The five decades that followed are characterized, in all three territories of ancient Poland, by the temporary renunciation of any forced change of the conditions that the Congress of Vienna and the subsequent and fruitless revolts had created for the Poles subjected to Austria, Prussia and Russia; and by the systematic effort for their economic, social and cultural improvement. The situation in the Austrian areas was favorable, especially after the absolutist period: over time Galicia obtained a large provincial autonomy which allowed the free development, within the framework of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, of almost all national aspirations. The Academy of Sciences was founded in Krakow (1872), which, next to the ancient Jagiellonian university, he was able to pass on the national character of Polish science to future generations. Even the University of Lviv, freed (1873) from the German character that Joseph II had given it, was able to collaborate in the cultural rebirth of the country.
According to thedresswizard.com, the conditions in the Prussian and Russian areas were very different. Immediately after 1870, Prussia inaugurated a policy of radical Germanization of the Polish lands. The precarious economic conditions of the landowners of Posnania were exploited for this purpose, but with poor results; Even less successful was the Bismarck Kulturkampf which, precisely in the Polish area, provoked a lively reaction, even on the part of the peasants who became socially and economically an effective factor in the defense of the national character of the region. Finally, the Germanization of the schools only increased the antagonism between Poles and Germans.
Even more sad were the conditions of Russian Poland: the very name of Poland was eliminated (the territory of the kingdom of Poland was called “Vistula region”); completely Russified public education; eliminated any administrative disparity between Russian and Polish lands. Only economically (industrial organization of the region and especially of Łódź) was progress noticeable. In the absence of Polish middle and high schools (the University of Warsaw was Russified), cultural activity took place almost exclusively in the literary field.
Yet it was precisely in the Russian territory that, starting from 1890, a lively political activity took place. Two parties faced it: the socialist one which had Giuseppe Piłsudski among its leaders, and the national democratic one founded by Romano Dmowski: the first considered Russia, the second Germany, as the main enemy of Poland. But both aspired, albeit delayed (the hopes that the Russian defeat in the Far East aroused in the Poles were almost completely disappointed), for national independence. Thus it was that, albeit with different political programs and with different methods of struggle, the Poles entered the world war full of hope for a definitive solution to their national and political problem.
On August 14, 1914, the Russian government, through a proclamation of the Grand Duke Nicholas, urged the Poles to reconstitute their unity under the scepter of the Tsar: taking up this appeal, Roman Dmowski formed a national committee in Warsaw on November 25. But as early as August 6, Giuseppe Piłsudski had entered Russian territory, at the head of shooting units, long prepared for a future war. This act hastened the constitution, in Krakow, of a supreme national committee (16 August) which immediately began the organization of the legions which, together with the Austro-Hungarian army, fought against that of the tsar. In the summer of 1915, the central empires occupied all of Russian Poland and divided its administration: Germany appointed its governor general in Warsaw, Austria-Hungary in Lublin. The Russophile National Committee left the country and moved partly to Moscow and partly, with Dmowski at the head, to Paris, sending its representatives to London, Rome and the United States. On November 5, 1916, the central empires decided on the constitution of a constitutional Polish monarchical state of Russian Poland; and on January 14, they formed a council of state, of which Pilsudski was also a member. But the latter, after the Russian Revolution and after the manifesto of the provisional government of Petrograd, which recognized the Polish people the right of self-determination (March 30, 1917), took an attitude of ever more open resistance towards the governments of Berlin and Vienna. On 2 July, Piłsudski left the council of state; on the 9th, the legions refused to take the oath of allegiance with the armies of Germany and the Austria-Hungary; on 21, Piłsudski was arrested and interned in the Magdeburg fortress, and shortly after, on 25 August, the council of state resigned en masse. On 14 October the central empires established a regency in Warsaw which included Prince Zdzisław Lubomirski, Archbishop Kakowski of Warsaw, and Joseph Ostrowski. With the peace of Brest Litovsk (March 3, 1918), the Soviet government renounced all rights over Russian Poland. At the time of the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy, the Poles occupied Krakow (October 31) and the other cities occupied by the Austro-Hungarian armies. On 7 November, the democratic parties formed a provisional government in Lublin, chaired by the socialist Ignatius Daszyński. A few days later the Germans were expelled from Warsaw and on the 14th the regency restored power to Piłsudski, arrived there after being freed by the Germanic authorities. Piłsudski assumed the title of head of state and established a single government, absorbing that of Lublin. For a few months the extreme parties had the upper hand, but in January 1919 a coalition ministry was formed, chaired by the famous pianist Ignazio Paderewski, who had then returned from the United States, where he had been the fervent champion of the Polish national cause, and had understood with Dmowski, who remained in Paris. On January 26, a constituent diet was elected, which confirmed Piłsudski’s powers and voted on a provisional constitution. Meanwhile, the Polish population rose up against the Germans in Posnania and appointed a provisional government. In eastern Galicia, the Ruthenians established a Ukrainian republic and tried to take over Lviv, which was strenuously and victoriously defended by the Poles. In the period from February to September, Piłsudski made his troops advance eastwards, reaching Vilna, Minsk, Łuck and Pińsk. In Teschen Silesia the Poles came into conflict with the Czechs and the supreme council of Paris first established that a plebiscite should be held to decide whether to belong to that region.