An "Era of Reconciliation" in German-Polish Relations (1890-1894)
Slavic Review: Interdisciplinary Quarterly of Russian, Eurasian, and East European Studies
With Bismarck's dismissal as head of the German and Prussian governments in 1890, a number of policies bearing his personal stamp were called into question, including his Polish policy. The chancellorship of General von Caprivi (1890-94) saw a perceptible twist in the long history of relations between the Prussian/German governments and their Polish subjects, causing both contemporaries and historians to speak of an "era of reconciliation" (Versöhnungsära). During this period, Polish leaders
... ported government legislation and offered to work to strengthen the German Empire, while the Caprivi administration indicated its desire for better relations with the Poles and made a number of concessions to them. The Era of Reconciliation did not last long, however, not even as long as Caprivi's own tenure; its net results were meager, and after 1894 the idea of German-Polish cooperation faded away. Although this period has attracted the interest of some scholars of German-Polish relations, it has not received (perhaps because of its aberrant character) its fair share of attention in general works on German-Polish relations. Quite fundamental questions—for example, what prompted the milder Polish policies and why did they turn out so disappointingly—remain without adequate answers. In considering these questions, it is important to keep in mind that the Era of Reconciliation was a two-way street: a merger of government policy under Caprivi with a parallel trend toward "loyalism" within the Polish leadership.