Atlas, map and manuscripts of Eugeniusz Romer related to his activities of shaping Poland’s border

Date 1916–1920

Storing institution Jagiellonian University Library in Cracow

The fight to bring Poland back to the maps of the world

Eugeniusz Mikołaj Romer (1871–1954), a geographer, professor of universities in Lviv and Cracow, the creator of modern Polish cartography, is one of those persons who, using their knowledge and skills, greatly contributed to the work of rebuilding the Polish state after the partitions.

Romer’s fight for the shape of reborn Poland took place outside the battlefields, but its immense significance cannot be questioned. Romer became involved in the country’s boundaries delimitation and settling after the years of non-existence on the world maps – works of fundamental importance for the reconstruction of the Polish statehood. He had dealt with this issue already during the First World War I. In 1916, together with his colleagues, he developed the Geographical and Statistical Atlas of Poland, in which he presented basic data concerning the Polish territories: administrative division, physical geography, economy, agriculture and demography, used in subsequent peace negotiations regarding the delimitation of the boundaries of post-partition Poland.

Eugeniusz Romer became particularly involved in issues related to the delimitation in the stormy period between 1918 and 1921. As an expert of the Polish delegation at the Paris Peace Conference (1919–1920), he participated in negotiations regarding geographical matters. He attended over 70 meetings with experts from other countries, during which the shape of Europe after the end of First World War was determined, including the new borders of Poland. He played a similar role during the Riga Peace Conference in (1920), where the shape of the eastern border of Poland was decided.

The materials left by Romer – an atlas, map and manuscripts – are the basic sources of knowledge about the course of the diplomatic battle over the Polish borders in 1919–1920. The Paris diary (1919) and the diary of peace talks in Riga (1920) are unique reports of an eye witness, showing the detailed course of peace negotiations and the process of resolving disputes over the Polish borders.

The map, which resulted from the peace talks with the representatives of Soviet Russia in Riga, is the only document preserved in the Polish archives, which exactly presents the Polish-Russian border of 1920, marked in red ink. On its back there is short, handwritten technical information of fundamental importance for the new state: The map where I marked the Polish-Russian border of the (preliminary) Riga treaty on 8th October around 4 a.m. the drawing was approved with an amendment by a Russian expert [Teodor] Nowicki. E. Romer. Riga 8. X. 1920.