Polish citizenship

Polish citizenship for the dwellers of the former Prussian Partition.

With respect to the dwellers of the former Prussian Partition, the Republic of Poland, after the 1st World War, introduced a construct of general recognition of Polish citizenship due to their permanent residence within the territory that fell in the hands of Poland and it is regulated in the Tresty of Versaille with Poland, in the Act of 1920 on the Citizenship of Polish State, as well as in Article 91 of the Treaty of Versaille with Germany and in two conventions: Upper Silesian and Vienna Convention, concluded in 1922 and 1924 by Poland as an independent state with Germany.

The abovementioned contract had, in fact, to take into account the basic provisions of both Treaties of Versaille. However, Poland could agree on and specify some of the terms and conditions, important from the Polish point of view, for granting Polish citizenship to groups of German citizens specified in the treaties of Versaiile.

In accordance with art. 91 of the Versaille Treaty with Germany, German citizens, having permanent place of residence within the territories considered finally as a part of Poland, acquired Polish citizenship by operation of law, losing German citizenship at the same time. However, German citizens or their successors who chose their permanent place of residence to be within those territories after 1 January 1908, could acquire Polish citizenship only with a special permit of the Polish government. The acceptance of that date was motivated by Polish interests - Poland's aim was to limit granting Polish citizenship to ethnically German population that was settling on Polish territories as a result of intensified colonising activity carried out by Germany.

Attention should be paid that the provisions of Article 91 of the Treaty of Versaille with Germany had a framework character and therefore there was a need to make them more precise. Poland did so in an executive regulation of 13 July 1920, which fixed the period of permanent residence in Poland as grounds for acquiring Polish citizenship in accordance with Article 91 of the Treaty of Versaille with Germany.

Pursuant to Article 1 of the Regulation, the grounds for acquiring Polish citizenship by German citizens, pursuant to Article 91 of the Treaty, was permanent residence within the territory of Poland only if it lasted continuously from 2 January 2908 to 10 January 1920. A temporary departure was not considered as a break, if the accompanying circumstances clearly indicated on the intention of keeping the current place of residence.

An equal status with the people residing permanently before 2 January 1908 was given - under certain circumstances - to children of dead parents born after that date and to women who were granted permanent residence by the fact of marriage.

It is to be pointed out that with respect to recognizing the population of the former Prussian Partition as Polish citizens, certain changes were introduced by a Polish-German convention on Citizenship and Options signed on 30 August 1924 in Vienna. The provisions of the Convention applied to German citizens raised or born throughout

Poland, except for the poll territories of Upper SIlesia. The Convention determined that the grounds for acquiring Polish citizenship involve: permanent residence within a certain territory and within a certain time limit, being born and option - i.e. the same criteria that applied in the Treaties of Versaille. They were, however, developed and precised in detail by the parties.

As to the idea of "permanent residence", the provision of Article 4 of the Convention stipulated that German citizens are resident - within the meaning of certain provisions of the Treaty of Versaille - throughout Poland, if they settled there and did not move out. Residence, pursuant to Paragraph 1 of Article 4 was created when a German citizen settled in Poland with a purpose of realising his personal goals there and settling customarily and regularly without any intention to leave his or her residence; the idea of settling customarily and regularly meant residing througout a significant part of a given period. Residing on a temporary basis or for entertainment, such as summer holidays, looking after an enterprise, hunting did not constitute settlemet according to the said convention.

German citizens who did not have permanent place of residence in Poland, as uderstood by the Convention, between 1 January 1908 and 10 January 1920, have not acquired Polish citizenship by the operation of law. They could acquire said citizenship with special permit of Polish authorities - by means of a decision on granting Polish citizenship under Article 8 of the 1920 on the Citizenship of the Polish State.

We have also to point out to a special status of German officers as to granting them Polish citizenship. According to the provisions of the final protocol for Article 4 of the Vienna Convention, former German direct officers - i.e. officers who remained directly in govermental service, not excluding officers in active service, settled on 10th January 1920 within the territory given by Germany to Poland, could not be considered as Polish citizens, if before 1 April 1920 they were not released from such service or have not requested release from such service. On the other hand, with respect to German citizens, who, at a certain time before 10 January 1920 were German direct officers or military officers in active service, or as indirect officers, i.e. employees of communes and municipalities , various corporations, institutions and plants remaining under the supervision and control of a state, teachers, clergy, general provisions of the convention, concerning the place of residence applied.