Ethnic Germans in Poland and the Czech Republic: A comparative evaluation

K. Cordell, S. Wolff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)


This paper seeks to analyze the nature of the German minorities in the Czech Republic and Poland. In order to achieve this goal, the relationship between Czechoslovakia/the Czech Republic and Poland with the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany/FRG) forms an essential intellectual backdrop to our main theme. Reference to the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (German Democratic Republic/GDR) will be made as and where appropriate. As we shall see, tensions simmered between the Sozialistische Einheitspartei Deutschlands (Socialist Unity Party of Germany/SED) and the Polska Zjednoczona Partia Robotnicza Zjednoczona (Polish United Workers' Party/PZPR), and in reality relations between the two sides were poor. Reference will be made to wartime German occupation policy in both Poland and the Czech lands. Due attention will also be paid to the consequent expulsion of ethnic Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia. However, due to limitations of space these themes, that have been exhaustively dealt with elsewhere, do not form part of our main focus of study. As for the minority populatio ns themselves, in many ways, the situation of Germans in Czechoslovakia and Poland between 1945 and the late 1980s was very similar. Both groups suffered as ethnic minorities in states whose ideological premises purportedly placed notions of class above those of ethnic identification. In addition they suffered as Germans as a consequence of the crimes committed by the Nazis during World War II against Jews, Poles, Czechs and Slovaks. Today we find that the remaini ng German minority in Poland is much larger than in the Czech Republic, both in absolute and percentage terms. However, as we shall see, uncertainty surrounds the exact number of Poland's German minority. In a broad sense, the circumstances under which these populations came to be reduced are relatively well known. During World War II, there was cross-party agreement among Polish and Czechoslovak politicians that state and ethnic boundaries should be rendered as far as possible coterminous, and the wartime allies were in agreement with this principle.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-276
Number of pages22
JournalNationalities Papers
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2005


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