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Intelligentsia is a broad term labelling a social group comprised of people who make a living out of their mental skills. The term first appeared in Poland in the first half of 19th century. It was later accepted into Russian, and from there it came into English. The intelligentsia as a social class per se however does not exist in western communities.

The Intelligentsia in Poland

In Poland, the intelligentsia comprised a social class. After the partitionss Polish society divided into nobles and peasants, while cities in general remained very weak. But the need for educated specialists created a new class of people: educated, hired professionals: clerks, medics, lawyers etc. They were recruited mainly from amongst former nobles, but also from other circles.

The Polish intelligentsia specifically was considered the backbone of the modern Polish nation. Members of the intelligentsia were well aware of their social status and of their duties, of which working for the country and patriotism were the most important. Most of the Polish intelligentsia was massacred during World War II.

Today, members of the Polish intelligentsia are not necessarily educated people, but people sharing common values: literate, patriotic, believing in their duties etc. However the concept is eroding and the class is slowly disappearing, while its place is being taken by the newborn Polish middle class.