Friday, September 14, 2007

Mieczysaaw Ledochowski' Nemesis' Mistake

Bismarck's Ill-advised Mono-Nationalism

Mono-nationalism- meaning one ethnic group/language per nation-state.

Defining “Prussia” as simply “German” a mistake.

After 1871, the Prussian state combined the other German states into a German empire, and the Prussian overlords became more and more oppressive, insisting that the Polish peoples must become germanized. German national liberals joined their former enemies from the Prussian court. Measures became more and more severe, and it was forbidden to use Polish in public gatherings, including school and church. The government fought a losing battle to replace Polish land ownership with German settlers, through the Settlement Commission.

During the "Kulturkampf" the Archbishop of Gnesen Cardinal Ledóchowski, two other bishops and many priests were arrested and some exiled from the country. Many schools, religious orders and civic agencies were closed and resistant Poles were jailed. Claiming to free the Polish schools from the control of the Catholic church, the Prussian government entrusted all the supervisory activities in both German and Polish schools to German inspectors. Soon the Polish language was barred from all grammar and high schools in the provinces of Posen, West Prussia and Silesia, and the teachers were selected exclusively from among the Germans.

When the German Empire was established in 1871, the Polish provinces were made a part of Prussia with no recognition of their national character in spite of the guarantees given to them in the Treaty of Vienna and protests of the Polish representatives. When, in 1873, Prussia introduced certain internal reforms granting more home rule to her cities, the Polish provinces were excluded from the provisions of the new law. In 1876 the Polish language was superseded by German in all official, civil judicial and administrative transactions. As part of the "Germanization" of the provinces, the government proceeded to change the names of places, substituting German designations for the ancient Polish ones, for example, Leszno was renamed "Lissa", Chelmno became "Kulm", and Pila became "Schneidemühl". The Poles were deprived of the right to assemble and hold peaceful meetings if Polish was spoken at such gatherings. To circumvent this restriction, business at Polish assemblies was transacted with the aid of blackboards and chalk as a way around the law. In 1885, an order was issued by Bismarck directing all Poles who were not Prussian subjects to leave the country immediately, resulting in over forty thousand persons being expelled despite living and working in the area for many years.

In 1886, a Colonization Commission was established with the aim of buying out land from the Poles and settling it with German colonizers. One hundred million marks was voted for this purpose at the outset. Under the protectorate of Bismarck, a special society was formed to agitate-German public opinion against the Poles. The Government subsidized this society and carried out its recommendations. This society, known as the H. K. T. from the initials of its three founders, Hausemann, Kennemann and Thiedemann, carried out a propaganda campaign consisting of pamphlets, meetings and dramas, with the personal encouragement of Kaiser Wilhelm II. "Ausrotten!" ("Exterminate!") became a slogan.[citation needed] Over ten billion marks were spent for the purpose.[citation needed] Polish merchants, manufacturers and workmen were systematically and openly boycotted and German trade in Poland was heavily subsidized. The Polish village communities were deprived of their right of supervision over the village schools and, in Russian fashion, private instruction outside of the school buildings was made punishable by heavy penalties. In schools, children were flogged for speaking or praying in Polish. In 1901, the parents of the children of the small town Wrzesnia, rose against this barbarous practice on the part of the teachers, and they suffered heavy penalties.

Following the Russian policy in Lithuania and Ruthenia, which forbade the acquisition of real estate by Poles, and poor results of the Settlement Commission, the Prussian government forbade in 1904 the building of houses on newly acquired properties without special permission, which seldom, if ever, was given to Poles. This new limitation did not stop the efforts of the Poles to retain as much Polish land as possible. To overcome the restrictions, some peasants followed the example of Drzymala and lived in houses built on wheels, thus circumventing the spirit of the restriction. The 1905 census had a category that included wagons, huts, boats and tents as domiciles. The oppression naturally created an organized reaction. The Peasant Bank of Posen and its large number of local branches competed with the Colonization Bank. The German system of compulsory education, though resented by the Poles because of its policy of Germanization, increased the level of education of the Polish peasantry. The number of daily Polish newspapers and the consumption of Polish literature in German Poland increased. At the same time some German politicians expressed desire that Poles could be expelled from territories of Poland held by German Empire in the event of armed conflict[1].

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