23. Joachim-Lelewel-Gespräch: A new Europe? The Consequences of the Partitions


Mi. 22.06.2022 | 18:00 Uhr
Prof. Dr. Ruth Leiserowitz

The 250 anniversary of the first partition of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth in 2022 is an opportunity for critical discussion and reflection on general reception and historical interpretation of the partitions from an international perspective. The seizure of Polish-Lithuanian territories determined not only history of Poland but also of Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus and the partitioning powers. Therefore, we want to consider the partitions as a European event, the effects of which are still visible today. There is no doubt that the partitions contributed to the strengthening of Russia's position in East-Central Europe. To what extent do the war in Ukraine and the conflicts in Belarus prove that the partitions were indeed a decisive factor in setting the course for the destiny of Europe?

In the discussion, we also want to reflect on the causes of the fall of the Polish-Lithuanian Empire. Isn't it to be found mainly – contrary to Lelewel's opinion – in the long-standing mistakes of the Polish society, in the unwillingness to change and in the egoism of the nobility? With all the negative aspects, however, we do not want to ignore the positive effects of the partitions. The degree of violence that was necessary to enforce them does not deserve a positive assessment, but it should not be forgotten that it was the partition powers that first taxed the nobility, abolished serfdom, modernized the Polish economy, and built up the administrative apparatus. How did these dynamic transformations change the character of the individual regions of the former Rzeczpospolita?

The Joachim-Lelewel-Talks of the German Historical Institute Warsaw are a forum, in which the contentious issues surrounding the Polish history are discussed in their European context. Each time they bring together representatives of Polish, East and West European or international history respectively to a panel discussion, where the audience actively participates.

The intention of these discussions is not only a confrontation of not infrequently opposed assumptions and views but also an immersion of various research milieus in an intensive exchange of ideas. This procedure enables continued development of the discussed issue as well as facilitates opening for diverse methodical aspects.


a.o. Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Christoph Augustynowicz, University of Vienna
PD Dr. Agnieszka Pufelska, Nordost-Institut Lüneburg, University of Potsdam
Dr. Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė, Historical Institute, Vilnius
Prof. Dr. Ruth Leiserowitz, Humboldt University of Berlin, German Historical Institute in Warsaw


Assoc. Prof.a.o. Univ.-Prof. Mag. Dr. Christoph Augustynowicz is Professor in the Department of East European Studies at the University of Vienna. His research interests include social history of Poland(-Lithuania) with special reference to the Jews, images and stereotypes of Eastern Europe, and historiographical history (East Central European conceptions). The last monograph has the title: Kleine Kulturgeschichte Polens. Vom Mittelalter bis zum 21. Jahrhundert [Small cultural history of Poland. From the Middle Ages to the 21st Century] (Wien 2017).

PD Dr. Agnieszka Pufelska is a research assistant at the Nordost-Institute at Hamburg University in Lüneburg and Professor of Modern and   Contemporary History at the University of Potsdam. Her research focuses on Polish, German and Jewish social and cultural history in the 18th – 20th centuries. Her last publication together with Felix Ackermann has the title: Preußen postcolonial [Prussia postcolonial] (Göttingen 2022). Before she authored i.e.: Der bessere Nachbar? Das polnische Preußenbild zwischen Politik und Kulturtransfer (1765-1795) [The better neighbor? The Polish Image of Prussia between Politics and Cultural Transfer (1765-1795)] (Berlin 2017).

Dr. Ramunė Šmigelskytė-Stukienė is Senior Researcher at the Lithuanian Institute of History and Professor at the Education Academy of the Vytautas Magnus University (Vytauto Didžiojo universiteto Švietimo akademija). She researches the late 18th century political history of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and development of political institutions of the Polish-Lithuanian state. Her most recent publication is Miestas, dvaras, kaimas: Lietuvos Didžiojoje Kunigaikštystėje ir Lenkijos karalystėje XVI-XVIII a [Town, manor, village: in the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of Poland in the 16th–18th centuries] (Vilnius 2018).

Prof. Dr. Ruth Leiserowitz is Professor of East European History at Humboldt-Universität of Berlin and Deputy Director at the German Historical Institute in Warsaw. Her research is focused on European history of the nineteenth and the twentieth century. The last monograph is Heldenhafte Zeiten. Die polnischen Erinnerungen an die Revolutions- und Napoleonischen Kriege 1815–1945 [Heroic Times. The Polish Memories of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars 1815–1945] (Paderborn 2017).

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