Schools under Russian Rule
was then under Russian domination,
and one of the worst aspects of this control was the oppression exerted
on the school and the child. The private schools directed by Poles were
closely watched by the police and overburdened with the necessity of
teaching the Russian language even to children so young that they could
scarcely speak their native Polish. Nevertheless, since the teachers
were nearly all of Polish nationality, they endeavored in every possible
way to mitigate the difficulties resulting from the national persecution.
These schools, however, could not legally give diplomas, which were
obtainable only in the schools of the government.
These schools, entirely Russian, were directly opposed to the Polish
national spirit. All instruction was given in Russian, by Russian professors,
who, being hostile to the Polish nation, treated their pupils as enemies.
Men of moral and intellectual distinction could scarcely agree to teach
in schools where an alien attitude was forced upon them. So what the
pupils were taught was of questionable value, and the moral atmosphere
was altogether unbearable. Constantly held in suspicion and spied upon,
the children knew that a single conversation in Polish, or an imprudent
word, might seriously harm, not only themselves, but also their families.
Amidst these hostilities, they lost all the joy of life, and precocious
feelings of distrust and indignation weighed upon their childhood. On
the other side, this abnormal situation resulted in exciting the patriotic
feeling of Polish youths to the highest degree.
Notes pp. 158-159.