Agaton Giller 1831-1887

He was born in Opatówek on the 9th of January, 1831. His father, Jan Kanty Giller, was the mayor of his hometown and a former Napoleonic soldier. During the Spring of Nations Agaton Giller tried to force his way into Hungary to join the insurgent Polish Legion, but was caught by the Prussians and spent nine months in prison in Racibórz to be released only in February 1850. He worked as a tutor in Greater Poland and then he moved to Galicia. But on the 10th of April, 1853, the Austrian police – who kept track of his pro-independence activities – delivered him to the Russian authorities who put him in the Warsaw Citadel on charge of anti-Russian activity. He was then deported to Eastern Siberia and, several years later, described his many-months’ journey to the place of his destination, made on foot in terrible conditions. Although in 1858 he was released from service in a penal battalion, he was commanded to settle down in Irkutsk, where he established a Polish school. Giller returned to Poland in 1860. He incited to another revolt against Russia, although he believed that a favourable moment had to be chosen for its outbreak. On the 15th of October, 1861, he was wounded in the massacre in the Warsaw Cathedral when Russian troops pacified Polish civilians who gathered in the church to celebrate the anniversary of Tadeusz Kościuszko’s death. Giller wrote for the Kraków “Czas” and was active on the Central National Committee (KCN). He resigned from the latter body since he deemed the outbreak of the January Uprising premature. However, he was out of the Committee for a short space, only to return already on the 24th of February, 1863. He became a member of the Polish National Government and, after Stefan Bobrowski’s death, played a crucial role in the cabinet. He also contributed to the insurgent press. In the contemporary conflict between the most important political circles – the radical “Reds” and the moderate “Whites” – he preferred the standpoint of the latter faction. Having received an anonymous death sentence, he resolved to leave Poland, which he did in December 1863. He stayed in Saxony and Switzerland, eventually to settle down in Paris (1867). In 1870 he received a temporary permission to settle in Galicia. In that period he was the columnist of “Gazeta Narodowa”; in 1876 he also headed the editorial board of “Ruch Literacki”. He engaged in polemics with the political line of the Conservative circle of “Stańczycy” which was conciliatory towards Austria. Members of that environment were to contribute to the Austrian authorities’ decision to expel Giller from Galicia. In exile he continued his activities in favour of the Polish cause. For instance, he co-founded the Polish Museum in Rapperswil (the town in which he lived); he was involved in the formation of the Polish Legion in Turkey. He returned to Poland in 1884 and settled down – under constant surveillance – in Stanisławów, where he died on the 17th of August, 1887. His works include Podróż więźnia etapami do Syberii 1854 (1866), Z wygnania (1870), Historia powstania narodu polskiego (1867-1871), Aleksander hrabia Wielopolski margrabia Gonzaga Myszkowski (1878), and O serwilizmie i serwilistach (1879).


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