Free City of Danzig

Free City of Danzig

Overview
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

 that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 port of Danzig (today Gdańsk
Gdansk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

) and surrounding areas.

The Free City was created on 15 November 1920 in accordance with the terms of Part III, Section XI of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 of 1919 without a plebiscite. The Free City included the city of Danzig and over two hundred nearby towns, villages, and settlements.
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Encyclopedia
The Free City of Danzig was a semi-autonomous city-state
City-state
A city-state is an independent or autonomous entity whose territory consists of a city which is not administered as a part of another local government.-Historical city-states:...

 that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 port of Danzig (today Gdańsk
Gdansk
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast, at the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.The city lies on the southern edge of Gdańsk Bay , in a conurbation with the city of Gdynia, spa town of Sopot, and suburban communities, which together form a metropolitan area called the...

) and surrounding areas.

The Free City was created on 15 November 1920 in accordance with the terms of Part III, Section XI of the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles was one of the peace treaties at the end of World War I. It ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. It was signed on 28 June 1919, exactly five years after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The other Central Powers on the German side of...

 of 1919 without a plebiscite. The Free City included the city of Danzig and over two hundred nearby towns, villages, and settlements. As the League of Nations
League of Nations
The League of Nations was an intergovernmental organization founded as a result of the Paris Peace Conference that ended the First World War. It was the first permanent international organization whose principal mission was to maintain world peace...

 decreed, the region was to remain separated from the nation of Germany
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

, and from the newly resurrected nation of Poland
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

. The Free City was not an independent state; it was under League of Nations protection and put into a binding customs union
Customs union
A customs union is a type of trade bloc which is composed of a free trade area with a common external tariff. The participant countries set up common external trade policy, but in some cases they use different import quotas...

 with Poland. Poland also had special utilization rights towards the city. The Free City was created in order to give Poland sufficient access to the sea, while at the same recognizing that its population was mainly German.

In 1933, the City's government was taken over by the local Nazi Party and the democratic opposition was suppressed. After the German invasion of Poland in 1939, the Free City was abolished and incorporated into the newly formed Reichsgau
Reichsgau
A Reichsgau was an administrative subdivision created in a number of the areas annexed to Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1945...

 of Danzig-West Prussia. Widespread anti-Semitic and anti-Polish discrimination and organized murder followed. Starting with the city's conquest by the Soviet Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 in the early months of 1945, large numbers of ethnic German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 citizens of the former Free City of Danzig were forced to leave (expelled). The city was subsequently put under Polish administration by the Allied Potsdam Agreement
Potsdam Agreement
The Potsdam Agreement was the Allied plan of tripartite military occupation and reconstruction of Germany—referring to the German Reich with its pre-war 1937 borders including the former eastern territories—and the entire European Theatre of War territory...

, and Polish settlers were brought in to replace the German population.

Tradition of independence and autonomy


Danzig had a long tradition of city-state independence of its own. It was a leading player in the Prussian Confederation
Prussian Confederation
The Prussian Confederation was an organization formed in 1440 by a group of 53 gentry and clergy and 19 cities in Prussia to oppose the monastic state of the Teutonic Knights. It was based on the basis of an earlier similar organization, the Lizard Union...

  directed against the Teutonic Monastic State of Prussia
Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights
The State of the Teutonic Order, , also Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights or Ordensstaat , was formed in 1224 during the Northern Crusades, the Teutonic Knights' conquest of the pagan West-Baltic Old Prussians in the 13th century....

. The Confederation stipulated with the Polish king, Casimir IV Jagiellon
Casimir IV Jagiellon
Casimir IV KG of the House of Jagiellon was Grand Duke of Lithuania from 1440, and King of Poland from 1447, until his death.Casimir was the second son of King Władysław II Jagiełło , and the younger brother of Władysław III of Varna....

, that the Polish Crown would be invested with the role of head of state of western parts of Prussia (Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia was a Region of the Kingdom of Poland and of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth . Polish Prussia included Pomerelia, Chełmno Land , Malbork Voivodeship , Gdańsk , Toruń , and Elbląg . It is distinguished from Ducal Prussia...

). In contrast, Ducal Prussia
Ducal Prussia
The Duchy of Prussia or Ducal Prussia was a duchy in the eastern part of Prussia from 1525–1701. It was the first Protestant duchy with a dominant German-speaking population, as well as Polish and Lithuanian minorities...

 remained a Polish fief. Danzig and other cities such as Elbing
Elblag
Elbląg is a city in northern Poland with 127,892 inhabitants . It is the capital of Elbląg County and has been assigned to the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship since 1999. Before then it was the capital of Elbląg Voivodeship and a county seat in Gdańsk Voivodeship...

 and Thorn
Torun
Toruń is an ancient city in northern Poland, on the Vistula River. Its population is more than 205,934 as of June 2009. Toruń is one of the oldest cities in Poland. The medieval old town of Toruń is the birthplace of the astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus....

 financed most of the warfare and enjoyed a high level of city autonomy, and Danzig used the title Royal Polish City of Danzig (Polish: ).

In 1569, when Royal Prussia's estates
Estates of the realm
The Estates of the realm were the broad social orders of the hierarchically conceived society, recognized in the Middle Ages and Early Modern period in Christian Europe; they are sometimes distinguished as the three estates: the clergy, the nobility, and commoners, and are often referred to by...

 (German: , Polish: ) agreed to incorporate the region into the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
The Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth was a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch. It was the largest and one of the most populous countries of 16th- and 17th‑century Europe with some and a multi-ethnic population of 11 million at its peak in the early 17th century...

 by way of a real union
Real union
Real union is a union of two or more states, which share some state institutions as in contrast to personal unions; however they are not as unified as states in a political union...

, the city insisted on preserving its special status within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, went through the costly Siege of Danzig
Siege of Danzig (1577)
The Siege of the city of Danzig in 1577 by king Stephen Báthory of Poland ended militarily inconclusive.The conflict begun as the city of Danzig, along with the Polish episcopate and a portion of the Polish szlachta, did not recognize the election of Bathory to the Polish throne and instead...

 in 1577 in order to preserve special privileges, and subsequently insisted on negotiating its issues by sending emissaries directly to the Polish king.

The city-state was denied the use of the term of Hanseatic City as part of its official name, which referred to Danzig's long-lasting membership in the Hanseatic League
Hanseatic League
The Hanseatic League was an economic alliance of trading cities and their merchant guilds that dominated trade along the coast of Northern Europe...

.

Territory


The Free City of Danzig included the major city of Danzig (Gdańsk), Zoppot (Sopot)
Sopot
Sopot is a seaside town in Eastern Pomerania on the southern coast of the Baltic Sea in northern Poland, with a population of approximately 40,000....

, Oliva (Oliwa)
Oliwa
Oliwa, also Oliva is one of the quarters of Gdańsk. From east it borders Przymorze and Żabianka, from the north Sopot and from the south with the districts of Strzyża, VII Dwór and Brętowo, while from the west with Matarnia and Osowa...

, Tiegenhof (Nowy Dwór Gdański)
Nowy Dwór Gdanski
Nowy Dwór Gdański is a town in Poland, capital of Nowy Dwór Gdański County, located in Pomeranian Voivodeship, with 10,123 inhabitants .-Twin towns — Sister cities:Nowy Dwór Gdański is twinned with:-External links:*...

, Neuteich (Nowy Staw)
Nowy Staw
Nowy Staw is a small town in northern Poland on the Święta river in the Żuławy region, with 3 896 inhabitants . Situated in Malbork County in the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, it was previously assigned to Elbląg Voivodeship . City rights were applied in 1345. The name of the town means New...

 and some 252 villages and 63 hamlets
Hamlet (place)
A hamlet is usually a rural settlement which is too small to be considered a village, though sometimes the word is used for a different sort of community. Historically, when a hamlet became large enough to justify building a church, it was then classified as a village...

, covering a total area of 1,966 square kilometers .

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
Customs union
A customs union is a type of trade bloc which is composed of a free trade area with a common external tariff. The participant countries set up common external trade policy, but in some cases they use different import quotas...

 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. After local dockworkers had refused to unload ammunition supplies throughout the Polish-Soviet War
Polish-Soviet War
The Polish–Soviet War was an armed conflict between Soviet Russia and Soviet Ukraine and the Second Polish Republic and the Ukrainian People's Republic—four states in post–World War I Europe...

 in 1920, the Westerplatte
Westerplatte
Westerplatte is a peninsula in Gdańsk, Poland, located on the Baltic Sea coast mouth of the Dead Vistula , in the Gdańsk harbour channel...

 peninsula (until then a city beach) was also given to Poland to build up an ammunition dump and a military post within the city's harbor. There was also a separate Polish post office
Post office
A post office is a facility forming part of a postal system for the posting, receipt, sorting, handling, transmission or delivery of mail.Post offices offer mail-related services such as post office boxes, postage and packaging supplies...

 established, besides the existing municipal one.

League of Nations High Commissioners



Unlike Mandatory
League of Nations mandate
A League of Nations mandate was a legal status for certain territories transferred from the control of one country to another following World War I, or the legal instruments that contained the internationally agreed-upon terms for administering the territory on behalf of the League...

 territories, which were entrusted to member countries, The Free City of Danzig (like the Territory of the Saar Basin
Saar (League of Nations)
The Territory of the Saar Basin , also referred as the Saar or Saargebiet, was a region of Germany that was occupied and governed by Britain and France from 1920 to 1935 under a League of Nations mandate, with the occupation originally being under the auspices of the Treaty of Versailles...

) remained under the authority of the League of Nations itself, with representatives of various countries taking on the role of High Commissioner:
Name Period Country
1 Reginald Thomas Tower 1919–1920  United Kingdom
2 Edward Lisle Strutt
Edward Lisle Strutt
Lt-Col. Edward Lisle Strutt CBE, DSO was an English soldier and mountaineer, and President of the Alpine Club from 1935–38.-Family:...

1920  United Kingdom
3 Bernardo Attolico 1920  Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic)
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  Kingdom of Italy (Napoleonic)
8 Helmer Rosting 1932–1934  Denmark
9 Seán Lester
Seán Lester
Seán Lester was an Irish diplomat and the last Secretary General of the League of Nations, from 31 August 1940 to 18 April 1946.-Early life:...

1934–1936  Irish Free State
10 Carl Jakob Burckhardt 1937–1939  Switzerland

Population



The Free City's population rose from 357,000 (1919) to 408,000 in 1929, according to the official census 95% of whom were Germans
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

, with the rest mainly either Kashubians
Kashubians
Kashubians/Kaszubians , also called Kashubs, Kashubes, Kaszubians, Kassubians or Cassubians, are a West Slavic ethnic group in Pomerelia, north-central Poland. Their settlement area is referred to as Kashubia ....

 or Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

. Other estimates of Polish minority range between 9% to 34% of the population Henryk Stępniak estimates the Polish population up to around 22.000, or around 6% of the population, increasing to around 13% in the 1930s. Based on the assumed voting patterns (according to Stępniak many Poles voted for the catholic Zentrumspartei instead of Polish parties) the number of Poles in the city is estimated to be 25-30% of Catholics living within it or about 30-36 thousand people. In addition around 4,000 Polish nationals were registered in the city, bringing the total number of Polish population to 9,4-11% of people in this estimate. Stefan Samerski estimates about 10 percent of the 130,000 Catholics were Polish.

The Treaty of Versailles, which had separated Danzig and surrounding villages from Germany
German Empire
The German Empire refers to Germany during the "Second Reich" period from the unification of Germany and proclamation of Wilhelm I as German Emperor on 18 January 1871, to 1918, when it became a federal republic after defeat in World War I and the abdication of the Emperor, Wilhelm II.The German...

, now required that the newly formed state had its own citizenship, based on residency. German inhabitants lost their German Citizenship
German nationality law
German citizenship is based primarily on the principle of jus sanguinis. In other words one usually acquires German citizenship if a parent is a German citizen, irrespective of place of birth....

 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; however, if they did so they were required to leave their property and make their residence outside of the Free State of Danzig area in the remaining part of Germany.
Total population by language, November 1, 1923 according to the Free City of Danzig census
Nationality German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

German and
Polish
Polish language
Polish is a language of the Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages, used throughout Poland and by Polish minorities in other countries...

Polish, Kashub
Kashubian language
Kashubian or Cassubian is one of the Lechitic languages, a subgroup of the Slavic languages....

,
Masurian
Russian
Russian language
Russian is a Slavic language used primarily in Russia, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. It is an unofficial but widely spoken language in Ukraine, Moldova, Latvia, Turkmenistan and Estonia and, to a lesser extent, the other countries that were once constituent republics...

,
Ukrainian
Ukrainian language
Ukrainian is a language of the East Slavic subgroup of the Slavic languages. It is the official state language of Ukraine. Written Ukrainian uses a variant of the Cyrillic alphabet....

Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

,
Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

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%

Religion


In 1924, 54.7% of the populace was Protestant (220,731 persons, mostly Lutherans within the united
United and uniting churches
United and uniting churches are churches formed from the merger or other form of union of two or more different Protestant denominations.Perhaps the oldest example of a united church is found in Germany, where the Evangelical Church in Germany is a federation of Lutheran, United and Reformed...

 old-Prussian church), 34.5% was Catholic
Catholic
The word catholic comes from the Greek phrase , meaning "on the whole," "according to the whole" or "in general", and is a combination of the Greek words meaning "about" and meaning "whole"...

 (140,797 persons), and 2.4% Jewish (9,239 persons); furthermore, there were other Protestants such as 5,604 Mennonite
Mennonite
The Mennonites are a group of Christian Anabaptist denominations named after the Frisian Menno Simons , who, through his writings, articulated and thereby formalized the teachings of earlier Swiss founders...

s, 1,934 Calvinists (Reformed), 1,093 Baptist
Baptist
Baptists comprise a group of Christian denominations and churches that subscribe to a doctrine that baptism should be performed only for professing believers , and that it must be done by immersion...

s, 410 Free Religionists
Religious humanism
Religious humanism is an integration of humanist ethical philosophy with religious rituals and beliefs that center on human needs, interests, and abilities.-Origins:...

, as well as 2,129 dissenter
Dissenter
The term dissenter , labels one who disagrees in matters of opinion, belief, etc. In the social and religious history of England and Wales, however, it refers particularly to a member of a religious body who has, for one reason or another, separated from the Established Church.Originally, the term...

s, 1,394 faithful of other religions and denominations and 664 irreligionists. 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.

Regional Synodal Federation of the Free City of Danzig within the old-Prussian Union


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), transformed into the Regional Synod
Synod
A synod historically is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not...

al Federation of the Free City of Danzig
after 1920. The executive body of that ecclesiastical province, the consistory
Consistory
-Antiquity:Originally, the Latin word consistorium meant simply 'sitting together', just as the Greek synedrion ....

, was seated in Danzig and was restricted after 1920 in its competence to those congregations within the Free City's territory.

Unlike the Second Polish Republic which opposed the cooperation of the United Evangelical Church in Poland with EKapU, Volkstag and Senate of Danzig approved cross-border religious bodies so that Danzig's Regional Synodal Federation — just as the regional synodal federation of the autonomous Memelland
Klaipėda Region
The Klaipėda Region or Memel Territory was defined by the Treaty of Versailles in 1920 when it was put under the administration of the Council of Ambassadors...

 — retained the status of an ecclesiastical province within EKapU. 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-Westpreußen (Kirchengebiet Danzig-Westpreußen), also comprising the congregations of the United Evangelical Church in Poland in the homonymous Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
The Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia was a Nazi German province created on 8 October 1939 from the territory of the annexed Free City of Danzig, the annexed Polish province Greater Pomeranian Voivodship , and the Nazi German Regierungsbezirk West Prussia of Gau East Prussia. Before 2 November 1939,...

, with Danzig's consistory functioning as executive body for that region. With the flight and expulsion of most 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
Lübeck
The Hanseatic City of Lübeck is the second-largest city in Schleswig-Holstein, in northern Germany, and one of the major ports of Germany. It was for several centuries the "capital" of the Hanseatic League and, because of its Brick Gothic architectural heritage, is listed by UNESCO as a World...

 and opened there a rescue centre for Danzigers (Hilfsstelle beim evangelischen Konsistorium Danzig) led by Upper Consistorial Councillor Gerhard M. Gülzow. The Lutheran congregation of St. Mary's Church
St. Mary's Church, Gdansk
St. Mary's Church or, properly, Basilica of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary is a Roman Catholic church in Gdańsk, Poland, which is the largest brick church in the world. It was begun in 1379. St. Mary's Church (Polish: Bazylika Mariacka, German: Marienkirche) or, properly, Basilica of...

 could relocate its valuable parament
Parament
A Parament or Parement; , a term applied by ancient writers to the hangings or ornaments of a room of state. Later it has referred to the liturgical hangings on and around the altar, as well as the cloths hanging from the pulpit and lectern, as well as the ecclesiastical vestments and mitres...

 collection and the presbytery
Presbyterian polity
Presbyterian polity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session or consistory, though other terms, such as church board, may apply...

 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
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 had requisitioned as non-ferrous metal for war purposes since 1940, but which had survived, not yet smelted down, in storages (e.g. Glockenfriedhof) 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 parish
Parish
A parish is a territorial unit historically under the pastoral care and clerical jurisdiction of one parish priest, who might be assisted in his pastoral duties by a curate or curates - also priests but not the parish priest - from a more or less central parish church with its associated organization...

es in the territory of the Free City in 1922 used to belong in equal shares to the then mostly Polish Diocese of Culm and the then mostly German Diocese of Ermland
Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Warmia
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Warmia is an archdiocese of the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church in present Poland.The Archdiocese contains a population of around 700,000...

. 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. The Holy See
Holy See
The Holy See is the episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, in which its Bishop is commonly known as the Pope. It is the preeminent episcopal see of the Catholic Church, forming the central government of the Church. As such, diplomatically, and in other spheres the Holy See acts and...

 suspended the jurisdictions of both dioceses over their parishes in the Free State and established an exempt
Exemption (church)
In the Roman Catholic Church, exemption is the whole or partial release of an ecclesiastical person, corporation, or institution from the authority of the ecclesiastical superior next higher in rank....

 apostolic administration for the territory in 1922.

The first apostolic administrator was Edward O'Rourke
Edward O'Rourke
Edward O'Rourke, full name Eduard Alexander Ladislaus Graf O'Rourke was a Roman Catholic priest, bishop of Riga and the first head of the bishopric of the Free City of Danzig .-Early life:...

 who became Bishop of Danzig on the occoasion 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. The senate also instigated the denaturalisation of O'Rourke, who subsequently became a Polish citizen. O'Rourke was succeeded by Bishop Carl Maria Splett
Carl Maria Splett
Carl Maria Splett was a German Roman Catholic priest and Bishop of Danzig, after World War II he was imprisoned in Poland and exiled in West Germany.-Early life:...

, a native form 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. 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 reorganisation 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



Since 1883 most of the Jewish congregations in the later territory of Free State had merged into Synagogengemeinde Danzig (Synagogal Community of Danzig). Only the Jews of Tiegenhof (Nowy Dwór Gdański)
Nowy Dwór Gdanski
Nowy Dwór Gdański is a town in Poland, capital of Nowy Dwór Gdański County, located in Pomeranian Voivodeship, with 10,123 inhabitants .-Twin towns — Sister cities:Nowy Dwór Gdański is twinned with:-External links:*...

 ran their own congregation (Synagogengemeinde Tiegenhof) 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. Nonetheless, many remained in Danzig, reinforced by immigrants from Germany
Weimar Republic
The Weimar Republic is the name given by historians to the parliamentary republic established in 1919 in Germany to replace the imperial form of government...

 quadrupling the number of community members. 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
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 as common language, also attended by Ben Gurion.

With the takeover of a Nazi majority in Volkstag and Senate the situation deteriorated severely. Anti-semitic atrocities 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 transfer enabled by the Bank of Danzig. Moreover, the comparatively few Danzig Jews were offered easier refuge in safe countries while the numerous Jewish Germans and Jewish Poles were faced with exhausted quotas for them and their fellow nationals. The German November Pogrom was imitated in Danzig a few days later. The Jewish community decided to organise their emigration and managed to rescue most of its members to safe countries.

Government



Heads of State of the Free City of Danzig
Name Took office Left office Party
Presidents of the Danzig Senate
1 Heinrich Sahm
Heinrich Sahm
Heinrich Friedrich Wilhelm Martin Sahm , no party affiliation, was a German lawyer, mayor and statesman from the Free City of Danzig....

6 December 1920 10 January 1931 None
2 Ernst Ziehm
Ernst Ziehm
Dr. Ernst Ziehm was a Danzig based German politician from the conservative German National People's Party and President of the Senate of the Free City of Danzig from 1931 to 1933....

10 January 1931 20 June 1933 DNVP
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

3 Hermann Rauschning
Hermann Rauschning
Hermann Rauschning was a GermanConservative Revolutionary who briefly joined the Nazis before breaking with them. In 1934 he renounced Nazi party membership and defected to the United States where he denounced Nazism...

20 June 1933 23 November 1934
4 Arthur Karl Greiser 23 November 1934 23 August 1939
State President
5 Albert Forster
Albert Forster
Albert Maria Forster was a Nazi German politician. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia during the Second World War, the local non-German population suffered ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation...

23 August 1939 1 September 1939

The Free City was governed by the Senate of the Free City of Danzig, which was elected by the parliament (Volkstag
Volkstag
The Volkstag was the parliament of the Free City of Danzig between 1919 and 1939.-History:After World War I Danzig became a Free City under the protection of the League of Nations....

) for a legislative period of four years. The official language was German, although the usage of Polish was guaranteed by law. 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
German National People's Party
The German National People's Party was a national conservative party in Germany during the time of the Weimar Republic. Before the rise of the NSDAP it was the main nationalist party in Weimar Germany composed of nationalists, reactionary monarchists, völkisch, and antisemitic elements, and...

, the Social Democratic Party of the Free City of Danzig
Social Democratic Party of the Free City of Danzig
The Social Democratic Party of the Free City of Danzig was a political party in the Free City of Danzig. After the creation of the Free City of Danzig in 1919, the Danzig branch of the Social Democratic Party of Germany separated itself from the party, and created the Social Democratic Party of...

 and the Catholic Centre Party
Centre Party (Germany)
The German Centre Party was a Catholic political party in Germany during the Kaiserreich and the Weimar Republic. Formed in 1870, it battled the Kulturkampf which the Prussian government launched to reduce the power of the Catholic Church...

. A Communist Party
Communist Party (Free City of Danzig)
The Communist Party in Danzig was initially founded as a subdivision of the East Prussian section of the Communist Party of Germany . In 1921 a separate branch of the KPD in the Free City of Danzig was built...

 was founded in 1921 with its origins in the Spartacus League and the Communist Party of East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.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).

Initially, the Nazi Party had only a small amount of success (0.8% of the vote in 1927) and was even briefly dissolved. Its influence grew with the onset of difficult economic times and the increasing popularity of the Nazi Party in Germany proper. Albert Forster
Albert Forster
Albert Maria Forster was a Nazi German politician. Under his administration as the Gauleiter of Danzig-West Prussia during the Second World War, the local non-German population suffered ethnic cleansing, mass murder, and forceful Germanisation...

 became the Gauleiter
Gauleiter
A Gauleiter was the party leader of a regional branch of the NSDAP or the head of a Gau or of a Reichsgau.-Creation and Early Usage:...

 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. He later appealed to the public not to vote for the Nazis in the 1935 elections. Political opposition to the Nazis was repressed and several politicians imprisoned and murdered. The economic policy of the Nazi government, which increased the public issues for employment-creation programs and the retrenchment of financial aid by the German government, led to a devaluation of more than 40% of the Danziger Gulden. 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.

As in Germany, the Nazis introduced an "Enabling Act" and the racialist Nuremberg laws
Nuremberg Laws
The Nuremberg Laws of 1935 were antisemitic laws in Nazi Germany introduced at the annual Nuremberg Rally of the Nazi Party. After the takeover of power in 1933 by Hitler, Nazism became an official ideology incorporating scientific racism and antisemitism...

 (November 1938); 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 law suit to the Danzig High Court in protest against the manipulation of the Volkstag elections. The opposition also protested to the League of Nations, as did the Jewish Community of Danzig.

After the anti-Jewish riots of the Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht
Kristallnacht, also referred to as the Night of Broken Glass, and also Reichskristallnacht, Pogromnacht, and Novemberpogrome, was a pogrom or series of attacks against Jews throughout Nazi Germany and parts of Austria on 9–10 November 1938.Jewish homes were ransacked, as were shops, towns and...

 of 9/10 November 1938 in Germany, similar riots took place on 12/13 November in Danzig. The Danzig Great Synagogue
Great Synagogue (Danzig)
The Great Synagogue , was a synagogue of the Jewish Community of Danzig in the city of Danzig, Germany . It was built in 1885-1887 on Reitbahnstraße, now Bogusławski Street...

 was taken over and demolished by the local authorities in 1939. Most Jews had already left the city and the Jewish Community of Danzig
Jewish community of Danzig
The Jewish Community of Gdańsk dates back at least to the 15th century. For many centuries it was separated from the rest of the city. Under Polish rule, Jews acquired limited rights in the city in the 16th and 17th centuries. After the incorporation into Prussia the community largely assimilated...

 decided to organize its own emigration in early 1939.

German-Polish tensions


The rights of the Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
The Second Polish Republic, Second Commonwealth of Poland or interwar Poland refers to Poland between the two world wars; a period in Polish history in which Poland was restored as an independent state. Officially known as the Republic of Poland or the Commonwealth of Poland , the Polish state was...

 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. 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.

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, the incident led to the establishment of a permanent ammunition depot at the Westerplatte
Westerplatte
Westerplatte is a peninsula in Gdańsk, Poland, located on the Baltic Sea coast mouth of the Dead Vistula , in the Gdańsk harbour channel...

 and the construction of a trade and naval port in Gdynia
Gdynia
Gdynia is a city in the Pomeranian Voivodeship of Poland and an important seaport of Gdańsk Bay on the south coast of the Baltic Sea.Located in Kashubia in Eastern Pomerania, Gdynia is part of a conurbation with the spa town of Sopot, the city of Gdańsk and suburban communities, which together...

, whose total exports and imports surpassed those of Danzig in May 1932.

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 and the presence of Polish war vessels at the harbour. The attempt of the Free City to join the International Labour Organization
International Labour Organization
The International Labour Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations that deals with labour issues pertaining to international labour standards. Its headquarters are in Geneva, Switzerland. Its secretariat — the people who are employed by it throughout the world — is known as the...

 was rejected by the Permanent Court of International Justice
Permanent Court of International Justice
The Permanent Court of International Justice, often called the World Court, was an international court attached to the League of Nations. Created in 1922 , the Court was initially met with a good reaction from states and academics alike, with many cases submitted to it for its first decade of...

 at the League of Nations after protests of the Polish ILO delegate.

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. 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.

In the aftermath of the German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact
German-Polish Non-Aggression Pact
The German–Polish Non-Aggression Pact was an international treaty between Nazi Germany and the Second Polish Republic signed on January 26, 1934. In it, both countries pledged to resolve their problems through bilateral negotiations and to forgo armed conflict for a period of ten years...

 of 1934, the Danzig – Polish relations improved, and Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 instructed the local Nazi government to cease anti-Polish actions. In return, Poland did not support the actions of the anti-Nazi opposition in Danzig, and the Polish Ambassador to Germany, Józef Lipski
Józef Lipski
Józef Lipski . Polish diplomat and Ambassador to Nazi Germany, 1934 to 1939. Lipski played a key role in foreign policy of Second Polish Republic.-Life:Lipski trained as a lawyer, and joined the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1925....

, stated in a meeting with Hermann Göring
Hermann Göring
Hermann Wilhelm Göring, was a German politician, military leader, and a leading member of the Nazi Party. He was a veteran of World War I as an ace fighter pilot, and a recipient of the coveted Pour le Mérite, also known as "The Blue Max"...

:
... 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
Józef Beck
' was a Polish statesman, diplomat, military officer, and close associate of Józef Piłsudski...

 notified him not to "count on the support of the Polish State" in the case of difficulties with the Senate or the Nazi Party.

While the Senate appeared to respect the agreements with Poland, the "Nazification of Danzig proceeded relentlessly" and Danzig became a springboard for anti-Polish propaganda among the German and Ukrainian minority in Poland. The Catholic Bishop of Danzig, Edward O'Rourke
Edward O'Rourke
Edward O'Rourke, full name Eduard Alexander Ladislaus Graf O'Rourke was a Roman Catholic priest, bishop of Riga and the first head of the bishopric of the Free City of Danzig .-Early life:...

, was forced to withdraw after he had tried to implement four additional Polish nationals as parish priests in October 1937.

The German policy openly changed immediately after the Munich Conference in October 1938, when German Minister of Foreign Affairs Joachim von Ribbentrop
Joachim von Ribbentrop
Ulrich Friedrich Wilhelm Joachim von Ribbentrop was Foreign Minister of Germany from 1938 until 1945. He was later hanged for war crimes after the Nuremberg Trials.-Early life:...

 demanded the incorporation of the Free City into the Reich. 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.

Second World War and aftermath



World War II began with the shelling of the Westerplatte
Battle of Westerplatte
The Battle of Westerplatte was the very first battle that took place after Germany invaded Poland and World War II began in Europe. During the first week of September 1939, a Military Transit Depot on the peninsula of Westerplatte, manned by fewer than 200 Polish soldiers, held out for seven days...

 on 1 September 1939. Gauleiter Forster entered the High Commissioner's residence and ordered him to leave the City within two hours, and the Free City was formally incorporated into the newly formed Reichsgau
Reichsgau
A Reichsgau was an administrative subdivision created in a number of the areas annexed to Nazi Germany between 1938 and 1945...

of Danzig-West Prussia
Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
The Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia was a Nazi German province created on 8 October 1939 from the territory of the annexed Free City of Danzig, the annexed Polish province Greater Pomeranian Voivodship , and the Nazi German Regierungsbezirk West Prussia of Gau East Prussia. Before 2 November 1939,...

. 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 15 hours
Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig
The Defense of the Polish Post Office in Danzig was one of the first acts of World War II in Europe, as part of the Invasion of Poland....

. They were executed upon their surrender, against international law. The Polish military forces in the city held out until the 7th September.

Around 90% of the city was reduced to ruins towards the end of the Second World War, and on 30 March 1945, the city was taken by the Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

. It is estimated that more than 90% of the pre-war population were either dead or had fled by 1945. A number of inhabitants of the city perished in the sinking of a ship assisting evacuation, the Wilhelm Gustloff
Wilhelm Gustloff (ship)
The MV Wilhelm Gustloff was a German KdF flagship during 1937-1945, constructed by the Blohm & Voss shipyards. It sank after being torpedoed by the Soviet submarine on 30 January 1945....

. It had up to 10,000 refugees on board at the time, including about 1,000 seriously wounded soldiers and sailors.

At the Potsdam conference
Potsdam Conference
The Potsdam Conference was held at Cecilienhof, the home of Crown Prince Wilhelm Hohenzollern, in Potsdam, occupied Germany, from 16 July to 2 August 1945. Participants were the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States...

, the Allied Powers
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 agreed that the former Free State was to become part of Poland (The Yalta conference
Yalta Conference
The Yalta Conference, sometimes called the Crimea Conference and codenamed the Argonaut Conference, held February 4–11, 1945, was the wartime meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D...

 was unclear on this point).

By 1950, around 285,000 fled and expelled citizens of the former Free City were living in Germany, and 13,424 citizens of the former Free City had been "verified" and granted Polish citizenship. By 1947, 126,472 Danzigers of German ethnicity were expelled to Germany from Gdańsk, and 101,873 Poles from Central Poland and 26,629 Poles from Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

-annexed Eastern Poland took their place.

In fiction


Historical Danzig forms the setting for much of the works of Nobel Prize
Nobel Prize
The Nobel Prizes are annual international awards bestowed by Scandinavian committees in recognition of cultural and scientific advances. The will of the Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, established the prizes in 1895...

-winning author Günter Grass
Günter Grass
Günter Wilhelm Grass is a Nobel Prize-winning German author, poet, playwright, sculptor and artist.He was born in the Free City of Danzig...

, e.g. the acclaimed novel The Tin Drum
The Tin Drum
The Tin Drum is a 1959 novel by Günter Grass. The novel is the first book of Grass's .- Plot summary :The story revolves around the life of Oskar Matzerath, as narrated by himself when confined in a mental hospital during the years 1952-1954...

, part of his Danzig Trilogy
Danzig Trilogy
The Danzig Trilogy is a series of novels and novellas by German author Günter Grass about the interwar and wartime period in the Free City of Danzig .The three books in the trilogy are:...

 and of course the volumes of his memoirs.

See also

  • Danzig Corridor
  • Alfons Flisykowski
    Alfons Flisykowski
    Alfons Flisykowski was a Polish worker of the Polish Post Office in the Free City of Danzig in the years 1923-1939 and a second commander of the defence of the Post Office from the invading Nazi German forces when World War II started on September 1, 1939.Flisykowski was captured by the...

  • Danzig Research Society
    Danzig Research Society
    The Danzig Research Society was founded in 1743 in the city of Danzig . The Societas Physicae Experimentalis , later renamed to Naturforschende Gesellschaft , is thus considered as one of the oldest research societies in Central and Eastern Europe.Already in 1670, the physician Israel Conradi...

  • History of Gdańsk
    History of Gdansk
    This article is about the History of Gdańsk , a Polish city located on the Baltic Sea.- Early times :The area around the Vistula delta was inhabited by populations belonging to the various archaeological cultures of the Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age...

  • Administrations of Danzig before April 1945
    Administrations of Danzig before April 1945
    -Lord Mayors before 1862:Lord Mayors is Oberbürgermeister in German.*1342-1347 – Dettloff von der Osten*1342-1354 – Henrich Burmeister der Aeltere*1346-1355 – Steffen von der Osten*1354-1374 – Hillebrand Müntzer*1356-1360 – Johan von Stein...


External links