Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, The Conference of Berlin (The Potsdam Conference), 1945, Volume I
The Polish Deputy Minister of
Foreign Affairs (Modzelewski) to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union
My Dear Ambassador: On the commission of my government I have the honour to send you herewith a memorandum with enclosures concerning the Polish postulates as regards the Western frontiers of the Polish Republic.
I would be very grateful if you were as good as to convey to your Government the enclosed material so that it might be used when those questions are possibly examined at the forthcoming Big Three Powers Conference.
The Statement of Poland’s Position With Regard to the Problem of Her Western Frontier
What the world wants is peace, a durable peace capable of safeguarding at least the next few generations from the horrors of a new war. The guarantee for this durability has to be sought in such a solution of territorial problems as may ensure possibilities of existence and development to all nations and states.
The new European settlement should tend to having international problems decided not on the strength of titles of possession acquired in the course of long historical processes, as these titles are often [Page 758]based on force and injustice, but with regard to the present needs of the nations and their capacity for development.
The free and democratic Poland has the right to be a state sufficiently powerful to shape her political and economic life independently, strengthened by her relations with the three Allied Powers, and thus ensure an adequate standard of existence and chances of further development to her population. These rights of Poland have been endorsed by the decisions of the Crimean Conference. The three great Allies were quite clear as to this that a free and strong Poland will be an element positively working for European peace, and so registered their common desire to see a strong, free, and democratic Poland established, agreeing that Poland should receive appreciable territorial compensations in the North and in the West. As to the extent of these compensations, in due time the new Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was to be consulted.
As the Provisional Government of National Unity was constituted in Warsaw on June 29th, 1945, the Government’s decision is to make Poland’s position with regard to her Western frontier quite clear:
To be independent and strong Poland must be a state with an adequate territory. As her Eastern frontier has been fixed by the Crimean Conference along the so-called Curzon Line, Poland wants to fix her Western frontier on the Odra (Oder) and the Lusatian Nisa (Lausitz Neisse), including Stettin.
The political situation of the world has radically changed. Poland wants to suit her policy to the changes, and at the same time to contribute to the consolidation of peace in Europe. This is possible only if Poland is going to have a territory corresponding to the demographic and economic needs of the nation. The Polish territory ought to form a natural and compact geographical unit, as she did at the time of the reign of the Piast dynasty (X.–XIV. centuries), when she was a homogeneous state spreading over the systems of the Odra and the Vistula. Poland ought to have enough arable land to feed her people, and natural riches, making industrialization possible. Before this war, Poland was unduly agricultural, a country with undeveloped industries, a low standard of life, a very limited capacity for consumption. This economic backwardness was the result of unsuitable territorial settlement. Silesia, Pomerania and East Brandenburg remained severed from Poland, the Odra was cut off from Silesia, the Warta [Warthe] from the Poznania. Vistula was corked by the Danzig Free State, while Poland was also cut off from the Baltic Sea by the political barrier of East Prussia. Insufficient and insufficiently varied raw materials, as well as the economic backwardness, the result of 150 years of foreign domination, made industrialization difficult. As a consequence, the surplus of the agricultural population had to emigrate. [Page 759]Between 1918 and 1939 about 2,5 millions, that is about 10% of Poland’s population, emigrated. In the last years before the war many countries became closed to emigration, so that the demographic pressure increased dangerously. Polish farm hands were compelled to look for seasonal work in Germany, tilling land above all in the Odra basin and East Prussia. Their work was increasing the economic potentialities of Germany, and Poland’s economic dependence.
The New Poland must seek to avoid all these handicaps, to be a healthy state, with an adequate territorial basis. Poland was the first country to make a stand against the Germans, and by her resistance facilitated the process of the armament of her Allies. It is only fair that Poland, after having suffered the heaviest losses, and made the greatest sacrifices, should emerge out of this war with a territory corresponding to her needs, the result of her contribution to war effort and to victory.
The following are the arguments in favour of Poland’s position:
1. The Moral Basis.
Throughout the war, Poland was unwavering in her loyalty to the Allies, and, through her consistently anti-German stand, was setting an example to other nations. The community, as well as the individual citizens steadily rejected all offers of cooperation with the Germans. By continuing to fight at home and abroad, on many fronts, irrespective of sacrifices, the Poles have, in the measure of their possibilities, contributed to the Allied success. For this Poland ought to obtain moral and material compensation, in proportion to her demographic and economic needs.
Steady in the pursuit of their own policy, the Germans were preparing the extermination of the Poles. Hence the systematic “liquidation” of the Polish nation, the attitude of denigration and contempt for Polish culture, the practice of turning people out and compelling them to work in Germany, etc. This policy was pursued consistently, and was bent, by the recourse to cruelty and violence, on achieving the total extirpation of the Polish element, thus removing the most serious obstacle in the way of imperialistic expansion. And all this time Polish culture and Polish property were exposed to devastation and pillage.
This is the foundation of the Polish right to reparation. Moral reparation for the revolting and criminal treatment of the Polish community, and material reparation for the destruction and pillage of the nation’s property. Poland, the faithful ally of the victorious powers, has a right, as a matter of human justice, for her perseverance, her sacrifices and losses, to be indemnified in natura, by getting workshops, i. e. land, works, mines, buildings, and also objects of culture [Page 760]value, and, above all, a territory corresponding to the needs of the nation.
2. The Territory of the New Poland.
All the three Allies have recorded their desire that Poland should be strong. She can be strong only if she is going to have a sufficiently large territory.
According to the Crimean decisions, Poland is about to lose in the East an area of about 184.000 sq. km, or about 47,5% of her former Territory. This piece of land was inhabited in 1931 by some 11 million people, that is to say, about 35% of the total population. As the number of Poles in this equalled some 4.000.000, and as these will be able to settle in the West, the effective loss of population to Poland will equal some 7.000.000, or 20%.
As the Western and Central Poland has been much more densely populated than the East, then, in case of inadequate territorial compensations, Poland will be threatened with overpopulation and compelled to send emigrants abroad. By having her Western frontiers fixed on the Odra and the Nisa, Poland would gain no more than some 105.000 sq. km (Eastern Prussia included).
Poland, within her new frontiers, would have an area of some 309.000 sq. km, smaller by some 80.000 sq. km (22%), than that she had in 1939. Poland’s claim[s] are, therefore moderate.
3. Poland’s Demographic Needs.
- The number of Poles, according to the latest computations (see map Nr. 12) is, in 1945, some 25 millions. Together with the returning emigrants and Polish citizens of other nationalities, this total may rise to 26 millions:[.]
- The density of population is an indication of the degree to which economic exploitation of the land has advanced. As the average density of population in Poland before the war was 83 to 1 sq. km, her new area should comprise at least 314.000 sq. km.
- A territory of 309.000 sq. km is a minimum territory for a nation with such a vitality as that of Poles to-day.
- By natural processes, the Polish population, in the years 1921–1931, has increased by some 5 millions people. Poland has, therefore, to reckon with a yearly increase of some 200–250 thousand people, who have to be fed and employed.
- The Polish nation can lead no normal existence under circumstances compelling it to steady emigration. In view of: 1) the huge natural growth of the population, 2) the desirability of putting an end to emigration, 3) the necessity of admitting re-emigrants to the country—[Page 761]it is absolutely essential for Poland to possess an area adequate to the needs of her population.
- Transferring the frontier line to the Odra and the Nisa will make the satisfaction of the most pressing demographic needs of the nation possible.
- Poland, as is well known, was agriculturally the most overpopulated country in Europe. As a consequence of transfers of territory, the problem for Poland may become less acute in case the territories East of the Odra and the Nisa should be made parts of Poland.
- Before the war, the number of the unemployed among the farming population was about 4 millions. These men ought to be given work on the land of their own country, so as to be free from the necessity of seeking seasonal work in Germany.
- The Western territories, bounded in by the Odra and the Nisa, will yield to Poland some 5,5 million hectares of arable land, where some 2 million men might settle.
4. Poland’s Historical Rights.
Prehistorical records have shown that since about the year 2000 B. C. the basins of the Odra and the Vistula were inhabited by peoples belonging to the Pre-Lusatian, Lusatian (see map Nr. 13) and Vend (see map Nr. 23) cultures.
On the strength of certain resemblances and of their geographical basis these peoples show traits in common with the Slavonic races. They have formed the demographic foundation of the Polish nation. Thus the lands between the Odra and the Vistula may be considered as the primordial territories of the Polish State.
The historical records since the X. century of the Christian era show that Poland’s position on the Odra was a firm one (see map Nr. 33), and that at certain periods Poland was extending considerably further westwards.
Only since the XIII. century Poland was beginning, under the German pressure, to give way and to recede towards the East.
Since the middle of the XIII. century the Teutonic Knights were the active exponents of German imperialism. For two centuries they were attempting the extermination of Slavonic peoples living on the shores of the Baltic Sea.
United in a common effort, under the leadership of Poland, Slavonic and Lithuanian forces finally succeeded in breaking down the Teutonic might in the battle of Grünwald–Tannenberg, in 1410. After a period of internal weakness, caused by religious strife, the re-awakened [Page 762]German imperialism achieved in the XVIII. century the downfall of Poland.
Poland’s history shows the need for Poland’s return to the Odra territories, out of which she had been ousted by force and subterfuge and to which she has rights well grounded, in history.
Her present policy must be a consistent continuation of that of the Piasts, for deep political reasons and out of consideration for the future of the State.
5. Polish Character of the Western Lands.
Fairly large territories with a preponderating Polish element were not included within the boundaries of Poland in the years 1918–1939. One of these was East Prussia’s Southern part with a Polish population of some 300–400 thousand.
Even the German census of 1933, particularly tendentious, none the less had registered some 250.000 Poles there. In the 7 Southern districts the Poles were decidedly in the majority (see map Nr. 4a, 4b, 4c 4).
Another province with a Polish majority is that of the Silesian Opole (Oppeln) region. The German statistics for the years 1905–1910 were registering 1,213.265 (resp. 1,258.138) Poles, constituting 60,0%, resp. 57,3% of the total population. In the district of Syców, Namysłow and Brzeg, there were living, at that time, some 150 thousand Poles (see map Nr. 54).
6. Geographical Position of the Western Territories and their Geo-political Connection with Poland.
The geographical situation is of necessity the main basis of every state’s policy. The same is true of Poland. Poland lies at the Eastern outskirts of Western Europe, forms part of the transcontinental bridges between the Adriatic and the Baltic, and the Baltic and the Black Seas. Commercial routes of old have tended to cross the Continent along these, and these tendencies remain unchanged even today. Two other trans-continental routes: that across Central European plains, and the Sub-Carpathian one, also cross Poland, linking capitals and industrial centres of many European states. The geographical position predestines Poland to play the part of an intermediary between the West and the East, and between the North and the South.
For ages, Poland has been the meeting ground of Latin and Byzantine cultures. Poland ought to form again a link between the two cultures. Poland’s future, therefore, is bound up with her rôle as an intermediary in the widest sense of the word, and [an?] intermediary in [Page 763]exchange, transit and communication. Only a strong and independent state can fulfil this mission.
Poland is striving to attain her natural boundaries. These are: in the South—the Sudetes and the Carpathians; in the North—the Baltic shore; in the West—the Odra and the Nisa. The area thus delimitated forms a compact geographic entity, based on the systems of the Vistula and the Odra, pointing Poland’s natural way to the Baltic.
The Odra was a stake for which Poles and Germans gave fought [sic] fiercely. Its loss was the beginning of Poland’s decline. To make a successful stand against the Germans, Poland must regain her boundary on the Odra. The river forms one of Europe’s essential dividing lines, a natural boundary between the Slavonic and the German world. The system of the Odra is much better developed towards the East; its tributaries reach deep into the Vistula basin, while it is practically disconnected from the Elbe.
Thus the conception of Poland as a country forming itself along the lines of the Piast tradition, makes it possible to utilize its geographical position fully.
The New Poland will have for her framework the systems of the Vistula and the Odra, of the Warta and the Nisa. Not a piece of this territory should be allowed to remain in German hands, and this is most particularly important with regard to the left bank of the Central and Lower Odra, to the Stettin hinterland, and to the islands in the Stettin Bay. This claim is a minimum one, supported by the public opinion of the whole country. In formulating it, Poland is as moderate as she is likely to be firm in her insistence on points which she regards as indispensable conditions of free national existence and free state policy.
7. Economic Links between Western Provinces and Poland.
Since the beginning of the second half of the XIX. century, the Eastern provinces of Germany, with their Polish majority, were unable to support their own population. Practically, the whole surplus population had to emigrate to Western Germany, and to other countries. The Polish element was growing stronger every year, without, however, increasing its economic strength, as the hostile policy of Prussia was effectively preventing this. The Eastern Prussia and the Silesia, artificially severed from Poland, their natural hinterland, were unable to develop normally. After 1918, the Silesia, the Odra and Stettin, cut off from Poznania and Pomerania, also were unable to develop successfully. This was felt, above all, in Silesia, as there was no access to Polish markets in the East. As a consequence of all this, practically the whole area of Eastern Germany was a land with much emigration.[Page 764]
The most symptomatic of all are the data for the years 1933–1939, the years of Hitler’s régime, when no effort was neglected to strengthen Germanism in the Eastern marches, and to weaken the Polish element as much as possible. The results were, however, disappointing, and the process of emigration was going on in spite of everything.
The following are the figures concerning emigration in the years 1933–1939:
|Marches of Poznania||46.996|
As a consequence of expanding to the West, Poland will have to face certain losses in agricultural production. According to provisional computation, in spite of the inclusion of Western territories with the Odra as the frontier-line, the yearly wheat harvest will decrease by 300.000 tons (14%), compared with that before the war. A slight decrease will be shown by the production of barley (3%), hay (1%), rape-seed (1%), agrimony (1%); much more appreciable will be the falling away in the seed production (flax: 44%), hemp (68%), buckwheat (66%), millet (55%), maize (94%), hops (71%), and tobacco (48%).
At the same time Poland will obtain certain surpluses: in the production of rye (2%), oats (6%), potatoes (4%), clover (4%); also (more appreciable ones) of sugar-beet (90%), of siliquose plants (23%), of flax-fibre (73%), and hemp-fibre (13%).
Altogether then, with her Western boundary fixed on the Odra and the Nisa, Poland will be in a fairly satisfactory situation regarding foodstuffs.
The industrial situation will be radically changed. The former Polish Eastern provinces harboured 20% of Polish industries, 29% of Polish trade, and 22% of artisans’ workshops. These, however, were mostly small businesses. Not only will the number of factories etc. after the inclusion of Western territories increase, but also the industrial output. In industry, trade, and handicrafts the unemployed peasants will have chances of finding work. Poland will remain an agricultural country, much more highly industrialized than before.
Expansion to the West will do much to further Poland’s industrialization and to facilitate economic recovery. The incorporation [Page 765]of these lands will on the one hand absorb the surplus of the farming population, and, on the other hand, will ensure a convenient and ample market. Within the Reich, these lands were a non-paying borderland and had no chances of normal development. Their industrial production was meant chiefly for export abroad (see Annex Nr. 4). Whereas within the framework of the Polish State the industries will be working under favourable conditions, their chief market being the internal one.
The Odra and the Vistula connected in Silesia by a canal (Gliwice–Przemsza), form a ring, out of which routes emanate in all directions. Among the water-ways the most important is the Odra itself, supplying the shortest connection between the Silesian district and the Baltic Sea.
By the Versailles Treaty, Poland was cut off from the Baltic by a German barrier, facilitating further German expansion eastwards. Thus handicapped, she managed to maintain herself firmly on her small strip of the sea-shore, and there to build the port of Gdynia, which in a few years became the foremost harbour in the Baltic.
At present Poland wants to dominate a long strip of the sea-shore between the Odra and the Pregoła (Pregel), with the ports of Stettin, Gdynia, Gdańsk and Elbing, so as to put an end to the former German hegemony on the Baltic. The importance of ports as trading centres lies in their being attached through politics and communications to their natural hinterland. Only under such conditions can ports, the sea-shore and the hinterland enjoy common prosperity.
Poland is the natural hinterland of the Baltic ports between the Odra and the Pregel Not only Gdynia, but also Gdańsk (Danzig), in spite of its abnormal political situation, could thrive, in the years preceding: 1939, thanks to Polish imports and exports:
|(thousands of tons)|
Stettin has a chance to be much more important as exporting centre for goods from the Odra Lands, and as entrance port for goods that these lands need, when the political frontier obstacle is removed. At first, Poland will be compelled to import large quantities of industrial products necessary for the rebuilding of the country, thus becoming a fairly capacious market for foreign goods.
The possession of Baltic ports will much facilitate Poland’s international commercial relations. The industries, when rebuilt, will, after satisfying the needs of the internal market, be able to export the small surpluses of their production abroad. Polish goods which [Page 766]already have been introduced to world markets, will be able to make their appearance there again. Poland will need many raw materials and industrial products, and thanks to ports, will manage the transport much more easily. Such being the situation, Poland will tend to harmonize her economy with the planned economy of the world.
The creation of barriers and political “corks”, such as Gdańsk and the East Prussia were, was a political and economic nonsense, and should not be allowed to happen again. Just as Gdańsk cannot exist without the Vistula, nor London without the Thames, so Stettin is unthinkable without the Odra and the Warta. For economic reasons and in view of its situation Stettin ought to be incorporated into Poland (see Annex Nr. 5.)
The trend of modern history is to make ever plainer the growing inevitable solidarity of fate between the European nations. That is why in present-day politics the independence of Poland is not only her own concern, but the concern of all other states as well.
Out of regard for this truth, world affairs are being regulated on a grand historical scale. When the whole Eastern chapter is being crossed out of Polish history, with equal justice the Eastern chapter ought to be crossed out of German history, the chapter telling the story of German rapacity. So far, no German generation has renounced the idea of conquering the East. An end must, therefore, finally be put to the German danger, the place d’armes must be taken away from the Germans. Poland must dominate the Odra. This is to the interest of all peace-loving nations of the world.
The Odra–Nisa frontier, the doing away with the nest of the Junker tradition in East Prussia, will mean the liquidation of a convenient place d’armes, making possible German aggression against Poland. Putting an end to East Prussia and making the frontier line of 1912 considerably shorter (about 350 km) will greatly facilitate defence. The Odra–Nisa frontier is a natural one, the easiest to defend. It will mean the removal of the German wedge that existed between Poland and Czechoslovakia in 1939. Thus it may serve not only with regard to Poland, but also to the Soviet Union, and the whole Slavonic world, as the best rampart against the ever-possible German aggression.
Poland has to be an independent state, she has to return to her primordial lands, and to continue the old political tradition of her Piast rulers as a national state, in harmony with the modern democratic ideas. Such Poland will be a symbol of victory of the Allied Democracies over Hitler’s fascistic régime.
Poland’s Demographic Needs
The census of 1931 fixed the number of the population at 32,348.000.
The Poles numbered 21,993.000 or 68/9%.
In 1939 the population of Poland was estimated at 35 mil. of persons. On the supposition, that in the period of 9 years the percentage of Poles remained unchanged, their number, in 1939, amounted to some 24,2 mil. This is also confirmed by the statistics of the natural increase. In 1931–1935 the yearly natural increase of Poles amounted to some 280.000, (1,31%); in 1936–1938 the yearly natural increase dropped to 255.000, (1,15%). During the war the increase dropped remarkably, but not more so than in Germany, where it oscillated between 0,5 and 0,7%. Supposing that in Poland it decreased by one half, we may put tentatively the yearly increase of Polish population in war-years at 120.000.
The results may be tabulated as follows:
|a) number of Poles according to the census of 1931||21,993.000|
|b) natural increase 1931–35 at the rate of 280.000||1,440.000|
|c) natural increase 1936–38 at the rate of 255.000||765.000|
According to the above results the number of Poles in 1939 amounted to about 24 mil. persons. To this number must be added the natural increase for the period of 7 years at the rate of 120.000 mil. [sic] a year, or 840.000; this would make altogether a total of about 25 mil. From this number, however, we must subtract the losses during the war which may be computed at about 2,5 mil, exclusive of citizens of other nationalities. As a consequence of this the total number of the population may be estimated at 22,5 mil.
Nevertheless the Polish element will be considerably reinforced by the return of Polish emigrants from Western and Eastern Europe (about 500.000) and by the return of Poles resident in Germany. The German census of 1925 showed that in Germany were living 902.112 persons of Polish speech (including the bi-lingual). Polish students estimate the number of Poles, who were resident in Germany in the years preceding the war, at 1,2 to 1,5 million. If we add to this the population wishing re-polonisation, we can suppose that with this the population will increase by 1,5 to 2 mil. persons. Adding to this the representatives of other Slavonic nations and the Jewish population, united in loyalty to the democratic Poland, we shall finally fix the figures of Poland’s population in 1945 at about 26 mil.
The density of population is an indication of the degree to which economic exploitation of the land has advanced.[Page 768]
Supposing that in post-war years Poland should be able to make a start under conditions not more difficult than those obtaining before the war, then, with the density of population also maintaining its pre-war standard (83 per sq. km), the area of the New Poland should not be less than 314.000 sq. km.
The inclusion of territories east of the Odra and the Nisa will make Poland a country extending over 309.000 sq. km, a minimum territory for a nation with such a vitality as that of Poles to-day.
By natural processes, the Polish population, in the years 1921–1931, has increased by some 5 million people.
In the years 1922–1931 the yearly natural increase amounted to more than 300.000, while in the following years it slightly decreased.
Relatively, the increase oscillated between 11 and 15 pro mille.
There is ground for supposing that, immediately after the war, the rate of the increase is likely to show again a growing tendency. Poland has, therefore, to reckon with a yearly increase of some 200–250 thousand people, who have to be fed and employed. The population of Poland will quickly increase, and after three generations, will reach the maximum density compatible in Europe with an economic structure of a mixed, agricultural-industrial, character. The surplus population should not be compelled to emigration because of want of land, as was the case before the war.
Between 1919–1925, 577.800 people migrated from Poland; between 1926–1930, 964.000; between 1931–1935, 229.000; in the succeeding years the number of emigrants was oscillating between 50 and 100 thousand a year (1937—102.400; 1938—129.100).
By this process of compulsory emigration, the effective loss of population to Poland, between 1921–1931, amounted to more than 2,5 mil. inhabitants (10% of the total population).
About 60% of Poland’s population live on the soil. There is no reason to think that this percentage may, within the next few years, appreciably decrease. As farmers will continue to be the preponderant element, Poland ought to secure for them the land on which to work. Before the war, the number of the unemployed among the farming population was about some 4,000.000. These men ought to be given work on the land of their own country, so as to be free from the necessity of seeking seasonal work in Germany. Poland’s only chance is to get for them land in the West, where Polish peasants used to toil in large numbers before the war.
The Western territories, bounded in by the Odra and Nisa, will yield to Poland some 5,5 mil. hectares of arable land where some 2,000.000 men may be able to settle.
Polish Historic Rights
Prehistory has made it plain that peoples inhabiting the basins of the Odra and the Vistula since about the year 2000 B.C. can be considered as Pre-Slavonic. During the bronze epoch in the years 1350–1200 B. C., there emerged a population of the Pre-Lusatian type of culture, which in the years 1200–1000 B. C. formed the Lusatian culture proper.
Many Slavonic scholars identify it with the Pre-Slavonic culture and call it accordingly. This culture had two main centres: the West one on the Odra and the east, in Pomerania proper.
In the beginning, the Lusatian culture was limited only to Lusatia proper, Bohemia, Silesia, and the so called “Great Poland”, but in the period of its greatest development, in the years 700–400 B. C., it covered a considerable part of middle Europe (see map Nr. 1).
The people of Lusatian culture dwelt in fortified strongholds. During the second century B. C., owing to the invasion of the Gotho-Gepids from Scandinavia, the Vend culture made its appearance.
In the period of the migration of nations, between 400–600 A. D., the Vend culture transformed itself into the Slavonic culture. In this epoch, it showed a strong tendency to expand and, once more, it secured the territories along the river Elbe (see map Nr. 2). The Slavs were again spreading far to the west, beyond the Elbe.
In the years 600–1000 A. D. there emerged in the Polish territories the so called “Old Polish” culture. The representatives of this culture lived in fortified settlements (e. g. Szczecin, Wolin); in Pomerania itself there has been recorded the existence of 200 such strongholds.
On the strength of resemblances between all these cultures (viz. Pre-Lusatian, Lusatian, Vend, Old Polish) and their analogous distribution, historians have pointed out a closer connection between them.
Thus it has been established that the whole of the basin of the Odra, as also that of the Vistula, had had, without intermission, a Slavonic population, which became the demographic substratum of the Polish nation. Taking all that into consideration, we have to look upon the territories between the Odra and the Vistula as the cradle of the Polish state.
Towards the end of the first millennium A. D., the Slav nations became politically organized entities, and in the second half of the tenth century Poland started the course of her historical life.
From the middle of the XII century, however, the situation began to change. Poland lost her resiliency and power of resistance. Internal disputes weakened her and were taken advantage of by the [Page 770]Germans. First West Pomerania, (Stettin, Kamień, Kolobrzeg–Kolberg) fell away. The frontier was pushed back to Słupsk (Stolp). Then, the Germans occupied the sea coast up to the mouth of the Vistula. The Knights of the Cross entered on their career of expansion, and achieved the conquest of East Prussia. Then, in the beginning of the XIV century, they captured Gdansk (Danzig) thus putting an end to the connection of Poland with the sea through the Vistula.
The loss of Gdańsk had a detrimental effect on the economic life of the whole basin of the Vistula. The German pressure caused a change in Polish policies. The Odra ceased to be one of Poland’s boundaries, and the Poland of the Piast dynasty gave place to that of the Jagiellons (end of XIV century).
The centre of political interest moved further to the east. A new Jagiellon Poland embraced Ukrainian, White Ruthenian and Lithuanian lands, as a consequence of the Union with Lithuania (end of XIV century). The culminating point of this policy was the Lublin Act of Union (1569).
The Polish Empire with an Eastern orientation lasted for four centuries. This policy has, however, finally contributed to the downfall of this state. For a century and a half there continued political captivity.
The First World War restored its liberty to Poland. As delimited by the Versailles and Riga treaties, Poland was a compromise between Eastern and Western orientation.
With regard to Germany there was, subsequently, oscillation between a customs war and a pact of friendship. In the years 1939–1945 war again was passing over Poland, with all its unspeakable cruelties, bent on the destruction of everything that was Polish.
Circumstances now have changed radically. Poland’s situation is clear. Its only mortal enemies are the Germans.
The Poland of to-day has to revive the old Piast policies, and to return to its ancient territory on the Odra, from which she had been ousted by force and subterfuge. This is dictated by the present international situation. Security against possible German aggression being the chief aim, a common defence-line along the shortest line connecting the Baltic and the Sudetes, the maintenance of an Alliance and of friendly relations with the U. S. S. R. and the democracies of the West, follow as consequences.
The Ebbing of Population From the German East
From the German Eastern provinces the population was ebbing steadily to the Western and the central parts of Germany.[Page 771]
The decline in the natural increase of population, due to emigration processes, within the period: 1841–1910, amounted in East Prussia to 729,4 thousand, in Pomerania to 744,2 thousand. After the war, during the years 1910–1925, the decline in East Prussia was 178,1 thousand, in the Borderland 9,2 thousand.*
On the other hand, a small rise occurred in Pomerania (36,9 thousand). This, however, was caused largely by the employment of different methods in the census of 1925 than in that of 1910, and, above all, by the outflow of Germans from the former Prussian provinces, returning then to Poland. But already in the years 1925–1933, 72.000 people emigrated from Pomerania, and 19 thousand from the Borderland,† Jointly there emigrated from Pomerania in the last years (up to 1933) 848.000 persons, from Silesia 980.000 persons, and from East Prussia 914.000 persons.
The most characteristic are the data for the years 1933–1939,‡ that is for the period of the Hitler régime, when everything possible was being done to strengthen the German elements in the east, and at the same time to weaken Poland. In spite of this desired results were not attained; the emigration ebb was going on.
In East Prussia, within those years, 117.214 people left the country (9% of the total population), whereas the total natural increase amounted scarcely to 102.324.
Similar was the situation in the Frankfurt regency, from which 31.945 people had departed, and in the Stettin (Szczecin) regency (emigration 16.314). Much greater was the emigration from the Köslin (Koszalin) regency, as it affected not only the rural population (33.993), but at the same time the urban one (20.728). The same regards the so called “Poznania Borderland” where the decrease of the rural population amounted to 26.753 persons, and that of the urban to 20.243 persons.
From all Pomerania a continuous ebbing of the population was going on. It was at its intensest in Silesia. From the Oppeln (Opole) region 82.883 persons emigrated, 46.370 of which came from the countryside, the rest from towns and mostly from large towns, with a population of over 100.000 inhabitants (20.537 persons). The same thing happened in the Breslau (Wrocław) regency (70 thousand emigrants), and in the Liegnitz (Legnica) regency (28.884).
On the whole over 160.000 people migrated from Silesia to the interior of Germany.[Page 772]
These figures are very eloquent. Despite unsparing efforts made by the Hitler government to raise the eastern provinces economically and to attach them more closely to the state, the increase of population could not be sustained, because these territories had been torn away from their natural hinterland.
As a result of this the population in the provinces on the eastern bank of the Odra was increasing since the year 1871 at a much slower rate than it did in the remaining parts of the Reich, reversing the situation in the preceding period.
Growth of the population in %:
|from 1816 to 1871||from 1871 to 1910|
|whereas the remaining Reich||55||68|
The most typical items are East Prussia and Pomerania, both agricultural provinces. Silesia, being industrial, does not show so great a decline, for the population migrating from the country was for the most part finding employment in the local industries.
The analogous fact of an increase of population faster in the West of Germany than in the East has been noticeable after the war. Thus e. g. the population of the whole Reich rose in the years 1918–1933 by 13,4%, whereas to the east of the river Odra it increased only by 10,4%.║
It was owing to the process of emigration that the increase of population in the districts of eastern Germany was so small. The average for the years 1925–1933 was:
|The regency of:|
|Köslin (Koszalin)||0, 09|
|Frankfurt (Słubice)||0, 18|
|Schneidemühl (Piła)||0, 19|
|Liegnitz (Legnica)||0, 20|
|Stettin (Szczecin)||0, 39|
This increase is extremely low if compared to that in the Polish voivodship of Pomerania, where the yearly increase of population was 18 times higher than in the adjacent German Köslin (Koszalin) regency,¶ The density of population in the eastern German provinces is, generally, rather small. In the following regencies of the [Page 773]German Pomerania (having regard to the new administrative boundaries of 1938), it amounted to:
|Percent per sq. km|
|the Köslin (Koszalin)||51,4|
|the Stettin (Szczecin) with the town of Stettin||80,5|
In the entire provinces of Pomerania the average was that of 59 inhabitants per one sq. km, whereas the neighbouring Polish voivodships, differing neither as to their geographical nor economic conditions, had:
|Pomerania||66 inhabitants per 1 sq. km**|
|the Poznań voivodship||79 inhabitants per 1 sq. km|
The Economic Decay of East Germany
The most important product of Silesia is coal.
Before the war, in 1910, nearly 30% of the output of the Upper Silesian coal was directed to the nearest provinces of Poland and Bohemia, as well as to Austria, while the remaining 70% were sold to Germany. The 50%, however, of the remainder was sent to the Upper and Lower Silesia, and also to Eastern German provinces: to Pomerania and to East and West Prussia. Altogether the amount of coal sold to Poland and to the provinces East of the Odra and Nisa, reached 60% of the whole Upper Silesian coal output, while 15% went to Central and West Germany, mainly to Berlin and to Brandenburg, but 25%—to Bohemia and Austria,††
It was the same with coke. In 1910, 80% of the output was sold to the former Polish provinces and to the lands East of the Odra and Nisa, 11% went to Austria and Bohemia, and 9%—to Berlin and other German markets.‡‡
Likewise, the market for the Lower Silesian coal suited itself to the natural geographical factors: 43% of the output went to Lower Silesia, 40%—to Bohemia and Austria, and only 17% to West and Central Germany, chiefly to Berlin.§§
The very little share of Western and Central Germany in the purchase of Silesian coal is explained (according to the German economist Kulmiz)║║ by the competition of Westphalian coal, forwarded by cheap water ways, and also by the competition of bituminous coal. [Page 774]Why, however, was the Silesian coal unable to stand this competition?—For the Silesian mines were the richest in Germany; there were no special technical difficulties, and the cost of production was lower than in West Germany. The main handicap was the outlying geographical situation of Silesia, at the outskirts of Germany: “am Ende des Reiches”, as Goethe has put it[.]
For in its natural markets, suited to geographical conditions, the Silesian coal was emerging victorious out of the competition.
And these natural markets were not situated in the distant, not easily accessible provinces of Central and West Germany, but in the East and South, in the nearest neighbouring countries, too, where it could penetrate in spite of the customs duties.
The Silesian production, however, did not reach the high standard of development, characteristic of the other German mines, mainly because of the competition of Polish and Bohemian mines, that were defending themselves against the Silesian coal with barriers of customs duties, and also because it was losing the fight against the West German competition in the more distant German markets.
In 1840 the production of the Upper Silesia had amounted to 60% of the Ruhr production, and in 1870 it was reduced down to 58%, in 1900—to 42% and in 1913—to 40%.¶¶
The shrinking of the amount of coal sold can be observed with regard to one of the most important customers, namely that of Berlin. In 1900, 61% of the general consumption of coal by Berlin fell to the share of Silesian coal and coke, 11% to the Ruhr mines. In 1928, however, the share of the Ruhr increased to 46% and that of Silesia sank to 40%.
The reduction of the Silesian coal import to the Berlin market became particularly striking during the years of the economic crisis, proving the superiority of West German mines in competition.
The export figures of coal, coke and briquettes to Great Berlin were the following (thousands of tons):
|from Upper Silesia||1, 665. 0||3, 199. 2||1, 526. 6*|
|from Westphalia||963. 7||1, 719. 1||1, 718. 7|
“The building of the ‘Mittellands Canal “are [in?] the words of a German economist† “will remove the equilibrium centre still more to advantage of the Ruhr coal.”
Iron also illustrates how Silesia was being ousted by the West German industry. The production of iron in Silesia, although increasing, was relatively declining with regard to the production of [Page 775]Germany as a whole. While the production of iron ore in Upper Silesia increased from 231 thousand tons in 1871 to 1,048 t.t., in 1912, that is more than fourfold; that of the whole Reich increased in the same time from 1563 t.t. to 17.617 t.t., that is twelvefold. Silesia’s share in the production of the whole Germany sank in the same time from 14,8% to 5,9%.
The same is true of steel. In 1900 the production of Upper Silesia amounted to 905 t.t., in 1904 it increased to 1,400 t.t., that is 164%. In the same time the production of steel of the whole Germany increased from 8.928 t.t. to 17.321 t.t. (194%).‡
The coal mines and the foundries of Upper Silesia were thus unable to export to the neighbouring countries, economically gravitating to Silesia, as they were separated from them by customs barriers. Out of the German market they were being ousted by other German industries. They defended themselves by consuming coal and iron ore in their own works, or by attempting production of more precious goods. In this way Silesia was growing independent of the Reich, and becoming more compact as an economic organism. This has been proved by the statistics of railway transports, too. In 1928 one third of the general output of Upper Silesia was forwarded to Lower Silesia, another one third to other parts of Eastern Germany. Altogether, then, two thirds of the total output were consumed by Eastern Germany.
The economic decline of the Eastern provinces of the Reich affected agriculture, too. The tendency of the population was to migrate from the country to the towns. The percentage of the population employed in agriculture was steadily declining: in the years 1925–1933 it fell in Pomerania from 41,2% to 38,1%, and in the Borderlands from 47,5% to 44%.
In the Köslin (Koszalin) regency the peasant population declined within nine years (1925–1933) by 4%, in the Stettin (Szczecin) regency by 2,9%. The farm hands were the first to emigrate, and as a consequence, the big landowners (45% of the landed property in Pomerania) were the first to suffer. To remedy this, farm hands were being hired for seasonal work, chiefly from Poland. Their number used to attain 600.000 in a season.
Since 1932, hiring Polish farm hands for work become [sic] prohibited in lands situated East of the Odra.
The measure was a purely political one, damaging to the interests of agriculture.
Stettin’s Connection With Poland
Stettin is the harbour of Pomerania and Silesia, especially of the Upper Silesia, but only in small degree that of Brandenburg, Lusatia and Saxony, although the geographical situation would seem to suggest that also these provinces should belong to its hinterland.§ In 1913, 74% of goods forwarded from, and 58% of goods transported to Stettin by railways, came from Pomerania, Silesia, Poznania, East and West Prussia, 20% and 34% respectively fell to the share of Brandenburg with Berlin, Saxony and Thuringia, 2% and 7% fell to the share of foreign countries, particularly of Czechoslovakia and Austria.║ The situation was similar with regard to waterways. These, before the first Great War, were very important, as more than half of all the cargoes went to Stettin by water.¶ Of all the goods transported over the Odra, 66,4% were imported, and 71% exported by Stettin; 10% and 4,5% respectively went by the rivers Warta and Noteć [Netze]. This made totals of 76,4 and 75,4%. The rest fell to the share of the Brandenburg waterways and the Elbe.**
After the war 80% of goods forwarded by railways from Stettin went to Pomerania and Upper Silesia, while 61% of railway transports to Stettin came from the same provinces.†† Of water-transported goods 53% of the import and 50% of the export went by the Odra. If we add the Warta transports (17% in import and export), we arrive at the following results: 70% of cargoes transported to and 67% of cargoes forwarded from Stettin fell to the share of Odra and its tributaries.‡‡
If we compare the percentage of goods transported to and forwarded from Stettin to its principal hinterland, particularly to Pomerania and Silesia, before the first Great War (1913) and afterwards (1933), we shall find an increase in goods transported to (from 58% to 61%) as well as forwarded from (from 74% to 80%) Stettin, by railways. On the other hand, the share of Silesia and Pomerania in water transport decreased (from 76,4% to 70% in cargoes transported to, and 75,4% to 67% in cargoes forwarded from Stettin). This was caused by the opening to navigation of the canal joining the Odra to the Havel and the intensifying of commercial relations between Berlin and Stettin. Stettin’s commercial hinterland, however, continued to be limited to the areas covered by the system of the river [Page 777]Odra, i. e. to Pomerania and Silesia. Out of these markets, and, still more remarkably, out of other parts of its geographical hinterland, such as Brandenburg and a part of Saxony, Stettin was being superseded by the rising competition of Hamburg. Stettin’s participation in the turnover of both ports in the year 1913 and 1929 is shown in the following figures (in %):§§
|Bavaria and Württemberg||14||6|
The figures reflect the diminishing participation of the port of Stettin not only in the commerce of Western and Central Germany, but also of the Upper Silesia and of Pomerania, which by reason of their situation gravitate strongly to Stettin.
- This paper bears the following manuscript notation: “Read on trip”.↩
- Not printed.↩
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- Burgdörfer: [“Bevölkerungsentwicklung, Wirtschaftsstruktur und landwirtschaftlicher Absatz”, in] Deutsche Agrarpolitik. Berlin 1932. +ii [vol. I]. S. 93/99. [All footnotes in this annex and the following annexes appear in the original.]↩
- F. Cornelsen. Deutsche Siedlung im Osten. Langensalza. 1932 [1934?]. S. 23.↩
- Wirtschaft und Statistik. Berlin 1942.↩
- K. Olbricht. Die Bevölkerungsentwicklung der Gross- u[nd] Mittelstädte der Ostmark. Berlin. 1936. S. 15.↩
- P. V. Grégoire: La colonisation agricole en Allemagne. Paris 1938. S. 18.↩
- F. Ross. Stadt- und Landbevölkerung im Ostdeutschland[,] West u[nd] Mittel Polen. Breslau. 1940. S. 30/42.↩
- F. Ross. Stad- tund Landbevölkerung im Ostdeutschland[,] West u[nd] Mittel Polen. Breslau. 1940. S. 20.↩
- P. H. v. Kulmiz: Das Absatzgebiet der schlesischen Kohle. Jena 1914. S. 7.↩
- Kulmiz l. c. S. 9.↩
- Ibid . S. 12.↩
- S. 18/17.↩
- K. Olbricht: Schlesien. Breslau 1938 [1933?] l. c. S. 77.↩
- R. Kloss: Seehandelsstellung der deutschen Ostseehäfen. Köln 1935.↩
- Ibid . S. 18/17.↩
- Ibid . S. 99/100.↩
- P. H. Seraphim: Die Ostseehäfen und der Ostseeverkehr, Berlin, 1937. S. 96.↩
- R. Kloss: Die Seehandelsstellung der deutschen Ostseehäfen, Köln, 1935, S. 34.↩
- Ibid . S. 95.↩
- Ibid . S. 96.↩
- P. H. Seraphim: l. c. S. 153.↩
- R. Kloss: l. c. Tabelle.↩
- R. Kloss, l. c. Tabelle.↩