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Colonialism and Decolonization in National Historical Cultures and Memory Politics in Europe

Modules for History Lessons

Edited By Uta Fenske, Daniel Groth, Klaus-Michael Guse and Bärbel P. Kuhn

Colonialism and decolonization are historical phenomena that are part of the historical experience of many European countries. This volume offers students and teachers a new understanding of how colonialism and decolonization fit into our shared European past and contains teaching materials for history classes in European schools. The contributions have been produced by the EU project CoDec, involving partners from Belgium, Germany, Estonia, Great Britain, Austria, Poland and Switzerland. Analyzing colonial pasts, processes of decolonization and memory politics in different European countries from comparative and transnational perspectives, the study presents useful sources and practical suggestions for cutting-edge history lessons in European schools.
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German Colonial Policy in Greater Poland (19th and 20th Centuries)


Introduction to the Module

In the 18th century Poland was partitioned among the powers Russia, Austria and Prussia. Besides territorial desires, the republican political system of Poland also played a major role for the partitions on the part of the absolutist governed neighbouring states. The Poles never came to terms with the foreign rule and there were numerous attempts to overcome it.

The situation in the Prussian annexed territory changed considerably with the establishment of the German Empire in 1871 and the formation of a nation state. The Poles were to assimilate as German citizens, i.e. to adopt the German language and culture – and, along with it, the Protestant religion.

As Minister President of Prussia and then chancellor of the German Reich, Otto von Bismarck (1815–1898) played a leading role in the unification of Germany and the reforms that made this country a world power. In the history of Poland, however, he will be known as the politician who was responsible for the introduction of the policy of absolute Germanization in the Prussian annexed territory; for actions to eliminate Poles from economic, political and cultural life; for conducting a consistent fight against the Catholic Church, which was a symbol and anchor of Polish national consciousness for Poles at that time.

Bismarck’s policy towards Poles is mainly connected with the activities of the Prussian Settlement Commission and the “Kulturkampf”. The main objectives of the Prussian Settlement Commission were to strengthen...

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