1922 Encyclopædia Britannica/Allenstein-Marienwerder

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ALLENSTEIN-MARIENWERDER, a region composed of districts of the former Prussian provinces of East and West Prussia, in which a plebiscite was taken, under the Treaty of Versailles, on June 11 1920.

Art. 94-98 of the Treaty of Versailles provided that the East Prussian Circles (Kreise) of Allenstein, Osterode, Ortelsburg, Sensburg, Johannisburg, Lötzen, Lyck and Neidenburg, in so far as they had not already been ceded to Poland, and further the West Prussian Circles of Marienwerder (east of the Vistula), Stuhm, Rosenberg and the section of the Circle Marienburg situated east of the Nogat, should declare by a plebiscite whether they desired to belong to Germany or Poland. Until the plebiscite should take place the administration of these Circles was taken over by interallied commissions for East and West Prussia respectively. The commissions were composed of representatives of England, France, Italy and Japan. Troops for occupying the districts were provided by France, England and Italy. Two German commissions conducted the negotiations with the interallied commissions.

The whole territory has an extent of about 15,000 sq. km., and a pop. of about 855,000, of which 695,000 belong to the East Prussian plebiscitary area and 160,000 to the West Prussian. Racially the population in the East Prussian region numbers 428,000 Germans, 95,000 Poles and 172,000 Masurians, who are Slavs but of the Protestant faith. In the West Prussian region the Circle Stuhm has 21,000 inhabitants who speak German and 15,000 who speak Polish; the Circle Marienburg has 26,500 German-speaking and 1,500 Polish-speaking; Rosenberg 47,000 German-speaking and 3,500 Polish-speaking; Marienwerder 17,500 German-speaking and 25,000 Polish-speaking inhabitants.

The date of the plebiscite was fixed originally for June 11 1920. Long before that date a vigorous agitation was opened by both sides. There were repeated actual encounters in different places, mostly excited by Polish bands, the so-called Bajowkas, recruited from Congress Poland, and the territory of Posnania which has been ceded under the Treaty. The Polish agitation, however, did not produce any marked results either in West Prussia or in East. In both regions leagues which agitated for Poland were from the native Polish and Masurian elements of the population, but in the course of the plebiscitary campaign they went over to the Germans. The plebiscite, ultimately held on July 11, resulted in an astonishing German victory.

In the East Prussian region 98% of the population voted for Germany, in the West Prussian 92%. The result was celebrated by joyous festivities in all the East and West Prussian polling centres. Both the districts were assigned to Germany on the basis of the vote; but, in accordance with the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, a zone 50 m. broad and some 30 m. long on the east bank of the Vistula near Marienwerder and four villages with the harbour of Kurzebrack on the same river were assigned to Poland in order to secure for the Polish State, at this point, the sovereignty over the course of the Vistula accorded to it by the Treaty. The inhabitants of the adjacent East Prussian territory are at all times to have access for themselves and their boats to the Vistula. Three frontier communes in the south-west of East Prussia were also assigned to Poland. On Aug. 16 both the interallied commissions left the plebiscitary areas, which were thus once more subjected to German administration. The agitation in favour of Germany had been to a considerable extent conducted by the so-called Heimatsdienst, a patriotic German society which had spread its organization over the whole of the plebiscitary areas. (C. K.*)