2011 | 46 | 127-157
Article title

THE CURZON LINE AS POLAND'S EASTERN BORDER - ORIGIN AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS (Linia Curzona jako wschodnia granica Polski - geneza i uwarunkowania polityczne)

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The article is devoted to the forming of the contemporary eastern border of Poland, named in the subject literature 'the Curzon line'. Its geographical location was put forward by Lord Curzon, British Foreign Minister at the time. It was not put to practice then. The conception was raised again during the last stage of World War II, and, since 1945, the Curzon line has been the eastern border of Poland. The first part of the article discusses the complex political, demographic, and national conditions on the area located between ethnic Poland and ethnic Russia, which until 1772 belonged to Poland, and later, during the three partitions were attached to the Russian Empire. Both countries were convinced about their justified historical rights to the territories being the meeting point of their geopolitical interests; setting a border to both Moscow's and Warsaw's satisfaction was unlikely. The next part of the article presents the political situation after the end of World War I, as well as the view of western countries (France, Great Britain, The USA) on the territorial range of the newly formed Polish country. The western Polish borders were settled at the peace conference in Versailles; the eastern borders, on the other hand, depended on the inevitable military conflict between Poland and Bolshevik Russia. The conflict lasted for two years and ended in signing Riga Treaty on March 18, 1921. The treaty established the new borders between the two countries. The possibilities of an intervention of the Entente countries in the war were relatively small; they did, however, try to lead them to a political agreement through diplomatic negotiations. They were not interested in the defeat of Poland. They were also quite critical about maximalistic territorial demands presented by Poland. During the 1918-1920 war, Britain proposed a solution that et the border meridionally, from Grodno in the north to the Karpaty in the south, and ran through Jalowka, Niemirow and Krylow. The project received the name of 'the Curzon line'. The article presents the beginnings of the concept, its authors, as well as the military and political circumstances, which made the realization of the idea impossible at the time. The subsequent part of the article discusses the geopolitical situation after Ribbentrop-Molotov pact (1939-1941), and after the German invasion on the USSR, the focal point being the verdicts passed at three great conferences of the anti-Hitlerite coalition countries in Teheran and Yalta, where Polish eastern border was decided upon without being accepted by Poland. The location of the border was based on Lord Curzon's suggestion of 1919, and was realized after World War II. It required only technical delimitation settlements. As a result of decisions made in Potsdam, the western border was relocated on the line of the Odra and the Lusatian Neisse. The Riga - Versailles Poland was replaced by one shaped by Yalta and Potsdam. The aforementioned border changes are analysed from a historical and geographical perspective.
  • Piotr Eberhardt, Instytut Geografii i Przestrzennego Zagospodarowania im. S. Leszczyckiego PAN, ul. Twarda 51/55, 00-818 Warszawa, Poland
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