Conference “Where Have the Varsovians Come From? The Social, Economic and Cultural Consequences of Migration”

The Museum of Warsaw invites the participation in a conference “Where Have the Varsovians Come From? The Social, Economic and Cultural Consequences of Migration”, which is scheduled to be held on the 3rd and 4th of December 2015 in the Conference Hall of the Museum of Warsaw’s Praga District. The object of the conference is to approach, in an interdisciplinary way, in a broad chronological perspective – from the founding of the town to the present times – the migration and origins of the inhabitants of Warsaw and the social, economic and cultural consequences of this phenomenon. We want to address the issues of immigrant integration and the shaping of local communities.


The project entitled “The Modernization, Conservation and Digitisation of Historical Facilities of the Museum of Warsaw’s Principal Seat at the Old Market Square [Rynek Starego Miasta] in Warsaw” benefits from support funding under the European Economic Area Financial Mechanism and the Norwegian Financial Mechanism in “The Conservation and Revitalisation of Cultural Heritage” programme area.

December 3-4, 2015, the Museum of Warsaw’s Praga District, a Branch of the Museum of Warsaw


Day 1, December 3rd, Thursday

9.00 am – 9.30 am Opening of the conference, welcoming of guests

  • Ewa Nekanda-Trepka (Director of the Museum of Warsaw)
  • Robert Zydel (Director of the Marketing Office of the Capital City of Warsaw)
  • Dr Jarosław Trybuś (Deputy Director of the Museum of Warsaw for Substantive Affairs )

Panel I

9.30 am – 11.30 am

Moderator: Professor Andrzej Karpiński

Zbigniew Polak (Museum of Warsaw), Dr Maciej Trzeciecki (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology), How Did Warsaw Come to Be? Archaeology on the cultural and ethnic identity of first inhabitants of the city

Zbigniew Polak (Museum of Warsaw), Dr Maciej Trzeciecki (Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology)

How Did Warsaw Come to Be? Archaeology on the cultural and ethnic identity of first inhabitants of the city

Chartered towns were founded by rulers in need of money. The inhabitants were granted personal liberty, a hereditary right of use of a building plot and an arable plot, and freedom to engage in all kinds of economic activity. In return, they had to pay regularly dues in cash.

For a town to function, people capable of acting by the rules prevailing therein were needed. They were imported, and these newcomers brought with them their habits and skills. It follows that, as a rule, the location of a new town meant a new spatial organisation and leaping changes in the material culture. The type of utility ceramic would change; new categories of things of everyday use would appear (e.g. stave bowls); buildings were erected by the skeleton rather than scribe-fit log method; oak replaced pine as the basic building material; pork, previously a favourite, gave way to beef. These changes cannot be accounted for by such factors as general development, transformations of culture, and the like. The new people were setting the tone of the new town’s life. In time their links with their immediate background grew, but the separateness of “urban” culture persisted. In the same town ceramic articles found on burgher plots differ from those from found on clergy’s or noblemen’s plots; there is a discernible difference between the town and the manor. We want to show this using some concrete examples from Warsaw.

Where had Varsovians come from? The contemporary archaeology tries to steer clear of an ethnic interpretation of archaeological findings, but… The medieval Warsaw is so typical an example of a Hanseatic town that the conclusions are obvious.

Jakub Lorenc, Krzysztof Mrozowski, (Warsaw University, History Department), New Citizens of Old Warsaw, 1508-1526

Mgr Jakub Lorenc, mgr Krzysztof Mrozowski, (Warsaw University, History Department)

New Citizens of Old Warsaw (1508-1526)

The purpose of this presentation is to introduce a group of people who acquired rights granted under the laws of Old Warsaw in 1508-1526. We propose to show this group, numbering 383, based not only on the data preserved in the town’s Album Civium but also drawing on other surviving town records from that period (court and town council registers). By confronting these sources, not only can answers be found to standard questions about the origins of the new citizens and the dynamics of the process under survey, but we can show how the new citizens of the town were finding their feet, so to speak, in the town’s social structures. These issues have yet to be presented exhaustively in the existing literature of the subject.

In our presentation we shall attempt to cover three important issues. First of all, we shall show what the geographic support base of the Old Warsaw was and, consequently, where its new citizens were coming from. From there we shall proceed to draw a collective portrait of the group under survey and, to this end, we shall identify its socio-economic characteristics. Then, as a result of systematic comparison of data contained in various series of town records, further history of the new citizens will be reconstructed, in a period following the acquisition by them of town citizen rights. Finally we propose to show to what extent social origins (an estate), a type of the place of origin (village, town, size of the town), an occupation engaged in or a distance between the former place of habitation and Warsaw influenced the respective lots of the new citizens in the Old Warsaw.

We have been addressing the subject of migration to the Old Warsaw together, in order to make use of the different experiences and methods connected, on the one hand, with research on social topography of the Old Warsaw in the first half of the sixteenth century (Krzysztof Mrozowski) and, on the other hand, with socio-economic contacts among small towns late in the Middle Ages (Jakub Lorenz).

Krzysztof Zwierz (Museum of Warsaw), New 16th-17th Century Varsovians in the Names of Old Town Buildings

Krzysztof Zwierz (Museum of Warsaw)

New 16th-17th Century Varsovians in the Names of Old Town Buildings

In the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century the Old Warsaw experienced an inflow of people who, unlike a majority of temporary visitors (e.g. those arriving for a session of Parliament), decided to stay and throw in their lot with Warsaw. These individuals enlarged and enriched the still modest (in the 16th century) population of residents. The newcomers came from other towns and from villages in the territory of the Republic of Poland, and also from abroad. Representing as they did various social groups and various trades, they contributed many valuable elements to the lives of its residents and to the rhythm of the town’s life. Artisans became an important group among the new Varsovians as they developed production in the new environment. Merchants accounted for a significant proportion of the migrants to Warsaw; many of them made large fortunes and came to hold important town offices. These new Varsovians included builders, architects and representatives of other professions.

When assuming the town’s citizenship, the new residents were bound under law to acquire real property. Some got rich enough to buy whole houses, or even acquired more than one real property in the town, some of them in prime locations in the Market. In time the houses built by them (or for them) came to be commonly known by names deriving from the owner’s surname; this was due to the owners’ business, as well as to other factors.

The object of this paper is to consider the customary, still-used names of Old Town buildings in the perspective of New Varsovians. I want to limit the surveyed sample to the second half of the 16th century and the first half of the 17th century. The source I have used, and which has yielded much interesting information about the New Varsovians, is the register of new residents recognised by the town authorities as holders of the rights and duties under the town’s laws (Album Civium). It contains information about the names of new arrivals, the places they had come from and, in many cases, about their occupations. In this context it will be very interesting to establish who the New Varsovians were, what business or trade they carried on and where their former homes had been. It is also important to estimate the scale of the 16th-to-17th century ame inflow of those New Varsovians whose names remain alive in the still used names of Old Town houses and in the residents’ consciousness.

Dr Radosław Poniat (University of Białystok, Institute of History and Political Sciences), Migrations of Warsaw Inhabitants in the Stanislaus Era

Dr Radosław Poniat (University of Białystok, Institute of History and Political Sciences)

Migrations of Warsaw Inhabitants in the Stanislaus Era

The principal object of this paper is to present a model of the migration processes that occurred in Warsaw in the second half of the 18th century. The analytical part of the paper will be based on a quantitative analysis of mass sources. It will rely predominately on evidence given before Marshall Office prosecutors in 1789-1794; these sources make it possible to follow the fortunes of about 600 Warsaw residents, in particular those belonging to the lower order of the then society. Warsaw parish records of 1791 will play a supporting role.

Detailed research questions will be concerned predominately with the significance of migration for the city’s demographic development, driven as it was chiefly by successive waves of newcomers. The collections of data used in this paper will make it possible to identify the socio-religious groups the migrants had come from and the regions from which most arrivals came. An attempt will also be made to describe the gender and age structure of the new arrivals.

Nest to the demographic characteristics of the population under research, the paper will also address such issues as:

  • motives for migration;
  • stages of migration;
  • functioning of migration networks;
  • occupations engaged in by newcomers;
  • occurrence of return and temporary migrations.


11.30 am – 11.40 am Coffee break

Panel II

11.40 – 13.40

Moderator: Dr Błażej Brzostek

Dr Mirosław Zygmunt Roguski (Liw Castle Association. The Cultural Association of the Liw Land), Migration of Petty Noblemen from the Liw Land to Warsaw in the Second Half of the 18th century and in the 19th Century

Dr Mirosław Zygmunt Roguski (Liw Castle Association. The Cultural Association of the Liw Land)

Migration of Petty Noblemen from the Liw Land to Warsaw in the Second Half of the 18th century and in the 19th Century

In the Liw land, which adjoins the Warsaw land and lies about 60-70 kilometres from Warsaw, a large population of petty noblemen dominated in the 18th and 19th century. They were descendants of knights who in the 14th and 15th century had acquired or received land under the knightly law from Dukes of Mazovia. Then, as family estates were divided among numerous progeny, many of these families became impoverished, losing influence and status. This happened to such houses, influential in Mazovia in the 16th century, as the Zaliwski, the Żukowski and the Wojsławski. In the 17th and 18th century many families moved to other lands in the Kingdom and in Lithuania. This was accompanied by the change of local elites. In the Stanislaus era the property elite and political elite in the Liw land consisted of several families connected with the courts of Stanisław August Poniatowski and his brother, Primate Michał Jerzy Poniatowski. The elite included affluent and influential in Mazovia houses of Cieciszowski, Cieszkowski, Grzybowski, Oborski, Rudziński and Wodziński. A majority of them owned land estates outside the Liw land, as well as manors, houses or palaces in Warsaw. Members of these families held a number of important central and court offices in the capital city and they sat in the Seym and in the local parliament. As they discharged their numerous functions in the capital city, they used services of lower-rank clerks from poorer local nobility families. Many of these found employment in various bodies of central government, in courts and in the Chancellery of the Town of Warsaw.

In the Stanislaus era the capital city became the main target of Liw nobility migration. Property owners in Warsaw were no longer limited to affluent landowners, the Rudziński, Cieciszowski, Grzybowski, Oborski families; the Wielądek, a petty nobility family with a just a small holding owned a separate settlement independent of the municipal authorities. One example of a man who “addressed new challenges” was Wojciech Wincenty Wilądek; after several years of working in the Crown Chancellery he took up gainful occupation as heraldist, copyist, author and translator of theatrical plays and of a cook book. Many new arrivals took up jobs previously considered unworthy of a nobleman. Migrants from the Liw land became artisans, watchmen, servants, and the like. In the Duchy of Warsaw and Kingdom of Poland era their numbers grew. At that time there was a heavy inflow, from the Liw land as well as other parts of Mazovia, of “young men from petty nobility and landed gentry families, in pursuit of an intelligentsia career in the capital city” (J. Kieniewicz, Warszawa w latach 1795-1914, Warszawa 1976, p. 34). Some individuals attained high positions in administration, in the military and in the judiciary, in the municipal authorities of Warsaw, in Bank Polski and the like. This material will present the careers of several new residents of Warsaw.

Dr Joanna Kubicka (University of Warsaw, Institute of Polish Culture), Social Advancement in Warsaw in the Second Half of the 19th Century. New Research Perspectives

Dr Joanna Kubicka (University of Warsaw, Institute of Polish Culture)

Social Advancement in Warsaw in the Second Half of the 19th Century. New Research Perspectives

Warsaw of the second half of the 19th century has been described as a city of rapid growth and growing democratisation, of the birth of new social groups and modern forms of social life. As it underwent social and economic differentiation it became a laboratory, as it were, of social and cultural change. One of the most important transformations of that time was the overcoming of the estate order and the building of the foundations of a democratic society in which promotion opportunities no longer depended on a coat of arms or “a noble birth”. The post-January [1863] period marked also a new opening in the history of the Polish intelligentsia, a social stratum which at that time was gaining a distinct group and social identity. The Warsaw Central School, which was opened in 1862, drew into the city many ardent young intelligentsia members who perceived Warsaw as an important centre of intellectual life and a place of social advancement. Having come to Warsaw in pursuit of a life’s chance and means of livelihood, in time they became important actors of public life. Their biographies show that the development of urban culture in the 19th century Warsaw was largely a derivative of the condition of urban intelligentsia as a budding social stratum.

Łukasz Sobechowicz (University of Warsaw, History Institute), Demographic Analysis of the Population of Warsaw at the Turn of the 19th Century Exemplified by Records of Permanent and Non-permanent Residents

Łukasz Sobechowicz (University of Warsaw, History Institute)

Demographic Analysis of the Population of Warsaw at the Turn of the 19th Century Exemplified by Records of Permanent and Non-permanent Residents

The purpose of this work is to analyse the demographic structure of a single community resident in the house at No 21, Piekna Street and to compare it with that of the rest of the city.

This research is based on the analysis of population records kept in the State Archives in Warsaw, Section 622 Records of Permanent and Non-permanent Residents of the Warsaw Poviat [County]. Population records (maintained both for permanent and non-permanent residents) were kept for each house in Warsaw. They were to provide the order-keeping authorities with information about registered inhabitants and the City Hall – with statistical information. The standard form contained separate fields for parent’s names, date and place of birth, marital status, nationality, religious denomination and source of livelihood.. Besides these, the previous registered address and longer absences from the city were also noted. Maintaining the records was the duty of local police stations; these officials supplemented the records with information provided by landlords.

Only small remnants of the section have survived (barely 10 records out of the several hundred existing at the beginning of the century). This was a serious handicap to the work. The records book for the building at No 21 Piękna Street was selected and studied. This house, located in the southern part of Śródmieście [Central District], represents better-off residents of Warsaw: clerks, businessmen and Russians stationed in Warsaw. Data concerning the latter made it possible to show in more detail the situation of that national minority, which has often been marginalised in historical works.

Out of the records for No 21 Piękna Street entries concerning three years, from 1893 to 1895, were analysed, whereupon large sample statistical research could be conducted. Based on this data the tenants’ social origins and occupation could be researched. Moreover, phenomena not covered directly in the census form could be studied, such as the density of population per flat and per room, length of residence, family and economic relationships, population growth in the context of families’ material situations.

Katarzyna Madoń-Mitzner (The History Meeting House), Project Multinational Warsaw. Foreign Residents of the Capital, 1945-1989

Katarzyna Madoń-Mitzner (The History Meeting House)

Project Multinational Warsaw. Foreign Residents of the Capital, 1945-1989

The project Multinational Warsaw. Foreign Residents of the Capital, 1945-1989, initiated by Professor Jerzy Kochanowski, was carried out in 2010-2013 by the History Meeting House in Warsaw in cooperation with the History Institute of the University of Warsaw. We recorded over 50 biographical audio- and video accounts of foreigners who have resided in Warsaw since the PRL [pre-1989 Poland] times. A separate collection was created in the Archives of Spoken History of the History Meeting House and of the KARTA Centre, enriched by a fairly large collection of family archival photographs and documents, both private and obtained through researching various archives. A selection of this huge material was published in Warszawiacy nie z tej ziemi.

The project was realised using the oral history method. We applied methodological assumptions we had been using for over ten years. The biographical method was supplemented in the project by concrete questions which concerned, besides our respondents’ experiences, their opinions and impressions. We developed a list of subjects, the principal of which were Warsaw and the PRL as seen by foreigners. Superimposed on these was a biographical key (including an expanded autobiographical part covering time until arrival in Warsaw/Poland) and queries about relations with Poles and with the respondent’s own national group, the language, identity, and changes after 1989.

We were not interested in national minorities in the post-war Warsaw, but in individual cases of foreigners, from different parts of the world, who had come here in different decades of the PRL and decided to settle here for personal, professional or political reasons. We wanted in particular to record the varied fortunes of people who are already well-established in the Polish environment, possibly with long records of residence in Warsaw, in particular of foreigners who had come here from outside Europe and for whom the culture clash was potentially more conspicuous and the “one of us/outsider” category more perceptible.

I want to quote and discuss in my paper fragments of narratives recorded for the project, so as to indicate at least what stories – and the underlying experiences and observations – of these unusual Varsovians we succeeded in recording. I propose to focus on several characteristic motives which crop up in many interviews regardless of the respondent’s native country and cultural circle.


13.40 pm – 15.00 pm Lunch break

Panel III

Moderator: Dr Habilitatus Rafał Żebrowski

Michał Zbieranowski, Scots in Warsaw in the 16th-18th century. From Hawkers to Bankers and Mayors

Michał Zbieranowski

Scots in Warsaw in the 16th-18th century. From “Hawkers to Bankers and Mayors

The history of Scottish immigrants in the Republic of Both Nations has not attracted intensive scientific research. Till the 1980s publications on this subject either fell short of the scientific work criteria, or they were chiefly of a popular science nature (works of T.A. Fischer, A.F. Steuart and, by Polish authors, of W. Borowy, S. Seliga, L. Koczey, except for works of A. Wejnert and S. Tomkowicz). This has changed following the publication of Z. Guldon’s and Z. Stępkowski‘s research (which was concerned chiefly with the Małopolska region) and research by A. Biegańska. The early 2000s saw an expansion of research on Scottish emigration (notably works by Kowalski and, recently, P.P. Bajer) but, apart from a single Biegańska article in English, practically nobody addressed Scottish settlement in Warsaw and in the Mazowia region. Yet first cases of Scots being recognised as subjects of the town law of Warsaw had been noted as early as in 1571 and in 1651 as many as over 40 Warsaw residents of Scottish nationality had contributed to a donation for Charles Stuart II. Over centuries these immigrants had taken roots in the tissue of the city and assimilated with the population of Warsaw. Some were just petty merchants and servants; others chose a military career, and few scored a big success and set up largest Warsaw banks (Piotr Fergusson Tepper), or held senior municipal offices (Alexander Chalmers).   My presentation will be concerned with the history of Scottish Varsovians. I would like to show the people, including quite inconspicuous, who found in Warsaw their second home and try to find answers to the questions where they had come from, why they emigrated, what occupations they pursued and to capture the process of their assimilation.

Dr Paweł Fijałkowski (Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw), Inflow of Jewish People to Warsaw in the Saxon and Stanislaus Times (1697-1795). Legal determinants, settlers’ origins and the development of community

Dr Paweł Fijałkowski (Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw)

Inflow of Jewish People to Warsaw in the Saxon and Stanislaus Times (1697-1795). Legal determinants, settlers’ origins and the development of community

As a result of the de non tolerandis Judaeis privilege granted to Warsaw in 1527 by Zygmunt Stary [Sigismund the Old} and confirmed by successive rulers, the Jewish cluster in the city had existed illegally and for a long time it had been highly unstable and small in numbers. It was only during the reign of Stanisław August Poniatowski that it expanded considerably, to become in the 1780s one of the largest Jewish settlements in the Republic.

During the Four Year Seym one of the paramount requests of the Jewish population was the right to reside in Warsaw legally. However, efforts to secure this right aroused objections from Warsaw burghers, who were anxious to retain their old privileges and to drive Israelites out of the city, despite the fact that some of them had lived in Warsaw for twenty or thirty years, and many had been born and spent a large part of their lives here. Yet in view of the uncertain situation the Jews found it difficult to form a stable, well-integrated community together with new arrivals from different parts of the Republic and from abroad.

Since the 1750s authority over Israelites resident in Warsaw and in Praga was exercised by syndics appointed by the Great Crown Marshall. At the same time organisational self-government structures of Jewish people were emerging, a nucleus of a future commune. The religious community in Praga was formed early in the Stanislaus period, formally as a branch of a kahal reporting to the commune in Węgrów. Although the authorities kept refusing permission to create a Jewish commune in Warsaw, this did not prevent the emergence of the local religious community, albeit functioning illegally.

The 18th century Warsaw was co-created by representatives of many nations. The diversity and related antagonisms was shaping the cultural face of the city and of its inhabitants. The complicated situation spurred people into activity and into overcoming barriers in an enterprising way. This phenomenon was one of the drives behind the social and economic processes underway in the Warsaw and it played an important role in the city’s development.

Dr Hanna Węgrzynek (POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews), Inflow of Jews to Warsaw and Praga in the Second Half of the 18th Century

Dr Hanna Węgrzynek (POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews)

Inflow of Jews to Warsaw and Praga in the Second Half of the 18th Century

Jews had been in Warsaw at least since the early 1400s, as evidenced by entries in the oldest court records for Czersk and the Old and New Warsaw. The growth of that Jewish cluster was arrested after the grant to the city, in 1527 of the law de non tolerandis Iudaeis which extended beyond the Old and New Warsaw, to neighbouring locations. From then on, Jews had for centuries striven in vain for the right to legally reside in the city. An important step forward occurred when they were allowed to carry on the business of trading while the Seym [Parliament] was in session. Yet a real breakthrough came with the legislation enacted in the period of Stanisław August Poniatowski’s reign. While the de non tolerandis Iudaeis law had not been abolished, the 1775 Act of the Parliament which permitted Jews to develop disused land and to hold land property under emphyteutic lease, including in the Mazovia Province, albeit excluding Warsaw, was taken advantage of and Jewish settlements, such as Nowa Jerozolima, Nowy Potok and Golędzinów appeared in the vicinity of Warsaw. While the former two had not survived for long, they nevertheless played an important part as a bridgehead for the conduct of business in the both cities. Residence in Warsaw itself continued to be subjected to numerous restrictions, yet the numbers of Jews residing in the city was growing constantly, as evidenced by surviving statistical materials: from about 2.5 thousand in 1764 to 3.5 thousand in 1778 and as many as 7.7 thousand in 1792, a significant proportion of the city’s population at that time. They were coming from various parts of the Republic, near and far, from largest urban centres, such as Kraków and Lublin and from small villages – altogether from some 190 locations.

The same period saw an increased inflow of Jewish people to Praga, where the de non tolerandis Iudaeis law had been less rigorously observed. Late in the 18th century Jews possibly accounted for about 15 percent of the local population.

The object of my presentation will be to show the process of emergence of Jewish clusters on the both sides of the Vistula, the Warsaw and the Praga side, late in the 18th century. I shall endeavour to explain, using selected examples, the reasons for this inflow of Jews to Warsaw and Praga, highlighting some timeless phenomena, such as an increased mobility of a society stimulated by economic problems.

Dr Anna Wiernicka, The Epsteins – Forgotten Varsovians

Dr Anna Wiernicka

The Epsteins – Forgotten Varsovians

The example of one of prominent Warsaw families of Jewish origin will be used to present the settlement in Warsaw of arrivals from the West, adoption by them of economic, philanthropic and political activity, their gradual taking roots in the local community and their growing involvement in matters of the country.

The founder of the family, Jakub Epstein, had come to Warsaw from the borderland of Wielkopolska and Silesia at the time of the Four Year Seym, with a small capital with which to expand his previous business. Regrettably, neither his subsequent involvement in the life of the Jewish commune in Warsaw and his commitment to the Polish national cause (participation in the Kościuszko insurrection) nor his standing as a man of substantial property earned him a matching position in the national community., Ultimately, in 1840 he was granted prominent citizen’s rights. .His descendants were linked with Warsaw by professional and family ties. Jakub’s sons, Herman, Adam and Jan Epstein, engaged in industrial investment projects in Warsaw and in neighbouring areas. They frequently, an successfully, presented their products at national, international and world exhibitions.

The successive generations of Epsteins were affected by political turmoil and wars.. After the November [1831] Rising they supported financially people persecuted for their involvement in that national insurgency. Thirty years later Mikołaj Stanisław, Jakub’s grandson, was exiled to Siberia for his activity in support of the January [1863] Rising. Having served part of the punishment he did not return to Warsaw, but he settled in Lviv. The oldest of Jakub’s grandsons, also named Mikołaj, died of wounds received in a skirmish during the Rising..

The period of German occupation during the Second World War imprinted itself on the history of the Epstein family. Jakub’s descendants resident in Warsaw were arrested in circumstances which have yet to be clarified and their further lot is unknown. Later, Aleksander was the only Epstein living in Warsaw, under a changed name, the dramatic wartime experiences notwithstanding,.

Throughout all these years members of the family left Warsaw from time to time for family, business and historical reasons, but they returned. Although their graves are scattered in cemeteries of various religious denominations all over Europe, the largest number of them is in Warsaw’s Powązki cemetery.


Day 2 – December 4th, Friday

Panel IV

9.00 am – 10.35 am

Moderator: Dr Krzysztof Mikołajewski

Marta Kuc (Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, History Institute), German-speaking Residents of the Eighteenth Century Warsaw

Marta Kuc (Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw, History Institute)

German-speaking Residents of the Eighteenth Century Warsaw

This presentation will be devoted to the community of German-speaking immigrants who resided in Warsaw in the 18th century. While they had arrived in particularly large numbers during the reign of the kings from the Saxon dynasty of Wettin, August II and August III, this inflow did not cease under the rule of the last king of Poland, Stanisław August Poniatowski, encouraged as it had been by a law, adopted by the Seym, which granted Protestants equal rights with those of Catholics to seek the city’s citizenship.

The presentation will address issues proper to research on migrations, which make possible the drawing of a characteristics of this group of Warsaw residents. Firstly, the directions of migration – that is, where the arrivals were coming from – will be identified. Second, their occupational structure will be presented. There were officials of the royal court, artists and soldiers among the immigrants, yet merchants and artisans predominated. Thirdly, divisions by religious denomination existing among them will be presented. It should be noted that the German-speaking immigrants were by no means all Lutheran; Roman Catholics accounted for a sizable group among them.

Also addressed will be issues connected with the integration of these immigrants in the urban environment of Warsaw. Sites of German-speaking people’s settlement in Warsaw will be indicated and the immigrants’ attitude towards the institution of city citizenship and their functioning within the guild and merchant fraternity structure will be discussed. Church structures which integrated the German-speaking immigrants – the parish of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession for Evangelist immigrants and the St. Benon fraternity for German-speaking Catholics – will be noted.

The German-speaking immigrants were the largest group, by numbers, among the foreigners coming to Warsaw in the 18th century. Accordingly, the principal object of the presentation will be to identify the consequences of this migration for the socio-economic and political-cultural spheres of the city in the 18th century.

dr Keya Thakur-Smolarek (Aleksander-Brücker-Zentrum, Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany), Entepreneurs of German origin in Warsaw during the economic upswing 1864-1913

dr Keya Thakur-Smolarek (Aleksander-Brücker-Zentrum, Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany)

Entepreneurs of German origin in Warsaw during the economic upswing 1864-1913

Varsovian entrepreneurs of German origin during the 19th century Entrepreneurs who had immigrated from Central Europe to Warsaw during 19th century contributed substantially to the economic rise of the region. Since the beginning of the century, Germans, mainly Jewish, and their descendants had been large-scale manufacturers, bankers, owners of railway-lines and publishers. While it is widely recognized, that in Lodz German and Jewish industrials had played an important role for the development of the local industry, still little is known about the Warsaw employers of German origin, who alongside to Polish industrialists shaped the economy of the region.

The presentation shows the history of business people who had immigrated from Germany and Austria to Warsaw since the period, in which the Prussian rule was established. It shows the foundation of their companies in the context of the specific economic conditions during Prussian, French and Russian rule. The paper points out the function of the large-scaled enterprises run by German owners for the industrial development of Warsaw, and for the upturn, which took place after the seventies of the 19th century and led to high industrialization in the region. Moreover, the paper discusses the connection between the elite change and the rise of the newcomers from Germany, Jewish and non-Jewish. The last part focusses the family history and career of the Varsovian Ferdynand Hoesick (1867–1941), Christian publisher of German origin, on the base of his memoirs.

Andrzej Buczyński (Warsaw University, Centre for East European Studies), Russian Orthodox Chaplains of the Tsarist Garrison in Warsaw – Ministers of Russian Migrants in the Capital of the Polish Province

Andrzej Buczyński (Warsaw University, Centre for East European Studies)

Russian Orthodox Chaplains of the Tsarist Garrison in Warsaw – Ministers of Russian Migrants in the Capital of the Polish Province

The 19th century Warsaw, much like other industrialising European cities, was the scene of a spectacular population growth. This was by no means attributable solely to achievements of the applied sciences which reflected directly on people’s health or wealth; long-postponed social reforms were a factor too, primarily the freeing of peasants, an estate which provided inexhaustible supply of labour for industry. Yet Warsaw differed from other European cities in that it was the capital of the most westward province of an Euro-Asian empire, the Russian Empire, which took advantage of the “power and steam” revolution to conserve an archaic political system, the authoritarian system. Hence its officials’ dread of any and all manifestations of democratisation. Millions of de-classed subjects looking for a new place and way to live were being watched by thousands of pairs of policemen’s eyes. Although civilisational transformations were relentless and although there were not enough jobs for professional “minders” of the state’s security, there was no indulgence for these changes. The Tsarist apparatus was even prepared to apply disintegration measures by way of prevention, to keep revolution at bay. Proletariat of peasant origin was to be watched by peasants pressed into an army that was used for internal, police purposes. The solidarity of estate was broken by loyalty to the Russian nation. The task of building up a modern image of the same among the Russian soldiers in the garrisons stationed on the Vistula had been entrusted to Russian Orthodox chaplains, many of whom were themselves of peasant origins. Using the prestige they enjoyed among the God-fearing muzhiks they took the opportunity offered by the teaching of Russian Orthodox faith to inoculate them with Russian chauvinism, a sentiment that compensated those poor souls for social fears engendered in them by Warsaw which was alien in terms of estate, ethnicity and religion.

I propose to present in my paper a collective portrait of Russian Orthodox chaplains to the Tsarist garrison in Warsaw in the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century, namely ministers working for Protoprezbiter of the Army and the Fleet. They were charged by the Tsarist system with the task of political socialisation of the temporary Russian migrants – peasants doing military service in the Warsaw garrison. The principal chronological framework of the paper will be limited to a forty-years period which was stable both politically and in terms of legislation – from the introduction of universal conscription in 1874 to the outbreak of war with Japan in 1904.

The participants of the conference will be informed about the background, education and the course of service of the Russian Orthodox chaplains. They will learn their names, the Russian armed formations to with the chaplains were attached and concrete dislocations (addresses) and military churches appointed to them. The most interesting biographies will be developed into separate micro-histories. The subject proposed by me has not been addressed in a broader way in the literature on Warsaw.


10.35 am – 10.45 am Coffee break

Panel V

10.45 am – 12.50 pm

Presentations of research on migration in Iceland, prepared by the Selfoss Icelandic Turf Houses Museum, the partner of the Museum of Warsaw in the “odNowa” project

Moderator: Professor Grażyna Szelągowska

  • Hannes Larusson (Icelandic Turf Houses), Sigurjón Badur Hafsteinsson (University of Iceland), Reykjaviks architectural policy in the late 19th century
  • Olga Hołownia (University of Iceland), Fjallkonan and her place in Reykjavik in the post-war period
  •  Tinna Grétarsdóttir (University of Iceland), Children migration in Iceland after 1944
  •  Anna Wojtyńska (University of Iceland), Polish migrants in the capital area of Iceland
To find one's place in Reykjavik: Migrations of people, households and traditions after 1944

The twentieth century was a revolutionary time for the capital of Iceland. Around 1900 the population of Reykjavik was just about 6000 and it was a rather modest-looking town which tended to puzzle foreign visitors. In his poem included in Letters from Iceland (1937), the Irish poet Louis MacNeice wrote “The reason for hereness seems beyond conjecture / There are no trees or trains or architecture”. Naturally, with a population of over 120.000 and an ever-expanding urban architecture, Reykjavík was a radically different place at the turn of the millennium. A critical part of that change was a mass migration from the rural to the capital, particularly in the post-war years. For the new city-dwellers, it was a constant negotiation between their old customs and a desire to create a modern city. In a sense, a way of finding a compromise between nature and civilisation. The recent influx of Polish migrants to Iceland and their move from the coastal areas to the capital, has also had an effect on the city of Reykjavík and its communities. These and other concerns will be addressed in four presentations which touch upon different aspects of migration.

We will start off with a presentation by Hannes Lárusson (Icelandic Turf Houses) and Sigurjón Baldur Hafsteinsson (University of Iceland). Their talk will focus on Reykjavík´s architectural policy that started in the late 19th century and was coined around deep dissatisfaction with Iceland’s architectural history. The architectural policy took modernist dogma to its extreme which resulted in the eradication of traditional architecture in Reykjavík, namely the turf-houses. This eradication was justified on the basis of increased migration of people from the countryside to the capital and also, by the perceived need of building more suitable and healthier housing. In this talk we will touch upon this history, with the argument in scope that migration and architecture are interlinked. That includes more recent migration from Poland to Reykjavik, but Polish workers and tradesmen have in recent years played a vital role in Reykjavík´s architectural history.

Reykjavík has also became a place in which some of the old traditions found its new place. In her presentation, Olga Hołownia (University of Iceland), will talk about “Fjallkonan” (the Lady of the Mountain) and the way she found her place in Reykjavík in the post-war period. First mentioned by name in a poem by Bjarni Thorarensen (1786–1841) and depicted by the German painter Johann Baptist Zwecker (1814–1876), Fjallkonan gradually became the symbol of Iceland’s fight for independence. Interestingly, it was among the community of Icelandic immigrants in Canada, that she was placed at the centre of an annual celebration. This tradition, however, “migrated” back to Iceland after the country regained its full independence in 1944, and now Fjallkonan is an integral feature of Iceland’s Independence Day celebrated on July 17th. On this day, an actress dressed as the Lady of the Mountain stands in front of the parliament building (made out of hewn Icelandic stone in 1881) and recites a poem. The paper will discuss Fjallkonan’s presence in Reykjavík, including the controversies surrounding the national symbol in view of the city’s growing multiculturalism.

Next, Tinna Grétarsdóttir (University of Iceland) will talk about Reykjavík children on the road: children migration in Iceland after 1944. She will discuss the 20th century Icelandic custom to send children from Reykjavik to rural areas without the company of a parent or a legal guardian during the summer months. Such migration, referred to as independent child migration, is increasingly implicated as child trafficking when occurring in low-income countries. The research is a collaboration between scholars in visual anthropology, social work, literature, social and cultural anthropology and children studies. In our presentation the custom will be discussed at macro and micro level; how its arrangements, rationalizations, experiences and discourses relate to socio-economic changes, social status, upbringing, gender, kinship, and intergenerational relations, as well as new trends in child rights and labour, mechanisation of agriculture and occupational security. We will also discuss the involvement of the state and municipalities and child protection authorities. The methodology builds on multidisciplinary approach using qualitative, quantitative, textual and visual approaches that will give varied types of data including semi-formal interviews, visual data (photographs, films), archival data (letters, legislations, policy reports, evaluations, statistics), literature (autobiographies, children literature).

Finally, Anna Wojtyńska (University of Iceland) in her presentation entitled “Polish migrants in the capital area of Iceland”, will be looking at yet another and the most recent aspect of migration in relation to Reykjavik. Poles have been migrating to Iceland since the early 1970s. The significant intensification of the flows from Poland to Iceland, however, had not started before 2006, when Iceland opened its labour market to the citizens of the new EU member states. Initially, the Poles would settle down in the coastal villages around Iceland and work in the fish processing plants. Only with the boom in construction industry, migration was predominantly directed to the capital region. Moreover, many of the migrants who first arrived to the countryside, over the years, tend to move to Reykjavik. Consequently, of more than 10.000 Polish migrants currently registered in Iceland, 54% live in Reykjavik and surrounding towns. Anna Wojtyńska will discuss the Polish migration to Iceland with the special focus on migration to the capital area. She will present main characteristic of the migration, formation of migrant neighbourhoods as well as migrants’ position in Reykjavík.


12.50 pm – 14.00 pm Lunch break

Panel VI

14.00 pm – 15.15 pm

Moderator: Dominik Owczarek

Agata Gołąb (Polish Academy of Sciences, History Institute), Cultural Adaptation of Migrants from Villages and Small Settlements in Warsaw after the Second World War

Agata Gołąb (Polish Academy of Sciences, History Institute)

Cultural Adaptation of Migrants from Villages and Small Settlements in Warsaw after the Second World War

The paper addresses the issue of cultural adaptation by people who came to Warsaw after the Second World War from villages and small towns. As the war ended, people were returning to the ruined Warsaw. Residents of villages and small towns were a particularly numerous group among these arrivals, migration and adaptation to a new place being their common experience. In ethnographic research I conducted in 2009-2011 I followed the process of their growing into the city. My respondents were people aged between 70 and 80 who had come to Warsaw from villages and small towns, mostly in the Mazowsze region, between 1945 and 1959.

In the paper I shall present the context of the phenomenon under research and data on migration to Warsaw. I shall discuss terms of cultural adaptation and theoretical approaches used in analysing this phenomenon. From the material collected by me it follows that the processes of migrant adaptation in a new environment defy being bundled into a single useful model. The adaptation theories tested in analysis do not always prove accurate. The face of adaptation emerging from the collected narrations is positive in most cases. The newcomers were characterised by strong motivation to change their lives, a desire to get an education and jobs. In the city they encountered neither major conflicts with Varsovians, nor any occupational or food supply problems they were incapable of handling. They had an active attitude and after a relatively short time they came to feel at home in Warsaw, many of them getting to high positions at work. One possible explanation of this easiness of adaptation could be the unique context present in Warsaw. According to the theory of R.E. Park and E.W. Brugess, for full assimilation to happen it is necessary to share common experiences and traditions with the accepting group. It seems that the situation prevailing in the capital made meeting these conditions possible.

Grażyna Szymańska (Warsaw University, Institute of Sociology), Varsovians of Vietnamese Extraction on the Culture Map of the Capital

Grażyna Szymańska (Warsaw University, Institute of Sociology)

Varsovians of Vietnamese Extraction on the Culture Map of the Capital

Arrivals from Vietnam are a community that has been present in the landscape of Warsaw for over twenty years. What’s more, they stand out among the other migrant communities not only for their significant number (estimated at present at some 10 thousand) but also by a tendency to cluster, which results in the emergence of Vietnamese quarters on the map of Warsaw. Locations popular among the Vietnamese have been changing over time, depending on where the centre of this group’s economic activity was. In the 1990s many Vietnamese lived in the Praga region (near the 10th Anniversary Stadium) and in the Za Żelazną Bramą settlement. Now that the Stadium is no more, and with a complex of trading halls erected at Wólka Kosowska, the patterns of Vietnamese settlement are diversifying observably. Włochy, Ursus and Ochota (the better-of Vietnamese live in the latter, particularly in higher-standard housing complexes near the Szczęśliwicki Park) are the preferred districts. Then, a proportion of the Vietnamese community have moved out of the city, to areas in the Raszyn and Lesznowola communes.

In my presentation I want to analyse the changing patterns of Vietnamese habitation in Warsaw and to consider the contribution this community has been making into the culture landscape of the city.


15.15 pm – 15.30 pm Coffee break

Panel VII

15.30 pm – 18.00 pm

Research on the identity of Warsaw and Its inhabitants conducted in cooperation by the Museum of Warsaw and the Marketing Office of the Capital City of Warsaw

Moderator: Dr Magdalena Łukasiuk

Robert Zydel (Marketing Office of the Capital City of Warsaw), dr Magdalena Wróblewska (Museum of Warsaw) – the opening of a research panel on the indentity of inhabitants of Warsaw

  • Professor Maria Lewicka (University of Warsaw, Psychology Department), Factors Influencing Attachment to Warsaw and on a Varsovian identity
  • Przemysław Piechocki (Marketing Office of the Capital City of Warsaw), How Do We Perceive Warsaw and Its Inhabitants?
  • Adrian Wójcik (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Humanities Department), ”Glass Jars” vs. ”native Varsovians” – How Do They Perceive Each Other?
  • Marta Byrska, Paweł Ciacek (Millward Brown), Warsaw in Its Residents’ Experience


Research on the identity of Warsaw and Its inhabitants

The 21st century has been described as an age of cities which, after the years of crisis and coma observed in the mid-1900s, are now reviving. Under the present socio-economic order the supreme factor determining the development of urban centres are people and their capitals (cultural, social, economic). At the same time globalisation processes, the advancement of technology and new models focused on individualistic life strategies have made changing one’s place to live easier than ever. What’s more, according to Spanish sociologist Manuel Castells, globalisation is shaping “a space of flows” (flow of people, information, goods, and the like). People living in the space of flows, i.e. the most mobile individuals, live in a different space than the residents of “the space of places”, rooted as they are in their traditional, stable world. Accordingly, new processes are a challenge to cities which, besides solving potential tensions, must constantly seek to attract mobile residents. One of the factors which determine our desire to live in a given place is our attachment to it. When residents have taken roots, this is also linked with their desire to involve in local affairs, to establish social relations, or with a stronger sense of security, For this reason research on identity and attachment to a place is important for the development of a city. In this panel we shall present the findings of a research project “The Identity of Warsaw and Its Inhabitants” in which we applied classic social research techniques, quantitative and qualitative. In the course of the meeting we shall attempt to answer certain questions, including following ones: What is the identity of Warsaw and its inhabitants? Are the space of flows and the space of place really irreconcilable? Can mobile people, imigrants from other cities, form a bond with their new place of residence? Can ”non-Varsovians by birth” become ”true Varsovians” – and on what conditions? What is Warsaw residents’ experience of Warsaw?