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Title:"Nothing endures like the provisional": American policy toward the Oder-Neisse line, 1945-1990
Author(s):Allen, Debra Jean
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Widenor, William C.
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):History, European
History, United States
Political Science, International Law and Relations
Abstract:The victorious Allies of World War II agreed at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 to finalize Germany's eastern border at a future peace settlement, but provisionally established the Polish-German border along the Oder and Neisse Rivers, placing under Polish administration territory which had been controlled by Germany in 1937. As the Cold War developed, the Warsaw government, with Soviet backing, contended that the Allies had intended the line to be permanent, as evidenced by their approval of the removal of millions of German inhabitants from the area. In contrast, Washington emphasized the provisional nature of the Potsdam agreement, and refused to officially recognize the Oder-Neisse territories as belonging to Poland. This position, however, offered challenges to the conduct of U.S. foreign policy as the European scene changed and adjusted between 1945 and 1990. This study examines the attempts of the Department of State to deal with the question of American recognition of the Oder-Neisse border throughout the forty-five years of the Cold War.
A number of factors comprised the State Department's rationale for withholding recognition of the border. Washington's perceptions of the Cold War situation discouraged the development of proactive and innovative policies, and the nature of the foreign policy bureaucracy lent itself to ambiguous, sometimes contradictory, pronouncements about the status and intentions of U.S. policy on the border question. Domestically, the political relationship between policy makers and representatives of the Polish American community, including a number of Congressmen, encouraged dialogue but little responsive action by the State Department to the ethnic community's demands.
Washington moved almost full circle in its position on the border. From provisional acceptance of the line in 1945, the State Department then offered proposals to adjust the border in Germany's favor, later tried to downplay or simply avoid the issue, and finally accepted the border in 1990 after Germany's reunification. This dissertation is primarily based on Department of State documents at the National Archives, various collections at presidential libraries, the Congressional Record and published Congressional reports, and materials on various Polish American ethnic organizations.
Issue Date:1992
Description:580 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1992.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI9305448
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-17
Date Deposited:1992

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