The Great War and the Polish Question in Imperial Russia, 1914–1917

This is an excerpt from Great Power Policies Towards Central Europe 1914–1945. Get your free copy here.

German‑Russian antagonism was a common feature for the information space of the Russian Empire before the Great War. It was manifested in press with an abundance of ostentatious warmongering rhetoric.[1] In general, that reflected an all‑European trend: the notion of war was utilised by the contemporary literature and mass media as a source of constant public interest and, therefore, of commercial profit. Otherwise, war eloquence was interpreted as an ordinary, often non-hazardous instrument of international political bargaining.[2] The Russian Empire’s regional press of Kiev basically followed this pattern. The Polish question – a central point of this survey, remained in a shade of the profound anti‑German sentiment of the Kiev press. Yet, in the pre‑war months of 1914, the first signs of Polish involvement in the potential German‑Russian war had already appeared. Referring to the statement of Roman Dmowski, a leader of the Polish National Democratic movement in Russia, the local newspaper Kievljanin expressed its contempt for Polish political speculations. Prophetically, Dmowski forewarned the tsardom that imperial Poles would support the probable German invasion unless they were granted a separate Kingdom of Poland.[3]

This study uncovers the evolution of the Kiev press’s attitude towards the Poles within the context of the German‑Russian clash in the First World War. It examines the various techniques, by which the Polish theme was incorporated into the Russian war effort against Kaiserreich. The focus of the study derives from the fundamental wartime discourse of the German‑Russian confrontation. It should be noted that the other rival holding a significant part of the Polish territories, the Austro‑Hungarian monarchy, was only viewed as a secondary power, subordinated to Berlin’s will. Chronologically, the study covers a period of Russia’s active military commitment: from the outbreak of the war in 1914 to the Bolshevik Uprising in November of 1917, which led to the end of hostilities with the Central Powers. The article is divided into three subchapters, revealing the enthusiastic war agitation of 1914, the disillusionment of the subsequent years and the disintegration of Romanov’s Empire in 1917. Geographically, it is focused on the Southwestern Krai – a large borderland region of the Russian Empire, formed on the Southeastern territories of the former Polish‑Lithuanian Commonwealth and thus contested between Polish and Russian cultural influences. Despite the region’s predominantly Ukrainian ethnic composition,[4] tsarist authorities and Russian public opinion considered it to be naturally Russian.[5]

Kiev city was an administrative, economic and cultural centre of the Russian Southwestern Krai.[6] The Kiev press was a major media actor, traditionally speaking on behalf of the whole region.[7] At the same time, it resembled a typical provincial media, dependent upon mainstream discussions in the newspapers of Petrograd and Moscow. In 1914, the daily press of Kiev was issued in four different Slavic languages, yet more than 70% of the market belonged to Russian media.[8] At the beginning of the war, the sole Ukrainian newspaper Rada was labelled disloyal and compulsorily closed;[9] later, in 1915 the Czech newspaper ceased to exist.[10] The Polish Dziennik Kijowski remained the only non‑Russian daily until 1917. Being situated on the frontlines of WWI, the Kiev press functioned under the supervision of civil and military censors. Both were designed to suppress the anti‑government moods of the media.[11] However, after the February Revolution of 1917, civil censorship was abolished by the Russian provisional government and military censorship became de‑facto afunctional.[12] Also, the old‑regime wartime prohibition on Ukrainian and Jewish printed products became obsolete. The officially octroyed freedom of speech facilitated the emergence of diverse non‑Russian and leftist newspapers.[13]

This study is based on analysis of Kiev’s Russian‑language prominent daily newspapers: the rightist Kiev, conservative Kievljanin, ‘progressive’ (liberal/socialist) Kievskaja Mysl, Poslednie Novosti and Juzhnaja Kopeika. These newspapers reflect the entire spectrum of the city’s Russian political thought as well as the dynamics of its development. Pro‑regime, partially state subsidised Kiev and Kievljanin enjoyed relatively small circulation in 1914 (six and 16,000 respectively). Kiev embodied the local Russian nationalist group while Kievljanin was adherent to conservative ideas.[14] On the contrary, the independent ‘progressive’ newspapers were more popular (each with circulations between 55,000 and 80,000) and local censors deemed them influential.[15] The term ‘progressiveness’ designated these newspapers’ affiliations as reformist and critical to the reactionary tsarist regime. Censors maintained that these newspapers were under the Jewish auspice and promoted harmful ‘pseudoliberal’ and ‘leftist’ ideas.[16] Additionally, this study incorporates the two leading Ukrainian daily newspapers of  the 1917 revolutionary era: the social‑liberal Nova Rada (15,000 circulation) and the organ of the Ukrainian Social Democratic Labour Party Robitnycha Hazeta (9,000 circulation).[17] The paper concludes that Russian‑Ukrainian tensions diverted the press’ attention from the Polish question in late 1917.

Methodologically, the paper is built upon the concept of imagology, which explores national stereotypes and images of ‘otherness’ in conjunction with the actor’s own identity.[18] Also, Walter Lippmann’s theory of mass media is a valuable asset for this study. Lippmann suggested that the readership of newspapers participates in an everyday poll by buying a particular kind of newspaper and thereby complying with its style, information and political affiliation. Based on the experience of WWI, Lippmann’s survey asserts that the press not only influences but also reflects public opinion.[19] In Imperial Russia, the press was considered to be a primary source of public opinion since the Great Reforms of the 1860s – 1870s.[20] However, only during the pre-1914 decade did the printed media cover the needs of all the urban classes and partially infiltrate the rural areas. Great War demand for information finally boosted the imperial press to the level of mass media.[21] The Empire’s public education programme facilitated such a development: already in 1913, 54% of men and 26% of women above nine-years-old were literate.[22] No less important was the affordability of press: in 1913, even Kiev’s lowest ranking labourer spent about 5–9 roubles annually (or  1–2 % of his total income) on cultural and information needs. By comparison, the annual subscription to a penny‑newspaper (such as Juzhnaja Kopeika), amounted to only three and a half roubles.[23] Kiev’s censorial reports shed light on the distribution of press. For example, the readership of Kievskaja Mysl included the bureaucracy, clergy, military and even ‘the commonalty’ of Kiev. Moreover, thanks to the railroad network it was distributed amongst the teachers, priests, paramedics and authorities in the rural areas of the Krai.[24]

The Polish question during World War I has already been examined by a large number of prominent researchers. Among English language scholarship, Andreas Kappeler thoroughly presented the Polish question within the context of the Russian Empire’s national movements.[25] More specifically, the First World War’s impact on the Polish movement is assessed by Aviel Roshwald,[26] Eric Lohr[27] and Joshua Sanborn.[28] Roshwald uncovers the binary nature of Polish nationalism, which was developed separately by its two leaders – Jozef Pilsudski and Roman Dmowski. Eric Lohr and Joshua Sanborn depict the Great War as a catalyst for the national movement and decolonization process in the Romanov Empire. There are also some important studies in Russian that analyse Petrograd policy towards the Poles.[29] Also, considerable work on the topic is performed by Polish historians, [30] and their Ukrainian colleagues.[31] The two studies, most relevant for this research are those of Laura Engelstein and Aleksandr Astashov.[32] Both scholars reconstruct the Russian attitude towards the Germans in the context of Berlin-Petrograd’s rivalry over Poland. Engelstein’s article is centered onto the Kalisz incident of August 1914 – an example of the German military outrage that developed into a symbolic propaganda construct. Astashov’s work reveals the logic of the Russian Slavic war propaganda and, particularly, Russian policy in the Polish case.

The Polish question and the 1914 war enthusiasm

The ‘Polish question’, being a constant cultural challenge and a dangerous example of separatism, was the most difficult of the national policy of the Romanov Empire since the end of 18th century. Long‑standing Polish state tradition preserved by the native gentry resulted in two unavailing anti‑tsarist uprisings in 1830–31 and 1863. By the end of the 19th century, the Polish movement had developed into a modern national form and was highly influential for the nation‑building processes of the neighbouring Lithuanian, Belarusian and Ukrainian ethnic groups. The Congress Poland played an essential role in the 1905 Russian Revolution, compelling tsarist authorities to consider the Polish autonomy project.[33]

As a former territory of the Polish‑Lithuanian Commonwealth, the Southwestern Krai was a bone of contention between the old Polish and the new Russian elite throughout the 19th century.[34] At the end of the 19th century, Russian authorities had succeeded in marginalizing local Poles. However, this dispute accelerated the emergence of the indigenous Ukrainian national movement.[35] Thus, in the early 20th century, the imperial administration became concerned with the rise of a separate Ukrainian identity.[36] Consequently, on the eve of WWI the Polish question lost its initial importance in the Krai, yet it was still frequently covered by the Kiev press.

With the outbreak of the Great War, the Russian press became fully focused on the grand clash of the European empires, leaving the Polish factor as an inessential component of the geopolitical balance of power. Several articles published in Kiev presented the attitude towards the war of the Poles in Deutsches Reich. It was stated that these Poles preserved their loyalty to the Slavic heritage[37] and were unwilling to take the ‘strangers’ (German) side in the war.[38] The Polish theme reached a new level of importance shortly after the Deutsches Heer invasion of Congress Poland in early August 1914.[39] The enemy’s army excesses in the border city of Kalisz on August 4[40] triggered a press campaign of ‘the German atrocities.’[41] The Kalisz incident allowed media to question a popular pre‑war stereotype of the ‘highly cultured’ German nation.[42] This notion was challenged by the vivid, realistic accounts of the enemy’s ‘unimaginable barbarism’ against the civilians of the peaceful city[43]. The responsible commander, Major Preusker became a well‑known symbol of the ‘Prussian lieutenant’s brutality.’[44] By the end of August, the Kalisz episode was also interpreted as an example of German cowardice. It was believed that a massacre occurred due to the invader’s panic – fright of the possible Russian counterattack.[45] Above all, the Kalisz incident has demonstrated that the Kiev press associated the city’s indigenous Polish population with the (politically) common Russian people. In fact, the Kiev press’s reactions mirrored the broader all-Russian response: the sack of Kalisz acquired a state-wide symbolic value, thus presenting the fierce advancement of Germandom onto the Russian civilization.[46]

At the 1914 stage of the war, Kiev’s press intensively promoted an all‑Russian identity concept. The German invasion of the Congress Poland provided a necessary background to strengthen imperial patriotism.[47] Its pathos was directed onto the diverse empire’s population and aimed to fuse a politically homogeneous nation. For instance, the Kalisz incident was utilised as an insult to ‘the Russian soul and Russian conscience’[48] with the press demanding revenge on the enemy and the capture of Berlin.[49] The war had enforced a supra-ethnic connotation of the term ‘Russian.’ Occasionally, both liberal and rightist newspapers wrote about the ‘bodies of Russian martyrs’[50] and murdered Russian citizens of the small Polish town of Kalisz without referring to their ethnic origin.[51]

Since Kalisz, the press had been striving to create a rigid image of the enemy by providing numerous examples of the German crimes in Congress Poland.[52] The most notorious was the occupation of Czestochowa on 16 August 1914. Newspapers reported the desecration of Czestochowa’s famous shrine of Jasnogorski monastery. Scenes of the German brutal pillaging and sexual abuses there were intended to form the image of the German ‘antichristianity.’[53] Grotesque ‘avarice’ and ‘ignorance’ were also commonly attributed to the German invaders. For instance, the press mocked one German lieutenant who had allegedly demanded a loot in the form of red caviar after the capture of the small Congress Poland town of Konin. According to the journal, the German fallacious perception depicted the whole Russia as a ‘country of red caviar.’[54]

The official manifesto to the Poles, which was issued on 14 August 1914 by the Russian Supreme Commander Grand Duke Nicholas, marked the increasing political significance of the Polish question for the tsarist regime. [55] It proclaimed the goal of reunion of the separated Polish nation within the frame of an autonomous Poland that was ‘free in its faith, language and self‑government.’ However, Russian state elites were hesitant to implement the manifesto, which they perceived to be the sole instrument capable of retaining control over the region. Imperial policy of the forthcoming years proved Petrograd’s unwillingness to grant Poles any of the promised facilities.[56] Despite this, back in 1914, the manifesto was extensively popularised by the press. It promised ‘to unify all the parts of Poland under the sceptre of the all-Russian Tsar, and King of Poland.’[57] The press interpreted the manifesto’s vague notion of the future Poland’s boundaries as limited solely to the ethnic Polish territories.[58] Noteworthy, this vision was also relevant for the subsequent period.[59] The press rejected the idea of a greater historical Poland because of contested lands, such as the Austro‑Hungarian Galicia province – for which the Russian Empire had its own ambitions.[60]

In the agitation campaign, the press appealed to Polish historical feelings. The successive forms of German statehood – from the Teutonic Order and the Kingdom of Prussia to the Wilhemine Empire – were depicted as an ultimate cause of all of the Polish misfortunes. At the same time, press unanimously evaded the Russian‑Polish negative historical context. Thus, St Petersburg’s role in the partitions of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth was either disguised or totally omitted. Kiev’s progressive and rightist media eloquence slightly differed. The progressives were much more concerned with Berlin’s violations of Polish civil liberties, such as anti‑Polish state legislation, land property issues and cultural oppression.[61] In contrast, rightists emphasised the Teutono‑Slavic confrontation and agitated for the revival of ‘Polish‑Russian fraternization’ against the common enemy. The 1410 Battle of Grunwald, where Polish, Lithuanian and Russian troops defeated the Teutonic knights was chosen as a symbol.[62] The rightist press envisioned Russia’s historical mission in its resistance to the German ‘Drang nach Osten[63] expansion.[64] In fact, it favoured the expulsion of all German colonists out of the Polish region, blaming them to be ‘ethnic strangers,’[65] ‘spies and traitors.’[66] In late 1914, deportation campaigns and the pass of the law on enemy real estate expropriation were equally supported by the rightist press.[67]

Russian rightists portrayed the Polish nation’s lifespan under the rule of Romanov’s dynasty as a ‘century of prosperity’ if compared to the horrible 1795–1807 period of ‘Prussian domination’ in Poland.[68] They argued that the Poles should have been contented with being part of ‘the great and independent Slavic state’ of Russia, where Polish life had flourished ‘better than in a former Poland.’[69] Examples of famous and successful Polish writers and scientists from Congress Poland, such as Adam Mickiewicz, Joachim Lelewel, Teodor Narbutt, Henryk Sienkiewicz and others, were provided to reinforce the statement.[70]

As a method of agitation, the press illustrated the anti‑German and pro‑Russian attitudes of Polish public opinion. It quoted average Russian Poles, for instance an old Polish man from Warsaw who cursed the Germans as ‘Psia krow, podly szwb‘ (sic!) (‘Dog’s blood, mean Swabian’) at the same time praising the Russian soldiers – ‘our brothers by blood.’[71] Media also referred to the front experience: a group of Russian Siberian Riflemen were thrilled to receive a warm welcome ‘even here in [Russian] Poland,’ where the locals willingly presented them with ‘the brimful baskets of food and clothes.’[72] The Kiev press glorified those Poles who preserved their loyalty to the state,[73] sheltered Russian escapees[74] or were fighting the enemy.[75] It agitated the public for donations to the Polish war refugees,[76] several waves of which fled from the Congress Poland to the other regions of the empire and constituted a challenge to both the authorities and social organizations.[77] Another part of the image concerned those foreign Poles who were levied to the Deutsches Heer and Austro‑Hungarian army. They were presented as victims of state coercion, keen to surrender or even to join the Russian side.[78]

In general, in 1914, the Polish question in the press of Kiev developed as an integral part of the broad anti‑German, war supporting campaign. It should be examined within the context of an all‑European ‘civilization confrontation’ – ‘holy war’ between ‘European culture’ and ‘German barbarism,’[79] ‘Christian Europe’ and ‘German nihilism,’[80] the peaceful nations of the world and the ‘warlike descendants of the Teutons.’[81] These and similar clichés reflected the common approach of the Entente’s early war propaganda.[82]

The Polish question and the war routine (1915–1916)

The disastrous Russian military campaign of 1915 significantly affected press rhetoric. In the absence of victorious reports from the front, newspapers were unable to maintain a triumphant tone.[83] As a result, the media lost their positive argument for the restoration of unified Poland and substituted it for a no less mobilising, but essentially different, concept of the evil German occupation. The occupation theme first appeared at the end of 1914, and culminated in 1915. It consisted of several storylines, namely: German atrocities and the Reich‘s economic and political rule in Congress Poland. Additionally, the press dealt with the problem of Polish resistance and collaboration with the enemy.

German atrocities in Poland were portrayed either as spontaneous or as purposeful acts against the innocent civilian population. A typical list of outrages included robbery and looting, vandalism, desecration of churches, drunkenness, rape and murders.[84] Media tended to dramatise these misdeeds by adding numerous horrifying details. For instance, it was reported that the Germans had slaughtered all the inhabitants of the Polish Pomjany village. After the victims were driven together and locked in a building, the village was set on fire and shelled by enemy artillery. Most surprisingly, the alleged explanation for that ‘barbarity’ was the simple German desire ‘to preserve secrecy’ – so that the villagers could not have pointed out the direction of retreat to the advancing Russians.[85] The press often spoke with a gloomy irony about the acts of the ‘cultured Germans,’ who shot an old man upon his remark about soldiers looting, or who mercilessly strapped to a cannon’s side a son for his complaints about his old mother being killed by the Deutsches Heer shelling.[86] Additionally, press uncovered images of German sexual exploitation of Polish women. Most of the stories were of a tragic and moralising nature, and presented on average a group of German soldiers led by an officer, who had raped and killed young girls or women of aristocratic origin, or committed other crimes until they were killed or captured by the Russian vanguard.[87] Stories also aimed to entertain the public with a happy‑ending. For example, an account of Ms. Brzezowski illustrated an adventure of a pretty Polish lady who found herself captive at the German‑organised ‘maid market.’ She had been sold to the German Baron von Hessling and successfully endured his numerous molestations before the baron’s unfaithfulness was discovered by ‘his pious German wife.’ Consequently, the baron’s wife made a scene, liberated Ms. Brzezowski and helped her with a train ticket to Russia.[88] Apart from the sexual abuses, the Germans were stereotyped for their cynical black humour. Newspapers covered plenty of cases where the German military issued fake requisition receipts to unaware Polish owners.  In one of these it was stated that: ‘The presenter of this receipt is liable to be hanged after the end of the war;’ in the other: ‘Being grateful for the riding horse.’[89] Prussian officers allegedly boasted about the capital punishment of civilians[90] and seized jewellery out of the Warsaw stores with a promise of payment ‘when Russia will pay a billion reparations to Germany.’[91]

Berlin’s economic rule in Poland was depicted as a malicious exploitation. The press reported of the looted Polish factories, the enemy pillage of valuable industrial resources,[92] and of the army food requisitions that brought the local population to the verge of starvation.[93] It was claimed that occupational authorities intentionally created unbearable conditions in order to secure Polish labour migration to the Reich[94] and facilitate German colonization in return.[95] In general, the Russian press continued to perceive the Polish case within the 1914 paradigm of Teutono‑Slavic confrontation[96]. It asserted the German historical guilt for the 1772–1795 Partition of Poland[97] while presenting the tsarist empire as ‘the last Slavic state’ – a new victim of Prussian expansion.[98] The media uncovered the Kaiser grand plan for Russia’s partition through the creation of loyal ‘buffer‑states’ – the ‘Duchy of Poland’ and ‘Ukraine.’[99] They were concerned with the enemy policy of Germanisation,[100] such as incorporation of the Polish lands into the Hohenzollern Empire[101] and the imposition of Reich citizenship on the Poles.[102]

The press counteracted a hypocritical enemy propaganda image of Berlin as a ‘saviour of the rightless nations.’[103] It uncovered the alleged Deutsches Heer loathing for the Poles who were portrayed as ‘these scoundrels’ and ‘Polish slobs’ in intercepted enemy correspondences.[104] In return, media emphasised anti‑Prussian Polish sentiments by referring to the opinion of famous Polish writers, such as Boleslaw Prus[105], Wladyslaw Reymont[106], Henryk Sienkiewicz[107] and Szymon Askenazy[108]. For instance, an excerpt from the pen of W. Reymont depicted a scene of Germanisation in school, where a fat red‑haired German tutor harassed a little Polish girl for her refusal to repeat the prayer in German; likewise, the press referred to Askenazy’s work, Rosja – Polska: 1815–1830, presenting an idea of a ‘Teutonic threat’ to the Slavic nations.

In the first half of 1915, when Petrograd was still controlling the main body of Congress lands, the press continued to commend Polish loyalty. It was implied that a ‘Polish patriot’ should defend his motherland against the ‘gluttonous imperialism of Iron Prussia.’ As a reward, Poland’s restoration was promised – but only ‘under the sceptre of the Russian Tsar’ and only after the war.[109] On the contrary, pro‑Kaiser Polish forces were considered politically marginal.[110] The press stigmatised Polish legionnaires – volunteers in the Austro‑Hungarian army[111] – as petty looters and drunkards – the ‘pets of Germany.’[112] Unlike the volunteers, the enemy conscripts of Polish origin were treated in a conciliatory manner. The press noted the tragedy of the Polish nation, whose sons were forced to battle each other because of the whim of the ‘God damned German Lucifer [Kaiser Wilhelm II].’[113] It promoted the idea that the Poles from Deutsches Heer would peacefully surrender to their ‘Polish brothers,’ who were fighting on the ‘right’ Entente’s side both in the West[114] and on the Eastern front.[115]

By the end of summer 1915, Russian newspapers were greatly depressed with the ‘heaviest German stroke’ which resulted in the loss of a ‘Beautiful Poland.’[116] In the new circumstances, the question of Polish resistance and collaboration became the primary interest of the press. Media endeavoured to secure Polish loyalty, or at least to counteract the growing enemy influence by appealing to the Polish national sentiment.

Russian rightist press was the most active in presenting the Polish resistance image. This was because the progressive media’s general reorientation shifted from the war theme towards the internal problems of the state, such as living‑standard deterioration. Instead, rightists tended to overshadow the Grand Retreat topic with examples of Polish gallantry.[117] Most prominent was the story of Warsaw school teacher Stanislav Poleszczanski, who barricaded himself in the apartment and fired back at the invading German troops until he was wounded heavily, captured and hanged.[118] The press created an atmosphere of the all-nation resistance, reporting about the numerous executions and imprisonments of Polish sympathisers of Russia[119] and, in general, of ‘everyday clashes’ between the people and the ‘German punitive raid forces.’[120] For instance, newspapers informed about public unrest in Czestohowa and Lodz, where occupants attempted to steal the church icons, and in Warsaw, where Poles participated in bread riots[121]and lynched drunken ‘German looters.’[122] Passive resistance was equally commended.[123] For example, newspapers greeted the sabotage, performed by the Central Residents’ Committee of Warsaw (Polish self‑governance authority) towards a red‑carpet welcome of the arriving German Prince Leopold of Bavaria.[124]

In spite of being negative to ‘Polish national egotism,’ rightist press utilised it to create an image of German‑Polish enmity.[125] By doing this, it aimed to undermine the existing and also potentially pro‑Berlin Polish sentiments. For instance, it was reported that a Deutsches Heer Lieutenant of Polish origin, Count Poninski was executed for his anti‑German conversation with local Poles.[126] Another episode described the occupants’s prohibition of the arrival of the popular Polish legion’s leader Jozef Pilsudski[127] to Warsaw for an arranged patriotic meeting.[128] Politically, the press attempted to prove that pro‑Berlin Poles – those ‘Prussian servants’ – failed to achieve their goal of Poland’s independence by means of collaboration with the Reich.[129] Its government, stated the press, had been pursuing solely its own adverse policy.[130] In late autumn 1915, shortly after the Austro-German conquest of Congress lands, the Polish question had almost entirely disappeared from the public space. Occasional news concerned the notorious problem of ‘German atrocities’[131] and, more specifically, of starvation in Poland. Russian rightists presented starvation as an intentional ‘horrible German policy,’ aimed at the Polish nation’s annihilation and ensuing Polish land grab.[132] In the first half of 1916, rightist Kiev was the only newspaper contributing to the Polish theme. Yet, it had articulated the question ambiguously and in the context of Pan‑Slavic doctrine.[133] In essence, Kiev supported the idea of an ‘ancient Polish state’ restoration on the basis of Polish ethnic lands[134] – of Prussia, Russian Congress Poland and even some of the ethnographically disputable parts of the Russian Suwalki and Grodno provinces.[135] Furthermore, it was stated that Petrograd had recognised the right of self‑determination for the Slavic nations and sought no political control over Poland[136]. On the contrary, the same newspaper proclaimed the goal of Russia’s supervision over the supposed Slavic alliance: ‘Not a single Slavic state but a family of Slavic states in which the Russ – the big brother’ was destined to protect the ‘younger brothers’ from the German intrigues – ‘the betrayal of the Slavs.’[137]

The Polish question was instigated once again in reaction to the Central Powers’s proclamation of the Kingdom of Poland on 5 November 1916. The press unanimously stigmatised the Act as obvious ‘German hypocrisy.’[138] The Act was interpreted as ‘irretrievable’ to the German‑Russian relations, yet hardly effective to spoil Russian‑Polish relations. The press’s optimism derived from the following considerations: first, ‘German made’ Poland was incomplete without the Polish ethnic lands in Prussia; second, it was Petrograd’s only authority to legitimise part of its own territory as an independent Poland; third, ‘the vital interests’ of Poland were in its association with Russia.[139]

Impelled by Austro-German activity, newspapers sought the justification of the postponement of the Russian‑promised restoration of Poland. They argued that the Polish question was ‘international’ and, therefore, could only be solved by the post-war peace conference.[140] Furthermore, the press insisted on a thorough legal procedure: while Congress Poland de jure remained an inherent part of the empire[141], the decision on its autonomy required the consent of both the tsar and the State Duma.[142]

Media diminished the value of the enemy‑granted Polish autonomy in order to counteract the growth of pro‑German sentiment. The autonomy was presented as a ‘Prussian trap,’ designed solely to replace the Deutsches Heer losses with Polish manpower.[143] Poles were reminded of a century‑long ‘German treachery’ – from the initial settlement of Teutons in the 12th century to the latest agreement with the Prussian king Friedrich Wilhelm II (1786–97).[144] Press also ridiculed the pro‑Berlin ‘Polish petty patriots,’ who had sacrificed their ambition for the united Poland restoration. While leaving Poznan and West Prussia to Germany, these Poles vainly expected to enlarge their country in the East at the expense of Russia.[145] ‘The great political scandal’ occurred when the Reich‘s government rejected the claims of the Polish Provisional Council of State for the Courland and Lithuania – i.e. for the lands, which in Polish opinion ‘were liberated from the Russian yoke and historically gravitated to Poland.’[146]

In early 1917, common Polish loyalty was publicly questioned for the first time. The rightist press became critical towards the ambivalent Polish identity –’Slavic,’ yet committed to the ‘Western culture.’ Kievljanin argued that this Western orientation was intentionally anti‑Russian. It also acknowledged that Poles were hostile to both Germans and Russians, thus presenting a potential territorial menace for the two empires. However, geopolitically the prospective Poland was deemed to be non self‑sufficient and evaluated as an object of perpetual Berlin‑Petrograd rivalry.[147] Anxious about the retaining of Poland within the Russian sphere of influence, media confronted any idea other than that of Polish autonomy.[148] In a new fashion, autonomy was presented as a ‘fraternal’ political union with Russia, guided by the principle of ‘association of the equal with the equal, of the free with the free’ between Poles and Russians.[149] Still, it lacked consistency, stating ad locum that Russia as ‘the most powerful and the largest among the Slavic states’ was to assume the leading role in the union.[150] Thus, Poland was envisioned as an ‘outpost’ of the Russian-controlled ‘Slavic civilization,’ within the context of struggle with the ‘German World.’[151]

The Polish question during the 1917 February Revolution

The February Revolution in Petrograd resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicholas II (1894–17) and the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty in March 1917. However, besides the radical political transformation of the imperial regime into a parliamentarian form of government, the Revolution had initially no significant impact on either territorial integrity or public identification with the common Russian state. The former empire’s Southwestern Krai was just the same. Despite the emergence of the Ukrainian national movement, the region remained an inherent part of the united Russian state until its collapse in early November 1917. For this period, the original Ukrainian aspirations were limited to national‑cultural autonomy, thus leaving the movement within the legal frames of the state.[152]

The Kiev press continued to exist in a unified all‑Russian information space. Yet, the revolution changed the discussed theme priorities, with much attention diverted from the war with the Central Powers to the urgent domestic issues of the state.[153] Consequently, the Kiev press’s interest in the Polish question also declined.

To start with the most popular, the Russian progressive press of Kiev mentioned the Polish case extremely rarely and mostly in the context of the Revolution. Poland served as an example for the region’s most prominent Russian‑Ukrainian argument over the autonomy of Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian position, the Russian provisional government’s reluctance towards Ukrainian aspirations was an act of ‘hypocrisy’ on the part of the Russian democratic movement – since both Finland’s and Poland’s political autonomies had already been recognised.[154] Apart from this, the Polish case was also mentioned within the contemporary ‘fraternization’ discussion.[155] Namely, the author agitated for ‘revolutionary fraternization’ with German soldiers of Polish origin who were considered to be peace‑willing unlike their ethnic German counterparts.[156] Lastly, the press reminded the public of the continuous German intention to create a loyal Polish puppet state[157].

Revived after the fall of the tsarist regime, the Ukrainian press formed its attitude towards Poland on the grounds of its own national interests. The Ukrainian press utilised the Polish precedent as a supportive example for the Ukrainian ‘national‑cultural autonomy’ argument.[158] The leading daily Nova Rada was aware of Poland’s dependent status in relations to the Central Powers, yet it considered German ‘narrow but effective’ steps in the creation of ‘independent Poland’ to be more significant than empty Russian ‘broad promises.’[159] Disappointed by the hostility of the Russian democracy, the Ukrainian movement, thus, implicitly considered the Polish pro‑Berlin example as an alternative solution for its national aspirations.[160] Eventually, Nova Rada regarded German and Russian imperial influences as temporary obstacles for Polish national state development.[161]

Nova Rada demonstrated its amicability towards the Polish nation and, in particular, towards the Polish minority in Ukraine. It commended local Poles for their recognition of the Ukrainian right to national self‑determination and regularly cited encouraging articles of Kiev’s Polish daily Dziennik Kijowski.[162]. The latter affirmed that the Poles were ‘the closest and natural allies of the Ukrainian national liberation’ from the Russian imperial yoke.[163] While the majority of Poles were regarded as sincere supporters of Ukrainians, Nova Rada also mentioned the inimical group of Polish national democrats who were an ‘exception from the friendship of the two nations.’[164] On the contrary, the Ukrainian social‑democratic Robitnycha Hazeta focused on the Polish–Ukrainian disagreement. It confronted the above mentioned Polish ‘chauvinistic’ group’s claim for Greater Poland ‘from the sea to the sea’ – i.e., with the inclusion of Kiev and the large portion of the Ukrainian ethnic lands.[165] Consequently, the newspaper was concerned with the probable Polish military occupation of Ukraine.[166]

Although Russian rightists had initially welcomed the Revolution, shortly after they became both disappointed and profoundly marginalized by its outcome.[167] Russian rightist ideology was founded on the key principle of state territorial integrity and loyalty to the Entente. Therefore, Kievljanin acknowledged its amicability towards the Poles, who participated in the Polish national units of the Russian army,[168] struggled against the common German enemy,[169]and supported the ‘Russian democratic state’ in general.[170] The newspaper continued to evaluate Poland from the context of the idea of the ‘One and indivisible Great Russia.’ A contemporary Russian imagination embraced Warsaw as ‘…the heart of a free Poland…beautiful eye of the single all‑Slavic entity, whose head and body are Russian…’[171] Particularly, Kievljanin insisted that Poland simply could not exist ‘beyond Russia’ because otherwise it would be doomed by the Deutsches Reich.[172]

Kievljanin’s agitation of 1917 combined traditional appeals towards Polish loyalty[173] and warnings of the Prussian evil[174] with a revolutionary rhetoric, addressed to the ‘Eagle of a New Poland’ urging to join the free nations’s ‘fight against the tyranny of imperialist Germany.’[175] However, the Polish Provisional Council of State’s reply to Petrograd’s provisional government proclamation ‘to the Poles’ of March 1917[176] worsened Kievljanin’s attitude. The newspaper interpreted the ‘cold and restrained hostility’ of official Warsaw as a sign of its anti‑Russian policy.[177] Furthermore, the recognition of Germany as Poland’s independence guarantor[178] was stigmatised as a Polish statesmen’s treachery – implying ‘that the enemies of Russia, England, France and America – are the friends of Poland.’[179] Yet, to soften the confrontation, Kievljanin soon underlined the unrepresentativeness of the pro‑Berlin Polish authority.[180]As a result, the press summoned the Poles in Revolutionary Russia to form their own political centre and disregard the treacherous ‘Old Warsaw’ (though, with a prospect of its further liberation).[181]

Observing the disintegration of the state from 1917, Russian rightists perceived the German-granted Polish independence as a negative and virulent symbol to follow. Their primary concern in the Southwestern Krai was the Ukrainian national movement, which threatened to replicate the Polish experience. It should be noted that the ‘German instigated Ukrainian peril’ was another popular topic of the Russian press throughout the war. In 1917, Kievljanin confronted the Ukrainian aspiration for autonomy, stating that the Central Council of Ukraine resembled the Polish Provisional Council of State. With a grim irony the newspaper proposed that Ukrainians  ‘go ahead and ask the German emperor Wilhelm’ for ‘Polish style’ independence.[182]

By autumn of 1917, the Russian Republic was on the brink of collapse due to army decay, unsolved socio‑economic problems and, ultimately, society’s war weariness.[183] Kiev press reflected this decadent mood, presenting examples of public acceptance of Russia’s war defeat.[184] Kievljanin complained about the indifference of the mass of citizens who perceived a possible German ‘wealthy country’ occupation of Russia as a better option than the misery of their own state. The newspaper reported of the Moscow street mob exclaiming ‘…we used to live under Nicholas so we could not care less about the life under Wilhelm [Hohenzollern].’[185] These observations led Kievljanin to the conclusion of the German victory over the Slavdom and Russia.[186] The emergence of a pro‑Berlin Polish state was considered an inherent part of this enemy triumph.[187]

The Bolshevik Uprising in November of 1917 marked the end of the Russian democratic regime. It also triggered Russian state disintegration, for the non‑Russian national periphery had refused to recognise the Bolshevik order. As a result, a de‑facto separate Ukrainian People’s Republic was proclaimed in Kiev on 20 November 1917. These events reshaped both the focus and the mood of Kiev’s printed media. As with others, the press discussion of the Polish question became completely obsolete. At the same time, the very notion of a common all‑Russian information space ceded to exist with the start of Soviet Russia’s aggression against Ukraine in December 1917.


Throughout the period of 1914–1917, the Polish question in the Russian press was incorporated within the German‑Russian Great War confrontation theme. At the outbreak of the war, it was a mere rhetorical construction, applied as a pretext for the anti‑German campaign and aimed at boosting the empire’s war effort. However, the original enthusiastic mood had vanished in 1915 due to war routinisation and the Russian army’s Great Retreat from the Congress Poland. The subsequent enemy occupation raised the issue of Polish loyalty. It became a burning question by the time of the Austro‑German proclamation of the Kingdom of Poland in late 1916. Since then the Polish question was closely connected to the problem of national state building and resembled a Berlin‑Petrograd contest over Polish sympathy. The 1917 February Revolution marked the decline of interest to the Polish question, while the press shifted to domestic political issues. The Revolution also enabled the freedom of speech, thus presenting different opinions on the Polish question.

This research’s findings correspond to the Russian imperial borderland region of the Southwestern Krai and not general Russian perception. However, they thoroughly reflect the peculiarities of the Russian information space of the contested western margins of the Romanov’s Empire. Furthermore, this study’s methodological framework and the supplementary data on the composition of Kiev’s population, press distribution and political affiliation, bring a broader conclusion. Namely, that the image of the Poles constructed by the Kiev press both reflected and influenced the attitudes of its mass readership. In general, this article illustrates the painful process of the collapse of the Russian imperial worldview: from a once stable observation of Polish inclusion into Russia’s body, to the bitter apprehension of Poland’s loss. Apparently, the Russian press’s recognition of the existence of a separate pro‑Berlin Poland was conditioned by the 1917 Russian Empire’s disintegration process. For the Russian press in Southwestern Krai, this took the form of a Ukrainian national movement challenge. Eventually, the Polish question became obsolete when the region’s ruling Russian minority faced the question of Ukrainian autonomy – an issue of ‘another Poland’ for the all‑Russian nationalism in the impending Russian‑Ukrainian struggle of the Revolutionary era.


[1] Boris Kotov, ‘Obraz  Germanii v russkoj presse v period ‘gazetnoj vojny’ vesny 1914 goda,’ Vestnik Moskovskogo gosudarstvennogo oblastnogo universiteta, 3 (2011): 87–97.; Nikolaj Judin, ‘Problema podgotovlennosti obshhestvennogo mnenija stran Antanty k vojne na primere ‘Gazetnoj vojny’ 1914 goda,’ (paper presented at the International scientific youth forum ‘Lomonosov-2011’, Moskva, MGU imeni M.V. Lomonosova, Rossija, 2011).

[2] Niall Ferguson, The Pity of War. Bath: The Penguin Press, 1998, 11–20.

[3] ‘Nelepoe zapugivanie,’ Kievljanin, 16 January 1914, 2.

[4] In 1917 the Ukrainians amounted for the 75.5% of the region’s total population while the Russians – only 3.4 % and the Poles – 9 % respectively. See: Tamara Lazans’ka, ‘Narodonaselennya Ukrayiny’ in: ‘Ukrayins’ke pytannya’ v Rosiys’kiy imperiyi (kinets’ XIX – pochatok XX st.), Part 1, Kyiv: Instytut istoriyi Ukrayiny, 1999, 78–81.

[5] Ukrainians were considered to be a part of the all‑Russian nation by both the state ideology and the Russian public opinion of the late imperial era. See: Alexei Miller, The Romanov Empire and Nationalism. Essays in the Methodology of Historical Research, Budapest–New York: Central European University Press, 2008, 161–81.

[6] According to Isaac Bisk, in 1917 Kiev’s population amounted approximately 470,000. The largest share of 49.9% was ethnic Russian while the Ukrainians held only 12 % of the city dwellers, another 4.4 % identified themselves as the Little Russians (Malorossy); the Poles consisted 9.1%, other nationalities – 24.95 % of the population. See: Lazans’ka, ‘Narodonaselennya Ukrayiny’, 78–111.

[7] Volodymyr Molchanov, Zhyttyevyy riven miskoho naselennya Pravoberezhnoyi Ukrayiny (1900–1914 rr.), Kyiv: In-t Istoriyi Ukrayiny NAN Ukrayiny, 2005, 181–2.

[8] Mihail Shhegolev, ‘Prilozhenie k otchetu po periodicheskoj pechatiza 1914 god.’ Kiev, 1 July 1915, 4 // Tsentral’nyy derzhavnyy arkhiv Ukrayiny u m. Kyyevi (The Central State Historical Archive of Ukraine in Kyiv (hereafter, TsDIAK Ukrainy)), Collection 295, Box 1, Folder 579, page 53 rev., Kyiv, Ukraine.

[9] Shhegolev, ‘Prilozhenie k otchetu po periodicheskoj pechatiza 1914 god,’ 22.

[10] Mihail Shhegolev, ‘Otchet po periodicheskoj pechati Kievskogo vremennogo komiteta po delam pechati za 1915 god.’ Kiev, 7 aprelja 1916, 4 // TsDIAK Ukrainy, Collection 295, Box 1, Folder 579, page 75 rev., Kyiv, Ukraine.

[11] Oleksandr Kyriyenko, ‘Viys’kova tsenzura tylovykh huberniy Kyyivs’koho viys’kovoho okruhu (1914–1917 rr.),’ Ukrayins’kyy istorychnyy zbirnyk, 13/1 (2010): 182–92.

[12] Oleksandr Kyriyenko, ‘Rosiys’ka viys’kova tsenzura v ukrayins’kykh huberniyakh za chasiv Tymchasovoho uryadu,’ Problemy istoriyi Ukrayiny XIX – pochatku XX st., 19 (2011), 27–36.

[13] Oleksandr Mukomela, Na zlami vikiv: Ukrayins’ka zhurnalistyka na pochatku XX st., Kyiv: Hramota, 2010, 48.

[14] Shhegolev, ‘Prilozhenie k otchetu po periodicheskoj pechati za 1914 god,’ 6, 12.

[15] Mihail Shhegolev, ‘Otchet po periodicheskoj pechati Kievskogo vremennogo komiteta po delam pechati za 1914 god.’ Kiev, 15 April 1915, 2–3 // TsDIAK Ukrainy, Collection 295, Box 1, Folder 579, pages 11 rev.–12, Kyiv, Ukraine.

[16] Shhegolev, ‘Prilozhenie k otchetu po periodicheskoj pechati za 1914 god,’ 5–6.

[17] Komissar g. Kieva Dorotov, ‘Spisok proizvedenij pechati na ukrainskom jazyke, vypushhennyh v svet v gor. Kieve v 1917 g. po 4 dekabrja i zaregistrirovannyh v kanceljarii komissara po gorodu Kievu.’ Kiev, 5 dekabrja 1917, 1 // Derzhavnyy arkhiv m. Kyyeva, Collection 292, Box 1, Folder 62, page 34, Kyiv, Ukraine.

[18] Manfred Beller, ‘Perception, image, imagology,’ in: Imagology: the cultural construction and literary representation of national characters: a critical survey, edited by Manfred Beller and JoepLeerssen, Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2007, 3–16.

[19] Walther Lippmann, Public Opinion, New Brunswick: Free Press, 1997, 317–337.

[20] Boris Mironov, Social’naja istorija Rossii perioda imperii (XVIII-nachalo XX v.). Volume 2, Saint-Petersburg: Dmitrij Bulanin, 2000, 252.

[21] Svetlana Mahonina, Istorija russkoj zhurnalistiki nachala XX veka, (Moskva: Flinta, 2004) – Vremja i pressa (1890-e—1918 gg.), accessed June 09, 2015,

[22] Boris Mironov, Social’naja istorija Rossii, 294–295.

[23] Volodymyr Molchanov, Zhyttyevyy riven’, 182.

[24] Mihail Shhegolev, ‘Prilozhenija k Otchetu po periodicheskoj pechati Kievskogo vremennogo komiteta po delam pechati za 1913 g.’ Kiev, 17 July 1914, 9 // TsDIAK Ukrainy, Collection 295, Box 1, Folder 438, page 302, Kyiv, Ukraine.

[25] Andreas Kappeler, The Russian Empire: A Multiethnic History, Harlow: Longman, 2001.

[26] Aviel Roshwald, Ethnic Nationalism and the Fall of Empires: Central Europe, Russia and the Middle East, 1914-1923. London: Routledge, 2001.

[27] Eric Lohr, ‘War nationalism,’ in: The Empire and Nationalism at War, eds. Eric Lohr, Vera Tolz, and Alexander Semyonov, 91–108, Bloomington: Slavica, 2014.

[28] Joshua Sanborn, Imperial Apocalypse: The Great War and the Destruction of the Russian Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

[29] Nikolaj Dobronravin, ‘Rossija i nepriznannye gosudarstva v period Pervoj mirovoj vojny 1914–1916 gg.,’ Novejshaja istorija Rossii: mezhdisciplinarnyj nauchno-teoreticheskij zhurnal, 3/10, (2014): 60–73; Svetlana Fal’kovich, ‘Pol’skij vopros v treh rossijskih revoljucijah,’ in: Revoljucionnaja Rossija 1917 goda i pol’skij vopros: Novye istochniki, novye vzgljady, 20–27, Moskva: Institut slavjanovedenija RAN, 2009; Gennadij Matveev, ‘Fevral’skaja revoljucija v Rossii i pol’skij vopros,’ in: Revoljucionnaja Rossija 1917 goda i pol’skij vopros: Novye istochniki, novye vzgljady, 85–92, Moskva: Institut slavjanovedenija RAN, 2009.’; Aleksandra Bahturina, ‘Pol’sha, Ukraina, Galicija v politicheskih planah Rossijskoj Imperii, Avstro-Vengrii i Germanii v 1916 g.,’ in: Politika Rossijskoj Imperii v Vostochnoj Galicii v gody Pervoj mirovoj vojny, 203–213,  Moskva: AJRO-XX, 2000.

[30] Andrzej Nowak, ‘Imperialna polityka Rosji wobec Polski 1795–1914,’ in: Polacy, Rosjanie i Biesy. Studia i szkice historyczne z XIX i XX wieku, 11–24, Kraków: Arcana, 1998; Andrzej Chwalba, Polacy w służbie Moskali, Warszawa—Kraków: Wydawn. Nauk. PWN, 1999; Leszek Jaśkiewicz, ‘Carat i sprawy polskie na przełomie XIX i XX wieku,’ Pułtusk: Wyższa Szkoła Humanistyczna, 2001; Aleksander Achmatowicz, Polityka Rosji w kwestii polskiej w pierwszym roku Wielkiej Wojny, 1914–1915, Warszawa : Instytut Historii PAN, 2003; Marian Zgórniak, ‘Terytorium Polski w planach wojennych państw centralnych i Rosji w chwili wybuchu pierwszej wojny światowej – 1914 rok,’ Kwartalnik poświęcony historii XX w., 36/3 (2004): 16–32.

[31] Vladyslav Boyechko, ‘Aktyvizatsiya pol’s’kykh natsional’nykh syl u period Pershoyi svitovoyi viyny (1914–1918) ta vidrodzhennya Nezalezhnoyi Pol’shchi,’ Naukovi pratsi. Istoriya, 195 (2012): 40–48; Morushko Oleksandr, ‘Pol’s’ke pytannya na pochatku Pershoyi svitovoyi viyny,’ Visnyk NU Derzhava ta armiya, 408 (2000): 183–7; Mariya Pan’kiv, ‘Polyaky v rosiys’kiy imperiyi. Ohlyad suchasnoyi pol’s’koyi istoriohrafiyi,’ Skhid-Zakhid: Istoryko-kul’turolohichnyy zbirnyk, 9–10 (2008): 319–34.

[32] Laura Engelstein, ’A Belgium of our own’ the sack of Russian Kalisz, August 1914,’ in: Fascination and Enmity: Russia and Germany as Entangled Histories, 1914–1945, ed. Michael David-Fox, Peter Holquist, Alexander M. Martin, 13–38, Pittsburgh:University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012; Aleksandr Astashov, ‘Slavjanskaja’ propaganda Rossii protiv ‘germanizma’,’ in: Propaganda na Russkom fronte v gody Pervoj mirovoj vojny, (Moskva: Speckniga, 2012), accessed 23 July 2018.

[33] Kappeler, The Russian Empire, 213–46, 328–69.

[34] Leonid Gorizontov, ‘The Geopolitical Dimension of Russian-Polish Confrontation in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries,’ in:  Polish Encounters, Russian Identity, ed. David Ransel and Bozena Shallcross, 122–43, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005.

[35] Roshwald, Ethnic Nationalism, 24.

[36] Kappeler, The Russian Empire, 328–69.

[37] ‘Demonstracija v Poznanskomcirke,’ Poslednie Novosti, 23 July, 1914, 2.M. (morning issue).

[38] ‘Nastroenie poljakov v Germanii,’ Poslednie Novosti, 23 July, 1914, 2.M.

[39] Sanborn, Imperial Apocalypse, 55.

[40] The study employs a Gregorian calendar. However, footnotes to the newspapers’s articles are presented according to the original Julian calendar.

[41] Hereafter the quotation marks are used to indicate the original labels of the press.

[42] D. Skrynchenko,’Vot tak kul’tura!..,’ Kiev, 1 August, 1914, 2.

[43] ‘Prusskaja gnusnost’,’ Poslednie Novosti, 1 August, 1914, 1.E. (evening issue).

[44] A. Kacheurov, ‘Vozmezdie,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 6 August 1914, 2.

[45] G. Dorofeev,’Germanskaja psihika,’ Kiev, 29 August, 1914, 1.

[46] Engelstein, ”A Belgium of our own”, 19–25.

[47] ‘Nemcy v Kalishe. Zapiska revizora kalishsko petrovskogo akciznogo upravlenija inzhener tehnologa Jedmunda Ivanovicha Oppmana,’ Kiev, 24 August, 1914, 2.; Vl. Sokolov (uchenik V klassa Kievskoj 6 jgimnazii), ‘Slavjanam,’ Kiev, 27 August 1914, 2;

[48] Aleksandr Jablonovskij, ‘Nemeckie neistovstva,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 4 August 1914, 1–2.

[49] Omikron, ‘Malen’kij fel’eton. Pred nachalom,’ Kiev, 9 August 1914, 2.; Figaro, ‘Nenavist’ k nemcam,’ Kiev, August 10, 1914, 3; JakovNivich, ‘Til’zit,’ Kiev, 15 August 1914, 3.

[50] Jablonovskij, ‘Nemeckie neistovstva,’ 1–2.

[51] Figaro, ‘Nenavist’ k nemcam,’ 3.

[52] Vladimir S***,’Mysli vsluh,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 13 August 1914, 2.

[53] ‘Germanskie zverstva v Chenstohove,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 5 August 1914, 1–2.

[54] Aleksandr Jablonovskij, ‘Na voennye temy,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 17 August 1914, 2.

[55] Mihail Dolbilov, Aleksej Miller (eds.), Zapadnye okrainy Rossijskoj imperii Moskva: Novoe literaturnoe obozrenie, 2007, 413.

[56] Sergey Poznyak, ‘Pol’skij vopros’ vo vlastnyh strukturah imperatorskoj Rossii nakanune i v gody Pervoj mirovoj vojny’. Rossijskie i slavjanskie issledovanija: 1 (2004); 159–73.

[57] Volynec, ‘Nemcy i poljaki,’ 2; A. Volynec, ‘Nemcy i poljaki,’ Kiev, 6 September 1914, 1.

[58] Ani, ‘Galickaja Rus’. ІІІ.,’ Kiev, 8 September 1914, 2.

[59] A. Lunacharskij, ‘Dva referata ,’Kievskaja Mysl’, 26 April 1915, 2.

[60] Russian propaganda considered the Austro‑Hungarian territories of Galicia, Bukovina and Carpathian Ruthenia as historical parts of Russia and referred to their population as to the ‘Russian people’. Therefore, it proclaimed the goal of liberation and subsequent reunification with the Russian ‘Motherland’ (See: Astashov, ”Slavjanskaja’ propaganda Rossii protiv ‘germanizma’,’).

[61] L. L–skij, ‘Poljaki v Prussii,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 4 August 1914, 1; L. L–skij, ‘Bor’ba protiv poljakov v Prussii,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 7 August 1914, 1; ‘Pol’sha,’ Kievskaja Mysl, 8 November 1914, 2.

[62] ‘Grjunval’denskaja bitva,’ Kievljanin, 6 August 1914, 2.

[63] German ‘Drang nach Osten‘ denotes the ‘Drive to the East’. It was broadly used by the Entente propaganda (Vejas Liulevicius, The German Myth of the East, Oxford: OUP, 2009, 13.).

[64] Knigochij, ‘Iz proshlogo Vostochnoj Prussii,’ Kiev, 27 August 1914, 2.

[65] A. Volynec,’Nasha vnutrennjaja nemetchina. І.,’ Kiev, 18 September, 1914, 1; A. Volynec,’Nasha vnutrennjaja nemetchina ІІ.,’ Kiev, 20 September 1914, 1.

[66] D. Skrynchenko,’O nemcah v Rossii,’ Kiev, 24 August 1914, 1.

[67] ‘Nemeckoe zemlevladenie v Rossii,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 23 February 1915, 4; A. Kajskij, ‘Germanskaja kolonizacija,’ Kiev ,18 March 1915, 3.

[68] A. Volynec, ‘Nemeckie appetity na Pol’shu,’ Kiev, 8 August 1914, 2.

[69] A. Volynec, ‘Nemcy i poljaki,’ Kiev, 14 August 1914, 2.

[70] Volynec, ‘Nemcy i poljaki,’ 2.

[71] Man, ‘Iz razgovorov na vokzale,’ Kiev, 31 July 1914, 4.

[72] ‘Okolovojny. Sibirskie strelki,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 1 November 1914, 4.

[73] ‘Rasstrel portreta knjazja Radzivilla,’ Poslednie Novosti, 28 October 1914, 2.M.

[74] Nik.Ivanov, ‘Jepizody. (Iz Carstva Pol’skogo). І. Iz plena.,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 13 December 1914, 3.

[75] ‘Uzh ne nachalo li konca?’ Kiev, 5 October, 1914, 2.

[76] Jenzis, ‘Iz nabljudenij v nemeckom plenu. ІV. Djoberic.,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 6 October 1914, 1–2; Garol’d, ‘Rifmy dnja. Segodnjashnij plakat ‘Kiev – Pol’she’,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 4 November 1914, 5; A. Ezhov, ‘Poslednie da budut pervymi!’Kievljanin, 20 January 1915, 2.

[77] Tetyana Lykhachova,’Pol’s’ki bizhentsi chasiv pershoyi svitovoyi viyny u suchasniy istoriohrafiyi,’Zbirnyk naukovykh prats’ Kharkivs’koho natsional’noho pedahohichnoho universytetu imeni H. S. Skovorody, 46 (2012): 215–9.

[78] Nemo, ‘Sredi plennyh,’ Kiev, September 13, 1914, 3; ‘Nashvrag,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 27 October 1914, 2.

[79] ‘Vsepobezhdajushhaja sila,’ Kievljanin, 2 August 1914, 1.

[80] F. L’vov, ‘Kulachnoe pravo,’ Kiev, 21 August 1914, 1.

[81] Bajan, ‘Voinstvujushhij germanizm,’ Kiev, 1 August 1914, 2.

[82] Nikolaj Judin, ‘Sozdanie obraza vraga v propagande stran Antanty v nachale Pervoj mirovoj vojny (avgust-dekabr’ 1914),’Izvestija Saratovskogo universiteta. Novaja serija. Serija ‘Istorija. Mezhdunarodnye otnoshenija’ series, 12/3 (2012):  50–9.

[83] Aleksandra Bahturina, ‘Vozzvanie k poljakam 1 avgusta 1914 g. i ego avtory,’ Voprosy istorii, 8 (1998), 134.

[84] ‘Hronika vojny. Pod igom prussakov,’ Kiev, 9 March 1915, 2; ‘Nemeckie zverstva,’ Poslednie Novosti, 9 March 1915, 2; ‘Sredi nemcev,’ Kievljanin, 14 June 1915, 3; ‘Nemeckoe nashestvie (Rasskaz postradavshego),’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 8 December 1914, 2; ‘Shpionomanija,’ Poslednie Novosti, 15 May 1915, 1; ‘Nemcy nasil’niki,’ Poslednie Novosti, 28 September 1915, 2; ‘Ugroza komendanta g. Chenstohova,’ Kievljanin, 2 June 1915, 2; E. Jan–ok, ‘Pust’ krasnejut!’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 19 July 1915 , 3.

[85] ‘Varvarstvo prussakov,’ Kiev, 14 February 1915, 3.

[86] ‘Nemcy v Privisljan’e,’ Kiev, 6 March 1915, 3.

[87] ‘Varvarstvo nemcev,’ Poslednie Novosti, 1 April 1915, 2; ‘Chernye dni krasavicy Varshavy,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, August 10, 1915, 1; ‘Okolo vojny. V Loviche,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 1 November, 1914, 4.

[88] ‘Rynok nevol’nic,’ Poslednie Novosti, 14 May 1915, 1.

[89] ‘Okolovojny. Prusskoe ostroumie,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 22 September 1914, 2.

[90] ‘Prusskaja shutka,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 16 November 1914, 5.

[91] ‘Germancy v Varshave,’ Kievljanin, 24 August, 1915, 2.

[92] ‘Vyvoz nemcami medi iz Lodzi,’ Kiev, 13 February 1915, 3.

[93] A. A–ch, ‘IzChenstohova,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 7 January 1915, 1–2; A. A–ch, ‘Hozjajnichanie nemcev,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, January 12, 1915, 1; ‘Vesti iz Chenstohova,’ Kievljanin, 14 April 1915, 2; ‘Hronika vojny. Iz okkupirovannoj germancami Pol’shi,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 16 September 1915, 3; ‘Germanskij rezhim v Lodzi,’ Kievljanin, 10 December 1915, 2.

[94] A. A–ch, Nemcy v pol’skoj provincii,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 18 January 1915, 2; A. A–ch, ‘Nemcy v Bendine,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 3 February 1915, 1; ‘Vesti iz zanjatyh germancami mest,’ Poslednie Novosti, 1 December 1915, 2.

[95] ‘Nemeckie plany,’ Kievljanin, 12 July 1915, 3.

[96] V. Elatomskij, ‘Rossija, slavjanstvo i ‘zheleznyj kancler’,’ Kiev, 19 March 1915, 1; Ch-r, ‘ ‘Sobcy’ v slavjanstve,’ Kiev, 9 December 1915, 1–2.

[97] A. L. I., ‘Vekovaja bor’ba slavjanstva s nemcami. Slavjane i Gogencollerny,’ Kievljanin, 2 August 1915, 4.

[98] Chestmir, ‘Germanskie uzhasy i slavjanskie mechty,’ Kiev, 13 October 1915, 1.

[99] N. P., ‘Nemeckij mir,’ Poslednie Novosti, 29 October 1914, 1. E.; Jenzis, ‘Chego hotjat nemeckie imperialisty,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 14 August 1915, 1.

[100] A. Kajskij, ‘ ‘Blagodejanija’ nemeckoj kul’tury,’ Kiev, 3 December 1915, 2.

[101] ‘Nemcy v Sosnovicah (Ot nashego Varshavskogo korrespondenta),’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 13 November 1914, 4.

[102] ‘Nemcy v Pol’she,’ Kievljanin, 1 July 1915, 3.

[103] ‘V Lodzi,’ Poslednie Novosti, 3 July 1915, 2; ‘V Chenstohove,’ Kievljanin, 16 January 1915, 2.

[104] ‘Nashestvie gunnov,’ Poslednie Novosti, 27 January 1915, 2.

[105] L. Kozlovskij, ‘Nemeckie zavoevateli v proizvedenijah Boleslava Prusa,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 7 August 1915, 2.

[106] St. Vl. Rejmont, ‘V prusskoj shkole (perevod s pol’skogo),’ Poslednie Novosti, 21 August 1914, 3. M.

[107] Osipov, ‘Iz dnevnika istorii.Vechnye vragi,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 1 March 1915, 2.

[108] N. P.,’Galicija i Poznan’,’ Kievljanin, 9 July 1915, 3.

[109] ‘Pol’skij vopros,’ Kievljanin, 18 January 1915, 1.

[110] ‘Vosstanovlenie Pol’shi,’ Kiev, 9 February 1915, 3.

[111] Volunteer Legions were an example of wartime nationalist activism which intended to win support for the final goal of self‑determination of the nation via military participation in the host country’s war effort. Volunteer legions were extensively used by both the Entente and the Central Powers.

[112] ‘Pol’skie sokoly v Lodzi,’ Kievljanin, 10 January 1915, 3; A. A–ch, ‘Nemcy v Bendine,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 3 February 1915, 1.

[113] Ju. Revjakin, ‘Nerazluchnye (ocherk),’ Kievljanin, 15 January 1915, 2.

[114] ‘Pol’skie dobrovol’cy,’ Kievljanin, 16 January 1915, 4.

[115] A. Filatov, ‘Pered Varshavoj,’ Kievljanin, 1 July 1915, 3.

[116] Ju. Larin, ‘My i sojuzniki,’ Kievljanin, 24 August 1915, 1–2.

[117] ‘Zverskaja rasprava s pol’skimi druzhinnikami,’ Kievljanin, 26 July 1915, 3.

[118] ‘Rasprava nemcev nad poljakami,’ Kievljanin, 25 August 1915, 2.

[119] ‘Germancy v Varshave,’ Kievljanin, 24 August 1915, 2.

[120] ‘Vesti iz Germanii,’ Poslednie Novosti, 16 October 1915, 1.

[121] M. Cvjatkovs’kij,’Sredi vragov,’ Kievljanin, 25 October 1915, 3.

[122] ‘Poslednie vesti iz Varshavy,’ Kievljanin, 8 September, 1915, 2.

[123] ‘V Varshave,’ Kievljanin, 30 August 1915, 2.

[124] M. Cvjatkovs’kij, ‘Sredi vragov,’ Kievljanin, 23 October 1915, 2.

[125] Cvjatkovs’kij,’Sredi vragov,’ 2.

[126] ‘Rasstrel grafa Poninskogo,’ Kievljanin, 17 June 1915, 2.

[127] Remarkably, the conflict was presented in a clear ethnic category as a clash between the commanding German power and its Polish subjects – despite the fact that Jozef Pilsudski’s Polish legion’s units were subordinated to the Austro-Hungarian army.

[128] ‘V Varshave,’ Kievljanin, 5 September 1915, 2.

[129] ‘Poljaki i nemcy,’ Poslednie Novosti, 28 September 1915, 2.

[130] Jenzis, ‘Pol’sha pod voprositel’nym znakom,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 11 September 1915, 2.; N.P.,’Germanija i Rossija,’ Poslednie Novosti, 20 September, 1915, 1; ‘V Varshave,’ Kievljanin, 21 October 1915, 2.

[131] ‘Dva goda zverstv,’ Poslednie Novosti, 23 July, 1916, 1.

[132] L. Sosnin, ‘Osnovnye principy nemeckoj politiki i nemeckoj taktiki,’ Kiev, 14 June 1916,2.; N. M.,’ ‘Proekt’ germans’kogo doktora (Genca Potgofa),’ Kievljanin, April  2, 1916,  1.

[133] Chestmir, ”Kroty’ v slavjanstve,’ Kiev, 9 January 1916, 2.

[134] The Polish part of the Austro‑Hungarian Galicia province was omitted in the article. Instead it was claimed that ‘…the lands, populated by the Russian nation in Galicia, Bukovina and Ugria [Carpathian Ruthenia] should be incorporated into the Russian Empire, embraced with the Russian state boundaries and joined to the common Russian life…’ (‘Celi vojny,’ Kiev, 3 March 1916, 1.)

[135] ‘Celi vojny,’ Kiev, 3 March 1916, 1.

[136] ‘Celi vojny,’ 1.

[137] Chestmir, ”Celivojny’,’ Kiev, 21 March 1916, 2.

[138] ‘Akt o Pol’she i nejtral’naja pechat’,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 1 November, 1916, 1.

[139] L. Kozlovskij, ‘Germanija i pol’skij vopros,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 30 October 1916, 2; ‘Kiev, 26 October 1916,’ Kievljanin, 26 October 1916, 1; N. S–kij, ‘V okkupirovannoj Pol’she,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 19 November 1916, 3.

[140] V. Shul’gin, ‘Kiev, 25 janvarja  1917 g.,’ Kievljanin, 26 January 1917, 1–2.

[141] V. Shul’gin, ‘ ‘Pod znakom Marsa’,’ Kievljanin, 29 January 1917, 1–2.

[142] Chlen Gosudarstvennoj Dumy D. Chihachev ‘O porjadke razreshenija voprosa o gosudarstvennom ustrojstve Carstva Pol’skogo,’ Kievljanin, 14 February 1917, 1–2.

[143] ‘Prusskaja lovushka,’ Poslednie Novosti, 6 September, 1916, 2; ‘V Pol’she pod germanskim igom,’ Poslednie Novosti, 10 October 1916, 2.

[144] Brusilov (general-ad’jutant) ‘Prikaz armijam Jugo-zapadnogo fronta,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 11 December 1916, 2.

[145] V. G.,’Pol’skij gosudarstvennyj sovet,’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 28 January 1917, 1.

[146] V. G.,’Pol’skij gosudarstvennyj sovet,’ 1.

[147] Shul’gin, ‘ ‘Pod znakom Marsa’,’ 1–2.

[148]Kiev, 6 February 1917,’ Kievljanin, 7 February 1917, 1.

[149] V. Vojcehovskij, ‘Vozmozhno li ozdat’ blagoprijatnye otnoshenija mezhdu russkimi i poljakami bez idei slavjanskogo ob’edinenija,’ Kievljanin, 1 February 1917, 2.

[150] Vojcehovskij, ‘Vozmozhnoli…,’ 2.

[151] K. B., ‘Rol’ slavjanstva v proshlom i budushhem mezhdunarodnogo obshhenija (Prof. A. M. Luk’janenko),’ Kievljanin, 28 February 1917, 2.

[152] Shortly after the February Revolution in Petrograd, an All-Ukrainian council of Central Rada was established in Kiev on 4 (17) March, 1917. Functioning as an assembly of various political, public and cultural organizations, it became a revolutionary parliament of Ukraine on the decision of the All-Ukrainian National Congress (19–21 April 1917). By the Second Universal on 3 (16) July, Central Rada adopted its political subordination to the Russian Provisional Government at the same time acquiring the status of Ukraine’s highest provincial authority within Russian Republic (Further reading:  Valeriy Smoliy, Hennadiy Boryak, and Vladyslav Verstyuk (eds.), Narysy istoriyi ukrayins’koyi revolyutsiyi 1917–1921 rokiv. Volume 1.Kyiv: Naukova dumka, 2011.)

[153] Boris Kolonizkij, ‘Metamorphosen der Germanophobie: Deutschland in den politischen Konflikten der Februarrevolution von 1917,’ in: Verführungen der Gewalt. Russen und Deutsche im Ersten und Zweiten Weltkrieg, 121–44, eds..von Karl Eimermacher, and Astrid Volpert, München: Wilhelm Fink Verlag, 2005.

[154] A. Brynskij, ‘Na ulichnyhmitingah,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 9 June 1917, 2.

[155] With the outbreak of the 1917 February Revolution ‘fraternization with the enemy’ became a widely spread form of antiwar frontline protest of the of Russian army soldiers. It was instigated not only by the revolutionary soldiers’ committees but also by the Bolshevik agitators and special Austro-German units. Being a vicious violation of military discipline, fraternization significantly influenced the decay of the Russian army (See: Sergej Bazanov,  ‘Nemeckie soldaty stali… perepolzat’ k russkim ‘tovarishham’ i bratat’sja s nimi,’ Voenno-istoricheskij zhurnal,6 (2002): 43–50).

[156] V. Stechkin, ‘Komu blizhe krasnoe znamja?’ Juzhnaja Kopejka, 21 March 1917, 2.

[157] ‘Chto delaetsja v Pol’she,’ Poslednie Novosti, 8 April 1917, 3.

[158] M. Chernyavs’kyy, ‘Natsional’ne pytannya v Rosiyi,’ Nova Rada, 21 June 1917, 1–2.

[159] ‘Nimechchyna i Pol’shcha,’ Nova Rada, 7 September 1917, 1.

[160] ‘Nimechchyna i Pol’shcha,’ 1.

[161] Yak. Mk., ‘Derzhavnyy borh. II.,’ Nova Rada, 18 May 1917, 1.

[162] ‘Vystup pol’s’koyi hazety,’ Nova Rada, 9 June 1917, 1; ‘Z pol’s’koyi presy,’ Nova Rada, 11 June 1917, 1; ‘Z pol’s’koyi presy,’ Nova Rada, 18 June 1917, 1.

[163] ‘Z pol’s’koyi presy,’ Nova Rada, 28 June 1917, 1.

[164] ‘Z pol’s’koyi presy,’ 1.

[165] Ol. Hrudnyts’kyy, ‘Vchorashni kholopy – s’ohodnishni imperialisty,’ Robitnycha Hazeta, 22 April 1917, 2.

[166] D. A., ‘Pol’s’ke viys’ko,’ Robitnycha Hazeta, 27 May 1917, 1–2.

[167] By 1917 the Russian autocracy lost its support not only in the ‘lower classes’ of the society but also among its elites. As a result, pro‑monarchial Russian rigtist parties remained passive and uncoordinted in the outbreak of the Revolution and, consequently, were removed from power. Remarkably, many of the key Russian rightist activists originally supported the Revoultion for the sake of the Russian state or from fear of political opression. However, later on they were dissapointed with the Russian Republic’s ineffecive state policy (Jurij Kir’janov, Pravye partii v Rossii. 1911—1917 gg., Moskva: ROSSPEN, 2001, 388–424.).

[168] ‘Proshhanie pol’s’kogo polka s Kievom,’ Kievljanin, 24 April 1917, 2.

[169] ‘Parad vojsk Kievskogo garnizona,’ Kievljanin, 8 March 1917, 1.

[170] V. Vojcehovskij, ‘Iz pol’skoj zhizni i pechati. Pol’skie politicheskie soveshhanija,’ Kievljanin, 18 March 1917, 1.

[171] Lev M–skij, ‘Mne grustno… V svjatuju noch’,’ Kievljanin, 27 April 1917, 1.

[172] Lev M–skij, ‘Pod belym orlom na krasnom pole. Pol’skij mezhdunarodnyj tribunal. ІІ.,’ Kievljanin, 22 June 1917, 2.

[173] V. Vojcehovskij, ‘Iz pol’skoj zhizni i pechati. Novyj kursvAvstro‑Germanii,’ Kievljanin, 10 March 1917, 2.; ‘Praporshhik Sikorskij,’ Kievljanin, 23 July 1917, 1–2

[174] Prof. Andrej Stojanovich, ‘Vozstanie ‘rabov’. IV Senkevich i Gus,’ Kievljanin, 2 April 1917, 1.

[175] Lev M–skij, ‘Pod belym orlom na krasnom pole. Pol’skoe nacional’noe stroitel’stvo. ІІІ.,’ Kievljanin, 24 June 1917, 2.

[176] On 29 March 1917 the Russian Provisional Government issued a proclamation recognising the right of the Polish nation to form its own state on the basis of Congress Poland, German and Austro‑Hungarian ethnic Polish territories. However, the final decision on the Polish question was delegated to the prospective all‑Russian Constituent Assembly. Also, the proclamation assumed the creation of the’Free military alliance’ between Poland and Russia, thus preserving the first within the Russian sphere of influence (Matveev, ‘Fevral’skaja revoljucija,’ 88–90.).

[177] G. D., ‘Dva Vozzvanija,’ Kievljanin, 8 April 1917, 1–2.

[178] G. D., ‘Dva Vozzvanija,’ 1–2.

[179] V. Shul’gin, ‘Kiev, 8 go aprelja 1917 g. (po telegrafu iz Petrograda),’ Kievljanin, 9 April 1917, 1.

[180] ‘Doklad po pol’skomu voprosu,’ Kievljanin, 18 April 1917, 2.

[181] Lev M–skij, ‘Pod belym orlom na krasnom pole. K pol’skomu s’ezdu,’ Kievljanin, 21 June 1917, 2.

[182] V. Shul’gin, ‘Kiev, 8 June 1917 g. (po telegrafu iz Petrograda),’ Kievljanin, 2 June 1917, 1.

[183] Peter Gatrell, Russia’s First World War: A Social and Economic History, Harlow: Pearson Education, 2005, 197–215.

[184] Pod’jachev, ‘Vchajnoj (iz derevenskih nabljudenij),’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 2 September 1917, 1; Jarilo, ‘Malen’kij fel’eton.Vo vneshnej politike,’ Juzhnaja Gazeta, 16 September 1917,  6; Vl. Rozanov, ‘Mir za schet Rossii,’ Kievskaja Mysl’, 24 September 1917, 1.

[185] A. Lohov (Moskva), ‘Dym otechestva,’ Kievljanin, 31 October 1917, 1.

[186] A. Ezhov,’Vpechatlenija. Slavjanskij jekzamen,’ Kievljanin, 26 August 1917,1; Petrogradec,’Petrogradskie otkliki. Oboshli molchaniem,’ Kievljanin, 15 October 1917, 2.

[187] V. Shul’gin, ‘Kiev, 9 go sentjabrja 1917 g.,’ Kievljanin, 10 September 1917, 1–2.

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