Debating National Interest in the Expulsions of Poles and Jews, 1885-86


In 1885–86, more than 30,000 Polish immigrants, including some 10,000 Jews, were deported from the Prussian borderlands. (Many of the deportees had lived in Prussia for years but had not become German citizens.) The deportations were a response to the perceived flood of Slavic migrants coming into Prussia from the Russian Empire. This action was fiercely debated over several days in 1886 in both the Reichstag and Prussian state parliament, leading to the first and only interpellation against Bismarck. Following on Bismarck’s Kulturkampf, the deportations increasingly ostracized the largely Catholic and Polish-speaking minority in Prussia’s eastern provinces. Although Germanization policies increased, Germanness in the borderlands would remain open and contested.


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