip on when it comes to Poland.
I know "nobles" or rather people who pre communism can trace back to Nobles,and,frankly, a wooden farmhouse and a few Hundred acres doesnt really cut it as "nobility" in many other places in Europe ;)

(to clarify,their Noble ancestors wooden houses,long gone.... )
David_18 68 | 982
27 Jul 2011 #17
Does 1.7 mil hectares count? That was what the Zamoyski family owned back in their heydays :)

Anyway there were plenty of Polish nobles that did not own more then their cloths. But normally a family had about 10.000 Hectares and a manor o a palace. But the richer ones owned more then that and very often tax free :)
Barney 15 | 1,476
27 Jul 2011 #18
I always thought that Austria took the side of the peasants against the Nobles and that this had something to do with the events about 100 years later (volyn) as the peasantry where mainly Ukrainian.

Edit

Volyn was in Russian partition but the peasants were Ukrainian I believe.
David_18 68 | 982
27 Jul 2011 #19
The Austrian government used the uprising to decimate nationalist Polish nobles, who were considering an uprising against Austria in Krakow. And this was in 1846, not 100 years later.
Barney 15 | 1,476
27 Jul 2011 #20
David I meant about 100 years after 1846.
David_18 68 | 982
27 Jul 2011 #21
Ow my bad :)

Sometimes im fast reading, i got 3 other forum im posting on hehe.
andrzej_modrzej
27 Jul 2011 #22
this had something to do with the events about 100 years later (volyn) as the peasantry where mainly Ukrainian.

No, it didn't have anything to do with that, except from the fact that the murders of Poles in years 1943-1944 took place not only in Volhynia but also in Eastern Galicia (former Austrian partition). Ukrainians in 1943-44 murdered Polish peasants, not nobles.
Barney 15 | 1,476
27 Jul 2011 #23
Ukrainians in 1943-44 murdered Polish peasants, not nobles.

I know however the tensions that lead to those crimes must have started somewhere, just putting forward a possible explanation.
sobieski 107 | 2,128
27 Jul 2011 #24
Tribute should be paid I think to Helmut James Graf von Moltke - a genuine hero in the German anti-Hitler resistance.
I visited his family residence in 90's a few times. Kreisau / Krzyżowa (the Von Moltke family residence) is now dedicated to Polish/German reconciliation and a passing memorial to a great man. A moving place.
David_18 68 | 982
27 Jul 2011 #25
Krzyżowa (the Von Moltke family residence

Pretty nice place: viewat.org/?i=en&id_pn=5898&sec=pn

Does any Moltke members still live?
Ziemowit 13 | 4,392
5 Aug 2011 #26
At first, soon after 1772 and into the middle of the 19th century, the Austrians treated their newly acquired province just as a typical colonial power or a big colonial enterprise like "The East India Company" would treat a conquered land. The Austrians gave their new province the name of "Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria" which was soon nicknamed by its Polish inhabitants to "Kingdom of Golicja and Glodomeria", Kingdom of Nakedness and Starvation, because of enormous colonial exploitation of the province.
hubabuba - | 113
5 Aug 2011 #27
isthatu2

Pan Tadausz to see how messed up and unviable Polish sociaty was in those times.

heh, are You serious?this argument is as stuppid as it gets, even more so when You understand WHEN it was written and what period of time it describes
JonnyM 11 | 2,620
5 Aug 2011 #28
2Pretty accurate really. The last gasp of a failing society.
OP hague1cmaeron 14 | 1,377
5 Aug 2011 #29
He was just another Propaganda tool of the Prussian state.

Of course he needs to give a nod to his paymasters, however what makes his work so interesting is his relative objectivity in relation to the situation he found himself in. A good counterpoint to his history would be George Brandes' history of Poland written at the same time which is more substantial, objective and interesting.

At first, soon after 1772 and into the middle of the 19th century, the Austrians treated their newly acquired province just as a typical colonial power or a big colonial enterprise like "The East India Company" would treat a conquered land.

The Austrian state was very slow in implementing reforms-because it was so hard to govern, the Austrians had to pay attention to every minority in the kingdom and could not upset anyone for fear of breaking up. The Poles however, played quite a prominent part in the kingdom among these was Bandeni-who was a one time Prime Minister as well Gołuchowski who was the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and some other Pole who was a Treasurer.

Incidentally Goluchowski was quite liked by the Kasier: At the Algeciras Conference assembled to settle the First Moroccan Crisis, Austria supported the German position, and after the close of the conferences the emperor Wilhelm II of Germany telegraphed to Gołuchowski: "You have proved yourself a brilliant second on the duelling ground and you may feel certain of like services from me in similar circumstances". This pledge was redeemed in 1908, when Germany's support of Austria in the Balkan crisis proved conclusive.
southern 75 | 7,096
5 Aug 2011 #30
Austrohungary was based on the superiority each folk felt to each other.Austrians considered themselves above all,Czechs thought they are better than Poles,Poles regarded themselves supeiror to Ukrainians,Croats to Serbs and Bosniaks so everyone was happy.On the other hand everyone felt a bit oppressed by the superiors.


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