The Oder-Neisse border , today the German-Polish border , runs along the Oder to the confluence of the Lusatian Neisse , then following this to the Czech border . In its northernmost section it runs through land areas; in the far north it divides the island of Usedom . The border is 460.4 km long. Of this, the land section accounts for 51.1 km, the water section by the rivers and canals measures 389.8 km, the inner sea waters are 19.5 km and in the territorial waters of the Baltic Sea six nautical miles (11.1 km).
Even before the Allies decided on Poland's borders in the Potsdam Agreement of August 2, 1945, the Soviet Union placed the German area east of the Oder and Lusatian Neisse (with the exception of the Königsberg area ) under the Polish administration. The UK and US governments protested this unilateral decision. In the Potsdam resolutions, the heads of state of the three allies finally agreed that the Polish state should administer these areas and determined that the final definition of Poland's western border should only be made in an upcoming peace settlement. To that end, these areas should not be considered part of the Soviet-occupied zone .
As a result, around a quarter of the German territory within the 1937 borders should be placed under provisional Polish or Soviet administration . De facto, these areas were permanently separated from the previous German territory . The flight and expulsion of the Germans from East Central Europe had already started at this point. The fact that Poland included the German eastern territories placed under Polish administration in the expulsion area was accepted by the Western Allies. By 1950 around 90 percent of the German population in these areas were affected.
West of this new border was the Soviet occupation zone of Germany from 1945 to 1949 and the GDR from 1949 to 1990 . Shortly after its establishment, the governments of Poland and the GDR signed the Görlitz Agreement of July 6, 1950, which recognized the Oder-Neisse line as the final “German-Polish state border”. This was officially called the "Oder-Neisse peace border", although Stettin and Swinoujscie are located west of the Oder and the Swine main arm of the Oder . The Federal Republic of Germany , also founded in 1949, recognized the Oder-Neisse Line in the Warsaw Treaty on December 7, 1970, subject to a change as part of a peace settlement as a de facto “inviolable” western border of the People's Republic of Poland .
Since October 3, 1990, the Oder-Neisse border has been the eastern border of reunified Germany . The course of the border was not changed after 1951.
Germany, Poland and the Soviet Union until 1945
The areas of the German Reich placed under Polish administration after the Second World War by the Potsdam resolutions within the borders of 1937 included the areas of the Prussian provinces of Pomerania , Brandenburg , Lower and Upper Silesia (as parts of Silesia ), the east , to the east of Oder and Neisse of the Saxon district of Zittau and the southern part of East Prussia . The population in these areas and in the Free City of Danzig, which was independent since the Versailles Treaty, was German-speaking until 1945 , with the exception of Polish -speaking parts in Upper Silesia (11%), Danzig (4%) and East Prussia (2%, mostly Masuria ).
Poland , resurrected after the end of the First World War in 1918, demanded the incorporation of all of Upper Silesia, Poznan, West Prussia, Danzig and southern East Prussia at the Versailles Peace Conference. The claims were based on the Polish-speaking population and the fact that these areas had been under Polish rule in earlier centuries. They could not be fully enforced in the peace treaty, especially since the referendums in Upper Silesia , in the Marienwerder voting area and in the Allenstein voting area resulted in majorities in favor of remaining with Germany. The final course of the border in Eastern Upper Silesia was not determined until 1922.
On the eve of the Second World War, the two dictators Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin defined the political-territorial spheres of interest of the German Reich and the Soviet Union in a secret additional protocol by agreeing a German-Soviet demarcation line. This demarcation was based largely on the 1919 by the Western Allies announced on the ethnographic principle based Curzon Line ( see. The adjacent chart ). In 1915, under its Prime Minister Ivan Logginowitsch Goremykin , Russia and Roman Dmowski had already agreed on the procedure to allow the ethnographic principle to prevail when determining Poland's eastern border .
In the secret additional protocol, the territories conquered by Poland from 1919 to 1921 east of the Curzon Line ( Eastern Galicia 1919, Volhynia 1921, formerly Russian-Lithuanian Governorate Vilna 1920/22), which had belonged to the old Poland up to the partitions of Poland in 1772–1795 assigned to the Soviet sphere of interest.
In the areas of Poland annexed by Germany and in parts of the General Government, the National Socialists pursued the goal of complete Germanization . Large sections of the Polish population from these areas were expelled . Sections of the Polish elite were murdered and many Poles were deported to the German Reich for forced labor .
Allied German policy up to the Potsdam Conference
The main topic of the three allies at the Tehran conference in winter 1943 was the division of Germany. Stalin wanted to keep the areas east of the Curzon Line (the parts of eastern Poland predominantly inhabited by Belarusians and Ukrainians ), which Russia had ceded to Poland in the Riga Peace Treaty of 1921 after the lost Polish-Soviet war of 1920 . He was striving for a border between the Soviet Union and the Polish Republic that, with the exception of the Bialystok district and some areas on the San River, corresponded to that which he had already agreed in the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact . Poland was to be compensated for this at Germany's expense in the west and to receive part of the territory that the Treaty of Versailles had recognized as German after the First World War . Stalin demanded the Oder as the western border and the Curzon Line as the eastern border of Poland, which amounted to a shift to the west of Poland .
When the subject of the division of Germany was continued at the Yalta Conference in February 1945, preliminary decisions had already been made. General de Gaulle had told Stalin in Moscow that he had nothing against a German border on the Oder and Neisse. Churchill had explained in the British House of Commons that Poland would benefit if it were given territories in the west that were richer than those that it had to cede in the east. On December 15, 1944, he gave a speech in which he propagated the "complete expulsion" of the Germans from the future Polish western regions. Great Britain approved the Oder line including Stettin's to the Polish government in exile. The border question was only apparently still open, the only disputed issue was its exact course. Churchill and Roosevelt spoke in Yalta of the "Oder border", Stalin of "Oder and Neisse". The Polish government-in-exile feared that if the Oder-Neisse border were approved, it would lose eastern Poland and stuck to the border of the Riga peace in the east. In the west it called for East Prussia, Danzig, Upper Silesia and part of Pomerania. In July 1944, Stalin established a communist government for Poland with the Lublin Committee , which accepted the Curzon line in the east. In a secret treaty it was committed to the Oder-Neisse border. A regulation for the northernmost section of the Polish border was promised to the committee. On August 28, 1944, its chairman Edward Osóbka-Morawski first publicly called for the Oder to be the western border of Poland. The president of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile, Beneš , also made himself an advocate of a shift to the west of Poland at the expense of Germany and in favor of the Soviet Union. At the Yalta Conference, the fundamental decision on the future of Poland and the German eastern territories was finally made by Stalin, Churchill and Roosevelt, but without defining the course of the German eastern border. Germany was to be divided, Poland to be moved west.
It is unclear when it was clear to Stalin where the new western border of Poland was to run and when the Western Allies gained knowledge of the actual later course of the border. A chance find in a Moscow archive shows that in the summer of 1944 Stalin marked the Oder and the Glatzer Neisse as the western border on a map he had worked on with a pen .
Beginning of the westward shift until the Potsdam Conference
On June 5, 1945, the main victorious powers , now including France, finally declared the assumption of supreme power in Germany within the borders of December 31, 1937 . Even before that, the Soviet Union and the Polish communist government began to create a fait accompli. In October 1944 a "State Repatriation Office" was founded in Lublin , which was supposed to repatriate Poles from other countries. These involved around two million forced laborers and around half of the 5.2 million ethnic Poles who had lived in the eastern parts of the country in 1939, which were no longer to belong to Poland (see Repatriation in Poland after the Second World War ). Poles who had served in Soviet or Allied armies were to be resettled, as were about half a million Poles who had fled the civil war with Ukrainians. As early as March 1945, the Warsaw Provisional Government, which had been formed from the Lublin Committee in January 1945 and had taken over the administration of the new western areas up to the Oder and Neisse rivers, had proclaimed the conquered East German territories "liberated Poland". It created five new voivodeships in Masuria , Upper Silesia , Lower Silesia and Pomerania and appointed authorized representatives.
The Soviet Union confirmed the transfer of administrative sovereignty over the areas east of the Lusatian Neisse , the Oder and the Swine, although the Yalta Conference had not yet reached an agreement on the exact course of the Polish western border and there were no new agreements with the Western Allies. The handover of the new western territories by the Soviet Union to Poland was celebrated in a state ceremony on May 23, 1945 after the German surrender . Finally, on July 6, 1945, a formal Polish-Soviet evacuation treaty was signed.
On June 1, 1945, five divisions of the new Polish army were ordered to the Oder-Neisse line. The bridges over the Oder and Lusatian Neisse rivers were closed to prevent Germans from returning to Silesia or Pomerania. Streams of returnees headed east because they could not imagine that the population should really be exchanged in a quarter of Germany, or because they had been encouraged to do so by soldiers of the Red Army because of the poor supply situation in the Soviet occupation zone. By June 1945 half of the original population had returned to some places in Silesia. Neither Polish nor Soviet politicians had expected this reaction. Most of these Germans had to leave their previous residential areas a second time by 1946.
Potsdam Conference and the Period of Occupation of Germany (1945 to 1949)
The Yalta discussions were continued by the heads of government and foreign ministers of the three main allies at the Potsdam Conference from July 17 to August 2, 1945. In Yalta it remained open whether the Lusatian or the Glatzer Neisse should become Poland's western border. Instead of the Oder-Neisse Line, the American and British negotiating delegations brought the Oder- Bober Line (better: Oder-Bober- Queis Line) 50 kilometers further east into play as the German eastern border, but the Soviet Union refused to approve it . Such a regulation would at least have left the entire eastern Lusatia with Germany and avoided the division of cities such as Görlitz and Guben . In the Potsdam Agreement, Stalin and Molotov achieved the promise of the two Western powers to support the cession of northern East Prussia with Konigsberg to the Soviet Union in the event of a peace settlement with Germany that was still to come. Until then, it should be placed under Soviet administration. In the case of Stalin's demand for the Oder and Neisse to be recognized as the western border of Poland, they rejected a binding international law obligation before a peace treaty was signed. The German area east of the Oder-Neisse line was to come under Polish administration until the border was finally determined.
The assignment of Świnoujście to Poland was also contractually regulated; a corresponding regulation for the Stettiner Zipfel is not included in the contract. The fact that the German eastern territories, which were given to Poland for administration, had been included in the expulsion area, was not mentioned in the minutes of the conference, which only spoke of the transfer of the German population to Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. That too was approved by the Western powers.
Settlement and polonization of the Oder-Neisse areas
In July 1945, after the troops of the Western Allies had withdrawn from the southwest of the Soviet zone of occupation, apparently unexpected for the Western Allies , the Soviet military administration in Germany handed over Stettin , west of the Oder, and the surrounding area, as well as the part of Świnoujście to the west of the Swinoujscie.
From March 1945 the Polish government, in consultation with the Soviet Union, had Polonized German settlement areas east of the Oder-Neisse line . They were administratively incorporated into the Polish state association and all localities had been renamed. In some cases, historical Polish and, in Lusatia, also Polonized forms of Sorbian place names were used, in other cases the German names were translated or completely new place names were created. The resettlement or expulsion of the German population and the settlement of Polish residents had begun. Because Stalin had untruthfully asserted that all Germans had already left the area east of the Oder, the two Western Allies approved at the Potsdam Conference that the former German areas east of the Oder-Neisse line should be in a peace treaty with Germany until the final determination of the western border of Poland come under the administration of the Polish state and in this regard should not be considered part of the Soviet Occupied Zone (SBZ). The separation of these areas, which had actually been carried out with the transfer of civil administration to the Polish government, which was mainly supported by communists , was also accepted.
The Soviet Union rejected the territorial demands made by Poland in July 1945, which were raised mainly until 1947. Polish politicians demanded the cession of the entire island of Usedom and the relocation of the border to the Randow River . A maximum demand included the handover of the entire former Prussian province of Pomerania including Rügen , Zingst , Darß , Stralsund , Greifswald , etc.
On September 21, 1945 , the course of Poland's western border in the Swinoujscie - Greifenhagen section was defined in a Soviet-Polish agreement, the Schwerin Border Agreement . Stalin is said to have said during the negotiations: "You will get reprimands after the Third World War."
German-Polish Policy at the Time of the Existence of Two German States
Relations between the GDR and Poland
The border line was initially rejected by the SED founded in 1946 . Since the party initially attached importance to acceptance by the majority of the population in the Soviet zone, on September 14, 1946 the newspaper Neues Deutschland read that “the SED will oppose any downsizing of German territory. The eastern border is only provisional and can only be finally determined at the peace conference of all the major victorious states. "
However, under Soviet pressure, the SED relativized its position. In March / April 1947 the Oder-Neisse border was officially designated as the "peace border" by the Moscow Foreign Ministers ' Conference . On January 11, 1949, the new areas were formally incorporated into the Polish state administration. In the official linguistic usage of the People's Republic of Poland, they were called regained western and northern regions or, for short, new western regions to distinguish them from the old western regions that were preserved in 1919 .
After it was founded on October 7, 1949, the GDR established diplomatic relations with Poland. Both states signed a declaration on June 6, 1950 in Warsaw by the Deputy GDR Prime Minister Walter Ulbricht and Poland's Prime Minister Józef Cyrankiewicz recognizing the Oder-Neisse border. In the Görlitz Agreement, concluded exactly one month later in Zgorzelec , "on the marking of the established and existing German-Polish state border", it was stated that it was an "inviolable border of peace and friendship", "which does not separate the two peoples, but unites them". It runs "from the Baltic Sea along the line [...] Świnoujście [Swinoujscie ...,] or to the [...] Lusatian Neisse [...] along to the Czechoslovakian border", which means that it "forms the state border between Germany and Poland." The area was not mentioned, nor was the statement made in Potsdam that the border description only applies until the “final determination of the western border of Poland” in a forthcoming peace settlement. The last correction on the border line took place in 1951. East of the Wolgastsee on Usedom, the waterworks of the city of Świnoujście (Swinoujscie) with an area of approx. 75 hectares was slammed into Poland. To compensate for this, the GDR received an area of the same size along the Oder in the Staffelde area from Poland.
On June 13, 1950, the German Bundestag declared in a declaration read out by senior president Paul Löbe , to which all parliamentary groups except the KPD , the Federal Government and the Bundesrat had agreed, that “according to the Potsdam Agreement” regardless of the between the governments of the GDR and Poland agreed so-called peace border "the German area east of the Oder and Neisse [...] the Republic of Poland only for temporary administration" is: "The area remains part of Germany." In addition, no one has the right to "abandon the country and people on their own authority or to pursue a policy of renunciation. "
In 1985, the expansion of the GDR territorial waters in the Bay of Szczecin led to disputes with Poland. As a result, on May 22, 1989, the GDR and Poland signed a treaty on the delimitation of the sea areas in the Bay of Szczecin.
From the beginning, the "peace border" between the GDR and Poland was "militarily armed" with barbed wire fences, watchtowers and heavily armed border police. Railway lines were secured by inspection bridges , as at several German rail border crossings. Until the 1960s, despite all mutual expressions of friendship between the governments of the GDR and Poland, "the border between the GDR and Poland [...] was one of the most heavily guarded and sealed off borders in Europe."
In 1961, Der Spiegel reported : “Today the Oder-Neisse Line separates two allied states of the socialist camp, the 'German Democratic Republic' Walter Ulbricht and the Poland of Wladyslaw Gomulka , but so far there has been no small border traffic, no freedom of movement as between the allied countries Western Europe . If you want to cross this border, you need a visa from Warsaw or East Berlin, unless you are traveling with an official party or trade union delegation visiting the neighboring country. ”However, an expert on the“ border command ”of the GDR states:“ Border security systems such as the The western borders of the ČSSR and the GDR were never established in the east and south-east. ”The aim was not to“ secure ”the eastern border of the GDR, but only to“ monitor ”it.
On January 1, 1972, the border between the GDR and the VR Poland was opened for individual visa-free travel. In both socialist brother countries it was assumed that there would be two million border crossings per year. In fact, 9.4 million Poles and 6.7 million Germans from the GDR crossed the common border in 1972. The main motive was to procure consumer goods that were not available in their own country or only available at significantly higher prices. In order to end this burden on its own economy and as a reaction to the activities of the Solidarność trade union - the government of the GDR tried to stop the striving for intellectual and cultural freedom of movement in the GDR from Poland - the GDR closed the Border of the GDR to Poland for visa-free traffic. Private travel remained limited until 1991 because residents of the two countries could only visit each other again with a personal invitation or visa.
Relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and Poland
1949 to 1969
The federal government declared the Görlitz Agreement in 1951 to be “null and void”. It relied on the missing condition in the Görlitz Treaty that the decision on the German eastern territories, which were then administered by Polish and Soviet authorities, should only be made in a later peace treaty. In 1957, a proposal by Carlo Schmid to spark a public discussion about the recognition of the Oder-Neisse Line was not able to win a majority in the SPD .
In 1954, just under a year after the uprising of June 17, 1953 , the Kuratorium Indivisible Germany (KUD) was founded, which was mainly divided through poster campaigns with the motto “3? Never! ”( See figure on the right ) and similar initiatives attracted attention.
In 1967 a representative survey in the Federal Republic of Germany showed that the majority of German citizens did not believe in any kind of return of areas beyond the Oder-Neisse line. Out of 6,400 people surveyed by Infratest , not even 350 were willing to take the risk of violence for this purpose. Among the 6,400, 1,500 were displaced : 63 percent of them no longer expected to return to their homeland in 1967. Of the 3,000 former Wroclaw residents questioned in 1967, eight percent said they were willing to live as an equal minority in their old homeland. 41 out of 100 Wroclaw residents rejected the demand that the Poles have to vacate Wroclaw or the former German eastern territories: They conceded a “ right of home ” in Wroclaw to the Poles, who were also predominantly expelled .
1969 to 1990
In October 1965, an important organization cautiously advocated the recognition of the Oder-Neisse Line for the first time in an Ostdenkschrift of the Evangelical Churches in Germany (EKD). This position, which was highly controversial within the church, was given considerable weight because almost 90 percent of the Germans expelled from the Oder-Neisse areas were Protestant.
In 1968, Willy Brandt , foreign minister in the grand coalition ( Kiesinger cabinet ), voted for "recognition or respect for the Oder-Neisse border until a peace treaty settlement". On October 22, 1969, Brandt became Chancellor of the first social-liberal coalition ; in his government statement on October 28, 1969, he announced talks with Poland. Brandt's intention to recognize the Oder-Neisse Line as a border triggered violent reactions in the Bundestag and among representatives of the country teams .
At the end of January 1970, Egon Bahr , Willy Brandt's chief foreign policy advisor, began negotiations in Moscow in order to explore possibilities for reconciliation with Eastern countries.
On December 7, 1970, Poland and the Federal Republic of Germany signed the Warsaw Treaty (and Brandt knelt down while laying a wreath, which was understood internationally as a request for forgiveness). Both sides stated that the existing border line resulting from the Potsdam resolutions forms the "western border of the People's Republic of Poland". They have "no territorial claims against each other" and will "not raise such claims in the future either". A right of return for the expellees or minority rights for the Germans who remained in their homeland were not agreed upon, and neither were the Germans requested. The Eastern Treaties were adopted by the Bundestag at the end of 1971 with the Union abstaining . However, the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation claims that the "dissent between the Federal Republic of Germany and Poland on the border issue [...] was not resolved by the Warsaw Treaty of December 7, 1970, which was concluded as part of the so-called new German Ostpolitik" . Without questioning the binding nature of the existing border regulation for the future by the border confirmation contract of November 14, 1990, it is still unclear today, according to Dieter Blumenwitz , "by which constitutive act the territorial sovereignty (in contrast to the administrative sovereignty regulated in Potsdam) with regard to the German eastern territories passed to Poland ”.
On April 24, 1972, opposition leader Rainer Barzel (CDU) attempted to overthrow the government with a constructive vote of no confidence (which surprisingly failed). After the defeat of the members of the Bundestag, there was a vote in the Bundestag on the question of the Eastern Treaty; Brandt did not have a majority to get them through the Bundestag. Barzel and Brandt reached a compromise: the Bundestag would pass a "joint resolution" according to which the CDU / CSU members would allow the Eastern Treaty to pass by abstaining. This was actually achieved: In the joint resolution of May 17, 1972, the Bundestag then declared unanimously, with five abstentions, that the Federal Republic had "accepted the obligations in the Moscow and Warsaw treaties" "in its own name". The treaties were “based on the limits that actually exist today, and they exclude unilateral change”. They do not anticipate a "peace treaty settlement" and create "no legal basis for the current borders". The background was the reservation of the Four Powers for Germany as a whole . As a result, the not fully sovereign Federal Republic as a West German state was not entitled to make changes to the 1937 borders that were effective under international law.
Diplomatic relations between Bonn and Warsaw were established in September 1972. The Federal Constitutional Court ruled in July 1975 that the Federal Republic could not and did not want to do without the areas east of the Oder and Neisse: “With regard to the overall responsibility of the Four Powers for Germany as a whole, according to the legal opinion of the Federal Government, dispositions of the territorial status of Germany could be made that would have anticipated a peace settlement without the consent of the Four Powers. […] The will of the Federal Republic not to dispose of the territorial status of Germany in the border regulations of the Moscow and Warsaw treaties was also recognizable to the contracting parties and was even reflected in the treaties themselves. According to Art. 4 of the Moscow Treaty, the bilateral and multilateral contracts and agreements previously concluded by the contracting parties remain unaffected. This also includes the agreements from which the rights and responsibilities of the Four Powers in relation to Germany as a whole result. "
Allied politics 1949 to 1990
Despite the efforts of the German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, the representatives of the Western powers, the High Commissioners , avoided the question of what was meant by a united Germany . The United States emphasized that the question of the German eastern territories was open until a peace treaty settlement due to the conditional demarcation of the boundaries, US High Commissioner John J. McCloy maintained his view in November 1951 that reunification would be limited to the four zones of occupation . Nevertheless, in their first joint reply to the Soviet Union of March 25, 1952, regarding the Oder-Neisse Line , the Western Powers had stated that “no final boundaries were set in the Potsdam decisions which clearly stipulate that the final decision on territorial issues of a peace settlement must be reserved ”.
The Görlitz Agreement was rejected by the USA and Great Britain in 1951 .
In the Germany Treaty (negotiated in 1952, entered into force in 1955), the Western powers recognized the demand for the reunification of Germany, but did not support the West German reservation against the Oder-Neisse border. They did not want to commit to restoring Germany within the 1937 borders.
In 1990 the three western powers declared the recognition of the Oder-Neisse line as the final Polish western border by the Federal Republic of Germany as a prerequisite for their consent to the unification of the two states in Germany.
The Oder-Neisse border as the border between Germany and Poland
When in the course of the impending German reunification in 1990, especially in the Republic of Poland, the concern grew that a united Germany could demand a revision of the German eastern borders, the four victorious powers demanded the final recognition of the border on the Oder and as a prerequisite for their consent to German unity Lusatian Neisse as the legal state border between Germany and Poland. This constitutive act could therefore be seen in the Two-Plus-Four Treaty at the earliest , namely in Art. 1 Para. 1 and Para. 5, since between 1945 and 1990 there was no document relating to the borders of Germany to which "Germany" was involved. The Oder-Neisse border was anchored in the two-plus-four treaty and confirmed in a bilateral treaty , the German-Polish border treaty of November 14, 1990. With this treaty, which came into force on January 16, 1992, the Federal Republic of Germany relinquished all claims to the eastern territories of the German Reich that lay east of this line and since then also belong to Poland under international law.
In 1990, the final character of the borders of a united Germany was finally confirmed in the Two-Plus-Four Treaty. In Warsaw, the two foreign ministers, Krzysztof Skubiszewski for the Republic of Poland and Hans-Dietrich Genscher for the Federal Republic of Germany , signed the German-Polish border treaty "on the confirmation of the border between them":
On June 21, 1990, the German Bundestag and the People's Chamber of the GDR passed an identical declaration on Poland's western border. It contained the unequivocal message to Poland:
“The border between Poland and Germany, as it runs today, is final. We Germans do not call into question today or in the future through territorial claims. After the unification of Germany, this will be confirmed in a contract with the Republic of Poland that is binding under international law. "
In 1991, Federal Chancellor Kohl , Foreign Minister Genscher, Prime Minister Bielecki and Foreign Minister Skubiszewski signed the German-Polish Neighborhood Agreement in Bonn , with which it is contractually agreed that the respective minorities have the right “to freely express their ethnic, cultural, linguistic and religious identity bring ”- what the state recognition of the German minority in Poland meant. Furthermore, the contracting parties agreed to set up a German-Polish youth organization . Both treaties were ratified on December 16, 1991 by the German Bundestag and came into force on January 16, 1992.
In April 2006, at a German-Polish economic conference, the Oder partnership was founded, to which all countries and voivodships bordering the German-Polish border belong.
Poland joins the European regions and the European Union
Since 1991 Germany and Poland have been integrated into several European regions, namely into the Euroregion Neisse (together with the Czech Republic since 1991), the Euroregion Spree-Neisse-Bober (since 1993), the Euroregion Pro Europa Viadrina (since 1993) and the Euroregion Pomerania (together with Sweden since 1995).
Poland's accession to the European Union (EU) on May 1, 2004 and thus to the European internal market as well as its accession to the Schengen area on December 21, 2007 created the basis for the Oder-Neisse border to have a large part of its separating effect lost. The state border can be crossed without any problems and normally without border control. This effect is of particular importance for the western part of the city of Swinoujscie, which can only be reached from Poland via ships and ferries (which can fail in the event of ice, floods or storms) or via German territory. The Usedomer Bäderbahn has been running to and from Swinoujscie since September 2008, which means that the place is again connected to the German rail network. Poland's accession to the Schengen area also facilitates the work of the European regions. B. Activities such as navigating the border rivers in a canoe are no longer considered illegal border crossing.
In order to emphasize the togetherness of cross-border landscapes, nature lovers have regularly declared regions as " Landscape of the Year " since 1989 . In 1993/94 the Oder estuary received this award , in 2003/2004 the state of Lebus received this award.
Effect of the demarcation
From the perspective of 2013, the political and social scientist Angelika Pauli assesses the effects of the demarcation between Germany and Poland:
“The example of the German-Polish border area shows that the economic borders between the two countries have largely been abolished in the course of Europeanization and globalization processes or will be in the near future. The administrative boundaries between the two countries still exist, but an alignment and Europeanization of the structures in the context of the European multi-level system can be expected. However, cultural boundaries are still present to a large extent and can only be dismantled in the long term.
Administration and Transport
The Oder and Neisse rivers did not form a “natural state border” for centuries. Both Western Pomerania and Pomerania belonged 1945 to Prussia , as well as the west and east of the Oder and the Neisse lying areas of Brandenburg as well as the east and west of the Neisse lying parts of Lower Silesia . Not only were provinces divided in 1945, but also cities and counties, e.g. B. the Saxon district of Zittau . In the northern section of the border, its course is the result of negotiations: In September 1945, the representatives of the Soviet Union were convinced that it would not be useful to define the middle of the road from Groß-Mützelburg to Böck as the border line, and they relocated it somewhat further west.
The fact that the Randower Kleinbahn crossed the new border twice was irrelevant, as it was to be largely dismantled anyway . From 1945 onwards, the situation was more complicated in the southernmost section of the new border: the Zittau – Hagenwerder railway line runs almost 15 km along the eastern bank of the Neisse, i.e. over Polish territory since the Zittau district was divided . This section is interrupted by a 250 m long section, which is located on the western bank of the Neisse, so that the route crosses the border four times. The management of the railroad traffic takes place until today within the framework of the privileged rail traffic through traffic . The train station for the German city of Ostritz on this railway line is on the east side of the Neisse and was also accessible from Ostritz when GDR citizens were only allowed to enter Poland with a visa. The name of the station has been " Krzewina Zgorzelecka " since 1945 . No Polish passenger trains stop at the station today. Due to the simplification of cross-border passenger transport in the common Schengen area, travelers to and from Poland are now also allowed to use trains to and from Germany. The sections of the Zittau – Hagenwerder railway line east of the Neisse were integrated into the Polish railway network after 1945 with a connecting curve in the north and an extension in the south, and are therefore now part of the Polish railway line Mikułowa (Nikolausdorf) –Bogatynia (Reichenau) ; however, only freight trains run on it.
The names for the regions have been adapted to the new border. The part of the name "West Pomerania" in the name West Pomeranian Voivodeship refers to the fact that this area lies in the west of Pomerania, although West Pomerania only ends west of Stralsund. The name for the 1945 newly formed state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was changed in 1947 to " Mecklenburg ". In the Soviet occupation zone and in the GDR, the word “(Vor) Pomerania” was frowned upon, as was the word “(Lower) Silesia” (as a name for the area around Görlitz). This area became part of the state of Saxony . In 1968 the "Evangelical Church of Silesia", which had been designated by this term, was renamed to "Church of the Görlitz Church Area".
Not only were the areas on both sides of the border separated by the demarcation, but also the people on both sides of it. Germans lived in the west, including many expellees, and in the east Poles, almost all of whom were “newcomers”. Because the border was difficult to negotiate until 1972, a "180 degree thinking" developed on both sides of the border. H. the awareness that everything that happened across the border is irrelevant for one's own life and that one's own radius of action is only a semicircle. It was only when it became possible to cross the border without a visa from 1972 onwards, when Germans from the GDR and Poland came into contact with one another in large numbers.
After the collapse of the communist system in the states of the former Warsaw Pact and Poland's accession to the EU and the Schengen area, a trend towards rapprochement between the people and the economy of the areas on both sides of the Oder-Neisse border can be observed. Especially with the twin cities on the Oder and Neisse, which were divided in 1945, many have the impression that they are growing together again. This process is particularly evident in the case of the European University Viadrina , whose main facilities are located in Frankfurt in the immediate vicinity of the river and are therefore easily accessible from student dormitories in Słubice . The proportion of Polish students at this university was 12 percent in the 2012 summer semester.
In the summer of 2015, Christian Schutte put forward the thesis that “nationalist thinking in the 21st century in the context of German-Polish relations is not a particularly productive field of research.” However, the ARD correspondent in Warsaw noted in February 2016 that the German- Polish partnership has significantly worsened since the PiS took over the government : "After critical statements by German EU politicians about the authoritarian course of the new Polish government, shrill tones up to Nazi comparisons came up."
The image of Poland among Germans
During the time of the division of Germany, there was a clear difference in the image of the Poles in the population of the two German states. In particular, the fact that Poland was a communist state until around 1990 was assessed differently in the Federal Republic of Germany and in the GDR. The “international friendship” between citizens of the GDR and Poland was “prescribed” by politics. The ideological stipulation was unable to remove resentments that were firmly rooted in the East German population and were similar to those in West Germany. From 1980 the SED even served some resentments, e.g. B. openly discussed the proverbial “ Polish economy ” and pointed out that the GDR had the greatest economic successes within the Eastern Bloc.
With regard to the relations between Germans and Poles on both sides of the Oder-Neisse border in the 21st century, Anetta Kahane and Christian Utpatel state: “The German-Polish relationship will only become normal if the Germans also accept that it is simply not normal . ”The authors justify this thesis with the words:“ [T] he hostility towards Poland has not disappeared in Germany. It let off steam during the war, persisted in the post-war period, and in the GDR it was even reignited by the government on certain occasions, such as at the time of the dissident union Solidarność. After the fall of the wall, it crept out again, as did other forms of inhumanity, and at the same time hid behind them. ”In south-eastern Western Pomerania in particular, there was tension between the Poles who had moved there and the local German population. The Amadeu Antonio Foundation , on the other hand, tries to use an image campaign to create the impression that Western Pomerania is "[n] ur still on the map on the right".
In the light of the results of representative opinion polls, a gradual improvement in the image of Poland among the German population can be observed. So sank z. For example, from 2000 to 2006 the proportion of Germans who consider Poland to be “backward” rose from 44 to 32%, and in 2006 only 30% instead of 37% rated Poland as “dishonest”. The Bertelsmann study: “Something new in the East? The Image of Poland and Russia in Germany 2013 “states that old prejudices against Poland are still slowly but steadily on the decline.
The image of Germany in Poland
The German-Polish magazine Dialog describes the situation twenty years after the new border was drawn: In 1965, Polish Catholics were caught in deeply rooted anti-German resentments. The memories of the Second World War were still very vivid, and communist propaganda and the Federal Republic's Poland policy had ensured that the wounds had not healed. Most Poles had no doubt that the Germans had been a deadly threat to the Poles for a thousand years and that German perpetrators had repeatedly inflicted immeasurable suffering on Polish victims, never the other way around. That is why the letter from the Polish bishops, in which they spoke of the “German merits for the Christianization and Europeanization of Poland in the Middle Ages” and of the “suffering of the German expellees”, met with incomprehension among Polish lay people . They reacted with disbelief and horror to the fact that the bishops had not only forgiven the Germans, who were still “malicious” in the perception of the Polish Catholics, for their unpunished crimes, but had even asked them for forgiveness on behalf of the Poles, even though they called themselves “ innocent ”. Żurek, the author of the analysis, sees a decisive mistake in the fact that the Polish bishops did not take sufficient account of the fact that they could have maintained regular contacts with their ministers in the West and especially in Rome, while most lay people would not have Poles going west allowed to leave, which made a change in their thinking very difficult.
In 2006, the then Prime Minister of Brandenburg, Matthias Platzeck , complained about an increase in anti-German resentment among Poles. This impression is not shared by everyone (at least in 2013): “The days when Poles of German origin were insulted as Swabians are over. If they now vote for the first time by postal vote [from Poland] in the federal election , they hardly have to fear that they will be resented or even reviled as insecure cantonists. ”Campaigns by nationalist politicians who are not the majority in Poland and with Poland in Germany behind them, don't take them too seriously.
On both sides of the Oder-Neisse border, the attempt to integrate the new settlers into agriculture failed from 1945 onwards, which turned out to be insufficiently receptive. Instead, the population on both sides of the border was integrated through a second, socialist industrialization, namely in the GDR through the construction of the ironworks combine near Fürstenberg ( Eisenhüttenstadt ), the petrochemical combine in Schwedt , the chemical fiber combine in Guben and the semiconductor plant in Frankfurt (Or) .
On the Polish side, industrialization took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s, with a focus on heavy industry, mining and the chemical industry. The industry in the border region was very much geared towards the Soviet market on both sides, so similar problems in the transformation process were observed later on both sides .
Today there is an economic east-west divide between Germany and Poland at the national level, but also between the neighboring border regions. In 2014, the gross domestic product per capita in Germany was 35,300 euros and in Poland 10,700 euros. The investments in East Germany as part of the East German rebuilding from 1990 onwards ensured that this gap was also noticeable on the Oder-Neisse border : The new federal states with 17 million inhabitants had an investment volume of 800 billion DM, while Poland had 38 Million inhabitants had only the equivalent of ten billion DM - that means a 200-fold higher per capita investment in eastern Germany. Nevertheless, Poland was able to record steady economic growth after 1990 , so that the Polish economy coped better with the transformation from a planned economy to a market economy than most other transition states in Europe .
The different values of GDP per capita result in a general purchasing power gap from west to east, with the result that most goods and services east of the Oder-Neisse border are cheaper than west of it. The relatively low wages in Poland keep Germans (not only from the structurally weak areas immediately west of the border) from commuting or moving to Poland to take up work. Conversely, in 2012 the Poles formed the largest group among the migrant workers who came to Germany with 184,000 immigrants. The fact that 114,000 Poles left Germany in the same year shows that there were many seasonal workers among the Poles who went to Germany to work in 2012 .
A comparison of the individual regions reveals that east of the Oder-Neisse border the West Pomeranian and Lebus voivodeships had below-average GDP per capita values in 2010 (based on the figures for Poland as a whole), while the Lower Silesian Voivodeship had above-average economic strength with a positive economic power Shows dynamic growth. West Pomerania and Lebus, however, worsened their relative position within Poland. To the west of the border, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania brought up the rear among the German states in 2013 with EUR 22,964 GDP per capita. Brandenburg (€ 24,231) and Saxony (€ 25,378) were also well below the average for Germany as a whole .
Negative economic effects of the former peripheral location are still clearly visible in the north of the border area. But there are also opposing tendencies such as the positive development of tourism along the Baltic Sea coast. In 2012 no other voivodeship in Poland had more overnight stays by foreigners than in West Pomerania, 90 percent of whom were Germans.
Earlier fears that Poles would compete with East Germans on the labor market in the structurally weak areas west of the Oder have largely proven to be unfounded: Less than two percent of the Poles living in Germany live in each of the three federal states bordering Poland. They prefer to live in the old federal states, since the labor market and earning potential there are better than in eastern Germany.
In the agglomeration of Szczecin, there is a special case where Polish capital is invested in Germany because land west of the Policki Powiat is cheaper than in Poland. As a result, Poland is buying (s) real estate in southeastern Western Pomerania and northeastern Brandenburg. They also moved into vacant rental apartments (the alternative to this would have been a loss of rental income or the need to demolish rental houses). This behavior enabled a German-Polish grammar school to be set up as a European school in Löcknitz . In the region of south-east Western Pomerania and north-east Brandenburg, where there is no big city in a wide area apart from Szczecin, this is increasingly accepted by Germans as “their” regional center .
Municipalities on the state border (from north to south)
Road and rail connections between Germany and Poland
Since Poland joined the Schengen area, there is no longer a general obligation to use official border crossings to cross the border between Germany and Poland. For example, pedestrians can cross the border on the Baltic Sea beach, although there is no direct border crossing there.
In business circles it is criticized that the travel time between German and Polish cities, especially by rail, is too long.
Important official border crossings for motor vehicle traffic are (from north to south):
- Ahlbeck / Świnoujście (Swinoujscie)
- Garz / Świnoujście (Swinoujscie)
- Hintersee / Dobieszczyn (Entepöl Forest House)
- Left / Lubieszyn (New Left)
- A 11 / E 28
- Mescherin / Gryfino (Greifenhagen)
- Schwedt / Oder / Krajnik Dolny (Niederkränig)
- Hohenwutzen / Osinów Dolny (Niederwutzen)
- Küstrin-Kietz / Kostrzyn nad Odrą (Küstrin)
- Frankfurt (Oder) / Słubice (Dammvorstadt)
- A 12 / E 30
- Guben / Gubin
- Forst (Lausitz) / Brody (Lebus) (Pförten)
- A 15 / E 36
- Bad Muskau / Łęknica (Lugknitz)
- Podrosche / Przewóz (Priebus)
- A 4 / E 40
- Görlitz / Zgorzelec
- Zittau / Sieniawka (Kleinschönau)
Railway border crossings are (from north to south):
- Ahlbeck / Świnoujście (Swinoujscie), see Ducherow – Heringsdorf – Wolgaster ferry line
- Grambow / Szczecin (Stettin), see Bützow – Szczecin railway line
- Tantow / Szczecin (Stettin), see Berlin – Szczecin railway line
- Küstrin-Kietz / Kostrzyn nad Odrą (Küstrin), see the Berlin – Küstrin-Kietz border and the Tczew – Küstrin-Kietz border (see Prussian Eastern Railway )
- Frankfurt (Oder) Oderbrücke / Kunowice (Kunersdorf), see the Frankfurt (Oder) –Poznań railway line
- Guben / Gubin, see Guben – Zbąszynek railway line
- Guben / Gubinek, see Berlin – Wrocław railway line
- Forst / Zasieki, see railway line Łódź – Forst (Lausitz)
- Horka / Węgliniec (Kohlfurt), see railway line Węgliniec – Roßlau
- Görlitz / Zgorzelec , see Węgliniec – Görlitz railway line
- Zittau / Kopaczów (Oberullersdorf), see Liberec – Zittau railway line
The last-mentioned cross-border line is formally a Czech-German rail border crossing, as the line has no operating point on Polish territory and the 2.7 km long section located in Poland is not connected to the rest of the Polish rail network.
Escape and expulsion of Germans from Poland, admission to Germany
The 1970 and 1990 treaties only deal with demarcation, but do not deal with the issues of displacement and dispossession of displaced persons.
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- Agnieszka Debska: Poles in Germany: The second largest minority , media service integration , January 10, 2014.
- Deutsches Poleninstitut / Research Center for Eastern Europe at the University of Bremen / German Society for Eastern European Studies eV: Poland analyzes , issue 136, December 3, 2013, p. 10.
- Statista GmbH: Gross domestic product (GDP) per inhabitant by federal state in 2013
- Dariusz Pieńkowski / Wojciech Zbaraszewski: Cross-border tourism in valuable natural areas in the Euroregion Pomerania , Ernst Moritz Arndt University Greifswald / Zachodniopomorski Universytet Technologiczny w Szczecinie , January 22, 2014, p. 11.
- Agnieszka Łada / Justyna Segeš Frelak: A border disappears. The new Polish migration to Germany ( Memento from March 4, 2016 in the Internet Archive ). Institute for Public Affairs, Warsaw 2012, p. 28.
- European School German-Polish Gymnasium Löcknitz ( online ).
- ETC Transport Consultants GmbH: Need for action for cross-border traffic between Germany and Poland ( Memento from September 28, 2015 in the Internet Archive ), May 2013.