Die „Ruhrpolen“ - Hörspiel von "COSMO Radio po polsku" auf Deutsch
The Ruhr Poles
Ruhr-Polish associations caught between national Polish pressure and official discrimination
The system of Ruhr Polish associations developed in a similar manner. As a reaction to the lack of social structures and the need for communication and leisure activities outside the world of work, the Ruhr Polish community began to establish its own clubs and associations in 1877. Between 1885 and 1893 the diocese of Paderborn successively assigned the pastors Józef Szotowski and Franciszek Liss from West Prussia to administer pastoral care to the Poles in the Rhine and Ruhr areas. From then on new clubs and associations not only increased strongly under the guidance of the two Polish priests, but took on an explicitly religious character. This was reflected, among other things, in the symbols used by the clubs and their choice of patron saints. Political activity was precluded in the clubs which, in addition to religious purposes, were used to raise ethical standards and levels of decency, to cultivate traditions and offer their members protection and support: "The associations helped to give emigrants a sense of pride, and offered them a change from the monotony of everyday life and their difficult lot. Industrial workers, in particular, needed spiritual support more than anyone else, for without it the monotonous everyday life might have turned them into machines."
For many years the character of Polish Catholic associations was based on their members' region of origin. Thus the St. Barbara association in Schalke only accepted members who, according to paragraph 2 of the association's statutes, were "honest Upper Silesian workers belonging to the Catholic religion".Even if the element presupposing a certain regional origin gradually disappeared from the statutes of the associations, the settlement structures in the individual districts in the Ruhr as described above, often continued to have a strong regional bias. In 1893 when Pastor Liss was recalled, Jan Brejski, a Polish publisher and politician, took over the newspaper "Wiarus Polski", which Liss had founded and managed. From then on Polish national elites attempted to increase their influence on the associations by holding lectures and readings on the history and culture of Poland and organising special festivities like "Kościuszko ceremonies" under national auspices, and celebrating the anniversary of the constitution on 3rd May. The aim was to water down the Catholic character of the associations until it was merely a component of national Polish identity.
Sometimes these efforts bore fruit, and some of the Ruhr Polish immigrants began to develop a national Polish consciousness that transformed existing local, regional and religious awareness. The fact that Prussian authorities particularly discriminated against the structures of Polish associations also played an important role. The Poles' experience of Bismarck's Kulturkampf in general, and the dismissal of the Polish pastors Szotowski and Liss at the instigation of the Prussian authorities in particular, had strengthened their distrust of state institutions. And starting in the late 1890s, increasingly extensive police surveillance of the meetings of the Ruhr Polish associations tended to consolidate the Ruhr Polish population. Official measures against Polish structures culminated in the creation of the "Central Office for the Supervision of the Polish Movement" in Bochum in 1909. This body was even unwilling to believe the statutes of those associations which specifically ruled out political activity. For example: "Although the statutes of this association stipulate that politics should not be pursued, it can be assumed that, like other Polish associations, it will demonstrably solicit support for the Polish national cause."
 Matwiejczyk, Witold: Zwischen kirchlicher Integration und gesellschaftlicher Isolation. Polnische Katholiken im Ruhrgebiet von 1871 bis 1914, in: Dahlmann, Dittmar/Kotowski, Albert S./Karpus, Zbigniew (eds.): Schimanski, Kuzorra und andere. Polnische Einwanderer im Ruhrgebiet zwischen der Reichsgründung und dem Zweiten Weltkrieg, Essen 2005, p. 13–14.
 Wachowiak, Stanisław: Polacy w Nadrenii i Westfalii, Poznań 1917, p. 108 [German translation: David Skrabania].
 STAM-RA I Nr. 124, quoted from Brandt: Die Polen, p. 61.
 Skrabania: Keine Polen?, pp. 79–82.
 StA Recklinghausen, AA1723, Der Landrat zu Recklinghausen an die Ortsbehörden des Kreises vom 15. März 1909, Bl. 157.