2004 | 3 | 113-131
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The article focuses on the most essential questions from the life of the rural community during the first months of the WW I: mobilisation into the armies of the partitioners, wartime devastation, services, and requisition, and peasant efforts to counteract those negative effects. Peasants were the largest group among the 3 376 000 Poles summoned for active duty in 1914-1918. They also comprised a sizable percentage among the millions migrating within Polish lands and abroad during the early weeks of the hostilities. During the first year of the war the greatest direct losses in the Kingdom of Poland and Galicia, totalling 9,984 billions of Swiss franks in gold, were suffered by the peasant farms. The war operations affected almost 90% of the future territory of the Second Republic (after 1923). The armies of the partitioners resorted to a mass-scale requisition of grain, cattle, swine, and poultry for consumption as well as horses for the cavalry and transport and supply columns. Their value was estimated at hundreds of millions of rubles, marks and crowns.The wives of the summoned men replaced them, usually successfully, in managing the farms and became involved in the public life of the village. This situation contributed to the growing position of the women and children in the peasant family and community. The peasants took part in the registration of the damage and requisitions, which later served as a basis for compensation which together with assorted wartime subsidies and a free-market sale of food were used, i. a. for improving the conditions of the farms.Thus, the peasant farms survived wartime conditions much better than the large landed estates, which reinforced the social and political position of the peasants in the life of the village and the country as a whole.
  • J. Molenda, Instytut Historii PAN, ul. Rynek Starego Miasta 29-31, 00-272 Warszawa, Poland
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