The Siberian Polonia in the second half of the 19th - early 20th century in the Polish historiography

Vladimir Shaidurov

Saint-Petersburg Mining University


The period between the 19th – early 20th century witnessed waves of actively forming Polish communities in Russia’s rural areas. A major factor that contributed to the process was the repressive policy by the Russian Empire towards those involved in the Polish national liberation and revolutionary movement. Large communities were founded in Siberia, the Volga region, Caucasus, and European North of Russia (Arkhangelsk). One of the largest communities emerged in Siberia. By the early 20th century, the Polonia in the region consisted of tens of thousands of people. The Polish population was engaged in Siberia’s economic life and was an important stakeholder in business. Among the most well-known Polish-Siberian entrepreneurs was Alfons Poklewski-Koziell who was called the “Vodka King of Siberia” by his contemporaries. Poles, who returned from Siberian exile and penal labor, left recollections of their staying in Siberia or notes on the region starting already from the middle of the 19th century. It was this literature that was the main source of information about the life of the Siberian full for a long time. Exile undoubtedly became a significant factor that was responsible for Russia’s negative image in the historical memory of Poles. This was reflected in publications based on the martyrological approach in the Polish historiography. Glorification of the struggle of Poles to restore their statehood was a central standpoint adopted not only in memoirs, but also in scientific studies that appeared the second half of the 19th – early 20th century. The martyrological approach dominated the Polish historiography until 1970s. It was not until the late 20th century that serious scientific research started utilizing the civilizational approach, which broke the mold of the Polish historical science. This is currently a leading approach. This enables us to objectively reconstruct the history of the Siberian Polonia in the imperial period of the Russian history. The article is intended to analyze publications by Polish authors on the history of the Polish community in Siberia the 19th – early 20th century. It focuses on memoirs and research works, which had an impact on the reconstruction of the Siberian Polonia’s history. The paper is written using the retrospective, genetic, and comparative

Słowa kluczowe:

Russia     Poland     Siberia     Polish community     historiography     martyrological     approach     civilizational approach     political exile

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Cited By /

Shaidurov, V. (2018). The Siberian Polonia in the second half of the 19th - early 20th century in the Polish historiography. Przegląd Wschodnioeuropejski, 8(1), 11–20.

Vladimir Shaidurov 
Saint-Petersburg Mining University