The Krajowcy was a group of mainly Polish-speaking intellectuals from the Vilnius Region
Vilnius region
Vilnius Region , refers to the territory in the present day Lithuania, that was originally inhabited by ethnic Baltic tribes and was a part of Lithuania proper, but came under East Slavic and Polish cultural influences over time,...

 who, in the beginning of the 20th century, opposed the division of the former Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth into nation states along ethnic and linguistic lines. It was a reactionary
The term reactionary refers to viewpoints that seek to return to a previous state in a society. The term is meant to describe one end of a political spectrum whose opposite pole is "radical". While it has not been generally considered a term of praise it has been adopted as a self-description by...

 movement against growing nationalism
Nationalism is a political ideology that involves a strong identification of a group of individuals with a political entity defined in national terms, i.e. a nation. In the 'modernist' image of the nation, it is nationalism that creates national identity. There are various definitions for what...

 in Poland, Lithuania and Belarus. The Krajowcy attempted to maintain their dual self-identification as Polish–Lithuanian
Polish-Lithuanian (adjective)
Polish-Lithuanian individuals and groups are those with histories in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. This federation, formally established by the 1569 Union of Lublin between the Kingdom of Poland and Grand Duchy of Lithuania, created a multi-ethnic and multi-confessional state founded on the...

 (gente Lithuanus, natione Polonus) rather than just Polish or Lithuanian. The Krajowcy were scattered and few in numbers and therefore could not organize into a greater movement.


The Krajowcy were mostly descendants of the nobles of the former Grand Duchy of Lithuania
Grand Duchy of Lithuania
The Grand Duchy of Lithuania was a European state from the 12th /13th century until 1569 and then as a constituent part of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth until 1791 when Constitution of May 3, 1791 abolished it in favor of unitary state. It was founded by the Lithuanians, one of the polytheistic...

 (Lithuanian nobility being part of the szlachta
The szlachta was a legally privileged noble class with origins in the Kingdom of Poland. It gained considerable institutional privileges during the 1333-1370 reign of Casimir the Great. In 1413, following a series of tentative personal unions between the Grand Duchy of Lithuania and the Kingdom of...

). They identified themselves with Polish culture, but maintained a sense of loyalty to the old Grand Duchy. The Krajowcy consisted of two wings: the conservative-moderate wing, consisting mostly of large landowners, and the democratic wing, consisting of Vilnius' intelligentsia. The conservative wing was mostly afraid of social upheaval and thus supported authorities of the Russian Empire
Russian Empire
The Russian Empire was a state that existed from 1721 until the Russian Revolution of 1917. It was the successor to the Tsardom of Russia and the predecessor of the Soviet Union...

. They sought expansion of local self-governing and cultural freedom, but did not want to separate from the Empire. The democratic Krajowcy wanted to neutralize ethnic strife and proposed the creation of a civil society
Civil society
Civil society is composed of the totality of many voluntary social relationships, civic and social organizations, and institutions that form the basis of a functioning society, as distinct from the force-backed structures of a state , the commercial institutions of the market, and private criminal...

 in the former territory of the Grand Duchy (principally Lithuania and Belarus), which would include Lithuanians, Poles, Belarusians, Jews, Ukrainians, and other nationalities. Their national identity was not important as long as the person would identify with and feel loyalty to the former Duchy. The state would be formed based not on ethnicity, but on citizenship. The democratic Krajowcy relied on and encouraged the Belarusian and Lithuanian National Revival
Lithuanian National Revival
Lithuanian National Revival, alternatively Lithuanian National Awakening , was a period of the history of Lithuania in the 19th century at the time when a major part of Lithuanian inhabited areas belonged to the Russian Empire...

s, but only to an extent—they opposed nation states and anti-Polonization
Polonization was the acquisition or imposition of elements of Polish culture, in particular, Polish language, as experienced in some historic periods by non-Polish populations of territories controlled or substantially influenced by Poland...

. They did not want to cut the cultural ties with Poland as they were an integral part of the Lithuanian and Belarusian history and heritage. The democratic krajowcy either lukewarmly supported or opposed the Polish federalists
Międzymorze was a plan, pursued after World War I by Polish leader Józef Piłsudski, for a federation, under Poland's aegis, of Central and Eastern European countries...

 who dreamed of resurrecting the Polish-led Commonwealth. These ideas were not adopted by the nationalists: the Lithuanians resented Polish culture and the Poles could not adopt regional traditions and loyalties.


Bishop Antanas Baranauskas
Antanas Baranauskas
Antanas Baranauskas was a Lithuanian poet, mathematician and a catholic bishop of Polish town Sejny. Baranauskas is best known as the author of the Lithuanian language poem Anykščių šilelis. He used various pseudonyms, including A.B., Bangputys, Jurksztas Smalaūsis, Jurkštas Smalaūsis, and Baronas...

 (1835–1902) held views similar to the early Krajowcy (although he was not one of them). Even though he wrote about "our dear nation" in the Lithuanian language
Lithuanian language
Lithuanian is the official state language of Lithuania and is recognized as one of the official languages of the European Union. There are about 2.96 million native Lithuanian speakers in Lithuania and about 170,000 abroad. Lithuanian is a Baltic language, closely related to Latvian, although they...

, he was against disintegration of the former Grand Duchy into ethnic entities: he was against both Lithuanian and Polish nationalism, and hoped that the Lithuanian and Polish languages and cultures could co-exist and expand together.

The democratic Krajowcys were led by Michał Römer / Mykolas Römeris (1880–1946), Tadeusz Wróblewski
Tadeusz Wróblewski
Tadeusz Wróblewski was a Polish–Lithuanian noble, politician, lawyer, bibliophile and cultural activist. He supported the democratic wing of krajowcy movement. Wróblewski sponsored a large library in Vilnius .- Life :...

 (1858–1925) and Ludwik Abramowicz (1879–1939). After the outbreak of the World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, and especially after the re-establishment of the Polish
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

 and Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

n national states, members of the Krajowcy were hard pressed to hold onto their dual self-identification and had to declare their loyalty to one country or the other. Most of them, like Mieczysław Jałowiecki
Mieczysław Jałowiecki
Mieczysław Pieriejasławski-Jałowiecki was a Polish diplomat, agronomist, writer and nobleman.Mieczysław was born in his family manor in Saldutiškis on the lands of the partitioned Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth , or in Rostov-on-Don...

, declared loyalty to Poland. Some, like Michał Pius Römer and Stanisław Narutowicz, chose Lithuania and became citizens there. Raman Skirmunt
Raman Skirmunt
Raman Skirmunt was a notable Belarusian statesman, aristocrat and landlord.Raman Skirmunt was born in the village Porzecze near Pinsk into the local noble family of the Skirmunts...

, an activist of the Krajowcy movement in Belarus, became one of the leaders of the Belarusian Democratic Republic.
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