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Am I of Polish or German descent?


vannroxy 1 | -
11 Feb 2021 #1
I grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In that city is an area known as "Polish Hill". There is where I grew up. Everyone considered themselves Polish because everyone descended from Polish relatives. Our families spoke Polish in the homes (though us younger generations did so very poorly), we maintained Polish traditions, and we all watched and followed the events in Poland in the 1980's. So we're Polish-American's right?

Not so fast...

You are ONLY of Polish descent if you can trace your relatives to Poland when it existed as a nation. Not to the geographical region that is now, today, Poland.

I have traced my relatives to a small rural village known as Schwekatowo West Prussia (Świekatowo) and then they moved to Pinschin, West Prussia, Germany; now Pinczyn and surrounding area in Starogard district, Gdańsk, Poland. My family left that region in 1884, and arrived in Baltimore, Maryland where they became Americans and they moved to Pittsburgh to work in the steel factories there.

I have been desirous of obtaining a secondary citizenship based upon my heritage. Being an American today isn't all that great. I have lived outside the USA for two decades, and have a home, and family inside China. When I compare China to America it is like comparing a scene from the television show "The Jetsons" with "Married with Children" or "Standford & Son". Now it is time for me to renew my passport and in big bold letters the documentation says that the United States can pull or deny me my passport of a host of reasons. If they do, my life, my family and everything will absolute collapse. Yikes!

Nothing that drastic has happened. But I owe it to my children to be prepared. So I have been looking to obtain heritage-based passports were the USA continues it's slow slide into insanity.

So my question is this, what heritage am I?

Unless I can prove that my parents, great grandparents or great, great grandparents obtained Polish citizenship after 1920, then I am not considered to be of Polish descent. At least not officially in the eyes of the law. Instead, I am considered to be of West Prussian - German heritage. Is there any other options to establish Polish heritage available to me? Does anyone have any ideas?
Lyzko 30 | 7,716
11 Feb 2021 #2
Many Poles can claim German descent. Yet, often Poles may actually deny any German connection. Prussians, by the way, are neither German nor Slavic, but Baltic:-) Does this help?
Bratwurst Boy 12 | 11,159
11 Feb 2021 #3
Ahem....Prussians are very well Germans....and often with polish, french or jewish roots, heh:)
Crow 150 | 9,537
11 Feb 2021 #4
Nothing that drastic has happened. But I owe it to my children to be prepared.... So my question is this, what heritage am I?

Speaking legally, if you seek a passport on the basis of origin, this should be crucial to you, as you said yourself >

Gdańsk, Poland. My family left that region in 1884

It's a legal part. You should ask for citizenship of Poland if you can prove your ancestors came from what is now Poland. Don't bother yourself with Germany and Prussia. Focus on Gdansk.

Now, if you also seek to answer yourself what is your ethnicity, you just have to consult history. We live in an information age. It's easy. Go google Gdansk. It's on the Baltic. The oldest human-written data on it says Baltic is `Oceanus Sarmaticus` (Sarmatian ocean) or sometimes `Mare Sarmaticus` and linguistic science speaking in general, agree that Sarmatian name represent the corrupted name of Serbs (ie Slavs). See, coincidentally, even now in this very moment, Gdansk is the center of the Kashubian populace in Poland. They do still consider themselves to be Serbs. Don't be confused with that `Serbs`. Of those Slavs (ie Sarmatians) that are still Serbs, there are Lusatians, Kashubian, and Balkan Serbs. All are native populace where they live.

So, ultimately you are Kashub if we look starting point of your family to the USA, back in 1884. It's a complete story for your children if you lost any other family memory on it. Once in Poland, you can search on your own, in institutions, in Churches, etc. But, you have a valid indication of who you are, legally and ethnically. Yes, you need Poland`s citizenship.
gumishu 11 | 5,740
11 Feb 2021 #5
Prussians are very well Germans

well - the majority of the inhabitants of West Prussia were Slavic either Kashubs or Poles (to be more strict Kociewiacy) and they spoke Slavic at home even if influence by German to smaller or bigger degree - there were also plenty of people in East Prussia (up to the time of Hitler) who spoke a dialect of Polish (Mazurzy etc) - all of them of course knew German because they were taught it at school

Prussians are very well Germans

well - the majority of the inhabitants of West Prussia were Slavic either Kashubs or Poles (to be more strict Kociewiacy) and they spoke Slavic at home even if influence by German to smaller or bigger degree - there were also plenty of people in East Prussia (up to the time of Hitler) who spoke a dialect of Polish (Mazurzy etc) - all of them of course knew German because they were taught it at school

as for German citizenship many people in the Opole region and vicinity have German passports (or at least a status called Deutsche Staatsangehoerigkeit)- they claimed it on the basis that their ancestors were citizens of Germany at some point - so I guess it's possible for you to obtain German passport - you would have to find documents supporting your claim in German or Polish archive (one of my uncles received it back in the early 1990's - there is caveat here the law could have changed since then that I am not aware of)
Ziemowit 13 | 4,440
11 Feb 2021 #6
Unless I can prove that my parents, great grandparents or great, great grandparents obtained Polish citizenship after 1920

Possibly you may try to apply despite not having this condition fulfilled. Your Polish heritage seems pretty obvious in spite of the family having had the Prussian citizenship in the 19th century. But the more important fact is that your family hasn't had any formal;connection to Poland, or to Germany for that matter, since 1884 to support your claim..
Mr Grunwald 32 | 2,126
11 Feb 2021 #7
@vannroxy
1. Move to Poland
2. Learn the lingo (especially if you don't know it) it's gradual and slow. If you would even speak perfect Polish I would be surprised (this is regard to me aswell btw and many native speakers of the language)

3. Don't expect any red carpet, don't demand tons of privileges based on any pre-1920 connections to Poland. It's too far back in time for it be counted

4. Fix yourself a place to work or own business I don't know your trade (if you have written it already then I apologize as I was reading your post in haste)

5. Have your pre-1920 connection to Poland as a motivation&main reason why you want to move to Poland and not... France? Slovakia or Russia for instance. The closer you decide to live near the location of your ancestors the more credibility you will have to your claim. The truer it will be, the easier it will be for you to obtain validly a Polish citizenship down the road.

6. Work for it&take it as a personal challenge to succeed
That is my advice
jon357 67 | 17,039
11 Feb 2021 #8
You are ONLY of Polish descent if you can trace your relatives to Poland when it existed as a nation.

No. It depends on ethnicity. In any case, Poland has always existed as a nation, just not always as a state.

a secondary citizenship

For citizenship/passports however there have to be clear rules, or Poland would potentially have an obligation to hand citizenship to thousands if not millions of people in other countries who don't speak the language and have to 'trace their relatives' in order to establish a connection.

West Prussian - German heritage

Remember Poland has never been an island and the modern borders are relatively new. Due to many, many factors, ethnicity has always had blurred edges here. Before the 20s/30s, not everyone (especially rural people in the borderlands) considered themselves to be Polish. Some did, some didn't; it depended on the family/individuals in question, however descendants of people who left over a century ago aren't a priority for the government when it comes to handing out citizenship that carries Schengen residency rights, access to healthcare/welfare etc.
Lyzko 30 | 7,716
11 Feb 2021 #9
Many European countries have a birthright based on country of orígin. This means that if one's birth parents are from abroad, even one born in Poland for example, might not be considered citizens aka nationals.
pawian 178 | 16,036
5 Apr 2021 #10
Being an American today isn't all that great. I have lived outside the USA for two decades

When I read the first sentence, I thought you were talking about Trump. But the other one suggests you decided to leave under other Republicans, like Bushes.


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