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Life in Partitioned Poland (Specifically in the Prussian Partition)


Cinnabar 1 | 11
4 Oct 2010  #1
Hello all,

New to these forums, so go easy on me!

I'm interested in finding more information on what life was like in Poland after the third partition in 1795 (and indeed leading up to that).

For Polish people who were absorbed into the Prussian partition, how did their lives change?

I've heard snippets about the policy of germanisation pursued by the Prussian administration at the beginning of the nineteen century, but want to know what this meant practically.

How were previously Polish businesses affected? Were people allowed to retain their assets/businesses or was there an attempt at redistribution? For those who held important positions under Stanisław August-Poniatowski, what became of them? Were the estates of wealthier families broken up? What was the impact on education?

I know that this is a big subject, but would appreciate some help (sources/answers).

Many thanks for your time.
smigly wilno
4 Oct 2010  #2
I'm only about half-way through it, but "God's Playground", Volume II, by Norman Davies would be a great place to start. It takes you through the history of Poland, from 1795 to "the present", nearly on a month by month basis. Lots of names and locations.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #3
I know that this is a big subject, but would appreciate some help (sources/answers).

Just a glimpse back: query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=F30C10FB3A5414728DDDAE0994D8415B818CF1D3

"Poles in Prussia - Their growing prosperity causes alarm"

"Growing prosperity and influence of the polish middleclass...their own papers..." huh...doesn't sound so mightily oppressed to me!
OP Cinnabar 1 | 11
4 Oct 2010  #4
'm only about half-way through it, but "God's Playground", Volume II, by Norman Davies would be a great place to start.

Many thanks for this. I've actually picked this book up recently and have had a quick look through (not that it's easy to 'quickly' look through a book like that). I think it is a good place to start - but I'm a detail obsessive! If you read anything else that has some specifics then please get in touch.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2010  #5
Short, but there's some basic info: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanisation_of_Poles_during_Partitions
OP Cinnabar 1 | 11
4 Oct 2010  #6
"Growing prosperity and influence of the polish middleclass...their own papers..." huh...doesn't sound so mightily oppressed to me!

This is intriguing, thanks for posting. Interesting that by 1901 the originally Polish population has overcome successive attempts at German integration through kulturkampf etc. I'm very interested in what happened immediately after the partitions were complete (though I realise that the partitions were somewhat gradual, being spread over a period of 23ish years). Once the Prussian territory was redefined and you found yourself suddenly under Prussian control, what were the implications?
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #7
Short, but there's some basic info:

That article is mostly crap!

Bismarck's Kulturkampf wasn't anti-polish but anti-catholic church just as one example.
Pursuing one official language is also fully legal and something every country does.
Also as the article says growing prosperity and a growing middle class does not point to
dire circumstances for Poles in Prussia - they even had their own papers to agitate and protest
to their hearts contend without fear to get jailed or anything else.

Don't give me the sh*it from the monstrous Prussia banging down on the poor Poles!
To the contrary, who knows where the Poles would be now if they hadn't so stubbornly pursued their own country.

Ask the millions of Poles who voluntarily immigrated into Prussia/Germany over the years....
They are better off, always had been!
Torq 26 | 2,371
4 Oct 2010  #8
Once the Prussian territory was redefined and you found yourself suddenly under Prussian control, what were the implications?

Well, I was only a little boy back then, so I can't recall the events very clearly, but check this out...

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drzyma%C5%82a%27s_wagon
OP Cinnabar 1 | 11
4 Oct 2010  #9
Short, but there's some basic info:

This is good. Hadn't spotted this, but crave more detail (like what things were like day to day). Ideally accounts of people's lives would be fantastic. Obviously I'm yearning after something pretty specific, but a man can only dream...
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #10
I know what you mean, nothing beats witness reports....go looking into the Times archive. They put most of their whole archive online now...you can find truly some gems there.

nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/nytarchive.html?scp=1&sq=nytimes%20archives
OP Cinnabar 1 | 11
4 Oct 2010  #11
I think it's interesting to try and imagine what it was like for a family who suddenly slipped out of one country and into another (without even moving house). There must have been terrible uncertainty and knee-jerk resentment to what was happening to them. I imagine that people felt utterly powerless. I don't know enough about it yet to form an opinion on whether the Prussians were overbearing or not in their attempts to assimilate large chunks of Poland and the Polish population. It sounds like a very difficult process to manage, with tensions on both sides. I also imagine that the immediate response in the Polish community was horror/outrage, but that this gradually wore down to simple resentments once a reasonable amount of time had passed (but resentments that could flare up at any time). Still, it's all just my imagination at the moment. And my imagination has been pretty wrong before. :-)

I know what you mean, nothing beats witness reports....go looking into the Times archive. They put most of their whole archive online now...you can find truly some gems there.

Excellent tip, I'm going to go and dig around in this for a while, thanks.

Well, I was only a little boy back then, so I can't recall the events very clearly, but check this out...

This is interesting. So there were active attempts at intensifying Prussian ownership of land. Do you know any other sources on this?
Softsong 5 | 495
4 Oct 2010  #12
My Polish great-grandparents who were married in Gniezno (Prussian-Poland) in 1880, emigrated to America a few months after their marriage. Upon learning about the Germanization of Poles in Prussia, I tended to assume it played a major role in their departure. However, I have no knowledge of exactly why they left.

A few years later, my great-grandmother's father came to live with them. He was a retired blacksmith. The wedding took place in a cathedral built in the middle ages and indicated to me that they were possibly fairly well off. Yet, I also know that many Poles who emigrated to the USA in this time period left because they were poor, and wanted to do better in America.

Like most Poles of that time period, my great-grandfather became a skilled worker. He was a machinist. His wife cleaned houses along with my grandmother, and they put my grandmother's brother through college.

And surprisingly, my Polish grandmother with Prussian roots, married an ethnic German from Russian-Poland!
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2010  #13
Pursuing one official language is also fully legal and something every country does.

It's all wrong if occupants want to take away occupied nation's identity - and a part of nation's identity is it's language and history.

According to you it's OK to beat the crap out of school children becuase they preferred to pray in Polish, not in German at religion lessons?

Have you heard about Września?:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wrze%C5%9Bnia#Wrze.C5.9Bnia_school_strike_of_1901
In Polish:
pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strajk_dzieci_wrzesi%C5%84skich
A poem by Maria Konopnicka:
pl.wikisource.org/wiki/O_Wrze%C5%9Bni

they even had their own papers to agitate and protest to their hearts contend

I'm noy saying Germans were Nazis at that time and sent Poles to concentration camps lol
But there was Germnisation, BB. And it wasn't nice. Russification wasn't nice either.

without fear to get jailed or anything else.

After the Września strike, not only parents were arrested but also a photorapher who took three pictures during those events.

Don't give me the sh*it fro the monstrous Prussia banging down on the poor Poles!

I'm not giving you "the sh*t about monstrous Prussia banging down on the poor Poles", I'm just giving you facts.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #14
I think it's interesting to try and imagine what it was like for a family who suddenly slipped out of one country and into another (without even moving house).

Heh:)

My Grandparents generation was born in Prussia, grew up in the german Empire, lived through the Weimar Republic and the Third Reich and died in the GDR (Eastern Communist Germany).

If they had hold on some more years they would had found themselves in the FRG.

No problem! ;)

According to you it's OK to beat the crap out of school children becuase they preferred to pray in Polish, not in German at religion lessons?

First teacher did beat children back then, it was their right to do it and boy they did it.
Second it was to try to make german the main language in Prussia...just look over at Ukraine and how Poland tried to make the Ukrainians speak polish...

I don't remember during the polish republic that german was an acknowledged official language either even as millions of newly polish citizens spoke it as their main language!
MartAnthony 2 | 38
4 Oct 2010  #15
In the 1880's Canada and the USA were giving out almost if not free land is why so many left europe.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2010  #16
First teacher did beat children back then, it was their right to do it and boy they did it.

For several hours? As far as I can remember Polish children weren't allowed to speak Polish at school even among themselves.

Then it was to try to make german the main language in Prussia...

And change Poles into Germans. Russians tried to do that too - change Poles into Russians, but only after uprisings.
So it's OK according to you?

just look over at Ukraine and how Poland tried to make the Ukrainians speak polish...

When and how?

I don't remember during the polish republic that german was an acknowledged official language either even as millions of newly polish citizens spoke it as their main language!

What?
Softsong 5 | 495
4 Oct 2010  #17
Yes, MartAnthony, and with so many children born to families back then dividing up farms became increasingly impossible. It would be great to have that opportunity of new land.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #18
For several hours? As far as I can remember Polish children weren't allowed to speak Polish even among themselves.

You remember what your teacher tell you...don't forget that the prussian "opression" had to be painted in the blackest colors to justify your fight for independence and all what came later - it's called propaganda.

Just think abit more about that snippet from this little article, there is more where that came from!

Berlin got anxious about a growing polish middle class whose wealth and INFLUENCE likewise grew! Poles who could voice their opinions freely in independent papers!

This had been the real facts.... Contrary to polish propaganda Poles had been quite well off in the most modern and advanced country of Europe at that time!

So, stop crying about mean, bad Prussia...I won't believe it anymore.

When and how?

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polonization
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2010  #19
This is good. Hadn't spotted this, but crave more detail (like what things were like day to day). Ideally accounts of people's lives would be fantastic. Obviously I'm yearning after something pretty specific, but a man can only dream...

I guess finding something in English on the internet will be rather difficult. Maybe try some books, but I doubt many can be found in English either.

My ancestors were born in Russian partition, my aunt found some time ago their birth and marriage certificates - all written in Russian.

I don't know enough about it yet to form an opinion on whether the Prussians were overbearing or not in their attempts to assimilate large chunks of Poland and the Polish population. It sounds like a very difficult process to manage, with tensions on both sides.

Well, you're right this time.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #20
Well, you're right this time.

Well..somehow didn't stop the Poles to grew wealthier and more influential under prussian "opression".

Of the three partitions, the education system in Prussia was on a much higher level than in Austria or Russia.[2]

[edit] Economy

From the economic perspective, the territories of the Prussian partitions were the most developed, thanks to the progressive policies of the Prussian government.[2]The German government supported efficient farming, industry, financial institutions and transport.[2]

Man, what an opression!

Norman Davies "God's Playground"
"Preussen"
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2010  #21
This had been the real facts.... Contrary to polish propaganda Poles had been quite well off in the most modern and advanced country of Europe at that time!

There wasn't any "propaganda" about Poles having no money as a result of partitions lol Of course Poles could get rich, after all life didn't stop after the partitions. Poles could make business, own factories even (have you heard about the book "Ziemia obiecana" by Władysław Reymont? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Promised_Land_%28novel%29, make careers during partitions. Actually after the failure of the uprisings that was the new gole for Poles - get rich, get education, develope and wait for the right moment.

Life for Poles wasn't only about money, BB. There was Germanisation and Russification and Poles opposed it.

So, stop crying about mean, bad Prussia...

I won't because it took away my country's independence and tried to turn Poles into Germans.

I won't believe it anymore. hmpf

Believe what you want, if this is more convenient for you.

Yes.
Remember that at first opportunity Poland regained independence and, for some strange reason, Poles didn't want to be Germans :)))

BB, Poles are well aware of the fact that the Prussian partition was most developed. It's because Prussia was more developed than Russia, for example. Still, nobody wants to be occupied and turned into another nationality against their will.

I'm sure you wouldn't like it either.
MartAnthony 2 | 38
4 Oct 2010  #22
Seems to me Silesia was its own nationality once. My father still says he is from Silesia.
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2010  #23
Yes, they had an autonomy: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autonomous_Silesian_Voivodeship
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #24
As I wrote Germany wasn't the Third Reich at that time. Still, the facts are what they are, and nobody can change them, not me, not you.

It's not me changing facts...it's mainly Poles telling the clear myth of the brutal opressing anti-polish Prussia.
Not the fact of the Prussia which brought wealth, political freedoms, a growing middle class, industrial development and higher education to Poles!

Poles didn't want to be Germans :)))

Tell that to the millions of Poles who immigrated over the centuries into Prussia/Germany totally voluntarily.
Millions! They became bonafide Germans....

I won't because it took away my country's independence and tried to turn Poles into Germans.

Well...Poles had it good in Prussia...what did they gain with their independence? War, complete destruction and more occupation for more than 50 years! Wow!
MartAnthony 2 | 38
4 Oct 2010  #25
And what happened to the germanized poles?
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2010  #26
It's not me changing facts...it's mainly Poles telling the clear myth of the brutal opressing anti-polish Prussia.

BB, you wrote a slogan, and I'm giving you facts.

Not the fact of the Prussia which brought wealth, political freedoms, a growing middle class, industrial development and higher education to Poles!

And Russia gave canalization to Warsaw! Wow! xD
You think Poland wouldn't have middle class, industrial development, higher education and canalization in Warsaw without partitions? ;D
It would and we would prefer to get all of this while being an independent country with Polish language in our universities, not German or Russian.

Tell that to the millions of Poles who immigrated over the centuries into Prussia/Germany totally voluntarily.
Millions!

Poles immigrate to different richer countries all the time, it doesn't mean all of them want to be German, British or American :) They often cherish their ancestry. And if they move, they usually do it by their own will. Nobody occupies them or forces them to be another nationality.

It wasn't the case with partitions.
And it's still many more millions that remained in Poland and Polish.

Well...Poles had it good in Prussia...

And that's why they like Germans so much, aha...
BB, I really don't believe you don't get it... You would choose to live in a golden cage instead of being free? Some would, but apparently majority preferred freedom.

what did they gain with their independence?

Jesus, BB... Freedom! Their own country! They could teach their children their language, history and be their own masters in their own country.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #27
And what happened to the germanized poles?

Many of those who somehow survived the ethnical cleansing after 1945 left Poland in waves with millions alone during the 80's...
Paulina 9 | 1,448
4 Oct 2010  #28
War and real occupation for more than 50 years! Wow!

Wooow, that's a twisted logic LOL
Well, yes, if Poland wouldn't regain independence, it wouldn't lose it again - it would be simply non-existent all the time. We would all turn into Germans or Russians over the years, and who knows, maybe I would speak German or Russian right now, not Polish, and would glorify the wonderful Prussia or Russia lol That's just swell but I prefer to be Polish, thanks.

Poland is independent now, BB, children are taught in Polish at school, they learn history of their own country, not Prussia, they read their writers and poets in their own language. And I'm very happy about that.
Bratwurst Boy 5 | 9,714
4 Oct 2010  #29
BB, you wrote a slogan, and I'm giving you facts.

Well..I'm abit longer here and that is the recurring myth...of course it is a slogan and everybody digging deeper into the prussian partition learns it for themselves that it wasn't as black and bleak as it is always painted by Poles.

You think Poland wouldn't have middle class, industrial development, higher education and canalization in Warsaw without partitions? ;D

Prussia was on another level as mainly agrarian Poland...It needs industrialization and urbanization for a middle class to develop and to grow, to become wealthy and gain influence...so, it needed prussian influence for that.

It would and we would prefer to get all of this while being an independent country with Polish language in our univerities, not German or Russian.

Prussia had at this time the best education in the whole of Europe...and Poles in Prussia could take part.

Poles immigrate to different richer countries all the time, it doesn't mean all of them want to be German, British or American :) They often cherish their ancestry

Well..who is stopping them.
Prussia invited many different people from all over Europe...even Jews, french Huguenots, everybody. It was quite liberal and tolerant.
Nobody was forced to give up their heritage. Still as every country did and still does, there could only be one official language...

BB, I really don't believe you don't get it...

I think we can agree here but what I so heavily object is this downtalking of Prussia, this myth of a barbaric opressive system which came up always with new ideas to torture poor victimized Poles.

It for sure wasn't perfect and integrating such a hostile minority has it's problems but it was nothing of that kind as Poles like to portray it!

Wooow, that's a twisted logic LOL

Well...that are facts too Paulina...
The Versailles Treaty gave Poland it's independence...and it sowed Hitler.
Make of this what you want!
MartAnthony 2 | 38
4 Oct 2010  #30
Still as every country did and still does, there could only be one official language...

Canada has 2 ..French and English

It is funny how everyone talks of Germany or Polland and how they love to teach there own history..Yet Silesia is wiped from the face of the map.

Related: IS KRAKAN, AUSTRIA IN THE 1870'S NOW PART OF POLAND?

IS KRAKAN, AUSTRIA IN THE 1870'S NOW PART OF POLAND? THIS IS WHAT I AM LEAD TO BELIEVE. CAN ANYONE CONFIRM. TRYING TO FIND MY ANCESTORS - NEUGEWIRTZ.

Kraków, in German Krakau. Yes, it's now in Poland.


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