ARENA Working Papers
WP 97/19



The German-Polish Border Region. A Case of Regional Integration?

Jorunn Sem Fure
Department of History, University of Bergen



The article presents some reflections around the current regional development in the German-Polish border region.

One aim is to ask what the concept of europeanisation means to the political actors involved, and what implications it might have.

Another is to analyse the preconditions for a regional integration across the earlier disputed and controversial Oder Neisse border. Different models of border regions are discussed, and conditions for a future development presented. Historical relations between the states and peoples conserned as well as contemporary political and economic structures are evaluated. The political changes both in the bi-national relationship between the two states and the internal changes are considered, as well as agencies on different political levels.


My young daughter lives close to the German-French border, she has friends and relatives on both sides, and she doesn't know exactly where the border is. My vision is, that the model of the French-German friendship in the future will be extended to the German-Polish border-region. [1]

The nation state in Europe is affected and challenged not only by processes of supra-national integration. One aspect of the current European development is the increased importance of regions, regional networks and regional dynamics.

By region, is usually meant the largest territorial sub-unit of the nation state. Its boundaries are either constituted by historical traditions and cultural identity attached to it, or by administrative rationality. In strong centralised states, rearranging internal administrative boundaries might serve the purpose of weakening, changing or manipulating spatial based identities.

Another type of region is the cross-national, where various kinds of historical, political, economical and institutional relations constitute its boundaries. There are several types of regionalism, understood as politics aiming at making the regional entity a political subject, either to replace (separatism) or to supplement other levels of policy making . Some regional political movements are based on ethnic revivals within or across the nation states, others are based on functional aspects, acknowledging common problems and need for extended co-operation. A third variant might be rediscoveries of historical patterns of coexistence, communication and transactions across borders that up till recently where closed.

Cross-national regions are usually border-regions. This article shall deal with the German-Polish border region, a region that includes all three above mentioned aspects. Is it likely that the ongoing political and institutional processes in this region will lead to the formation of an integrated region? Integration is here used in a wide sense. Apart from institutionalised co-operation and joint decision making in separate fields of politics, also other forms of social integration is included. This might range from common markets for housing, labour, education, and transport to other types of social interaction on the private level. The analysis shall consider the importance of both endogenous regional forces as well as external influences pointing in this direction and the problems connected to integration.

It is important here to underline that the term German-Polish border region in this context is not strictly spatially defined, and contains a number of sub-regions with specific characteristics, some of which shall later be mentioned specially. Rather than focusing on static administrative entities, we shall focus on dynamic tendencies which are currently forming and rearranging the social and political structures. Whether an area might be included in the concept of border-region or not, is a question of its relations to neighbouring countries rather than geographic location. According to this, the two provinces of Upper Silesia, Opole and Katowice, are included in this presentation, even if they according to the figure below are excluded. [2]

Within the concept of border region, we might distinguish between three different models. The first can be characterised as mutual integrative. The border is open for commuting, and the transactions are mutually beneficent both in terms of economic exchange, but also in political and cultural terms. The degree of institutional integration, or shared power of decision making regarding issues of common interest, might vary. The second can be called asymmetric. In this case, the border is also in principle open. Differences in economic level and resources might, however, lead to increased asymmetry and a situation where one part can dictate the terms for the transactions and systematically draw the benefits of the other side.

The third model we might call non-integrated. If the relationship between the two countries is marked by distance or even hostility, the border might be closed for all traffic, thus severing bonds previously established. The result might be a peripheral status and economic and demographic backwardness on both sides. [3] Under authoritarian regimes, the need for control over a territory regarded less secure or integrated in the state, might encourage oppressive and/or neglectful policies towards the border population.

The border region between Germany and Poland has after the war mainly belonged to the last model, in spite of the ideological affinity between the communist regimes of the two countries. The relations between them were developed primarily at a state level, and functional cross-border co-operation did not have any priority. After the events in 1980-1981, the border was closed in order to prevent anti-communist ideas to spread to GDR. After the break of communist monopoly of power and unification of Germany, the situation has changed profoundly. Poland is now directly bordering the territory of the unified Germany, and the relations between the two states are normalised and regulated in great detail. [4]

What direction has the development taken since 1989? Is it likely that the border region might be integrated in a European system of regions? Will the differences of the two (three, if we include the Czech Republic) countries favour the asymmetric model, or will the integration-euphoria be replaced by the periphery syndrome once again? I shall briefly consider the legacy of historical and ideological factors, various levels of agency and policy making, as well as the role of the German minority.

Legitimacy of the border - conflict of interpretation of the Potsdam agreement

A fundamental condition for cross-border integration is a basic respect for the integrity of the border, and the sovereignty of the partners on each side. This respect has been demonstrated by the governments of the Federal Republic since the Warsaw treaty in 1970, however not by Bundesverfassungsgericht, which repeatedly has refused to give up the formula of the Reich of 1937, as the lawful German state territory. Conservative groups and parties have repeatedly, though less and less powerful, wanted to reopen the border question, and tried to undermine the political consensus in Germany on the territorial issue.

The legal arguments rests on the Theory of Continuation (Die Kontinuitätstheorie) which claims that the Reich within the borders of 1937, before Hitler's illegal expansions, never seized to be the legitimate border of a future united Germany. The Atlantic Charter, written by the allied in 1942, in response to German expansionism forbids any country to annex sovereign state territory without the consensus of the people. This is claimed by legal experts to protect also Germany from such annexation. [5]

Another part of the argument has been the lacking common German national mandate for the GDR in 1950 (Görlitz treaty of the border of peace) and BRD in 1970 (Warsaw-treaty) to make binding arrangements for a future united Germany. The last treaty of the united Germany in 1991 undermined some of this critics, but still, the never-held peace conference concluding the second world war has been put forward as the last straw. Without this conference, supposedly necessary in order to make the Potsdam agreements final, some groups still question the border. [6]

On the Polish side, the gaining of the Oder- Neisse territory has been seen partly as a historical justified return to old Polish homeland, or the weight has been put on the legality and finality of the decisions of the war allies in Potsdam. [7]Since the transfer of the German civilians also was part of these decisions, Poland has been reluctant to admit any guilt for the sufferings of innocent Germans in the last months of the war and the following period.

The problem of the expulsion of Germans has largely been a non-addressed theme in Polish historiography and public discourse, but recently is has been discussed in relation to the similarity of the expulsion of Poles from the Soviet-annexed areas, which has also been taboo. The claim from the German expelled, that Polish admittance of war crime guilt should lead to negotiations of retribution and compensation to the victims, has been met by Polish claims to compensation for crimes committed to Polish people during the Nazi occupation, which would amount to a far greater number of victims and amount of loss. So far none of the claims have aroused any political or juridical action.

Kohl's visit of reconciliation in 1989 opened the process of negotiations leading to exchange of declarations of the integrity of the border and good neighbour's relations. [8] Later, 2. Marsh 1990, Kohl's office raised a storm declaring that German minority rights in Poland and war reparations would have to be regulated by the treaty, implying that the border question was also still dependant on this.

Finally, issuing the Sept. 1990 and 1991 treaty, Kohl had to accept full retreat in order to achieve international acceptance for the German re-unification. A final closure of every question regarding the border issue was a price he reluctantly accepted to pay.

The border line Oder-Neisse is thus not only the present border between EU and an applicant country of the former East block. It was also a strongly disputed demarcation line between two countries with a history of neighbourhood and coexistence, but during the last century a shared history of nationalistic conflicts, war, occupation, and ethnic cleansing. The nazi occupation regime left the Polish population with high death rates and terrible collective and individual wounds. After 1945, the transfer of Germans from this area and replacing them by Poles expelled from the lost Polish Eastern provinces was the largest case of forced mass migration and ethnic cleansing ever seen in the European history. [9] Some of the results of these historical events are still both visible in the landscape, but also highly present in the minds and memory of the people living there and of those who once had there homes on the right side of the river, or in the former Polish East (after 1945 included in the USSR).

Since 1989, the character of demarcation line and dividing line of distrust and hatred has gradually been replaced by ambitions and hopes for this region to become a bridge between the two former enemies, but also to play a role in the wider context of European integration.

Europeanisation - Germanisation ?

On the 8. April, 1991 the Oder-Neisse became a normal European visa-free border. In the media on this day, the picture of neo-nazis receiving Polish travellers with hate-paroles and at the same time a young woman greeting them with flowers were exposed.

The Euro-region concept was soon adopted by Polish and German politicians in the northern part of the border area. It was seen as a way to solve both common and national problems and speed up integration, leading to the final goal of Polish membership in the EU. In the south, a European solution is propagated by the German minority party in Upper Silesia. The Germans in Silesia have developed a grand design, or a vision of Silesia to play a role as a bridge between the two countries, and a bridge between Western and Eastern Europe. Admission of Poland to EU, a general federal development in the EU, and drastic decentralisation of government in Poland would have to come first if this vision shall be realised.

The leadership of the organised expelled in Bund der Vertriebenen (BdV) and the geographic divisions of Landmannschaften, has since the 1950s tried to present themselves as the most relevant and powerful partner to the Bonn politicians in the foreign policy in East-Central Europe. According to Jörg Hönsch, they have, by their stiff and uncompromising position through all the periods of increased dialogue and normalisation with Poland, deprived themselves of any chance of influencing the process, and so they in return heighten their tone of bitterness and monotonously repeated accusations of the German leaders as traitors, giving away the birthright over the heads of thousands of East Germans. [10] Voices who earlier recommended recognition of the border, where effectively silenced by accusing them of renunciation ,Verzicht, or betrayal of East-Germans birthright. [11]

During the passionate discussions about the negotiations in 1990/1991, a change of focus within the leadership of the BdV could be observed. The president since 1970, Herbert Czaja, insisted on full reunification of Germany within the 1937 borders, and that this should remain the central goal for all BdV activity. Koschyk, the General secretary and member of the CSU-faction, assured his members in January 1990 of his devotion to the German unity, including the Oder-Neisse, but even though he voted negative to the border-treaty, his focus has been a different one. Regional autonomy, as part of a general europeanisation, has been his option, carefully respecting national sovereignty in his suggestions, which includes making Stettin a free haven for Poland and for Berlin, re-uniting under common administrative structures the cities that were divided in 1945, and integration of the Oder-Neisse territory in the European regional system and economic structures. [12]

A similar vision has been formulated by another central conservative German politician:

" Membership in the European Union, means also a commitment to the basic freedoms, that citizens of Europe are entitled to. Into this, comes also the freedom of movement and domicile for members of other member states, but also for Germans. Why should Germans not in the future live and work in Schlesien and Böhmen?" [13]

Open borders, freedom of economic activity including right to buy real estate and right of domicile for Germans with previous attachment to Silesia (or any former German territory) is the essence of the German europeanisation concept. The overarching argument is that a multiethnic society with freedom of domicile for every group historically associated with the region, would combine the best of the historical traditions, and be a step towards a widening of the European integration towards the East, which especially Germany has advocated.

Autonomy, the long dreamt dream of Upper Silesia ?

A separatist solution, based on the special demographic and economic structures in this region has a long tradition. A multicultural or multinational Upper Silesian republic was suggested by a separatist movement already in 1919, inspired by Wilsons self- determination doctrine. [14] The same ideas were repeated in the 1950s by a group in BRD called Ober-Schlesien Aktion. The leader, Theodor Kapitza, argued in a stream of petitions to the Polish government and to the UNO that self rule based on territorial and democratic representation of all national groups would be the future of this region. [15]

In the early 1950s, an attempt to join the Upper Silesian industrial region with the industrial region on the Czech side in a so-called Oder-Kombinat, was made by the Soviet Union. [16] The idea was to make the region a Ruhr of the East, a concentrated production centre for the whole east block, and the cultural/ethnic basis where a theory of the Slonzaks (Silesians), being a separate branch of the Slavic family in-between the Polish and the Czech. The kind of autonomy planned in this case had nothing to with the traditional Upper Silesian demand of self-rule, but can be seen in the tradition of Stalinist manipulation with cultural and national entities, motivated by ideological and economical reasons.

In (some) Polish ears, both autonomy, self rule based on a Silesian concept of a separate nationality [17] and europeanisation, expressed by groups like BdV, sounds like Germanisation, and fear of German dominance increase scepticism to this kind of political rhetoric. Any grand design for Silesia or the whole border area, formulated by the German party, arise the sensitivity of Polish authorities to any possible diminution of sovereignty. The majority of Poles wants to join the European Union (80%), and the back to Europe - scheme is popular. [18] Still, the prospect of being overrun by German interests and domination has lead the most pessimistic analysts to emphasise the risks of the asymmetric model.

The power of historical stereotypes

Some of the scepticism on both sides is based on distillate stereotypes from earlier historical collective memories. How powerful are these "scripts" that has been handed out again and again to actors of the two nations on different scenes and arenas?

The pre-history of German/Prussian militarist and discriminate politics toward Polish states and populations, inter-war and post-war German revanchism, and Polish cleansing of German citizens from annexed territory has put severe strains on the relations between the two states and between people on other levels of society. The collective memory in its simplified form portrays Germans in the eyes of Poles as expansionist economical exploiters, ruthless murderers, and arrogant self-righteous fascists or crypto-fascists. (The Drang nach Osten - legacy). [19] The Poles in German eyes has been seen as inefficient, morally corrupt, lazy and disorganised and inferior in every field from State-building, culture, economy and social/political organisation. ( The polnischer Reichstag and the polnischer Wirtschaft - legacy) The German self-image has been dominated by a superior feeling, refusal to accept defeat and loss of territory to the inferior Slavic neighbour. A central object of foreign policy during the Weimar-period was a reversal of parts of the Polish-German border in Upper Silesia and East Prussia. [20] After the second world war, an implicit moral superiority guided the political official relations with Poland, because the Federal Republic was on the side of Western European democracy and market economy whilst Poland preserved neither of them nor national independence. Against this stands the Polish traditional victim-image, a nation of innocence and high ideals, repeatedly suppressed by evil outsiders, often represented by Germans. After 1989, this fear of being freed from a dominant power in the East only to be bought and colonised by the neighbour in the West was widespread.

The picture includes also positive stereotypes, like Polish admiration for German efficiency, philosophy and classical culture, and German admiration for Polish romantic and heroic political and cultural traditions, fuelled repeatedly from the 1848-rebellions to the events of 1980. [21]

An interesting example of an attempt to overcome the stereotypes, is the large scale organised exchange of pupils and students established as an important part of the Friendship agreements from1991. The Jugendwerk was formed after the successful German-French model, and Kohl engaged himself personally, expressing hopes that personal contacts, intimate knowledge of each others countries and personal encounters would give less nutrition to old stereotypes more often found in the older generations. In 1995 he personally attended a youth conference in Krakow with the title "Winning the future - Poland and Germany - Partners in Europe". In 1995 more that 60.000 youths were involved in the different German-Polish programmes, and the evaluations have been one the whole positive. There seems to be a certain asymmetry in the interest, the Germans want primarily to go to France, not Poland, and the interest is far higher from the Polish side. The activity and interest from the Neuen Bundesländer in earlier DDR is also lower. This might be explained by the earlier monopoly of the exchange between DDR and Poland by the state-dominated youth organisations, and it will take time to rebuild the relationship in a totally different political, cultural and social context. Polish schools who seek partners in Germany are also outnumbering the German offer of partnership, but the balance is slowly changing. [22]

It also seems that German parents and Grandparents need a great deal of information and reassurances when their off-spring are planning a trip to Poland. Often heard worries depicts the country as being unsafe, unclean and disorganised. Another example is a Radio programme in NDR called " Eine Liebeserklärung an der unbekannten Nachbar". The journalist received hate letters and complaints for being one-sided and anti-German, and she commented later, that a similar title of a programme about France would never have aroused this kind of resentment. [23]

Attempts to overcome the mutual negative visions of the past and their present influence are often made. One trend in the German-Polish dialogue, has been to emphasise parts of the history that might be given another interpretation than the national antagonistic. Renewed interest among Polish historian for the Prussian non-ethnic state principle is one example, German interest for the Slavic influence on areas previously exclusive understood as expressions of German culture and civilisation another. [24] The trend is part of the Habsburg-nostalgia found elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe, where multinational states and ideas of ethnic pluralism of the pre-nationalistic era have had a renaissance as reservoirs of inspiration in the contemporary situation.

Liberal shock therapy and new forms of government

Not only the bi-lateral political climate has changed profoundly since 1989. The internal and regional changes within the two states are also important to consider. The changes on the German side shall not be analysed here. It might be assumed that the state-structure of the West German model, if extended fully to the new Länder, will make them able to utilise experience from other German border-regions.

The first non-communist government in Poland, headed by Tadeusz Mazowiecki, was formed in late1989. The territorial reform in 1990, advocated strongly during roundtable discussions by Solidarnosc, represented a modification of the traditionally centralised state model, where branches and sectors rather than territorial regions had been both the object of and agency of policy making and administration. With the additional detachment from the political and economic commando structures imposed by the Soviet Union, all were factors that provided the Polish society new opportunities to rearrange itself internally, and with regard to foreign relations.

This represented a challenge for all East-European societies, as the detachment from the communist system of security, economic and political institutions came suddenly. It represented not only a new freedom but also meant loss of traditional markets and a sense of lack of orientation. Questions of new state systems, balance of power, minorities, and relations to Western Europe all became acute within a relatively short time. This process of transformation is still unfinished, and varies significantly within the region. The shock-therapy recommended by neo-liberal Western advisers and eagerly adopted by Polish finance politicians, put severe strains on the social flexibility and endurance, but was largely tolerated because promises of a well functioning market economy and subsequently social welfare were made and believed. Later it became evident that the liberal approach destroyed rather than built markets in a situation where weak national economies were unprepared for Western competition, and earlier systems for distribution and sale broke down. [25]

After the first phase of neo-liberal euphoria, one began to question the possibility of achieving the promised goals by simply reducing state activity to a minimum and let the market take over. Alternative models for economical and democratic development began to gain strength. One important instrument for democratic control over resources used in modernising and development were the concept of self-government, and decentralisation of the decision making process. This was seen early by the Solidarnosc movement. In the mid-eighties there seemed to be no chance of conquering the central state-institutions and reach national independence and break the communist monopoly of power. As an alternative, they developed the "self-limiting revolution", [26] which meant a slowly drive towards autonomy on local and regional levels.

In 1990 the first territorial reform were launched, giving increased autonomy for the communes, but the regional level, the 49 Wojwodships, still were not granted any substantial budgetary freedom or political autonomy. In 1992 the government put a committee to work on the future territorial arrangement of the whole state structure. The number of administrative levels, their size, competencies and degree of autonomy was to be evaluated and reorganised. The need for more active agents on sub-state level to promote modernisation and democratisation had been acknowledged, and the competitiveness of whole regions were seen as partly a matter of self-initiated activity, partly of the size of the unit. The number of Wojwodships is in general held to be to high, but the reforms of limiting their number and increasing their power has not progressed very much so far (1997), as the coalition parties has not reached a viable compromise. Changes of internal borders is also generally a process which brings out conflicting interests and strong defensive reactions from the local elite.

In addition to the difficulties of rearranging territorial units, the traditional instruments of state-control were not in sufficient degree reduced, leading to ineffective overlapping of competencies and functions, and decreased freedom of movement for local actors, and unnecessary high administration costs. [27]

The process of changing a highly centralised state system into a diversified system with communal and regional policy-making and entrepreneurship that slowly has begun to emerge in Poland, takes different paths in different local and regional context, and seems to be more accelerated and utilised in regions with traditionally strong regional identity. Not surprisingly, Silesian and other previous German/Prussian provinces along with Mazowsze (around Warsaw) and South East (earlier Galizia) have responded most actively. It is also observed in these areas that foreign capital tends to be directed, attracted both by higher level of technical and linguistic competence among possible partners, and by active initiatives from local authorities in building and providing a better infrastructure.

The Katowice case

The Wojwodship Katowice in Upper Silesia was a region that because of its rich concentration of natural resources and industrial potential, became object of a speedy industrial development under the socialist economic system. Because of the rapid industrial and demographic growth in the after war period, this region now suffers from an unhappy concentration of economic, social and alarming ecological problem syndrome. The region, with 4.2 million inhabitants, has high mortality rates, high rates of infant mortality, low life expectancy, high level of diseases caused by the concentrations of pollution in air, water and soil. The break down of the socialist system of production and markets led to high unemployment rates. These are potentially increasing once larger sectors of the uneconomic coal mining and old state metallurgical industry are closed down.

The task of restructuring the monolithic industry into more modern, competitive, specialised and smaller units, improving the social conditions and the environment has called for a regional initiative, called the Social Contract of Katowice. The Department of Economy of the Governors Office, together with a wide spectre of official and private partners, have reached a basic consensus of trying in common to channel and generate more resources to the region in order to solve the problems and stimulate modernisation more independent of the state.

The aim is to provide competent reception for nationally generated resources to be allocated, and to stimulate both local development and attract foreign investment and know how. In 1996, 40 mill Zloty and in the following period 30 mill pro year is being granted from the State Treasure. By the year 1993 more than 90 foreign companies have invested in the region, attracted by the reservoir of skilled workers, low payments, and closeness to markets in Europe.

Another aim is to develop a strong local democratic culture and combine the efforts of public sector with a strong and innovative civil society. Decentralisation and increased responsibility are key-words in this process. A real problem to overcome seems to be the lack of an adequate political elite to formulate and put concrete visions into practice. The formation of political groups in the region is, according to Nawrocki, more oriented towards identity issues, expressing defensive or xenophobic emotions, than oriented towards formulating precise political goals for practical politics. He explains this with the previous socialist period, where vital social and political groups which might have carried autonomous initiative where nearly non existent:

"Thereby, no group has its own vision of the future of the region and the line of restructuring processes.... it causes that the activities undertaken in the sphere of political life are... constituted by referring to a feeling which this sphere arouses and not by tending to realise the precise political purposes" [28]

The friendship agreement

The political changes after 1989 and the intensified dialogue on state-level resulted in two agreements and created new opportunities for actors on both sides of the border. Political changes along with the restructuring process of the Polish and East-German economy have provided the border-region with new possibilities. Some of the most important trends shall be mentioned:

The co-operation initiated on state-level has been institutionalised on a number of areas. The above mentioned students-exchange programme, is an interesting case in this respect, because of the high level of institutional autonomy and the real bi-national character of the administration and activity of the organisation. Other important sectors are the co-operation to solve problems of environmental and safety kind (common system of fire and flood-safety), the Oder-Plan , and the running of a German-Polish University in the border town Frankfurt an der Oder. Besides, a co-operation in the wider system of education is planned, better control systems at border crossings aiming at stopping smuggling activity and illegal border crossing, but at the same time ease the traffic the two countries. [29] The list of common activity in policy areas covering culture, infrastructure, ecology and economy is substantial. The co-operation is institutionalised through two different organisation models, the Euro-region and the communal partnership. The partnership institution has a more loose character, and is not directly involved in policy making, planning or large-scale economic co-operation, but facilitates co-operation in the cultural field and general exchange of people ideas. [30] Often, the partnership or rather patronage, is initiatedby Germans who live in the German community, and once had their home in the Polish before they were expelled. In some cases, the partnership provides a channel for material and financial help from the German to the Polish side. In most cases this means valuable transfer of goods and technical expertise, this is often the case with hospital equipment that is replaced in Germany and given to Poland (though this has been reported to be more or less useful in some cases).

The institution of Euro-region is still unfinished and has several structural week points, but it might have a potential for playing an important role in the future political architecture of Europe. As in the European Union, the problem of incompatible administrative and political structures, competencies and goals is a controversial problem, but a problem that might be resolved in the process. [31]

Along the Oder-Neisse, there are four so-called Euro-regions, the Euro-region Pro Viadrina 1993 and the Euro-region Neisse 1991 (including the Check republic) are the most important. In addition come the Euro-region Spree-Neisse-Bober, and the Euro-region Pommerania.

Euro-region Neisse

The Euro-region Neisse was constituted on a tri-national conference in 1991. The framework, within which the new body was constituted was the Agreement of cross-border co-operation between geographical units, taken on by the European Council in 1980. According to this agreement, the main objects of such co-operation is to solve common problems of urban planning, environment, levelling of living standards through better economic co-operation, cross-border infrastructure, common systems of detecting and handling natural catastrophes, and a wide range of cultural, humanitarian and more general goals for better relations across the border.

Both the need for such co-operation, and the necessary amount of political energy and visions, was present in the Neisse region in the early 1990s, and in spite of differences in institutional arrangements, degree of autonomy on local and regional level, and lack of a large common budget, the intention of developing and expanding the co-operation has been clear. A business and innovation centre is established in the German Zittau, where the combination of economic, innovative, technological and social resources of the cross-border area, is sought to provide a dynamic centre in a previously peripheral region.

A regular bus-route is connecting the Polish and the German centres of the border city Görlitz/Zgorelec every hour, a bi-lingual kindergarten for children on both sides is established, and the staff is required to learn both languages. A symphony orchestra for Polish and German youths is also established. [32]

In additional to bi and tri-national activity, the German government has since 1990-1991 been able to invest money directly in the social life of the region. The funds are being administrated by the Ministry of Interior (Bundesinnenministerium), and the intention is to support the identity and social life of the German minority. The money has been partly given to organisation with special interests, like the BdV. In addition to helping and supporting the German minority to be constituted as a collective within the Polish society, and provide them with resources in this process, the prevention of further emigration is an important purpose of this help. In order to make the situation more attractive for the Germans in Poland, and also to prevent Polish criticism, the money is not mainly directed to specific German projects or groups, but to whole communities, independently of the national character.

A short presentation of the budgets from 1990 to 1992 looks as follows: BRD donations: 1990: 6,8 mio. DM, 1991: 23,6 DM, 1992: 26 mio.

The 1992 budget was divided like this:

13.427.253 community help (Gemeinschaftsförderung)

5.289.286 material help

3 898.627 medical help

2.121.256 economic help

149.191 Meetings, (Begegnungsreisen) [33]

Two German financed foundations should also be mentioned in this connection, the Stiftung für Entwicklung Schlesiens, and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. The SES distributes money to projects, both private and public in a variety of fields, and the aim as a general support to the economic and social development of Silesia. The FES plays a different role, it provides money for development of democratic institutions and civil society, and acts as a mediator for various groups and persons to meet and discuss problems, and to excursions in order to learn from others.

The European Union is also active in promoting and financing cross-border activity in this area. The most important financial programmes to be mentioned is the INTERREG-II and PHARE-cross-border-cooperation (CBC), which are the most important financial sources of the Euro-regions. For the period 1994-1999, INTERREG-II had 236,51 mio. ECU (2/3 from EU, and the rest national resources) at disposal. PHARE-CBC had ca. 260 mio. ECU. [34]The weakness of these two programmes have been lack of complimentary projects and co-ordination. The INTERREG-II is limited to EU-territory. Another problem is widely different conception of what the money should be spent on. Where the German side needs "luxury" or secondary investments, Poland needs basic infra-structure. [35] The two programmes has so far thus not reached a true cross-border organic function. The model of the first Euregio at the German-Dutch border, with explicit goal of improving the economic productivity and promote political integration, has not been transferable to the German-Polish realities. According to Oliver Schwab, too high expectations will undermine the Euro-regions, and the differences in interests, political/administrative structure and the incompatibility of the two programmes risks failure rather than fulfilment of the goals. [36]

The role of the minority

In two conferences held in Opole in 1991 and 1993, by the Silesian Institute and the Evangelic Academy of the Ruhr in Mülheim, the question discussed was: Will the minority play the role of a bridge head or a brake in the future German-Polish relations?

In the sociological, ethnographic and historical writings on the population of the former German territory, the very existence of a German minority has been controversial, like the existence of a Polish ethnic group was disputed by German scholars 80-90 years ago. The thesis of the regained Polish territory was not consistent with the existence of a large German population, and so the concept of Autochtons was used to describe indigenous people (those who where not expelled as undoubtedly German), regardless of ethnic background. Usually, they where called Germanised Slavs, or Slonzaks, but in almost all periods of the communist regime, the state policy towards these groups was designed to re-polonize what was considered Germanised by force.

The question of the ethnic structure of the province Opole, where the German Minority movement has a stronghold, is indeed a very complicated one. Several cultural and ethnic repertoires have been historically available in this region, and most people adopt a rather pragmatic and flexible everyday attitude, only in some situations, regarding the complicated issue of citizenship, explaining their identity to ignorant strangers or celebrating special feasts belonging strictly to only one national culture, they make explicit choices. [37]

The high percentage claiming the Silesian option when asked , might indicate that the regional identity is rather unproblematic, while an outspoken German one is emotionally dear, and in a fraught and defensive position. The "pure" Polish option is usually only chosen by repatriated or immigrated people (or by motivated by a conscious national Polish ideology) from other parts of Poland, speaking standard Polish as a Mother tongue, and not the Silesian dialect. [38]

After the war, cleansing of all German features from the Polish territory was non-compatible with respect of minority rights. Especially in the Stalinist period, stately measures taken to assimilate the border-population into a Polish standard where intensified. They where also accompanied by the religious change of congregations previously Evangelic into Catholic, a process in which the Polish church played a very active role. Interesting, in this respect, is the long delay of Vatican recognition of the new bishop and the new structure of dioceses in the new territory. The pope and the Curia, refrained from anything that could be interpreted as a recognising of the border, until Brandt signed the treaty of Warsaw. [39]

The use of the German language was forbidden in all official settings, German personal names had to be changed, and the memory of the previous history of the Western territory was removed from school books, memorials, cemeteries etc. In this process the two regional research institutions, West Institute of Poznan and the Silesian Institute in Opole was designed to deliver scientific arguments for the Polish character of this territory with its culture and folklore:

" was also necessary to give the Polish people...exhaustive information on the place and role of the Recovered Territories in the landscape of the entire country". [40]

It was Mazowiecki’s government that first recognised the German minority officially. That meant in the first phase a right to register political and cultural organisations based on ethnic membership. [41]

The German minority movement, concentrated in the beginning on the task of rebuilding itself as a collective, establishing organisational frameworks for identity-revival and expression of particular concerns. Later, this generated enough political energy to give the minority seven representatives in the Sejm and one senator, beside numerous local representatives. In 1992 more than 30 local majors (approximately half of the communes) in the Opole district were Germans. [42]

An outspoken aim of the present leadership is to work for the particular German interests, mainly concentrating on the spread of the German language in schools and other institutions, but at the same time to contribute to the political culture and strengthening of the civil society in general. The common interests, future membership in EU being the most significant, should also according to many Silesians, be more important than conflicting interests. [43]

In the first phase, the Polish society was unprepared and surprised at the sudden existence of a relatively large minority population who expressed themselves partly by symbols which many Poles associated with the war, or the nazi-experience. [44]Anxiety arose in 1991, as German neo-nazis tried to establish themselves in the district, participating in the religious and cultural festivals of St.Anna-berg/Gora Sw.Anny. The determinate rejection of the revisionist and nationalistic message by the leaders and the minority population, contributed to ease the tension. [45] Both groups are however, becoming more ready to carry out differences of opinion by negotiation, not confrontation, and respect one another. Especially in local political bodies, conflicts between minority and majority are rare, and when they occur, they are seen as a normal part of life, not absolute cleavages between basically antagonistic groups. [46]

The role of the minority and the way they are perceived by the Polish majority is not only dependant on how they profile themselves, but also how their relations with groups in Germany are conducted. The aggressive revisionist agitation from earlier periods is well remembered, especially because the communist regime presented the leaders of the BdV as enemies of the Polish people, thus being able to legitimise the strong military presence of the USSR.

How difficult the issue of identity and language is both for observers and for the concerned, was documented by Elisabeth Vann in 1993, as she recorded a heated argument between local Upper Silesians, a local but Polish-oriented professor of history and a group of former inhabitants (expelled, coming from Germany on a Nostalgia-tour). [47]A memorial stone, commemorating the 30-years war and the origin of the village, was installed in the woods nearby, but had only Polish text. As more than half the village were members of the German minority organisation, this was completely incomprehensible for the Germans from Germany.

The professors argument, that German had never been a privately spoken language in the village, only an official language taught in Prussian/German schools and used by people in official situations up till 1945, was accepted by the locals for whom language was not the essential mark of national identity, but not by the visitors, who expected to find a native German collective using the German language.

The misunderstandings are partly rooted in the confusion of the ius sanguinis principle. The article 116 of the German federal constitution regards also persons born within the German border of 1937 as German citizens, regardless of ethnicity. In the Silesian border region, the civil identity of citizenship and the cultural identity of ethnicity simply do not go together.

The argument is important for other than linguistic reasons; ability to present themselves as "true" Germans and not Poles vis a vis the Landmannschaft organisation is a key to financial patronage. To solve this dilemma, the locals explained the Polish text to the visitors as being the only thing allowed by Polish authorities, which probably is not true, but it confirmed the Landmannschaft group in their belief that Upper Silesians are native genuine Germans, still being oppressed from expressing their "true" identity.


Whether a closer integration in economical and political terms will be the result of the on-going processes in the German-Polish border region depends, as we have seen on many factors. Most important is a continuation of the political relations on state-level, that where written down in ambitious and optimistic principles in the two treaties early in the 1990s. Second, the multitude of public, private, collective or individual actors must fill the political framework with positive substance.

The problems are substantial, here shall be mentioned some:

1. The long-term negative demographic trend, when skilled young people tended to prefer emigration from the region, either to Warsaw (or other urban centres in Poland) or to Germany has been and still is a problem for the rural parts of the region. German liberal immigration policy towards persons with stronger or weaker affiliations with the German culture provided for a long period opportunities for a large section of the border population for emigration, but also short time labour commuting. As long as the income from such activity are spent mainly privately on housing and personal luxury, the dynamic effect of this is modest. The only way to stop this negative trend, is better chances for young people in terms of education, work and a more positive identification with the region.

2. The structure of educational institutions leads to an overproduction of people trained for the old economic and political realities. If economic integration shall function, the level of relevant skilled labour must attract capital as well as just low wages. Provided that the necessary changes are done in this field, Upper Silesia might profit from the traditional industrial culture also in the future. [48] Apart from Poznan, Wroclaw and the industrial agglomeration in Upper Silesia, most of the border-region is rural and lack of concentrated political and economic and human creativity and energy is a problem that needs to be overcome. On the other hand, the border area in the former GDR suffers from the same problems, apart from public investments in infrastructure, private capital, initiative and activity is generally low. The city of Görlitz is a city in clear demographic decline.

3. In extension of the argument above, there is a need to overcome and reverse the legacy of the two communist regime's policy of neglect of the border-areas. This means increased attention to infrastructure, easier border-crossings, and a more active economic and labour market policy. On the German side, the rates of unemployment are especially high, as a result of the dramatic changes after the unification. Private investments have dropped, and public investments tends to be directed to larger urban centres.

"Abwanderung, Arbeitslosigkeit, Randlage ohne funktionierende Verbindungen über die Grenze, keine Geschäfte, keine Perspektiven. "Kietz ist das letzte Loch vor der Hölle". [49]

In the Polish territory, questions of privatisation and ownership must be sorted out, in order to make the farmers more interested in long-term investment planning. [50]

4. Lack of trust between German and Polish groups and individuals is another important factor. Historical memory is ridden by traumas and negative stereotypes, or ignorance and indifference, and the work of countless groups, be it academic or others, who underline positive historical periods and models are valuable. This might partly be a matter of generation, according to the leaders of the German minority Youth organisation in Opole and headquarters in Wroclaw, the multicultural principle, rather than the exclusive German principle is a guide line for their arrangements, seminars, and general activity. [51]

The activity of the German-Polish society (Deutsch-Polnisher Gesellschaft) should also be mentioned as an important contribution to understanding and interaction, as well as the ecumenical movement, that started by the famous letter from the Polish to the German bishops in the 1960s.

5. Political culture:

The legacy of the nationalistic and authoritarian ways of relating to different groups within or across the border of the two states is still part of the political repertoire. Reluctance from central authorities in Poland to increased local initiative and to trust democratic and decentralised ways of handling conflicts but also regional planning and development is another problem. An active and functioning civil society which might act as a mediator between state and society, recruit new types of political leadership, and increase popular commitment to political participation on a local basis is still largely lacking.

The German minority is suffering from lack of a well educated and experienced elite in order to contribute significantly to any real change. This is partly due to the earlier repressive national policy of the state, which made access to the public arena, whether it was in administration or within the communist party, difficult for the German or Autochton segment. The response was either withdrawal and isolation, or emigration, hence the level of higher education has been generally low. [52] The leadership that emerged after 1989 tended to express retrospective views and parochialism , and they have not been able to convince others about the visionary, future character and not a retrospective and German-dominated kind of a European grand design.

A lot of efforts of different types must be undertaken to accustom Polish scientific, political and social opinion to think in terms of a European regional system. The problems of information and co-ordinated action during the flood-catasthophe demonstrated the importance of

common systems of preparation, information and action. This has been difficult enough within the European Union, but it seems to be inmatters regarding the rivers flowing through several countries or being border-rivers, that practical joint action has been most successful.

Thinking and acting in cross-national terms are not however, only a matter of ideological or mental imagination. Well-founded fear of asymmetric relations which might leave one part with all expences or all the profitt are usually present. Still, this is a risk worth to be taken:

"Nevertheless, German-Polish co-operation in one form or another is recommendable, because Germany has experience with free market mechanisms and western European legislation. To prevent Germany from dominating the development processes, exchange of experience and knowledge about the problems of former Block countries is indispensable. Poland has to present itself as an equal partner and Germany has to listen" [53]

The problems mentioned here are all of a sort that might be overcome, and change over time. The processes of change that might provide conditions for integration are manifold:

1. Historical relations and memories of earlier connections, revitalisation of old axis for transport, cultural exchange, social interaction etc.., inspiration from historical multinational coexistence, open border, border commuting might in the long run even out the different social and economic levels.

2. Political and economic energy in Poland after the end of communism and in Germany after the normalisation of the relations between the two countries, both internal initiatives and external stimuli seems to provide a positive dynamic.

3. The existence and the activity of a German minority in the south, that was earlier denied, has not led to serious tensions and conflicts. Rather is has tended to challenge notions of national unity and increase tolerance and ability to solve problems by dialogue not confrontation, and bring the political culture in the western Polish region closer to what is needed in order to participate on future European arenas. Mrs.Simonides referred to a discussion with a Senator college from an eastern district. He was pleased to tell her that in the last election, they had managed to keep out all minority representatives in local political bodies. He considered this to provide less political trouble and conflict, and felt sorry for those in Opole, who had to face Germans as elected colleges. Simonides answered that the Eastern politicians was the ones with a problem, not the Western. Handling complexity by democratic negotiation and integrating all positive political, economic and human energy and creativity in a process of building a common future, was a far better way to prepare for European integration than exclusion and confrontation of non-conform groups and ideas.

4. Admission of Poland in NATO, and the on going Polish territorial reform process might also contribute to regional integration.

5. Considering the importance of friendship agreements between states, institutional arrangements for co-operation between national and regional policy agencies, European incentives: Still the most important factor is the many private choices on local and individual level. [54] If there is enough interest for every-day border commuting, shopping tourism, social inter-action, cultural co-operation, etc. there will be a widening of a regional economic, social cultural market and space of interaction. In turn, such increased activity will increase the need for extended administrative and political co-operation in a more compatible way than is the case today.


[1] This vision was presented to the audience at Deutschlandskundgebungen, Deutschlandstreffen der Schlesier, Nürnberg 13.7.1997 by the minister of urban planning, Klaus Töpfer from the federal German government.

[2] The two provinces border directly to the Check Republic, but their history as parts of the German state (east-Upper Silesia was transferred to Poland in 1921 and all of Silesia to Poland in 1945) and the existence of a German minority make the relations of this area to the German neighbours particularly interesting in this analysis.

[3] Problems of this kind are discussed by Milan Bufon in an article on the case of the Italian-Slovenian border landscape of Gorzia, in Krystian Heffner (ed.) Small Regions in United Europe, Macroregional and social policy, Opole 1995.

[4]The German-Polish Treaties of 14.11.1990 and 17.6.1991.

[5] One of the most important advocates of this doctrine is Dieter Blumenwitz, and the whole theoretical complex of the German issue, resting on the theory of continuation and Heimat-Recht is presented in the book: Was ist Deutschland? Staats- und Völkerrechtliche Grundsätze zur deutschen Frage und ihre Konsequenzen für die deutsche Ostpolitik, Bonn 1982. (Kulturstiftung der deutschen Vertriebenen).

[6] Franz Scholz, Kollektivschuld und Vertreibung. Kritische Bemerkungen eines Zeitzeugen. Frankfurt am Main. 1995.

[7]Gerhard Labuda, Poland’s return to the Baltic and the Odra and Nysa in 1945 - Historical and Current Conditions, In Polish Western Affairs, nr.1 1975, Posznan, and Wladislaw Czaplinski, Vermögensrechtlicht Probleme in den Beziehungen VRP - BRD, In Polnische Weststudien, BdVII, 1/1988.

[8]The process of reconsiliation was begun in 1965, with the Polish bishops sending a letter to the German church leaders, inviting them to join the 1000 year anniversary of the Polish church. The famous title: "We forgive and beg to be forgiven" provoked both the revisionists in Germany as well as the Polish communist regime into renewed hard-line positions, but is generally held to be the first important step on the road to reconsiliation and normalisation.

[9] Ca. 3 mill. Germans escaped, where evacuated or expelled from what was to become the territory of the Polish state between 1945 and 1949. Eugen Lemberg, Die Vertriebenen in West Deutschland, Bd. 1-3, Kiel 1959.

[10]Jörg Hönsch, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, B12-13/1990.

[11]Benzberger Memorandum, a text in which 120 Chatolic priests pleaded for a final accept of the Oder-Neisse in the 1960s. It was rejected as the official standpoint of the national Chatolic church.

[12] Koschyks political visions, alternative to Czajas, where spelled out in a speech held at Tag der Heimat 1990, "Europäisierung" der Oder-Neisse-Gebiet, 5-Stufen-Plan, referred in Deutscher Ost Dienst, 28.9.1990.

[13] Wolfgang Schäuble, chairman of the CDU/CSU faction, in a speech to the Parliament 1.6.1995.

[14]Günther Doose, Die separatistische Bewegungen in Oberschlesien nach dem ersten Weltkrieg 1918-1922, Wiesbaden 1987.

[15] The OS-Aktion was strongly opposed by the leaders of the expelled (Landmannschaften) because of the tolerance and inclusive attitude towards the Slavic culture. The political climate of the cold war was also effective in putting the initiative on the historical side-track.

[16]Soviets greifen nach Oberschlesien, Die Polen werden ausgeschaltet, from Der Abend, Berlin-West-Sektor, 12.2.1955.

[17] An organisation of 100 persons called " Union of the people of Silesian Nationality" applied this summer for legal registration, but were turn down by the regional authorities in Kattowice. Their goal was to be recognised and obtain special rights as a separate national group. The authorities feared this would encourage similar groups all over Poland to come forward with the same separatist aspirations, like the Kashubs in the north, Tatra-Gorals in the south, the Masurians, Kujwians an others. Rather than accepting special rights based on sub-national identities, subsidiarity and regional democracy was prefered in the future, according to Aleksander Ropalski, journalist in the Polish Radio 26.6.1997.

[18]Tomasz Nawrocki, The Institutional Setting of Regional Revindication Movements, in Marek S. Szczepanski (ed), Dilemmas of Regionalism and region of Dilemmas. The case of Upper Silesia, Katowice 1993.

[19]Hans Lemberg, Der "Drang nach Osten"-Mythos und Realität, in Ewa Kobylinska (ed): Deutsche und Polen, 100 Schlüsselbegriffe, München 1992. 22. See also Ewa Kobylinska: Das deutsche Thema in der polnische Nachkriegsliteratur, Merkur Heft 2, 1989.

[20] See Norbert Krekeler: Die deutsche Minderheit in Polen und die Revisionspolitik des Deutschen Reiches Wolfgang Benz (ed), Die Vertreibung der Deutschen aus dem Osten, Ursachen, Ereignisse, Folgen. Frankfurt am Main 1995.

[21] In the Hambacher popular feast, the German tricolour was followed by Polish flags, and the patriotic "noch ist Polen nicht verloren" was sung by large German groups with enthusiasm. The slogan "for your and our freedom" is another expression of the idealistic common-fate euphoria, that never was followed in any practical political action.

[22]Geschäftsbericht des Deutsch-Polnischen Jugendwerks über das Jahr 1995. Potsdam/Warschau, Mai 1996.

[23]Ingrid Heinisch, "Wie die Deutschen uns sehen" (referring to an article in the Polish-speaking "Kurier" on the same topic) Dialog, Deutsch-Polnisch Magazin, 3/4 1996.

[24]Klaus Zernack has been a pioner in this field, and has been followed by scolars like Hans Ulrich Wehler, Rudolf Jaworski and Brigitte Balzer.

[25]Egon Matzner, Market destruction-market making, unpublished manuscript, based on a lecture given in Köszeg, Hungary August 1996.

[26] Staniszkis, Jadwiga: Poland's Self limiting Revolution, 1991, Princeton and New Jersey.

[27] Kowalczyk, Andrzej: Die Polnische Staatsstrukturreform - ein nicht abgeschlossener Reform, in: Politik der dritten Ebene.. 331.

[28]Nawrocki, op.cit.99.

[29] If the Schengen-regime is implemented, this would probably mean a big step backward in the process of integration, and make both every day private border commuting as well as economic transactions even more complicated.

[30] By 1996, 123 German-Polish city-partnerships where registered, not only in border regions, according to Handbuch Polen Kontakte, Institutionen, Projekte, Initiativen. Osnabrück 1996.

[31] Commission of the European Communities (CEC), 1991. Europe 2000. Outlook for the development of the communities territory, Brussels, Luxembourg: Directorate General for Regional Policy.

[32]For more detailed information, the Euro-region Neisse is building up a system of electronic information in the data base ERNIS, financed by EU-money. The address of the Euro-region Neisse is (or einleur)1.html

[33]The figures are taken from Dieter Bingen, Die oberschlesische Minderheiten aus deutscher Sicht, in Begegnungen 2/94, Evangelishce Akademie Mülheim.

[34] The information and judgement of the INTERREG-II and PHARE-CBS are based on Oliver Schwab, Euroregionen an der deutsch-polnishcen Grenze - gefangen im Politik- und Vervaltungsnetz? In: Raumforschung und Raumordnung, 55 Jg., H.1. 1997.

[35]Typical is Polish priority for highways and local air ports, while the German priority is human resources, tourist-routes etc.

[36]For a more detailed evaluation see Oliver Schwab, Das Euroregionen-Konzept regionaler grenzüberschreitender Zusammenarbeit - Erfolgsbedingungen und erste Erfahrungen an der deutsch-polnische Grenze, Politikwissenschaftliche Diplomarbeit, Freie Universität Berlin, 1996.

[37]Danuta Berlinska, Die Schlesier in Opole-Schlesien im Lichte soziologischer Forschungen, in: Oberschlesien and Brücke zwischen Polen und Deutschen, Slansk i jego problemy, Opole 1990.

[38]In a survey done by the Silesian Institute in 1990 and 1993, 47,6 choose the Silesian identity chategory, while the German was around 9% The Polish somewhat higher, and the to midle chategories "more Silesian than German" or "more Silesian than Polish" around 9 %. M.Lis: Ludnosc rodzima na Slasku Opolskim w wojnie swiatowej (1945-1993), Opole 1993.

[39]Thomas Urban, Deutsche und Polen, Geschichte und Gegenwart einer Minderheit, München 1994. In the last chapter, Urban refers to the struggle between German and Polish historians over these issues.

[40] From the information broschure "Instytut Zachodni " Poznan 1991.

[41] The status of the German minority in Poland is a matter of controversy, Poland claims to have committed itself to all-European standards through the different European agreements, while the German leaders demand special national legislation containing specific rights and guarantees. This was also demanded by the Federal Republic in the negotiations, but not taken into the text, because Poland wanted in return compensation for Polish slave labour during the occupation.

[42]The demographic basis of the minority movement in Opole Wojwodship is the around 45% indigenous population in the rural, 15% in the town. Around 18% of these are organised in German organisations, a further 12% is supportive of them according to figures from Robert Rauzinski and Kazimierz Szczygielski: Migrations of the Opole Silesia population abroad in the years 1950-1994, in "Small regions in United Europe", op.cit.

[43]Jerzy Wutke, Bericht über die Deutsch-Polnische Gegenwart, lecture held at "Minderheiten in Europa", Landtagsforum 7.6.1991, Kiel.

[44]One example is the use of the iron cross used on German war memorials from the 1. world war, which by many Poles is seen a symbolic synonymous to the swastika.

[45]This was acknowledged by the Polish senator from Opole, Dorota Simonides, (who won her seat running against the German Henryk Kroll in 1992). From an interview September 1996.

[46] These impressions are based on conversations with Mrs. Berlinska, Mrs. Simonides and Mr. Niemann, leader of the Umbrella organisation SKGD, Sozial-kulturellen Gesellschaft der Deutschen, Sept. 1996.

[47]Elizabeth Vann, An argument at the monument stone: Manipulation of nationalist linguistic ideology in identity claims by the German minority in Poland, in: The Anthropology of East Europe Review, vol.15, nr.1, 1997.

[48]Wojchec Blasiak, The Economic Identity of Silesia, in Szczepanski op.cit.

[49] This was the situation in the 1993, according to a citizen in the border region, the quotation is taken from Schwab, op.cit.

[50] Because of the somewhat uncertain situation after the war, the Polish settlers on previous German owned estates, have a contract of 99 years of perpetual usufruct. In April 1996, the Social Movement for the Enfranchisement of Poland’s Western and Northern Lands was established in Zielena Gora, to fight for permanent ownership that will legally withstand German property claims.

[51] This was expressed during conversations in Opole and Wroclaw September 1996.

[52]In addition to this, a strong continuity of local traditions, dialects spoken in private, and low percentage of exogamy has been observed, see Danuta Berlinska: Die Schlesier in Opole-Schlesien im Lichte soziologischer Forschungen, in: Slask i jego problemy, Instytut Slanski w Opolu, Opole 1990.

[53]Sophie van de Boel, The challenge to develop a border region: German-Polish cooperation, in European Spatial Research and Policy, nr.1, 1994. (university of Lodz, Groningen, Bratislava and Bristol)

[54] Researchers in the Silesian Institute in Opole has documented a considerable increase in economic activity and changes in life-style as a result of the opening of the border. The interest of learning the German language has increased in order to meet the new demands for communication, and German TV-senders are frequently watched in Polish homes.

[Date of publication in the ARENA Working Paper series: 15.07.1997]