Gdańsk/Danzig/GedanumA City Shaped—Histories and Cultures

History 100B

Spring 2018
Section: 
1
Instructor: 
Location: 
206 Dwinelle
Day & Time: 
TuTh 3:30-5
Class Number: 
41003
Units: 
4

In this course we will examine the fascinating, competing histories and cultures of the Baltic coast city known variously as Danzig and Gdańsk (among other spellings and forms). First a medieval Slavic (Polish/Kashubian) fishing village, then a growing port city under the rule of the Teutonic Knights of the Cross (XIV century), then the largest city of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (XV century to 1795). Freed from the hated overlordship of the Teutonic Order and, as the chief city of Royal Prussia (a semi-autonomous district of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth), Gdańsk (still largely German speaking and a Hanseatic city) was Poland’s main access to the wider world through export and import. Except for a brief period of intendant status as, once again, a “Free City” in Napoleonic times (1807–1814), from 1795 (the Third Partition of Poland) to 1918 (end of WWI), Danzig was a city of diminished significance in the Kingdom of Prussia and later the German Empire. In the twentieth century, it became a focal point of German-Polish tensions. The Treaty of Versailles (1918) did many things: among them it created a “Free State (not “City”) of Gdańsk,” governed (loosely) by the League of Nations; it also resurrected a free and independent Second Polish Republic, still a multi-ethnic federation, but with much changed borders, and with a promise of “free and secure access to the sea.”