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The Ruhr Poles

Associations of Polish Youth (Towarzystwa Modzieży Polskiej) in Herne-Horsthausen, 1916-1919

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  • The church cross to the right of the main entrance of St. Mary Magdalene´s Church - The church cross to the right of the main entrance of St. Mary Magdalene´s Church in Radlin II (Wodzisław Śląski)
  • The church cross to the right of the main entrance of St. Mary Magdalene´s Church - The church cross to the right of the main entrance of St. Mary Magdalene´s Church in Radlin II (Wodzisław Śląski), donated by emigrants
  • Call for the recruitment of miners in Masuria - Call of an agent from 1887 for the recruitment of miners in Masuria
  • Flag of the Polish-Catholic miners´ association of Eving, front - Flag of the Polish-Catholic miners´ association of Eving (Dortmund) from 1898, with a cross, mallets and iron on the front and the inscription: "Tow. Katolickie polskich Górników pod opieką św. Barbary w Eving"
  • Flag of the Polish-Catholic miners´ association of Eving, reverse - Flag of the Polish-Catholic miners´ association of Eving (Dortmund) from 1898, with a cross, mallets and iron on the front and the inscription: "Tow. Katolickie polskich Górników pod opieką św. Barbary w Eving"
  • Flag of the Brotherhood of the Holy Rosary of Women in Suderwich, front - Flag of the Brotherhood of the Holy Rosary of Women in Suderwich, founded on August 1, 1906, Patron Saint: Saint Joseph - Motto: Pray for us
  • Flag of the brotherhood of the Holy Rosary of Women in Suderwich, back - Flag of the Brotherhood of the Holy Rosary of Women in Suderwich, founded on August 1, 1906, Patron Saint: Saint Joseph - Motto: Pray for us
  • Flag of the Mickiewicz Choral Society from Oberhausen 1898, front - Flag of the choral society "Mickiewicz" from Oberhausen, founded on 30 May 1898, inscription on the back: "Cześć Pieśni" [honour to the song]
  • Flag of the Mickiewicz Choral Society from Oberhausen 1898, reverse - Flag of the choral society "Mickiewicz" from Oberhausen, founded on 30 May 1898, inscription on the back: "Cześć Pieśni" [honour to the song]
  • Membership card of Sokół by Ludwik Najdecki - Membership card of the gymnastics organisation Sokół (Falcon) by Ludwik Najdecki from Herne, department Eickel II and Holsterhausen, taken on 3.4.1921 with stamp
  • Membership card of the Union of Poles in Germany by Josef Najdecki - Membership card of the Union of Poles in Germany by Josef Najdecki from 1923, district Gelsenkirchen, department Wanne-Eickel II, with stamp
  • Membership card of the Union of Poles in Germany by Josef Najdecki - Membership card of the Union of Poles in Germany by Josef Najdecki from 1923, district Gelsenkirchen, department Wanne-Eickel II, with stamp
  • Miners´ hymnal - Miners´ hymnal, published by the miners´ department of the "Polish Professional Association" in Bochum.
  • State of the Polish movement in Westphalia, report from 1912

    Report on the state of the Polish movement in Rhineland and Westphalia and other areas of the German Reich and neighbouring countries in 1912, author: Bochum Police Commissioner Gerstein.
  • Polish amateur theater group from Husen - Amateur theatre group with plaque (inscription: From the Polish Theatre in Husen on 23.3. 1919), marked: Viktoria Wasielewski
  • Choral society in Bochum-Hamme, 1910-1939. - Choral society in Bochum-Hamme in Westphalia, 1910-1939.
  • Polish children from Westphalia on their way to the holiday camp, 1925 - Polish children from Westphalia on their way to the holiday camp in Poland, 1925.
  • Polish children from Westphalia at the holiday camp, 1925-1939 - Polish children from Westphalia at the holiday camp in Jędrzejów, 1925-1939.
  • Polish Artists in Westphalia, 1928 - Polish Artists in Westphalia, 1928
  • A group of Polish artists in Westphalia, before 1939 - A group of Polish artists in Westphalia. Among others: Zofia Barwińska. Before 1939.
  • The religious ceremony in Herne, 1930 - The religious ceremony of "Days of Faith of Our Fathers" in Herne, 1930
  • Delegates to the II Congress of Poles from abroad, on a Street in Dortmund, 1934 - Delegates to the II Congress of Poles from abroad, on a Street in Dortmund, 1934.
  • Bank Robotników (The Workers' Bank) at Klosterstraße 2 in Bochum, 1917-1939 - Bank Robotników (The Workers' Bank) at Klosterstraße 2 in Bochum, founded by the German Polish community 1917-1939. 
  • Sokół gymnastic club 1920-1939 - Members of the "Sokół" gymnastic club at the rally 1920-1939.
  • Polish secondary school students from Westphalia at the summer holiday camp, 1936-1937 - Polish secondary school students from Westphalia at the summer holiday camp in Ustroń, 1936-1937.
  • Polish amateur theatre in Westphalia, 1929 - Polish amateur theatre in Westphalia, 1929.
  • Congress of Poles from Westphalia and Rhineland in Bochum, 1935 - Congress of Poles from Westphalia and Rhineland in Bochum, 1935.
  • Postcard from the Congress of the Poles in Westphalia and Rhineland in Bochum 1935, front - Postcard from the Congress of the Poles in Westphalia and Rhineland in Bochum 1935 with inscription on the back.
  • Postcard from the Congress of the Poles in Westphalia and Rhineland in Bochum 1935, reverse - Postcard from the Congress of the Poles in Westphalia and Rhineland in Bochum 1935 with inscription on the back
  • Congress of the Youth Section of the Polish-Catholic Societies of Westphalia and Rhineland in Bochum, 1927 - Congress of the Youth Section of the Polish-Catholic Societies of Westphalia and Rhineland in Bochum, 1927.
  • Die „Ruhrpolen“ - Hörspiel von "COSMO Radio po polsku" auf Deutsch - In Zusammenarbeit mit "COSMO Radio po polsku" präsentieren wir Hörspiele zu ausgewählten Themen unseres Portals.

    Die „Ruhrpolen“ - Hörspiel von "COSMO Radio po polsku" auf Deutsch

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Associations of Polish Youth in Herne-Horsthausen, 1916-1919
Associations of Polish Youth (Towarzystwa Modzieży Polskiej) in Herne-Horsthausen, 1916-1919

The immigrants – shaped by their common roots


The majority of the Ruhr Polish immigrants came from a rural, West Slavic population who spoke Polish dialects. With regard to customs and traditions, the people in the regions of origin were firmly embedded in their respective regional and local contexts, and had very little contact with German-speaking elites. Village areas remained relatively isolated with their own internal hierarchies, rules and rituals. The course of the year was structured by Sundays and public holidays, and individual mobility was severely restricted.[10] In addition, a specific popular religiosity in rural Polish regions determined their morals and values, their actions and thoughts. Hence this was a decisive factor in shaping their consciousness.[11] However, despite (or above all because of) these limitations, their native country also offered them security. Hence the first wave of migrant workers were completely uprooted from their familiar social and cultural environment. Experiences of alienation (a lack of language skills and a lack of understanding of the local conditions and demands, as well as the simultaneous absence of their own elites who could offer them some structure, orientation and pastoral care), led to social problems, especially in the early years of immigration;[12] and these factors were exacerbated by the heavy, previously unknown, work underground: "All the physical pain was just a drop in the ocean compared to the moral suffering [...] I was afraid of the surrounding darkness. I kept thinking of the 'spirits' in stories and fairy tales we had been frightened with. I imagined that such spirits, if they existed, could only exist in such darkness".[13]

Against the background of local and regional ties and mentalities, the popular religiosity they brought with them from their native regions, and the specific form of pioneer migration, helped to shape their common roots wherever they settled. On the other hand, associations with a religious orientation, initially determined by their regional origins, also developed. The extensive continuity in settlement structures between the region of origin and the target region was accelerated by the construction of colliery housing estates and the growing system of taking in workers as boarders. When workers' families succeeded in renting their own housing, they tried to increase their income by taking in and providing for subtenants. The main beneficiaries were family members, acquaintances and neighbours from their homeland or people from their own milieu who had a good reputation and were of the same denomination as the host family. In the Rhineland-Westphalian industrial area the ensuing trust that developed over and beyond this, spread only very slowly (and with an increasing length of stay) to include potential boarding tenants from other regions of origin. In this way, entire streets, settlements and districts arose whose inhabitants were mostly immigrants from specific regions in eastern Prussia.[14] For example, immigrants from the province of Poznan generally tended to concentrate in certain districts in Dortmund, Bochum and Essen; the Gelsenkirchen area was the core settlement area of Masurians,[15] while Upper Silesians were mainly to be found in the north of the Ruhr area in and around Bottrop, Gladbeck, Borbeck and Osterfeld.[16]

 

 

[10] Skrabania: Keine Polen?, pp. 93–95.

[11] Ibid. p. 104–105.

[12] Matwiejczyk, Witold: Katolickie towarzystwa robotników polskich w Zagłębiu Ruhry 1871–1894. Rozwój organizacyjny a świadomość narodowa, vol. 1, Lublin 1999, p. 87.

[13] Pamiętniki emigrantów 1878–1958, with a foreword by: Kazimierz Koźniewski, Warszawa, p. 23 [Translation: David Skrabania].

[14] cf. Budraß: Von Birtultau, pp. 127–133.

[15] Kornatowski, Wiktor/Malczewski, Kazimierz (eds.): Wspomnienia Opolan, Warszawa 1960, p. 103–104.

[16] Kleßmann, Christoph: Integration und Subkultur nationaler Minderheiten. Das Beispiel der „Ruhrpolen“ 1870–1939, in: Bade, Klaus J. (ed.): Auswanderer. Wanderarbeiter. Gastarbeiter. Bevölkerung, Arbeitsmarkt und Wanderung in Deutschland seit der Mitte des 19. Jahrhunderts, Ostfildern 1984, p. 491.