Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

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michael mills
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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by michael mills » 14 Jan 2016 03:12

Parts of West Prussia given to Poland - or the "Polish Corridor" (Pomerelia) - had a German-speaking minority of 40% according to the census of 1910 (which - however - exaggerated the percentage of German speakers, as all other censuses including the census of 1905 and the census of School Children from 1911 prove). But parts of Posen and Silesia given to Poland certainly did not have so numerous Germans.
The percentage of ethnic Germans in the territories taken from Germany after the First World War varied from place to place. In Danzig it was the highest, around 90%, in other places it was obviously lower. In the Memelland it was about 50%.

The 40% figure refers to the territories lost to Germany as a whole, consisting of areas where the percentage of ethnic Germans was very high, as in Danzig, and areas where it was much lower, as in the rural areas of the Posen Province.

The estimate of about one million Germans leaving the lost eastern regions was made by Hermann Rauschning in his 1930 book "Die Entdeutschung Westpreussens und Posens".

For example, according to the 1910 census, of the 2.1 million population of the Posen Province, a bit over 800,000 were German-speakers, constituting 38.5 %. That figure included German officials and troops stationed in the province, but they would have accounted for only a small proportion of the total; it must be assumed that the great majority were genuine residents of the province.

After the First World War, the percentage of ethnic Germans in the part of the former Posen Province that was given to Poland, ie by far the greater part of it, fell to only 7 percent. Part of the drop was due to some border regions of the Posen Province with mainly German populations being left with Germany, but that cannot account for most of the drop, since a large part of the ethnic German population had lived in the city of Posen and other major towns, which were given to Poland. The cities in the western part of Poland lost about 85% of their German inhabitants; the number of Germans in Posen city fell from 87,000 in 1910 to only 11,000 in 1931.

Other sources that I have seen state that 600,000 ethnic Germans left Poland after the First World War (which might include persons who left the former Russian and Austrian zones). Whatever the figure was, it was substantial. Some of the emigration was voluntary, but there can be no doubt that a certain amount of coercion was used, since it was the policy of the immediate post-war Polish Government, dominated by Dmowski's National Democrats, to push as many ethnic Germans out of Poland as possible.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 14 Jan 2016 08:56

The percentage of ethnic Germans in the territories taken from Germany after the First World War varied from place to place. In Danzig it was the highest, around 90%, in other places it was obviously lower. In the Memelland it was about 50%.
Except that Danzig did not become part of Poland, but was made a Free City.

Neither did Memelland become part of Poland, but of Lithuania.
and areas where it was much lower, as in the rural areas of the Posen Province.
In rural areas of Provinz Posen percent of Germans was actually quite high, partially due to activities of the Prussian Colonization Commission. But in western regions of the Province, many villages were areas ethnically German already before the Partitions of Poland. The main area of German settlement between 1772 and 1918, was the Noteć (Netze) River Valley - including the region around the city of Bydgoszcz, which was transformed from a small ethnically Polish-Jewish city (or town), into a large ethnically German city - and renamed Bromberg.

In Regierungsbezirk Oppeln (Upper Silesia), percentage of ethnic Germans was similar or even lower than in Provinz Posen.
For example, according to the 1910 census, of the 2.1 million population of the Posen Province, a bit over 800,000 were German-speakers, constituting 38.5 %. That figure included German officials and troops stationed in the province
Some of my ancestors were counted among those German-speakers as well. The census inflated the number of Germans. Compare the German census of 1910 to the Polish one of 1931 - both inflated the number of "titular nationality" in their respective eastern provinces. You will rather get a more accurate picture of people identifying as Germans when you check Lutherans - they were 30% of the total population.

According to the Polish census of 1931, there were 4 million ethnic Poles in parts of Poland to the east of the Curzon Line - around 2,3 million in West Ukraine and around 1,7 million in West Belarus and Vilna Region. But that number included a lot of people who were not Roman Catholics (for example out of 1,7 million Poles in West Belarus and Vilna Region, over 300,000 were not Roman Catholics). Perhaps they really identified as Poles at that time, but within that group identities were fluent - and they could stop identyfing as Poles during or after WW2.

The same refers for example to Catholic German-speakers in Provinz Posen or in West Prussia, who could easily become Poles again.
Other sources that I have seen state that 600,000 ethnic Germans left Poland after the First World War (which might include persons who left the former Russian and Austrian zones). Whatever the figure was, it was substantial.
600,000 is more realistic than 1 million. As I wrote, from parts of West Prussia given to Poland, about 125,000 left. That would mean that from all other areas 475,000 left. They were partially replaced by Poles moving in the opposite direction - from areas which remained parts of Germany after WW1, to the newly formed Polish state (for example in Pomerelia 53,000 - in Upper Silesia the number was higher).
The cities in the western part of Poland lost about 85% of their German inhabitants
The main problem is that some of them were lost only on paper.

Many of them were still there, but those were such people who were counted as Germans in 1910, and then counted as Poles in 1921. The same was the case with large part out of several million ethnic Poles to the east of the Curzon Line (in Poland, the USSR and the Baltic States) during and after WW2 - many were lost only on paper, because they were still there, but no longer counted as ethnic Poles.
There are words which carry the presage of defeat. Defence is such a word. What is the result of an even victorious defence? The next attempt of imposing it to that weaker, defender. The attacker, despite temporary setback, feels the master of situation.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 14 Jan 2016 09:13

There is a book by Dr. Georg Hassel, titled "Statistischer Umriß der sämmtlichen europäischen und der vornehmsten außereuropäischen Staaten, in Hinsicht ihrer Entwickelung, Größe, Volksmenge, Finanz- und Militärverfassung, tabellarisch dargestellt", Erster Heft, "Welcher die beiden großen Mächte Österreich und Preußen und den Deutschen Staatenbund darstellt", published in Weimar in 1823.

It gives the following data on ethnic structure of West Prussia as of year 1819 (page 42):

Polen -------- 327,300 (52%)
Deutsche ---- 290,000 (46%)
Juden -------- 12,700 (2%)

Gesamt ---- 630,077 (100%)


And the following data on ethnic structure of Provinz Posen as of year 1819 (page 43):

Polen -------- 680,100 (77,0%)
Deutsche ---- 155,000 (17,5%)
Juden -------- 48,700 (5,5%)

Gesamt ---- 883,972 (100%)


According to Hassel, in 1819 the number of ethnic Poles in both regions was even higher than that of Catholics. This indicates, that some of Lutherans living in those regions in 1819 were ethnically Polish at that time, and became Germanized only later.

As for the census of 1910 - let's remember, that in that census nearly all ethnic Jews in eastern provinces, were counted as German-speakers. If you argue with German nationalists today, they will actually claim that those "believers of Judaism" were Germans - not ethnic Jews - and that Nazi Germany was wrong by calling Jews a separate ethnicity. However, Jews don't think that they are Germans.

Tomasz Kamusella - whose books were mentioned by Michael - is one of these guys who counts Jews as Germans, AFAIK.

Quite ironic considering that Nazi Germany counted them as an alien race and exterminated them mercilessly.

Many Jews today agree, that they are indeed a separate race - and they are actually proud of being a race of their own.

With the exception of self-hating ones, of course: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-hating_Jew
michael mills wrote:That figure included German officials and troops stationed in the province, but they would have accounted for only a small proportion of the total
They were a rather significant proportion, especially if you add their families (wifes and children) as well. Prussia was famous for its overgrown state apparatus and for its overgrown army. I don't know what percent of the labour force was employed by the government, but for example today countries such as France and Norway employ respectively 25% and 35% of their total labour force in government jobs. Even if in Prussia the percent of government jobs was just several percent (a one-digit number), then it was still a lot of people.
There are words which carry the presage of defeat. Defence is such a word. What is the result of an even victorious defence? The next attempt of imposing it to that weaker, defender. The attacker, despite temporary setback, feels the master of situation.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by michael mills » 14 Jan 2016 12:28

Except that Danzig did not become part of Poland, but was made a Free City.

Neither did Memelland become part of Poland, but of Lithuania.
Yes, but I was referring to the entire territory lost by Germany after the First World War, which included those two regions. In that entire territory, ethnic Germans were a minority of the population, but a very large minority, around 40% in all, varying from a large majority in a part like Danzig to a very small minority in other parts, such as some districts of Upper Silesia or West Prussia.

I was responding to a post that stated that only territory in which Germans were a minority were taken away from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles. Strictly speaking that is correct, since the population of the entire area lost by Germany was less than 50% ethnically German; but Germans still constituted a substantial minority in that area, and in some parts were a majority.
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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by michael mills » 14 Jan 2016 12:48

As for the census of 1910 - let's remember, that in that census nearly all ethnic Jews in eastern provinces, were counted as German-speakers. If you argue with German nationalists today, they will actually claim that those "believers of Judaism" were Germans - not ethnic Jews - and that Nazi Germany was wrong by calling Jews a separate ethnicity. However, Jews don't think that they are Germans.
That is an interesting issue. Generally speaking, the Jews of West Prussia and the Posen Province rapidly became culturally and linguistically germanised in the course of the 19th Century, essentially because they did not have a strong Polish identity in the first place, and Jews have traditionally tended to identify with and ally themselves to whatever power is ruling the land where they live (unless of course that power rejects them, as National Socialist Germany did).

In fact, the majority of the Jews of those two former Polish provinces emigrated to Germany proper before the First World War, in particular to Berlin, and formed the bulk of the Jewish population of the German Empire.

Thus it was quite reasonable for German census-takers in 1910 to count the remaining Jews of West Prussia and the Posen Province as ethno-linguistically German.

It is noteworthy that Dmowski and the National Democrats considered the Jews of Poland to be pro-German and disloyal to Poland. That was a natural reaction on their part, since their political base was in the Posen Province, and they observed the germanisation of the Jews of that region and their identification with Germany.

After the First World War, almost all the Jews remaining in the German territory transferred to Poland chose to emigrate to Germany, along with the bulk of the ethnic German population. They considered that the new Polish state would be more hostile to them than Germany, and in that assessment they were quite correct - until Hitler came to power.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Jan 2016 12:50

Hi Michael,

You ask, "The Poles"? Which Poles?".

Any Poles.

Your Polish German-tendency was in power only very briefly in the early 1920s. Its ambitions were little beyond the borders actually achieved (and certainly nowhere near the post-WWII settlement). It lost its claim to Masuria through a plebiscite, it lost Danzig to the League of Nations and only in Silesia was there continuing serious friction, which ended in stalemate on the ground.

As I said before ".....the borders settled down along fairly reasonable lines over 1919-39. This left the Poles with little scope for practical "territorial plans against Germany" before the war."

Cheers,

Sid.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by michael mills » 14 Jan 2016 12:59

It gives the following data on ethnic structure of West Prussia as of year 1819 (page 42):

Polen -------- 327,300 (52%)
Deutsche ---- 290,000 (46%)
Juden -------- 12,700 (2%)

Gesamt ---- 630,077 (100%)

And the following data on ethnic structure of Provinz Posen as of year 1819 (page 43):

Polen -------- 680,100 (77,0%)
Deutsche ---- 155,000 (17,5%)
Juden -------- 48,700 (5,5%)

Gesamt ---- 883,972 (100%)
Those figures are what I would expect, given that the Posen Province had never been part of a German state until 1793, whereas West Prussia had been part of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Order for over 150 years from the beginning of the 14th Century until halfway through the 15th, and then had been continuously part of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1772 onward.

Thus, the degree of germanisation, through colonisation and assimilation, would naturally be greater in West Prussia, since it had been under German rule for a considerably longer period than the Posen Province.

In addition, the Posen Province consisted of greater Poland, the original heartland of the Polish state, and Polish national identity was very strong there.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by michael mills » 14 Jan 2016 13:16

Your Polish German-tendency was in power only very briefly in the early 1920s. Its ambitions were little beyond the borders actually achieved (and certainly nowhere near the post-WWII settlement).
The Oder-Neisse frontier was actually proposed by a National Democrat during the First World War (I can no longer remember the name of the specific person), and the proposed Polish State linked to the Russian Empire negotiated by Dmowski with the Russian Imperial Government while he was in St Petersburg in 1914 was to include, in addition to Russian Poland, the then German territories of West Prussia, the Posen Province, Silesia, and part of Pomerania, and the western part of the Austrian province of Galicia.

The territorial demands made by Dmowski in 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference were more modest than his 1914 proposal, since he knew that the Allies, in particular Britain, would oppose claims to lands that were not unequivocally Polish in population. Nevertheless, the National Democrats and other proponents of the Piast Tendency never abandoned the idea of Polish expansion top the Oder-Neisse Line, and during the inter-war years various Polish nationalist groups published maps showing the proposed Polish western frontier lying along the Oder-Neisse Line, and even to the west of it.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Gorque » 14 Jan 2016 20:18

Peter K wrote:It gives the following data on ethnic structure of West Prussia as of year 1819 (page 42):

Polen -------- 327,300 (52%)
Deutsche ---- 290,000 (46%)
Juden -------- 12,700 (2%)

Gesamt ---- 630,077 (100%)


And the following data on ethnic structure of Provinz Posen as of year 1819 (page 43):

Polen -------- 680,100 (77,0%)
Deutsche ---- 155,000 (17,5%)
Juden -------- 48,700 (5,5%)

Gesamt ---- 883,972 (100%)


According to Hassel, in 1819 the number of ethnic Poles in both regions was even higher than that of Catholics. This indicates, that some of Lutherans living in those regions in 1819 were ethnically Polish at that time, and became Germanized only later.


Hi Peter K:

Just a point of note: The population figures for ethnic make up are for the year 1819 while the religious denomination figures are for 1817. Posen's population, per Dr. Hassel, in 1817 was 847,800 and for West Prussia it was 581,971. The religious breakdown for West Prussia in 1817 was Lutheran, 289,060; Catholic, 267,935; Mennonite, 12,649; Jewish, 12,632. For Posen it was Lutheran, 242,371; Catholic, 552,465; Greek Orthodox, 572; Mennonite, 28; and Jewish, 52,568.

As the net difference between births and deaths are provided for us, the remaining balance is due to population transfers into and out of the respective provinces. Therefor, any declaration of Germanized Poles as a result of religion is, IMHO, speculative.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by bubalma » 14 Jan 2016 23:24

Great thread.
Our family is from West Prussia - having originally immigrated there in the early 1700's from Pollnow in Pommerania. Having been back to what was West Prussia a number of times, I can testify that ethnic identity even to this day is to some extent smoke and mirrors. We still in fact have distant relatives living in the Chojnice and Tuchola area ( what used to be Kreis Kontz and Kreis Tuchel) that were identified as German before 1919, Polish during the inter-war period, Class I Volksdeutsch during 1939-1945 and Polish from 1945 to present. Most are Catholic but a few remain Evangelical as members of that very, very small remaining minority that is typically overlooked in modern day Poland. Most of these families furnished soldiers to the Wehrmacht and one existing family even to the Waffen SS.
In any case, it's a very muddled picture when one starts talking about ethnicity in the border provinces.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 15 Jan 2016 01:40

Gorque wrote:As the net difference between births and deaths are provided for us, the remaining balance is due to population transfers into and out of the respective provinces.
Also conversions from one religion to another played some role (as did "conversions" from one ethnicity to another).
Gorque wrote:The population figures for ethnic make up are for the year 1819 while the religious denomination figures are for 1817.
I have data for religions in Provinz Posen in 1819 from another source. Those were:

Catholics ---------- 574,977 (65,0%)
Protestants ------ 253,224 (28,6%)
Jews --------------- 55,771 (6,3%)

Total -------------- 883,972


So the number of Germans was much lower than the number of Protestants in 1819.

I aso have data on religions from the census of 1849 in Provinz Posen. At that time:

Catholics ---------- 847,665 (63,6%)
Protestants ------ 409,286 (30,7%)
Jews --------------- 76,757 (5,8%)

Total -------------- 1,333,708


The percent of Protestants increased considerably - due to immigration of Protestants from the west. If I remember correctly, it later continued to slowly increase, until late 19th century, when percent of Catholics started to increase again due to increasing natural growth and "Ostflucht" of Protestants. Around 1910, Protestants were just over 30% of the population, like in 1849 (but still more than in 1819).

==================================================

As for West Prussia - in 1828 according to data collected by Allgemeine Kirchenzeitung, there were:

- 387 thousand Protestants (49,9%)
- 376 thousand Catholics (48,5%)
- 13 thousand Jews (1,7%)

Total - 776 thousand

According to the same data by Allgemeine Kirchenzeitung, in Provinz Posen in 1828 there were:

- 687 thousand Catholics (64,6%)
- 309 thousand Protestants (29,0%)
- 67,5 thousand Jews (6,3%)

Total - 1064 thousand
bubalma wrote:Great thread.
Our family is from West Prussia - having originally immigrated there in the early 1700's from Pollnow in Pommerania.
If they immigrated to West Prussia before 1772, you will perhaps find their surname in the census of 1772-1773.

It was a census of taxpayers (so only heads of households were listed, not all people) and it is available online here:

Westpreußischer Kontributionskataster: http://www.odessa3.org/collections/land/wprussia/

Description in English: http://www.odessa3.org/collections/land ... ntroe.html

Check also this article: http://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/Poland_Census
bubalma wrote:Having been back to what was West Prussia a number of times, I can testify that ethnic identity even to this day is to some extent smoke and mirrors. We still in fact have distant relatives living in the Chojnice and Tuchola area ( what used to be Kreis Kontz and Kreis Tuchel) that were identified as German before 1919, Polish during the inter-war period, Class I Volksdeutsch during 1939-1945 and Polish from 1945 to present. Most are Catholic but a few remain Evangelical as members of that very, very small remaining minority that is typically overlooked in modern day Poland. Most of these families furnished soldiers to the Wehrmacht and one existing family even to the Waffen SS.
In any case, it's a very muddled picture when one starts talking about ethnicity in the border provinces.
Thank you, this is a very interesting testimony indeed!

Indeed one of issues in research on ethnic relations is that ethnicity is not "carved in stone" once and for all. It can be fluent, especially if combined with political opportunism and struggles of opposing nationalisms. Most people just want to live in peace.
bubalma wrote:but a few remain Evangelical as members of that very, very small remaining minority that is typically overlooked in modern day Poland.
Evangelicals are still numerous in a few specific regions of Poland.

Most notably in Cieszyn Silesia, where several towns - including Wisła- even have Evangelical majority:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisła

Most of Lutherans in that area have traditionally identified as ethnic Poles. One of reasons which helped them to preserve Polishness was the fact that Austria, although ruled by Germans, was Catholic, and most of Germans in Austria were Catholics. So unlike in Prussia, in Teschen Lutheranism was not strongly associated with Germanness, but rather with opposition to "Austrian type of Germanness".

Some examples of famous Evangelical Poles include ski jumper Adam Małysz and politician Jerzy Buzek:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam_Małysz

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jerzy_Buzek

Most of Poles probably don't even know that Małysz is Lutheran, because he doesn't speak about this in public.

I think it should be underlined all the time because I don't like this overwhelming stereotype that "True Pole = Catholic".
There are words which carry the presage of defeat. Defence is such a word. What is the result of an even victorious defence? The next attempt of imposing it to that weaker, defender. The attacker, despite temporary setback, feels the master of situation.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Gorque » 15 Jan 2016 02:16

Hi Peter K:

Thanks for the additional census figures. It's very interesting to read how quickly the population for both of these provinces increaed over such a short span of time.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 15 Jan 2016 02:18

Yes, the 19th century was the time of real demographic boom ("transition") in Europe.

But Western Europe entered that demographic transition a few decades earlier.

I think that later it gradually progressed like a huge wave from west to east.

The subsequent decline of birth rates also started earlier in Germany than in Poland.
There are words which carry the presage of defeat. Defence is such a word. What is the result of an even victorious defence? The next attempt of imposing it to that weaker, defender. The attacker, despite temporary setback, feels the master of situation.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Piotr Kapuscinski » 15 Jan 2016 15:06

Here is a good website with historical demographic and economic statistics:

http://www.gapminder.org/

They present these figures also in the form of some visually nice graphs:

http://www.gapminder.org/world/

Image

Germany had problems with sub-replacement levels of fertility rates already prior to WW2:

Image

After WW2 fertility rates in Germany increased for a few decades, but later once again declined:

Image

It is known that distinct groups have distinct fertility patterns. For example Haredim, or Muslims:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JquXlQTBWOo

There are words which carry the presage of defeat. Defence is such a word. What is the result of an even victorious defence? The next attempt of imposing it to that weaker, defender. The attacker, despite temporary setback, feels the master of situation.

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Re: Did Poland have territorial plans against Germany?

Post by Gorque » 15 Jan 2016 16:05

Hi Peter K:

That's a great post.

Thanks for the links to the site. :thumbsup:

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