Economic Linkage in German-Polish Relations, 1918-1939

Randall E. Newnham


German-Polish relations in the interwar years (1918-1939) were of great importance, not only in shaping those countries’ future but the future of Europe, and indeed the world. Not surprisingly, then, the history of those troubled years has been studied by a number of scholars. Most of these studies, however, have focused on the “high politics” of the period, relegating economic ties to the margins of the story. This work uses a different approach. It focuses on Germany’s efforts to influence Poland through economic sanctions and incentives. It examines these efforts in light of political science theories of economic linkage, focusing on six separate cases. These case studies show that the “softer” tactic of economic incentives was in fact quite effective. For example, in contrast to the Weimar Republic, the Nazi regime employed economic incentives, and was surprisingly effective at building a positive relationship with Warsaw before 1939.

This study aims to shed new light not only on interwar German-Polish ties, but on the role of economic linkage in international relations in general.

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