Ghost Towns in Poland
Poland, or the Third Polish Republic as it is officially called, is a fascinating country with its history shaped not just by conflict but by a nationalism that strove to assert itself in making a country the Poles would be proud to live in.
The Kingdom of Poland is believed to have developed alongside the acceptance of Christianity by its king in 925 and consolidated itself by forming a long standing treaty with Lithuania.
A long period of growth and development of its culture came to an end when in 1795 its conquered lands were split between Prussia, Russia and Austria.
It remained split until after the Great War when the Second Polish Republic was formed from the ashes of the war.
The reunited Poland set to work integrating the three partitioned areas. An interesting aspect of this was the restructuring of the railways to direct traffic towards Warsaw instead of the capitals of the partitioning countries, a new network of national roads was gradually built up and a major seaport was opened on the Baltic Coast, so as to allow Polish exports and imports to flow freely.
After gradually rebuilding its strength and identity, it all fell apart with the invasion of the country by first the German army and then the Russian army in World War II.
Over six million Poles died in the war, nearly a sixth of the population and when the war ended it found itself part of the Soviet empire.
After being promised support and independence after the war, the Poles became increasingly frustrated with the west going back on its promise of support and resigned themselves to years of oppression under the Soviets.
It wasn’t until during industrial unrest in 1980 that a new political party formed, Solidarity, founded by Lech Wałęsa, which, although initially violently repressed by the authorities, eventually went on to win a majority in the 1989 elections paving the way for the rise of the Third Polish Republic which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Poland’s history has had a big impact on the population over the centuries with immigrants from countries who have invaded, replacing ethic groups. The Second World War had a huge impact on the population and repression from the Soviets after 1945 further added to the problem. Many towns and villages were cleared by the Soviets and inhabitants resettled or in extreme cases sent to labour camps. The collapse of industry led to emigration from towns and villages where workers were housed.
This decade is once again seeing a reduction in the population as low birth rates associated with rising economic prosperity and emigration to other EU countries impact. However better economic times in the country are gradually encouraging emigrant Poles to return home and the future looks bright for the country and its people.