Germany's Eastern Frontiers: The Problem of the Oder-Neisse Line

Germany's Eastern Frontiers: The Problem of the Oder-Neisse Line

Germany's Eastern Frontiers: The Problem of the Oder-Neisse Line

Germany's Eastern Frontiers: The Problem of the Oder-Neisse Line

Excerpt

Strictly speaking, the problem of Germany's eastern frontiers, especially since it involves the Oder-Neisse Line, was born of World War II, but in a larger sense it extends over a period of many decades and relates to Poland's long struggle for a national existence, the deep-seated desire on the part of many Germans for Lebensraum, the urge of the Russians to expand, or at least to set up a buffer against the West, and various other significant factors. Few areas present such a tangled skein of past developments, so many current complications, and such far-reaching possible consequences for the future as the area involving the eastern frontiers of Germany. It is conceivable that a peace treaty in the foreseeable future may stipulate formal eastern frontiers for the Germans, but it will be only slightly less than miraculous if any such international agreement achieves a genuine and lasting solution to the problem. Indeed, one may wonder whether the larger question presented here is not one of those persistent problems confronting the modern world which defy anything like a full solution.

Many scholars in both Europe and the United States have given their attention to various aspects of this ramified and often burning overall issue. Books have been written about the German pressures, about the aspirations and tragedies of Poland, about Russian nationalism, about Danzig and Silesia, and about other aspects of this knotty problem. But it is perhaps surprising that so little attention has been given by English-speaking scholars during the post-World War II years to the immediate situation, considering the deep interest of the United States and Britain in Germany and the frequent use of the term "Oder-Neisse" in the press and in the debates of international bodies. It is true that central and eastern European matters as a whole, except, possibly, the occupation of Germany, have not fared well in this respect recently, but this particular aspect seems to have received even less attention from scholars than other less important elements.

It is, therefore, of more than ordinary moment that a young American scholar with the advantage of a European background has essayed to analyze the many difficult questions which are integral parts of or . . .

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