The Prussian Partition (Polish: Zabór pruski; sometimes called the Prussian Poland) refers to the former territories of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth acquired during the partitions of Poland in the late 18th century by the Kingdom of Prussia.[1] The Prussian acquisition amounted to 141,400 km2 (54,600 sq mi) of land constituting formerly western territory of the Commonwealth. The first partitioning led by imperial Russia with Prussian participation took place in 1772; the next one in 1793, and the final one in 1795, resulting in Poland's elimination for the next 123 years.[2]


The Kingdom of Prussia (known from the second half of the 19th century as the German Empire) acquired Polish territories in all three military partitions.[1]

Jan Henryk Dabrowski entering Poznań in 1806

Major historical events of the Prussian Partition included the 1772 annexation of the formerly Polish Prussia by Frederick II who quickly implanted 57,475 German families there in order to solidify his new acquisitions.[3] The Polish language was marginalized.[4] In 1793, the Kingdom of Prussia annexed Gdańsk (Danzig) and Toruń (Thorn), part of the Crown of Poland since 1457. The incursion sparked the first Greater Poland Uprising in Kujawy under Jan Henryk Dąbrowski. The revolt ended after General Tadeusz Kościuszko was captured by the Russians. The subsequent third partitioning of 1795 marked the Prussian annexation of Podlasie region, with the remainder of Masovia, and the capital city of Warsaw (handed over to the Russians twenty years later by Frederick III).[5]

The battle of Miloslaw during the fourth Greater Poland Uprising (1846)
German Empire (1871–1918)
Poles in the German Empire electoral districts according to the census of 1910

The second Greater Poland Uprising against Prussian forces (also under General Dąbrowski) broke out in Wielkopolska (Greater Poland) in 1806, ahead of the Prussian total defeat by Napoleon who created the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807. However, the fall of Napoleon during his Russian Campaign lead to the dismantling of the Duchy at the Congress of Vienna (1815) and the return of Prussian control.[1]

The third Greater Poland Uprising under Ludwik Mierosławski occurred in 1846. The Uprising was designed to be part of a general uprising against all three states that had partitioned Poland.[6] Some 254 insurgents were charged with high treason in Berlin. Two years later, during the Spring of Nations, the fourth Polish uprising broke out in and around Poznań in 1846, led by the Polish National Committee. The Prussian army pacified the area and 1,500 Poles were imprisoned in Poznań Citadel. The Uprising showed to Polish insurgents that there was no possibility whatsoever to try to negotiate Polish statehood with the Germans. Only sixty years later, the Greater Poland Uprising (1918–1919) in the Prussian Partition helped Poland regain its freedom in the aftermath of World War I.[4]


Growth of Prussia. Yellow are the territories gained by Prussia during the partitions of Poland

Poles in the Prussian partition were subject to extensive Germanization policies (Kulturkampf, Hakata).[7] Frederick the Great brought 300,000 colonists to territories he conquered to facilitate Germanization.[8]

That policy, however, had an opposite effect to that which the German leadership had expected: instead of becoming assimilated, the Polish minority in the German Empire became more organized, and its national consciousness grew.[7] Of the Three Partitions, the education system in Prussia was on a higher level than in Austria and Russia, irrespective of its virulent attack on the Polish language specifically, resulting in the Września children strike in 1901–04, leading to persecution and imprisonment for refusing to accept the German textbooks and the German religion lessons.[1][7]


From the economic perspective, the territories of the Prussian Partition were the most developed, thanks to the overall policies of the government.[7] The German government supported efficient farming, industry, financial institutions and transport.[7]

Administrative division

In the First Partition, Prussia received 36,000 km² and about 600,000 people. In the second partition, Prussia received 58,000 km² and about 1 million people. In the third, similar to the second, Prussia gained 55,000 km² and 1 million people. Overall, Prussia gained about 20 percent of the former Commonwealth territory (149 000 km²) and about 23 percent of the population (2.6 million people).[9] From the geographical perspective, most of the territories annexed by Prussia formed the province of Greater Poland (Wielkopolska).

The Kingdom of Prussia divided the former territories of the Commonwealth it obtained into the following:

Over time the administrative divisions changed. Important Prussian administrative areas set up from Polish lands included:

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Norman Davies (2005), "Part 3. Preussen: The Prussian Partition", God's Playground. A History of Poland: Volume II: 1795 to the Present, Oxford University Press, pp. 83–101, ISBN 0199253404, retrieved November 24, 2012 
  2. ^ Davies, Norman. God's Playground: a history of Poland. Revised Edition. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005.
  3. ^ Ritter, Gerhard (1974). Frederick the Great: A Historical Profile. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 179–180. ISBN 0-520-02775-2. 
  4. ^ a b Andrzej Chwalba, Historia Polski 1795-1918, Wydawnictwo Literackie 2000, Kraków, pages 175-184, and 307-312. ISBN 830804140X.
  5. ^ Norman Davies (1996). Europe: a history. Oxford University Press. pp. 828–. ISBN 978-0-19-820171-7. Retrieved February 2, 2011. 
  6. ^ Marian Zagórniak, Józef Buszko, Wielka historia Polski vol. 4 Polska w czasach walk o niepodległość (1815 - 1864). "Od niewoli do niepodległości (1864 - 1918)", 2003, page 186.
  7. ^ a b c d e Andrzej Garlicki, Polsko-Gruziński sojusz wojskowy, Polityka: Wydanie Specjalne 2/2008, ISSN 1730-0525, pp. 11–12
  8. ^ Jerzy Surdykowski, Duch Rzeczypospolitej, 2001 Wydawn. Nauk. PWN, 2001, page 153.
  9. ^ Piotr Stefan Wandycz, The Price of Freedom: A History of East Central Europe from the Middle Ages to the Present, Routledge (UK), 2001, ISBN 0-415-25491-4, Google Print, p.133

Further reading