A Survey of Polish Literature and Culture

By Manfred Kridl; Olga Scherer-Virski | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
POLAND REBORN

Poland's political situation remained basically unchanged from the end of the nineteenth century, when the situation had been stabilized, until the outbreak of the First World War. There were, however, some internal changes, advantageous or not. The revolution of 1905 won the important concession that private Polish schools might exist under Russian rule. Russian had previously been enforced as the teaching language not only in state-owned but also in private schools, while Polish had been admitted only as one of the subjects of study -- and then only to a very limited extent with little scope for Polish literature. The strike by school children in 1905, the boycott of the Warsaw University by Polish students, as well as the attitude of a considerable portion of Polish society, forced the Russian authorities, already frightened by the revolutionary movement, into making some concessions. This permission was given to found new private Polish schools and to introduce Polish as the language of study into the old ones. The Kingdom society showed a great deal of initiative and energy in this direction. Within a short time the whole country was covered with a network of Polish schools, mostly of secondary and elementary level. The lack of a Polish university was made up for by the so-called Higher Courses of Learning in Warsaw, which organized a university syllabus; these Courses were the nucleus of what subsequently became the Free Polish University. The Warsaw Learned Society was established, and it also possessed an academic character. These developments, combined with the undying hopes of still greater autonomy, stirred a light breath of freedom in the Russian-occupied Polish territory. It soon died away, however. As the Russian Government halted the revolutionary movement it also began to impose its own interpretation on the reforms it had permitted in Polish education. The schools soon came under the strict control of Russian inspectors; history and geography had

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