Where do the Pomeranians come from?

Pomeranian history


Spread of the Teutons around 50 AD.

Spread of the Slavic language

Early history
The first written evidence about the inhabitants of the southern Baltic coast comes from the Romans. We know from the scribe Tacitus that East Germanic tribes lived in this area for about 2000 years. The names of some of the Baltic Sea islands are still reminiscent of this today: Rügen to the Rugians, Bornholm to the Burgundians and Gotland to the Goths. With the year 375 AD. the migration of peoples began - the Germanic peoples gradually left the Baltic Sea region. The Slavs, relatives of the Ostrogoths, then moved into the areas that were becoming free. Around 600 the whole of Central and Eastern Europe was settled by Slavs, who lived side by side in unorganized form in loose peoples or tribes. At some point the collective name “Wenden” was formed for the peoples in the southern Baltic region. The inhabitants of the area between the Vistula and the Oder were called Pomoranen, derived from the Wendish “po more”, “by the sea”. The neighbors to the southeast were called Polani, the “inland residents”. The names “Poland” for the Polans living in the Warthe-Netze area and “Pomerania” for the Pomorans living in the coastal area were developed from these terms.
The Pomeranian tribe eventually developed from the descendants of the Wendish Pomorans and the Germans who moved there, such as the missionaries, settlers, craftsmen and merchants. From around 1200 the German Pomeranian era begins, whose characteristics are the language (Low German), the brick Gothic and the church culture. In the eastern part of Pomerania, in the Danzig area, Kashubians still live today, remnants of the Slavic Pomorans, who maintain their tradition and language (Kashubian). Endings of place names and personal names in -ow, -itz, -in and -gard are typical for Pomerania and were heir to the ancient language of the Pomorans. The Poles finally Polonized all geographical names in Eastern Pomerania in 1945.


The griffin

Association of the Pomorans
Towards the end of the 11th century, the Pomerans, who had previously lived in loose associations, came together more closely under the rule of a duke. The reason was the pressure from the Danes in the north, the Brandenburgers in the south and the Poles in the southeast. The griffin, a mythical creature made up of eagles and lions, gave the new ruling family its name, from then on it was called the “griffin family”. Due to the increasingly vehement attacks by the neighbors, Pomeranian Duke Bogislaw I finally handed over “his land” to Emperor Friedrich I (Barbarossa) in 1181 in order to enjoy the protection of the German Emperor. This made Pomerania the easternmost part of the “Holy Roman Empire”.


Bogislaw X. united all of Pomerania in 1478

The griffin sex
The griffin dynasty ruled for six centuries until the male line died out in 1637. Although Pomerania had long since become a German country, its dukes still had Wendish names such as Wartislaw, Bogislaw, Barnim or Kasimir. A characteristic feature of the Pomeranian rulers was to constantly divide their land into partial duchies. The griffin princes, on the other hand, cared nothing about military campaigns of conquest against their neighbors. As a rule, they were peaceful people and cared little about European politics, the emperor and the empire.


Bishop Otto von Bamberg

From Wendish to German Pomerania
By the 10th century, Christianity had also reached Bohemia and Poland in the east, only the peoples in the northeast on the Baltic Sea still clung to their natural gods. This changed with the beginning of the missionary trips of Bishop Otto von Bamberg, the “Apostle of Pomerania”. After the griffin dukes set a good example and renounced “paganism”, it was they who founded the first monasteries. The background was probably not least that monasteries guaranteed a flourishing economy. This attracted colonists, production in the country grew and tax claims could be increased. Missionary work and colonization went hand in hand. New settlers were literally recruited by the aristocrats to improve the country's economic situation. In the 13th century, around 150,000 people from the west met 100,000 resident Wends. The dukes and bishops promoted the founding of cities, gave craftsmen and merchants city rights. Within 100 to 150 years, German thinking, law and language had prevailed under the leadership of the griffin dukes.


Friedrich Wilhelm, the "Great Elector"

Friedrich Wilhelm I, the "Soldier King"

Pomerania becomes a Prussian province
In 1637, during the Thirty Years' War, the last griffin duke died. The question of who is allowed to take over the “Pomeranian legacy” was clarified after the war. The Peace of Westphalia of 1648 transferred Friedrich Wilhelm (1620-1688), the “Great Elector”, the diocese of Cammin and Western Pomerania. Western Pomerania including Stettin and a strip east of the Oder went to the Swedish king and became "Swedish Pomerania". Friedrich did not like this arrangement at all, since a contract with the Pomeranian dukes had existed since 1529, which granted the Hohenzollern inheritance rights in the event that the Griffin family died out. Only his successors came closer to the goal of winning the whole of Western Pomerania. His son, Friedrich I, was crowned “King in Prussia” in Königsberg in 1701 (Frederick the Great made “Old Fritz”, later “KingofPrussia"). In 1720, after the war between Sweden and Russia, the “Soldier King” Friedrich Wilhelm I, a grandson of the “Great Elector”, succeeded in winning over Western Pomerania to the western part of Pomerania. 100 years later, at the end of the Napoleonic Wars, Prussia was granted the possession of all of Pomerania at the Congress of Vienna in 1814. The independent duchy and realm of Pomerania with its own tribal duke at the head became a province of the Brandenburg-Prussian state, whose inhabitants soon resigned themselves to the role of Prussian subjects.


Loss of territory after the Treaty of Versailles

The “Polish Corridor”

Pomerania until 1945
The Versailles Treaty, referred to by the losers of World War I as the “Dictate of Versailles” because of the lack of a say, gave Germany and its allies the main culprit for World War I and, in addition to extensive reparation obligations, denied it a large part of its territories. Pomerania was largely spared the consequences of the area amputations. With the cession of almost all of West Prussia and the province of Posen to the newly created Poland, which has practically not existed since the “Polish partitions” in 1772, 1793 and 1795, the “Polish Corridor” was created. From a geographical point of view a “fragmentation corridor”, it now separated East Prussia from the rest of the German Empire and made the adjacent Pomerania a border region again. In 1938, Pomerania received most of the districts from the dissolved province of Grenzmark Posen-West Prussia and organized them into a new administrative district Grenzmark Posen-West Prussia with its headquarters in Schneidemühl.


Territorial losses after 1945 (Oder-Neisse line)

After World War II
In 1945 Pomerania was conquered by the Red Army. Due to the decisions of the Allies in the Potsdam Agreement, Hinterpommern was placed under Polish administration and divided by establishing the German-Polish border along the Oder-Neisse line. The part of the civilian population that did not flee and survived the atrocities of the Russian soldiers was almost completely expelled from their homeland or resettled in the following period. You can find more on the subject of “Flight and Displacement” here. From the part of Western Pomerania that remained with Germany, together with the former Free State of Mecklenburg, the State of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was formed at the beginning of July 1945, which from March 1947 was only called State of Mecklenburg. In the course of German reunification in 1990, the new Germany as a whole also recognized the Oder-Neisse line finally and under international law in the two-plus-four treaty, as well as in the German-Polish border treaty. With the accession of the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, the federal state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania was also reconstituted, but with a different regional structure. The historical Pomerania is now territorially covered by the Polish Voivodeships of Pomerania and West Pomerania. You can see what old Pomerania looked like in German times under Pictures from Pomerania.

KEY DATA

  • 3rd - 6th century
    Emigration ostgerm. Tribes, immigration of Elbe and Baltic Sea Slavs
  • From 950
    Vikings set up the Wollin trading post.
  • 1102 – 1106
    The Polish Duke Boleslaw undertakes military campaigns against the pagan-Slavic Pomerania.
  • 1100 – 1148
    Wartislaw I. first, definitely verifiable representative of the Slavic Griffin dynasty.
  • 1091
    Castrum Stettin mentioned as a castle and trading center.
  • 1120 – 1122
    Szczecin is conquered by Duke Boleslaw. Wartislaw I. receives Pomm.-Stettin as a vassal of Poland.
  • 1124
    First missionary trip of Bishop Otto von Bamberg. Wartislaw I. accepts Christianity.
  • 1138
    Pomerania gets rid of Polish sovereignty.
  • 1140
    Pope Innocent II founds the Diocese of Wollin.
  • 1153 – 1178
    Foundation of the Stolpe, Grobe and Kolbatz monasteries.
  • 1168
    Danish king Waldemar I conquers Rügen.
  • 1181
    Friedrich I. (Barbarossa) enfeoffed Hzg. Bogislaw I. with western Pomerania, incorporation into the Roman-German. Reich Association.
  • 1230
    Beginning of settlement by German knights, farmers and craftsmen, supported by the Pomeranian dukes.
  • 1295
    Division of Pomerania into the duchies of Pomerania-Stettin and Pomerania-Wolgast.
  • 1325
    War of succession after the Rügen-Barth family died out.
  • 1338
    Pomm.-Stettin receives imperial freedom with reservation of Brandenburg's inheritance rights.
  • 1348 – 1351
    Almost a third of the Pomeranian victims of the plague.
  • 1363
    Completion of the Lauenburg by the order of knights. Stargard member of the Hanseatic League.
  • 1384/85
    The order of knights acquires the countries of Schivelbein and Tuchen / Bütow district. 1390 Start of construction of the Deutschordensburg Bütow.
  • 1410
    Poles and Lithuanians defeat the order of knights near Tannenberg.
  • 1420
    Pomerania is subject to Brandenburg near Angermünde and loses the Uckermark.
  • 1456
    Founding of the University of Greifswald.
  • 1466
    In the 2nd Peace of Thorne, the “lands” of Lauenburg and Bütow are ceded to Pomerania as a Polish fief by the Teutonic Knights Order.
  • 1474
    With Duke Bogislaw X. the most important griffin duke ascends the Pomeranian throne. He put an end to the succession dispute with Brandenburg and in 1478 united all of Pomerania in his hand.
  • 1529
    In the Treaty of Grimnitz, Brandenburg renounces sovereignty over Pomerania, but retains the right of inheritance in the event of the extinction of the Griffin family.
  • 1588
    The famous Low German Barther Bible is published in the Schlossdruckerei zu Barth.
  • 1616
    Stricter serfdom through legal recognition of the peasant laying in the Hzgt. Szczecin.
  • 1637
    Bogislaw XIV's death ends Pomerania's statehood. Bütow and Lauenburg go back to Poland as completed fiefdoms.
  • 1648
    In Westphalia. Peace falls to West Pomerania with Stettin to Sweden. East Pomerania falls to Brandenburg.
  • 1657
    Elector Friedrich Wilhelm von Brandenburg wins the “Lande” Lauenburg and Buetow.
  • 1672 – 1679
    Coalition war: The Great Elector defeats Sweden at Fehrbellin (1675), conquers the swed.-pomm. Stettin, Rügen, Greifswald and Stralsund have to do without Western Pomerania in the peace of St. Germain.
  • 1713 – 1740
    King Friedrich Wilhelm I of Prussia creates significant economic improvements in Pomerania. Justification of the Pruss. Military and official state.
  • 1720
    In the Treaty of Stockholm, which ended the Northern War, Stettin and Western Pomerania were ceded by Sweden to Prussia up to the Peene.
  • 1740 – 1786
    Friedrich “the Great” King of Prussia. The "old Fritz" carried out extensive land improvements (including the construction of the port of Swinoujscie) and promoted the colonization of Pomerania.
  • 1756 – 1763
    Seven Years War. Russians invade Pomerania several times and lay siege to Kolberg three times.
  • 1756
    Frederick the Great orders the cultivation of the potato in Pomerania.
  • 1795
    3rd pol. Partition and dissolution of Poland.
  • 1815 – 1818
    The Congress of Vienna resolves the cession of Western Pomerania and Rügen by the Swedes to Prussia. The districts of Dramburg and Schivelbein, until then parts of Brandenburg, are added to the province of Pomerania (1818). All of Pomerania is now reunited.
  • 1851
    Foundation of the Stettiner Maschinenbau AG “Vulcan” as the first German shipyard for iron shipbuilding.
  • 1852
    Pompe writes the Pomeranian song “When in a quiet hour”.
  • 1919
    The Treaty of Versailles makes Pomerania a border country. East Prussia is separated from the Reich by the “Polish Corridor”.
  • 1938
    Dissolution of the Grenzmark Posen-West Prussia province (since 1922), incorporation of the Flatow, Deutsch-Krone, Schlochau, Netzekreis and nordmärk districts. Districts of Arnswalde and Friedeberg and the town of Schneidemühl in Pomerania, now the largest in its history.
  • 1945
    Pomerania bridgehead for millions of refugees. Air raid on Swinoujscie claims almost 25,000 lives. The Potsdam Agreement divides Pomerania along the Oder-Neisse line.
  • 1945 – 1948
    Systematic expulsion of the German population remaining above the Oder-Neisse line.
  • 1947
    Dissolution of the Prussian. State by decision of the Control Council.
  • 1990
    German-Polish treaty confirms the existing borders. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania German federal state.
  • 1995
    Formation of the Euroregion Pomerania, which extends over three national borders.