Behind the Scenes of the Greater Poland Uprising

The Partition Parliament of Poznań

Marek Rezler

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This was an assembly of representatives of the Polish population from the region of the Poznań province, Vistula Pomerania and Upper Silesia, which convened on 3-5 December 1918 in Poznań.

In the year 1916, the underground Inter-Party Committee (Central Citizen's Committee) was established with a predominance of representatives of the National-Democratic Party. The organisation maintained contacts with the National Polish Committee which operated from 15 August 1917 in Lausanne. On 11 November 1918, the Committee revealed itself and together with the members of the Polish Circle in the Berlin parliament adopted the name “People’s Council", and three days later “Supreme People's Council”. This body was managed by the Commissariat of the Supreme People’s Council, which consisted of three people: Priest Stanisław Adamski, Wojciech Korfanty and Adam Poszwiński. Until August 1919, this was the main Polish authority for the Polish territories under German rule. Local People's Councils, which consisted of members of the previously underground Citizen’s Committees, operated in the field. Similar councils were established by German and Jewish circles after the revolution in Germany. In parallel, Worker and Soldier Councils were established and this contributed to the occurrence of a temporary period of dual power in the region, independent of the official German administration. Each of these organisations had their own military formations at their disposal: the Supreme People’s Council had the People's Guard, while the Worker and Soldier Councils had the Guard and Security Service.

As early as in November 1918, elections to local People’s Councils were conducted. At the same time preparations were started for the organisation of the Partition Sejm of Poznań, whose traditions were to refer to the provincial parliaments present in the times of the partitions. During the negotiations, the Polish representatives made the most of the momentary disorder in the Berlin administration and the advantage of the role of Greater Poland as the “bread basket” for the whole German Reich. In the face of the threat of suspension of supplies to the hinterland, on 29 November 1918, the upper president of the Poznań province Hans von Eisenhardt-Rothe gave his consent to the assembly of this body. On the same day in Berlin, a meeting was held at the seat of the 2nd chairman of the Council of People’s Deputies, Hugon Haase, with representatives of the Executive Division of the Worker and Soldier Council in Poznań, the uppper president of the Poznań Province, the commandant of the 5th Army Corps and representatives of the Commissariat of the Supreme People’s Council. It was officially acknowledged that the goal of the Partition Sejm of Poznań would be to discuss organisational issues and take decisions on Polish postulates and "other current matters”. The Germans only expressed their reservation regarding the adoption of any resolutions which would suggest a separation of the territories annexed as a result of partitions from Germany.

Basic information about the Partition Sejm of Poznań, the agenda of the proceedings and the principles of election of delegates were all announced by the Commissariat of the Supreme People’s Council on 14 November 1918. During the pre-election meetings organised by the Provincial Election Committee for the Grand Duchy of Poznań, delegates were elected, one per 2500 people from the Polish population; all Poles aged 20 and more, regardless of their sex, had the right to vote. The details of the programme and the course of the actions taken were presented by the Executive Division of the People’s Council for the City of Poznań on 29 November 1919. The whole electoral action was financed as a result of the suspension of the transfer of social money sent so far to Berlin for war-related purposes and voluntary self-taxation of the Polish population. In total, 1399 members of the Partition Sejm of Poznań were elected (including 129 women and 75 Catholic priests) from the respective poviats: the city of Poznań and the Poznań poviats (east and west - 65), Babimost: 16, Bydgoszcz: 25, Chodzież: 4, Czarnków: 8, Gniezno:12, Gostyń: 15, Grodzisk: 11, Inowrocław: 17, Jarocin: 17, Kępin: 16, Kościan: 17, Koźmin: 10, Krotoszyn: 11, Leszno: 6, Międzychód: 5, Międzyrzecz: 8, Mogilno: 14, Nowy Tomyśl: 9, Oborniki: 14, Odolanów: 9, Ostrów Wlkp. 18, Ostrzeszów: 11, Pleszew: 12, Rawicz: 14, Skwierzyn: 2, Strzelin: 10, Szamotuły: 17, Szubin: 10, Śmigiel: 10, Środa: 20, Śrem: 19, Wągrowiec: 16, Wieluń: 5, Witkowo: 10, Września: 14, Wschowa: 5, Wyrzysk: 12, Żnin: 12 - Total 526. From Royal Prussia: Bytów: 2, Chojnice: 20, Chełm: 12, Człuchów: 3, Gdańsk: 15, Grudziądz: 12, Kartuzy: 13, Kościerzyna: 13, Kwidzyń: 10, Lębork: 3, Lubawa: 17, Puck 1, Starogard: 21, Sztum: 7, Tuchola: 5, Susz: 4, Świecie: 19, Tczew: 6, Wałcz: 2, Wąbrzeżno: 10, Wejherowo: 17, Toruń: 21, Złotów: 11 - Total 262. From Ducal Prussia: Lec: 1, Morąg: 1, Nibork: 6, Olsztyn: 18, Ostróda: 2, Reszel: 4, Szczytno: 14, Węgorzewo: 1. In total 47. From Silesia: Byczyn: 2, Bytom: 44, Gliwice: 31, Gurów: 2, Katowice: 47, Kluczbork: 15, Kozielsk: 21, Chorzów: 11, Legnica: 2, Lubliniec: 17, Oleśno: 18, Opole: 38, Namysłów: 4, Niemodlin: 4, Prudnik: 11, Pszczyn: 39, Racibórz: 7, Rybnik: 42, Strzelce: 21, Syców: 11, Tarnogóra: 9, Wrocław: 3, Zabrze: 31 - Total 431. From the Polish circles abroad: Berlin (poviat): 70, Bremen: 3, Dresden: 2, Halle an der Saale: 1, Hamburg: 7, Kiel: 3, Rattenberg: 1, Westphalia and Rheinland: 46 - Total 99. Ultimately, about 1100 delegates arrived.

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