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The Union of Poles in Germany

The Congress of the Union of Poles in Germany in Bochum 1935
The Congress of the Union of the Poles in Germany in Bochum 1935

 

Whilst the organisation was able to flourish in the first few years after its founding, once the National Socialists seized power in 1933, its activities were restricted. Although the non-aggression pact signed by Warsaw and Berlin in 1934 temporarily reduced their involvement in the organisation’s activities, the ‘détente’ phase did not last very long. The outbreak of the Second World War saw the organisation liquidised, its property seized, and hundreds of activists and leaders arrested and imprisoned in concentration camps. Other Poles were conscripted to the Wehrmacht and fought on the front lines against soldiers that had the same national background. Without doubt, in the years that followed, the members of the Union shared the same fate as millions of countrymen - Polish citizens who were subjected to severe repression after part of the Polish territory was annexed by the Third Reich. Deportations, murder and “Germanisation” were the order of the day. Although the organisation was quickly revived in all occupied zones after the Second World War, the Poles that remained in Germany no longer had the strength that would be able to play an important role. Some decided to emigrate to Poland which, as a result of the border changes, included areas that had previously been inhabited by a large number of members of the Union. However, this did not mean that the “Motherland” treated them as they had expected and had dreamt of. The creation of the two German states made the situation even more complicated, both in terms of German-Polish relations and in terms of the Poles’ position in their area. The actions taken by the Communists in Poland at the start of the 1950s led to the organisation in West Germany being split, whilst in the second German state, the GDR, it was disbanded altogether. Over the decades that followed, the Union, which went by the name Rodło, organised events that were typical for this type of organisation, from anniversaries to Polish language teaching, right through to balls and celebrations. In spite of attempts to increase the number of members, an ageing population and emigration meant that Rodło remained a small organisation. Even after German reunification, its activities have not changed. One of its main roles remains its efforts to have Poles in Germany recognised as a minority.

Without doubt, the situation of Poles in Germany after the First World War was fundamentally influenced by the creation of the Polish State. After not having had their own State for over one hundred years, they were now able to count on its support in an organisational, financial and political sense. The Poles were also able to benefit from the support of the Polish diplomatic representatives in Germany. This was all the more important because there was a significant German minority in the resurrected Poland which enjoyed considerable support from the German State.

 

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Media library
  • Front page of the "Dziennik Berliński" of 9/10 December 1922

    With the news about the foundation of the Bund Polen in Germany and with the statute of the organisation.
  • Meeting of the Supreme Council (rada naczelna) and the Board of Directors (zarząd wykonawczy) of the Union of Poles in Germany on 21 January 1927 in Berlin

    In the middle, the Chairman Count Stanisław Sierakowski
  • Count Stanisław Sierakowski

    Chairman of the Union of Poles in Germany 1922-1933
  • Priest Bolesław Domański

    Chairman of the Union of Poles in Germany 1933-1939
  • Dr Jan Kaczmarek aus Bochum

    Managing director (kierownik naczelny) of the Union of Poles in Germany 1922-1939
  • Copyright: Porta Polonica'>

    Workers' bank in Bochum (Bank Robotników) on what was then Klosterstraße (today Am Kortländer), 1917.

    Workers' bank in Bochum (Bank Robotników) on what was then Klosterstraße (today Am Kortländer), 1917.
  • Polish House in Bochum (Dom Polski) at the former Klosterstraße 6, today Am Kortländer 6

    Until 1939 office of the III. district of the Union of Poles (Westphalia), after 1945 until today headquarters of the organisation, photograph, ca. 1925
  • The Congress of the Union of Poles in Germany 1935 in Bochum.

    The Congress of the Union of Poles in Germany 1935 in Bochum.
  • The Congress of the Union of Poles in Germany 1935 in Bochum.

    The Congress of the Union of Poles in Germany 1935 in Bochum.
  • Visit of Poles from France in front of the Polish House in Bochum, 1961.

    Visit of Poles from France in front of the Polish House in Bochum, 1961.
  • Am Kortländer in Bochum (formerly Klosterstraße), 1962.

    Am Kortländer in Bochum (formerly Klosterstraße), 1962.
  • Am Kortländer in Bochum (formerly Klosterstraße), 2014.

    Am Kortländer in Bochum (formerly Klosterstraße), 2014.