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Uprooted: How Breslau Became Wroclaw During the Century of Expulsions

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Uprooted

How Breslau Became Wroclaw During the Century of Expulsions

By Gregor Thum

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Format: Paperback, 552 pages
Other Information: Illustrated
Published In: United States, 01 August 2011
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.

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 Wroc?aw 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 (My?l 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 Wroc?aw's Eternal Ties to Poland 227 Prussia's Conquest and Wroc?aw'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 Wroc?aw'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 Wroc?aw Today 495 Index 497

About the Author

Gregor Thum is assistant professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh.

Reviews

"As a case study from 'the century of expulsions,' Thurn's monograph significantly contributes to uncovering how and why the complex ethnic patchwork of Europe was remade into ostensibly homogenous nation-states. Richly illustrated, well translated, and available at an affordable price, it will offer valuable insights to scholars and students alike and should prove useful in courses on ethnic cleansing, urban history, memory studies, the Twentieth Century, East Central Europe, and Modem Germany."--Andrew Demshuk, Canadian Journal of History "[C]ritical yet empathetic account ..."--Choice "Thum's thoroughly researched book makes a valuable contribution to an emerging field of study and sheds new light on the complex and sensitive issue of Polish-German relations, and the regional, national and cultural consequences of forced migrations over generations."--Stephanie Rauch, Urban History "Thum displays expert skills--and an engaging prose style--both as a political and social historian and as a practitioner of the cultural history of cities and their architectural landscape... This book offers the most imaginative treatment of the western territories' Polonization now accessible in the English language. Its translation is smooth, and its production with many excellent illustrations does Princeton University Press credit. It is a work that helps to humanize the Polish-German borderlands in the aftermath of their most inhumane era."--William W. Hagen, Journal of Modern History "Thum has written a compelling contribution to our understanding of the culture and politics of communist Poland."--Padraic Kenney, American Historical Review

EAN: 9780691152912
ISBN: 0691152918
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Dimensions: 23.5 x 15.2 x 3 centimetres (0.91 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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