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Letter to the editor on the colonial rule of Prussia and Austria in Polish lands

In order to answer O. Mueller’s concerns about the “Historical Facts” in his letter to the editor of Culture Wars of November 2010, I would like to present facts about the Berlin’s efforts to eradicate Polish language and culture and Vienna’s exploitation of Polish provinces annexed by Austria.

The Cultural and Economic Oppression of the Poles by Prussia
The year1815 saw renewed efforts by the Berlin government to eradicate Polish language and culture in Silesia. As a result 40 Polish villages went on strike in 1817 near Ostróda and Nidzica in Mazuria, East Prussia. Germans arrested the strikers.
In 1817-1823 clandestine Polish students' organizations in Wrocaw (Breslau) proclaimed that Polish national territory covers all areas where Polish is the main language. There were 416 Polish grade schools in the Grand Duchy of Pozna in 1819. Józef Lompa (1797-1862) published the History of Silesia in 1821reminding the readers that Silesia is and always was Polish.
1823 saw the beginning of agrarian reform in the Grand Duchy of Pozna. Year later King Frederick Wilhelm III von Hohenzollern proclaimed the Constitution of the Grand Duchy of Pozna: the executive branch was to be headed by the King; the actual administration was to be conducted by provincial president; the unicameral Seym was to be ruled by a two-thirds majority; elective rights were given to Christian males only; appointed judges were to enforce the laws decreed by the King; the right to demand protection of person and property was granted.
In 1824 an Act of Incorporation of Gdask, Pomerania into a Prussian province with its capital in Koenigsberg (Królewiec) was issued; the rest of Pomerania was formed into a province with its capital in Stettin (Szczecin). The purpose of the new provincial boundaries was to enforce the Germanization program of the Berlin government.
The Berlin government ordered a massive expropriation of Polish landholders, and the increase of the Germanization pressure on the 416 Polish elementary schools in the Grand Duchy of Pozna. From 1824-1826 230 Polish landed estates were taken over by new German owners in Pozna area. Protest marches were organized against the imposition of German language in church services in Silesia. The arrests of protesters followed.
In 1827 the Polish Seym of the Grand Duchy of Pozna successfully petitioned the government in Berlin to extend political rights and obligations to the Jews; this created favorable conditions for upper class Jews and led to their eventual assimilation in Germany, after the eviction of Jewish proletariat to the Polish Kingdom under Russia; the successful assimilation of the wealthy Jews who remained in Germany was facilitated by their subculture based on Yiddish, a Germanic language. Jews were among the patriotic supporters of the policies of Berlin government and made an important contribution to the German culture; thus in politics they often supported anti-Polish policies of the Berlin government. In 1827 the Seym of Pozna protested the political discrimination against the Poles.

The Most Exploited Provinces of the Austrian Empire
During 1772-1867 Polish provinces annexed by Austria became the most exploited and most cruelly treated parts of the Austrian Empire. Austrian officials organized peasant mutinies against Polish landowners and fomented mutual hatred between Ukrainians, Poles, and Jews. Mass starvation periodically reached catastrophic proportions claiming up to 50,000 dead during the worst years.
Southern or Lesser Poland was renamed by the Austrians in 1772 as Galicia and Lodomeria -- names of Ruthenian-Ukrainian provinces at the eastern end of the lands annexed by Austria. This was consistent with Austrian policy to eradicate everything Polish and to extend Ukrainian ethnic claims all the way to Kraków. A strict censorship was imposed. A huge Austrian imperial bureaucracy staffed with Germans pestered the population with complicated and intricate bureaucratic formalities.
In 1817 the Austrians revived the provincial Seym of Estates in Lwów, which functioned in 1782-1788 and would function again in 1817-1845. The Emperor Frances I of Austria ruled by decree. He appointed to the Seym of Estates wealthy landowners with aristocratic Austrian titles, two deputies from the city of Lwów, and the Chancellor of the University of Lwów. The Seym was not a representative body, it was entitled to petitions only.

pogonowski.com
12 grudzień 2010

Iwo Cyprian Pogonowski 

  

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