Uprooted: How Breslau Became Wroclaw during the Century of Expulsions

Uprooted: How Breslau Became Wroclaw during the Century of Expulsions

by Gregor Thum
     
 

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ISBN-10: 0691152918

ISBN-13: 9780691152912

Pub. Date: 08/28/2011

Publisher: Princeton University Press

With the stroke of a pen at the Potsdam Conference following the Allied victory in 1945, Breslau, the largest German city east of Berlin, became the Polish city of Wroclaw. Its more than six hundred thousand inhabitants—almost all of them ethnic Germans—were expelled and replaced by Polish settlers from all parts of prewar Poland. Uprooted examines

Overview

With the stroke of a pen at the Potsdam Conference following the Allied victory in 1945, Breslau, the largest German city east of Berlin, became the Polish city of Wroclaw. Its more than six hundred thousand inhabitants—almost all of them ethnic Germans—were expelled and replaced by Polish settlers from all parts of prewar Poland. Uprooted examines the long-term psychological and cultural consequences of forced migration in twentieth-century Europe through the experiences of Wroclaw's Polish inhabitants.

In this pioneering work, Gregor Thum tells the story of how the city's new Polish settlers found themselves in a place that was not only unfamiliar to them but outright repellent given Wroclaw's Prussian-German appearance and the enormous scope of wartime destruction. The immediate consequences were an unstable society, an extremely high crime rate, rapid dilapidation of the building stock, and economic stagnation. This changed only after the city's authorities and a new intellectual elite provided Wroclaw with a Polish founding myth and reshaped the city's appearance to fit the postwar legend that it was an age-old Polish city. Thum also shows how the end of the Cold War and Poland's democratization triggered a public debate about Wroclaw's "amputated memory." Rediscovering the German past, Wroclaw's Poles reinvented their city for the second time since World War II.

Uprooted traces the complex historical process by which Wroclaw's new inhabitants revitalized their city and made it their own.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691152912
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
08/28/2011
Pages:
544
Sales rank:
1,156,723
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
A Note on Names xi
Prologue A Dual Tragedy xiii
The Destruction of Breslau xvii Poland's Shift to the West xxxi
Introduction 1

PART ONE: The Postwar Era: Rupture and Survival
Chapter One: Takeover 17
A Fait Accompli 17
The Mission of the Government Plenipotentiaries 20
"Noah's Ark" in Krakow 22
Poles and Russians-A Secret Hostility 29
Russians and Germans-An Unsettling Friendship 36
The Patriotic Reorganization of the Church 43

Chapter Two: Moving People 53
The Evacuation of the Germans 62 The Settlement of the Poles 65
The Resettlement Apparatus and the Migration of Peoples 74
Searching for Urban Settlers 89 The Ruralization of the City 98

Chapter Three: A Loss of Substance 105
Vandalism and the Great Fires 106
Soviet Dismantling 110
The "Szabrownicy" and the Black Market 118
Polish Dismantling 126
The Decay of Residential Housing 132

Chapter Four: Reconstruction 140
Wrocław between Provincial City and Bustling Metropolis 140
Momentum and Stagnation 143
Raising the Old Town from Its Ashes 153
1956 and a Changing Building Policy 160

PART TWO: The Politics of the Past: The City's Transformation
Chapter Five The Impermanence Syndrome 171
An Alien Place 173
A Motley Society 178
The Capital of Poland's
"Wild West" 181 Sitting on Packed Suitcases 186

Chapter Six Propaganda as Necessity 190
The Tradition of Polish Western Thought (Myśl Zachodnia) 191
Nationalism and Communism in the People's Republic 194
The Advocates of Western Thought 198
The Phases of Propaganda 207
Language Conventions 212
The Success of Propaganda and the Requirements of the Time 215

Chapter Seven: Mythicizing History 217
The Land of the Piasts 222 Wrocław's Eternal Ties to Poland 227
Prussia's Conquest and Wrocław's Decline 229
A Bastion of Polishness 232
From Friedrich II to Hitler: German Continuities 236
The Pioneers of 1945 240
Migrations 241

Chapter Eight Cleansing Memory 244
Polonization: Places, Streets, and People 244
De-Germanization: Inscriptions, Monuments, Cemeteries 266

Chapter Nine The Pillars of an Imagined Tradition 288
A New Coat of Arms 294
The Power of Old Monuments and the Placelessness of New Ones 297
The Noisy Silence of Local Historiography 310
The Ritual of Commemoration 317

Chapter Ten: Old Town, New Contexts 323
Warsaw as a Model 325
The Sacralization of the Gothic 329
The Toleration of the Baroque 348
The Anti-Prussian Reflex 360
Historic Buildings and Forced Migration 372

PART THREE: Prospects
Chapter Eleven: Amputated Memory and the Turning Point of 1989 381
The City without a Memory 382 The Revolution in German-Polish Relations 385
The Fall of Communism and the Discovery of the Bourgeois City 393
Wrocław's Search for a New Local Identity 402

Appendix 1 List of Abbreviations 409
Appendix 2 Translations of Polish Institutions 411
Appendix 3 List of Polish and German Street Names 412
Notes 417
Sources and Literature 459
Map of Poland after the Westward Shift of 1945 494
Simplified Map of Wrocław Today 495
Index 497

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