The Lithuanian national movement developed within the context of the nationalities policies of tsarist Russia, and, to a lesser extent, imperial Germany, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There is widespread agreement that Russian nationality policy, contrary to the aims which it was designed to achieve, stimulated the growing national consciousness of its Lithuanian population, thus helping to lay the foundation for the establishment of an independent Lithuanian state after World War I. Scholars do not agree, however, about whether German nationality policy had the same affect on its Lithuanian population, or even whether the various religious, cultural, and political activities that characterized Prussian Lithuanian society during the period of Germanization can accurately be described as a “national” movement. In order to shed some light on this debate the nationalities policies of tsarist Russia and imperial Germany will be studied, using a comparative approach, as they applied to Lithuanians, Poles, and Jews, in the areas of land policy, confessional policy, and language policy. In each of these policy areas, and for each national minority, the following questions will be asked. What were the goals of the policy? How were these policies implemented? How did the national minority that was affected by these policies respond to them? How effective were these policies in practice? Conclusions will then be offered demonstrating the similarities and differences between the goals, implementation, and effectiveness of the nationalities policies of the two empires and the responses of the national minorities that were affected by them.
Submit an update or correction to this abstract.