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Section IX.—East Prussia (Art. 94 to 98)

Article 94.

In the area between the southern frontier of East Prussia, as described in Article 28 of Part II (Boundaries of Germany) of the present Treaty, and the line described below, the inhabitants will be called upon to indicate by a vote the State to which they wish to belong:

The western and northern boundary of Regierungsbezirk Allenstein to its junction with the boundary between the Kreise of Oletsko and Angerburg; thence, the northern boundary of the Kreis of Oletsko to its junction with the old frontier of East Prussia.

Note to III, 94

If East Prussia were separated from Germany, protested the German delegation, it would be, “economically speaking”, delivered to Poland and must “accrue eventually” to it ( Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vi, 837). “Germany can never allow this.” The plebiscite was objected to on the grounds that the boundaries of the province had been established “for about 500 years”, that [Page 231]the use of a non-German language was of no consequence, and that the population, “aside from a group of foreign agitators”, had never expressed a demand for separation from Germany. A similar situation existed in the districts of West Prussia where a plebiscite was planned. President Wilson was quoted to the effect that the presence of such small minorities was “no reason for doubting the national character of a territory”.

According to the Allied reply, East Prussia had not been included in the political frontiers until 1866, and “the convenience of Germany is no reason why the dismemberment and partition of another nation should be continued” ( ibid., p. 948). Most of East Prussia’s trade with Germany was sea-borne; nevertheless, the importance of the railway connection was recognized, and articles of the treaty, as carefully revised, ensured that “there shall be no impediment placed in the way of communciation across the intervening Polish territory”. The Allies professed not to understand the German objections to plebiscites, for “the Germans at the very moment when they profess assent to the principle of self-determination, refuse to accept the most obvious means of applying it”.

Arrangements for the inter-Allied commission in Allenstein and Marienwerder and Upper Silesia are contained in the agreement signed at Paris, January 8, 1920, by Messrs. Le Rond and Von Simson.

The Inter-Allied Administrative and Plebiscite Commission for Allenstein issued its initial proclamation on February 14, 1920, and thereafter the customary regulations and orders with respect to registration and voting, entrance and exit, and order followed in succession.

The plebiscite took place on July 11, 1920. In the 11 Kreise involved, 425,305 voters were inscribed, though only 371,715 votes were cast. Of these, 363,209 were for East Prussia and 7,980 for Poland. In the 11 Kreise there were 1,704 communes; the distribution of the balloting showed that 1,695 of these voted for East Prussia and 9 for Poland.

Owing to the absence of a commissioner appointed by the United States, the Italian chairman was entitled to a casting vote.

The commission recommended the assignment of the three villages of Klein Lobenstein, Klein Nappern, and Groschken, all having 4,786 inhabitants, to Poland; the Conference of Ambassadors approved, and the villages were handed over to Poland on August 31, 1920, Germany being confirmed as possessor of the rest of the area.

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Article 95.

The German troops and authorities will be withdrawn from the area defined above within a period not exceeding fifteen days after the coming into force of the present Treaty. Until the evacuation is completed they will abstain from all requisitions in money or in kind and from all measures injurious to the economic interests of the country.

On the expiration of the above-mentioned period the said area will be placed under the authority of an International Commission of five members appointed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. This Commission will have general powers of administration and, in particular, will be charged with the duty of arranging for the vote and of taking such measures as it may deem necessary to ensure its freedom, fairness and secrecy. The Commission will have all necessary authority to decide any questions to which the execution of these provisions may give rise. The Commission will make such arrangements as may be necessary for assistance in the exercise of its functions by officials chosen by itself from the local population. Its decisions will be taken by a majority.

Every person, irrespective of sex, will be entitled to vote who:

(a)
Is 20 years of age at the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty, and
(b)
Was born within the area where the vote will take place or has been habitually resident there from a date to be fixed by the Commission.

Every person will vote in the commune where he is habitually resident or, if not habitually resident in the area, in the commune where he was born.

The result of the vote will be determined by communes (Gemeinde) according to the majority of the votes in each commune.

On the conclusion of the voting the number of votes cast in each commune will be communicated by the Commission to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, with a full report as to the taking of the vote and a recommendation as to the line which ought to be adopted as the boundary of East Prussia in this region. In this recommendation regard will be paid to the wishes of the inhabitants as shown by the vote and to the geographical and economic conditions of the locality. The Principal Allied and Associated Powers will then fix the frontier between East Prussia and Poland in this region.

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If the line fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers is such as to exclude from East Prussia any part of the territory defined in Article 94, the renunciation of its rights by Germany in favour of Poland, as provided in Article 87 above, will extend to the territories so excluded.

As soon as the line has been fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, the authorities administering East Prussia will be notified by the International Commission that they are free to take over the administration of the territory to the north of the line so fixed, which they shall proceed to do within one month of such notification and in the manner prescribed by the Commission. Within the same period and as prescribed by the Commission, the Polish Government must proceed to take over the administration of the territory to the south of the line. When the administration of the territory by the East Prussian and Polish authorities respectively has been provided for, the powers of the Commission will terminate.

Expenditure by the Commission, whether in the discharge of its own functions or in the administration of the territory, will be borne by the local revenues. East Prussia will be required to bear such proportion of any deficit as may be fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers.

Article 96.

In the area comprising the Kreise of Stuhm and Rosenberg and the portion of the Kreis of Marienburg which is situated east of the Nogat and that of Marienwerder east of the Vistula, the inhabitants will be called upon to indicate by a vote, to be taken in each commune (Gemeinde); whether they desire the various communes situated in this territory to belong to Poland or to East Prussia.

Note to III, 96

The order of the Inter-Allied Commission for the Administration and Plebiscite in Marienwerder concerning courts of justice was issued on February 23, 1920, and other preparations for the plebiscite followed, though the regulations for registration and voting were put out only on April 12. The balloting on July 11 in the 396 voting districts gave a majority of 368 for East Prussia and 28 for Poland. Of 125,900 persons registered, 105,071 voted: 96,923 for East Prussia, and 8,018 for Poland. Germany on August 16, 1920 was awarded the area except for a group of five villages near the Vistula which together had given Poland a majority of 67 votes out of 437. The Conference of Ambassadors approved the frontier as described in the reports of the Technical Geographic Committee.

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The Conference of Ambassadors on August 12, 1920 decided to assign five villages which together gave a majority for Poland in the Marienwerder plebiscite to Poland in fulfilment of the provision respecting the east bank of the Vistula. In addition, that body decided that the boundary commission provided for under article 87 could modify the frontier line to the north and south of those villages so far as it might be necessary to secure to Poland “full and complete control of the river”.

Article 97.

The German troops and authorities will be withdrawn from the area defined in Article 96 within a period not exceeding fifteen days after the coming into force of the present Treaty. Until the evacuation is completed they will abstain from all requisitions in money or in kind and from all measures injurious to the economic interests of the country.

On the expiration of the above-mentioned period, the said area will be placed under the authority of an International Commission of five members appointed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. This Commission, supported if occasion arises by the necessary forces, will have general powers of administration and in particular will be charged with the duty of arranging for the vote and of taking such measures as it may deem necessary to ensure its freedom, fairness and secrecy. The Commission will conform as far as possible to the provisions of the present Treaty relating to the plebiscite in the Allenstein area; its decisions will be taken by a majority.

Expenditure by the Commission, whether in the discharge of its own functions or in the administration of the territory, will be borne by the local revenues.

On the conclusion of the voting the number of votes cast in each commune will be communicated by the Commission to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers with a full report as to the taking of the vote and a recommendation as to the line which ought to be adopted as the boundary of East Prussia in this region. In this recommendation regard will be paid to the wishes of the inhabitants as shown by the vote and to the geographical and economic conditions of the locality. The Principal Allied and Associated Powers will then fix the frontier between East Prussia and Poland in this region, leaving in any case to Poland for the whole of the section bordering on the Vistula full and complete control of the river including [Page 235]the east bank as far east of the river as may be necessary for its regulation and improvement. Germany agrees that in any portion of the said territory which remains German, no fortifications shall at any time be erected.

The Principal Allied and Associated Powers will at the same time draw up regulations for assuring to the population of East Prussia to the fullest extent and under equitable conditions access to the Vistula and the use of it for themselves, their commerce and their boats.

The determination of the frontier and the foregoing regulations shall be binding upon all the parties concerned.

When the administration of the territory has been taken over by the East Prussian and Polish authorities respectively, the powers of the Commission will terminate.

Note to III, 97

The Delimitation Commission proposed a definite delimitation of the East Prussian frontier which the Conference of Ambassadors confirmed on December 19, 1922. A provisional regulation on conditions of access to the Vistula was published at the same time and was replaced by a decision of November 21, 1924, in force February 1, 1925 (Reichsgesetzblatt, 1925, ii, 17).

The German-Polish Delimitation Commission ended its work on October 18, 1924.

Germany and Poland concluded an agreement on December 30, 1924 regarding facilities for minor frontier traffic (52 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 51) and on December 2, 1925 at Posen a protocol concerning the opening of customs roads and other crossings at points on the German-Polish frontier, neither of which entered into force by approval of the two Governments until January 1, 1928 (70 ibid., p. 427).

The agreement relating to the frontier zone of Upper Silesia, provided for in article 233 of the German-Polish convention of May 15, 1922, was concluded by Germany and Poland at Warsaw on February 23, 1924 and was in force July 16, 1924 (41 ibid., p. 197); it was continued in force by protocols and exchanges of notes until superseded by the agreement of December 30, 1924.

Article 98.

Germany and Poland undertake, within one year of the coming into force of this Treaty, to enter into conventions of which the terms, in case of difference, shall be settled by the Council of the [Page 236]League of Nations, with the object of securing, on the one hand to Germany full and adequate railroad, telegraphic and telephonic facilities for communication between the rest of Germany and East Prussia over the intervening Polish territory, and on the other hand to Poland full and adequate railroad, telegraphic and telephonic facilities for communication between Poland and the Free City of Danzig over any German territory that may, on the right bank of the Vistula, intervene between Poland and the Free City of Danzig.

Text of May 7:

Germany and Poland undertake, within one year of the conclusion of this Treaty, to enter into a Convention of which the terms, in case of difference, shall be settled by the Council of the League of Nations, with the object of securing, on the one hand to Germany full and adequate railroad facilities for communication between the rest of Germany and East Prussia over the intervening Polish territory, and on the other hand to Poland full and adequate railroad facilities for communication between Poland and the Free City of Danzig over any German territory that may, on the right bank of the Vistula, intervene between Poland and the Free City of Danzig.

Note to III, 98

A convention between Germany, Poland, and the Free City of Danzig concerning the freedom of transit between East Prussia and the rest of Germany was concluded at Paris on April 21, 1921 and entered into force on April 27, 1922 (12 League of Nations Treaty Series, p. 61). A supplementary convention, concluded at Berlin on July 15, 1922, entered into force on November 3, 1923 (26 ibid., p. 354). An agreement modifying the rules for the application of the 1921 convention, signed at Berlin on February 14, 1933, entered into force on July 27, 1934 (Reichsgesetzblatt, 1934, ii, 385).

Chapter III of the 1921 convention, articles 44––49, 109, dealt with the transit of military personnel and goods and allowed one military train a week, with full arrangements for the purpose. A supplementary convention signed at Berlin February 13, 1933 and in force July 12, 1934 (ibid., p. 411) added 35 trains a year in either direction and set a limit of 15 a week and 3 a day in either direction.

An agreement concerning the transportation through Poland and the territory of the Free City of Danzig of prisoners in transit between East Prussia and the rest of Germany, signed at Berlin February 13, 1933 and in force on July 27, 1934, was an early manifestation of National Socialist policy (ibid., p. 377).