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On December 27th, 1918, the Greater Poland Uprising (Powstanie Wielkopolskie) started. It was one of the four victorious Polish insurrections.
Greater Poland (Wielkopolska) was taken by Prussia, the predecessor of a unified Germany, as one of the partitions of Poland.
Poles in this region protested against the Prussian and German policy of enforcing German culture and language but tried to achieve change using non-violent methods. An example of this was a protest by children from Września (about 40km east of Poznań), who protested against having to pray in the German language in the early 20th century. Another was the history of “Drzymała’s wagon,” which had been trying to bypass German law by moving his wagon, where he lived, just a slight amount every day and claiming that it is was not a building but a moving vehicle, so the laws concerning construction and building did not apply to him.
In late 1918, Germany loosened the policy on the occupied lands. Circumstances such as Germany’s defeat in WWI, the abdication of Emperor Wilhelm II and the general atmosphere of revolution encouraged people to begin their fight for freedom.
The uprising broke out on December 27th, 1918 in Poznań, after a patriotic speech by Ignacy Paderewski, Polish prime minister at that time, and a famous pianist. The uprising forces consisted of members of the Polish Military Organization of the Prussian Partition, who started to form the Straż Obywatelska (Citizen’s Guard), later renamed as Straż Ludowa (People’s Guard) and many volunteers—mainly veterans of World War I.
The timing of the uprising was fortuitous for the insurgents, as between October 1918 and the first months of 1919, internal conflict had weakened Germany, with soldiers and sailors engaged in mutinous actions against the monarchy and the officer corps. Demoralized by the signing of an armistice on November 11th, 1918, the new German government was further embroiled in subduing the German Revolution.
By January 15th, 1919, the Polish forces took control of most of the Province of Posen, and engaged in heavy fighting with the regular German army and the forces of the Grenzschutz, up until the renewal of the truce between the Ententeand Germany on February 16th, which affected the Wielkopolska or Posen Province part of the front line. Skirmishes continued, however, until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28th, 1919.
The Greater Poland Uprising of 1918-1919 was one of the four Polish insurrections that can be considered as victorious. It was also the largest of them.
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