Eine Frau geht an einer Weltkarte, die aus Kinderporträts besteht, am Freitag (18.06.2010) im JuniorMuseum in Köln vorbei.

1.1.2007 | Von:

The Immigrant Population

Ethnic Poles

A distinctive feature of Polish migration policy is the preferred treatment it awards "ethnic Poles" (see also Political and Legal Developments). The law is aimed at ethnic Poles living in the Asian states of the former Soviet Union who were deported there under Stalin's rule in the 1930s and 1940s from their traditional areas of settlement in Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania. With the introduction of the Karta Polaka in March 2008, this group will be extended to include people from neighbouring states such as Ukraine and Belarus.

Between 1997 [2] and 2005, 3 392 visas were issued to ethnic Polish repatriates, by means of which a total of 4 966 people (repatriates and their family members) entered Poland. Excluding the years 2001 and 2002 (immediately after the Repatriation Law came into force) the number of visas issued each year has scarcely exceeded 300. The majority of repatriates entering Poland since 1997 come from Kazakhstan.

One reason for the low number of ethnic migrants lies in the stipulation that applicants provide proof of accommodation and a source of maintenance in Poland or that they have been invited by a Polish commune which agrees to meet these conditions. Due to a shortage of council housing, high unemployment and the fear of overly high costs, many communes do not feel that they are in a position to adequately support the settlement of a repatriate. Conversely, potential repatriates often find those communes that actually do issue an invitation unattractive. [3]

While the older generation of Polish repatriates has maintained the Polish language and culture as far as possible, members of the younger generation are displaying difficulties in mastering the Polish language, preferring the Russian language and culture instead. This has led to considerable integration problems that are only exacerbated by an insufficient and poorly executed integration policy. [4]


Poland is seen as a nearly ethnically homogeneous society. As a result of the Holocaust and the forced resettlement brought on by the shifting of borders after the Second World War (a process that had a particularly strong effect on Poland), national and ethnic minorities make up only a small percentage of the country's total population. Whereas in 1931 more than a third of the population (albeit residing within different territorial boundaries) belonged to minorities, it is estimated that they represent only 2 to 3% of the population today.

The figures on the size of national and ethnic minorities are widely divergent. In the 2002 census, about 253 300 respondents stated that they belonged to either a national or an ethnic minority (147 094 Germans, 47 640 Belarusians,
27 172 Ukrainians and 12 731 Roma). In contrast, ethnic and national minority associations estimate that they have between 1.17 and 1.78 million members. Germans, Belarusians, Ukrainians, Lithuanians, Russians, Slovaks, Jews, Chechens and Armenians are considered national minorities. The Roma, the Lemkos, the Tatars and the Karaites are recognized by the state as ethnic minorities.


The repatriation law did not come into force until 2001. However, in response to an uncontrolled influx of migrants at the start of the 1990s, the immigration of ethnic Poles was provisionally regulated by the Aliens Act following a government resolution.
See Elrick, Frelak and Hut (2006).
For more on Poland's integration policy in general, see Gmaj (2007).


Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl: Aktuelle Themen

Ein Kurzdossier legt komplexe Zusammenhänge aus den Bereichen Zuwanderung, Flucht und Asyl sowie Integration auf einfache und klare Art und Weise dar. Es bietet einen fundierten Einstieg in eine bestimmte Thematik, in dem es den Hintergrund näher beleuchtet und verschiedene Standpunkte wissenschaftlich und kritisch abwägt. Darüber hinaus enthält es Hinweise auf weiterführende Literatur und Internet-Verweise. Dies eröffnet die Möglichkeit, sich eingehender mit der Thematik zu befassen. Unsere Kurzdossiers erscheinen bis zu 6-mal jährlich.

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