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From schwarz@physik.tu-berlin.de Sat Oct 26 11:54:43 PDT 1996
Article: 22385 of soc.history.war.world-war-ii
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From: schwarz@physik.tu-berlin.de (Georg Schwarz)
Newsgroups: soc.history.war.world-war-ii
Subject: Re: Danzig's status as a "Free City"
Date: 25 Oct 1996 16:58:30 -0400
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Kevin Tripp  wrote:

> 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

The term, Free City, is somewhat misleading IMHO. It refers to the fact
that, in the Versailles Treaty, Danzig was cut away from the German
state. The reason for this was not that Danzig wasn't a German city,
ethnically speaking (in fact it was probably more "German" than today's
Berlin or other cities in Germany), rather the victorious WW I Allies
intended to give the new Polish state some kind of access to the port,
i.e. for strategic and economic reasons.
Unlike in *some* other regions that were also cut away from the German
Reich, here the local population was not asked for their opinions, there
was no referendum (if there had been one and its result would have been
honored there had not been a "Free City", but Danzig would undoubtedly
have remained part of the Reich).

> whom?). I understand that the city's population during this time was st=
ill
> largely German (which, perhaps, is why the Germanic name of Danzig was

yes, indeed. I think well over 90% were Germans. And it was only natural
that the city was called Danzig. If Danzig had not clearly been a German
city, the WW I Allies would probalby not have bothered to create such an
artificial thing as a "Free City" but instead would not have hesitated
to directly incorporated Danzig into the Polish state.
The way things were like in 1919 such a move would have been a too
obvious violation of the honest principle of ethnic selfdetermination
(put forward mainly by the US), so the architects of the Versailles
treaty came up with that Free City solution.

Of course, in 1945, such hesitation and scruples were unknown to Stalin
and his Western Allies, which is why we know today Danzig as a Polish
city...

> still in use); yet I seem to recall that the city was defended by Polis=
h
> 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).
>=20
> Any clarification on these issues would be much appreciated. Thanks.

I think Poland had been given the right of external representation
(foreign affairs incl. military "protection") of the Free City territory
by the Versailles Treaty.  I could be wrong though.

--=20
Georg Schwarz     schwarz@physik.tu-berlin.de, kuroi@cs.tu-berlin.de
Institut f=FCr Theoretische Physik     +49 30 314-24254, FAX -21130
Technische Universit=E4t Berlin     PGP key available, IRC kuroi
Germany         http://itp1.physik.tu-berlin.de/~schwarz/




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