From 35 million residents (evaluation of January 1939) Poland has passed (census of February 16, 1946) to 23,929,800 residents, including 2,288,000 Germans and 399,600 Ukrainians, Russians-Whites and Lithuanians (which according to the Potsdam and Moscow agreements had to abandon the Polish territory) in addition to 417,400 residents of nationality not ascertained. On the other hand, the Poles who were outside the borders at the time of the census were estimated to be around 3 million.
Both the expulsion of the Germans and other alloglot minorities, as well as the repatriation of the Poles, proceeded at an accelerated pace. The German population of the so-called “recovered territories” was replaced mainly with Poles from the eastern territories ceded to the Soviet Union. Already at the end of 1946 1,569,000 Poles had been transferred to the recovered territories; at the beginning of 1948 it was estimated that the population of these territories was, more or less, that registered in 1946, but constituted, it can be said, exclusively by Poles, since the Germans were almost completely expelled, as was also the case for the Ukrainians, the White Russians and the Lithuanians. It must be assumed that, after these population transfers, Poland has about 24 million residents:
Population density. – According to best-medical-schools, the population density for the whole country is 77 residents per sq. km, considerably lower than that of Poland in 1939 (90 residents per sq. km.).
That the population is very unevenly distributed can also be seen by considering only the data of the voivodships: thus, while those of Olsztyn (Allenstein) and Białystok have respectively 18 and 41 residents per sq. km. the Kraków voivodeship has 134 and that of Katowice (Silesia) 184. If we take into consideration the districts (powiaty), even stronger differences are perceived (the districts which include large urban centers usually exceed 1000 residents per sq km.; the minimum is in the district of Goldap, in the Białystok voivodeship, with 4 residents per sq. km.).
The most populated regions are Silesia, the sub-Carpathian belt, Lesser Poland, Lublin and the areas around Warsaw and Łódz, economically more advanced regions, rich in industries and with more efficient agriculture; the least populated regions are Masuria, the area around Białystok and Pomerania, which have a high percentage of the land occupied by lakes, ponds and swamps and a poorly fertile soil, more suitable for forests than crops.
Ethnic composition. – Pre-war Poland did not have an ethnic compactness, since, according to the 1931 census, only 69% of its population was made up of Poles and the remainder, non-native: Ukrainians (13.4%), Jews (7.9), White Russians (3.1), Germans (1.9), others (4.7: Lithuanians, Czechs, Slovaks, etc.). Poland was the state that hosted the largest number of Jews who in several cities made up over half the population (as in Białystok, Grodno, etc.). Their major centers were those of Warsaw (400,000) and Łódź (150,000). During their occupation of the country, the Germans massacred almost all the Jews who lived there: a whopping 3,200,000. With the disappearance, therefore, of the Jews, and transferred to the territories of the neighboring countries as much the Germans, as the non-Polish Slavs and the Lithuanians, the new Poland can now be called
Populated centers. – In pre-war Poland, the urban population made up 27.2% of the total; in 1946 it amounted to 31%. The rural population (69%) lives in agricultural centers or in scattered houses. There are 732 cities, among which those with less than 5000 residents continue to prevail; about sixty exceed 20,000 residents and among these, at the date of the 1946 census, there were fourteen that exceeded 100,000 residents or they got very close to it.
Most of the Polish cities, especially the larger ones, have suffered appalling destruction and horrendous massacres, and their population has greatly decreased. Warsaw, the capital, had 1,300,000 residents in 1939, one third of whom were killed; 70% of the residential houses were destroyed. The population of Warsaw was 478,700 residents at the time of the 1946 census (decrease of 63% compared to 1939) and of 535,000 according to a calculation of April 1947.
At the time of the 1946 census, the most populous city in the new Poland was Łódź with 497,000 residents (decrease of 25% compared to 1938). Among the other major cities, both of the old and of the new territories, those that had a strong decrease in population, between 1938 and 1946, are: Breslau (170,600 residents in 1946, decrease of 72%), Szczecin (73,000 residents, −72%) and Gdansk (118,000 residents, −55%). Among the major cities, only Krakow (299,000 residents) And Chorzów (111,000 residents) Would have increased.
The data of the population of other cities of the new Poland based on the 1946 census are given below: Poznán, 268,000 residents; Bydgoszcz, 135,000; Katowice, 128,000; Zabrze (Hindenburg), 104,000; Częstochowa, 101,000; Lublin, 99,000; Gliwice (Gleiwitz), 96,000; Bytom (Beuthen), 93,000; Sosnowiec, 78,000; Gdynia, 78,000.