Poland Ethnic Composition

By | January 13, 2022

While several millions of Poles live outside Poland, it hosts within its borders a very significant number of alloglots, which in the 1931 census were 9,925,000 (31% of the total population). The ethnic constitution of the population of Poland would be as follows:

According to microedu, the distribution of the various alien groups can be deduced from the table below, in which the percentages of the various nationalities for each voivodship are given.

If we compare the data of 1921 with those of 1931, we must point out some differences that are not fatally explainable. Now, for example, there would be no more Ruthenians in Polessia, while in 1921 they were 17.7%, and the White Russians would be only 9.1%, compared with 42.6% in 1921; in 1931 the population of that province would have been made up for more than half by non-Russian, White or Ruthenian, Jewish or German alloglots. The 1921 census gave only 4.9% for other unspecified nationalities. It is evident that in 1931 most of the White Russians and the Ruthenians of Polessia were considered as a separate population, perhaps due to the fact that they were unable to give precise indications on their linguistic-national relevance. In the 1921 census, Jews were present – as they actually are – in all voivodships; Certainly very few in Posnania and Pomerania, but in considerable numbers in Silesia, where instead they do not appear in the 1931 census. As for the Germans, their overall number would have greatly decreased, and this can be explained; however, the fact that they are present only in 5 voivodships is not convincing when the census of 1921 indicated them to be present in all but two voivodships (Vilna and Nowogródek).

The Ruthenians form the majority of the population in the Stanisławów and Volhynia voivodeships, but they are also in good numbers in the Tarnopol and Lviv voivodships and certainly also in that of Polessia. The White Russians must be considered to have prevalence only in the Polessia voivodeship; their percentage, however, is also high in the Nowogródek and Vilna voivodships and considerable in that of Bialystok. Both the Ruthenians and the White Russians, in addition to their language and some somatic characters, are distinguished from the Poles by the more primitive kind of life and by religion: the White Russians and the Ruthenians of Polessia and Volhynia are Greek-Oriental, the Ruthenians of Galicia are Greek Catholics. This difference in religion is perhaps the greatest obstacle to a fusion of the Ruthenians with the Poles, which otherwise would not seem impossible in the countryside. The obstacle is less strong with the White Russians, who are at a lower economic and cultural level than the Ruthenians and, on the other hand, have a language closer to Polish. In the areas where the Ruthenians and the White Russians prevail, the Poles form ethnic islands especially around the major centers. Although in the minority, they occupy all the command posts and possess the4 / 5 of the land. Austria in Galicia at the time favored both the economic and cultural progress of the Ruthenians, certainly with the aim of setting them against the Poles; now Ruthenian irredentism is encouraged and favored by Russia.

The Germans are in good numbers especially in the western voivodships, Silesia, Posnania and Pomerania, where however they do not constitute in any case more than a simple minority of the population. They exerted a strong influence there especially in the cities and industrial areas: but in the countryside the Polish element, during more than a century in which the aforementioned regions were united with Prussia, was able to resist assimilation. Since the Germans have a considerably lower birth rate than that of the Poles, they too are destined to decrease more and more rapidly for this reason.

Poland is the state hosting the largest number of Jews, who are particularly numerous in the territory already subjected to the Russian Empire. They live almost exclusively in the centers, and in 17 of the cities with more than 10,000 residents. (including Białystok, Grodno, Brześć, Pińsk, Luck, Równe, Będzin, etc.) form over 50% of the population. The largest nuclei by absolute number are those of some large cities: Warsaw has 350,000 Jews (in 2nd place among all cities in the world, after New York), Łódź 150,000.

Among the other populations living within the borders of Poland are the Lithuanians of the Vilna voivodeship; they prevail only in some restricted areas, among the poorest in the country. In Volhynia there is a notable number of Czechs and Slovaks, who immigrated around 1860 and settled in about fifty villages in the Równe region, where they mainly grow hops. They are in total 30 or 40 thousand.

From this quick look at the distribution of alloglots it is clear that Poles form a compact mass in central and western Poland and in that of SW., While they are strongly mixed with other populations in eastern and SE Poland. But in three voivodships only they are in the minority: in Polessia, Volhynia and in the Stanislawów voivodeship.

Of the foreign colonies, the most numerous are the German, the Czechoslovakian, the French and the North American. The Italians in 1927 were about 500, almost half devoted to trade and the rest workers miners.

The major centers are located in Katowice and Warsaw.

Poland Ethnic Composition