Polish Border Strip
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 after World War I. It appeared in 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. German planners also envisioned forced expulsion and resettlement of the Polish and Jewish population which would be replaced by German colonists. The proposed area of the Border Strip comprised up to 30,000 square kilometers (approximately the size of Belgium), and up to 3 million people would have had to be removed by the German Empire to make room for Germans. 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 by historian Hajo Holborn as the first instance in modern European history of removing whole populations as a solution to national conflicts.
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. 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) from a territory of 8,000 square kilometres and settling it with ethnic Germans. 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.
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. 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. Parts of the plans were adopted by Nazis after the war, and implemented in the genocidal Generalplan Ost.
- Keith Bullivant, Geoffrey J. Giles, Walter Pape, Germany and Eastern Europe: Cultural Identity and Cultural Differences, Rodopi (1999), p. 28-29.
- Hein Erich Goemans, War and Punishment: The Causes of War Termination and the First World War, Princeton University Press (2000), p. 104-105.
- Immanuel Geiss Tzw. polski pas graniczny 1914-1918. Warszawa (1964).
- Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany: 1840-1945. Princeton University Press (1982), p. 449.
- Carole Fink, Defending the Rights of Others: The Great Powers, the Jews, and International Minority Protection, 1878-1938 Cambridge University Press (2006), p. 70.
- Aleksander Kraushar, Warszawa podczas okupacji niemieckiej 1915-1918, Lwów (1921), p. 39.