Pomeranian history

 -the short version-



Although we don't as yet have a clue how long our people lived in the area south of the Baltic Sea, we do know that when they emigrated from villages in Kr. Stolp to the United States, the region was part of Prussia and known by our family by it's German name Pommern.


The root of the name is Pomorze, a Slavic word meaning "by the sea." 


Pomerania is the English form.


It is generally described as a Polish province by Polish historians and a German province by German historians.


Our research will have to keep in mind both the German and Polish names for locations, as these will change as often as the politics of the region.


The division of Pomerania into sections dates back to the assignment of the lands in 1107 by Polish duke Swiatobor, between his three sons.


Son, Boguslaw received the eastern region including Gdansk


In 1108 Lothar, the duke of Saxony sent German settlers into the land which was then covered with woods of pine and beach; pleasant to look at, but hard to work. 


Historically the German farmers were welcomed by the Pomeri (the west Slavic native people who lived "by the sea")[1] and the Germans were not aggressively pushing to destroy the local people for possession of the ports and land.


In 1181 the Germans accepted the Slavic Greifen Dukes (Slavic leaders of Pommern) as princes of the Holy Roman Empire of Karl der Grosse (Charlemagne) and protected them from invasion by their enemies.


In return for that protection, another influx of German settlers arrived to occupy the thinly settled land.


The Germans drained the swamps, conquered the marshes and built their villages next to those already occupied by the native Pomeranni people.


The part of Pomerania that included Stolp (Where our people are from) and the major seaport Danzig is called Hinterpommern in German usage.


In Polish usage the area centered around Stolp (now called Slupsk) and the seaport of Danzig (now named Gdansk) was variously called Pomerellen (Little Pomerania ), East Pomerania, as well as (from 1309-1466) Royal Prussia or West Prussia.


In 1227, the model for the "German Law" was signed by Henry the Bearded with the Bishop of Wroclaw. 


Under this agreement the German Colonists in the new Villages enjoyed considerable autonomy.


The German Colonists were subject to the rule of the hereditary Polish soltys (Headmen) appointed by the local lord and to the jurisdiction of the village bench over which he presided.


This gave the German settlers rights that were sometimes better than those enjoyed by the Polish serfs.


During this time of considerable German influence, construction began, in 1270, on the great church St. Marien Kirche in Stolp that still stands today and where many of our ancestors were baptized, confirmed and memorialized in death.


The area was annexed by Poland in 1295.


It was acquired by the Teutonic Knights in 1308 when conducting their raid on Danzig.


In 1310 construction was completed on the Stolp church. 


Maps dated 1559 show the city of Stolp on the border of Poland with the Holy Roman Empire of the Hapsburgs.


In 1454 it was returned to Poland where it remained as the House of Griefen held Pommern until the last of the dukes died in 1637 and the Brandenburger Hohenzollerns inherited the lands and the people.


Under Albert of Hohenzollern, the ruling class was changed from Polish to German as the dukes accepted Lutheranism for themselves and for those who lived in their duchies.         


During the first Partition of Poland in 1772 it was part of the German province of West Prussia.


In 1815 it became the Prussian province of Pommern.


In 1817 Friedrich Wilhelm III united the Lutheran and Calvinist churches into one state religion called the Evangelican.


After World War I the area around Stolp remained German, escaping the realignment of the Prussian lands into the newly constituted nation of Poland in 1919 by the treaty of Versailles.


After World War II when Germany lost all its lands east of the Oder-Neisse River, the area was put within the national boundaries of Poland where it remains until now.




[1] Some historians believe this Slavic tribe was driven into the area in 450 in advance of the maurading Huns.