The transformation of the Free City of Danzig after World War I both exemplified and contradicted the interwar borderland experience in Central Europe. Although Danzig was linked closely to the Second Polish Republic, cultural and diplomatic challenges to the city’s status played out in Berlin and Geneva. The vocabulary of sovereignty and reconciliation became a battleground between German nationalists and center-left politicians. This article analyzes diplomatic correspondence and propaganda pamphlets to argue that regions and cities become a metaphor for broader questions and concludes that borderlands, however permanent on the maps of treaty negotiators, are largely in the mind.
Elizabeth Morrow Clark is Professor of History at West Texas A&M University. She is a specialist on modern Poland, German diplomatic history, and the city of Gdańsk, where she was a Fulbright Scholar. She has published articles and reviews in The Polish Review, Nationalities Papers, and The Russian Review. She recently served as English editor for Marek Kornat and Wojciech Materski’s Między Pokojem a Wojną: Dzkice o dyplomacji Polskiej lat 1918–1945/ Between Peace and War: Essays on Polish diplomacy in 1918–1945 (Warsaw, 2015).