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The Globe and Mail

Reversal of fortunes: Poles help revive deteriorating German villages

As young, well-to-do Poles from the city of Szczecin pour across the border in search of real estate bargains, their influence challenges assumptions about rich west, poor east.

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The general view of the village of Rosow, Germany located near the Polish border, April 5, 2013. Large numbers of well-to-do Poles from Szceczin are moving into Germany and buying properties on such a scale that sleepy Prussian villages are taking on a Polish air.

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Pawel Pilsniak, his wife Anna and two children Micheasz and Nathan pose for a photograph by the entrance to the village of Neu Rosow, Germany near the Polish border April 6, 2013.

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Polish Catholic priest Cezary Korzec stands in front of his house in the village of Rosow. Korzec said that in the parish to which the village belongs, the number of practising Catholics had gone from 1,200 to 1,800 in the past few years because of the influx of Poles.

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Gabriela Karp picks up firewood in the courtyard of her house which is under renovation in the village of Rosow.

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Jozef Walukiewicz, his wife Anna and daughter Katarzyna stand inside their renovated house in Rosow. When Poland joined the European Union a decade ago, people in the Polish border city of Szczecin expected their neighbours in Germany to move in with their bulging wallets and buy up Polish houses and businesses. But events took an unexpected turn.

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The Walukiewiczs stand in front of their house in Rosow.

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Gabriela Karp, a businesswoman, stands inside her house under renovation in Rosow, where several stone cottages are falling down. But now there is a rebuilt farmhouse in the centre of the village, a second renovated property a few doors away, and a former restaurant being converted into apartments, all owned by Poles.

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Ms. Karp stands in front of her house.

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Priest Cezary Korzec conducts a Holy Mass in a chapel in his house in Rosow, Germany. “This is the fastest developing parish in Germany,” he said.

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Anna Pilsniak and her sons Micheasz and Nathan are photographed in their house in the village of Neu Rosow, Germany.

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Priest Cezary Korzec climbs a ladder in his house in Rosow.

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Real estate agent Radoslaw Popiela poses for a photograph togther with his wife Dominika, daughter Konstancja and two sons, Kajetan and Franciszek outside their house in the village of Rosow, Germany. About 80 per cent of property transactions in German areas adjacent to Szczecin involve Polish buyers, according to Popiela.

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Dominika Popiela holds her daughter Konstancja in their house in the village of Rosow.

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A border crossing between Poland and Germany near the village of Rosow April 6, 2013.

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