Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

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Qvist
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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by Qvist » 21 Feb 2009 21:46

1. Sorry. I should have made it clear. The red line is the present boundary between Lithuania and Belarus. Thus only the land of Wielenskie west of the red line is in Lithuania.
Aah, that changes the complexion of things quite a bit. I wasn't aware that the annexed territory was largely present-day Belorussian territory. In any case though, it seems like the divisions used in the various censuses are more than a little debatable, and also that ethnic identities were not neccessarily all that clear cut or fixed - a familiar enough problem in all of Eastern and Central Europe really.

cheers

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Lit.
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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by Lit. » 23 Feb 2009 16:14

Documentary about Lithuanian army march to the Capital of Lithuania Vilnius, 1939 October 27-28:
http://youtube.com/watch?v=_-EfcUsFzzg
http://youtube.com/watch?v=G4TlnaXQUE8

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by Peter K » 21 Jul 2009 00:48

Domen121 wrote:Eastern Voivodeships of Poland:

Wileńskie Voivodeship (capital city - Wilno):

60% - Polish
23% - Belarusian
8% - Yiddish
3% - Russian
6% - Other or not given (including Lithuanian - less than 1%)

Lwowskie Voivodeship (capital city - Lwów):

58% - Polish
34% - Ukrainian
8% - Yiddish

Nowogrodzkie Voivodeship (capital city - Nowogródek):

53% - Polish
39% - Belarusian
7% - Yiddish
1% - Russian

Tarnopolskie Voivodeship (capital city - Tarnopol):

49% - Polish
46% - Ukrainian
5% - Yiddish

Poleskie Voivodeship (capital city - Brześć):

14% - Polish
10% - Yiddish
5% - Ukrainian
6% - Belarusian
2% - Russian
63% - Other or not given (the vast majority is "Local")

Stanisławowskie Voivodeship (capital city – Stanisławów):

69% - Ukrainian
23% - Polish
7% - Yiddish
1% - German

Wołyńskie Voivodeship (capital city – Łuck):

68% - Ukrainian
17% - Polish
10% - Yiddish
2% - German
1% - Russian
2% - Other or not given
So "ethnically correct" map of Eastern Poland before 1939 should probably look like this:

Image

And in reality it looked like this:

Image

By the way - as Henryk noticed, around 90% of former Wilenskie Voivodeship is now part of Belarus, not Lithuania.

It can be compared with this map - violet areas in Silesia are mixed Polish-German territories:

Image

Once again this map for better comparison:

Image

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by henryk » 21 Jul 2009 21:17

Domen 121
An interesting presentation on interwar Poland. I wonder how different the map would look if the criteria was population by county rather than by province.
What is the source of the 1931 map?
It puts a lie to pre-WWII German claims that German territory was unjustly transferred to Poland. In fact more should have been transferred,
I have never seen census results for Kaunas which showed other than a significant Lithuanian majority.
http://datos.kvb.lt/en/index.php?option ... &Itemid=72
In the years of the first Republic of Lithuania, Kaunas' population consisted of different nationalities: according to 1923 Census, 59% of Kaunas‘ population were Lithuanians, 27% - Jews, 4.5% - Poles, 3.5% - Germans, 3.2% - Russians.
I note the Polish ethnicity of the Daugavpils, Latvia, area and neighboring area. Daugavpils still has a large Polish presence. The former Polish Basilica in Aglona, Latvia, still shows evidence of its Polish origin.

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 22 Jul 2009 05:21

The map is rather a bad hoax :D

Jan-Hendrik

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by Peter K » 25 Jul 2009 12:27

Here is a very interesting post - Jan-Hendrik can read without translation as he knows Polish:

Check especially the bold fragment:

http://forum.historia.org.pl/index.php? ... ntry134089
Arnold wrote: Pisząc o Polakach na Litwie nie można zapominać, że oprócz Wileńszczyzny mieszkali oni także na Kowieńszczyźnie i północnej Suwalszczyźnie czyli terenach międzywojennej Republiki Litewskiej.

W lewym górnym rogu przedstawionej przeze mnie mapki mamy miejscowość Ponoterai czyli Ponotery. Mniej więcej od tej miejscowości zaczynała się polska wyspa językowa obejmująca Kowno i tereny na północ od Kowna wzdłuż rzeki Niewiaży aż po Datnów (Dotnuva), Kiejdany (Kedainiai) i Laudę. Polskie były też okolice Lubowa (Liubavas) i Wisztyńca (Vistytis) czyli tereny gdzie dzisiaj stykają się granice Polski, Litwy i Rosji a wtedy Polski, Litwy i Prus Wschodnich

Jeśli chodzi o międzywojenna Republikę Litewską to mamy oficjalny spis litewski z roku 1923 ale jest on mało wiarygodny. Litwini w zasadzie nie uznawali Polaków na Litwie za Polaków tylko spolonizowanych Litwinów i jak tylko mogli starali się zaniżyć ich oficjalną liczbę. Na przykład w Kownie spis oficjalnie wykazał zaledwie 4,6% Polaków gdy tymczasem w roku 1918 42% głosów w wyborach do Rady Miasta padło na listę polską a burmistrzem został Polak. Natomiast statystyka wyborcza z roku 1923 również wykazywała w Kownie sporo bo aż 31,5% Polaków.
W odpowiedzi na spis litewski działacze mniejszości polskiej pod przewodnictwem Władysława Wielhorskiego przeprowadzili jego krytyczną weryfikację. Wykorzystano przy tym wyniki głosowania do sejmu litewskiego. Autorzy założyli, że każda narodowość głosowała w wyborach na swoja listę narodową czyli Litwini na partie litewskie, Żydzi na żydowską, Polacy na polską itd. Głosy na partie nienarodowe jak np. komunistów rozdzielono proporcjonalnie na wszystkie narodowości. Na Litwie nie było to jednak dużo głosów. Oczywiście można powiedzieć, że przecież głosowanie na listy polskie nie oznacza, że ktoś był Polakiem. Na listy te mógł przecież glosować każdy. Z drugiej jednak strony Polacy mogli również glosować na listy litewskie co wydaje się znacznie bardziej prawdopodobne. Eugeniusz Romer ziemianin z Cytowian (Tytuvenai) w powiecie rosieńskim , w swoim dzienniku w dniu wyborów 1922 roku zanotował między innymi "Na Krikszczonów (litewską chadecję) rzucały głosy tylko baby, obawiające się nie dostania rozgrzeszenia przy spowiedzi o ile inaczej głosować będą. Jest to fakt autentyczny, opowiedziany mi przez ks. dziekana, że pewna babulka przyszła go poufnie zapytać, czy nie będzie grzechem, jeżeli głosowac będzie za numerem 12 (polskim), jak tego pragnie. Ten sam autor zwrócił uwagę, iż pewna częśc polskich ziemian czynnie zaangażowała się w kampaniach wyborczych z lat 1922 i 1923 po stronie litewskich stronnictw nacjonalistycznych motywując swój krok potrzebą "ratowania ziemi", stronnictwa nacjonalistyczne sprzeciwiały się bowiem radykalnej reformie rolnej. Na przykład obecnie na Litwie Polacy stanowią około 7% ogółu społeczeństwa natomiast na Akcje Wyborczą Polaków na Litwie głosuje regularnie niecałe 5% wyborców. Nie jest więc to w pełni miarodajne źródło ale chyba najbardziej miarodajne i obiektywne, które znam. Według oficjalnego spisu litewskiego w roku 1923 na Litwie mieszkało zaledwie 65,7 tys. Polaków co stanowiło 3,2% ogółu mieszkańców Litwy. Według danych polskich Polaków było 202,0 tys. czyli około 9,9% mieszkańców Litwy. Jako ciekawostkę można podać fakt, że według danych polskich także np. Żydów na Litwie nie było 153,6 tys. tylko 181,8 tys. a Niemców nie 29,3 tys. tylko 44,5 tys.

Wiele źródeł zarówno ówczesnych jak i późniejszych tak polskich jak i litewskich pośrednio potwierdza ustalenia działaczy mniejszości polskiej na Litwie.

I tak np. wspominając atmosferę Wiłkomierza lat dwudziestych czyli opierając się na danych litewskiego spisu powszechnego miasta o znikomym odsetku ludności polskiej, jeden z jego ówczesnych mieszkańców pisze "Pieczywo kupowało się w cukierni u Polaka, mięso u rzeźnika Polaka, buty reperował szewc Polak, porad lekarskich udzielali dwaj polscy lekarze, a porad prawnych adwokat Polak. Polską prasę wydawana na Litwie
kupowało się w kiosku prowadzonym przez Polaka, strzyżenie i golenie można było załatwić w zakładzie polskim, a pierwsza w mieście taksówkę uruchomił Polak". Z kolei jeszcze w drugiej połowie lat trzydziestych litewski autor korespondencji prasowej z Wiłkomierza ubolewał "Na ulicach, nad rzeką, w kinie, w ogrodzie miejskim i wszędzie, gdzie tylko zbiera się więcej ludzi, panuje polski żargon. Robotnik, dorożkarz, służąca, stróż itd. poczytują sobie za zaszczyt mówić po polsku, jakkolwiek nazwiska ich świadczą o wręcz przeciwnym.
A co najdziwniejsze tylko ludność niższych klas trzyma się polskiego żargonu". W innym miejscu czytamy, że
"Jeszcze w końcu 1918 roku na terenach zamieszkałych przez polska ludność , w rejonach Kowna, Kiejdan, Wiłkomierza, Wędziagoły i Poniewieża tworzyły się "polskie republiki", których "obywatele" chciwie słuchali słów Warszawy - jak pisze litewski historyk Liudas Truska. Liczne wypadki tego typu notują litewskie źródła. Na przykład mieszkańcy wsi Ruda koło miasteczka Wiejsieje (Veisiejai) na Sejneńszczyźnie w specjalnej uchwale z 16 grudnia 1918 roku deklarowali "uznajemy siebie za obywateli Polaków i nie przyznajemy władzy
samozwańczej Taryby". W całej gminie Wiejsieje mieszkańcy uchwalali podobne oświadczenia. Jeszcze dalej posunęli się mieszkańcy gminy Bobty położonej między Kownem a Kiejdanami. Podjęli oni i przesłali do Kowna uchwałę o tym, że nie będą płacić podatków i nie podporządkują się zarządzeniom mobilizacyjnym, czyli w praktyce nie uznają władzy litewskiego rządu. Aby zmusić mieszkańców Bobt do posłuszeństwa władze wysłały tam całą kompanię formowanego właśnie wojska, które wymusiło podporządkowanie licznymi aresztowaniami i karami. W tworzeniu "polskich republik" przodowali zwłaszcza mieszkańcy okolic drobnoszlacheckich".
Powyższe cytaty pochodzą z książki Krzysztofa Buchowskiego "Polacy w niepodległym państwie litewskim 1918-1940".
Jak wynika ze wspomnień działaczy polskiej mniejszości czy innych źródeł najmniej Polaków mieszkało na Żmudzi i północnej Suwalszczyźnie. Na Żmudzi polskie miały być tylko dwory szlacheckie, w pewnej części również miasta jak Szawle czy Telsze natomiast mieszkańcy wsi czyli chłopi i nawet drobna szlachta byli Litwinami i to z tych właśnie terenów wywodziło się najwięcej litewskich działaczy narodowych.
Which means that - for example - according to the Lithuanian national census, Poles were only 4,6% of population of Kaunas, while their list gained 42% of all votes during the elections of 1918 and a Pole became the mayor of the city.

Intresting.

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by Greenwood » 19 Aug 2009 22:14

Qvist wrote:
Based on religion, not race, so a Catholic Lithuanian got counted as a Pole. Thus the figures it gives for Lithuanians (14%) are ludicrous. Why was it even called Lithuania if it is mostly Polish?
Practically all Lithuanians were and remain catholics, so that would make little sense. A more fundamental problem is that Wilno district, unless administrative divisions were radically different than they are today, is really only the city and its immeditae environs. The other district mentioned - Troki - is, I assume, the Lithuanian Trakai? If so, this illustrates the narrow extent of "Vilnius district" - Trakai is a 20-minute drive from downtown Vilnius. The area annexed by Poland on the other was much, much larger than this - essentially the eastern third of present-day Lithuania, which even today has a strongly rural character (and hence a much greater preponderance of Lithuanian population).

Domen:
Native languages of citizens in voivodeships of Poland in 1931 - according to national census from 1931:
Do you seriously believe that less than 1% of the population in this whole area - almost 1/3 of present Lithuania - was Lithuanian? When did all the Lithuanians, who today constitute the vast majority of the population in this area, turn up? 1945? Considering that the coastal region was predominantly German and that hundreds of thousands of Lithuanians left the country in 1944, Kaunas must have been one hell of a Lithuanian metropolis to have contained these hordes of future settlers, whose mighty migration appears to have passed unrecorded by history. :)
And - by the way - as my friend from Belarus told me, modern-day Lithuanians are in fact not descendants of Medieval Lithuanians but they are descendants of Samogitians. Modern-day Belarussians and Poles (of course not all of them, only parts) are real descendants of Medieval Lithuanians.
Yes well, I also have belorussian friends and have heard the same ridiculous story. The Belarussians, seemingly in earnest, actually appear to think that the whole Lithuanian empire thing was actually a belarussian phenomenon, the only conceivable explanation for which is that new countries with no independent history will go to any lengths to acquire one. Maybe your friend should consider how reasonable it is to believe that all the actual Lithuanians turned slavic, while their whole language and identity was sort of picked up by someone else.

cheers
Well I know that is true, I am part Lithuanian (from a Lithuanian nobility) belarussians have more common with the old Lithuanian duchy then modern day Lithuanians.

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by Peter K » 11 Sep 2009 22:35

Polish – Lithuanian relations between 1918 and 1939 were not easy, but from both sides. The most important was the conflict for the Wilenszczyzna region. In 1921 in Suwalki a treaty was signed about the temporary demarcation line. On the strength of this treaty Wilenszczyzna was on the Lithuanian side of this demarcation line. This solution was in agreement with historical belonging of this land, but was in contradiction with the ethnic criterion which was accepted during the Versailles Conference, because majority of inhabitants of Wilenszczyzna were ethnic Poles.

Lithuanians did not agree to organize plebiscite in Lithuania. Thus general Waclaw Zeligowski (who was born in Lithuania and lived in Lithuania for his entire life) captured Wilno. The republic of Central Lithuania started to exist there. Soon elections to the Parliament of Central Lithuania were organized. This Parliament made a decision to incorporate Central Lithuania to Poland (and when this decision was made, Polish military forces were no longer present in Central Lithuania).

During the whole 20-s Lithuania was ruled by pro-German, pro-Soviet and – especially – anti-Polish political parties. Lithuania was repeatedly conspiring / coming to terms with the Soviet Union against Poland. Lithuania was liquidating Polish schools on her territory, cutting off the access of trading goods behind the river Niemen (trade blockade) and – what is the most important – Lithuania was retaining the martial law. All of this was in progress until 1927, when Pilsudski finally asked Voldemaras if he wanted war or peace. The answer was obvious, thus the martial law was finally cancelled by Lithuania and Polish – Lithuanian negotiations beginned. Despite that, until 1938 great tension in Polish – Lithuanian relations was still in progress. In March of 1938 an armed incident took place near the border, during which one Polish KOP (Border Defense Corps) soldier was killed. In connection with this armed incident on 17.03.1938 Polish government gave an ultimatum to the Lithuanian government with demand to immediately form normal diplomatic relations between both countries, without any preliminary conditions. Edward Rydz-Smigly came to Wilno.

Proper military regulations were issued. In the whole Poland massive manifestations supporting the governmental policy took place. Concentration of Polish army and Air Force took place near the Lithuanian border. Polish ultimatum met a determined reaction of the USSR, which expressed its lack of acceptation for such actions carried out by Poland. Attitude of France and other western countries to such actions was also unfavourable. On 19 III Lithuanian government accepted the ultimatum, which allowed to finally normalize Polish – Lithuanian relations after 20 years of tension.

The real background of the whole incident was, however, the desire of Lithuanian circles who wanted normalization in Polish – Lithuanian relations, but who were not able to overcome the extremely strong anti-Polish attitude in the governmental circles of their own country without Polish help.

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by kept » 16 Sep 2009 09:35

Speaking of Lithuanian and Polish nationality in the period from mid-19th century until the first half of 20th century.
Here it is necessary to remember the formation of nationalism (good sense)birth of national identity. Since the mid-19th century begins with "modern nations' birth, and the main criterion here is the language. Depending on the language you speak - that the nation you belong.
Until then, in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the situation was a bit different.
By the mid-19th century, nationalism has been addressed only in terms of how you realize yourself, according to your past and the fact of what you derive yourself from. Language did not play any role here. The language was relevant only to convey ideas (if you understand what I have in mind) – Polish language was more of a cultural language, Lithuanian and Belarusian - ordinary people's language, and so on.
Since the mid-19th century, language has come to play a key role to designate the nation's dependence. And then, there have been cultured (for example, noble) Lithuanian, who spoke Polish (language fiction) - had to choose - whether he is Lithuanian or Polish under the "modern" view. Here's to you an answer as to why, for example, in Lithuania, were so little nobility left in the first half of 20 century. Therefore, the Lithuanian nobleman (the old sense) did not want to waive his natural noble language (Polish) and speak with one Lithuanian, what he has done only with their subordinates.
The same situation applies to the ordinary people. Common Lithuanian (old sense) cosidered Polish language as more cultured and chose "Polish nationality", although his surname was baltic. Here, you can remember Lithuanian Ivanauskas family, whose three sons, in time of "modernisation of nations", became a Lithuanian zoologist (Tadas Ivanauskas), Polish politic(Jerzy Iwanowski) and Belarusians politic (Вацлаў Іваноўскі (Waclau Iwanouski)).
Also in big cities, before formation of the modern concept of nation, as i said, culture language was Polish. There you have the great number of "Polish pepople" in major cities. The Polish speaking culture people and noble people are being perceived as Polish by "modern nations". And it becomes no longer relevant if that the Polish speaking cultured people perceived themselves as Lithuanians until then.

Well, I hope You all understand my opinion and sorry for my complicated english... :?
And finally I would like to say that, let's try to be post-modern :) Let's try to find the real beautiful things in our common history. And if we find a dire things, let's try to understand them, accept them and forgive each other for them. Let us stand up and march forward brotherly as we have made this for several hundred years.
Greetings for all of You Brothers, from our Vilnius/Wilno/ווילנע/Вільня/Wilna - Lithuanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ruthenian, Jewish, Karaites, Tatars. :wink:

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by michael mills » 28 Sep 2009 01:48

Concerning the German census of 1916:

Leaders of ethnic Lithuanian political parties claimed at the time that the Catholic Church hierarchy in the Vilna district, which was overwhelmingly Polish, used its influence over Catholic congregations in the period before the census to inculcate the message that all Catholics in the area should declare themselves as Poles, regardless of which language they regarded as native, and that that was the reason for the very small number of persons who claimed Lithuanian ethnicity.

A large number of the Catholics in the Vilna region, perhaps the majority, spoke both Lithuanian and Polish, the former being the language used in the home and the latter the language used in the schools, the administration and public life.

If the Lithuanian political leaders were correct in their claim, the number of Catholic inhabitants of the Vilna region who spoke Lithunanian in their homes must have been very much larger than the minuscule number who identified themselves as "Lithuanian" in the census. It is entirely possible that many of the persons who identified as "Polish" in the 1916 census later assumed a Lithuanian identity during the periods when the area came under Lithuanian control, temporarily in 1919-20, and then permanently in October 1939.

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by henryk » 28 Sep 2009 18:40

michael mills wrote:Concerning the German census of 1916:
Leaders of ethnic Lithuanian political parties claimed at the time that the Catholic Church hierarchy in the Vilna district, which was overwhelmingly Polish, used its influence over Catholic congregations in the period before the census to inculcate the message that all Catholics in the area should declare themselves as Poles, regardless of which language they regarded as native, and that that was the reason for the very small number of persons who claimed Lithuanian ethnicity.

A large number of the Catholics in the Vilna region, perhaps the majority, spoke both Lithuanian and Polish, the former being the language used in the home and the latter the language used in the schools, the administration and public life.

If the Lithuanian political leaders were correct in their claim, the number of Catholic inhabitants of the Vilna region who spoke Lithunanian in their homes must have been very much larger than the minuscule number who identified themselves as "Lithuanian" in the census. It is entirely possible that many of the persons who identified as "Polish" in the 1916 census later assumed a Lithuanian identity during the periods when the area came under Lithuanian control, temporarily in 1919-20, and then permanently in October 1939.
Your claims ignore the results of other censuses which are generally the same as the German 1916 census.
From my message on this same thread:
City of Vilna 1897'
Jews (40.0%) / Poles (30.1%) / Russians (20.9%) / Belarusians (4.3%) / Lithuanians (2.1%) / Germans (1.4%) / Tatars (0.5%) / Ukrainians (0.3%) / Other (0.4%) /Total / Source: 1897 Russian census
Vilna Governorate 1897'
Belarusians (56.1%) / Lithuanians (17.6%) / Jews (12.7%) / Poles (8.2%) / Russians (4.9%) / Germans (0.2%) / Tatars (0.1%) / Ukrainians (0.1%) / Other (0.1%) / Total 1591207 /Source: 1897 Russian census[1]

City of Wilna 1916'
Poles (50.2%) / Jews (43.5%) / Lithuanians (2.6%) / Russians (1.5%) / Other (2.2%) / Total 140,800
Source: 1916 German census[4]
'Occupied Lithuania 1916'
Poles (58.0%) / Lithuanians (18.5%) / Jews (14.7%) / Belarusians (6.4%) / Russians (1.2%) / Other (1.2%)
Total /Source: 1916 German census.
'City of Wilna 1942
'Poles 87,855 (41.89%) / Jews 58,263 (27.78%) / Russians 4,090 (1.95%) / Belarusians 5,348 (2.55%) / Lithuanians 51,111 (24.37%) / Germans 524 (0.25%) / Other 2,538 (1.21%) / Total 209,729 /Source: 1942 German census[9]
'Wilna-Gebiet 1942
'Lithuanians 324,234 (43.44%) / Poles 315,042 (42.20%) / Belarusians 81,257 (10.89%) / Russians 22,792 (3.05%)
Others 3,109 (0.42%) / Total 746,434 / Source: 1942 German census.

'Vilnius city municipality 2001
'Lithuanians (59.16%) 318,510 / Poles (19.40%) 104,446 / Russians (14.43%) 77,698 / Belarusians (4.19%) 22,555
Ukrainians 7,159 / Other 8,042 Not indicated 15,494 / Total (100%) 553,904 Source: 2001 Lithuanian census[13]
'Vilnius district municipality 2001
'Poles (62.57%) / Lithuanians (22.87%) / Russians (8.56%) / Belarusians (4.4%) / Others (1.6%)
Total 88,600 / Source: 2001 Lithuanian census
Note this is despite the large numbers of Poles expelled after WWII. More details available in my messages.

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by michael mills » 29 Sep 2009 02:19

Henryk,

Have you considered the possibility that the same factors applied in the 1897 Imperial Russian census as applied in the 1916 census carried out by the German occupation administration?

That is, that a nationalist-minded Catholic Church hierarchy preached the message in both 1897 and in 1916 that all Catholics in the Vilna area should declare themselves Polish.

In the half-century leading up to the German occupation in 1915, the main factor determining the self-identification of the people living in and around Vilna was their religious adherence; for those who were members of the Catholic Church, that was the essential criterion which distinguished them from the Jews and the Orthodox Russians who ruled over them all.

For those parts of the Catholic population of Vilna who spoke both Lithuanian and Polish, probably the majority, it would have mattered little whether they gave their nationality as "Polish" or "Lithuanian" in either the 1897 census or that of 1916; their over-riding concern was to stress their Catholic identity as the main factor in their resistance to the russianising policies of the Russian Imperial Government. Since the Catholic Church throughout Lithuania was at that time mainly Polish in language and outlook, it should not surprise us if the overwhelming majority of Catholics in the region took their cue from their religious leaders and identified with the predominant Polish culture.

In 1897 and 1916, modern Lithuanian ethnic identity was not strong in the territories of the Russian Empire, due to the polonisation of the 16th and 17th centuries, followed by the Government-promoted russification of the second half of the 19th century. In fact, that modern Lithuanian identity had its origins among the Lithuanian-speaking minority in East Prussia, where the first books in the Lithuanian language were produced from the 16th Century onward, and the standardisation of that language took place. Lithuanian ethnic identity, based on a standard language, spread from East Prussia to modern Lithuania in the second half of the 19th Century, first to the western part, then to all regions where the population spoke Lithuanian; either as their sole language or as the language of the home.

As of 1897, the concept of a Lithuanian national identity had not yet gained predominance in the larger towns such as Vilna, which is another reason why almost the entire Catholic population claimed Polish nationality, even those who spoke Lithuanian as well as Polish. But once an independent Lithunanian national state had been created in 1919, there was a lot more incentive for people who had previously identified as Polish to now identify themselves as of Lithuanian nationality.

Henryk, it is not as if Lithuanians and Poles are entirely separate races. In the 19th and early 20th Centuries there was a lot of Lithuanian-Polish bilingualism in what is now Lithuania, particularly in the towns, and a person speaking both languages could claim either nationality, depending on circumstances. You should not imagine that a large ethnically Polish population has been removed from the Vilnius area and totally replaced by a different ethnically Lithuanian population; what has happened is that a lot of people who previously called themselves Polish now call themselves Lithuanian, due to the existence of an independent Lithuanian nation state.

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by Peter K » 29 Sep 2009 08:22

You should not imagine that a large ethnically Polish population has been removed from the Vilnius area
Between 1944 - 46 & 1955 - 59 around 245,000 Poles were resettled from Lithuania to Poland. Around 230,000 Poles remained in Lithuania. Only ca. 45% of Polish population which still lived in Lithuania in 1944 was still there in 1959.

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henryk
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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by henryk » 01 Oct 2009 18:43

Michael, your view of the power of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy over 1900's congregations, particularly over nationalistic urban ones, is very naive. Examples:
1) the reaction of Prussian Poles to the Germanization of their churches;
2) The history of Polish-American Catholics. When the Irish hierarchy refused Polish language churches the independent Polish National Church was founded, still independent today. The hierarchy rapidly reversed their stance, resulting in a flood of Polish language churches and parochial schools.
3) a personal example in my home town. After WWII a flood of veterans and displaced persons tripled the Polish community to over 5000. After continued refusals from the local Irish bishop, at a 1955 meeting with a Polish delegation, he was advised that negotiations were over. He had two choices, the Polish community building a Polish language Roman Catholic church or the Polish community building a Polish National church. A Polish language Roman Catholic church was built in two years. After a flood of Polish refugees from martial law, the Polish community went to over 12000, forming the largest non-English language community in the city. The church had to be enlarged.

My abstracts from an article by an American historian.
http://www.ucis.pitt.edu/nceeer/2004_819-06g_Weeks.pdf
FROM “RUSSIAN” TO “POLISH”: Vilna-Wilno 1900-1925
Theodore R. Weeks, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
The National Council for Eurasian and East European Research, Washington, D.C.

1905 in Vilna
Lithuanians by ethnicity made up a tiny percentage of Vilna’s population, but the recently-founded Lithuanian Social Democratic (LSDP) party was active in the city.35 Amid the revolutionary disturbances, a major event in the history of the Lithuanian national movement took place in Vilna in late 1905: the “Great Conference of Vilnius.” The single most important figure at this meeting of some two thousand in Vilnius (for them!) in late 1905 was certainly the energetic and cantankerous Dr. Jonas Basanavičius, one of the fathers of Lithuanian nationalism.40 Basanavičius, a writer and ethnographer, returned in summer 1905 to Vilnius after nearly a quarter century abroad.41 By 1905 the city could boast of a Lithuanian language daily, Vilniaus Žinios, which published on 11 November 1905 Basanavičius’s call for an assembly (Seimas) of representatives of the Lithuanian people. This assembly convened on December 4, 1905 at the Vilnius town hall. In the end the assembly reached important decisions on Lithuanian autonomy, schools, and the church. These decisions were published in Vilniaus Žinios on December 7.
Despite some revolutionary rhetoric, the actual demands were rather more cautious. All Lithuanians should work together, regardless of class or party affiliation, to achieve autonomy within a new, reformed federal Russia. In order to bring this autonomy about, Lithuanians in Kaunas, Vilnius, and Gardinas (Grodno) provinces should refuse to serve in the army, keep their children from attending school, and withhold all taxes from the government. “Purely national” schools should replace the present ones, and all inhabitants should be taught in their “native tongue” (understood in the context to be Lithuanian but never stated).
Even more controversially, “since in Lithuanian churches of the Vilnius bishopric the Polish language is used in prayers for political purposes” the assembly wishes all “fighting Lithuanians” success against the polonizing priests and called for the use of Lithuanian in these churches.43 Despite limiting their demands to only autonomy within Russia, the Lithuanian patriots hereby set themselves up against both the Russian government (as it was presently constituted) and the present Polish dominated hierarchy of the Catholic Church in the region. These two forces would prove formidable foes indeed in the next decade.
By 1907 outwardly Vilna city and province were again quiet. In Vilna governor D. Liubimov’s report of that year, revolutionaries or strikes are not even mentioned. Rather, Liubimov concentrated on the pernicious effect of the Catholic clergy and Poles. The governor remarked that at the present time “The term ‘Pole’ in Vilna province has lost its ethnographic character and become almost exclusively a political term [i.e., for opposition to the government].” As for Lithuanians, they were more interested in fighting the Poles than the Russians.

World War I
Almost instantly, the city shed any pretense of “Russianness.” The German commander immediately appealed to the Poles of the city, calling it “the pearl in the glorious Kingdom of Poland,” proclaiming its liberation from the Russian yoke and making vague promises about future freedom. This appeal specifically declared that “The German Kaiser wishes you to know that He is not fighting against you [Poles] but only against your enemies, the Russians.” Further, “The German army has warm sympathy for the population of Poland, subjected to such difficult trials.”46 Thus from the start the German occupiers portrayed themselves as restorers of the Polish Kingdom and friends of the Poles.
By 1917 most of Vilna’s inhabitants were going hungry.55 While the general population declined, Jews on the whole fared worse than Poles: a census carried out by the Germans in 1916/1917 showed 54% Poles, 41% Jews, and only 2.1% Lithuanians in the city.57

Contested City, 1918-1922
At the end of 1917 the Bolshevik revolution shook Russia, knocking it out of the war. But even before the November 1917 communist revolution, Lithuanian patriots had gathered in Vilna and organized the Taryba (“council”) as a first step toward national independence. The Taryba declared independence under German auspices on December 11, 1917. In late December 1918 the Germans began to leave Vilna and the Red Army moved westward in an attempt to regain lands given up at Brest-Litovsk, including Vilna. On January 2, 1919 Polish military forces (samoobrona) within the city took control, causing the Lithuanian Taryba to withdraw to Kaunas. Thus in early 1919 the city was – for the moment – Polish.60 At the same time, the sympathizers of the Bolshevik revolution were organizing in Vilna.
The first congress of the Lithuanian Communist party took place in early October 1918 in Vilnius and in December 1918 elections for the Vilnius Soviet of Workers’ The socialists went on to form the “Provisional Revolutionary Workers’ and Poor Peasants’ Government of Lithuania” on 8 December 1918 in Vilna. Just as Poles – now the majority of the city’s population – were about to grab power of the city, both a Lithuanian government and an organ of Soviet power were active in Vilna.62 As we have seen, on 2 January 1919 Polish “self defense” took over in Vilna. Two days later, the Red Army marched in. Communist rule lasted just a bit over three months; Polish troops led by local boy Józef Piłsudski “liberated” the city on April 19, 1919.64
Meanwhile the Lithuanians entered into negotiations with Moscow, hoping to gain control over Vilnius by diplomacy. Indeed, on July 12, 1920 Soviet Russia and Lithuania signed a treaty in which Moscow recognized Lithuania’s right to Vilna and other territories currently occupied by the Poles. At the same time the Lithuanians attempted to take back the city with military force, achieving this end mere days later.65
The Lithuanian hold on Vilnius was tenuous, however, and in many ways dependent ontheir Russian ally, whose troops passed through the city on their way to attack Warsaw in August 1920. As is well known, Warsaw (and, to believe some Polish commentators, western civilization) was saved by the “miracle on the Vistula” in late August 1920. The over-extended Red Army collapsed and retreated in disorder, and Lenin abruptly sued for peace. The Treaty of Riga between Poland and Soviet Russia was signed 18 March 1921, depriving Lithuania of any further practical assistance from Moscow (though the Russians continued to support Lithuania’s claim for Vilnius).
Just as the Red Army in Poland was disintegrating (August - September 1920), the Lithuanian government was setting up shop in Vilna. Trains from Lithuania began to arrive in Vilna in late August and the Lithuanian post office and other government offices were set up around the same time. Even some foreign embassies (Estonia and Germany, for example) opened in the “Lithuanian capital.”66
For Warsaw, the situation was intolerable. Fearful that the Lithuanian government would succeed in gaining the support of the western powers to retain the city, the Warsaw government engineered a “rebellion” to re-establish Polish control. On October 9, 1920 general Lucjan Żeligowski occupied Vilna and declared the Vilna region (much more heavily Lithuanian and Belarusian than the city itself) a new independent state: “Central Lithuania” (Litwa środkowa).67
Warsaw declared itself uninvolved and neutral in this conflict, but it was an open secret that in fact Żeligowski was little more than Piłsudski’s agent. Despite this, the Lithuanian government was unsuccessful in persuading the League of Nations or western powers to put significant pressure on Poland to give back the city.68
Żeligowski and Co. claimed merely to be carrying out the “will of the [Polish] people” in protecting them against the machinations of foreign states. But clearly “Central Lithuania” could not last. The “middle-Lithuanian” authorities proposed a plebiscite to decide the city’s fate. It was obvious that Poles would favor incorporation into Poland, In the city of Vilna itself, of nearly 80,000 voters just over half went to the polls. Those abstaining were probably mostly Jews.72 It came as no surprise that the delegates elected voted overwhelmingly to ask for Central Lithuania’s incorporation into Poland, which occurred very rapidly in 1922.73 Despite Lithuanian anger and Jewish misgivings, Vilna was now officially transformed into Wilno, a Polish city.

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Re: Polish claims on Wilno/Vilnius

Post by michael mills » 02 Oct 2009 02:12

Between 1944 - 46 & 1955 - 59 around 245,000 Poles were resettled from Lithuania to Poland. Around 230,000 Poles remained in Lithuania.
An alternative interpretation of that event is that the Soviet authorities allowed around 245,000 persons living in Lithuania to escape Stalin's tyranny by transferring to the lesser tyranny of the Polish People's Republic, based on the criterion that those persons were Polish rather than Lithuanian.

Those 245,000 persons were very lucky that they were able to establish a claim to Polish ethnicity (probably on the basis of speaking Polish) and thereby escape from the Soviet Union. If they had wanted to stay in Lithuania, under Soviet rule, they could probably have done so by claiming Lithuanian ethnicity, which would not have been difficult since most people in the Vilna area who spoke Polish also spoke either Lithuanian or Belarusian, or even both.
Only ca. 45% of Polish population which still lived in Lithuania in 1944 was still there in 1959.
How much of the decline between 1944 and 1959 in the number of persons claiming Polish ethnicity was due to persons changing their claimed ethnic affiliation, ie persons who claimed to be Polish in 1944 and then claimed to be Lithuanian in 1959?

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