Assessing Actions and Outcomes in Contemporary Central-Eastern Europe
Edited By Jacek Kurczewski
Kresowianie: The Polish Expellees’ Perspective on Reconciliation
In consequence of World War II, borders of many countries in Europe were altered. In the case of Poland, enormous territorial changes resulted from decisions reached by the post-war superpowers without Poland’s involvement. Following the arrangements made in Yalta and Potsdam, the entire country moved: it was literally shifted a significant distance to the west. Approximately half of the territory of Poland was “substituted”, with some more becoming lost. The territorial shift was enforced despite both the fact that Poland had fought against Nazi Germany from the very beginning of the war (which had started with a Nazi attack against Poland on 1 September 1939) and the fact that it continued to fight against the Nazi forces both on the eastern and on the western front. The territorial loss amounted to more than 312 000 square kilometres, and a large part of the territories that before World War II formed the eastern part of the country were incorporated in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Consequently, adding to the massive population losses that Poland sustained during the war, a significant proportion of Poles suddenly found themselves outside the borders of their own country. Poland, relegated for decades to come to the USSR-dominated eastern block, had only minimal say in the negotiations of the particulars of the new eastern borderline (territorial and migratory shifts continued for six years after the end of World War II, until 1951), of the conditions of the forced migrations, and of compensations paid for property...
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