RUSSIA IN THE POLITICAL THOUGHT OF WILHELM FELDMAN
Wilhelm Feldman (1868-1919) was a leading Polish historian of literature, critic and journalist of his day. This article offers an account of his view of Russia in the context of his political thought. At the root of it lies the conviction that the Russian state was Poland's worst enemy. Feldman believed that Tsarist Russia, made up of Norman, Byzantine and Tartar elements, was a barbarian Asiatic state, irreparably despotic, savage and aggressive. In consequence, there could be no progress towards Poland's independence without the overthrow of the Tsarist regime, a feat which, in his opinion, could only be accomplished by the Russian people. The signs were never as auspicious as in 1905, a year when the people of Russia woke up and rose to change the face of the country. The revolutionary turmoil convinced Feldman that the days of the Tsarist regime were numbered. He hoped that it would be replaced by a new federation of nations, including Poland, and his optimism affected the way he perceived the Russian society. At that time he pictured it as active, dedicated, freedom-loving. However, as the revolutionary momentum fizzled out, his descriptions changed accordingly. The pejorative traits of the Tsarist regime were now transferred to the Russians as a whole, a nation of apathetic, despotic imperialists. Yet in spite of his post-1905 antipathy to both the Russian state and the Russian society, he always valued highly Russia's cultural achievements. When the First World War broke out, Feldman true to his anti-Russian sentiment, became an advocate of the German alliance. He believed that Germany in return would help restore Polish statehood.
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