Education Language Rights Discrimination

Reduction of financial resources for the implementation of tasks that enable the preservation of the national, ethnic and linguistic sense of identity of the students of the German minority

11.04.2022  |  Poland  |  Submitted by: Association of German Social-Cultural Societies in Poland (VdG)

 

Background

In mid-December 2021, the Polish Sejm decided that the state budget for 2022 would devote significantly less funds to the teaching of minority languages. According to the amendment tabled, the education subsidy should be reduced by an amount of PLN 39 800 000.

Recognizing the rights of minorities as a constitutional asset, the Polish Senate, proposed another amendment that would restore the reduced subsidy. Despite the numerous votes against the financial cuts, however, on 27 January 2022 the Senate's amendment was rejected and the funds for the teaching of minority languages were significantly reduced. On 4 February, the Polish Minister of Education and Science issued a decree, according to which the as of the beginning of the new school year, 1 September 2022, the reduction will enter into force, affecting only the teaching of German language – from three classes per week, the German minority students will have only one class in their mother tongue.[1]

On 10 February 2022, a second decree of the Minister of Education and Science amended the Ordinance regulating the general subsidy for self-governments in 2022 in its part regarding education. The decree reduced the basis on which the amount of the subsidy for self-government is calculated in relation to pupils belonging to the German minority.[2]

Alongside the fact that the adopted decisions are discriminatory against the German minority (being the only one affected by the financial reductions), they are directly violating the Constitutional rights of the national minorities in Poland, the laws in force (among which the 2005 Act on National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Languages), and to the international commitments of the state.

 

The German Minority in Poland

Germans have been known as inhabiting the territories of nowadays Poland since the 12th century. In the 14th century they formed a significant minority in some regions, e.g., Silesia, and the majority in some cities, e.g., Kraków/Kraków. Over time, in the Eastern parts of the country, the population was largely assimilated. In Pomerania, Prussia and Silesia, however, Germans formed a clear majority. At the end of 1944 the minority community numbered up to ten million people.

In 1945, the Western border of Poland was moved by the Allies to the Oder and Neisse rivers. The Eastern parts of the country fell to the Soviet Union under Stalin's rule. The population in the former German eastern territories and the Germans in Poland became victims of flight, expulsion and resettlement. Only about a million Germans stayed behind, again forming a minority that was mostly not recognized by the authorities of the People's Republic of Poland. The Germans were subject to radical assimilation pressure; until 1990 they had no right to maintain their language and culture. They were referred to as so-called autochthons (mostly Upper Silesians and Masurians) and had to acquire Polish citizenship in order to be allowed to stay in their homeland. This oppression and the bad economic situation led to the emigration of almost 70% of the ethnic group since the 1970s.

The German minority in Poland lives compactly in the regions of Upper Silesia, Lower Silesia, Greater Poland, East Prussia and West Prussia, Lodz/Łódź and Pomerania. Most organizations of the German minority can be found in the Oppeln/Opole Voivodeship with around 322 institutions, followed by the Silesian Voivodeship/Województwo Śląskie with 115 meeting places and the Warmia and Masurian Voivodeship/Województwo Warmińsko-Mazurskie with 24 organisations. With the conclusion of the German-Polish Neighborhood Agreement in 1991, the German minority was officially recognised. According to the 2011 census, the German minority consists of almost 150,000 members, but the estimated number is 300,000.

The structure of the German minority in Poland is based on a widespread network of associations such as the German Education Society, the Economic Development Society Foundation for the Development of Silesia, the League of German Minority Youth, the Charity Society and many others. The Association of German Social-Cultural Societies (VdG) is the umbrella institution for all organizations of the German minority in Poland. Its most important tasks include cultural, youth and educational work and political representation.

The German language is taught in Polish schools and kindergartens as a foreign language and as the language of a national minority. As the data reveal,[3] almost 49 000 children in 597 schools across the country are currently being taught German as a minority language, which means that the reduction of the educational possibilities will negatively affect the largest minority in Poland – not only the children but also their families. It is also to be taken into account that German is the second most popular foreign language in Poland (after English) – in school year 2020/2021 there a total of 1 855 137 students in all educational levels were registered in German classes.


To enable children to become fluent in their mother tongue, the German minority is also founding educational institutions under their own sponsorship. In 2017, there were four such schools with kindergartens in Upper Silesia. For ten Saturdays in spring and autumn, children aged six to eleven come together in the meeting places of the German Friendship Groups for so-called Saturday courses. Doing handicrafts, singing or dancing, the children learn about the culture, history and traditions of their homeland in a playful way. At the same time, the German Friendship Groups serve as a meeting place for families. The nationwide program, as well as the youth box network for young people from the age of twelve, is coordinated by the Association of German Social-Cultural Societies in Poland (VdG).

 

Legal basis

The rights of the national and ethnic minorities in Poland to the freedom of maintaining and developing their own language, customs and traditions, and culture, of establishing educational and cultural institutions, and such designed to protect their religious identity, as well as of participating in the resolution of matters connected with their cultural identity are guaranteed by the national Constitution (Article 35). Regardless that the Polish language is recognized as official in the state, Article 27 emphasizes that this provision “shall not infringe upon national minority rights resulting from ratified international agreements”.[4]

As early as in 1991, the Law on the Education System in Poland established that the schools and the public institutions shall enable students to maintain national, ethnic, linguistic and religious identity, and in particular to learn the language and their own history and culture (Article 13).[5] Years later, in 2005, the Law on National and Ethnic Minorities and on Regional Languages, referred directly to the Law on the Education System with regard to the minority rights in education.[6] The provisions of the law with regard to the teaching of minority or regional languages, history and culture were further reinforced by the 2017 Decree of the Minister of Education no the conditions and manner of performance of tasks by kindergartens, schools and public institutions.[7] Apart from reaffirming that teaching of minority language can be organised in the form of additional lessons or additional subject in the curricula, the Decree establishes the possibility of two other formats – bilingual Polish-German education and education exclusively in minority language (German).

Already in 1991, a Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland on Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation was signed.[8] According to Article 20, the persons of Polish nationality who are of German descent or who profess the German language, culture or tradition, as well as German citizens who are of Polish descent or who profess the Polish language, culture or tradition, shall have the right, individually or in association with other members of their group, to preserve their ethnicity, to freely express, preserve and develop cultural, linguistic and religious identity. The contracting parties declared that the minority communities are entitled to establish and maintain their own educational, cultural and religious institutions, organisations or associations, which may request voluntary financial and other contributions and, as Article 21 highlighted, shall undertake promotional measures and endeavour to ensure that members of the groups have adequate opportunities to teach their mother tongue, history and culture in public educational establishments.[9]

For number of years however, Poland has been voicing out its dissatisfaction with the situation of the Polish minority in Germany and with the disbalance in the policies of the two states, regardless of the fact that Germany has been reporting increase of the number of students learning Polish language in public educational institutions and respectively, of the financial support provided. An official report from 2017[10] reveals that in school year 2015/2016 bilingual and education in Polish was provided in 12 out of the 16 Federal States, of which the largest number of students (of the total of 11 256) was in Brandenburg, Hessen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, and Sachsen. According to the facts presented recently by Thorsten Klute, former State Secretary for Integration in NRW, in 2021 in North Rhine-Westphalia alone, almost 5 100 schoolchildren were receiving native-language Polish lessons in over 300 study groups; there were 45 teachers and 36.5 full-time positions.[11] In the light of the above facts, the accusations towards the German government for not addressing the commitments made in 1991 seem as a political challenge rather than a fact-based accusation.

It is to be noted that as of year 2001, Poland has entered into force the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCNM)[12] and as of 2009, the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECMRL). In the Declaration contained in the instrument of ratification deposited on 12 February 2009, the Republic of Poland declared, in accordance with Article 3, paragraph 1, of the ECMRL that, within the meaning of the Charter, the protected languages in the state are: the Kashubian language (as a regional language), Belorussian, Czech, Hebrew, Yiddish, Lithuanian, German, Armenian, Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian (as national minority languages), Karaim, Lemko, Romani and Tatar (as ethnic minorities languages). The Hebrew, Yiddish, Karaim, Armenian and Romani have been also recognized as non-territorial languages.[13] Hence, the protection of the rights of the national minorities in the field if education is a part of the international commitments that the state has bound itself to.

In line with the ratification of the Framework Convention and the international commitments made, in 2005, [14] the Polish Parliament adopted the Act on National and Ethnic Minorities and Regional Languages.[15] The document, outlining the difference between national and ethnic minorities (as such with a kin-state and such with no kin-state) provides a clear definition of national minorities and lists them. According to Article 2(2), the Germans are one of the officially recognised minorities alongside the Belarusians, Czechs, Lithuanians, Armenians, Russians, Slovaks, Ukrainians and Jewish people. Hence, a legal measure disadvantaging only one of these minorities is an act of discrimination, which Article 6 of the same Act not only explicitly prohibits, but also emphasizes that the public authorities are obliged to take measures to foster full and real equality and protect the persons belonging to a minority from discrimination.

 

Reactions Against the Governmental Decision on Financial Cuts

The repeated, concrete recommendations for improving the situation of the German language as a minority language are expressed in all reports of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe during the cyclical monitoring of the implementation of the Charter. All the recommendations of the Committee of Ministers show that the Republic of Poland has still not implemented many of the commitments it has voluntarily bound itself to, including with regard to the teaching of minority languages. Despite that the Republic of Poland has committed itself to adapting the educational system to the languages of national minorities in the areas, where the minorities live compactly, currently there are only a few bilingual schools, while the most common model is that German as a minority language is provided as an additional (after-)school subject for only three hours per week. There is no school where all lessons take place in the German language, as the paragraphs 3 and 4 of the 2017 Decree of the Minister of Education in Poland and the ECRML Article 8 entail.

The 2021 Committee of Experts Report on the European Language Charter noted that a legal framework exists and that the authorities provide financial support in the field of education. It however also pointed out that a more active and structured approach is needed to ensure the implementation of the ratified provisions. It is to be noted, that almost 20 years ago, the PHARE RAXEN Report on the Minority Rights in Education in Poland (2004) established that one of the serious challenges in the field is the lack of sufficient financing and that ever since this issue has not been satisfactorily addressed.[16] Nevertheless, following the vote on the 2022 state budget, the situation and the possibilities for implementing the ratified commitments are proving even more difficult.[17] The expected higher cuts in the education subsidy for 2023, forced the Council of Europe to react and to ask the Polish authorities to provide information on the measures taken.[18]

With regard to the legal discrimination against the German minority in Poland, the Association of German Social-Cultural Societies has appealed to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, Minister of Education Przemysław Czarnek, Polish President Andrzej Duda, many Polish authorities.  European institutions such as the Bureau of the European Parliament, the European Commission and the High Commissioner for National Minorities of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.[19] On 7 February 2022, the statement of the Association of German Social-Cultural Societies in Poland (VdG) was published, in which it is appealed that the amendment of 4 February 2022 should be withdrawn from legal transactions.[20]

Opposition to the Sejm's decision was also expressed by the Federation of Youth of the German Minority. BJDM has launched an online campaign  #niemamowy #sprachlos #sprachlos, which has already been joined by several hundred people. Several petitions have been written: academics, representatives of the economy and parents have spoken out against the reduction of the education subsidy.  Within the few weeks, several thousand signatures were collected.  There have been many online discussions on the topic of "The reduction of German lessons of the German minority in Poland and the consequences".[21]

Both the civil society, public and political organisations and institutions have stated their disagreement with the governmental decision:

-The Joint Commission of the Government and national and ethnic minorities in Poland has published a statement on discrimination against the German minority in the field of language teaching[22]

-The Under-Secretary of State, Mr Błażej Poboży, who on 25 February 2022 asked for explanations[23]

-The Sejmik of the Opole Voivodeship and numerous municipalities, have spoken out against the decision to reduce the subsidy[24]

-On 5 January 2022, Polish Commissioner for Human Rights Marcin Wiącek sent an official letter to Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Senate Speaker Tomasz Grodzki requesting them to take decisive steps to protect the rights of national and ethnic minorities in Poland. However, in its response, the Ministry of Education and Science – instead of the addressee – announced further changes announced in the regulations of 4 and 10 February 2022. On 1. In March 2022, the Ombudsman published a new letter to the Prime Minister on its website.[25]

-On 14 February 2022, a scientific opinion was published on the reduction of financial resources for the implementation of tasks that enable the preservation of the national, ethnic and linguistic sense of identity of the students of the German minority. The report was prepared by Professor Grzegorz Janusz from UMCS in Lublin.[26]

-Representatives of the largest parties in the German Bundestag have expressed their opinions on this topic.[27]

-The Federal Union of European Nationalities condemned the discriminatory acts adopted in the Republic of Poland.[28]

-On 7 February 2022, the Federal Government Commissioner for Repatriation Issues and National Minorities, Prof. Dr. Bernd Fabritius, arrived in Opole. During the press conference following the meetings at the headquarters of the VdG, Prof. Fabritius denied erroneous information about learning the Polish language in Germany, on the basis of which the Polish government's decision to cut funding for German as a minority language is justified.[29]

-At the beginning of March, representatives of the German minority, teachers, parents and students gathered at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Science in Warsaw to personally submit the parents' petition.[30]

-Two days after the parents' visit to Warsaw, representatives of the German minority met with the representative of the Polish Ministry of Education and Science to discuss the cut. However, although the ministry declares itself open to further talks, its decision remains unchanged for the time being.[31]

-On April 5, 2022, the European Commission received an official complaint from the Association of German Social-Cultural Societies in Poland, pointing out a number of provisions that are blatantly violated by the regulation of the Ministry of Education and Science introduced in February.[32]

 

Minority Monitor Recommendations

-To German and Polish governments shall urgently initiate high-level political discussions with the aim to resolve the political issues in benefit of the citizens from both states BEFORE the beginning of school year 2022/2023.

-To the Polish government shall revoke its decision and restore the levels of financial support to the German minority in the field of education to avoid being sentenced and sanctioned by the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) for discrimination on ethnic grounds.

-The civil society in both states and the representatives of the Polish minority in Germany shall take a firm stand against the current case of discrimination on ethnic grounds as a mechanism to achieve political goals and shall express their support to the German minority in Poland before the Polish Government.

-The German minority in Poland shall

-address the national Ombudsman and together to file an appeal to the Polish Parliament and the Polish President demanding revoking of the adopted discriminatory legal amendments.

-in case the filed appeal is ignored, to file a case against Poland to the European Court on Human Rights for ethnic discrimination.

Concerned with the attempts of achieving political goals through discrimination on ethnic grounds and violation of laws protecting the rights of the national, ethnic and autochthonous minorities in Europe, FUEN expresses its firm support to the German minority in Poland and readiness to engage in action.

 

REFERENCES:

[1] Regulation of the Minister of Education and Science - Gesetzblatt Der Republik Polen, Warschau, 04.02.2022, Pos. 276, http://isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20220000276/O/D20220276.pdf

Ordinance of the Minister of Education and Science of 4 October 2022 amending the Regulation on the conditions and manner in which public kindergartens, schools and institutions carry out the tasks that enable pupils belonging to national and ethnic minorities and the community of the regional language to cultivate their national, ethnic and linguistic identity

Pursuant to Article 13(3) of the Law of 7 September 1991 on the Education System (Journal of Laws of 2021, item 1915), the following is ordered:

1. In the Decree of the Minister of National Education of 18 August 2017 on the conditions and manner in which public kindergartens, schools and institutions carry out the tasks that enable pupils belonging to national and ethnic minorities and the community of the regional language to cultivate their national, ethnic and linguistic identity (Journal of Laws item 1627), the following changes are introduced:

(1) In Paragraph 8(3), the words '3 hours per week' are followed by the words '... and in the case of pupils belonging to the German minority – to the extent of 1 hour a week";

2) Appendix No 3 shall be replaced by the text of the Annex to this Regulation.
2. The Regulation will enter into force on 1 September 2022.

[2] Rozporządzenie Ministra edukacji i nauki zmieniające rozporządzenie w sprawie sposobu podziału części oświatowej subwencji ogólnej dla jednostek samorządu terytorialnego w roku 2022, Dziennik Ustaw Poz. 352/ 10 lutego 2022 r https://isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20220000352/O/D20220352.pdf

[3] Education in the 2020/2021 school year, Statistics Poland,

https://stat.gov.pl/en/topics/education/education/education-in-the-20202021-school-year,1,17.html

[4] The Constitution of the Republic of Poland, 2 April 1997, Dziennik Ustaw No. 78, item 483, https://www.sejm.gov.pl/prawo/konst/angielski/kon1.htm

[5] Law on the Education System, 7 September 1991,

https://isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU19910950425/U/D19910425Lj.pdf

Article 13

The school and the public institution enable students to maintain national, ethnic, linguistic and religious identity, in particular to learn the language and their own history and culture.

2.At the request of the parents, the instruction referred to in paragraph 1 may:

1) in separate groups, departments or schools

2) in groups, departments or schools with additional language lessons and their own history and culture

3) in the inter-school groups

be in progress.

3.The Minister responsible for education shall, by regulation, lay down the conditions and manner in which schools and public bodies carry out the tasks referred to in paragraphs 1 and 2 are carried out, in particular the minimum number of pupils for whom the forms of instruction referred to in paragraph 2 are provided.

[6] Law on National and Ethnic Minorities and on Regional Language of 6.  January 2005

Dz.U. 2005 Nr 17 poz. 141 U S T AWA z dnia 6 stycznia 2005 r. o mniejszościach narodowych i etnicznych oraz o języku regionalnym http://isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20050170141/U/D20050141Lj.pdf

Article 17

The implementation of the right of persons belonging to minorities to learn the minority language or in the minority language, as well as the right of such persons to learn the history and culture of minorities, is carried out in accordance with the principles and procedures laid down in the Law of 7 September 1991 on the Education System (Journal of Laws No. 256, item 2572, with subsequent amendments).

[7] Decree of the Minister of Education of 18 August 2017

https://isap.sejm.gov.pl/isap.nsf/download.xsp/WDU20170001627/O/D20171627.pdf

on the conditions and manner of performance of tasks by kindergartens, schools and public institutions that make it possible to maintain awareness of the national, ethnic and linguistic identity of students of national and ethnic minorities and communities using the regional language.

On the basis of Article 13(3) of the Law of 7 September 1991 on the Education System (Journal of Laws 2016, item 1943, with subsequent amendments), the following decision is taken:

1. Kindergartens, schools and public institutions enable pupils belonging to national and ethnic minorities within the meaning of Article 2 of the Act of 6 January 2005 on National and Ethnic Minorities and the Regional Language (Journal of Laws 2017, item 823) and the community using the regional language referred to in this Act to maintain and develop national, ethnic and linguistic identity through the following activities:

Language teaching of the national or ethnic minority language, hereinafter "minority language", and a regional language; teaching your own history and culture.

[8] Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland on Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, 17 June 1991

https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/blob/2466170/57020a2e3064c4f8b8785dbd3aced4d6/deutsch-polnischer-nachbarschaftsvertrag-data.pdf

Article 20

(1) Members of the German minority in the Republic of Poland, i.e. persons of Polish nationality who are of German descent or who profess the German language, culture or tradition, as well as persons of German nationality in the Federal Republic of Germany who are of Polish descent or who profess the Polish language, culture or tradition, shall have the right, individually or in association with other members of their group, to have their ethnic,  to freely express, preserve and develop cultural, linguistic and religious identity; free from any attempts to be assimilated against their will. They have the right to exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms fully and effectively without any discrimination and in full equality before the law.

3. The Contracting Parties declare that the persons referred to in paragraph 1 shall in particular have the right, individually or in association with other members of their group, to:

- establish and maintain their own educational, cultural and religious institutions, organisations or associations, which may request voluntary financial and other contributions and public support in accordance with national law and have equal access to media in their region,

[9] Treaty between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Republic of Poland on Good Neighbourliness and Friendly Cooperation, 17 June 1991

https://www.auswaertiges-amt.de/blob/2466170/57020a2e3064c4f8b8785dbd3aced4d6/deutsch-polnischer-nachbarschaftsvertrag-data.pdf

Article 21

2.The Contracting Parties shall enable and facilitate each other, in particular within the framework of the laws in force, in support of members of the groups referred to in Article 20(1) or their organisations:

- endeavour to ensure that members of the groups referred to in Article 20(1), notwithstanding the need to learn the official language of the State concerned, in accordance with the applicable national legislation, adequate opportunities to teach their mother tongue or mother tongue in public educational establishments and, wherever possible and necessary, for their use by public authorities,  take into account, in the context of the teaching of history and culture in educational establishments, the history and culture of the groups referred to in Article 20(1);


[10] Zur Situation des Polnischunterrichts in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Beschluss der Kultusministerkonferenz vom 22.08.1991 i.d.F. vom 02.05.2017) - https://www.kmk.org/fileadmin/Dateien/veroeffentlichungen_beschluesse/2017/2017_06_02-Situation-des-Polnischunterrichts.pdf

[11] Beauftragter der Bundesregierung für Aussiedlerfragen und nationale Minderheiten, Meldung 20.12.2021, https://www.aussiedlerbeauftragter.de/SharedDocs/kurzmeldungen/Webs/AUSB/DE/2021/211220-polen-kuerzt-unterstuetzung-deu-minderheit-um-10-Mio-euro.html

[12] Council of Europe Framework Convention for Protection of National Minorities, 1995 https://www.coe.int/en/web/minorities/home

[13] Council of Europe European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages – Commitments of Republic of Poland https://www.coe.int/en/web/conventions/concerning-a-given-treaty?module=declarations-by-treaty&territoires=&codeNature=0&codePays=&numSte=148&enVigueur=true&ddateDebut=05-05-1949

The Republic of Poland declares, in accordance with Article 2, paragraph 2 of the Charter, that the following provisions of Part III of the Charter will be applied for the languages listed above:

Article 8 – Education (https://rm.coe.int/168007c089)

1.In the field of education, the Contracting Parties undertake, in the territory where such languages are used, taking into account the situation of each of those languages and without prejudice to the teaching of the official language(s) of the State:

(a) (i) provide pre-school education in the regional or minority languages concerned; or

(b) (i) provide primary education in the regional or minority languages concerned; or

(c) (i) provide secondary education in the regional or minority languages concerned; or

(d) (iii) provide for the teaching of the regional or minority languages concerned within vocational training as an integral part of the curriculum; or

(e) (ii) offer opportunities for the study of these languages as subjects at universities and other higher education institutions, or

(g) To ensure the teaching of history and culture expressed in the regional or minority language;

(h) To provide for the training of teachers necessary for the implementation of the provisions of subparagraphs (a) to (g) which the Party has adopted;

(i) establish one or more supervisory bodies to monitor the measures taken to introduce or develop the teaching of regional or minority languages and the progress made in doing so, and to draw up regular reports on them, which shall be made public.

2. In the field of education, the Contracting Parties undertake, in respect of areas other than those in which regional or minority languages are traditionally used, to permit, encourage or offer the teaching of the regional or minority language at all appropriate levels of education, where the number of speakers of a regional or minority language so justifies.

[14] Annex No 1 to Draft 4th Report to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on the Implementation of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities by the Republic of Poland Legal status as of 31 December 2016, https://rm.coe.int/annex-1/168093f57d

[15] Act of 6 January 2005 on national and ethnic minorities and on the regional language - Journal of Laws

of 2015, item 573, as amended

Article 1

This Act shall regulate the issues connected with the maintenance and development of the respective

cultural identity of national and ethnic minorities, the preservation and development of the regional

language, civic and social integration of persons belonging to national and ethnic minorities and the

observance of the principle of equal treatment of individuals irrespective of their ethnic origin; it shall also define the tasks and competence of government administration agencies and local government

units in this regard.

Article 2

A national minority, as defined by this Act, shall be a group of Polish citizens who jointly meet the

following conditions:

1) is numerically smaller than the rest of the population of the Republic of Poland;

2) significantly differs from the remaining citizens in its language, culture or tradition;

3) strives to preserve its language, culture or tradition;

4) is aware of its own historical, national community, and is oriented towards its expression and

protection;

5) its ancestors have been living on the present territory of the Republic of Poland for at least one

hundred years;

6) identifies with a nation organised in its own state.

2. The following minorities shall be recognized as national minorities: 1) Belarusian; 2) Czech; 3) Lithuanian; 4) German; 5) Armenian; 6) Russian; 7) Slovak; 8) Ukrainian; 9) Jewish.

3. An ethnic minority, as defined by this Act, shall be a group of Polish citizens who jointly meet the

following conditions:

1) is numerically smaller than the rest of the population of the Republic of Poland;

2) significantly differs from the remaining citizens in its language, culture or tradition;

3) strives to preserve its language, culture or tradition;

4) is aware of its own historical, ethnic community, and is oriented towards its expression and

protection;

5) its ancestors have been living on the present territory of the Republic of Poland for at least one

hundred years;

6) does not identify with a nation organised in its own state.

4. The following minorities shall be recognized as ethnic minorities: 1) the Karaim; 2) the Lemko; 3) the Roma; 4) the Tartar.

Article 3

Whenever the Act makes reference to:

1)minorities, these shall be construed as national and ethnic minorities referred to in Article 2;

2)a minority language, it shall be construed as a language unique to the national or ethnic minority

referred to in Article 2.

Article 4

1. Every person belonging to a minority shall have the right to freely decide about whether they wish to

be treated as a person belonging to a minority or not, and not have that choice or the exercise of

rights it carries entail any adverse effects.

2. No one shall be obliged, except by virtue of an Act, to disclose information about their affiliation with

any particular minority, or to disclose their origin, minority language or religion.

3. No one shall be obliged to prove their affiliation with any particular minority.

4. Persons belonging to a minority may enjoy the rights and freedoms stemming from the principles set

forth in this Act, both individually and collectively with other members of that minority.

Article 6

1. Discrimination on account of minority affiliations shall be prohibited.

2. Public authorities shall be obliged to take appropriate measures in order to:

1) foster full and real equality in the sphere of economic, social, political and cultural life between

persons belonging to a minority and the majority of the population;

2) protect persons who are facing discrimination, hostility or violence because of being part of a

minority;

3) reinforce intercultural dialogue

[16] Analytical Report PHARE RAXEN_CC, Minority Education, RAXEN_CC National Focal Point Poland, Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, EDUCATION OF THE NATIONAL AND ETHNIC INORITIES IN POLAND, 2004, https://fra.europa.eu/sites/default/files/fra_uploads/277-edu-poland-final.pdf

[17] Council of Europe, ECRML - Third Evaluation Report on Poland

https://rm.coe.int/third-evaluation-report-on-poland-the-european-charter-for-regional-or/1680a4e7ee

[18] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG)

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5836-europarat-sachverstaendigenausschuss-besorgt-ueber-entscheidungen-zulasten-des-deutschunterrichts  

[19] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG)

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5858-deutsch-als-minderheitensprache-appell-des-vdg-an-premierminister

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5834-deutsch-als-minderheitensprache-beschwerde-des-vdg-in-polen-an-das-europarat

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5850-beschwerde-des-vdg-an-die-europaeische-kommission

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5837-die-entscheidung-des-ministers-verklagt-bei-der-osze

 [20] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG)

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5833-vdg-angesichts-der-diskriminierung-der-dm

 [21] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG)

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/jugend/item/5807-niemamowy-sprachlos-schweigender-protest-der-jugend

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5797-unterschreiben-sie-die-petition https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5868-stimme-der-eltern-mehr-als-13-tausend-unterschriften-im-ministerium-eingereicht

https://skgd.pl/de/2022/02/17/debata-online-pilka-meczowa-miedzy-niemcami-a-polska-polonia-w-niemczech-i-mniejszosc-niemiecka-w-polsce/

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/veranstaltungen/item/5844-online-diskussion-zum-thema-die-kuerzung-des-deutschunterrichts-der-deutschen-minderheit-in-polen-und-die-folgen

[22] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG)

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5842-stellung-der-gemeinsamen-kommission-der-regierung-und-der-nationalen-und-ethnischen-minderheiten-zur-diskriminierung-der-deutschen-minderheit-in-frage-des-sprachunterrichts

[23] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG)

Could the Joint Commission be omitted? - VdG | 2022

[24] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG) 

https://skgd.pl/de/2022/02/22/apel-sejmiku-wojewodztwa-opolskiego-w-sprawie-dyskryminacji-mniejszosci-niemieckiej/ #

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5849-selbstverwaltungen-und-unternehmer-zur-verteidigung-von-deutsch-als-minderheitensprache

[25] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG) 

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5806-nicht-auf-kosten-des-unterrichts-der-sprache-nationaler-minderheiten

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5864-der-ombudsmann-an-den-ministerpraesidenten-die-regelung-zur-begrenzung-des-deutschunterrichts-soll-aufgehoben-werden

[26] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG) 

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5849-selbstverwaltungen-und-unternehmer-zur-verteidigung-von-deutsch-als-minderheitensprache

[27] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG) 

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5829-deutsche-parlamentarier-zur-verteidigung-der-deutschen-minderheit

[28] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG) 

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5815-fuen-verurteilt-mittelkuerzungen

[29] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG) 

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5835-wer-die-bildung-der-jungen-generation-beschaedigt-schadet-   kuenftigen-generationen

Beauftragter der Bundesregierung für Aussiedlerfragen und nationale Minderheiten,

https://www.aussiedlerbeauftragter.de/SharedDocs/kurzmeldungen/Webs/AUSB/DE/2022/20220210-polen.html

[30] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG) 

Parents' vote: more than 13 thousand signatures submitted to the ministry - VdG | 2022

[31]  Association of German Societies

Association of German Societies/Związek Niemieckich Stowarzyszeń – posty | Facebook

[32] Portal of the Germans in Poland (VdG) 

https://vdg.pl/de/portal/aktuelles/politik/item/5889-stanowcza-reakcja-mniejszosci-niemieckiej-przeciwko-dzialaniom-mein

Poland

Latvia

Greece

Romania

Bosnia and Herzegovina

Germany

Sweden

Croatia

Austria

More practices in