Under the Treaty of Versailles, the newly-formed Poland was given a thin strip of land around the River Vistula which provided access to the Baltic, and vital economic rights to the free port city of Danzig. This resulted in German East Prussia becoming an exclave and meant that large numbers of German-speaking peoples in the newly formed corridor fell under Polish rule. The territory had historically been contested and subjected to a programme of Prussian settlement after 1886 as part of Otto van Bismarck’s attempts to germanize the area and dilute Polish influence. As a result, many Germans were forcefully evicted from the Danzig corridor post-1919. Transport between East Prussia and Germany through the corridor also became very restricted. This provided the pretext for much of the tension that sparked World War II, as Hitler capitalized on resentment over Poland’s refusal to cede the territory back to Germany.
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