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Shofar FTP Archive File: places/poland/danzig/1996/usenet.1096


From kevin@spie.org Fri Oct 25 15:30:52 PDT 1996
Article: 22334 of soc.history.war.world-war-ii
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From: kevin@spie.org (Kevin Tripp)
Newsgroups: soc.history.war.world-war-ii
Subject: Danzig's status as a "Free City"
Date: 24 Oct 1996 23:15:50 GMT
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In virtually every account I've read of the events leading up to the
planning and execution of the German invasion of Poland, reference is made
to the German desire to re-obtain posession of what was then known as the
Polish Corridor. This corridor, which seperated East Prussia from the rest
of Germany, by all accounts and maps I've seen, was divided into a strip
of Poland and the city of Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland), which is variously
referred to as a "free city" or an "international city."

However, in none of these accounts has an attempt been made to explain
exactly what "free city" meant (i.e., how was it administered, and by
whom?). I understand that the city's population during this time was still
largely German (which, perhaps, is why the Germanic name of Danzig was
still in use); yet I seem to recall that the city was defended by Polish
coastal artillery when the Kriegsmarine shelled it on the first day of the
war (however, due to the relatively small distances involved, I imagine
that this fire could have come from the Polish strip of the Corridor,
rather than the "free city" itself).

Any clarification on these issues would be much appreciated. Thanks.

Kevin Tripp
kevin@spie.org



From pankiewicz@pwr.wroc.pl Fri Oct 25 15:31:32 PDT 1996
Article: 22359 of soc.history.war.world-war-ii
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From: pankiewicz@pwr.wroc.pl (Jerzy Pankiewicz)
Newsgroups: soc.history.war.world-war-ii
Subject: Re: Danzig's status as a "Free City"
Date: 25 Oct 1996 15:37:27 GMT
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Kevin Tripp  wrote:
: still in use); yet I seem to recall that the city was defended by Polish
: coastal artillery when the Kriegsmarine shelled it on the first day of the
: war (however, due to the relatively small distances involved, I imagine
: that this fire could have come from the Polish strip of the Corridor,
: rather than the "free city" itself).
It was a small part of the harbour called Westerplatte, not the city.
The ship was Schleswig-Holstein.

The WWII started because Nazis wanted their empire, not because
of the Corridor or because of Gleiwitz brodcasting station attentat
(which was a German action, not a Polish one).

There was another free city in Europe - Trieste.

                           Jerzy Pankiewicz



From efrank@msuvx2.memphis.edu Fri Oct 25 15:31:54 PDT 1996
Article: 22354 of soc.history.war.world-war-ii
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From: efrank@msuvx2.memphis.edu
Newsgroups: soc.history.war.world-war-ii
Subject: Re: Danzig's status as a "Free City"
Date: 25 Oct 1996 15:38:58 GMT
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Kevin Tripp writes:

[snipped paragraph of background] 

> However, in none of these accounts has an attempt been made to explain
> exactly what "free city" meant (i.e., how was it administered, and by
> whom?). 

According to the entry "Danzig" in the _Encyclopedia
Americana_ (by Norman Pounds of Indiana University)
the "free city" status was the solution to providing
a good port to the Poles while not forcing the very
anti-Polish population into the country directly.  The
city was part of a customs union with Poland, "under
the protection of the League of Nations."  Pounds
says that the Poles were rather distrustful of the
population and built their own nearby port of Gdynia,
but that Danzig continued to account for a major
part of Poland's international trade.  He doesn't 
say how the internal operations of the city worked,
but I'm sure there was a Mayor, a Council, etc.,
who reported to a League administrator (?)

> I understand that the city's population during this time was still
> largely German (which, perhaps, is why the Germanic name of Danzig was
> still in use); 

In addition, "Free Cities" had been common in the
German Empire, and the concept and status were
probably thought to be reassuring to the local
(and as you say, mostly German) population.  (In
the earlier Reichs, a "free city" was merely one
that was not obligated to pay taxes to any local
territorial prince or princeling.)

> yet I seem to recall that the city was defended by Polish
> coastal artillery when the Kriegsmarine shelled it on the first day of the
> war (however, due to the relatively small distances involved, I imagine
> that this fire could have come from the Polish strip of the Corridor,
> rather than the "free city" itself).

I think that's correct: the area of the Free City was
730 sq. miles or 1890 sq. kil.; IIRC the Poles had
indeed built coastal positions right close.

> Any clarification on these issues would be much appreciated. Thanks.
 
Kevin, do you have access to a sizable public or
academic library?  It shouldn't be difficult to
get better answers than mine if you do.

Ed Frank











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