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The Polish Border Strip (Template:Lang-de; Template:Lang-pl) appeared in some plans proposed by German officials during World War I as a territory to be ceded by the Kingdom of Poland to the German Empire. The Polish and Jewish population in this territory was to be removed to make way for German settlers[1][2]. The plan has been described as the first instance in modern European history of removing whole populations as a solution to national conflicts[3]. As German Empire lost the war, those plans were not implemented.

Details

Polish Border Strip also known as Polish Frontier Strip, is a term for territories German Empire wanted to annex from Congress Poland after their planned victory in the First World War. Annexed territories were to be cleansed of Polish and Jewish people[4], and in their place German colonists would be settled. The area of the Border Strip was to be up 30,000 square kilometers(circa the size of Belgium), and the number of people removed to make room for Germans counted up to 2 million [5]. The strip was also intended to separate Poles in Prussian held Wielkopolska from Poles in Congress Poland. The German planners envisioned that Poles in Prussia would be "encouraged" to move from Prussia into a proposed German-run puppet state called Kingdom of Poland[6]. It was the first time in modern European history that removing whole populations from their territory was proposed as solution to national conflicts[7].

In 1917, the German supreme command under General Ludendorff as part of the debate and planning regarding the "border strip" to Germany issued its own designs[1].

Such proposals were also supported by German minority living in Congress Poland ,which earlier suggested in a letter to the German government annexation of territory up to Łódź.[8] Those plans were developed and agreed to by the German government in March 1918 and in April gained support in the Prussian House of Lords; the plans for this were debated and developed across a wide spectrum of political parties and interests groups such as political scientists in German Empire, industialists and nationalists organisations like Pan-German League.

In July, Ludendorff specified his own plans regarding the Border Strip in a memorandum, proposing annexing a greatly enlarged "border strip" of 20,000 square kilometres, and removing the pre-existing Polish and Jewish(counting between 2.000.000 and 3.000.000[9]) population from a territory of 8,000 square kilometres and settling it with ethnic Germans.[1][2][10] Poles living in Prussia, especially in the province of Posen, were to be "encouraged" by unspecified means to move into the German ruled Kingdom of Poland.[9]

In August, Emperor Charles of Austria declared his opposition to any German plans for annexations. In response, General Ludendorff agreed to leave Wilna (and possibly Minsk) to Poland but reaffirmed the "border strip" plan. However, this did little to soothe Polish sentiment, which regarded the return of Wilna as self-evident and refused to yield any part of the former Congress Poland.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Keith Bullivant, Geoffrey J. Giles, Walter Pape, Germany and Eastern Europe: Cultural Identity and Cultural Differences, Rodopi (1999), p. 28-29.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hein Erich Goemans, War and Punishment: The Causes of War Termination and the First World War, Princeton University Press (2000), p. 104-105.
  3. Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany: 1840-1945. Princeton University Press (1982), p. 449.
  4. Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878-1938 Carole Fink, Cambridge University Press, 2006 page 70
  5. Immanuel Geiss "Tzw. polski pas graniczny 1914-1918". Warszawa 1964
  6. Immanuel Geiss "Tzw. polski pas graniczny 1914-1918". Warszawa 1964
  7. A History of Modern Germany: 1840-1945 Hajo Holborn, Princeton University Press, 1982 page 449
  8. Aleksander Kraushar, Warszawa podczas okupacji niemieckiej 1915-1918, Lwów (1921), p. 39.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Immanuel Geiss Tzw. polski pas graniczny 1914-1918. Warszawa (1964).
  10. Carole Fink, Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878-1938 Cambridge University Press (2006), p. 70.

External links

See also

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