Poland History: From The Three Divisions to The First World War

Poland History: From The Three Divisions to The First World War

Poland, which occupies a transit region in central Europe between the great plains, Germanic in the W, Sarmatic in the E, is a nation without true natural borders and its history, made up of continuous invasions and territorial divisions, is a reflection direct of geography. The Polish people, with precise ethnic, religious, linguistic and cultural connotations, had to fight over the centuries to settle on a territory with perennially changing borders and on which two very powerful neighbors were pressing from W and E: Germany and Russia.. Between these two poles the history of Poland was at stake which, if culturally and religiously (it is a country of very deep Catholic faith) belongs to the world of central-western Europe, ethnically (the population is in fact of Slavic lineage) is inserted in Eastern Europe. Having emerged from the terrible trials of the Second World War, profoundly transformed in its territorial structure, but politically revitalized by the very hard resistance against Nazism and the German occupation, according to agooddir.com, Poland then had to face, at the end of the 1970s, a serious economic crisis which contributed, in 1989, to decree the end of the communist regime. In the first decade of transition from a state economy to a market economy, Poland had, among all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the fastest growth rate thanks above all to the extensive privatization process of Polish industry., which allowed the arrival of huge capital. The significant economic deceleration of the early 2000s and European Union on 1 May 2004.


Meanwhile, noble anarchy and the arrogance of the magnates worsened: the liberum veto systematically hindered the functioning of the Diet. The situation improved with Stanislao II Augusto Poniatowski (1764-95), supported by Russia but determined to attempt vigorous reforms. However, civil wars raged: the three partitions of Poland (1772, 1793, 1795) by Russia, Prussia and Austria were the consequence. Between the first and the second, however, Poland found better energies, proceeding with a commendable reform of education (from 1773) and later obtaining from the Diet the promulgation (1791) of a courageously modern Constitution, unfortunately destined for an ephemeral life.. After the second partition, an insurrection of Polish patriots threatened Russian dominance, but its leader Kosćiuszko was defeated and captured (1794), while the insurrection was suffocated. The third partition destroyed the autonomous life of Poland until 1918. Napoleon it is true that he created a grand duchy of Warsaw (1807-14), but for the Poles it was a brief illusion. The Congress of Vienna, granted Posnania to Prussia and Galicia to Austria, restored a kingdom of Poland to give it to Russia. The Poles of the kingdom lived in a relatively liberal regime at least until 1830-31, when the Warsaw Uprising and the subsequent war against Russia induced Tsar Nicholas I to severe repression. This is where the “great emigration” is located, that is, the voluntary exile in the West of intellectuals, artists, nobles, liberals and revolutionaries, including the greatest poets of Poland. Even worse was the situation of the kingdom after the bloody insurrection of 1863: then the Russification process was accentuated, the Catholic Church was mistreated and the teaching and not strictly private use of Polish was forbidden. In Germanic Poland there was first a greater tolerance, thanks to the good intentions of Frederick William III; but in 1848 the new Prussian Constitution took away from the Poles any hope of autonomy. After 1870, Germanization proceeded even more obstinate and ferocious: here too the Polish language was banned, while the Berlin government, with various expedients, managed to transplant German peasants and workers in large numbers into Polish territory. The fate of Austrian Poland was different and better: until around 1861 the patriots were persecuted by the police and the peasants subtly excited against the landowners (Galicia massacres, 1846); Krakow, formerly a free city, was forcibly annexed to the Austrian Empire. But after 1861 the relations between Vienna and Galicia improved: public education spread, the universities of Krakow and Lviv flourished, the Empire called Polish statesmen, such as the Badeni, to high positions. In the sec. XX the great political currents of the never extinguished Polish patriotism were clarified: the National Democratic Party was founded in Warsaw, confident in a Polish resurgence that a Russia converted to liberalism should have favored; a Socialist Party was born in Paris, then spread to Galicia and among the weavers of Łódź; in eastern Poland Rosa Luxemburg introduced a Russian-inspired socialism. But in Polish socialism the nationalist currents prevailed, represented above all by J. Piłsudski. In the first world war the Poles found themselves fighting under the German, Austrian and Russian flags, while each of these powers tried to win over Polish sympathies, without making any commitment to the future. Piłsudski fought with his legionaries on the Austrian side; but when the Central Empires occupied Poland, he, rather than serving foreign interests, allowed himself to be interned in Magdeburg (1917). Meanwhile, Wilson’s initiative legitimized Polish expectations; Dmowski in Paris, Paderewski in the USA, defended the cause of Poland; a Polish army was being organized in France.

Poland History 2

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