Former eastern territories of Germany

eastern Germanyformer eastern territorieseastern territorieseastern territories of Germanyformer German territoriesHistorical Eastern Germanyformer German territoryGerman historical regionthe eastawarded to Poland after the War
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Germany

GermanGERFederal Republic of Germany
The former eastern territories of Germany (Ehemalige deutsche Ostgebiete) are those provinces or regions east of the current eastern border of Germany (the Oder–Neisse line) which were lost by Germany after World War I and then World War II; having been parts of the German Empire from 1871. Germany's recognition of the Oder–Neisse line as the border was formalised by the re-united Germany in the German–Polish Border Treaty on November 14, 1990; and by the repeal of Article 23 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany under which German states outside the Federal Republic could formerly apply for admission.
About a quarter of Germany's pre-war territory was annexed by Poland and the Soviet Union, leading to the expulsion of Germans.

Flight and expulsion of Germans from Poland during and after World War II

expelledethnic cleansingethnic Germans driven out of Germany's former eastern territories
The German population of the territories that had not fled was expelled, forming the bulk of the Germans expelled from Eastern Europe.
The German population fled or was expelled from all regions which are currently within the territorial boundaries of Poland, including the former eastern territories of Germany and parts of pre-war Poland.

Potsdam Agreement

PotsdamTreaty of Potsdamagreed
In the Potsdam Agreement the description of the territories transferred is "The former German territories east of the Oder–Neisse line", and permutations on this description are the most commonly used to describe any former territories of Germany east of the Oder–Neisse line.
It concerned the military occupation and reconstruction of Germany, its borders, and the entire European Theatre of War territory.

Central Germany (cultural area)

Central GermanyMiddle GermanyCentral German
However, because people and institutions in the states traditionally considered as Middle Germany, like the three southern new states Saxony-Anhalt, the Free State of Saxony and the Free State of Thuringia, still use the term Middle Germany when referring to their area and its institutions, the term Ostdeutschland is still ambiguous.
Since the German Empire's eastern territories became part of Poland (and Russia in the aftermath of World War II), "Central Germany" has been located east of the centre of the country, but the name is still often used in business, media and by the Central German Metropolitan Region.

Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany

Basic LawGerman constitutionGrundgesetz
Germany's recognition of the Oder–Neisse line as the border was formalised by the re-united Germany in the German–Polish Border Treaty on November 14, 1990; and by the repeal of Article 23 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany under which German states outside the Federal Republic could formerly apply for admission.
But the Court then explicitly acknowledged that this limited de jure recognition of the GDR also implied acceptance of the constitutional power of the GDR in the interim to enter into international treaties on its own account, naming in particular the treaty with Poland which confirmed the transfer of the "Eastern Territories" to Polish sovereignty.

Max Weber

WeberWeberianWeber, Max
When focusing on the period before World War II, "eastern Germany" is used to describe all the territories east of the Elbe (East Elbia), as reflected in the works of sociologist Max Weber and political theorist Carl Schmitt,
In 1890 the Verein established a research program to examine "the Polish question" or Ostflucht: the influx of Polish farm workers into eastern Germany as local labourers migrated to Germany's rapidly industrialising cities.

Konrad Adenauer

AdenauerChancellor AdenauerConrad Adenauer
The offer was rejected by West German Chancellor Konrad Adenauer.
Given the realities of the Cold War, German reunification and recovery of lost territories in the east were not realistic goals as both of Stalin's notes specified the retention of the existing "Potsdam"-decreed boundaries of Germany.

Treaty of Warsaw (1970)

Treaty of Warsawa treaty with Polandin 1970
In 1970, West Germany recognised the Oder-Neisse line as the de facto western boundary of Poland by the Treaty of Warsaw; and in 1973, the Federal Constitutional Court acknowledged the capability of East Germany to negotiate the Treaty of Zgorzelec as an international agreement binding as a legal definition of its boundaries.
This had been a quite sensitive topic since then, as Poland was concerned that a German government might seek to reclaim some of the former eastern territories.

Baltic Sea

BalticBaltic coastthe Baltic
Mieszko's son and successor, Duke Bolesław I Chrobry, upon the 1018 Peace of Bautzen expanded the southern part of the realm, but lost control over the lands of Western Pomerania on the Baltic coast.
Poland gained most of the southern shore.

Germans

Germanethnic Germanethnic Germans
In the course of the 12th to 14th centuries, Germanic, Dutch and Flemish settlers moved into East Central and Eastern Europe in a migration process known as the Ostsiedlung.
Germans were also forced to leave the former eastern territories of Germany, which were annexed by Poland (Silesia, Pomerania, parts of Brandenburg and southern part of East Prussia) and the Soviet Union (northern part of East Prussia).

Polish language

PolishplPolish-language
At the turn of the 20th century there lived only about 14,200 persons of Polish mother-tongue in the Province of Pomerania (in the east of Farther Pomerania in the vicinity of the border with West Prussia), and 300 persons using the Kashubian language (at the Leba Lake and the Garde Lake), the total population of the province consisting of almost 1.7 million inhabitants.
The Polish language became far more homogeneous in the second half of the 20th century, in part due to the mass migration of several million Polish citizens from the eastern to the western part of the country after the Soviet annexation of the Kresy (Eastern Borderlands) in 1939, and the annexation of former German territory after World War II.

Recovered Territories

Area recoveredformer German territoriesgranted
Territories acquired by Poland after World War II were called there the Recovered Territories.
It became the official propaganda term coined in the aftermath of World War II to denote the former eastern territories of Germany that were being handed over to Poland.

Lubusz Voivodeship

LubuszLubuskieLubuskie Voivodeship
The present-day Polish Lubusz Voivodeship comprises most of the former Brandenburgian Neumark territory east of the Oder.
In 1945, the conquest of eastern Germany by the Soviet Red Army was followed by the redrawing of Poland's borders.

Pomerania

PomorzePommernPomeranian
Mieszko's son and successor, Duke Bolesław I Chrobry, upon the 1018 Peace of Bautzen expanded the southern part of the realm, but lost control over the lands of Western Pomerania on the Baltic coast.
The German citizens of the former eastern territories of Germany and Poles of German ethnicity from Pomerelia were expelled, and the area was resettled primarily with Poles of Polish ethnicity, (some themselves expellees from former eastern Poland) and some Poles of Ukrainian ethnicity (resettled under Operation Vistula) and few Polish Jews.

Farther Pomerania

Eastern PomeraniaFurther PomeraniaHinterpommern
At the turn of the 20th century there lived only about 14,200 persons of Polish mother-tongue in the Province of Pomerania (in the east of Farther Pomerania in the vicinity of the border with West Prussia), and 300 persons using the Kashubian language (at the Leba Lake and the Garde Lake), the total population of the province consisting of almost 1.7 million inhabitants. Further territories lost after World War II include East Prussia, Farther Pomerania, Neumark, West Upper Silesia, and almost all of Lower Silesia (except for a small area east of and around Hoyerswerda).

Ostsiedlung

German eastward expansionGerman settlersGerman colonists
In the course of the 12th to 14th centuries, Germanic, Dutch and Flemish settlers moved into East Central and Eastern Europe in a migration process known as the Ostsiedlung.
Because former Slavic place names were used to name newly established or expanded settlements, many (in many areas even the majority) towns and villages in modern East Germany and the "Former eastern territories of Germany" carried, and in present-day Germany still carry, names with Slavic roots.

Allied-occupied Germany

GermanyBritish occupation zoneoccupied Germany
At the Yalta Conference, it was agreed to split Germany into four occupation zones after the war, with a quadripartite occupation of Berlin as well, prior to unification of Germany.
From March 1945 to July 1945, these former eastern territories of Germany had been administered under Soviet military occupation authorities, but following the Potsdam Conference they were handed over to Soviet and Polish civilian administrations and ceased to constitute part of Allied-occupied Germany.

Oder–Neisse line

Oder-Neisse lineOder-Neiße linefrontier changes
The former eastern territories of Germany (Ehemalige deutsche Ostgebiete) are those provinces or regions east of the current eastern border of Germany (the Oder–Neisse line) which were lost by Germany after World War I and then World War II; having been parts of the German Empire from 1871. In the Potsdam Agreement the description of the territories transferred is "The former German territories east of the Oder–Neisse line", and permutations on this description are the most commonly used to describe any former territories of Germany east of the Oder–Neisse line. Germany's recognition of the Oder–Neisse line as the border was formalised by the re-united Germany in the German–Polish Border Treaty on November 14, 1990; and by the repeal of Article 23 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany under which German states outside the Federal Republic could formerly apply for admission.
All prewar German territories east of the line and within the 1937 German boundaries – comprising nearly one quarter (23.8 percent) of the (pre-Nazi) Weimar Republic – were annexed under border changes promulgated at the postwar Potsdam Conference, with most becoming part of Poland.

Flight and expulsion of Germans (1944–1950)

expelledexpulsion of Germans after World War IIexpulsion of Germans
The German population of the territories that had not fled was expelled, forming the bulk of the Germans expelled from Eastern Europe.
The areas affected included the former eastern territories of Germany which were annexed by Poland (see Recovered Territories) and the Soviet Union after the war, as well as Germans who were living within the prewar borders of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, and the Baltic States.

Population transfer

population exchangeresettlementexpulsion
The precise location of the border was left open; the western Allies also accepted in general the principle of the Oder River as the future western border of Poland and of population transfer as the way to prevent future border disputes.
The same applied to the former German territories east of the Oder-Neisse line, where German citizens were transferred to Germany.

Operation Vistula

Action VistulaAkcja WisłaOperation Wisla
At the same time, Poles from central Poland, expelled Poles from former eastern Poland, Polish returnees from internment and forced labour, Ukrainians forcibly resettled in Operation Vistula, and Jewish Holocaust survivors were settled in German territories gained by Poland, whereas the north of former East Prussia (Kaliningrad Oblast gained by the USSR) was turned into a military zone and subsequently settled with Russians.
In a period of three months beginning on 28 April 1947 and with Soviet approval and aid, about 141,000 civilians residing around Bieszczady and Low Beskids were forcibly resettled to formerly German territories, ceded to Poland at the Yalta Conference at the end of World War II.

List of people from the former eastern territories of Germany

List of people from former eastern territories of Germany
Numerous figures in German culture and history (some still living) were either born or resident in the former eastern territories of Germany.

Federation of Expellees

Bund der VertriebenenexpelleesGerman expellées
In the course of the German reunification, Chancellor Helmut Kohl accepted the territorial changes made after World War II, creating some outrage among the Federation of Expellees, while some Poles were concerned about a possible revival of their 1939 trauma through a "second German invasion", this time with the Germans buying back their land, which was cheaply available at the time.
It is estimated that in the aftermath of World War II between 13 and 16 million ethnic Germans fled or were expelled from parts of Central and Eastern Europe, including the former eastern territories of Germany (parts of present-day Poland), the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia (mostly from the Vojvodina region), the Kaliningrad Oblast of (now) Russia, hitherto USSR (in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War) and prior to this, the northern part of East Prussia, Lithuania, Romania and other East European countries.

Polish population transfers (1944–1946)

Polish population transfersforcibly resettledPolish population transfers (1944–46)
At the same time, Poles from central Poland, expelled Poles from former eastern Poland, Polish returnees from internment and forced labour, Ukrainians forcibly resettled in Operation Vistula, and Jewish Holocaust survivors were settled in German territories gained by Poland, whereas the north of former East Prussia (Kaliningrad Oblast gained by the USSR) was turned into a military zone and subsequently settled with Russians.
Many of the repatriated Poles were settled in formerly German eastern provinces; after 1945, these were referred to as the "Recovered Territories" of the People's Republic of Poland.

German evacuation from Central and Eastern Europe

Flight and evacuation of German civilians during the end of World War IIEvacuation of German civilians during the end of World War IIevacuated
Plans to evacuate people from the territories controlled by Nazi Germany in Central and Eastern Europe, including from the former eastern territories of Germany as well as occupied territories, were prepared by German authorities only when the defeat was inevitable, resulting in utter chaos.