History of Pomerania

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The history of Pomerania, an area in modern-day Germany and Poland, dates back more than 10,000 years. The name Pomerania comes from Slavic po more, which means Land at the Sea.[1]

Settlement in the area started by the end of the Vistula Glacial Stage, about 13,000 years ago.[2] Archeological traces have been found of various cultures during the Stone and Bronze Age, of Veneti and Germanic peoples during the Iron Age and, in the Middle Ages, Slavic tribes and Vikings.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Starting in the 10th century, Piast Poland on several occasions acquired parts of the region from the southeast, while the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark augmented their territory from the west and north.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

In the High Middle Ages, the area became Christian and was ruled by local dukes of the House of Pomerania and the Samborides, at various times vassals of Denmark, the Holy Roman Empire and Poland.[16][17][18] From the late 12th century, the Griffin Duchy of Pomerania stayed with the Holy Roman Empire and the Principality of Rugia with Denmark, while Denmark, Brandenburg, Poland and the Teutonic Knights struggled for control in Samboride Pomerelia.[18][19][20] The Teutonic Knights succeeded in annexing Pomerelia to their monastic state in the early 14th century. Meanwhile the Ostsiedlung started to turn Pomerania into a German-settled area; the remaining Wends, who became known as Slovincians and Kashubians, continued to settle within the rural East.[21][22] In 1325 the line of the princes of Rugia (Rügen) died out, and the principality was inherited by House of Pomerania,[23] themselves involved in the Brandenburg-Pomeranian conflict about superiority in their often internally divided duchy. In 1466, with the Teutonic Order's defeat, Pomerelia became subject to the Polish Crown as a part of Royal Prussia.[24] While the Duchy of Pomerania adopted the Protestant Reformation in 1534,[25][26][27] Kashubia remained with the Roman Catholic Church. The Thirty Years' and subsequent wars severely ravaged and depopulated most of Pomerania.[28] With the extinction of the Griffin house during the same period, the Duchy of Pomerania was divided between the Swedish Empire and Brandenburg-Prussia in 1648.

Prussia gained the southern parts of Swedish Pomerania in 1720.[29] It gained the remainder of Swedish Pomerania in 1815, when French occupation during the Napoleonic Wars was lifted.[30] The former Brandenburg-Prussian Pomerania and the former Swedish parts were reorganized into the Prussian Province of Pomerania,[31] while Pomerelia in the partitions of Poland was made part of the Province of West Prussia. With Prussia, both provinces joined the newly constituted German Empire in 1871. Following the empire's defeat in World War I, Pomerelia became part of the Second Polish Republic (Polish Corridor) and the Free City of Danzig was created. Germany's Province of Pomerania was expanded in 1938 to include northern parts of the former Province of Posen–West Prussia, and in 1939 the annexed Polish territories became the part of Nazi Germany known as Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia. The Nazis deported the Pomeranian Jews to a reservation near Lublin[32][33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41] and mass-murdered Jews, Poles and Kashubians in Pomerania, planning to eventually exterminate Jews and Poles and Germanise the Kashubians.

After Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II, the German–Polish border was shifted west to the Oder–Neisse line and all of Pomerania was placed under Soviet military control.[42][43] The area west of the line became part of East Germany, the other areas part of the People's Republic of Poland. The German population of the areas east of the line was expelled, and the area was resettled primarily with Poles (some themselves expellees from former eastern Poland) and some Ukrainians (resettled under Operation Vistula) and Jews.[44][45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52] Most of Western Pomerania (Vorpommern) today forms the eastern part of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Federal Republic of Germany, while the Polish part of the region is divided between West Pomeranian Voivodeship and Pomeranian Voivodeship, with their capitals in Szczecin and Gdańsk, respectively. During the late 1980s, the Solidarność and Die Wende movements overthrew the Communist regimes implemented during the post-war era .[citation needed] Since then, Pomerania has been democratically governed.

Prehistory and antiquity[edit]

After the glaciers of the Vistula Glacial Stage retreated from Pomerania during the Allerød oscillation,[2] a warming period that falls within the Early Stone Age, they left a tundra. First humans appeared, hunting reindeer in the summer.[53] A climate change in 8000 BC[54] allowed hunters and foragers of the Maglemosian culture,[2] and from 6000 BC of the Ertebølle-Ellerbek culture, to continuously inhabit the area.[55] These people became influenced by farmers of the Linear Pottery culture who settled in southern Pomerania.[55][56] The hunters of the Ertebølle-Ellerbek culture became farmers of the Funnelbeaker culture in 3000 BC.[55][57] The Havelland culture dominated in the Uckermark from 2500 to 2000 BC.[58] In 2400 BC, the Corded Ware culture reached Pomerania[58][59] and introduced the domestic horse.[59] Both Linear Pottery and Corded Ware culture have been associated with Indo-Europeans.[59] Except for Western Pomerania,[58] the Funnelbeaker culture was replaced by the Globular Amphora culture a thousand years later.[60]

During the Bronze Age, Western Pomerania was part of the Nordic Bronze Age cultures, while east of the Oder the Lusatian culture dominated.[61] Throughout the Iron Age, the people of the western Pomeranian areas belonged to the Jastorf culture,[62][63] while the Lusatian culture of the East was succeeded by the Pomeranian culture,[62] then in 150 BC by the Oxhöft (Oksywie) culture, and at the beginning of the first millennium by the Willenberg (Wielbark) Culture.[62]

While the Jastorf culture is usually associated with Germanic peoples,[64] the ethnic category of the Lusatian culture and its successors is debated.[65] Veneti, Germanic peoples (Goths, Rugians, and Gepids) and possibly Slavs are assumed to have been the bearers of these cultures or parts thereof.[65]

Beginning in the 3rd century, many settlements were abandoned,[66] marking the beginning of the Migration Period in Pomerania. It is assumed that Burgundians, Goths and Gepids with parts of the Rugians left Pomerania during that stage, while some Veneti, Vidivarii and other, Germanic groups remained,[67] and formed the Gustow, Debczyn and late Willenberg cultures, which existed in Pomerania until the 6th century.[66]

Timeline 10,000 BC–600 AD[edit]

Early Middle Ages[edit]

A priest of Svantevit depicted on a stone from Arkona, now in the church of Altenkirchen

The southward movement of Germanic tribes and Veneti during the Migration Period had left Pomerania largely depopulated by the 7th century.[69] Between 650 and 850 AD, West Slavic tribes settled in Pomerania.[70][71] These tribes were collectively known as "Pomeranians" between the Oder and Vistula rivers, or as "Veleti" (later "Liuticians") west of the Oder. A distinct tribe, the Rani, was based on the island of Rügen and the adjacent mainland.[7][72] In the 8th and 9th centuries, Slavic-Scandinavian emporia were set up along the coastline as powerful centers of craft and trade.[73]

In 936, the Holy Roman Empire set up the Billung and Northern marches in Western Pomerania, divided by the Peene. The Liutician federation in an uprising of 983 managed to regain independence, but broke apart in the course of the 11th century because of internal conflicts.[9][74] Meanwhile, Polish Piasts managed to acquire parts of eastern Pomerania during the late 960s, where the short-lived Diocese of Kołobrzeg (Kolberg) was installed in 1000 AD. The Pomeranians regained independence during the Pomeranian uprising of 1005.[10][12][13][not in citation given][14][15][75][76][77][78][79]

During the first half of the 11th century, the Liuticians participated in the Holy Roman Empire's wars against Piast Poland.[80] The alliance broke off when Poland was defeated,[81] and the Liutician federation broke apart in 1057 during a civil war.[82] The Liutician capital was destroyed by the Germans in 1068/69,[83] making way for the subsequent eastward expansion of their western neighbor, the Obodrite state. In 1093, the Luticians,[84] Pomeranians[84] and Rani[84] had to pay tribute to Obodrite prince Henry.[85]

Timeline 600–1100[edit]

Stone ships at the site of an early medieval Scandinavian settlement, Altes Lager Menzlin near Anklam

High Middle Ages[edit]

Cathedral, Kammin (Cammin, Kamien Pomorski), see of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kammin, set up in 1140 in Wollin (Wolin)

The early 12th century, Obodrite, Polish, Saxon, and Danish conquests resulted in vassalage and Christianization of the formerly pagan and independent Pomeranian tribes.[16][91][92][93] Local dynasties ruled the Principality of Rügen (House of Wizlaw), the Duchy of Pomerania (House of Pomerania), the Lands of Schlawe and Stolp (Ratiboride branch of the House of Pomerania), and the duchies in Pomerelia (Samborides).[91]

The dukes of Pomerania expanded their realm into Circipania and Uckermark to the Southwest, and competed with the Margraviate of Brandenburg for territory and formal overlordship over their duchies. Pomerania-Demmin lost most of her territory and was integrated into Pomerania-Stettin in the mid-13th century. When the Ratiborides died out in 1223, competition arose for the Lands of Schlawe and Stolp,[94] which changed hands numerous times.

Throughout the High Middle Ages, a large influx of German settlers and the introduction of German law, custom, and Low German language turned the area west of the Oder into a German one (Ostsiedlung). The Wends, who during the Early Middle Ages had belonged to the Slavic Rani, Lutician and Pomeranian tribes, were assimilated by the German Pomeranians. To the east of the Oder these development occurred later; in the area from Szczecin eastward, the number of German settlers in the 12th century was still insignificant. The Kashubians descendants of Slavic Pomeranians, dominated many rural areas in Pomerelia.

The conversion of Pomerania to Christianity was achieved primarily by the missionary efforts of Absalon and Otto von Bamberg, by the foundation of numerous monasteries, and by the assimilatory power of the Christian settlers. A Pomeranian diocese was set up in Wolin, the see was later moved to Cammin.[95]

Timeline 1100–1300[edit]

Eldena Abbey, a favourite motif of Caspar David Friedrich. Medieval Pomeranian monasteries, owners of vast areas, ensured the conversion of Pomerania and contributed to Ostsiedlung.
Monument of Swietopelk II the Great in Szeroka Street in Gdańsk
Stralsund, one of several Hanseatic cities in Pomerania. Brick Gothic was the typical medieval architecture that can be seen throughout the region.

Late Middle Ages[edit]

Duchy of Pomerania-Stolp was fief of the Crown of the Polish Kingdom 1390-1446, 1466-1474
The Duchy of Pomerania (yellow) in 1400, P.-Stettin and P.-Wolgast are indicated; purple: Diocese of Cammin (BM. Cammin) and the Teutonic Order state; orange: Margraviate of Brandenburg; pink: duchies of Mecklenburg

The towns of the Hanseatic League were acting as quasi autonomous political and military entities.[116][117] The Duchy of Pomerania gained the Principality of Rugia after two wars with Mecklenburg,[23] the Lands of Schlawe and Stolp[118] and the Lauenburg and Bütow Land.[24] Pomerelia was integrated into the Monastic state of the Teutonic Knights after the Teutonic takeover of Danzig in 1308, and became a part of Royal Prussia in 1466.

The Duchy of Pomerania was internally fragmented into Pomerania-Wolgast, -Stettin, -Barth, and -Stolp.[119][120] The dukes were in continuous warfare with the Margraviate of Brandenburg due to Uckermark and Neumark border disputes and disputes over formal overlordship of Pomerania.[121] In 1478, the duchy was reunited under the rule of Bogislaw X, when most of the other dukes had died of the plague.[122][123]

Timeline 1300–1500[edit]

Castle of the Pomeranian dukes in Szczecin. While this is a reconstruction of the late medieval castle, a burgh had been on this site already in the Early Middle Ages.
University of Greifswald, founded in 1456

Early Modern Age[edit]

Pomerelia as a part of Royal Prussia (light blue), 16th century; Duchy of Pomerania in brown
The former Duchy of Pomerania (center) partitioned between the Swedish Empire and Brandenburg after the Treaty of Stettin in 1653. Swedish Pomerania (West Pomerania) is indicated in blue, Brandenburgian Pomerania (East Pomerania) is shown in orange.

Throughout this time, Pomerelia was within Royal Prussia, a part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth with considerable autonomy. In the late 18th century, it became a part of Prussia.

The Duchy of Pomerania was fragmented into Pomerania-Stettin (Farther Pomerania) and Pomerania-Wolgast (Western Pomerania) in 1532,[18][25] underwent Protestant Reformation in 1534,[26][27][139] and was even further fragmented in 1569.[140] In 1627, the Thirty Years' War reached the duchy.[141] Since the Treaty of Stettin (1630), it was under Swedish control.[141][142] Inmidst the war, the last duke Bogislaw XIV died without an issue. Garrison, plunder, numerous battles, famine and diseases left two thirds of the population dead and most of the country ravaged.[143][144] In the Peace of Westphalia of 1648, the Swedish Empire and Brandenburg-Prussia agreed on a partition of the duchy, which came into effect after the Treaty of Stettin (1653). Western Pomerania became Swedish Pomerania, a Swedish dominion, while Farther Pomerania became a Brandenburg-Prussian province.

A series of wars affected Pomerania in the following centuries. As a consequence, most of the formerly free peasants became serfs of the nobles.[145] Brandenburg-Prussia was able to integrate southern Swedish Pomerania into her Pomeranian province during the Great Northern War, which was confirmed in the Treaty of Stockholm in 1720.[29] In the 18th century, Prussia rebuild and colonised her war-torn Pomeranian province.[146]

Timeline 1500–1806[edit]

Gustavus II Adolphus started the Swedish intervention in the Thirty Years' War from Pomerania, parts of which would remain Swedish until 1815. This and subsequent wars severely ravaged the region, two thirds of the population died during the Thirty Years' War.[147]
Invasion of the Swedish Rügen by Brandenburg-Prussia, 1678

Modern Age[edit]

Map of the Prussian province Pomerania (Pommern) in 1905
Acquisitions of Polish territories for Germanization by the Prussian Settlement Commission
Map of West Prussia and the Gdańsk Bay in 1896

From the Napoleonic Wars to World War I, Pomerania was administered by the Kingdom of Prussia as the Province of Pomerania (Western and Farther Pomerania) and West Prussia (Pomerelia).

The Province of Pomerania was created from the Province of Pomerania (1653–1815) (Farther Pomerania and southern Vorpommern) and Swedish Pomerania (northern Vorpommern), and the districts of Schivelbein and Dramburg, formerly belonging to the Neumark.[31] While in the Kingdom of Prussia, the province was heavily influenced by the reforms of Karl August von Hardenberg[153] and Otto von Bismarck.[154] The industrial revolution had an impact primarily on the Stettin area and the infrastructure, while most of the province retained a rural and agricultural character.[155] Since 1850, the net migration rate was negative, Pomeranians emigrated primarily to Berlin, the West German industrial regions and overseas.[156] In areas where Polish population lived along with Germans a virtual apartheid existed, with bans on Polish language and religious discrimination, besides attempts to colonize the areas with Germans[157] Prussian Settlement Commission introduced 154,000 German colonists before World War I, which were also located in Pomerania.[158]

After the First World War, the Pomeranian Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic was established from the bulk of West Prussia;Poland became a democracy and introduced women's right to vote already in 1918[159]

The German minority in Poland moved in large numbers to Germany, mostly on free will and due to their economic situation[160] Poland build a large Baltic port at the site of the former village Gdynia. The Danzig (Gdansk) area became the city state Free City of Danzig.

In the Province of Pomerania, that after the Kaiser's abdication was part of the Free State of Prussia within the Weimar Republic, democracy and the women's right to vote were introduced.[161] The economic situation worsened due to the consequences of World War I and worldwide recession.[162] As in the Kingdom of Prussia before, Pomerania was a stronghold of the nationalistic and anti-semitic[163]DNVP also in the Weimar Republic.[164]

Timeline 1806–1933[edit]

Narrow gauge railways like "Rügensche Kleinbahn", operating since 1895, were built in all of Pomerania during the late 19th century.[165]
Since the late 19th century, the Pomeranian coast is a tourist resort. In Binz, tourism started in the 1860s.
Gdynia, a major port city constructed in 1921 as Poland's harbour within the Polish Corridor

Nazi era[edit]

In 1933, the Province of Pomerania like all of Germany came under control of the Nazi regime. During the following years, the Nazis led by Gauleiter Franz Schwede-Coburg manifested their power by Gleichschaltung and repression of their opponents.[176] Pomerelia then formed the Polish Corridor of the Second Polish Republic. Concerning Pomerania, Nazi diplomacy aimed at incorporation of the Free City of Danzig and a transit route through the corridor, which was rejected by the Polish government.[177]

In 1939, the German Wehrmacht invaded Poland. Inhabitants of the region from all ethnic backgrounds were subject to numerous atrocities by Nazi Germany forces, of which the most affected were Polish and Jewish civilians.[178][179][180] Pomerelia was made part of Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia. The Nazi's set up concentration camps, ethnically cleansed Poles and Jews, and systematically exterminated people (primarily Jews and ethnic Poles) they regarded Untermensch.

Timeline 1933–1945[edit]

Stutthof concentration camp, former Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia, site of the deaths of 85,000 people

Communist era and recent history[edit]

Historical Province of Pomerania (yellow) superimposed on modern Germany (red) and Poland (blue)

In 1945, Pomerania was taken by the Red Army during the East Pomeranian Offensive and the Battle of Berlin, that went along with atrocities against the German civilians.[182] After the post-war border changes, the German population that had not yet fled was expelled from what in Poland was propagated[183] to be recovered territory.[184][184][185][186][187] The area east of the Oder and the Szczecin (former Stettin) area was resettled primarily with Poles, and much of the German cultural heritage was removed.[188][189] Most of Western Pomerania stayed with Germany and was merged into Mecklenburg.

With the consolidation of Communism in East Germany and Poland, Pomerania was part of the Eastern Bloc. In the 1980s, the Solidarnosc movement in Gdansk (Danzig) and the Wende movement in East Germany forced the Communists out of power and led to the establishment of democracy in both the Polish and German part of Pomerania.[citation needed]

Timeline 1945–present[edit]

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

References[edit]

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Bibliography[edit]

Further reading[edit]

English:

  • Boehlke, LeRoy, Pomerania - Its People and Its History, Pommerscher Verein Freistadt, Germantown, WI, U.S.A., 1983.

German and Polish:

Polish:

  • Gerard Labuda (ed.), Historia Pomorza, vol. I (to 1466), parts 1-2, Poznań 1969
  • Gerard Labuda (ed.), Historia Pomorza, vol. II (1466–1815), parts 1-2, Poznań 1976
  • Gerard Labuda (ed.), Historia Pomorza, vol. III (1815–1850), parts 1-3, Poznań
  • Gerard Labuda (ed.), Historia Pomorza, vol. IV (1850–1918), part 1, Toruń 2003
  • B. Śliwiński, "Poczet książąt gdańskich", Gdańsk 1997

German: