Journal Article

‘Pomorze’ or ‘Preussen’? Polish Perspectives on Early Modern Prussian History

Karin Friedrich

in German History

Published on behalf of German History Society

Volume 22, issue 3, pages 344-371
Published in print July 2004 | ISSN: 0266-3554
Published online July 2004 | e-ISSN: 1477-089X | DOI:
‘Pomorze’ or ‘Preussen’? Polish Perspectives on Early Modern Prussian History

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The attitudes of Polish historical scholarship towards the history of early modern Prussia has been deeply marked by the partitions of Poland and the anti-Polish coalition between Prussia, Russia and Austria, which denied Poland its own statehood for well over a century. In contrast to nineteenth-century German ‘Landesgeschichte’, which focused on local research and archival resources, historians from Poland have usually opted to stay more within patterns of national history-writing. When the Polish state was reconstituted after the First World War, hostilities built up between German and Polish historical schools on Prussia, expressed in the National Democratic-influenced myśl zachodnia (Western thought) on the Polish side, and a not less expansionist Ostforschung on the other side of the border. It was only after the catastrophe of the Second World War, the redrawing of national borders in east central Europe, and under the influence of Marxist historical concepts in the People's Republic of Poland that nationalist approaches as well as the ‘black legend’ of the Prussia's past were temporarily suppressed and finally replaced by a more research-led scholarship. During the second half of the twentieth century, Polish historiography was in fact much quicker and more thorough than its German counterpart to forge the history of Prussia into a major academic subject. Since the 1980s, if not earlier, an extremely fruitful dialogue has developed between scholars—a dialogue which does not always penetrate journalistic and public awareness, as recent polemics surrounding the controversially planned ‘Centre for Expulsions’ in Berlin have shown.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: European History

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