Free City of Danzig

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Free City of Danzig
Freie Stadt Danzig  (German)
Wolne Miasto Gdańsk  (Polish)
Free City under League of Nations protection
Coat of arms
Coat of arms
"Nec Temere, Nec Timide"
"Neither rashly nor timidly"
Für Danzig / Gdańsku
Danzig, surrounded by Germany and Poland
Location of the Free City of Danzig in 1930s Europe
Capital Danzig
Government Republic
High Commissioner
 •  1919–1920 Reginald Tower
 •  1937–1939 Carl Jacob Burckhardt
Senate President
 •  1920–1931 Heinrich Sahm
 •  1934–1939 Arthur Greiser
Legislature Volkstag
Historical era Interwar period
 •  Established 15 November 1920
 •  Invasion of Poland 1 September 1939
 •  Annexed by Germany 2 September 1939
 •  1923 1,966 km2 (759 sq mi)
 •  1923 est. 366,730 
     Density 187/km2 (483/sq mi)
Preceded by
Succeeded by
West Prussia
Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
Today part of  Poland

The Free City of Danzig (German: Freie Stadt Danzig; Polish: Wolne Miasto Gdańsk) was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) and nearly 200 towns and villages in the surrounding areas. It was created on 15 November 1920[1][2] in accordance with the terms of Article 100 (Section XI of Part III) of the 1919 Treaty of Versailles after the end of World War I.

The Free City included the city of Danzig and other nearby towns, villages, and settlements that had been primarily inhabited by Germans. As the Treaty stated, the region was to remain separated from post-World War I Germany (the Weimar Republic) and from the newly independent nation of the Second Polish Republic ("interwar Poland"), but it was not an independent state.[3] The Free City was under League of Nations protection and put into a binding customs union with Poland.

Poland was given full rights to develop and maintain transportation, communication, and port facilities in the city.[4] The Free City was created in order to give Poland access to a well-sized seaport. While the city's population was majority-German, it had a significant ethnic Polish minority as well.[5][6][7] The German population deeply resented being separated from Germany. The tensions increased when the Nazi Party gained political control in 1935–36.[8]

Since Poland still was not in complete control of the seaport, especially regarding military equipment, a new seaport was built in nearby Gdynia, beginning 1921.

In 1933, the city's government was taken over by the local Nazi Party, which suppressed the democratic opposition. Due to anti-Semitic persecution and oppression, many Jews fled. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Nazis abolished the Free City and incorporated the area into the newly formed Reichsgau of Danzig-West Prussia. The Nazis classified the Poles and Jews living in the city as subhumans, subjecting them to discrimination, forced labor, and extermination. Many were sent to their deaths at Nazi concentration camps, including nearby Stutthof (now Sztutowo, Poland).

During the city's conquest by the Soviet Army in the early months of 1945, a substantial number of citizens fled or were killed. After the war, many surviving Germans were expelled to West or East Germany as members of the pre-war Polish ethnic minority started returning and as new Polish settlers began to come. Due to these events, Gdańsk suffered severe underpopulation and did not recover until the late 1950s. The city subsequently became part of Poland as a consequence of the Potsdam Agreement.


Periods of independence and autonomy

Danzig had an early history of independence. It was a leading player in the Prussian Confederation directed against the Teutonic Monastic State of Prussia. The Confederation stipulated with the Polish king, Casimir IV Jagiellon, that the Polish Crown would be invested with the role of head of state of western parts of Prussia (Royal Prussia). In contrast, Ducal Prussia remained a Polish fief. Danzig and other cities such as Elbing and Thorn financed most of the warfare and enjoyed a high level of city autonomy. Danzig used the title Royal Polish City of Danzig.

In 1569, when Royal Prussia's estates agreed to incorporate the region into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, the city insisted on preserving its special status. It defended itself through the costly Siege of Danzig in 1577 in order to preserve special privileges, and subsequently insisted on negotiating by sending emissaries directly to the Polish king.[citation needed]

Although Danzig became part of the Kingdom of Prussia in the Second Partitition of Poland in 1793, Prussia was conquered by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1806, and in September 1807 Napoleon declared Danzig a semi-independent client state of the French Empire, known as the Free City of Danzig. It lasted seven years, until it was re-incorporated into the Kingdom of Prussia in 1814, after Napoleon's defeat at the Battle of Leipzig (Battle of Nations) by a coalition that included Russia, Austria, and Prussia.


1,000 Danzig gulden (1924) depicting City Hall
1,000 Danzig gulden (1924) depicting City Hall

The interwar Free City of Danzig (1920–39) included the city of Danzig (Gdańsk), the towns of Zoppot (Sopot), Oliva (Oliwa), Tiegenhof (Nowy Dwór Gdański), Neuteich (Nowy Staw) and some 252 villages and 63 hamlets, covering a total area of 1,966 square kilometers (759 sq mi). The cities of Danzig (since 1818) and Zoppot (since 1920) formed independent cities (Stadtkreise), whereas all other towns and municipalities were part of one of the three rural districts (Landkreise), Danziger Höhe, Danziger Niederung (pl) (both seated in Danzig city) and Großes Werder (de), seated in Tiegenhof.

In 1929, its territory covered 1,952 km² including 58 square kilometers of freshwater surface. The border had a length of 290.5 km, of which the coastline accounted for 66.35 km.[9]

Polish rights declared by Treaty of Versailles

The Free City was to be represented abroad by Poland and was to be in a customs union with it. The German railway line that connected the Free City with newly created Poland was to be administered by Poland, as were all rail lines in the territory of the Free City. On November 9, 1920, a convention that provided for the Presence of a Polish diplomatic representative in Danzig was signed between the Polish government and the Danzig authorities. In article 6, the Polish government undertook not to conclude any international agreements regarding Danzig without previous consultation with the Free City's government.[10]

A separate Polish post office was established, besides the existing municipal one.

League of Nations High Commissioners

Passport of the Free City of Danzig

Unlike Mandatory territories, which were entrusted to member countries, the Free City of Danzig (like the Territory of the Saar Basin) remained directly under the authority of the League of Nations. Representatives of various countries took on the role of High Commissioner:[11]

Polish passport issued at Danzig by the "Polish Commission for Gdansk" in 1935 and extended again in 1937, before the holder immigrated to British Palestine the following year.
Name Period Country
1 Reginald Thomas Tower 1919–1920  United Kingdom
2 Edward Lisle Strutt 1920  United Kingdom
3 Bernardo Attolico 1920  Italy
4 Richard Cyril Byrne Haking 1921–1923  United Kingdom
5 Mervyn Sorley McDonnell 1923–1925  United Kingdom
6 Joost Adriaan van Hamel 1925–1929  Netherlands
7 Manfredi di Gravina 1929–1932  Italy
8 Helmer Rosting 1932–1934  Denmark
9 Seán Lester 1934–1936  Irish Free State
10 Carl Jacob Burckhardt 1937–1939   Switzerland

The League of Nations refused to let the city-state use the term of Hanseatic City as part of its official name; this referred to Danzig's long-lasting membership in the Hanseatic League.[12]

State Constabulary

Danzig police arrest a protester in the aftermath of the 1933 Parliamentary Elections.

With the creation of the Free City in the aftermath of World War I a security police force was created on 19 August 1919. On 9 April 1920, a military style marching band, the Musikkorps, was formed. Led by composer Ernst Stieberitz, the police band became well known in the city and abroad. In 1921, Danzig's government reformed the entire institution and established the Schutzpolizei, or protection police.[13] Helmut Froböss became President of the Police (i. e. Chief) on 1 April 1921. He served in this capacity until the German annexation of the city.[13]

The police initially operated from 12 precincts and 7 registration points. In 1926 the number of precincts was reduced to 7.[13]

After the Nazi takeover of the Senate, the police were increasingly used to suppress free speech and political dissent.[14] In 1933, Froböss ordered the left-wing newspapers Danziger Volksstimme and Danziger Landeszeitung to suspend publications for 2 months and 8 days respectively.[15]

By 1939, Polish-German relations had worsened and war seemed a likely possibility. The police began making plans to seize Polish installations within the city, in the event of conflict.[16] Ultimately the Danzig police participated in the September Campaign, fighting alongside the local SS and the German Army at the city's Polish post office and at Westerplatte.[16][17]

Even though the Free City was formally annexed by Nazi Germany in October 1939, the police force more or less continued to operate as a law enforcement agency. The Stutthof concentration camp, 22 miles east of the city, was run by the President of the police as an internment camp from 1939 until November 1941.[18] Administration was finally dissolved when the city was occupied by the Soviets in 1945.


Population density of Poland and the Free City of Danzig (Gdansk), 1930.

The Free City's population rose from 357,000 (1919) to 408,000 in 1929; according to the official census, 95% were Germans,[19]:5, 11 with the rest mainly either Kashubians or Poles. According to E. Cieślak, the population registers of the Free City show that in 1929 the Polish population numbered 35,000, or 9.5% of the population.[20][need quotation to verify]

Henryk Stępniak estimates the 1929 Polish population as around 22,000, or around 6% of the population, increasing to around 13% in the 1930s.[6] Based on the estimated voting patterns (according to Stępniak many Poles voted for the Catholic Zentrumspartei instead of Polish parties), Stępniak estimates the number of Poles in the city to be 25–30% of Catholics living within it or about 30–36 thousand people.[21] Including around 4,000 Polish nationals who were registered in the city, Stępniak estimated the Polish population as 9.4–11% of population.[21] In contrast Stefan Samerski estimates about 10 percent of the 130,000 Catholics were Polish.[22] Andrzej Drzycimski estimates that Polish population at the end of 30s reached 20% (including Poles who arrived after the war)[23]

The Treaty of Versailles required that the newly formed state have its own citizenship, based on residency. German inhabitants lost their German citizenship with the creation of the Free City, but were given the right to re-obtain it within the first two years of the state's existence. Anyone desiring German citizenship had to leave their property and make their residence outside the Free State of Danzig area in the remaining parts of Germany.[4]

Total population by language, November 1, 1923, according to the Free City of Danzig census[19]:11
Nationality German German and
Polish, Kashub,
Unclassified Total
Danzig 327,827 1,108 6,788 99 22 77 335,921
Non-Danzig 20,666 521 5,239 2,529 580 1,274 30,809
Total 348,493 1,629 12,027 2,628 602 1,351 366,730
Percent 95.03% 0.44% 3.28% 0.72% 0.16% 0.37% 100.00%

Notable people born in the Free City of Danzig

Eddi Arent 1971
Ingrid van Bergen 2010
Günter Grass 2006
Klaus Kinski 1980s
Rupert Neudeck 2007
Wolfgang Voelz 2011
  • Eddi Arent (1925 in Danzig – 2013 in Munich) was a German actor,[24] cabaret artist and comedian. He appeared in 104 films between 1956 and 2002.
  • Ike Aronowicz (1923 in Danzig – 2009 Israel) [25] captain of the immigrant ship SS Exodus, which unsuccessfully tried to dock in British-era Palestine with Holocaust survivors on July 11, 1947
  • Elisabeth Becker (1923 in Danzig – executed 1946 in Biskupia Górka) was a concentration camp guard [26] in World War II.
  • Ingrid van Bergen (born 1931 in Danzig) is a German film actress.[27] She has appeared in 100 films since 1954. Convicted of manslaughter in 1977
  • Miltiades Caridis (1923 in Danzig – 1998 in Athens) was a German-Greek conductor, his family moved to Greece in 1938.
  • Zygmunt Chychła (1926 in Gdańsk - 2009 in Hamburg) was a Polish boxer.[28] He won the Olympic gold medal for Poland at the 1952 Summer Olympics
  • Anna M. Cienciala (1929 in Danzig – 2014 in Florida) was a Polish-American[29] historian and author
  • Holger Czukay (1938 in Danzig – 2017 in Weilerswist) was a German musician,[30] co-founder of the krautrock group Can
  • Horst Ehmke (1927 in Danzig – 2017 in Bonn) was a German lawyer, law professor and SPD politician,[31] served as Federal Minister of Justice (1969)
  • Jörg-Peter Ewert (born 1938 in Danzig) is a German neurophysiologist [32] and researcher into Neuroethology
  • Günter Grass (1927 in Danzig – 2015 in Lubeck) was a German novelist,[33] poet, playwright, illustrator, graphic artist, sculptor, and recipient of the 1999 Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • Ursula Happe (born 1926 in Danzig) is a German swimmer and Olympic champion.[34] She competed at the 1956 Summer Olympics and won the gold medal in 200 m breaststroke
  • Klaus Kinski (1926 in Zopot – 1991 in Lagunitas, California) was a controversial German actor.[35]
  • Wanda Klaff (1922 in Danzig – executed 1946 in Biskupia Górka) [26] was a Nazi camp overseer
  • Heinz-Hermann Koelle (1925 in Danzig - 2011 in Berlin) was an aeronautical engineer,[36] made the preliminary designs for Saturn I
  • Erhard Krack (1931 in Danzig – 2000 in Berlin) was an East German politician and mayor of East Berlin from 1974 to 1990.
  • Rutka Laskier (1929 in Danzig – 1943 in the Auschwitz concentration camp) was a Jewish teenager [37] who chronicled the three months of her life during the Holocaust
  • Hanna-Renate Laurien (1928 in Danzig – 2010 Berlin) was a German [38] CDU politician
  • Jack Mandelbaum (born 1927 in Danzig) is a Holocaust survivor [39]
  • Rupert Neudeck (1939 in Danzig – 2016) correspondent for Deutschlandfunk and [40] founder of Cap Anamur an humanitarian organisation
  • Zygmunt Pawłowicz (1927 in Danzig – 2010 in Gdansk) ordained a Catholic priest in 1952,[41] was the Polish Auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Gdańsk from 1985 until 2005
  • Avi Pazner (born 1937 in Danzig) is a retired Israeli diplomat [42]
  • Richard J. Pratt (1934 in Danzig – 2009 in Victoria, Australia) was a prominent Australian businessman,[43] chairman of Visy Industries. His family moved to Australia in 1938
  • Georg Preuß (1920 in Danzig – 1991 Clenze) was a mid-ranking commander in the Waffen-SS, a convicted war criminal.
  • Henry Rosovsky (born 1927 in Danzig) is an economic historian,[44] specializing in East Asia, born of Russian Jewish parents
  • Hermann Salomon (born 1938 in Danzig) is a German former javelin thrower [45] who competed in the 1960, 1964 and the 1968 Summer Olympics
  • Meir Shamgar (born 1925 in Danzig) [46] was President of the Israeli Supreme Court 1983/1995.
  • Zalman Shoval (born 1930 in Danzig) is an Israeli politician [47] and diplomat
  • Wolfgang Völz (1930 in Danzig – 2018 in Berlin) was a German actor,[48] known for his roles in theatre plays, TV shows, feature films and taped radio shows
  • F. K. Waechter (1937 in Danzig – 2005 in Frankfurt) was a German cartoonist, author and playwright


In 1924, 54.7% of the populace was Protestant (220,731 persons, mostly Lutherans within the united old-Prussian church), 34.5% was Roman Catholic (140,797 persons), and 2.4% Jewish (9,239 persons). Other Protestants included 5,604 Mennonites, 1,934 Calvinists (Reformed), 1,093 Baptists, 410 Free Religionists, as well as 2,129 dissenters, 1,394 faithful of other religions and denominations, and 664 irreligionists.[49][50] The Jewish community grew from 2,717 in 1910 to 7,282 in 1923, and 10,448 in 1929, many of them immigrants from Poland and Russia.[51]

Regional Synodal Federation of the Free City of Danzig

The then-Lutheran Supreme Parish Church of St. Mary's in Danzig's Rechtstadt quarter.

The mostly Lutheran and partially Reformed congregations situated in the territory of the Free City, which previously used to belong to the Ecclesiastical Province of West Prussia of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union (EKapU), were transformed into the Regional Synodal Federation of the Free City of Danzig after 1920. The executive body of that ecclesiastical province, the consistory (est. 1 November 1886), was seated in Danzig. After 1920 it was restricted in its responsibility to those congregations within the Free City's territory.[52] General Superintendent Paul Kalweit (de) (1920–1933) and Bishop Johannes Beermann (de) (1933–1945) presided over the consistory, one after another.

Unlike the Second Polish Republic, which opposed the cooperation of the United Evangelical Church in Poland (pl) with EKapU, Volkstag and Senate of Danzig approved cross-border religious bodies. Danzig's Regional Synodal Federation — just as the regional synodal federation of the autonomous Memelland — retained the status of an ecclesiastical province within EKapU.[53]

After the German annexation of the Free City in 1939, the EKapU merged the Danzig regional synodal federation in 1940 into the Ecclesiastical Region of Danzig-West Prussia. This included the Polish congregations of the United Evangelical Church in Poland in the homonymous Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia and the German congregations in the West Prussia governorate. Danzig's consistory functioned as an executive body for that region. With the flight and expulsion of most ethnically German Protestant parishioners from the area of the Free City of Danzig between 1945 and 1948, the congregations vanished.

In March 1945, the consistory had relocated to Lübeck and opened a refugee centre for Danzigers (Hilfsstelle beim evangelischen Konsistorium Danzig) led by Upper Consistorial Councillor Gerhard M. Gülzow (de). The Lutheran congregation of St. Mary's Church could relocate its valuable parament collection and the presbytery granted it on loan to St. Annen Museum in Lübeck after the war. Other Lutheran congregations of Danzig could reclaim their church bells, which the Wehrmacht had requisitioned as non-ferrous metal for war purposes since 1940, but which had survived, not yet melted down, in storage (e.g. Glockenfriedhof (de)) in the British zone of occupation. The presbyteries granted them usually to Northwestern German Lutheran congregations which had lost bells due to the war.

Diocese of Danzig of the Roman Catholic Church

The 36 Catholic parishes in the territory of the Free City in 1922 used to belong in equal shares to the Diocese of Culm, which was mostly Polish, and the Diocese of Ermland, which was mostly German. While the Second Polish Republic wanted all the parishes within the Free City to form part of Polish Culm, Volkstag and Senate wanted them all to become subject to German Ermland.[54] In 1922 the Holy See suspended the jurisdictions of both dioceses over their parishes in the Free State and established an exempt apostolic administration for the territory.[54]

The first apostolic administrator was Edward O'Rourke who became Bishop of Danzig on the occasion of the elevation of the administration to an exempt diocese. He was naturalised as Danziger on the same occasion. In 1938 he resigned after quarrels with the Nazi-dominated Senate of Danzig on appointments of parish priests of Polish ethnicity.[55] The senate also instigated the denaturalisation of O'Rourke, who subsequently became a Polish citizen. O'Rourke was succeeded by Bishop Carl Maria Splett, a native from the Free City area.

Splett remained bishop after the German annexation of the Free City. In early 1941, he applied for admitting the Danzig diocese as member in Archbishop Adolf Bertram's Eastern German Ecclesiastical Province and thus at the Fulda Conference of Bishops; however, Bertram, also speaker of the Fulda conference, rejected the request.[56] Any arguments that the Free City of Danzig had been annexed to Nazi Germany did not impress Bertram since Danzig's annexation lacked international recognition. Until the reorganization of the Catholic dioceses in Danzig and the formerly eastern territories of Germany the diocesan territory remained unaltered and the see exempt. However, with the replacement of Danzig's population between 1945 and 1948 by mostly Catholic Poles, the number of Catholic parishes increased and most formerly Protestant churches were taken over for Catholic services.

Jewish Danzigers

Great Synagogue on Reitbahn Street in Danzig's Rechtstadt quarter.

Since 1883 most of the Jewish congregations in the later territory of Free State had merged into the Synagogal Community of Danzig. Only the Jews of Tiegenhof ran their own congregation until 1938.

Danzig became a centre of Polish and Russian Jewish emigration to North America. Between 1920 and 1925 60,000 Jews emigrated via Danzig to the US and Canada. At the same time, between 1923 and 1929, Danzig's own Jewish population increased from roughly 7,000 to 10,500.[57] Native Jews and newcomers established themselves in the city and contributed to its civic life, culture and economy. Danzig became a venue for international meetings of Jewish organisations, such as the convention of delegates from Jewish youth organisations of various nations, attended by David Ben-Gurion, which founded the World Union of Jewish Youth on 2 September 1924 in the Schützenhaus venue. On 21 March 1926 the Zionistische Organisation für Danzig convened delegates of Hechalutz from all over for the first conference in Danzig using Hebrew as common language, also attended by Ben Gurion.

With a Nazi majority in the Volkstag and Senate, anti-Semitic persecution and discrimination occurred unsanctioned by the authorities. In contrast to Germany, which exercised capital outflow control since 1931, emigration of Danzig's Jews was nonetheless somewhat easier, with capital transfers enabled by the Bank of Danzig. Moreover, the comparatively few Danzig Jews were offered easier refuge in safe countries because of favorable Free City migration quotas.

After the anti-Jewish riots of Kristallnacht of 9/10 November 1938 in Germany, similar riots took place on 12/13 November in Danzig.[58][59] The Great Synagogue was taken over and demolished by the local authorities in 1939. Most Jews had already left the city, and the Jewish Community of Danzig decided to organize its own emigration in early 1939.[60]



Flag of the Danzig Senate.
Danzig coat of arms depicted on a 100 gulden note (1931)
Danzig coat of arms depicted on a 100 gulden note (1931)
Heads of State of the Free City of Danzig[11]
Name Took office Left office Party
Presidents of the Danzig Senate
1 Heinrich Sahm 6 December 1920 10 January 1931 None
2 Ernst Ziehm 10 January 1931 20 June 1933 DNVP
3 Hermann Rauschning 20 June 1933 23 November 1934 NSDAP
4 Arthur Karl Greiser 23 November 1934 23 August 1939 NSDAP
State President
5 Albert Forster 23 August 1939 1 September 1939 NSDAP

The Free City was governed by the Senate of the Free City of Danzig, which was elected by the parliament (Volkstag) for a legislative period of four years. The official language was German,[61] although the usage of Polish was guaranteed by law.[62][63] The political parties in the Free City corresponded with the political parties in Weimar Germany; the most influential parties in the 1920s were the conservative German National People's Party, the Social Democratic Party of the Free City of Danzig and the Catholic Centre Party. A Communist Party was founded in 1921 with its origins in the Spartacus League and the Communist Party of East Prussia. Several liberal parties and Free Voter's Associations existed and ran in the elections with varying success. A Polish Party represented the Polish minority and received between 3% (1933) and 6% (1920) of the vote (in total, 4,358 votes in 1933 and 9,321 votes in 1920).[64]

Initially, the Nazi Party had only a small amount of success (0.8% of the vote in 1927) and was even briefly dissolved.[12] Its influence grew with the onset of difficult economic times and the increasing popularity of the Nazi Party in Germany proper. Albert Forster became the Gauleiter in October 1930. The Nazis won 50 percent of votes in the Volkstag elections of 28 May 1933, and took control of the Senate in June 1933, with Hermann Rauschning becoming President of the Senate of Danzig.

Rauschning was removed from his position by Forster and replaced by Arthur Greiser in November 1934.[58] He later appealed to the public not to vote for the Nazis in the 1935 elections.[12] Political opposition to the Nazis was repressed[65] with several politicians being imprisoned and murdered.[66][67] The economic policy of Danzig's Nazi-led government, which increased the public issues for employment-creation programs[68] and the retrenchment of financial aid from Germany led to a devaluation of more than 40% of the Danziger Gulden in 1935.[19][69][70][71][72][73] The Gold reserves of the Bank of Danzig declined from 30 million Gulden in 1933 to 13 million in 1935 and the foreign asset reserve from 10 million to 250,000 Gulden.[74] In 1935, Poland protested when Danzig's Senate reduced the value of the Gulden so that it would be the same as the Polish Zloty.[75]

As in Germany, the Nazis introduced an "Enabling Act" and the racist Nuremberg laws (November 1938);[76] existing parties and unions were gradually banned. The presence of the League of Nations however still guaranteed a minimum of legal certainty. In 1935, the opposition parties, except for the Polish Party, filed a lawsuit to the Danzig High Court in protest against the manipulation of the Volkstag elections.[12][58] The opposition also protested to the League of Nations, as did the Jewish Community of Danzig.[77][78] The number of members of the Nazi Party in Danzig increased from 21,861 in June 1934 to 48,345 in September 1938.[79]

German-Polish tensions

German Nazi propaganda poster: "Danzig is German".

The rights of the Second Polish Republic within the territory of the Free City were stipulated in the Treaty of Paris of 9 November 1920 and the Treaty of Warsaw of 24 October 1921.[80] The details of the Polish privileges soon became a permanent matter of disputes between the local populace and the Polish State. While the representatives of the Free City tried to uphold the City's autonomy and sovereignty, Poland sought to extend its privileges.[81]

Throughout the Polish–Soviet War, local dockworkers went on strike and refused to unload ammunition supplies for the Polish Army. While the ammunition was finally unloaded by British troops,[82] the incident led to the establishment of a permanent ammunition depot at the Westerplatte and the construction of a trade and naval port in Gdynia,[83] whose total exports and imports surpassed those of Danzig in May 1932.[84] In December 1925, the Council of the League of Nations agreed to the establishment of a Polish military guard of 88 men on the Westerplatte peninsula to protect the war material depot.[85][86]

During the interwar period the Polish minority was heavily discriminated against by the German population, which openly attacked its members using racist slurs and harassment, and attacks against the Polish consulate by German students were praised by authorities[87]

Several disputes between Danzig and Poland occurred in the sequel. The Free City protested against the Westerplatte depot, the placement of Polish letter boxes within the City[88] and the presence of Polish war vessels at the harbour.[89] The attempt of the Free City to join the International Labour Organization was rejected by the Permanent Court of International Justice at the League of Nations after protests of the Polish ILO delegate.[90][91]

After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, the Polish military doubled the number of 88 troops at Westerplatte in order to test the reaction of the new chancellor. After protests the additional troops were withdrawn.[92] Nazi propaganda used these events in the Volkstag elections of May 1933, in which Nazis won absolute majority.[93]

Until June 1933, the High Commissioner decided in 66 cases of dispute between Danzig and Poland; in 54 cases one of the parties appealed to the Permanent Court of International Justice.[94] Subsequent disputes were resolved in direct negotiations between the Senate and Poland after both had agreed to abstain from further appeals to the International Court in the summer of 1933 and bilateral agreements were concluded.[95]

In the aftermath of the German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact of 1934, Danzig–Polish relations improved and Adolf Hitler instructed the local Nazi government to cease anti-Polish actions.[96] In return, Poland did not support the actions of the anti-Nazi opposition in Danzig. The Polish Ambassador to Germany, Józef Lipski, stated in a meeting with Hermann Göring[97]

"... that a National Socialist Senate in Danzig is also most desirable from our point of view, since it brought about a rapprochement between the Free City and Poland, I would like to remind him that we have always kept aloof from internal Danzig problems. In spite of approaches repeatedly made by the opposition parties, we rejected any attempt to draw us into action against the Senate. I mentioned quite confidentially that the Polish minority in Danzig was advised not to join forces with the opposition at the time of elections."

When Carl J. Burckhardt became High Commissioner in February 1937, both Poles and Germans openly welcomed his withdrawal, and Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Józef Beck notified him not to "count on the support of the Polish State" in the case of difficulties with the Senate or the Nazi Party.[98]

While the Senate appeared to respect the agreements with Poland, the "Nazification of Danzig proceeded relentlessly"[99] and Danzig became a springboard for anti-Polish propaganda among the German and Ukrainian minority in Poland.[100] The Catholic Bishop of Danzig, Edward O'Rourke, was forced to withdraw after he had tried to implement four additional Polish nationals as parish priests in October 1937.[55]

Danzig crisis

The German policy openly changed immediately after the Munich Conference in October 1938, when German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop demanded the incorporation of the Free City into the Reich.[101] In April 1939, High Commissioner Burckhardt was told by the Polish Commissioner-General that any attempt to alter its status would be answered with armed resistance on the part of Poland.[102] Tensions escalated into the Danzig crisis during the summer of 1939.

Second World War and aftermath

1 September 1939: German troops remove Polish insignia at the Polish–Danzig border near Zoppot.

World War II began with the shelling of the Westerplatte on 1 September 1939. Gauleiter Forster entered the High Commissioner's residence and ordered him to leave the City within two hours,[103] and the Free City was formally incorporated into the newly formed Reichsgau of Danzig-West Prussia. Local SS and the police cooperated with the Germans with expelling Polish authorities from in and around the city. Polish civilian Post Office employees had received military training and were in possession of a cache of weapons – mostly pistols, three light machine guns, and some hand grenades – and were thus able to defend the Polish Post Office for fifteen hours. Upon their surrender, they were tried and executed. (The sentence was officially revoked by a German court as illegal in 1998.)[104][105] The Polish military forces in the city held out until 7 September.

Up to 4,500 members of Polish minority were arrested with many of them executed[106]

In the city itself hundreds of Polish prisoners were subjected to cruel Nazi executions and experiments, which included castration of men and sterilization of women considered dangerous to the "purity of Nordic race" and beheading by guillotine.[107]

The judicial system was one of the main tools of extermination policy towards Poles led by Nazi Germany in the city and verdicts were motivated by statements that Poles are subhuman[108] By the end of the Second World War, nearly all the city had been reduced to ruins. On 30 March 1945, the city was taken by the Red Army. A number of inhabitants of the city perished when the military training ship Wilhelm Gustloff used for evacuation was sunk by a Soviet submarine. It had up to 10,000 refugees on board at the time, including about 1,000 seriously wounded soldiers and sailors, and 5,000 children.

At the Yalta Conference in February 1945, the Allies agreed that the city would become part of Poland.[109] In 1947, a Free City of Danzig Government in Exile was established.

By 1950, around 285,000 fled and expelled citizens of the former Free City were living in Germany,[citation needed] and 13,424 citizens of the former Free City had been "verified" and granted Polish citizenship.[110] By 1947, 126,472 Danzigers of German ethnicity were expelled to Germany from Gdańsk, and 101,873 Poles from Central Poland and 26,629 from Soviet-annexed Eastern Poland took their place.[110]

In fiction

Historical Danzig forms the setting for several major works of Nobel Prize-winning author Günter Grass, including his acclaimed Danzig Trilogy novels The Tin Drum, Cat and Mouse and Dog Years, as well as in his memoirs. Grass grew up in the Danzig suburb of Langfuhr (now Wrzeszcz).[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ Loew, Peter Oliver (February 2011). Danzig – Biographie einer Stadt (in German). C.H. Beck. p. 189. ISBN 978-3-406-60587-1. 
  2. ^ Samerski, Stefan (2003). Das Bistum Danzig in Lebensbildern (in German). LIT Verlag. p. 8. ISBN 3-8258-6284-4. 
  3. ^ Kaczorowska, Alina (2010-07-21). Public International Law. Routledge. p. 199. ISBN 0-203-84847-0. 
  4. ^ a b Yale Law School. "The Versailles Treaty June 28, 1919: Part III". The Avalon Project. Archived from the original on February 14, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2007. 
  5. ^ Chestermann, Simon (2004). You, the People; United Nations, Transitional Administration and State building. Oxford University Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-19-926348-6. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  6. ^ a b Zapiski historyczne: Volume 60, page 256, Towarzystwo Naukowe w Toruniu. Wydział Nauk Historycznych – 1995
  7. ^ Mason, John Brown. The Danzig Dilemma; a Study in Peacemaking by Compromise. pp. 4–5. 
  8. ^ Levine, Herbert S., Hitler's Free City: A History of the Nazi Party in Danzig, 1925–39 (University of Chicago Press, 1970), p. 102.
  9. ^ Wagner, Richard (1929). Die Freie Stadt Danzig. Taschenbuch des Grenz- und Auslanddeutschtums (in German language) (2., Auflage / ed.). Berlin: Deutscher Schutzbund Verlag. p. 3. 
  10. ^ Text in League of Nations Treaty Series, vol. 6, pp. 190–207.
  11. ^ a b "Danzig subsection of Poland entry from World". 
  12. ^ a b c d Matull, Wilhelm (1973). "Ostdeutschlands Arbeiterbewegung: Abriß ihrer Geschichte, Leistung und Opfer" (PDF) (in German). Holzner. p. 419. 
  13. ^ a b c Police of Freie Stadt Danzig
  14. ^ Policja. Kwartalnik kadry kierowniczej Policji (in Polish)
  15. ^ HeinOnline 15 League of Nations (1934) (translated from German)
  16. ^ a b Danzig: Der Kampf um die polnische Post (in German)
  17. ^ Williamson, D. G. Poland Betrayed: The Nazi-Soviet Invasions of 1939 p. 66
  18. ^ United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Holocaust Encyclopedia - Danzig
  19. ^ a b c Mason, John Brown (1946). The Danzig Dilemma, A Study in Peacemaking by Compromise. Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-2444-9. Retrieved 2011-04-26. 
  20. ^ Cieślak, E Biernat, C (1995) History of Gdańsk, Fundacji Biblioteki Gdanskiej, P455
  21. ^ a b Ludność polska w Wolnym Mieście Gdańsku, 1920–1939, page 37, Henryk Stępniak, Wydawnictwo "Stella Maris", 1991, "Przyjmując, że Polacy gdańscy stanowili 25 — 30% ogólnej liczby ludności katolickiej Wolnego Miasta Gdańska, liczącej w 1920 r. około 110 000 osób, można ustalić, że w liczbach bezwzględnych stanowiło można ustalić, że w liczbach bezwzględnych stanowiło to 30- – 36 tyś. osób. Jeśli do liczby tej dodamy ok. 4 tyś. ludności obywatelstwa polskiego, otrzymamy łącznie ok. 9,4–11% ogółu ludności."
  22. ^ Samerski, Stefan (2003). Das Bistum Danzig in Lebensbildern (in German). LIT Verlag. p. 8. ISBN 3-8258-6284-4. 
  23. ^ Stuthoff Zeszyty 4 4 Stanislaw Mikos Recenzje i omówienia Andrzej Drzycimski, Polacy w Wolnym Mieście Gdańsku /1920 – 1933/. Polityka Seantu gdańskiego wobec ludności polskiej Wrocław – Warszawa – Kraków – Gdańsk 1978,
  24. ^ retrieved 21 October 2017
  25. ^ The New York Times December 24, 2009 retrieved 21 October 2017
  26. ^ a b Stutthof Trial. Female guards in Nazi concentration camps Archived 2008 retrieved 21 October 2017
  27. ^ IMDb retrieved 21 October 2017
  28. ^ Olympic DB retrieved 21 October 2017
  29. ^ Anna M. Cienciala. Obituary. Lawrence Journal-World retrieved 21 October 2017
  30. ^ New York Times 8 Sept 2017 retrieved 21 October 2017
  31. ^ Spiegel Online 04.02.2007 retrieved 21 October 2017
  32. ^ Own website retrieved 21 October 2017
  33. ^ BBC News, 13 April 2015 retrieved 21 October 2017
  34. ^ retrieved 21 October 2017
  35. ^ IMDb database retrieved 21 October 2017
  36. ^ Resonance Publications, March–June 1999 retrieved 21 October 2017
  37. ^ BBC 2009, The Secret Diary of the Holocaust retrieved 21 October 2017
  38. ^ Spiegel Online 12.03.2009 retrieved 21 October 2017
  39. ^ Midwest Center for Holocaust Education retrieved 21 October 2017
  40. ^ retrieved 21 October 2017
  41. ^ Catholic-Hierarchy retrieved 21 October 2017
  42. ^ Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs retrieved 21 October 2017
  43. ^ Herald Sun April 28, 2009 retrieved 21 October 2017
  44. ^ Harvard College, Department of Economics retrieved 21 October 2017
  45. ^ retrieved 21 October 2017
  46. ^ Israel's Holocaust and the Politics of Nationhood. Cambridge University Press 2005 p. 215 retrieved 21 October 2017
  47. ^ Knesset website retrieved 21 October 2017
  48. ^ IMDb retrieved 21 October 2017
  49. ^ Die Freie Stadt Danzig(in German)
  50. ^ Dr. Juergensen, Die freie Stadt Danzig, Danzig: Kafemann, 1925.
  51. ^ Bacon, Gershon C.; Vivian B. Mann; Joseph Gutmann (1980). Danzig Jewry: A Short History. Jewish Museum (New York). p. 31. ISBN 978-0-8143-1662-7. 
  52. ^ Those congregations in Polish-annexed West Prussia (Pomeranian Voivodeship) merged into the new United Evangelical Church in Poland, which emerged from the old-Prussian Posen ecclesiastical province, with its consistory seated in Poznań.
  53. ^ In June 1922 the Senate of Danzig and the old-Prussian ecclesiastical executive, the Evangelical Supreme Ecclesiastical Council (de), EOK), concluded a contract to that end. Cf. Adalbert Erler, Die rechtliche Stellung der evangelischen Kirche in Danzig, Berlin: 1929, simultaneously Univ. of Greifswald, Department of Law and Politics, doctor thesis of 21 February 1929, pp. 36 seqq.
  54. ^ a b Georg May. Ludwig Kaas: der Priester, der Politiker und der Gelehrte aus der Schule von Ulrich Stutz. John Benjamins Publishing. p. 175. ISBN 978-90-6032-197-3. 
  55. ^ a b Samerski, Stefan; Reimund Haas; Karl Josef Rivinius; Hermann-Josef Scheidgen (2000). Ein aussichtsloses Unternehmen – Die Reaktivierung Bischof Eduard Graf O’Rourkes 1939 (PDF) (in German). Böhlau Verlag Köln Weimar. p. 378. ISBN 3-412-04100-9. 
  56. ^ Hans-Jürgen Karp; Joachim Köhler (2001). Katholische Kirche unter nationalsozialistischer und kommunistischer Diktatur: Deutschland und Polen 1939–1989. Böhlau Verlag Köln Weimar. p. 162. ISBN 978-3-412-11800-6. 
  57. ^ Ruhnau, Rüdiger (1971). Danzig: Geschichte einer Deutschen Stadt (in German). Holzner Verlag. p. 94. 
  58. ^ a b c Sodeikat, Ernst (1966). "Der Nationalsozialismus und die Danziger Opposition" (PDF) (in German). Institut für Zeitgeschichte. p. 139 ff. 
  59. ^ Grass, Günther; Vivian B. Mann; Joseph Gutmann; Jewish Museum (New York, N.Y.) (1980). Danzig 1939, treasures of a destroyed community. The Jewish Museum, New York. p. 33. ISBN 978-0-8143-1662-7. 
  60. ^ Gdansk at the Jewish Virtual Library.
  61. ^ Lemkin, Raphael (2008-06-30). Axis Rule in Occupied Europe. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. p. 155. ISBN 978-1-58477-901-8. 
  62. ^ (in German) Constitution of Danzig
  63. ^ Matull, "Ostdeutschlands Arbeiterbewegung", p. 419.
  64. ^ (in German) Die Freie Stadt Danzig, Wahlen 1919–1935
  65. ^ Ratner, Steven R. (1995-02-15). The new UN peacekeeping. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 94. ISBN 0-312-12415-5. 
  66. ^ Sodeikat, p.170, p. 173, Fn.92
  67. ^ Matull, "Ostdeutschlands Arbeiterbewegung", p. 440, 450.
  68. ^ Burckhardt, Carl Jakob. Meine Danziger Mission (in German). p. 39. 
    Lichtenstein, Erwin (1973). Die Juden der Freien Stadt Danzig unter der Herrschaft des Nationalsozialismus (in German). p. 44. 
  69. ^ Loew, Peter Oliver (February 2011). Danzig – Biographie einer Stadt (in German). C.H. Beck. p. 206. ISBN 978-3-406-60587-1. 
  70. ^ Loose, Ingo (2007). Kredite für NS-Verbrechen (in German). Institut für Zeitgeschichte. p. 33. ISBN 978-3-486-58331-1. 
  71. ^ Andrzejewski, Marek (1994). Opposition und Widerstand in Danzig (in German). Dietz. p. 99. ISBN 9783801240547. 
  72. ^ Cieslak, Edmund; Biernat, Czeslaw (1995). History of Gdańsk. Fundacji Biblioteki Gdańskiej. p. 454. ISBN 9788386557004. 
  73. ^ Matull, "Ostdeutschlands Arbeiterbewegung", pp. 417, 418.
  74. ^ Intelligence Service Economic Intelligence Service; Service, Intellige Economic Intelligence (2007-03-01). Commercial Banks 1929–1934. League of Nations. p. LXXXIX. ISBN 978-1-4067-5963-1. 
  75. ^ Ruhnau, Rüdiger (1971). Danzig: Geschichte einer Deutschen Stadt (in German). Holzner Verlag. p. 103. 
  76. ^ Schwartze-Köhler, Hannelore (June 2009). "Die Blechtrommel" von Günter Grass:Bedeutung, Erzähltechnik und Zeitgeschichte (in German). Frank & Timme GmbH. p. 396. ISBN 978-3-86596-237-9. 
  77. ^ Kreutzberger, Max (1970). Leo Baeck Institute New York Bibliothek und Archiv (in German). Mohr Siebeck. p. 67. ISBN 978-3-16-830772-3. 
  78. ^ Bacon, Gershon C. "Danzig Jewry: A Short History". Jewish Virtual Library. 
  79. ^ Grzegorz Berendt (August 2006). "Gdańsk – od niemieckości do polskości" (PDF). Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej IPN (in Polish). Nr. 8–9 (67–68): 53. 
  80. ^ Hannum, Hurst (2011-10-12). Autonomy, Sovereignty and Self-Determination. University of Pennsylvania. p. 375. ISBN 978-0-8122-1572-4. 
  81. ^ Stahn, Carsten (2008-05-22). The Law and Practice of International Territorial Administration. Cambridge University Press. p. 173 ff, 177. ISBN 978-0-521-87800-5. 
  82. ^ Hutt, Alan (2006-05-30). The Post-War history of the British Working Class. READ BOOKS. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-4067-9826-5. 
  83. ^ Buell, Raymond Leslie (2007-03-31). Poland – Key to Europe. READ BOOKS. p. 159. ISBN 978-1-4067-4564-1. 
  84. ^ Eugene van Cleef, "Danzig and Gdynia," Geographical Review, Vol. 23, No. 1. (Jan., 1933): 106.
  85. ^ Cieślak, E Biernat, C (1995) History of Gdańsk, Fundacji Biblioteki Gdanskiej. p. 436
  86. ^ By a decision of the League Council in December 1925, the guard which the Poles were entitled to maintain on this spot [Westerplatte peninsula] was limited to 88 men, though the number might be increased with the consent of the High Commissioner. Geoffrey Malcolm Gathorne-Hardy. A Short History of International Affairs, 1920 to 1934. Royal institute of international affairs (1934). Oxford University Press. p. 384.
  87. ^ Mit Gdańska, mit Grassa Zdzisław Krasnodębski, Rzeczpospolita
  88. ^ Archived 2010-12-10 at the Wayback Machine. PCIJ, Advisory Opinion No. 11
  89. ^ Archived 2013-02-09 at PCIJ, Advisory Opinion No. 22
  90. ^ Archived 2013-02-09 at PCIJ, Advisory Opinion No. 18
  91. ^ Lauterpacht, H (1936). International Law Reports 1929–1930. Advisory Opinion No 18: Free City of Danzig and International Labour Organization on August 26, 1930, Collection of Advisory Opinions: Free City of Danzig and International Labour Organization, No. 18 Series B File F (1930). H. Lauterpacht. ISBN 978-0-521-46350-8. Retrieved 2009-08-30. 
  92. ^ Hargreaves, R (2010) Blitzkrieg Unleashed: The German Invasion of Poland, 1939 P31-2
  93. ^ Epstein, C (2012) Model Nazi: Arthur Greiser and the Occupation of Western Poland, Oxford University Press P58
  94. ^ Hurst Hannum, p. 377.
  95. ^ Schlochauer, Hans J.; Krüger, Herbert; Mosler, Hermann (1960-05-01). Wörterbuch des Völkerrechts; Aachener Kongress – Hussar Fall (in German). de Gruyter Verlag. pp. 307, 309. ISBN 978-3-11-001030-5. 
  96. ^ Hiden, John; Lane, Thomas; Prazmowska, Anita J. (1992). The Baltic and the Outbreak of the Second World War. Cambridge University Press. p. 74 ff, 80. ISBN 0-521-40467-3. 
  97. ^ Prazmowska, p. 80.
  98. ^ Prazmowska, p. 81.
  99. ^ Prazmowska, p. 85.
  100. ^ Prazmowska, p. 83.
  101. ^ Wasserstein, Bernard (2007). Barbarism and Civilization. Oxford University Press. p. 279. ISBN 978-0-19-873074-3. 
  102. ^ Woodward, E.L., Butler, Rohan, Orde, Anne, editors, Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919–1939, 3rd series, vol.v, HMSO, London, 1952:25
  103. ^ Bleimeier, John Kuhn (1990-03-01). Hague Yearbook of International Law. Martinus Nijhoff Publ. p. 91. ISBN 0-7923-0655-4. 
  104. ^ Dieter Schenk (1995). Die Post von Danzig: Geschichte eines deutschen Justizmords. p. 150. ISBN 3-498-06288-3. 
  105. ^ Dieter Schenk, Die Post von Danzig
  106. ^ [1]
  107. ^ [2]
  108. ^ Eksterminacyjna i dyskryminacyjna działalność hitlerowskich sądów okręgu Gdańsk-Prusy Zachodnie w latach 1939-1945 "W wyrokach używano często określeń obraźliwych dla Polaków w rodzaju: „polscy podludzie" Edmund Zarzycki Wydawn. Uczelniane WSP, 1981
  109. ^ The History of Poland Since 1863 By Robert F. Leslie page 281
  110. ^ a b Bykowska, Sylwia (2005). "Gdańsk – Miasto (Szybko) Odzyskane". Biuletyn Instytutu Pamięci Narodowej (in Polish). 9–10 (56–57): 35–44. ISSN 1641-9561. Retrieved 2009-07-24. 

External links

  • Extensive Prussian/ Danzig Historical Materials (many in German)
  • Map of the Free City
  • Jewish community history
  • History of Gdańsk / Danzig
  • Danzig Online
  • Gdańsk history
  • Celebration of Gdańsk's centenary in 1997
  • History & Hallucination, Wanderlust,, January 5, 1998.
  • The power of Gdansk at the Wayback Machine (archived September 30, 2007)
  • 1933 Danzig passport, from
  • First hand account of growing up in Danzig in the 1930s, a video interview.

Coordinates: 54°21′N 18°40′E / 54.350°N 18.667°E / 54.350; 18.667

Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Free City of Danzig"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA