This article examines post 1989 Polish literary production that addresses German-Polish history and border relations in the aftermath of World War II and participates in the German-Polish dialogue of reconciliation. I consider the methodological implications of border space and spatial memory for the analysis of mass displacements in the German-Polish border region with particular attention to spatiocultural interstitiality, deterritorialization, unhomeliness, and border identity. Focusing on two representative novels, Stefan Chwin's Death in Danzig and Olga Tokarczuk's House of Day, House of Night, I argue that these authors' attention to geospatiality, border space, and displacement forms a distinct characteristic of Polish border narratives. Chwin's and Tokarczuk's construction of interstitial border spaces reflects a complex dynamic between place, historical memory, and self-identification while disrupting and challenging the unitary mythologies of the nation. With their fictional re-imagining of wartime and postwar German-Polish border region, these writers participate in the politics of collective memory of the border region and the construction and articulation of the Polish perspective that shapes the discourse of memory east of the border.
Jennifer A. Yoder
On 21 December 2007, the German-Polish border became a "Schengen" border. Passport controls and other limitations to the movement of people and goods were abolished, removing one more obstacle to European and, perhaps, German-Polish integration. Several years earlier, Poland introduced territorial and administrative changes that moved it closer institutionally to western European states. Forty-nine subnational administrative units were replaced by sixteen self-governing voivodships. This article explores the implications of this new institutional context for German-Polish border relations. It finds that, despite the expansion of the opportunity structure for greater German-Polish cross-border cooperation, interaction still tends to be among elites. The development of linkages at the societal level lags behind for several reasons, including lingering institutional impediments and cultural differences, but also the failings of political leadership.
Cartographic Enactments of the German-Polish Border among German and Polish High-school Pupils
On the basis of fieldwork conducted in the two towns Görlitz and Zgorzelec, situated directly on the German-Polish border, this article explores how different versions of the border are enacted among Polish and German high-school pupils. As is usually the case with borders, the German-Polish border has a multiple, even ambivalent character. Inspired by the performative approach within actor-network theory, this article aims to qualify the concept of the multiple border, where multiplicity is understood as heterogeneous practices and patterns of absences and presences that constitute the border. The data, based on ethnographic fieldwork, consist of 'cartographies', maps made by the pupils, followed up by 'walking conversations' in the two towns on the border. The analysis shows that the border is not only enacted differently; also it is suggested that the performances all deal with and constitute an ambivalent border.
This article analyzes Sabrina Janesch's 2010 novel Katzenberge through the lenses of Heimat and spatial theory. Katzenberge, which is told from the perspective of the third generation (i.e., grandchild) of expellees, narrates the story of Polish flight out of the Polish-Ukrainian border region of Galicia into the German-Polish border region of Silesia. I argue that Katzenberge chronicles a generational shift in relationships to the verlorene (lost) Heimat from the expellee generation's static view (Heimat as the physical territory itself) to the third generation's more fluid conceptions (Heimat as memories, stories). The purpose of this article is to illustrate changing ways of engaging with the verlorene Heimat over time and particularly to show the role that literature plays in facilitating and explaining these changes while also opening up new avenues of understanding both across generations and across German-Polish national borders.
Since the end of the Cold War and the reconfiguration of the map of
Europe, scholars across the disciplines have looked anew at the geopolitical
and geocultural dimensions of East Central Europe. Although geographically
at the periphery of Eastern Europe, Germany and its changing discourses
on the East have also become a subject of this reassessment in
recent years. Within this larger context, this special issue explores the
fraught history of German-Polish border regions with a special focus on
contemporary literature and film.1 The contributions examine the representation
of border regions in recent Polish and German literature (Irene
Sywenky, Claudia Winkler), filmic accounts of historical German and Polish
legacies within contemporary European contexts (Randall Halle, Meghan
O’Dea), and the role of collective memory in contemporary German-Polish
relations (Karl Cordell). Bringing together scholars of Polish and German
literature and film, as well as political science, some of the contributions
also ponder the advantages of regional and transnational approaches to
issues that used to be discussed primarily within national parameters.