The Partitions of Poland, Part I
Except for the decades between the First and Second World Wars, the Polish people, since the end of the eighteenth century, have always been subjected to some form of foreign domination. Thrice Poland was partitioned by aggressive neighbouring sovereigns, and her promising renaissance after 1772 came to nothing. L.R. Lewitter queries the factors that have determined Poland's tragic destiny.
From 1772 onwards Poland’s national territory has behaved like one of those clouds in the sky that shrink, disintegrate, join with their neighbours and vanish altogether, only to reappear in a different shape. The designation has changed with the design, but the word “Republic” has tended to recur.
The elective monarchy of the Old Régime was called a Republic and so was the Poland of the inter-war period, though for half the time the term concealed a dictatorship, while the Poland of Gomulka goes under the name of the Polish People’s Republic.
In the nineteenth century for some fifty years Russian Poland was nominally the Kingdom of Poland, and until the First World War, Austrian Poland was known by the deceptively Iberian-sounding appellation of Galicia and Lodomeria.