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Treaty Of Versailles

The Treaty of Versailles, signed in the Versailles Palace outside Paris on June 28, 1919, between the Allied Powers and Germany, brought World War I to an end. In this treaty Poland was given complete independence, control over large areas of land populated by Germans, and an outlet to the sea. To give Poland access to the Baltic Sea a ‘corridor’ was created by passing control of the German provinces of Posen and West Prussia to Poland. In the process East Prussia was separated from the rest of Germany. Poland also gained half of Silesia. Danzig was made a free city under the control of the League of Nations. The German government signed the treaty under protest. These changes mean that huge numbers of Germans were now under foreign rule. These changes decided on at Versailles were to create major problems in later years and become one of the major reasons for Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939.

A map showing Germany after the changes brought about by the treaty of Versailes.

Here is a copy of the Treaty of Versailles, which refer to Poland, East Prussia, Memel and Danzig.

Treaty Of Versailles - Articles 87 - 108

Political Clauses for Europe

SECTION VIII.

POLAND.

ARTICLE 87.

Germany, in conformity with the action already taken by the Allied and Associated Powers, recognises the complete independence of Poland, and renounces in her favour all rights and title over the territory bounded by the Baltic Sea, the eastern frontier of Germany as laid down in Article 27 of Part II (Boundaries of Germany) of the present Treaty up to a point situated about 2 kilometres to the east of Lorzendorf, then a line to the acute angle which the northern boundary of Upper Silesia makes about 3 kilometres north-west of Simmenau, then the boundary of Upper Silesia to its meeting point with the old frontier between Germany and Russia, then this frontier to the point where it crosses the course of the Niemen, and then the northern frontier of East Prussia as laid down in Article 28 of Part II aforesaid.

The provisions of this Article do not, however, apply to the territories of East Prussia and the Free City of Danzig, as defined in Article 28 of Part II (Boundaries of Germany) and in Article 100 of Section XI (Danzig) of this Part.

The boundaries of Poland not laid down in the present Treaty will be subsequently determined by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers.

A Commission consisting of seven members, five of whom shall be nominated by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, one by Germany and one by Poland, shall be constituted fifteen days after the coming into force of the present Treaty to delimit on the spot the frontier line between Poland and Germany. The decisions of the Commission will be taken by a majority of votes and shall be binding upon the parties concerned.

ARTICLE 88.

In the portion of Upper Silesia included within the boundaries described below, the inhabitants will be called upon to indicate by a vote whether they wish to be attached to Germany or to Poland: starting from the northern point of the salient of the old province of Austrian Silesia situated about 8 kilometres east of Neustadt, the former frontier between Germany and Austria to its junction with the boundary between the Kreise of Leobschutz and Ratibor; thence in a northerly direction to a point about 2 kilometres south-east of Katscher: the boundary between the Kreise of Leobschutz and Ratibor; thence in a south-easterly direction to a point on the course of the Oder immediately south of the Ratibor- Oderberg railway: a line to be fixed on the ground passing south of Kranowitz; thence the old boundary between Germany and Austria, then the old boundary between Germany and Russia to its junction with the administrative boundary between Posnania and Upper Silesia; thence this administrative boundary to its junction with the administrative boundary between Upper and Middle Silesia, thence westwards to the point where the administrative boundary turns in an acute angle to the south-east about 3 kilometres north- west of Simmenau: the boundary between Upper and Middle Silesia; then in a westerly direction to a point to be fixed on the ground about 2 kilometres east of Lorzendorf: a line to be fixed on the ground passing north of Klein Hennersdorf: thence southwards to the point where the boundary between Upper and Middle Silesia cuts the Stadtel-Karlsruhe road: a line to be fixed on the ground passing west of Hennersdorf, Polkowitz, Noldau, Steinersdorf, and Dammer, and east of Strehlitz, Nassadel, Eckersdorf, Schwirz, and Stadtel; thence the boundary between Upper and Middle Silesia to its junction with the eastern boundary of the Kreis of Falkenberg; then the eastern boundary of the Kreis of Falkenberg to the point of the salient which is 3 kilometres east of Puschine; thence to the northern point of the salient of the old province of Austrian Silesia situated about 8 kilometres east of Neustadt: a line to be fixed on the ground passing east of Zulz.

The regime under which this plebiscite will be taken and given effect to is laid down in the Annex hereto.

The Polish and German Governments hereby respectively bind themselves to conduct no prosecutions on any part of their territory and to take no exceptional proceedings for any political action performed in Upper Silesia during the period of the regime laid down in the Annex hereto and up to the settlement of the final status of the country.

Germany hereby renounces in favour of Poland all rights and title over the portion of Upper Silesia lying beyond the frontier line fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers as the result of the plebiscite.

ANNEX.

Within fifteen days from the coming into force of the present Treaty the German troops and such officials as may be designated by the Commission set up under the provisions of paragraph 2 shall evacuate the plebiscite area. Up to the moment of the completion of the evacuation they shall refrain from any form of requisitioning in money or in kind and from all acts likely to prejudice the material interests of the country.

Within the same period the Workmen's and Soldiers' Councils which have been constituted in this area shall be dissolved. Members of such Councils who are natives of another region and are exercising their functions at the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty, or who have gone out of office since March 1, 1919, shall be evacuated.

All military and semi-military unions formed in the said area by inhabitants of the district shall be immediately disbanded All members of such military organisations who are not domiciled in the said area shall be required to leave it.

The plebiscite area shall be immediately placed under the authority of an International Commission of four members to be designated by the following Powers: the United States of America, France, the British Empire, and Italy. It shall be occupied by troops belonging to the Allied and Associated Powers, and the German Government undertakes to give facilities for the transference of these troops to Upper Silesia.

3.

The Commission shall enjoy all the powers exercised by the German or the Prussian Government, except those of legislation or taxation. It shall also be substituted for the Government of the province and the Regierungsbezirk.

It shall be within the competence of the Commission to interpret the powers hereby conferred upon it and to determine to what extent it shall exercise them, and to what extent they shall be left in the hands of the existing authorities.

Changes in the existing laws and the existing taxation shall only be brought into force with the consent of the Commission.

The Commission will maintain order with the help of the troops which will be at its disposal, and, to the extent which it may deem necessary, by means of gendarmerie recruited among the inhabitants of the country.

The Commission shall provide immediately for the replacement of the evacuated German officials and, if occasion arises, shall itself order the evacuation of such authorities and proceed to the replacement of such local authorities as may be required.

It shall take all steps which it thinks proper to ensure the freedom, fairness, and secrecy of the vote. In particular, it shall have the right to order the expulsion of any person who may in any way have attempted to distort the result of the plebiscite by methods of corruption or intimidation.

The Commission shall have full power to settle all questions arising from the execution of the present clauses. It shall be assisted by technical advisers chosen by it from among the local population.

The decisions of the Commission shall be taken by a majority vote.

4.

The vote shall take place at such date as may be determined by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, but not sooner than six months or later than eighteen months after the establishment of the Commission in the area.

The right to vote shall be given to all persons without distinction of sex who:

(a) Have completed their twentieth year on the 1st January of the year in which the plebiscite takes place-

(b) Were born in the plebiscite area or have been domiciled there since a date to be determined by the Commission, which shall not be subsequent to January 1, 1919, or who have been expelled by the German authorities and have not retained their domicile there.

Persons convicted of political offences shall be enabled to exercise their right of voting.

Every person will vote in the commune where he is domiciled or in which he was born, if he has not retained his domicile in the area.

The result of the vote will be determined by communes according to the majority of votes in each commune.

5.

On the conclusion of the voting, the number of votes cast in each commune will be communicated by the Commission to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, with a full report as to the taking of the vote and a recommendation as to the line which ought to be adopted as the frontier of Germany in Upper Silesia. In this recommendation regard will be paid to the wishes of the inhabitants as shown by the vote, and to the geographical and economic conditions of the locality.

6.

As soon as the frontier has been fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, the German authorities will be notified by the International Commission that they are free to take over the administration of the territory which it is recognised should be German, the said authorities must proceed to do so within one month of such notification and in the manner prescribed by the Commission.

Within the same period and in the manner prescribed by the commission, the Polish Government must proceed to take over the administration of the territory which it is recognized should be Polish.

When the administration of the territory has been provided for by the German and Polish authorities respectively, the powers of the Commission will terminate.

The cost of the army of occupation and expenditure by the Commission, whether in discharge of its own functions or in the administration of the territory, will be a charge on the area.

ARTICLE 89.

Poland undertakes to accord freedom of transit to persons, goods, vessels, carriages, wagons, and mails in transit between East Prussia and the rest of Germany over Polish territory, including territorial waters, and to treat them at least as favourably as the persons, goods, vessels, carriages, wagons and mails respectively of Polish or of any other more favoured nationality, origin importation, starting point, or ownerships as regards facilities, restrictions and all other matters.

Goods in transit shall be exempt from all customs or other similar duties.

Freedom of transit will extend to telegraphic and telephonic services under the conditions laid down by the conventions referred to in Article 98.

ARTICLE 90.

Poland undertakes to permit for a period of fifteen years the exportation to Germany of the products of the mines in any part of Upper Silesia transferred to Poland in accordance with the present Treaty.

Such products shall be free from all export duties or other charges or restrictions on exportation.

Poland agrees to take such steps as may be necessary to secure that any such products shall be available for sale to purchasers in Germany on terms as favourable as are applicable to like products sold under similar conditions to purchasers in Poland or in any other country.

ARTICLE 91.

German nationals habitually resident in territories recognised as forming part of Poland will acquire Polish nationality ipso facto and will lose their German nationality. German nationals, however, or their descendants who became resident in these territories after January 1, 1908, will not acquire Polish nationality without a special authorisation from the Polish State.

Within a period of two years after the coming into force of the present Treaty, German nationals over 18 years of age habitually resident in any of the territories recognised as forming part of Poland will be entitled to opt for German nationality.

Poles who are German nationals over 18 years of age and habitually resident in Germany will have a similar right to opt for Polish nationality.

Option by a husband will cover his wife and option by parents will cover their children under 18 years of age.

Persons who have exercised the above right to opt may within the succeeding twelve months transfer their place of residence to the State for which they have opted.

They will be entitled to retain their immovable property in the territory of the other State where they had their place of residence before exercising the right to opt.

They may carry with them their movable property of every description. No export or import duties or charges may be imposed upon them in connection with the removal of such property.

Within the same period Poles who are German nationals and are in a foreign country will be entitled, in the absence of any provisions to the contrary in the foreign law, and if they have not acquired the foreign nationality, to obtain Polish nationality and to lose their German nationality by complying with the requirements laid down by the Polish State.

In the portion of Upper Silesia submitted to a plebiscite the provisions of this Article shall only come into force as from the definitive attribution of the territory.

ARTICLE 92.

The proportion and the nature of the financial liabilities of Germany and Prussia which are to be borne by Poland will be determined in accordance with Article 254 of Part IX (Financial Clauses) of the present Treaty.

There shall be excluded from the share of such financial liabilities assumed by Poland that portion of the debt which, according to the finding of the Reparation Commission referred to in the above-mentioned Article, arises from measures adopted by the German and Prussian Governments with a view to German colonisation in Poland.

In fixing under Article 256 of the present Treaty the value of the property and possessions belonging to the German Empire and to the German States which pass to Poland with the territory transferred above, the Reparation Commission shall exclude from the valuation buildings, forests, and other State property which belonged to the former Kingdom of Poland; Poland shall acquire these properties free of all costs and charges.

In all the German territory transferred in accordance with the present Treaty and recognised as forming definitively part of Poland, the property, rights, and interests of German nationals shall not be liquidated under Article 297 by the Polish Government except in accordance with the following provisions:

(1) The proceeds of the liquidation shall be paid direct to the owner;

(2) If on his application the Mixed Arbitral Tribunal provided for by Section VI of Part X (Economic Clauses) of the present Treaty, or an arbitrator appointed by that Tribunal, is satisfied that the conditions of the sale or measures taken by the Polish Government outside its general legislation were unfairly prejudicial to the price obtained, they shall have discretion to award to the owner equitable compensation to be paid by the Polish Government.

Further agreements will regulate all questions arising out of the cession of the above territory which are not regulated by the present Treaty.

ARTICLE 93.

Poland accepts and agrees to embody in a Treaty with the Principal Allied and Associated Powers such provisions as may be deemed necessary by the said Powers to protect the interests of inhabitants of Poland who differ from the majority of the population in race, language, or religion.

Poland further accepts and agrees to embody in a Treaty with the said Powers such provisions as they may deem necessary to protect freedom of transit and equitable treatment of the commerce of other nations.

SECTION IX.

EAST PRUSSIA.

ARTICLE 94.

In the area between the southern frontier of East Prussia, as described in Article 28 of Part II (Boundaries of Germany) of the present Treaty, and the line described below, the inhabitants will be called upon to indicate by a vote the State to which they wish to belong:

The western and northern boundary of Regierungsbezirk Allenstein to its junction with the boundary between the Kreise of Oletsko and Angerburg; thence, the northern boundary of the Kreis of Oletsko to its junction with the old frontier of East Prussia.

ARTICLE 95.

The German troops and authorities will be withdrawn from the area defined above within a period not exceeding fifteen days after the coming into force of the present treaty. Until the evacuation is completed they will abstain from all requisitions in money or in kind and from all measures injurious to the economic interests of the country.

On the expiration of the above-mentioned period the said area will be placed under the authority of an International Commission of five members appointed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. This Commission will have general powers of administration and, in particular, will be charged with the duty of arranging for the vote and of taking such measures as it may deem necessary to ensure its freedom, fairness, and secrecy. The Commission will have all necessary authority to decide any questions to which the execution of these provisions may give rise. The Commission will make such arrangements as may be necessary for assistance in the exercise of its functions by officials chosen by itself from the local population. Its decisions will be taken by a majority.

Every person, irrespective of sex, will be entitled to vote who:

(a) Is 20 years of age at the date of the coming into force of the present Treaty, and

(b) Was born within the area where the vote will take place or has been habitually resident there from a date to be fixed by the Commission.

Every person will vote in the commune where he is habitually resident or, if not habitually resident in the area, in the commune where he was born.

The result of the vote will be determined by communes (Gemeinde) according to the majority of the votes in each commune.

On the conclusion of the voting the number of votes cast in each commune will be communicated by the Commission to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, with a full report as the taking of the vote and a recommendation as to the line which ought to be adopted as the boundary of East Prussia in this region . In this recommendation regard will be paid to the wishes of the inhabitants as shown by the vote and to the geographical and economic conditions of the locality. The Principal Allied and Associated Powers will then fix the frontier between East Prussia and Poland in this region.

If the line fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers is such as to exclude from East Prussia any part of the territory defined in Article 94, the renunciation of its rights by Germany in favour of Poland, as provided in Article 87 above, will extend to the territories so excluded.

As soon as the line has been fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, the authorities administering East Prussia will be notified by the International Commission that they are free to take over the administration of the territory to the north of the line so fixed, which they shall proceed to do within one month of such notification and in the manner prescribed by the Commission. Within the same period and as prescribed by the Commission, the Polish Government must proceed to take over the administration of the territory to the south of the line. The administration of the territory by the East Prussian and Polish authorities respectively has been provided for, the powers of the Commission will terminate.

Expenditure by the Commission, whether in the discharge of its own functions or in the administration of the territory, will be borne by the local revenues East Prussia will be required to bear such proportion of any deficit as may be fixed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers.

ARTICLE 96.

In the area comprising the Kreise of Stuhm and Rosenberg and the portion of the Kreis of Marienburg which is situated east of the Nogat and that of Marienwerder east of the Vistula, the inhabitants will be called upon to indicate by a vote, to be taken in each commune (Gemeinde), whether they desire the various communes situated in this territory to belong to Poland or to East Prussia.

ARTICLE 97.

The German troops and authorities will be withdrawn from the area defined in Article 96 within a period not exceeding fifteen days after the coming into force of the present Treaty. Until the evacuation is completed they will abstain from all requisitions in money or in kind and from all measures injurious to the economic interests of the country.

On the expiration of the above-mentioned period, the said area will be placed under the authority of an International Commission of five members appointed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers. This Commission, supported if occasion arises by the necessary forces, will have general powers of administration and in particular will be charged with the duty of arranging for the vote and of taking such measures as it may deem necessary to ensure its freedom, fairness, and secrecy. The Commission will conform as far as possible to the provisions of the present Treaty relating to the plebiscite in the Allenstein area; its decisions will be taken by a majority.

Expenditure by the Commission, whether in the discharge of its own functions or in the administration of the territory, will be borne by the local revenues.

On the conclusion of the voting the number of votes cast in each commune will be communicated by the Commission to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers with a full report as to the taking of the vote and a recommendation as to the line which ought to be adopted as the boundary of East Prussia in this region. In this recommendation regard will be paid to the wishes of the inhabitants as shown by the vote and to the geographical and economic conditions of the locality. The Principal Allied and Associated Powers will then fix the frontier between East Prussia and Poland in this region, leaving in any case to Poland for the whole of the section bordering on the Vistula full and complete control of the river including the east bank as far east of the river as may be necessary for its regulation and improvement, Germany agrees that in any portion of the said territory which remains German, no fortifications shall at any time be erected. The Principal Allied and Associated Powers will at the same time draw up regulations for assuring to the population of East Prussia to the fullest extent and under equitable conditions access to the Vistula and the use of it for themselves, their commerce, and their boats.

The determination of the frontier and the foregoing regulations shall be binding upon all the parties concerned.

When the administration of the territory has been taken over by the East Prussian and Polish authorities respectively, the powers of the Commission will terminate.

ARTICLE 98.

Germany and Poland undertake, within one year of the coming into force of this Treaty, to enter into conventions of which the terms, in case of difference, shall be settled by the Council of the League of Nations, with the object of securing, on the one hand, to Germany full and adequate railroad, telegraphic and telephonic facilities for communication between the rest of Germany and East Prussia over the intervening Polish territory, and on the other hand to Poland full and adequate railroad, telegraphic and telephonic facilities for communication between Poland and the Free City of Danzig over any German territory that may, on the right bank of the Vistula, intervene between Poland and the Free City of Danzig.

SECTION X.

MEMEL.

ARTICLE 99.

Germany renounces in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers all rights and title over the territories included between the Baltic, the north-eastern frontier of East Prussia as defined in Article 28 of Part II (Boundaries of Germany) of the present Treaty and the former frontier between Germany and Russia. Germany undertakes to accept the settlement made by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers in regard to these territories, particularly in so far as concerns the nationality of the inhabitants.

SECTION XI.

FREE CITY OF DANZIG.

ARTICLE 100.

Germany renounces in favour of the Principal Allied and Associated Powers all rights and title over the territory comprised within the following limits:

from the Baltic Sea southwards to the point where the principal channels of navigation of the Nogat and the Vistula (Weichsel) meet:

the boundary of East Prussia as described in Article 28 of Part II (Boundaries of Germany) of the present Treaty;

thence the principal channel of navigation of the Vistula downstream to a point about 6-1/2 kilometres north of the bridge of Dirschau;

thence north-west to point 5-1/2 kilometres south-east of the church of Guttland:

a line to be fixed on the ground,

thence in a general westerly direction to the salient made by the boundary of the Kreis of Berent 8-1/2 kilometres north-east of Schoneck:

a line to be fixed on the ground passing between Muhlbanz on the south and Rambeltsch on the north;

thence the boundary of the Kreis of Berent westwards to the re- entrant which it forms 6 kilometres north-north-west Schoneck; thence to a point on the median line of Lonkener See:

a line to be fixed on the ground passing north of Neu Fietz and Schatarpi and south of Barenhutte and Lonken;

thence the median line of Lonkener See to its northernmost point;

thence to the southern end of Pollenziner See:

a line to be fixed on the ground;

thence the median line of Pollenziner See to its northernmost point;

thence in a north-easterly direction to a point about 1 kilometre south of Koliebken church, where the Danzig-Neustadt railway crosses a stream:

a line to be fixed on the ground passing south-east of Kamehlen, Krissau, Fidlin, Sulmin (Richthof), Mattern, Schaferei, and to the north-west of Neuendorf, Marschau, Czapielken, Hoch- and Klein- Kelpin, Pulvermuhl, Renneberg, and the towns of Oliva and Zoppot;

thence the course of the stream mentioned above to the Baltic Sea. The boundaries described above are drawn on a German map, scale 1/100,000, attached to the present Treaty (Map No. 3).

ARTICLE 101.

A Commission composed of three members appointed by the Principal Allied and Associated Powers, including a High Commissioner as President, one member appointed by Germany and one member appointed by Poland, shall be constituted within fifteen days of the coming into force of the present Treaty for the purpose of delimiting on the spot the frontier of the territory as described above, taking into account as far as possible the existing communal boundaries.

ARTICLE 102.

The Principal Allied and Associated Powers undertake to establish the town of Danzig, together with the rest of the territory described in Article 100, as a Free City. It will be placed under the protection of the League of Nations.

ARTICLE 103.

A constitution for the Free City of Danzig shall be drawn up by the duly appointed representatives of the Free City in agreement with a High Commissioner to be appointed by the League of Nations. This constitution shall be placed under the guarantee of the League of Nations.

The High Commissioner will also be entrusted with the duty of dealing in the first instance with all differences arising between Poland and the Free City of Danzig in regard to this Treaty or any arrangements or agreements made thereunder.

The High Commissioner shall reside at Danzig.

ARTICLE 104.

The Principal Allied and Associated Powers undertake to negotiate a Treaty between the Polish Government and the Free City of Danzig, which shall come into force at the same time as the establishment of the said Free City, with the following objects:

(1) To effect the inclusion of the Free City of Danzig within the Polish Customs frontiers, and to establish a free area in the port;

(2) To ensure to Poland without any restriction the free use and service of all waterways, docks, basins, wharves and other works within the territory of the Free City necessary for Polish imports and exports;

(3) To ensure to Poland the control and administration of the Vistula and of the whole railway system within the Free City, except such street and other railways as serve primarily the needs of the Free City, and of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communication between Poland and the port of Danzig;

(4) To ensure to Poland the right to develop and improve the waterways, docks, basins, wharves, railways and other works and means of communication mentioned in this Article, as well as to lease or purchase through appropriate processes such land and other property as may be necessary for these purposes,

(5) To provide against any discrimination within the Free City of Danzig to the detriment of citizens of Poland and other persons of Polish origin or speech;

(6) To provide that the Polish Government shall undertake the conduct of the foreign relations of the Free City of Danzig as well as the diplomatic protection of citizens of that city when abroad.

ARTICLE 105.

On the coming into force of the present Treaty German nationals ordinarily resident in the territory described in Article 100 will ipso facto lose their German nationality in order to become nationals of the Free City of Danzig.

ARTICLE 106.

Within a period of two years from the coming into force of the present Treaty, German nationals over 18 years of age ordinarily resident in the territory described in Article 100 will have the right to opt for German nationality.

Option by a husband will cover his wife and option by parents will cover their children less than 18 years of age.

All persons who exercise the right of option referred to above must during the ensuing twelve months transfer their place of residence to Germany.

These persons will be entitled to preserve the immovable property possessed by them in the territory of the Free City of Danzig. They may carry with them their movable property of every description. No export or import duties shall be imposed upon upon them in this connection.

ARTICLE 107.

All property situated within the territory of the Free City of Danzig belonging to the German Empire or to any German State shall pass to the Principal Allied and Associated Powers for transfer to the Free City of Danzig or to the Polish State as they may consider equitable.

ARTICLE 108.

The proportion and nature of the financial liabilities of Germany and of Prussia to be borne by the Free City of Danzig shall be fixed in accordance with Article 254 of Part IX (Financial Clauses) of the present Treaty.

All other questions which may arise from the cession of the territory referred to in Article 100 shall be settled by further agreements.