Abstract

World War I caused drastic changes in the population and demography of Warsaw, which began the conflict as a provincial city of the Russian empire and emerged from it as the capital of a newly independent Poland. Over the course of the war, significant numbers of residents left Warsaw as military conscripts, deportees deemed undesirable or unreliable by Russian authorities, evacuees fleeing the German occupation of the city, and excess male laborers driven out by high wartime unemployment. These losses were partially countered by the influx of wounded soldiers, wartime refugees, and postwar returnees. The net effect was to leave the population of Warsaw roughly one-sixth smaller in 1919 than it had been in 1914, but also more Jewish and female, with larger proportions of very young and elderly, all of which would pose challenges for the Polish capital as it entered the interwar period.

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