Landflucht (German for flight from the land), also known as rural exodus, refers to the mass migration of peasants (rural flight) into the cities that occurred in Germany (and throughout most of Europe) in the late 19th century.
By 1800, about 25% of the German population lived in cities and about 75% lived in rural areas. In 1870 the rural population of Germany constituted 64% of the population; by 1907 it had shrunk to 33%. In 1900 alone, the Prussian provinces of East Prussia, West Prussia, Posen, Silesia, and Pomerania lost about 1,600,000 people to the cities. These former agricultural workers and farmers were absorbed into the rapidly growing factory labor class; while in 1800 there were fewer than 100,000 industrial workers in Germany, their number approached 8 million at the turn of the next century. One of the causes of this mass-migration was the decrease in rural income compared to the rates of pay in the cities.
This resulted in a major transformation of the German countryside and agriculture. Mechanized agriculture and migrant workers, particularly Poles from the east (Sachsengänger), became more common. This was especially true in the province of Posen that was gained by Prussia when Poland was partitioned. The Polish population of eastern Germany was one of the justifications for the creation of the "Polish corridor" after World War I and the absorption of the land east of the Oder-Neisse line into Poland after World War II. Also, some labor-intensive enterprises were replaced by much less labor-intensive ones such as game preserves.
- Ostflucht, "flight from the East", which reflected the migration from the less industrialized and urbanized east to the more developed West.
- Demographics of Germany
- Rural flight
- Stadtluft macht frei
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