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A Millennium of Struggle? Introduction to the history of Polish-German relations in its European context

Seminar: BA, Kulturgeschichte-Einführung
Montag, 9.15 - 10.45 Uhr, Ort: AM 202, Veranstaltungsbeginn: 11.10.2010

In 1945, Polish historian Zygmunt Wojciechowski edited a book entitled “Germany-Poland. 1000 years of struggle.” The author was well-known for his anti-German attitude, and was a prominent supporter of the “Polish Western Idea” during the interwar period. Proponents of the “Western Idea” proposed a shift of Polish borders deep into German territory; they wanted to ‘return’ territory belonging to the first Polish state in the tenth century. Much of the land had been settled by German-speakers since the thirteenth century. After World War II, the “Western Idea” was incorporated by Polish communists in an attempt to cater to nationalist rhetoric; accordingly, the communist “Western Idea” projected an endless struggle between Germans and Poles in order to justify new Polish borders and an anti-German stance. Not surprisingly, positive aspects of Polish-German history had no place in the picture.
In this course, we will explore Polish-German relations in the context of European change. On the one hand, the region is typified by territorial conflict (as best revealed by the eighteenth century elimination of Poland through Prussian, Austrian and Russian partition). On the other, the region has been one of the most stable in Europe (both countries were home to large Polish and German speaking minorities loyal to their adopted state). After the founding of the German Reich in 1871, the state carried out aggressive anti-Polish politics, leading to the closure of Polish schools, and state-funded German settlement in Polish-speaking regions.

Literatur: Sheldon R. Anderson: A Cold War in the Soviet Bloc. Polish-East German relations, 1945 - 1962, Boulder, Colo. 2001; Richard Blanke: Polish-speaking Germans? Language and national identity among the Masurians since 1871, Köln 2001; Christopher Clark: Iron kingdom. The rise and downfall of Prussia, 1600 - 1947, London 2007; Norman Davies: Heart of Europe. The past in Poland's present, Oxford 2001; Jan Tomasz Gross: Polish society under German occupation. The Generalgouvernement, 1939 - 1944, Princeton, N. J. 1979; Lech Trzeciakowski: The Kulturkampf in Prussian Poland, New York 1990.
Hinweise zur Veranstaltung: The seminar will be held in English.
Leistungsnachweis: Essays, Referat, Hausarbeit
Sprache: Englisch