German refugees leaving Danzig, February 1945

The Free City of Danzig Government in Exile (German: Regierung der Freien Stadt Danzig im Exil) or the Free State of Danzig, is a title claimed by various groups claiming to be the government in exile of the defunct Free City of Danzig, whose former territory now lies in Poland, around the area of the city of Gdańsk.


Main article: Free City of Danzig

The Free City of Danzig (German: Freie Stadt Danzig; Polish: Wolne Miasto Gdańsk) was a semi-autonomous city-state that existed between 1920 and 1939, consisting of the Baltic Sea port of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland) and nearly 200 towns in the surrounding areas. It was created on 15 November 1920[1][2] in accordance with the 1919 Treaty of Versailles after the end of World War I and was under League of Nations protection. The Free City was primarily inhabited by ethnic Germans but the majority fled or were expelled when the territory was incorporated into Poland at the conclusion of World War II.


On 13 November 1947, W. Richter, the chairman of the Association of Nationals of Danzig Free State was one of the first groups that announced a formation of a government in exile for the Free City of Danzig.[3] Richter also announced that the association would accept a settlement from the international community that would grant them an alternative territory in a centre of commerce.[3] One of these groups made pleas to the United Nations, calling for official recognition, the deportation of Poles from its claimed territory, and assistance in re-establishing the Free City.[4]

By 1967 at least two other groups had emerged claiming to be the government in exile. Herbet Adler, a tram conductor from Essen, claimed to be the President of the Exile Government of the Republic of the Free City of Danzig (German: Präsident der Exil-Regierung der Republik Freie Stadt Danzig) and sent diplomatic letters to various countries and politicians and received replies from the government of Ghana and West Germany's Minister of the Interior, Paul Lücke.[5] He claimed the support of around 12,000 "compatriots" and stated he was a member of the government in exile, which consisted of 25 citizens located all over the world.[5]

Willi Homeier however was part of a rival group and claimed to be president of the Representation of the Free City of Danzig (German: Vertretung der Freien Stadt Danzig) an off-shoot of the Council of Danzig (German: Rat der Danziger) founded in 1947.[5] This council considered itself the legislature of the Free City and had 36 members in its first term of office.[6] She also claimed that the body she led was the legal successor of the Senate of the Free City of Danzig and this had been recognised in secret ballots in 1951 and 1961.[5]

With the advent of the Internet many more groups and individuals emerged claiming to be or represent the true government in exile. This includes Ernst F. Kriesner who at least by the late 1990s while living in Australia claimed to be a senator and the foreign affairs minister of the Free State.[7] He also wrote to the United Nations seeking recognition in 1998.[8] By at least 2010, Beowulf von Prince claimed to be president of the Senate of the Free State of Danzig, under the constitution of the original Free City of Danzig.[9][10] In October 2017, von Prince was convicted in Switzerland for forging a passport and a number plate ("FDA-01 DA") that he claimed were validly issued by the Administrative Association of the Free City of Danzig (German: Verwaltungsgemeinschaft Freie Stadt Danzig).[10]


Many of the groups claim the entirety of the territory once possessed by the Free City of Danzig.[4] Most base this claim upon the notion that the Free City of Danzig was a neutral state and that its annexation by Germany in 1939 was illegal; as such, the Allies had no authority in incorporating the city into Poland after World War II.[11] In addition to this, no formal treaty has ever altered the status of the Free City of Danzig, and they argue its incorporation into Poland has rested upon the general acquiescence of the international community.[12]

Recognition and relations

Writing on the lack of official German recognition of the Free City of Danzig, Polish foreign minister Władysław Bartoszewski stated that the organization and like-minded Danzig cultural associations were seen in the eyes of the German public as revanchist and politically aligned with the far-right National Democratic Party of Germany.[13]

See also


  1. ^ Loew, Peter Oliver (February 2011). Danzig – Biographie einer Stadt (in German). C.H. Beck. p. 189. ISBN 978-3-406-60587-1.
  2. ^ Samerski, Stefan (2003). Das Bistum Danzig in Lebensbildern (in German). LIT Verlag. p. 8. ISBN 3-8258-6284-4.
  3. ^ a b "Move For New Danzig Territory". The Sydney Morning Herald. London. 14 November 1947. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b Schoenburg, H. W. (2012). Germans from the East: A Study of Their Migration, Resettlement and Subsequent Group History, Since 1945. Studies in Social Life (illustrated ed.). Springer Science & Business Media. p. 186. ISBN 9789401032452. [Germans from Free City of Danzig insist] upon their right to possess the entire area of the city of Danzig now known as Gdansk, as well as adjacent land formerly part of the Free State.
  5. ^ a b c d "An Inez denken". Der Spiegel (in German). Gdańsk, Poland. 4 April 1967. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  6. ^ Kohlhaas, Elisabeth (2015). Messenger, David A.; Paehler, Katrin (eds.). A Nazi Past: Recasting German Identity in Postwar Europe. University Press of Kentucky. p. 270. ISBN 9780813160580. Kurt Walter … belonged to the first "Rat der Danziger," the freely elected council of thirty-six delegates that regarded itself as the parliament of the Free City of Danzig in exile.
  7. ^ Kriesner, Ernst F. "Free State of Danzig: Government-in-Exile". Free State of Danzig. Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 1 October 2022.
  8. ^ Kriesner, Ernst F. "Application for UN Membership". Free State of Danzig. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  9. ^ von Prince, Beowulf (17 March 2010). "Regierungserklärung" (PDF) (in German). Archived from the original (PDF) on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 7 November 2016.
  10. ^ a b Fillisch, Jochen (2017-10-24). "Rheinfelden/Schweiz: Angeklagter besteht auf Existenz der Freien Stadt Danzig". SÜDKURIER Online (in German). Retrieved 2024-04-23.
  11. ^ "Iustitia Omnibus Gedanum- Fair Justice for Danzig: Danzig People have Human Rights also!". Free State of Danzig. Archived from the original on 12 September 2019. Retrieved 6 November 2016.
  12. ^ Capps, Patrick; Evans, Malcolm David (2003). Asserting Jurisdiction: International and European Legal Perspectives. Hart Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 9781841133058.
  13. ^ Bartoszewski, Władysław (7 February 2001), Odpowiedź ministra spraw zagranicznych na zapytanie nr 2981 (in Polish), Warsaw, Poland: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, retrieved 7 November 2016