Karol Libelt 1807–1875

He was born in Poznań on the 8th of April 1807. He completed the St. Mary Magdalene High School in Poznań. In 1823-1830 he studied philosophy in Berlin, and was thought highly of by G.W.F. Hegel himself. He received the doctoral degree on the basis of his thesis De Pantheismo In Philosophia. He took an active part in the November Uprising, being promoted Second Lieutenant and receiving for his merits the War Order of Virtuti Militari. He was able to combine his work as a teacher at the Poznań secondary school with secret political activity conducted on a large scale. From 1839 he was the head of Centralizacja Poznańska (nicknamed the ‘Libelt Committee’), which collaborated closely with the émigré Polish Democratic Society in order to prepare another uprising in the Greater Poland. For instance, he wrote down the insurgents’ proclamation, which then formed the basis of the Kraków Manifesto of 1846. Arrested in February 1846, he was sentenced to death in Berlin; the penalty was however then replaced with twenty years in prison-fortress. His term in prison was interrupted by the revolution in Berlin in March 1848. Almost as soon as he was liberated, Libelt joined the Polish National Committee, which directed the Great Poland Uprising, propagating the ideas of people’s war. After the failure of the armed struggle he became active in the Polish League, declared illegal by the Prussian authorities in 1850. He then represented Poznań on the Frankfurt Parliament. During the Prague Slavic Congress of 1848 he presented his vision of independent Poland based on a federal system. In the following years he focused upon the ‘grassroots work’, becoming one of the leading organizers of educational and cultural activity in the Greater Poland: he established the Scientific Help Society and revived the Poznań branch of the Society of Friends of Learning. For a short time he also edited ‘Dziennik Polski’. In 1859-1870 he served as deputy to the House of Representatives of the Landtag of Prussia, where he was twice the chairman of the Polish Club. He died in Brdów, near Wągrowiec, on the 9th of June, 1875. His works include O odwadze cywilnej (1843), O miłości ojczyzny (1844), Kwestia żywotna filozofii. O samowładztwie rozumu (1845), System umnictwa, czyli filozofii umysłowej (1849-50; Umnictevo, a system of ethics, 1857), Estetyka, czyli umnictwo piękne (1849-54).


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