Polish Border Strip

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The Polish Border Strip (German: Polnischer Grenzstreifen; Polish: Polski Pas Graniczny), also known as the Polish Frontier Strip, refers to those territories which the German Empire wanted to annex from Congress Poland during World War I. It appeared in some plans proposed by German officials as a territory to be ceded by the Kingdom of Poland to the German Empire after an expected German and Central Powers victory. The Polish and Jewish population in this territory was to be removed, and in their place German colonists were to be settled.[1][2] The proposed area of the Border Strip was up to 30,000 square kilometers (approximately the size of Belgium), and up to 2 million people were going to be removed to make room for Germans.[3] The strip was also intended to separate the Polish inhabitants of Prussian-held Greater Poland from those in Congress Poland. The plan has been described as the first instance in modern European history of removing whole populations as a solution to national conflicts.[4] As the German Empire lost the war, those plans were not implemented.


Map shows the planned Polish Border Strip and other German war aims in the Eastern Front

In July 1917 the German supreme command under General Ludendorff, as part of the debate and planning regarding the cession of the "border strip" to Germany, specified its own designs in a memorandum.[1] It proposed annexing a greatly enlarged "border strip" of 20,000 square kilometres, and removing the pre-existing Polish and Jewish population (numbering between 2.000.000 and 3.000.000[5]) from a territory of 8,000 square kilometres and settling it with ethnic Germans.,[1][2][6][7] Poles living in Prussia, especially in the province of Posen, were to be "encouraged" by unspecified means to move into the German-ruled Kingdom of Poland.[3][5]

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

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

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