Reasons for Immigration


Broadly speaking, the causes of Polish immigration have been political, religious, and economic. While economic conditions have been the direct cause, it must be borne in mind that the indirect causes, political and religious, are quite as potent as the economic. Prussianizing, which lately has assumed a religious as well as a political aspect, renders the progress of Prussian Poland distasteful to the Poles, because whatever progress is made must be along Prussian lines. The Kulturkampf gave the American Poles many of their noblest priests, through whose influence thousands of Poles came to America. While Prussianizing by means of class legislation, expropriation, and colonization has not been very rapid, its methods have been attended with a certain measure of success. The economic prosperity of Western Germany has checked the emigration of Prussian Poles from the empire, and the Poles already form an important and growing part of the population of Westphalia and the Rhenish provinces.

Russian Poland experiences the full force of militarism, but still more important as a cause of emigration is the state of terrorism in the great manufacturing districts of Russian Poland, aggravated by the Russo-Japanese War. The mentally more alert are emigrating from Russian Poland, mostly young men who, under the constant strain of Government repression, are the first to be drawn into the revolutionary propaganda and have developed exaggerated notions concerning social wrongs. It is mostly from this class that Socialism in America draws its Polish recruits. A condition responsible for much of the emigration from Poland is the persecution of the Jews in Russia proper, and the Government's policy of concentrating its Jewish problem within "the Kingdom", which has been constituted a vast pale whither the Jews are being forced until they are overflowing into Galicia. By granting autonomy to communities in which the Jews are numerically strong, the Government is effectually expatriating the Poles by what amounts to disfranchisement, and thus Polish progress is blocked. The Poles were never a commercial people, and under present conditions they abandon all trade and commerce to the Jews. About 35 per cent of the population of Warsaw and about 31 per cent of that of Cracow are Jews. They have control of Poland's industry, commerce, and agriculture. Industry receives poor reward, taxation of the poor is oppressive, and education in Russian Poland is positively discouraged. Since the beginnings of Galician emigration land values in Galicia have advanced fourfold. The abandonment of the feudal system, whereby one child received the family holding intact, the decreasing death-rate, and the high birth-rate, have cut the peasant's acre into tiny patches, which under most careful cultivation are insufficient for a population of 241 to the square mile, especially in Western Galicia. Polish emigration is constantly stimulated by the steamship agencies, which form a network of newspapers, petty officials, and innkeepers; cheapness of transportation and the accounts from America of better conditions add greatly to its tide. The annual emigration to the industrial regions of Germany tends to mitigate the extreme poverty of the peasants, which heretofore rendered emigration impossible. Poverty and not patriotism is at the bottom of all present-day Polish emigration. Memories of European conditions are an important factor in causing the Poles in the United States to forget any intention they may have had of returning to the mother country.





 From:  Jim Piechorowski