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The Great War

Insights and Perspectives

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Edited By Elżbieta Katarzyna Dzikowska, Agata Handley and Piotr Zawilski

This publication is a collection of articles which summarise results of investigations into archival materials concerning wartime stories of various nations involved in the Great War. The objective of the authors was to analyse the wartime experience of individuals and local communities as well as whole nations. They further tried to present a closer, more personal overview of wartime drama. As a result the book portrays the impact of the Great War on the lives of multicultural communities, re-constructs individual war narratives and studies consequences of the conflict. The use of various types of historical materials from state archives and from other sources enabled the authors to create a multifaceted portrayal of the war seen from local and international perspectives.
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Betrayed twice. The German community in the Kingdom of Poland during the Great War

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Shortly before the outbreak of World War I the Kingdom of Poland was inhabited by about 500 thousand Germans who accounted for approximately 5% of the total population of the Kingdom. Three-quarters of this population lived in the countryside with the largest concentrations in the provinces of Piotrków, Kalisz, Warsaw and Płock1. The largest number of Germans living in the cities inhabited Łódź and Warsaw as well as industrial centers of the Łódź and Częstochowa – Sosnowiec districts. In many cases, after living together with the Polish population for over a century, the German national consciousness was limited to a sense of community regarding the language and religion. Gradually the process of acculturation deepened, which was visible mainly in the cities, especially in ← 201 | 202 → Warsaw2. The state of national consciousness was also heavily influenced by Russian public institutions, especially educational. For the youngest generation of Germans in the Kingdom, that is the people born in the last decades of the 19th and early 20th century, the Russian character of the country where they lived was absolutely natural. Similar to their Polish and Jewish neighbors, Germans felt subjects of the country in which Russian was the official language, the Orthodox religion the privileged denomination and military service under Russian command an undisputed duty of young men. Not without reason, a German geographer and historian, Eugen Oskar Kossmann, coming from Rudy Bugaj near Aleksandrów Łódzki wrote about “the late national awakening”3 of his compatriots4. In...

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