Transformations of the Ethnic Structure of Polish Population in the 20th Century Cover Image

Przemiany struktury etnicznej ludności Polski w XX wieku
Transformations of the Ethnic Structure of Polish Population in the 20th Century

Author(s): Piotr Eberhardt
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay
Published by: Instytut Slawistyki Polskiej Akademii Nauk
Keywords: Poland; population in the 20th century; ethnic structure

Summary/Abstract: The paper presents the transformations in the ethnic, language and denominational structures of the population of Poland during the last century. The first census was carried out in independent Poland in 1921. It showed the ethnic and denominational composition of the population inhabiting the newly established Polish state. The subsequent census, carried out in 1931, accounted for two criteria of ethnicity: mother tongue and religious denomination. The results of these two censuses form the basis for interpretation. The author confirms the opinion that in the inter-war period Poland was a country with numerous ethnic minorities, among whom relations were quite differentiated and frequently led to confrontations. The subsequent part of the report concerns the situation during World War II. In this period the political and administrative boundaries were undergoing changes. Polish territories were under the German and Soviet occupation. This brought about various migration movements, in which ethnic criteria played an essential role. Demographic losses affected primarily the Jewish population. This issue is accounted for in a particular manner. The author presents the balances of demographic changes according to various political and territorial settings. The following part of the paper is devoted to the ethnic situation after 1945. Poland became, in its new boundaries, a mono-ethnic country, in which population of Polish nationality and Roman Catholic denomination dominates clearly. The final part presents the results of the census carried out in 2002. The data from this census showed that Poland was at that time inhabited by 38,230,100 people. Of those, 36,983,700 declared Polish nationality. There were 471,500 people who declared a different nationality, that is – merely 1.2% of the total population. Over the 20th century there has been an extremely deep change in the ethnic character of Poland. Resulting from the border changes and political migrations Poland is nowadays a mono-ethnic country, with complete supremacy of the population of Polish nationality, speaking Polish language and belonging to the Roman Catholic Church.

  • Issue Year: 2006
  • Issue No: 28
  • Page Range: 53-74
  • Page Count: 22
  • Language: Polish