The Formation of the Self-Knowledge of the Polish Intelligentsia in the Region of Poznan during the Nineteenth Century and the Early Twentieth Century
The Germanisation policy conducted by the partitioning authorities in the region of Poznan deprived the Poles of access to posts in the administration; in time, they were almost totally expelled from the functions of judges, secondary school teachers and almost all institutions dependent on the Prussian state. Nevertheless, a small stratum of the intelligentsia, comprised almost entirely of Catholic clergymen and freelance professionals (medical doctors, journalists and pharmacists), gradually assumed shape in this province. Based on the evidence found in printed sources of the time, a collective identity is revealed among the intelligentsia of Poznan. Various periodicals show that the concept of the intelligentsia had been applied in reference to white-collar workers in the region of Poznan since the mid-nineteenth century. Moving through the period in question, more and more printed references to the group are recorded in the accounts of public lectures, concerts, theatrical spectacles, and the like showing that the Polish intelligentsia in the Poznan province was a formed stratum occupying a given place within the structure of Polish society already prior to the unification of Germany. An increasingly common view claimed that the duty of every member of the intelligentsia was to render active support to the Polish national movement and those evading their public obligations were sharply reproached by the press. Other targets of recurring criticism included the listlessness of the Poznan intelligentsia in some branches of study, with particular regret expressed for its inadequate activity in science and cultural life. The continual admonitions in Polish periodicals and the appeals addressed to the intelligentsia (and written primarily by its outstanding representatives) were the outcome of an increasingly strong awareness of the special mission which it was to fulfil in the difficult conditions endured by the Polish population under Prussian rule. At a time when the national conflict and the anti-Polish policy of the Prussian authorities had reached a climax, the problem most often discussed in the press was the participation of the Poznan intelligentsia in the Polish national movement as well as its involvement in the struggle against a Germanisation-induced oppression and the economically stronger German community. In this situation, the inner issues of the intelligentsia were relegated to the background, and rarely found their way into print. Such questions as the overproduction of the intelligentsia, so grave in the Kingdom of Poland and Galicia, were, for all practical purposes, absent in the region of Poznan.
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