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Free City of Danzig
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The Free City of Danzig (German: Freie Stadt Danzig; Polish: Wolne Miasto Gdańsk) was a self-governing port on the Baltic Sea port and a city-state. It was set up on January 10, 1920, by Part III Section XI of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, and put under League of Nations protection, with special rights reserved to Poland, because it was the only port in the Polish Corridor.
The Free City of Danzig included the major city of Danzig (Gdańsk) as well as Zoppot (Sopot), Tiegenhof (Nowy Dwór Gdański), Neuteich (Nowy Staw) and some 252 villages and 63 hamlets. Its area was 1,966 km2 (759.1 sq mi).
The Free City was represented abroad by Poland's ambassadors. The railway line that connected the Free City with Poland was administered by Poland. Similarly, the separated military post within the city's harbour, the Westerplatte (formerly a city beach), was also given to Poland. There were also two post-offices, one for the Danzig Postal Service, the other was Polish-run.
League of Nations High Commissioners
League of Nations mandated territories, were run by member countries on behalf of the League. But Danzig and the Saargebiet were run by the League of Nations itself, with representatives of various countries taking on the role of High Commissioner:
|1||Reginald Thomas Tower||1919-1920||UK|
|2||Edward Lisle Strutt||1920||UK|
|4||Richard Cyril Byrne Haking||1921-1923||UK|
|5||Mervyn Sorley McDonnell||1923-1925||UK|
|6||Joost Adriaan van Hamel||1925-1929||Netherlands|
|7||Manfredi di Gravina||1929-1932||Italy|
|9||Seán Lester||1934-1936||Irish Free State|
|10||Carl Jakob Burckhardt||1937-1939||Switzerland|
The Treaty of Versailles, split Danzig from Germany. The treaty made the people living in the city citizens of the Free City. German inhabitants lost their German nationality, if they wanted to stay German they had to go and live outside the Free City's territory.
Heads of State of the Free City of Danzig
| Presidents of the
|Took Office||Left Office||Party|
|1||Heinrich Sahm||6 December 1920||10 January 1931||none|
|2||Ernst Ziehm||10 January 1931||20 June 1933||DNVP|
|3||Hermann Rauschning||20 June 1933||23 November 1934||NSDAP|
|4||Arthur Karl Greiser||23 November 1934||23 August 1939||NSDAP|
|5||Albert Förster||23 August 1939||1 September 1939||NSDAP|
In May 1933, the Nazi Party won the local elections in the city. But they had less than the two-thirds majority that would let them change the Constitution of the Free City of Danzig. The government introduced anti-Semitic and also anti-Catholic laws against the Poles and Kashubian inhabitants.
Poland always refused to allow the status of Danzig to change. In April 1939 the Polish Commissioner-General said that Poland was willing to fight if there was a change..
Second World War and aftermath
The Nazi government voted for re-unification with Germany on September 2, 1939, the day after the German invasion of Poland began.
Around 90% of the city was reduced to ruins towards the end of the Second World War. On March 30, 1945 the city was taken by the USSR. It is thought that more than 90% of the pre-war population were either dead or had fled by 1945.
- Yale Law School. "The Versailles Treaty June 28, 1919 : Part III". The Avalon Project. http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/imt/partiii.htm. Retrieved 2007-05-03.
- "Danzig subsection of Poland entry from World Statesmen.org". http://www.worldstatesmen.org/Poland.htm#Danzig.
- Encyclopaedia Britannica Year Book, 1938
- Woodward, E.L., Butler, Rohan, Orde, Anne, editors, Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919 - 1939, 3rd series, vol.v, HMSO,London, 1952:25
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