Development of a Nation
How Poland became
and how the Poles became Polish.

the Poles as a people, and the country of Poland as a nation-state,
evolved and materialized into current form, in terms of ancestral
bloodlines, the Polish language, borders, culture, and even how they
received their name.

Ancestral Background
Development of Language
Formation of Borders
Etymology (How Name Received)
Poland in 2008

Slavic tribes
Ancestral Background:

  1. Around 1000 BC, a group splinters from the
    Proto-Baltic-Slavic people near the shores of the Baltic Sea
    (centered around modern Lithuania). This group becomes the Slavic
    people, settling around modern Ukraine.
  2. By 750 BC, a group of Slavic people migrate
    westward into modern
    Poland, becoming the ancient forefathers to modern Poles.
  3. In the 10th century, Polans were
    the dominant tribe
    in the region of modern Poland, consolidating tribes in area into
    the Kingdom of Poland beginning in 1025. This constitutes the
    primary ancestry of modern Poles. Over the centuries, Germans would
    be invited to settle in Polish territories, contributing a minor
    amount to the Polish nationality gene pool, but
    those that remained Germanized into 20th century were forced
    back into Germany’s redrawn borders by the USSR’s Red Army during brutal
    population transfer following WWII.

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Development of Polish Language:

  1. Poland
    3000 BC – The Proto-Balto-Slavic language
    (branch of

    ) is spoken by Proto-Balto-Slavic group
    centered around Lithuania.
  2. After a split in the Proto-Balto-Slavic nation
    around 1000 BC, the language of those that migrate east and south
    evolves into Slavic (thus the origin of Slavic peoples). The
    language of those that remain in the Baltic region evolves into
  3. The Polen tribe began to form its own distinct
    branch of the Slavic language by the 9th century, known as Old Polish,
    which would evolve into modern Polish by the 16th
    century. Throughout the development of Polish, it incorporated many borrowed words from a variety
    of other languages with whom Poles had relations, such as Germans,
    Latins (the official language of the Church), Lithuanians (Balts),
    and East Slavs.

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of Polish Borders:

  1. Poland-Lithuanian Union
    By 750 BC, a group of Slavic people migrate
    westward into modern
    Poland, becoming the ancient forefathers to modern Poles.
  2. In the 10th century, the Polans
    became the dominant tribe
    in region of modern Poland, consolidating tribes in the area into
    the Kingdom of Poland, established in 1025. By 1100, Germans and Baltic
    Prussians had expanded across Poland’s northern border, closing off
    access to the Baltic Sea.
  3. In 1226, the Teutonic Knights (German knightly
    order) were invited by
    Poland to help
    them defend
    their northern border against the Baltic Prussians. The German
    Knights began to conquer Prussian lands, forcing them into
    submission, or into retreat back to Lithuania.
  4. In the 13th and 14th
    centuries, the Polish would fight with Baltic Prussians and Germans to
    the north in an attempt to gain access to Baltic Sea. The Poles
    would suffer defeat at the hands of their rival Germans
    (led by the Teutonic Knights) by 1343.

  5. Russia
    1349 – Poles conquered Galicia from the Ukrainians,
    ending their sovereignty.
  6. 1370-85 – Poland falls temporarily under Hungarian
  7. 1385 – A merger was forged between Poland and Lithuania,
    forming the Polish-Lithuanian Union. The two kingdoms still operated
    independently, but formed a
    defensive alliance against
    the Teutonic
    Knights and Moscow, common threats to both. They soon began to gain
    the upper
    hand against the German Teutonic Knights to the north.
  8. 1454 – Poland gains Western Prussia (Royal
    Prussia) from the Teutonic Knights, finally gaining access to the Baltic
    Sea again for first time since 11th century.
  9. 1525 – Poland captures Eastern Prussia (Baltic
    Prussia) from the Teutonic Knights, forming the Duchy of Prussia under
    the Polish crown.
  10. 1569 – Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
    Lithuania was forced to combine with Poland to protect itself from
    the expanding Russian threat. Russia had been taking lands and diminishing
    Lithuanian dominance since consolidating in 1478 with the annexation
    of Novgorod. Lithuania would continue to exist as the Grand Duchy of
    Lithuania with its own set of laws, but under Polish authority.

  11. Partition of Poland
    1618 –
    The Duchy of Prussia (Eastern Prussia)
    is inherited by Brandenburg of the Holy Roman Empire (Germany),
    removing it from Poland rule.
  12. In the Polish-Swedish War of 1625 – 1629
    (battle for supremacy along southern Baltic coast), Sweden gained
    Livonia (from Lithuania), consisting of southern portion of Estonia,
    along with northern Latvia. Southern Latvia remained part of
  13. 1657 – Russia gained Ukraine from Poland-Lithuania
    in the Russian-Polish War.
  14. In the Great Northern War (1700-21, battle over
    supremacy of Baltic Sea), Russia defeated Sweden, gaining Livonia.
    Southern Latvia remains with Poland-Lithuania.
  15. 1725 – A weakened Poland-Lithuania came under
    Russian control.
  16. The three partitions of Polish-Lithuanian
    Commonwealth divides Poland between
    Russia, Austria and Prussia.
    As a result, the Poles no longer have a sovereign state of their own,
    completely relegated to foreign rule.
  17. In 1807, as part of the Napoleonic Wars,
    territories of Poland previously annexed by Prussia and Austria are
    captured by the French, and reconstituted as the Duchy of Warsaw.

  18. Poland
    After the defeat of France in the Napoleonic
    Wars in 1815, all of Poland is formed into the Kingdom of Poland,
    and awarded by the coalition to Russian Tsar rule.
  19. With the disarray caused by the Russian
    Revolution (1917 – 22) and German occupation, Poland declared
    independence in 1918, after German withdrawal and surrender in WWI.
    This initiates
    the Polish War of Independence against the USSR, which Poland wins.
    Poland also gained
    western Prussia to the north, forming Polish Corridor (1918), and
    restoring access to the Baltic Sea.
  20. Also following the end of WWI, Austria is
    forced to cede a large swathe of Polish-inhabited territory to
    newly-independent Poland, adding a significant block of land to
  21. As both Lithuania and Poland are in the
    process of defeating the Russians to gain independence, a border
    dispute between the two arises, surrounding the Vilnius Region.
    Lithuania claimed it in 1920, since it was the historic capital of
    Lithuania, and was ceded to Lithuania by the Russians upon the
    conclusion of the Lithuanian War of Independence. Poland claimed it
    due to its sizable Polish population. This led to the Polish-Lithuanian War
    in 1920, resulting in a Polish victory. Consequently, the region
    remained with Poland, despite the fact that the League of Nations
    diplomatically sided with Lithuania, and had requested Poland to
    withdraw, to which Poland refused.
  22. In 1939, Nazis annexed West Prussia and Danzig
    City away from Poland, creating the province of Danzig-West Prussia.

  23. Poland
    As part of secret pact between Nazi Germany
    and USSR in 1939, USSR and Germany divvied up Poland between
    themselves, with each agreeing to allocate Western Poland to
    Germany, and Eastern Poland to the USSR. Germany invaded
    from the west, and the USSR from the east in 1939. In betrayal of
    the secret pact, Nazi Germany began its invasion of Russia in 1941,
    occupying all of Poland in 1941. When the Red Army had the Nazis
    retreating a few years later, it occupied all of Poland by 1945.
    Upon the defeat of the Nazis in
    the Soviets assigned the western Vilnius region to Lithuania, and
    eastern Vilnius region to Belarus. They also shaved territory off of
    Eastern Poland, transferring it to Belarus and Ukraine. To
    compensate, the Soviets awarded Silesia, Pomerania, southern East Prussia, Danzig-West Prussia, along with
    other large portions of east Germany to Poland. So Poland was essentially
    shifted westward at the expense of Germany. German populations were
    forced to migrate inside the newly drawn German borders.

  24. Poland
    Poland then remained under the USSR’s sphere of influence
    until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990.

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Etymology (How
Name Received):

from “Land of Polens”, which is the Slavic tribe that unified Poland
into a kingdom in the 10th century.

Polish Culture:

Germany after World War I
At the
crossroads between Eastern and Western Europe, Poland culture has long
been an eclectic blend of European cultures, combined with uniquely
Polish elements. Unfortunately for Poland, its culture has also been
shaped by its serving as a primary battleground in
wars of the past two centuries, especially the Napoleonic Wars and World

In this devastation, Poles lost many of its architectural monuments,
while becoming hardened as a people as well.

Poland’s geography is
dominated by plains, enabling large, powerful armies to roll across it
without obstacle, which has invited conquering armies of the past few
centuries, including French, Germans and Russians, subjecting Poland to
long stints under foreign rule. During the earlier years of the
development of the Poland nation, the distance between neighboring
powers served as a sufficient barrier, but as population density
increased, and logistical technology advanced, the easily-crossed plains
became a liability to the Poles.

Recognizing its vulnerabilities,
Poland has customarily been open to immigration, to boost its numbers
and promote its collective

German invasion of Poland
skillfulness. This is how Poland became home
to Europe’s largest Jewish population before WWII. Unfortunately, the
Nazi extermination of Jews in Poland during WWII. Circumstances in the
time since have reversed this culturally tendency of openness, as Poland
was utterly damaged by competing powers during WWII, its demographics
permanently altered in damaging ways, and economy wrecked. In which
case, it was no longer an attractive destination for immigrants.
Compounding this, Poland came under Soviet domination, which further
dissuaded any hoped-for renaissance.

To this day, Poland is extremely
homogenous (nearly exclusively Polish in ethnological composition). It
also remains highly religious in light of Europe’s secularization trend.
Roman Catholicism is deeply entrenched in Poland. Much of Poland was
subject to the Catholic Austrian Empire during its long existence, which
gave something for the Poles to rally around in the face of
anti-religion persecution during the Soviet Union era.

Poland in 2008:

German losses in World War II
Economy: Since 1990, and
especially in recent years the Polish economy has improved
substantially, although still well behind other major European powers in
most metrics (unemployment, GDP per capita, average income, etc.). Still
overcoming centuries of devastating warfare and foreign occupation,
especially WWI and WWII, where Poland served as a battleground for
Germany and Russian fighting. Privatization still undergoing, as full
transition to free-market economy is near.
Government: Democratic Republic
Religion: Roman Catholic 89.8% (about 75% practicing – very high
for Europe). 80% believe in God. Highly religious for Europe. Unlike
other nations under Soviet sphere of influence during USSR era, Poland
was able to achieve a degree of autonomy and freedom of worship,
enabling it to continue religious tradition of Roman Catholicism. But
oppressed/controlled enough that Catholicism was a respite in a
difficult existence under Russian control. Very little immigration to
introduce diverse peoples of diverse spiritual beliefs.
Demographics: Polish 96.7%. Highly homogenous, very little
immigration due to harsh circumstances (mostly emigration), but things
are improving.
Foreign Policy: Joined EU (2004) and NATO in 1999. Interested in
establishing economic and diplomatic relations with all neighbors, and
especially the west, including the U.S. Still leery of Russia, due to
long history of being under its domination. In favor of any move that
might weaken Russia, and against any move that might strengthen Russia.
Geopolitically vulnerable, since wide open plains from Western Russia,
through Belarus and into Poland mean an easy path to invade.
Population: 38,500,696 (2008)

Formation of Nations (All European Nations)

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