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Rosa Luxemburg
In Defense of Nationality

1. The system of denationalization

The Prussian government has performed a new assault on the Polish people! The regulation enacted by Minister of Education Studt removed the last remnants of the Polish language from the schools of the city of Poznan [1], the last remaining subject taught in Polish, Religious Education, will be taught in German from now on! Our children, who spend half the day at school, will no longer hear a single word in the language of their people, the language of their fathers and mothers. Education, the intellectual nourishment for life, which they are supposed to absorb in school, will be presented to them in a language that is completely strange and unintelligible to them! Are these not outrageous circumstances? The schools were founded for this purpose, the people send their children to school, so they can absorb the light of science, so they grow into knowledgeable, educated people, for their own benefit and for their country’s joy. In Poznan, however, school will not serve the education of the children, but turn them into spiritual cripples, who do not know their own nationality and language, not to sow the seed of knowledge and civilization, but for the violent spread of German identity.

This is not the first attack of the Prussian authorities on our language and nationality. For more than twenty years, the government has been displacing the Polish language from Poznan’s schools, eliminating the Polish element from public offices and from public life, spending hundreds of millions for “colonization,” i.e. for the Germanization of our regions. It endeavors to forcibly transplant Germans – peasants and tradesmen – to Polish soil, and all that with a tenacity and perseverance that would be worthy of a better cause.

What do they want to achieve? It is clear that the Polish language and nationality shall disappear in Prussia, three million Polish people shall forget that they were born as Poles and transform into Germans! The children shall forget their fathers and mothers, the grandchildren shall forget that their grandfathers once lived on Polish soil!

Your hair stands up when you think about these attempts, your fist clenches out of desperation, that such things have been happening in broad daylight before the eyes of all Europe and the entire civilized world for decades, and none of the elites speak out, no one pushes back the Germanizing power; the Hakatists [2] laugh at our weakness and quietly continue their work of uprooting Polish identity, as if they were doing the world’s most honorable and righteous work. So it is a crime to speak your own language, which you imbibed with your mother’s milk; so it is a crime to belong to a people, into which you were born!

Truly, it is about time for the Polish people to shake off its lifelessness, to express its indignation, to rise and fight against Germanization. In which way this fight shall be led, in which way the defense of Polish nationality will be achieved most effectively – these are questions which it pays to consider seriously.


1. In late July 1900, the Prussian Ministry of Education had decreed that religious education in the middle and upper grades of Poznan’s primary schools should no longer be taught in Polish, as before, but only in German.

2. Refers to the Association for the Promotion of Germanism in the Eastern Marches, founded in 1894, renamed to German Eastern Marches Society from 1899, also called “HaKaTists” after the initials of its founders, Ferdinand von Hansemann, Hermann Kennemann and Heinrich von Tiedemanns-Seeheim. It promoted a ruthless policy of economic and political oppression against Poles in the eastern provinces of the German Empire and aimed for eastward territorial expansion.


Next: Chap. 2: Whose fault?

Last updated on: 24 January 2015