The Free City of Danzig (German: Freie Stadt Danzig; Polish: Wolne Miasto Gdańsk) is a semi-autonomous city-state, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig and surrounding areas. It borders with Poland and the East Prussian Republic.
Created by the Treaty of Versailles from territories of the former German Empire. This against the wishes of the local population which preferred to remain with Germany or the newly independent East Prussian Republic. The Free City was created in order to give Poland access to the sea through a major port (Danzig) and to weaken Germany. Recognizing at the same time that its population was mainly German.
Status of the Free City of Danzig
The Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations (LoN) decreed that the Free City was to remain separated from Germany, as well has Poland and East Prussia. The Free City is under the mandate, protection and administration of the League of Nations. However, the LoN has delegated its administration in favor of internal autonomy, supervising only its finances. The Free City is an put into a binding customs unions with Poland. Poland also has special utilization rights towards the city and port such has its the inclusion of the Free City of Danzig within the Polish Customs frontiers, and to establish a free area in the port. Poland enjoys unrestricted free use and service of all waterways, docks, basins, wharves and other works within the territory of the Free City necessary for Polish imports and exports.
Has in East Prussia, Danzig has its own citizenship, based on residency. German inhabitants lost their German Citizenship, but were given the right within the first two years of the state's existence to re-obtain it; however, if they did so they were required to leave their property and make their residence outside of the Danzig area in the remaining part of Germany or East Prussia.
Constitution of Danzig
The National Assembly, called and organized by the LoN, was elected in 1921. It redacted the Constitution of the Free City of Danzig.
The first part recognizes the mandate of the LoN, exercised by a High Commissioner appointed for four years by the LoN. Among its duties are to represent abroad the Free City, to deal in the first instance all differences arising between Poland and the Free City of Danzig in regard to Treaty of Versailles or any agreements made between the said parties. keep public order and protection of lives and property of the habitants. Informally the High Commissioner has the role of Head of State. Any constitutional reform must have the approval of the LoN.
Among the basic rights (freedom of speech, thought, movement, association and religion), it also protects against any discrimination within the Free City of Danzig to the detriment of citizens of Poland and other persons of Polish origin or speech. The official language is German and usage of Polish is guaranteed by law.
The Free City is governed by the Senate of the Free City of Danzig, named by the parliament (Volkstag). The Senate is integrated by the Senate President and seven senators. The Senate has suspensive veto. The Volkstag is integrated by 120 members for a legislative period of four year. Danzig High Court is nominated by the Volkstag on proposal of the Senate. Right to vote have all men and women over 20 years old.
Free City is divided into following administrative units:
- two urban districts (Stadtkreis) that Danzig and Zoppot, and
- three rural districts (Landkreise) that are Danziger Höhe, Danziger Niederung and Großes Werder.
The political parties in the Free City closely corresponded with the political parties in Germany. These are: the Communist Party of Danzig (KPD), Social Democratic Party of the Free City of Danzig (SPD), Center Party (Zentrum), the Liberal Civic Union (Liberale Bürgerbund, LBB) a merger of liberal parties in Danzig, the conservative German National People's Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP) and Free Voter's Association.
The National Polish Party (a section of Poland's National Democracy) and Polish Catholic Party (a section of the Christian Civic Union) represented the Polish minority.
Economy of Danzig
The main industries of Danzig are shipbuilding and maintenance. Fishing is an important activity, having the Free City one of the largest fishing fleets of the Baltic. Related food processing is highly develop and a major export. Financial services such has banking, currency exchange and insurance have become important because of its link with marine transport. Of recent development is chemical and pharmaceutical industries.
Tourism is important and the main attraction in the Baltic Sea is the Casino built in 1925 and Grand Hotel, both at Zoppot. One of main cultural venues is the Forest Opera (Polish: Opera Leśna, German: Die Waldoper). This large, open-air amphitheater located in Zoppot with a capacity of 4400 seats, the large orchestra pit can contain up to 110 musicians.
Amber processing is also an important part of the local economy, as the majority of the world's amber deposits lie along the Baltic coast.
Besides the port, the Free City is also served by an international airport. Both are administered by the Port and Air and Waterways Council, a tripartite administrative authority (two members from Danzig, two from Poland and a Presidency under a Swiss national named by the High Commissioner).
Defence and internal security
Public order is keep by the Schutzpolizei (protection police, short: Schupo).
As a free port, any army vessel as access to port facilities. The LoN keeps a multinational frontier guard and customs police. The Council of the LoN agreed to the establishment of a Polish military guard on the Westerplatte peninsula to protect a war material depot.