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Transformation of the Society of the Kingdom of Poland in Reports by German and Austro-Hungarian Diplomats 1890-1914

Head: Ph.D. Piotr Szlanta


At the turn of the twentieth century the multiethnic society of the Kingdom of Poland was undergoing a process of rapid change associated with industrialization, urbanization, the formation of mass political movements, the emancipation of the lower classes, the sharpening of nationality disputes, and the struggle for political reform in Russia and the restoration of autonomy for Poles. So far, few historians have turned to the abundant reports of foreign consuls working in Warsaw to analyze these phenomena. German and Austro-Hungarian diplomats, in particular, closely followed developments beyond the eastern and north-eastern borders of their countries, respectively. For the authorities in Berlin and Vienna, the consulates in Warsaw were important observation points both for Polish-Russian relations and for the attitude of Polish public opinion to what was going on in the Prussian and Austrian partition. Developments in the Russian partition had an impact on the internal situation in German and Austro-Hungarian territories inhabited by dense Polish populations. Despite the fact that the Polish question was considered officially closed and belonged to the internal sphere of each partitioning power, a back-room game was played between the two powers even before 1914. Diplomatic correspondence contains a range of confidential information and assessments which would be difficult to find in sources of other provenance.