Temporary borders created by advancing German and Soviet troops. The border was soon readjusted following diplomatic agreements.
The Polish People's Republic in 1989
Planned and actual divisions of Europe, according to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, with later adjustments
Poland's fate was heavily discussed at the Yalta Conference in February 1945. Joseph Stalin, whose Red Army occupied the entire country, presented several alternatives which granted Poland industrialized territories in the west whilst the Red Army simultaneously permanently annexed Polish territories in the east, resulting in Poland losing over 20% of its pre-war borders - areas primarily inhabited by ethnic Belarusians or Ukrainians. Soviet-backed Polish communists came to power and oversaw the country's entry into the Warsaw Pact in 1955.
Soviet annexation of territory of eastern Poland ceded to Ukrainian SSR (yellow), 1940
Border changes of Poland after World War II. The eastern territories (Kresy) were annexed by the Soviets. The western territories, referred to as the "Recovered Territories", were granted as war reparations. Despite the western lands being more industrialized, Poland lost 77,035 km2 (29,743 sq mi) and major cities like Lviv and Vilnius.
Soviet map of the newly expanded Byelorussian SSR (yellow), 1940. Parts of prewar Poland invaded by the Nazis labeled area of state interests of Germany
The 1970 Polish protests were put down by the Communist authorities and Citizens' Militia. The riots resulted in the deaths of 42 people and over 1,000 injured.
See map
Queues waiting to enter grocery stores in Warsaw and other Polish cities and towns were typical in the late 1980s. The availability of food and goods varied at times, and the most sought after basic item was toilet paper.
Sectors of prewar Poland under the Nazi German occupational authority
The new Warszawa Centralna railway station in Warsaw had automatic doors and escalators. It was a flagship project during the 1970s economic boom and was dubbed the most modern station in Europe at the time of its completion in 1975.
Curzon-Namier Line's variants. Tehran, 1943
Lech Wałęsa co-founded and headed the Solidarity movement which toppled Communism. He later became the President of Poland.
The 1980 Gdańsk Shipyard Strike and subsequent Summer 1981 Hunger Demonstrations were instrumental in strengthening the Solidarity movement's influence.
Logo of the Polish United Workers' Party
Władysław Gomułka and Leonid Brezhnev in East Berlin, 1967
An abandoned State Agricultural Farm in south-eastern Poland. State farms were a form of collective farming created in 1949.
Łódź was Poland's largest city after the destruction of Warsaw during World War II. It was also a major industrial centre in Europe and served as the temporary capital due to its economic significance in the 1940s.
Female textile workers in a state-run factory, Łódź, 1950s
Supersam Warsaw, the first self-serve shopping centre in Poland, 1969
Pewex, a chain of hard currency stores which sold unobtainable Western goods and items
Ration cards for sugar, 1977
Bar mleczny, a former milk bar in Gdynia. These canteens offered value meals to citizens throughout Communist Poland.
Trybuna Ludu (People's Tribune) was a government-sponsored newspaper and propaganda outlet
Andrzej Wajda was a key figure in Polish cinematography during and after the fall of communism
Allegory of communist censorship, Poland, 1989. Newspapers visible are from all Eastern Bloc countries including East Germany, the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia
The 237-meter Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw, constructed in 1955. At the time of its completion it was one of the tallest buildings in Europe
Smyk Department Store, 1960s
Polish university students during lecture, 1964
One of many schools constructed in central Warsaw in the 1960s
Jerzy Popiełuszko was a Roman Catholic priest who supported the anti-communist opposition. He was murdered by the Security Services "SB" of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
A demographics graph illustrating population growth between 1900 and 2010. The highest birth rate was during the Second Polish Republic and consequently under the Polish People's Republic.
A typical socialist apartment building in Warsaw representing the style of functionalism, built due to the ever-growing population and high birth rate at the time
Konstantin Rokossovsky, pictured in a Polish uniform, was Marshal of the Soviet Union and Marshal of Poland until being deposed during the Polish October in 1956.
Poland's old and new borders, 1945

The Polish People's Republic regime described the territories as the "Recovered Territories".

- Territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union

The areas in the East that were not annexed by the Soviet Union had their borders left almost unchanged.

- Polish People's Republic

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Overall

Typical landscape view of the Kresy, marked by low-lying rolling hills and grasslands (location Sielec, Drohobych Raion, western Ukraine)

Kresy

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Term coined for the eastern part of the Second Polish Republic during the interwar period (1918–1939).

Term coined for the eastern part of the Second Polish Republic during the interwar period (1918–1939).

Typical landscape view of the Kresy, marked by low-lying rolling hills and grasslands (location Sielec, Drohobych Raion, western Ukraine)
Polish voivodeships 1922–1939. One can consider the six easternmost voivodeships as roughly equivalent with Kresy.
The Pale of Settlement
Members of the German Ordnungspolizei shooting naked women and children in the Mizocz ghetto, October 1942
Massacres of Poles in Volhynia in 1943. Most Poles of Volhynia (now in Ukraine) had either been murdered or had fled the area.
Map of native speakers of Polish (red) vs. other languages (green) according to the Polish census of 1931; original map by the Main Bureau of Statistics
Map of areas where Polish was used as a primary language in 1916
Map of the Polish population living in Lithuania on the basis of elections to the parliament of Lithuania in 1923, censuses in 1921 and elections to the Polish parliament in 1922
Grey: Areas with majority Polish population in modern Lithuania. Red: pre-World War II Polish-Lithuanian border
the Skirmunt estate, Moładaŭ, by Napoleon Orda 1875

After the elections to the People's Assemblies of Western Ukraine and Western Belarus, communist governments for Western Ukraine and Western Belarus were formed and immediately announced their intention of joining their respective republics to the Soviet Union (see also Territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union).

Most Polish inhabitants of Kresy were ordered by the Soviets to migrate west to Germany's former eastern provinces, newly emptied of their German population and renamed as the "Recovered Territories" of the People's Republic of Poland, based on Polish medieval settlement of the areas.

Soviet parade in Lwów, September 1939, following the city's surrender

Soviet invasion of Poland

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Military operation by the Soviet Union without a formal declaration of war.

Military operation by the Soviet Union without a formal declaration of war.

Soviet parade in Lwów, September 1939, following the city's surrender
Planned and actual divisions of Poland, according to the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact
Hitler watching German soldiers marching into Poland in September 1939
Advancing Red Army troops, Soviet invasion of Poland, 1939.
Instructions of Józef Beck, Polish minister of foreign affairs for Wacław Grzybowski, Polish ambassador to the Soviet Union concerning the Soviet invasion of Poland, 17.09.1939
Disposition of all troops following the Soviet invasion
German and Soviet officers shaking hands following the invasion
Soviet propaganda appealing to Ukrainian peasants in Eastern Poland.
" The liberation of our brothers and sisters in the Western Ukraine and Western Belorussia on 17 September 1939" Postage stamps from the USSR, 1940.
Polish prisoners of war captured by the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Poland in 1939
Red Army soldier guarding a Polish PWS-26 trainer aircraft shot down near the city of Równe (Rivne) in the Soviet occupied part of Poland, 18 September 1939.
Soviet document, proving the mass execution of Polish officers in the Katyn massacre

In November 1939 the Soviet government annexed the entire Polish territory under its control.

An agreement at the Yalta Conference permitted the Soviet Union to annex territories close to the Curzon Line (which almost coincided with all of their Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact portion of the Second Polish Republic), compensating the Polish People's Republic with the greater southern part of East Prussia and territories east of the Oder–Neisse line.

The League of Nations assembly, held in Geneva, Switzerland, 1930

World War II

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Global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945.

Global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945.

The League of Nations assembly, held in Geneva, Switzerland, 1930
Adolf Hitler at a German Nazi political rally in Nuremberg, August 1933
Benito Mussolini inspecting troops during the Italo-Ethiopian War, 1935
The bombing of Guernica in 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, sparked fears abroad in Europe that the next war would be based on bombing of cities with very high civilian casualties.
Japanese Imperial Army soldiers during the Battle of Shanghai, 1937
Red Army artillery unit during the Battle of Lake Khasan, 1938
Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini, and Ciano pictured just before signing the Munich Agreement, 29 September 1938
German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop (right) and the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, after signing the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, 23 August 1939
Soldiers of the German Wehrmacht tearing down the border crossing into Poland, 1 September 1939
Soldiers of the Polish Army during the defence of Poland, September 1939
Finnish machine gun nest aimed at Soviet Red Army positions during the Winter War, February 1940
German advance into Belgium and Northern France, 10 May-4 June 1940, swept past the Maginot Line (shown in dark red)
London seen from St. Paul's Cathedral after the German Blitz, 29 December 1940
Soldiers of the British Commonwealth forces from the Australian Army's 9th Division during the Siege of Tobruk; North African Campaign, September 1941
German Panzer III of the Afrika Korps advancing across the North African desert, April-May 1941
European theatre of World War II animation map, 1939–1945 – Red: Western Allies and the Soviet Union after 1941; Green: Soviet Union before 1941; Blue: Axis powers
German soldiers during the invasion of the Soviet Union by the Axis powers, 1941
Soviet civilians leaving destroyed houses after a German bombardment during the Battle of Leningrad, 10 December 1942
Japanese soldiers entering Hong Kong, 8 December 1941
The USS Arizona (BB-39) was a total loss in the Japanese surprise air attack on the American Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Sunday 7 December 1941.
US President Franklin D. Roosevelt and British PM Winston Churchill seated at the Casablanca Conference, January 1943
Map of Japanese military advances through mid-1942
US Marines during the Guadalcanal Campaign, in the Pacific theatre, 1942
Red Army soldiers on the counterattack during the Battle of Stalingrad, February 1943
American 8th Air Force Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombing raid on the Focke-Wulf factory in Germany, 9 October 1943
U.S. Navy SBD-5 scout plane flying patrol over USS Washington (BB-56) and USS Lexington (CV-16) during the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign, 1943
Red Army troops in a counter-offensive on German positions at the Battle of Kursk, July 1943
Ruins of the Benedictine monastery, during the Battle of Monte Cassino, Italian Campaign, May 1944
American troops approaching Omaha Beach during the invasion of Normandy on D-Day, 6 June 1944
German SS soldiers from the Dirlewanger Brigade, tasked with suppressing the Warsaw Uprising against Nazi occupation, August 1944
General Douglas MacArthur returns to the Philippines during the Battle of Leyte, 20 October 1944
Yalta Conference held in February 1945, with Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin
Ruins of the Reichstag in Berlin, 3 June 1945.
Atomic bombing of Nagasaki on 9 August 1945.
Ruins of Warsaw in 1945, after the deliberate destruction of the city by the occupying German forces
Defendants at the Nuremberg trials, where the Allied forces prosecuted prominent members of the political, military, judicial and economic leadership of Nazi Germany for crimes against humanity
Post-war border changes in Central Europe and creation of the Communist Eastern Bloc
David Ben-Gurion proclaiming the Israeli Declaration of Independence at the Independence Hall, 14 May 1948
World War II deaths
Bodies of Chinese civilians killed by the Imperial Japanese Army during the Nanking Massacre in December 1937
Schutzstaffel (SS) female camp guards removing prisoners' bodies from lorries and carrying them to a mass grave, inside the German Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, 1945
Prisoner identity photograph taken by the German SS of a Polish Catholic girl who died in Auschwitz. Approximately 230,000 children were held prisoner and used in forced labour and Nazi medical experiments.
Polish civilians wearing blindfolds photographed just before their execution by German soldiers in Palmiry forest, 1940
Soviet partisans hanged by the German army. The Russian Academy of Sciences reported in 1995 civilian victims in the Soviet Union at German hands totalled 13.7 million dead, twenty percent of the 68 million persons in the occupied Soviet Union.
B-29 Superfortress strategic bombers on the Boeing assembly line in Wichita, Kansas, 1944
A V-2 rocket launched from a fixed site in Peenemünde, 21 June 1943
Nuclear Gadget being raised to the top of the detonation "shot tower", at Alamogordo Bombing Range; Trinity nuclear test, New Mexico, July 1945

This pact had a secret protocol that defined German and Soviet "spheres of influence" (western Poland and Lithuania for Germany; eastern Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Bessarabia for the Soviet Union), and raised the question of continuing Polish independence.

As a result, East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Albania became Soviet satellite states.

Katyn-Kharkov-Mednoye memorial in Świętokrzyskie Mountains, Poland

Katyn massacre

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Series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia prisoners of war carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD in April and May 1940.

Series of mass executions of nearly 22,000 Polish military officers and intelligentsia prisoners of war carried out by the Soviet Union, specifically the NKVD in April and May 1940.

Katyn-Kharkov-Mednoye memorial in Świętokrzyskie Mountains, Poland
Map of the sites related to the Katyn massacre
Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov signs the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact. Behind him: Ribbentrop and Stalin.
Polish POWs captured by the Red Army during the Soviet invasion of Poland
Memo from Beria to Stalin, proposing the execution of Polish officers
Aerial view of the Katyn massacre grave
Photo from 1943 exhumation of mass grave of Polish officers killed by NKVD in Katyń Forest
A mass grave at Katyn, 1943
Secretary of State of the Vichy regime Fernand de Brinon and others in Katyn at the graves of Mieczysław Smorawiński and Bronisław Bohatyrewicz, April 1943
Polish banknotes and epaulets recovered from mass graves
Katyn exhumation, 1943
British, Canadian, and American officers (POWs) brought by the Germans to view the exhumations
Lt. Col. John H. Van Vliet Jr communication on Katyn
Monument in Katowice, Poland, memorializing "Katyn, Kharkiv, Mednoye and other places of killing in the former USSR in 1940"
Ceremony of military upgrading of Katyn massacre victims, Piłsudski Square, Warsaw, 10 November 2007
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski laying wreaths at the Katyn massacre memorial complex, 11 April 2011

Of these, 42,400 soldiers, mostly of Ukrainian and Belarusian ethnicity serving in the Polish Army, who lived in the territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union, were released in October.

Katyn remained a political taboo in the Polish People's Republic until the fall of the Eastern Bloc in 1989.

The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Behind them stand, from the left, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, General of the Army George Marshall, Major General Laurence S. Kuter, General Aleksei Antonov, Vice Admiral Stepan Kucherov, and Admiral of the Fleet Nikolay Kuznetsov.

Yalta Conference

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The World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe.

The World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union to discuss the postwar reorganization of Germany and Europe.

The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Behind them stand, from the left, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, General of the Army George Marshall, Major General Laurence S. Kuter, General Aleksei Antonov, Vice Admiral Stepan Kucherov, and Admiral of the Fleet Nikolay Kuznetsov.
The "Big Three" at the Yalta Conference, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Behind them stand, from the left, Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Fleet Admiral Ernest King, Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, General of the Army George Marshall, Major General Laurence S. Kuter, General Aleksei Antonov, Vice Admiral Stepan Kucherov, and Admiral of the Fleet Nikolay Kuznetsov.
Soviet, American and British diplomats during the Yalta conference
Yalta American Delegation in Livadia Palace from left to right: Secretary of State Edward Stettinius, Maj. Gen. L. S. Kuter, Admiral E. J. King, General George C. Marshall, Ambassador Averell Harriman, Admiral William Leahy, and President F. D. Roosevelt. Livadia Palace, Crimea, RSFSR
A Big Three meeting room
Leaders of the Big Three at the negotiating table at the Yalta conference
Allied-occupied territories (red) on 15 February 1945, four days after the end of the conference
Poland's old and new borders, 1945 – Kresy in light red
The eventual partition of Germany into Allied Occupation Zones: {{legend|#69AB69|British zone}} {{legend|#2464D8|French zone (two exclaves) and beginning in 1947, the Saar protectorate}} {{legend|#FCA93E|American zone, including Bremen}} {{legend|#FF5555|Soviet zone, later the GDR}} {{legend|#FFFFCF|Polish and Soviet annexed territory}}
Partition plan from Winston Churchill: {{legend|#C9A091|North German state}} {{legend|#9195C9|South German state, including modern Austria and Hungary}} {{legend|#92C991|West German state}}
Morgenthau Plan: {{legend|#FF6464|North German state}} {{legend|#6464FF|South German state}} {{legend|#64ff64|International zone}} {{legend|#C8C8C8|Territory lost from Germany (Saarland to France, Upper Silesia to Poland, East Prussia, partitioned between Poland and the Soviet Union)}}
From left to right: Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin. Also present are Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov (far left); Field Marshal Sir Alan Brooke, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Andrew Cunningham, RN, Marshal of the RAF Sir Charles Portal, RAF, (standing behind Churchill); General George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff of the United States Army, and Fleet Admiral William D. Leahy, USN, (standing behind Roosevelt)

Accordingly, Stalin stipulated that Polish government-in-exile demands were not negotiable, and the Soviets would keep the territory of eastern Poland that they had annexed in 1939, with Poland to be compensated for that by extending its western borders at the expense of Germany.

After the Second World War ended, a communist government was installed in Poland.

East Prussia

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Province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom itself being part of the German Empire from 1871); following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945.

Province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom itself being part of the German Empire from 1871); following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945.

East Prussia (red), within the Kingdom of Prussia, within the German Empire, as of 1871
Ethnic settlement in East Prussia by the 14th century
East Prussia (red), within the Kingdom of Prussia, within the German Empire, as of 1871
New Map of the Kingdom of Prussia, John Cary 1799, split into the eastern regions of Lithuania Minor (green), Natangia (yellow), Sambia and Warmia (pink), the western Oberland territories with Marienwerder (blue), West Prussian Marienburg (yellow) and Danzig (green)
Monument to Immanuel Kant in Kaliningrad
Napoleon on the Battlefield of Eylau in February 1807
Map of the province of East Prussia in 1890
Coronation of William I as King of Prussia at Königsberg Castle in 1861
Inter-war East Prussia (from 1923 to 1939)
Adolf Hitler and Erich Koch in Königsberg, 1936
Map of East Prussian Districts in 1945
East Prussia in 1941
Königsberg after the RAF bombing in 1944
Königsberg Castle, 1895
"Königsberg" license plate holder, 2009
Ethnolinguistic distribution in East Prussia (1905)
Districts of East Prussia (1910)
An illustration of the changing borders in Eastern Europe before, during, and after World War II (Map is written in German)
Changes in Germany's borders as a result of both World Wars, with the partition of East Prussia.

Following Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945, war-torn East Prussia was divided at Joseph Stalin's insistence between the Soviet Union (the Kaliningrad Oblast became part of the Russian SFSR, and the constituent counties of the Klaipėda Region in the Lithuanian SSR) and the People's Republic of Poland (the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship).

Subsequently, Polish expatriates from Polish lands annexed by the Soviet Union as well as Ukrainians and Lemkos from southern Poland, expelled in Operation Vistula in 1947, were settled in the area, now called Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship.

Map showing Poland's borders pre-1938 and post-1945. The Eastern Borderlands is in gray while the Recovered Territories are in pink.

Recovered Territories

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The Recovered Territories or Regained Lands (Ziemie Odzyskane), also known as Western Borderlands (Kresy Zachodnie), and previously as Western and Northern Territories (Ziemie Zachodnie i Północne), Postulated Territories (Ziemie Postulowane) and Returning Territories (Ziemie Powracające), are the former eastern territories of Germany and the Free City of Danzig that became part of Poland after World War II, at which time their former German inhabitants were forcibly deported.

The Recovered Territories or Regained Lands (Ziemie Odzyskane), also known as Western Borderlands (Kresy Zachodnie), and previously as Western and Northern Territories (Ziemie Zachodnie i Północne), Postulated Territories (Ziemie Postulowane) and Returning Territories (Ziemie Powracające), are the former eastern territories of Germany and the Free City of Danzig that became part of Poland after World War II, at which time their former German inhabitants were forcibly deported.

Map showing Poland's borders pre-1938 and post-1945. The Eastern Borderlands is in gray while the Recovered Territories are in pink.
Early Piast Poland at the death of Mieszko I in 992, who is considered as the first historical ruler of Poland and the creator of the Polish state, after his realm was recognized by the papacy.
Map (published in 1917 in the United States) showing Poland at the death of Boleslaw III in 1138
Polish nationalist propaganda from the 1930s: "Nie jestesmy tu od wczoraj. Sięgaliśmy daleko na zachód." (We are not here since yesterday. Once we reached far west.)
Location of the annexed part (orange) of the Province of Pomerania and of the other "Recovered Territories" (green)
Castle of the Dukes of Pomerania in Szczecin
Gdańsk was a principal seaport of Poland since the Middle Ages. From the mid-15th to the early 18th century it was the largest city of Poland. Lost by Poland in the Second Partition in 1793.
Location of the former Free City of Danzig (orange) and of the other "Recovered Territories" (green)
Location of East Brandenburg (orange) and of the other "Recovered Territories" (green)
A 19th-century map of Piast-ruled Greater Poland: Lubusz Land, stretched on both sides of the Oder, marked in yellow, northwestern parts of Greater Poland annexed by Brandenburg, marked in green
Location of Posen-West Prussia (orange) and of the other "Recovered Territories" (green)
Birthplace of Stanisław Staszic, a leading figure of Polish Enlightenment, in Piła (nowadays a museum)
Location of Silesia (orange) in the "Recovered Territories" (green)
Polish city names in Silesia; from a 1750 Prussian official document published in Berlin during the Silesian Wars.
Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights/Ducal Prussia as a feudal fief of the Polish Crown (1466–1657). Warmia was directly incorporated to the Polish state until the First Partition of Poland (1772)
Location of southern East Prussia (orange) and of the other "Recovered Territories" (green)
Władysław Gomułka (center), minister in the Polish People's Republic who oversaw the integration and development of the Recovered Territories between 1945 and 1948
US Department of State demographics map from 10 January 1945 Germany – Poland Proposed Territorial Changes
Piast Castle in Opole before its destruction by the local German authorities between 1928 and 1930
The former headquarters of the pre-war Polish newspaper Gazeta Olsztyńska in Olsztyn, destroyed under Nazi rule in 1939, rebuilt in 1989
Polish soldiers marking the new Polish-German border in 1945
The baroque interior of the Lubiąż abbey was removed and transferred to Stężyca, in eastern Poland in order to replace church stalls destroyed by the Germans.
Mămăligă is a dish which was very popular with Poles in East Galicia. People from these areas who resettled in the Recovered Territories brought this and other culinary traditions with them to their new homes.
"The 10th stage, Zgorzelec to Wrocław, leads you through primeval Polish lands." Photograph from the June 1955 Peace Race
Municipal House of Culture in Zgorzelec, place of signing of the Treaty of Zgorzelec in 1950
Boundary stones of Germany and Poland in the Ueckermünde Heath
Pre-1945 administrative division (yellow)
Projected Polish administration (Okreg I-IV) in March, 1945
Integration into the Voivodeships of Poland as of June, 1946
Present-day administrative division of Poland, Western and Northern Lands in dark green

The territories were resettled with Poles who moved from central Poland, Polish repatriates forced to leave areas of former eastern Poland that had been annexed by the Soviet Union, Poles freed from forced labour in Nazi Germany, with Ukrainians forcibly resettled under "Operation Vistula", and other minorities, which settled in post-war Poland, including Greeks and Macedonians.

The Soviet-appointed communist authorities that conducted the resettlement also made efforts to remove many traces of German culture, such as place names and historic inscriptions on buildings, from the newly Polish territories.

Reception of Jews in Poland, by Jan Matejko, 1889

History of the Jews in Poland

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The history of the Jews in Poland dates back at least 1,000 years.

The history of the Jews in Poland dates back at least 1,000 years.

Reception of Jews in Poland, by Jan Matejko, 1889
Early-medieval Polish coins with Hebrew inscriptions
Casimir the Great and the Jews, by Wojciech Gerson, 1874
Casimir IV Jagiellon confirmed and extended Jewish charters in the second half of the 15th century
Sigismund II Augustus followed his father's tolerant policy and also granted autonomy to the Jews.
Number of Jews in Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth per voivodeship in 1764
A Polish Jew in an engraving from 1703
Late-Renaissance synagogue, Zamość, Poland, 1610–20
Jacob Frank
Jewish dress in 17th (top) and 18th centuries
Berek Joselewicz (1764–1809)
Jewish merchants in 19th-century Warsaw
Map of Pale of Settlement, showing Jewish population densities
Caricature of Russian Army assailant in 1906 Białystok pogrom
A Bundist demonstration, 1917
Hasidic schoolchildren in Łódź, c. 1910s, during Partitions
Rabbi Baruch Steinberg before Warsaw Great Synagogue (1933), reading roll call of the fallen, organized by Union of Jewish Fighters for Polish Independence
Warsaw Great Synagogue
L. L. Zamenhof, creator of Esperanto
Isaac Bashevis Singer (Polish: Izaak Zynger), achieved international acclaim as a classic Jewish writer and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1978
Shimon Peres, born in Poland as Szymon Perski, served as the ninth President of Israel between 2007 and 2014
Student's book (indeks) of Jewish medical student Marek Szapiro at Warsaw University, with rectangular "ghetto benches" ("odd-numbered-benches") stamp
Demonstration of Polish students demanding implementation of "ghetto benches" at Lwów Polytechnic (1937).
Graves of Jewish-Polish soldiers who died in 1939 September Campaign, Powązki Cemetery
Yiddish election notice for Soviet local government to the People's council of the Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic in Białystok, occupied Poland.
Jewish-Polish soldier's grave, Monte Cassino, Italy
Map of the Holocaust in Poland under German occupation.
Starving Jewish children, Warsaw Ghetto
Jewish Ghettos in German-occupied Poland and Eastern Europe
Walling-off Świętokrzyska Street (seen from Marszałkowska Street on the "Aryan side")
Announcement of death penalty for Jews captured outside the Ghetto and for Poles helping Jews, November 1941
Janusz Korczak's orphanage
Ghetto fighters memorial in Warsaw built in 1948 by sculptor Nathan Rapoport
Deportation to Treblinka at the Umschlagplatz
The cover page of The Stroop Report with International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg markings.
34 Mordechaj Anielewicz Street, Warsaw, Poland
Freed prisoners of Gęsiówka and the Szare Szeregi fighters after the liberation of the camp in August 1944
The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of 1943 saw the destruction of what remained of the Ghetto
Page from a register of several hundred Jewish survivors who returned to Oświęcim after the war; created by a local Jewish Committee in 1945. Most remained for only a brief period.
Chief Rabbi of Poland – Michael Schudrich
Lesko Synagogue, Poland
Reform Beit Warszawa Synagogue
2005 March of the Living
President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, 26 June 2007
"Shalom in Szeroka Street", the final concert of the 15th Jewish Festival

In the post-war period, many of the approximately 200,000 Jewish survivors registered at Central Committee of Polish Jews or CKŻP (of whom 136,000 arrived from the Soviet Union) left the Polish People’s Republic for the nascent State of Israel, North America or South America.

Within weeks, 61.2% of Polish Jews found themselves under the German occupation, while 38.8% were trapped in the Polish areas annexed by the Soviet Union.