The Polish Experience

Occupation by the Russian, German, and Austrian armies defined the Polish experience during World War I. Interactions between the occupiers and the occupied shaped Polish agency—hereby defined as the ability of a national group to make its own decisions. From small Jewish villages to the streets of Warsaw, Poles juggled aspirations for autonomy with the reality of occupation. Trapped by a war not of their making, occupiers impeded the Poles’ long-standing efforts for independence. This section addresses shifting Polish allegiances through three diverse lenses: experiences of Jews, student resistance movements, and Polish media and art.

German Cavalry entering Warsaw on August 5, 1915.