Neoromanticism and Positivism (1914–1944)

  • Stephen Velychenko


In interwar Poland, historians followed the established rules of critical method and “scientific history.” The dominant interpretations of national history were usually either positivist or neoromantic and the treatment of Ukraine’s past reflected the assumptions of one of these two approaches.1 Neoromantics shared a Catholic-messianistic view of Poland’s past and argued that “the nation” was the major subject and object of history. They regarded Poland’s historical gentry-republican order as ideal, saw its expansion east as the spread of liberty, and placed the onus of responsibility for the Partitions on foreign powers. Positivists regarded Poland’s gentry order as anarchical and claimed that since it had been the major cause of the Partitions it had little to commend it. They argued that the state was the major subject and object of history and were critical of Poland’s eastern expansion. Whereas neoromantic historians could be found among the supporters or sympathizers of the National Democrats as well as Pilsudski, positivist-inclined historians tended to favour the latter. Those who believed historical narratives should be based on political history and those who advocated “integral history” were in both political groupings and interpretative schools. Interestingly, until Pilsudski’s coup the important academic survey histories of Poland tended to reflect the positivist rather than the neoromantic persuasion.


Western Civilization Political History Polish History Peasant Revolt Roman Catholic Church 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Stephen Velychenko 1993

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  • Stephen Velychenko

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