Behind the Scenes of the Greater Poland Uprising

The Independence Organisations in the Poznań Region at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century.

Janusz Karwat

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In April 1917, the members of the “Union”, led by Stanisław Nogaj, conducted a propaganda activity, placing the proclamation of Duke Nicholas Nikolaevich “To the Polish nation” on the most important buildings. On 15 October 1917, members of the independence militia organised a patriotic demonstration in Poznań attended by several thousand people on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of death of Tadeusz Kościuszko. After the holy mass, scouts were able to encourage the crowd to participate in street demonstrations.

In 1915, in the Auguste Victoria Royal Gymnasium, Franciszek Wojasik founded the Union of Polish Youth - ”Kościuszko”. Initially, only self-education activities were organised among young carpenters and merchants. After a year, the ”Kościuszko” Union consisted of 62 members and at the beginning of 1918 it brought together 152 pupils of the older classes from four Poznań gymnasiums. The union was involved in work in three independent areas: public schools, scouting and the “falcon” movement and gymnasiums. It published an underground magazine called ”Sami sobie”.

At the end of 1917, military exercises were introduced: drills, elements of platoon tactics and exercises with weapons. Field exercises were organised in the Dębin and Golęcin forests in the vicinity of Głuszyna. They were supervised by Andrzej Linke, Tadeusz Suwalski and Marian Trzeciakowski. Repressions against the scouts led to the dissolution of this organisation and caused the necessity to operate underground. At the end of 1917 and the beginning of 1918, the Polish Military Organisation of the Prussian Partition, whose members were mainly scouts and deserters, was established.



  1. Celichowski Zygmunt, Tajne związki młodzieży gimnazjalnej, Poznań 1920.

  2. Gomolec Ludwik, Organizacje młodzieżowe w okresie przygotowań do powstania wielkopolskiego 1918/1919 roku, Poznań 1970.

  3. Jabczyński Mieczysław, Dziesięć lat szkoły polskiej, Poznań 1929.

  4. Karwat Janusz, Od idei do czynu. Myśl i organizacje niepodległościowe w Poznańskiem w latach 1887 – 1919, Poznań 2002.

  5. Kosmowska Irena, Związki młodzieży polskiej od 1818 roku do naszych czasów, W. 1929.

  6. Kostrzewski Józef, Z mego życia – pamiętnik, Wrocław 1970.

  7. Markwicz Aleksander, Filomaci (1816-1926), cz. I: Wilno-Wielkopolska Grudziądz 1931.

  8. Paluszkiewicz Marian, Szews Jerzy, Słownik biograficzny członków tajnych towarzystw gimnazjalnych w Wielkim Księstwie Pozn. 1850-1918, P. 2000.





1 Translator’s footnote: Gymnasium in the Prussian education system, was the most advanced of the three types of German secondary schools, the others being Progymnasium and Realschule. A student attended Gymnasium for nine years and after the final year, they took the final exam called Abitur and obtained the right to go to the university. This type of education was also the most costly.

Progymnasium in Prussia lasted 6 years and then a student acquired the right to one-year service in the Prussian army. The possibility of joining the army entailed certain privileges in the militarist Prussia, therefore, it enjoyed some popularity among the youth.

Realschule is another type of secondary school education which lasted 6 years. As opposed to Gymnasium which put more emphasis on traditional classical education, the Realschule was focused on practical education and prepared young people for careers in business and manufacturing.

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