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Why and how were east Brandenburg, Pomerania and Silesia taken away from Germany after WW2?

Why and how were east Brandenburg, Pomerania and Silesia taken away from Germany after WW2?

These areas have always been German, in fact Pomerania and Brandenburg were both part of Prussia since the 1700's. Why did the Soviet Union do this, and how did the victorious powers justify taking these very German areas away to form Poland? Bear in mind that when borders shift in Europe, the 'shifter' usually has some sort of (usually weak) justification, like Danzig being a former part of Poland-Lithuania and Alsace-Lorraine being a part of the HRE before 1680. However I don't think east Pomerania and east Brandenburg was ever Polish, although Silesia had a Polish minority.

How were these territories acquired? In WW1, German territories were readily carved up by the Treaty of Versailles; what was the treaty in question after WW2?

Post-World War II Poland was "designed" by the British foreign office, presented by Churchill, and ratified by Roosevelt and Stalin at the Tehran Conference in 1943, as noted in another answer.

After World War I, Britain had planned on the so-called Curzon line for the eastern boundary of Poland (based on the ethnic divisions) but the country crossed that boundary in 1919-20 and seized chunks of Belarus and the Ukraine east of that line from the Soviet Union. The 1939 German-Soviet partition line actually coincided almost exactly with the Curzon line, with minor differences. Hence, it was easy for Britain and the Soviet Union to agree on the final eastern boundary of Poland.

In compensation, Churchill's plan was to restore to Poland land that had been "German" for two or three centuries, but had been Polish earlier in the Middle Ages. These included Silesia and Pomerania. As a practical matter, the new western border was set on the Oder and Neisse rivers, meaning that some small pieces of German (East) Brandenburg east of the line went to Poland, and some small pieces of former Polish Pomerania went to Germany.

Silesia had originally been Polish, was inherited by the heir to the Bohemian crown, and ultimately by Austria, when the Bohemian royal line died out. It was captured by Germany (Brandenburg-Prussia actually), in the War of the Austrian Succession in 1740, which is why it became "German." All this over a period of several centuries.

Pomerania (Polish for on the sea) was originally held by Polish dukes. When they started accruing land west of the Oder in the 12th century, this portion of Pomerania was held as a fiefdom under the Holy Roman Emperor. Eventually, the German influence won out, and all of Pomerania was under the Holy Roman Empire, or one its Electors, that of Brandenburg. During the Middle Ages, there was a certain amount of back-and-forth, but the end result was increasing German settlement and influence on Pomerania, particularly west of the Oder, less so under the east, while nominally under a Polish noble line, the Griffins. When they died out around 1650, Pomerania was divided between Sweden and Brandenburg-Prussia, with the latter eventually absorbing the Swedish portion over the next century or so.

All of the above as justification for the Allies doing what the wanted to do, transfer these lands from Germany (back) to Poland, and the Soviet Union taking back the pieces of Belarus and the Ukraine occupied by Poland.


Post-war Polish borders were agreed upon in Teheran (1943) and finalized in Yalta (1945) by the "Big 3".

The land was taken from Germany on the grounds of Germany having started the war, to weaken it so that it would never be able to do that again.


The Poles did not do the ethnic cleansing of those lands singlehandedly - at first the Germans ran away themselves, spurred by Goebbels's wildly exaggerated reports of the Red Army's atrocities (the atrocities were real, but the reports were exaggerated; in fact, there are some indications that the Red Army behaved differently in the areas which were to be given to Poland and Russia than in the areas which were to remain German).

Also, don't forget that Poles were also resettled.


I think one has to look at this episode in context: a horrible war just ended and the leaders set to the task of resolving the tensions which led to the war. The major source of tensions was people of one nationality living on the territory controlled by another (e.g., Germans in Sudetenland). So, to prevent those issues from re-appearing, massive population exchanges were undertaken, to ensure countries' ethnic homogeneity.

While many people suffered in the process, it was still done nicer than the similar attempt by the Germans during the war, and it did ensure that a similar conflict is now highly unlikely.

You're right to say that Germany's loss of territory to Poland in 1945 was "harsh" judged by the principle that borders should be delineated according to ethnic and/or historical claims. No one then or since has tried to argue that the areas in question had been anything other than ethnically German for centuries

However Germany in 1945 was not any normal defeated power. It was allowed no voice in the settlement of its borders. Its utter defeat and devastation was of course one reason why it could not contest the settlement. For a long time after May 1945 there simply wasn't a state of Germany either practically or legally. This was one reason why the allied powers dismissed and arrested the Flensburg government (the government which continued to function - after a fashion - after Hitler's death). It emphasised that German statehood was now null and void.

Furthermore, German state or no German state, the victorious powers could justify transferring to Polish control large areas of formerly German territory:

1) Germany was perceived to need weakening so as to limit its capacity to once again renew itself after a defeat and wage aggressive war. In fact still harsher plans had been considered (e.g. the Morganthau plan).

2) The nazi policy of aggressive expansion and the crimes committed against Polish and Soviet civilians eliminated any squeamishness anyone might have had about expelling westwards large German populations.

3) In any case, as the other answer notes, a significant proportion of the local German population had already fled westwards even prior to fixing new borders

4) The idea of "shifting" borders west (the USSR expanding into Poland, Poland being compensated with parts of Germany), in order to create a sizeable safety buffer between the Russian heartland and Germany, was seen as reasonable in the light of Germany's two recent invasions of Russia (1914 and 1941).

You ask which treaties have defined Germany's loss of these territories. Wikipedia's German-Polish 1990 treaty article lists the key ones:

1945: Potsdam agreement
1950: Treaty of Zgorzelec between the DDR and Poland
1970: Treaty of Warsaw
1990: German-Polish Border Treaty

Addition to the answers given so far:

Since the Potsdam treaty (and other agreements between the "Big 3") was not signed by Germany itself, it was not a "real" peace treaty by international law. In fact, it does not declare that the mentioned territories are to be annexed by Poland… merely occupied until a final peace treaty is signed (with the intention to weaken Germany and create a buffer zone to the Soviet Union, as said in other answers). This probably eased the acceptance of the treaty by the western Allies.

But the issue got a lot more complicated by the fact that two independent German states were founded after the war, one an ally of Poland, and one an enemy. Both sides denied the other the authority to sign a final treaty, delaying this step until 1990, when a reunited Germany could finally close the case once and for all.

Of course, by that time, the territories had been mainly inhabited by Poles for decades (and many former German inhabitants had died), and it was entirely unrealistic that they would be given back. But up until that point, the former German inhabitants of said areas had a reason to claim that they were de jure still German (this point of view was officially supported by the Western German government until 1970). If the Allies had signed a peace treaty with some strawman German representatives straight away in the late fourties, the whole issue would have had much less publicity. But the start of the Cold War got in their way.

Poland was simply ethnically cleansed by the Russians who force marched entire German families out of Silesia into east Germany.

Before there was any civil authority created in Silesia Polish Jews freed from incarceration created their own Freedom committees. For at least the first six months after Germany's capitulation these were the only real authority. These former Kz inmates took over whatever accommodations they wanted.

Prior to its unification in 1871, Germany consisted of a loose association of kingdoms (Bavaria, Prussia, Saxony, Wurttemberg. ), duchies (Baden. ), free cities (Hamburg, Bremen, Lubeck. ), and even personal estates - each with its own laws and record keeping systems. After a brief period as a unified nation (1871-1945), Germany was again divided following World War II, with parts of it given to Czechoslovakia, Poland, and the USSR. What was left was then divided into East Germany and West Germany, a division that lasted until 1990. Even during the unified period, some sections of Germany were given to Belgium, Denmark, and France in 1919.

What this means for people researching German roots, is that the records of their ancestors may or may not be found in Germany. Some may be found among the records of the six countries which have received portions of former Germany territory (Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, France, Poland, and the USSR). Once you take your research prior to 1871, you may also be dealing with records from some of the original German states.

The Soviet advance to the Oder, January–February 1945

At the end of 1944 the Germans still held the western half of Poland, and their front was still 200 miles east of where it had been at the start of the war in 1939. The Germans had checked the Soviets’ summer offensive and had established a firm line along the Narew and Vistula rivers southward to the Carpathians, and in October they repelled the Red Army’s attempted thrust into East Prussia. Meanwhile, however, the Soviet left, moving up from the eastern Balkans, had been gradually pushing around through Hungary and Yugoslavia in a vast flanking movement and the absorption of German forces in opposing this side-door approach detracted considerably from the Germans’ capacity to maintain their main Eastern and Western fronts.

The Soviet high command was now ready to exploit the fundamental weaknesses of the German situation. Abundant supplies for their armies had been accumulated at the railheads. The mounting stream of American-supplied trucks had by this time enabled the Soviets to motorize a much larger proportion of their infantry brigades and thus, with the increasing production of their own tanks, to multiply the number of armoured and mobile corps for a successful breakthrough.

Before the end of December ominous reports were received by Guderian—who, in this desperately late period of the war, had been made chief of the German general staff. German Army intelligence reported that 225 Soviet infantry divisions and 22 armoured corps had been identified on the front between the Baltic and the Carpathians, assembled to attack. But when Guderian presented the report of these massive Soviet offensive preparations, Hitler refused to believe it, exclaiming: “It’s the biggest imposture since Genghis Khan! Who is responsible for producing all this rubbish?”

If Hitler had been willing to stop the Ardennes counteroffensive in the west, troops could have been transferred to the Eastern Front but he refused to do so. At the same time he refused Guderian’s renewed request that the 30 German divisions now isolated in Courland (on the Baltic seacoast in Lithuania) should be evacuated by sea and brought back to reinforce the gateways into Germany. As a consequence, Guderian was left with a mobile reserve of only 12 armoured divisions to back up the 50 weak infantry divisions stretched out over the 700 miles of the main front.

The Soviet offensive opened on January 12, 1945, when Konev’s armies were launched against the German front in southern Poland, starting from their bridgehead over the Vistula River near Sandomierz. After it had pierced the German defense and produced a flanking menace to the central sector, Zhukov’s armies in the centre of the front bounded forward from their bridgeheads nearer Warsaw. That same day, January 14, Rokossovsky’s armies also joined in the offensive, striking from the Narew River north of Warsaw and breaking through the defenses covering this flank approach to East Prussia. The breach in the German front was now 200 miles wide.

On January 17, 1945, Warsaw was captured by Zhukov, after it had been surrounded and on January 19 his armoured spearheads drove into Łódź. That same day Konev’s spearheads reached the Silesian frontier of prewar Germany. Thus, at the end of the first week the offensive had been carried 100 miles deep and was 400 miles wide—far too wide to be filled by such scanty reinforcements as were belatedly provided.

The crisis made Hitler renounce any idea of pursuing his offensive in the west but, despite Guderian’s advice, he switched the 6th Panzer Army not to Poland but to Hungary in an attempt to relieve Budapest. The Soviets could thus continue their advance through Poland for two more weeks. While Konev’s spearheads crossed the Oder River in the vicinity of Breslau (Wrocław) and thus cut Silesia’s important mineral resources off from Germany, Zhukov made a sweeping advance in the centre by driving forward from Warsaw, past Poznań, Bydgoszcz, and Toruń, to the frontiers of Brandenburg and of Pomerania. At the same time Rokossovsky pushed on, through Allenstein (Olsztyn), to the Gulf of Danzig, thus cutting off the 25 German divisions in East Prussia. To defend the yawning gap in the centre of the front, Hitler created a new army group and put Heinrich Himmler in command of it with a staff of favoured SS officers. Their fumbling helped to clear the path for Zhukov, whose mechanized forces by January 31, 1945, were at Küstrin, on the lower Oder, only 40 miles from Berlin.

Zhukov’s advance now came to a halt. Konev, however, could still make a northwesterly sweep down the left bank of the middle Oder, reaching Sommerfeld, 80 miles from Berlin, on February 13, and the Neisse River two days later. The Germans’ defense benefited from being driven back to the straight and shortened line formed by the Oder and Neisse rivers. This front, extending from the Baltic coast to the Bohemian frontier, was less than 200 miles long. The menace of the Soviets’ imminent approach to Berlin led Hitler to decide that most of his fresh drafts of troops must be sent to reinforce the Oder the way was thus eased for the crossing of the Rhine River by the American and British armies.

On February 13, 1945, the Soviets took Budapest, the defense of which had entailed the Germans’ loss of Silesia.

What Happened To The Women Of Germany After The End Of WW2?

When Berlin fell to the Soviets it is rumored that Stalin gave the Soviet Soldiers permission to do what ever they wanted for the first 3 days. At the end of that 3 days you would be hard pressed to find a single German woman who had not been raped at least once by the Soviet Soldiers.

Almost 100 percent of women between the ages of 8 and 80 were raped — repeatedly — some as many as 60 to 70 times.

Estimates are around 2,000,000 women were raped in Germany, 100,000 in Berlin. These estimates are based in part on the number of requested abortions that climbed markedly after the Russians arrived.

Female deaths in connection with the rapes in Germany, overall, are estimated at 240,000

War historians have described it as the &ldquogreatest phenomenon of mass rape in history&rdquo, and have concluded that at least 1.4 million women were raped in East Prussia, Pomerania and Silesia alone.

Civilians from occupied countries and even Russian women rescued from work camps were at risk and Stalin gave his silent assent to this mayhem.

Stalin said people should “…understand it if a soldier who has crossed thousands of kilometers through blood and fire and death has fun with a woman or takes some trifle”.

On another occasion, when told that Red Army soldiers sexually maltreated German refugees, he reportedly said:

"We lecture our soldiers too much let them have their initiative."

The smart women didn’t resist or found an officer to bed. Officers tended to be more civilized and would protect their “women” from the rampaging enlisted men.

Magda Wieland, a 24-year-old actress, was dragged from a cupboard in her apartment just off the Kurfürstendamm. A very young soldier from central Asia hauled her out. He was so excited at the prospect of a beautiful young blonde that he ejaculated prematurely. By sign language, she offered herself to him as a girlfriend if he would protect her from other Russian soldiers, but he went off to boast to his comrades and another soldier raped her. Ellen Goetz, a Jewish friend of Magda’s, was also raped. When other Germans tried to explain to the Russians that she was Jewish and had been persecuted, they received the retort: “Frau ist Frau.”

Women soon learned to disappear during the “hunting hours” of the evening. Young daughters were hidden in storage lofts for days on end. Mothers emerged into the street to fetch water only in the early morning when Soviet soldiers were sleeping off the alcohol from the night before. Sometimes the greatest danger came from one mother giving away the hiding place of other girls in a desperate bid to save her own daughter. Older Berliners still remember the screams every night. It was impossible not to hear them because all the windows had been blown in.

According to a former Russian army officer:

“We were young, strong, and four years without women. So we tried to catch German women and … Ten men raped one girl. There were not enough women the entire population run from the Soviet Army. So we had to take young, twelve or thirteen year-old. If she cried, we put something into her mouth. We thought it was fun. Now I can not understand how I did it. A boy from a good family… But that was me.

A woman telephone operator from the Russian Army recalled that:

“When we occupied every town, we had first three days for looting and … [rapes]. That was unofficial of course. But after three days one could be court-martialed for doing this. … I remember one raped German woman laying naked, with hand grenade between her legs. Now I feel shame, but I did not feel shame back then… Do you think it was easy to forgive [the Germans]? We hated to see their clean undamaged white houses. With roses. I wanted them to suffer. I wanted to see their tears. … Decades had to pass until I started feeling pity for them.”

Abortions were the preferred choice of rape victims, and many died as a consequence of internal injuries after being brutally violated, untreated sexually transmitted diseases due to a lack of medicine, badly performed abortions, and suicides, particularly for traumatized victims who had been raped many times. In addition, many children died in post-war Germany as a result of widespread starvation, scarce supplies, and diseases such as typhus and diphtheria. The infant mortality in Berlin reached up to 90 percent.

German historian Miriam Gebhardt “believes that members of the US military raped as many as 190,000 German women by the time West Germany regained sovereignty in 1955, with most of the assaults taking place in the months immediately following the US invasion of Nazi Germany. The author bases her claims in large part on reports kept by Bavarian priests in the summer of 1945

After Winning World War II, The Soviet Army Raped Its Way Across Germany

The lawless Red Army looted, killed, and raped its way through Germany, fueled by revenge and alcohol.

The vast Soviet War Memorial in Berlin’s Treptower Park commemorates 5,000 Red Army soldiers who fell in battle in the city in April and May 1945. With a monumental architectural style typical among Soviet memorials, the park is enclosed by imposing stone entrance portals ornamented with the hammer and sickle. These direct visitors along paths leading to a statue representing Mother Russia and then on to a pair of massive eaves made of red Carrara marble recovered from the ruins of Hitler’s Reich Chancellery.

There, a pair of giant statues depicting highly decorated Red Army soldiers on bended knee bow their heads reverently at the top of a set of stairs leading down to the main memorial promenade. On this level, an immaculately manicured garden is flanked by 16 granite sarcophagi representing the 16 Soviet Republics—each of which presents heavily idealized scenes from the Great Patriotic War in half relief.

At the end of this promenade, the memorial’s final feature is a 30-foot-tall mound on the top of which sits a pedestal and one final triumphal statue. Rising 36 feet, this statue depicts a Soviet soldier standing on a shattered swastika—a symbol of the complete destruction of National Socialist Germany. His right hand clutches a sword, and in his left he holds a child.

Dedicated on May 8, 1949, the Soviet War Memorial in Treptower Park is a perfect example of the kind of monumental state architecture the Soviet Union produced to memorialize its role in World War II. To the casual visitor, though, the statue of the triumphant Soviet soldier protecting an innocent child would leave the impression that the Red Army fought World War II as a benevolent force of compassion and justice. The truth behind that image is much more complicated and, in certain respects, much less attractive.

Fire For Fire, Blood For Blood, Death For Death

In reality, the victorious Red Army committed a staggering number of unspeakable criminal acts during and after World War II. As a part of the ceaseless campaigning and unrelenting combat against the forces of fascism, Soviet soldiers explored the abyss of humanity’s darker side in countless destructive and violent acts against Polish, Romanian, Hungarian, and (of course) German victims. In a rampaging spree of looting, rape, and murder that went far beyond simple collateral damage, Stalin’s legions did what they did in retribution for the vicious war that had been waged against the Soviet Union starting in 1941.

One anonymous Russian soldier announced this sentiment with chilling directness when he wrote these words in a 1945 letter home: “We are taking revenge for everything, and our revenge is just. Fire for fire, blood for blood, death for death.” Clearly, the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War rationalized their crimes as “just” acts against an anonymous foe. They employed a euphemistic vocabulary provided by the Soviet state propaganda machine to express a vengeful righteousness justifying each and every cruelty. But did revenge alone drive the Red Army to commit these crimes? Or did other factors give birth to the impulse to carry out such abominable excesses?

The intense brutality that so closely characterized the Soviet Army during and after World War II has been examined in a number of recent books. Published since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the commensurate opening of former Soviet archives, these studies reveal how a diverse set of motivations drove the Red Army’s violence and destructiveness.

Although revenge certainly motivated soldiers’ actions to an extent, the actuality behind these episodes is that looting became a mass epidemic because the culture of shortage created by the catastrophe of forced collectivization and the failure of the NEP in Soviet Russia produced Stalinist subjects who sought every opportunity for self-aggrandizement and individual enrichment. While the massive number of crimes of sexual coercion can certainly be explained in part as being the expression of a vengeful impulse, other factors such as the abundance of alcohol in conquered territory, the absence of field brothels in the Red Army, and the deep sexual repression promoted endlessly by the Stalinist Soviet state also offer accurate explanation.

Beyond those influencing factors, the fact that Soviet troops also looted, raped, and murdered non-Germans suggests that revenge alone did not drive the Red Army to do what it did.

Conflicting Records of War Crimes

Because of the very nature of these war crimes, official documents barely recorded the Red Army’s lawlessness during and after the war. With scarce records defining the contours of these criminal excesses, personal accounts have been a leading tool for bringing the story into focus. The authors who have written on this subject have all used these accounts to define a story that the Soviets wanted to keep quiet because of the negative pall it cast on the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War.

But for many of the men and women who would ultimately be a part of the Soviet Union’s military, personal recollections of their wartime service inevitably touched on these uncomfortable subjects. While they remembered the German invasion in 1941, they remembered it in conflicting ways. One soldier recalled that “German field units did not engage in any particular abuses,” but that rear-echelon units “were abominable.”

A surprising number of Russians remembered a German Army that punished individual looting severely and that had officers who, as a rule, did not participate in “wholesale” looting. Families even willingly allowed them in to stay in their homes for this specific reason. Naturally, there were cases soon after the invasion where Germans “confiscated” wristwatches, but because of the abject poverty of Soviet subjects, these cases did not reach wholesale proportions.

For many Soviet subjects who endured the misery of forced collectivization and the shortages of material goods it created, the invading German Army of 1941 could be seen as a force of liberation—at least initially. But for all of the descriptions of a Wehrmacht that behaved benevolently on Soviet soil, others recalled looting that went “uncontrolled and unpunished” in a campaign that “was a purely practical, military affair, outright.” In September 1943, as the German military retreated out of conquered Soviet territory, a 23-year-old Russian Normirovshchik (factory official) described how they evacuated civilians, “burning and looting at the same time.”

“Everything is on Fire”

Eventually though, the Russians brought the war back to German soil and the Red Army began doing what the Wehrmacht had done to their homeland earlier in the war. In January 1945, Soviet forces launched the Vistula–Oder Offensive with a push westward into East Prussia, East Pomerania, and Upper and Lower Silesia. As they did so, the soldiers of the Great Patriotic War came into contact with German civilians for the first time. Accustomed to the scarcity that had become such a central characteristic of life in the Stalinist Soviet Union, the material wealth that they found there seemed nothing less than a world of abundance and plenty. When the search for war booty began, it was carried out mostly by individuals “who wanted to live well, liked to loot, or wanted to make the most of their situation.”

Here, looting begins to resemble one of the “coping mechanisms” identified by Sovietologist Sheila Fitzpatrick in her 1999 book, Everyday Stalinism. In this work, Fitzpatrick closely detailed the experience of life in Russia during the 1930s when the state-run economy had chronically failed to supply the people with the necessities of life. Fitzpatrick even borrowed from anthropology when she identified the term Homo sovieticus to refer to the special breed of ordinary people who were profoundly shaped by the economy of shortage.

To her, Homo sovieticus was a wholly self-interested actor ruled by the overpowering desire to improve his personal living conditions. As the Red Army moved into Germany in 1945, Homo sovieticus was about to take looting to a level worse than anything anyone had ever seen.

When the 8th Guards Army attacked Schwerin, the capital city of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, novelist and war correspondent Vasily Grossman wrote in his notebook: “Everything is on fire…. An old woman jumps from a window in a burning building…. Looting is going on…. It’s light during the night because everything is ablaze.” Despite the fact that he personally observed looting, Grossman nevertheless believed that it was the rear-echelon soldiers who were responsible for the debauchery. He believed that the frontoviki—frontline soldiers—“advancing day and night under fire, with pure and saintly hearts” could not commit such crimes.

In reality, the frontoviki—along with everyone else who made it to the West—participated in the quest for war trophies. Of the 12.8 million men and women in the Soviet military in 1945, only 10 percent set foot on German or Austrian soil to participate in the outburst of looting. Although this percentage represented only a small proportion of the Red Army’s total strength, it was nevertheless responsible for massive looting. The leniency and frequent cooperation of higher authority only made things worse. Although Stalin described the NKVD (People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs) regiments that moved forward with the tactical fighting units as a “gendarmerie” (military police force), they rarely intervened in the lawlessness.

Why and how were east Brandenburg, Pomerania and Silesia taken away from Germany after WW2? - History


The Prussians were not Germanic nor Slavic, and, like the Kashubians, they resisted the intruding Germans. Rather, the Pruzzen (Prusai) were a Baltic Tribe -- related to the Latvians and Lithuanians. When the Poles began to invade the area of the Pruzzen tribe around 992, the tribes fought back. Considered a "heathen race," the German Teutonic Knights were sent in to the area in 1226 to conquer/convert the Pruzzen or eject them from the land. The indigenous Baltic Pruzzen tribe occupied the area of what became East Prussia. From time to time they fought the Poles and Teutonic Knights but managed to stand their ground. It's interesting that the Pruzzen tribe united with the Kashubian tribe to fight the Knights. For a time they both regained and kept their land, but the Knights were bringing in German settlers from the west. By the early 1300s, many new villages were established and all were under German Law. The Kaszubi and Pruzzen tribes resisted Germanization, but the Kaszubians retained their identity and the Pruzzen did not. In time, some Pruzzen's fled to the east or south. Those who stayed and were not annihilated began to merge with the German settlers brought in by the Knights. By 1600, the old Baltic Pruzzen language became extinct. Prussian surnames differ greatly from the German surnames of other more German ethnic areas. Some Prussian names are Slavic in their derivation. Place or field names of Baltic Pruzzen origin have been found father west in the medieval Duchy of East Pomerania, etc., the heart of which became Kashubia, so it is believed the Pruzzen moved around a bit.

Source: Geographical View of the World embracing the Manners, Customs and Pursuits of Every Nation founded on The Best Authorities. By Rev. J. Goldsmith, 2nd Edition, 1829.

Prussia began as a small territory in what was later called East Prussia, which is now divided into the Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship of Poland, the Kaliningrad Oblast exclave of Russia, and the Klaipeda Region of Lithuania. Before its abolition, the territory of the Kingdom of Prussia included West and East Prussia, Brandenburg, the Province of Saxony, Pomerania, Rhineland, Westphalia, Silesia, Lusatia, Schleswig-Holstein, Hanover, Hesse-Nassau, and part of the south of Hohenzollern. Prussia was predominantly a Protestant German state. There were substantial Roman Catholic populations in the Rhineland and parts of Westphalia, as well as West Prussia, Warmia, Silesia, and the province of Posen. The area of Greater Poland became the Province of Posen after the Partitions of Poland. Poles in this Polish-majority province resisted German rule. Also, the southeast portion of Silesia had a large Polish population. As a result of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 the Second Polish Republic regained these two areas, but also areas with a German majority in the Province of West Prussia. After World War II, East Prussia, Silesia, most of Pomerania, and part of Brandenburg were taken over by either the Soviet Union or Poland.

In 1226, Duke Konrad I invited the Teutonic Knights, a German military order of crusading knights, to conquer the Baltic Prussian tribes on his borders. During 60 years of struggles against the Old Prussians, the order created an independent state which came to control Prussia. After 1237, they also controlled what is now Latvia, Estonia and western Lithuania. The knights were initially close with the Polish Crown, but this relationship deteriorated after they conquered Polish-claimed Pomerelia and Danzig, a town mainly populated by German settlers. The Knights were defeated in the Battle of Grunwald in 1410 by Poland and Lithuania.

The Thirteen Years' War (1454-1466) began when the Prussian Confederation, a coalition of Hanseatic cities of western Prussia, rebelled against the Teutonic Knights and requested help from the Polish King. The Teutonic Knights were forced to acknowledge the sovereignty of King Casimir IV Jagiellon of Poland, losing western Prussia to Poland.

In 1525, Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach, a member of a branch of the House of Hohenzollern, became a Lutheran Protestant and secularized the Order's remaining Prussian territories into the Duch of Prussia. This was the area east of the mouth of the Vistula River. For the first time, these lands were in the hands of a branch of the Hohenzollern family, rulers of the Margraviate of Brandenburg to the west. Brandenburg and Prussia were unified two generations later when Anna, granddaughter of Albert I and daughter of Albert Frederick, married her cousin, Elector John Sigismund of Brandenburg. When Albert Frederick died in 1618, with no male heirs, John Sigismund was granted the right of succession to the Duchy of Prussia. The resulting state, known as Brandenburg-Prussia, consisted of territories in Prussia, Brandenburg, and the Rhenish lands of Cleves and Mark.

During the Thirty years' War, the lands were repeatedly marched across by various armies, especially the Swedes. Finally, Frederick William (1640-1688) reformed the army to defend the land. Frederick William rendered homage to King Wladyslaw IV Vasa of Poland and he was given full sovereignty over Prussia (which had been a fief of the Polish Crown), in 1657.

On January 18, 1701, Frederick William's son, Frederick III, upgraded Prussia from a duchy to a kingdom, and crowned himself King Frederick I. The state of Brandenberg-Prussia became commonly known as "Prussia", although most of its territory, in Brandenburg, Pomerania, and western Germany, lay outside of Prussia proper. The Prussian state grew during the reign of Frederick I. He was succeeded by his son, Frederick William I (1713-1740) the "Soldier King". He is considered the creator of the famed Standing Army. This Army was one of the most powerful in Europe. Frederick William settled more than 20,000 Protestant refugees from Salzburg in eastern Prussia. He acquired Western Pomerania from Sweden in 1720.

In 1740, Frederick William was succeeded by his son, Frederick II, also known as "Frederick the Great". He ordered the Prussian Army to march into Silesia, a possession of Habsburg Austria to which the Hohenzollerns laid claim based on an old and disputed treaty of succession. In the three Silesian Wars (1740-1763) Frederick succeeded in conquering Silesia from Austria and holding his new possession. In the last, the Seven Years' War, he held it against a coalition of Austria, France, and Russia. Silesia greatly increased the area, population, and wealth of Prussia. Success on the battleground against Austria and other powers proved Prussia's status as one of the great powers of Europe. The Silesian Wars began more than a century of rivalry and conflict between Prussia and Austria as the two most powerful states operating within the Holy Roman Empire.

In the last 23 years of his reign until 1786, Frederick II promoted the development of Prussian areas such as the Oderbruch. At the same time he built up Prussia's military power and participated in the First Partition of Poland with Austria and Russia (1772), an act that geographically connected the Brandenburg territories with those of Prussia proper. During this period, he also opened Prussia's borders to immigrants fleeing from religious persecution in other parts of Europe, such as the Huguenots from France. Frederick the Great, the first "King of Prussia", introduced a general civil code, abolished torture, and established the principle that the crown would not interfere in matters of justice. He also promoted an advanced secondary education, the forerunner of today's German gymnasium (grammar school) system, which prepares the brightest students for university studies. The Prussian education system became emulated in various countries.

During the reign of King Frederick William II (1786-1797), Prussia annexed additional Polish territory. His successor, Frederick William III (1797-1840), announced the union of the Prussian Lutheran and Reformed churches into one church.

Prussia went to war with France in 1806 as negotiations with that country over the allocation of the spheres of influence in Germany failed. Prussia suffered a devastating defeat against Napoleon's troops in the battle of Jena-Auerstedt. Under the Treaties of Tilsit in 1807, the state lost about half of its area, including the areas gained from the second and third Partitions of Poland. These lands now fell to the Duchy of Warsaw. Because of this defeat, reformers set about modernizing the Prussian state. Some of these reforms were the liberation of peasants from serfdom, the emancipation of Jews (making them full citizens) and self-administration in municipalities. The schools were rearranged, free trade was introduced, and in 1813, compulsory military service was introduced. After the defeat of Napoleon in Russia, Prussia quit its alliance with France and took part in the Wars of Liberation against the French occupation. Napoleon was defeated in 1815. Prussia's reward was the recovery of the lost territories, as well as the whole of the Rhineland, Westphalia and other territories. These western lands were important because they included the Ruhr area, the center of industrialization. Prussia's population doubled. In exchange, Prussia withdrew from areas of central Poland to allow the creation of Congress Poland under the Russians. Prussia was a dominant power in Germany again and in 1815 it became part of the German Confederation.

During the first half of the 1800's, there was a struggle in Germany between liberals who wanted a united federal Germany under a democratic constitution, and conservatives, who wanted to maintain Germany as a patchwork of independent states. The liberals saw an opportunity when revolutions broke out across Europe in 1848. King Frederick William IV convened a National Assembly and created a constitution. The Frankfurt parliament offered Frederick William the crown of a united Germany, but he refused. The Frankfurt parliament dissolved in 1849 and Frederick William issued Prussia's first constitution by his own authority in 1850. This was a two-house parliament. The lower house, or Landtag, was elected by all taxpayers and assured dominance by the more well-to-do men. The upper house (Herrenhaus) was appointed by the king. As a result, the grip of the landowning classes, the Junkers, remained unbroken, especially in the eastern provinces. In 1862 King William I appointed Otto von Bismarck as Prime Minister of Prussia. Bismarck was determined to defeat both the liberals and the conservatives by creating a strong united Germany but under the domination of the Prussian ruling class and bureaucracy, not a liberal democracy. Bismarck realized that the Prussian crown could win the support of the people only if he himself took the lead in the fight for the German unification. So he guided Prussia through three wars which together brought William the position of German Emperor.


The Austro Prussian War (1866) was triggered by the dispute over Schleswig and Holstein. On the side of Austria were: Bavaria, Wurttemberg, Saxony and Hanover. On the side of Prussia were Italy, most northern German states, and some smaller central German states. The Prussians won the victory at the battle of Koniggratz. In the Peace of Prague in 1866, Prussia annexed Austria's allies: Hannover, Hesse-Kassel, Nassau, Frankfurt, and Schleswig-Holstein. Prussia now stretched virtually uninterrupted across the northern two-thirds of Germany and contained two-thirds of Germany's population. The German Confederation was dissolved, and Prussia cajoled the 21 states north of the Main River into forming the North German Confederation. Prussia was the dominant state in the new confederation


The controversy with the Second French Empire over the candidacy of a Hohenzollern to the Spanish throne was escalated both by France and Bismarck. Bismarck took advantage of an incident in which the French ambassador had approached William. The government of Napoleon III, expecting another civil war among the German states, declared war against Prussia. Honoring their treaties, the German states joined forces and quickly defeated France in the Franco-Prussian War in 1870. Following victory under Bismarck's and Prussia's leadership, Baden, Wurttemberg and Bavaria accepted incorporation into a united German Empire.

The two decades after the unification of Germany were the peak for Prussia. But, the seeds for potential strife were built into the Prusso-German political system. The constitution of the German Empire assured Prussia's dominance over the empire. Prussia included three-fifths of its territory and two-thirds of its population. The Imperial German Army was an enlarged Prussian army. The imperial crown was a hereditary office of the House of Hohenzollern, the royal house of Prussia. The prime minister of Prussia was, except for two brief periods (January-November 1873 and 1892-94), also imperial chancellor. While all men above age 25 were eligible to vote in imperial elections, Prussia retained its restrictive three-class voting system. This effectively required the king/emperor and prime minister/chancellor to seek majorities from legislatures elected by two completely different franchises. In both the kingdom and the empire, the original constituencies were never redrawn to reflect changes in population, meaning that rural areas were grossly over-represented by the turn of the century.

Frederick III may have been a leader in Bismarck's mold, but he was already terminally ill when he became emperor for 99 days in 1888 upon the death of his father. He was married to Victoria, the first daughter of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom, but their first son William suffered physical and possibly mental damage during birth. At age 29, William became Emperor William II after a difficult youth and conflicts with his British mother. He turned out to be a man of limited experience, narrow and reactionary views, poor judgment, and occasional bad temper, which alienated former friends and allies. William, who was a close relative of the British and Russian royal families, became their rival and ultimately their enemy.

After forcing Bismarck out in 1890, William embarked on a program of militarization and adventurism in foreign policy that eventually led Germany into isolation. A misjudgment of the conflict with Serbia by the emperor, who left for holidays, and the hasty mobilization plans of several nations led to the disaster of World War I (1914–1918). As the price of their withdrawal from the war, the Bolsheviks conceded large regions of the western Russian Empire, some of which bordered Prussia, to German. German control of these territories lasted only for a few months, however, because of the defeat of German military forces by the western Allies and the German Revolution. The post-war Treaty of Versailles held Germany solely responsible for the war.


Because of the German Revolution of 1918, William II abdicated as German Emperor and King of Prussia. Prussia was proclaimed a "Free State" (German: Freistaat) within the new Weimar Republic and in 1920 received a democratic constitution. All of Germany's territorial losses, specified in the Treaty of Versailles, were areas that had been part of Prussia. These were: Alsace Lorraine to France Eupen and Malmedy to Belgium North Schleswig to Denmark the Memel Territory to Lithuania the Hultschin area to Czechoslovakia. Posen, West Prussia and Upper Silesia went to the Second Polish Republic. Danzig became a free city under administration of the League of Nations. Now, there was no longer land connecting East Prussia and the rest of the country and now East Prussia could only be reached by ship or by railway through the Polish Corridor. The German Government considered braking up Prussia into smaller states, but traditionalist sentiment prevailed and Prussia became the largest state of the Weimar Republic.

From 1919 to 1932, Prussia was governed by a coalition of Social Democrats, Catholic Centre, and German Democrats. From 1921 to 1925, coalition governments included the German People's Party. In East Prussia, and some industrial areas, the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party) of Adolf Hitler gained more influence and support, especially from the lower middle class. Prussia was a pillar of democracy in the Weimar Republic. This system was destroyed by the Preussenschlag (Prussian Coup) of Reich Chancellor Franz von Papen. the Government of the Reich unseated the Prussian government on July 20, 1932 saying that the government had lost control of public order in Prussia. Papen took control of the government. The preussenschlag made it easier, only half a year later, for Adolf Hitler to take power in Germany, since he had the whole apparatus of the Prussian government, including the police at his disposal.

After the appointment of Hitler as the new chancellor, the Nazis used the opportunity of the absence of Franz von Papen to appoint Hermann Goring federal commissioner for the Prussian ministry of the interior. In a propaganda-filled meeting between Hitler and the Nazi Party, the "marriage of old Prussia with young Germany" was celebrated, to win over the Prussian monarchists, conservatives, and nationalists and induce them to vote for the Enabling Act of 1933. The states were dissolved and the federal state governments were not controlled by governors for the Reich, appointed by the chancellor. Hitler became the governor of Prussia as well. The Prussian lands transferred to Poland after the Treaty of Versailles were re-annexed during World War II. With the end of National Socialist rule in 1945 came the division of Germany into Zones of Occupation, and the transfer of control of everything east of the Oder-Neisse line (including Silesia, Farther Pomerania, Eastern Brandenburg, and southern East Prussia), to Poland, with the northern third of East Prussia, including Konigsberg going to the Soviet Union. An estimated ten million Germans fled or were expelled from these territories as part of the German exodus from Eastern Europe. In Law #46 of February 25, 1947, the Allied Control Council formally proclaimed the dissolution of the remains of the Prussian State.

In the Soviet Zone of Occupation, which became East Germany in 1949, the former Prussian territories were reorganized into the states of Brandenburg and Saxony-Anhalt. The remaining parts of the Province of Pomerania went to Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. In the Western Zones of occupation, which became West Germany in 1949, the former Prussian territories were divided up among North Rhine-Westphalia, Lower Saxony, Hesse, Rhineland-Palatinate, and Schleswig-Holstein. Wurttemberg-Baden and Wurttenberg-Hohenzollern were later merged with Baden to create the state of Baden-Wurttemberg. After German reunification in 1990, a plan was developed to merge the States of Berlin and Brandenburg. Though some suggested calling the proposed new state "Prussia", no final name was proposed, and the combined state would probably have been called either "Brandenburg" or "Berlin-Brandenburg". However this proposed merger was rejected in 1996 by popular vote, achieving a majority of votes only in former West Berlin.

In the Thirteen Years' War (1454-1466, the towns of Pomerlia and western Prussia rebelled against the Teutonic Knights and sought the assistance of King Casimir IV Jagiellon of Poland. In the Peace of Torun in 1466, Pomerelia and western Prussia became the Polish province of Royal Prussia. Eastern Prussia remained with the Teutonic Knights. This territory became the Duchy of Prussia in 1525. Most of Royal Prussia was annexed by the Kingdom of Prussia in the First Partition of Poland in 1772, and became the Province of West Prussia the following year, with the exception of Warmia which was joined with eastern Prussia to form the Province of East Prussia. In the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, the city of Danzig was annexed into the Kingdom of Prussia and added to West Prussia. some of the areas of Greater Poland annexed in 1772 were added to West Prussia in 1793 as well.

During the Napoleonic Wars in 1806, southern parts of West Prussia were moved to the Duchy of Warsaw. From 1824-1878 West Prussia was combined with East Prussia to form the Province of Prussia, and they were later reestablished as separate provinces. The entire region became part of the German Empire in 1871.

After the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, most of West Prussia was granted to the Second Polish Republic, while small parts of the west and east of the former province remained in Weimar Germany. The western remainder formed Posen-West Prussia in 1922, while the eastern remainder became part of the District of West Prussia within East Prussia. In 1945, after World War II, all of former West Prussia was placed under the administration of Poland. The remaining German population of the region was expelled westward and replaced with Poles.

In West Prussia, the Agricultural industry employs 30.7% of the population of West Prussia, manufacturing 17.7%, trade 6.7%, and 44.9% work in other fields. The area devoted to agriculture, gardens, meadows and pasture is 71.5% of the whole territory. Poultry farming is highly developed, as is the dairy industry. (Other occupations discussed at some length were: beekeeping, fishing, milling, the sugar industry). Other flourishing trades are: tanning, dyeing, printing, distilling, brewing, metallurgy, and pottery.

Some of my ancestors came from the Kreis Rosenberg area (Seegenau, Peterkau and Gros Herzogswalde). This area was primarily agricultural. It was the corn breadbasket of Germany. Kreis Rosenberg had a population of 50,000 in 1880. But there were only 4 towns that were "large", i.e., 1,000 to 2,000 people. All the rest were villages. Most were not really independent villages they were places of residence on landed estates. After railroads were built, and health care and better standards of living came out of the cities onto the farms, the infant survival rate increased enough to alarm landlords, who were obligated to house and feed all who lived on a farm or estate (Gut, Vorwerk). So, the owners/managers simply forbade marriage among their workers! People had babies anyway, and the illegitimacy rate increased to a high as 15% in some places. Also, it was typical that men in the army were not permitted to marry. Since wars in the mid and later 19th century were frequent and long, there were additional illegitimate births. There were consequences, such as restricted legal and work rights. For instance, a guild in a town probably would not allow someone of illegitimate birth to join, but the guilds did not let anyone not born in town join anyway.

East Prussia was located along the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea, where it enclosed the bulk of the ancestral lands of the now-extinct Old Prussians. It consisted of the territory of the Duchy of Prussia, which entered into a union with the Hohenzollerns of Brandenburg in 1618. The Prince-Electors of Brandenburg were able to proclaim the Kingdom of Prussia in 1701. After the annexation of most of Polish Royal Prussia in the First partition of Poland in 1772, the territory of the Duchy of Prussia was reorganized into the Province of East Prussia.

Between 1829 and 1878 East Prussia was joined with West Prussia in the Province of Prussia. The Kingdom of Prussia became the leading state of the German Empire after its creation in 1871. The Treaty of Versailles, following World War I, made East Prussia an exclave from the rest of Germany. Following Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II in 1945, the territory was partitioned between Russia, Poland and Lithuania. The East Prussian capital of Konigsberg was renamed Kaliningrad in 1946. The German population of the province was evacuated during the war, but several hundreds of thousands died during 1944-1946, and the remainder were expelled.

From the latter half of the 13th century to the 15th century, the crusading Teutonic Knights ruled over the lands of Prussia. Their expansionist policies brought them into conflict with the Kingdom of Poland. There were several wars, and eventually Poland and Lithuania defeated the Teutonic Order in 1410. Western Prussia was left under Polish control as the province of Royal Prussia and eastern Prussia remained under the knights, but as a fief of Poland.

The Teutonic Order lost eastern Prussia when, with the advance of Lutheranism, Grand Master Albert of Brandenburg-Ansbach secularized the Prussian branch of the Teutonic Order in 1525, after having converted to Lutheran Protestantism, establishing himself as Duke Albert of Prussia. Albert's line died out in 1618, and the Duchy of Prussia passed to the Electors of Brandenburg, forming Brandenburg-Prussia.

In return for supporting Emperor Leopold I, Elector Frederick III was allowed to crown himself "King in Prussia" in 1701. The new Kingdom of Prussia was ruled by the Hohenzollern dynasty. After the First Partition of Poland in 1772, Warmia, part of the former Polish province Royal Prussia, was merged with the former Duchy of Prussia. In 1773, King Frederick II announced that the newly annexed lands were to be known as the Province of West Prussia, while the former Duchy of Prussia and Warmia became the Province of East Prussia. From 1824-1878 East Prussia was combined with West Prussia to form the Province of Prussia. They were later reestablished as separate provinces.

Along with the rest of the Kingdom of Prussia, East Prussia became part of the German Empire during the unification of Germany in 1871. In 1875 the ethnic make-up of East Prussia was 73.48% German-speaking, 18.39% Polish-speaking, and 8.11% Lithuanian-speaking. 2,189 people of 1,958,663 living in East Prussia in 1890 were not German citizens. From 1885 to 1890, East Prussia lost 0.07% and West Prussia 0.86% of their populations. This stagnancy in population despite a high birth surplus in eastern Germany was because many people from the East Prussian countryside moved westward seeking work in the expanding industrial centers of the Ruhr Area and Berlin (called Ostflucht). The population of the province in 1900 was 1,996,626 people, with a religious make up of 1,698,465 Protestants, 269,196 Roman Catholics, and 13,877 Jews. The Low Prussian dialect predominated in East Prussia. The numbers of Poles and Lithuanians decreased over time due to the process of Germanization. The Old Prussian ethnic group became completely Germanized over time and the Old Prussian language died out in the 18th century.

At the beginning of World War I, East Prussia became a theatre of war when the Russian Empire invaded the country. The Russians encountered little resistance at first because the bulk of the German Army had been directed towards the Western Front. In 1914 and 1915, however, the Russians were decisively defeated and had to retreat. Treatment of civilians by the armies was mostly disciplined, however, in contrast to later conduct in World War II. The region had to be rebuilt owing to damage caused by the war.

With the abdication of Emperor William II in 1918, Germany became a republic. During the interwar period, East Prussia was an exclave of Germany. Most of West Prussia and the former Prussian province of Posen were ceded to Poland. In 1920, plebiscites in eastern West Prussia and southern East Prussia were held under Allied supervision to determine if the areas should join the Second Polish Republic or remain in Prussia. 96.7% of the people voted to remain within Germany.

In 1938 the Nazis Germanized the area by simplifying a number of the Baltic or Old Prussian names, as well as those Polish or Lithuanian names originating from refugees to Prussia during and after the Protestant Reformation. All people who did not cooperate with the rulers of Nazi Germany were sent to concentration camps.

In 1939 East Prussia had 2.49 million inhabitants. Eighty-five percent of them were ethnic Germans, the others describing themselves as culturally German and religiously Lutheran, but linguistically Masurian or Lithuanian. During World War II the province was extended. Many inhabitants of East Prussia were killed in the war, many of whom were young Germans conscripted into the Wehrmacht and killed in action.

In May, 1945, some Germans who had fled in early 1945 tried to return to their homes in East Prussia. They were stopped. The remaining German population of East Prussia was almost completely expelled by the Communist regime. During the war and shortly thereafter, many people were also deported as forced laborers to eastern parts of the Soviet Union. German place names were changed to either Russian or Polish names. In April 1946, northern East Prussia became an official province of the Russian SFSR. The Memel Territory became part of the Lithuanian SSR. In July of that year, the historic city of Königsberg was renamed Kaliningrad. After the expulsion of the German population, beginning in late 1947 ethnic Russians, Belarusians, and Ukrainians were settled in the northern part, and Polish expatriates from Polish lands annexed by the Soviet Union were settled in the southern part of East Prussia, now the Polish Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship.

In the Soviet part of the region, a policy of eliminating all remnants of German history was pursued. In 1967 this resulted in the demolition of the remains of Konigsberg Castle by order of Leonid Brezhnev to make way on the site for the new "House of Soviets". Equally anti-German was the policy of communist Poland after the war, as German names were systematically removed, church yards and grave stones were ploughed under or demolished, houses were stripped of elements reflecting their German history, culture and language, and a policy was made which punished even the unofficial use of the German language by linguistically Slavic Masurian inhabitants, even though some continue to identify themselves with Germany and are able to speak fluent German, especially elderly inhabitants.

Since the fall of Communism in 1991, some German groups have tried to help settle Volga Germans from eastern parts of Russia in the Kaliningrad Oblast. This effort had small success, as most Volga Germans chose to immigrate to the richer Federal Republic of Germany. Although the 1945-1949 expulsion of Germans from the northern part of former East Prussia often was conducted in a violent and aggressive way by Soviet officials seeking revenge for Nazi crimes in the Soviet Union, the present Russian inhabitants of the Kaliningrad Oblast have much less animosity towards Germans. German names have been revived in commercial Russian trade and there is sometimes talk of reverting Kaliningrad's name back to the original name of Königsberg. Because the exclave during Soviet times was a military zone which nobody was allowed to enter without special permission, many old German villages are still intact, though they have become dilapidated over the course of time. The city centre of Kaliningrad, however, was completely rebuilt.


Before The Storm : Memories of My Youth in Old Prussia, by Marion Graf Donhoff

This book was an account of a woman who was born in East Prussia, and how she had to leave her estate when her male relatives were killed in the wars. She left during WWII with the Russians on her heels and gave up her estate, never to own it again. It was a great book. Here are my notes:

Housemaids and assistant coachmen came from the village, or as people called it, the earldom, that is, from one of its estates. People wanted to work in the castle, even though it was low wages. It was light work, and they got free housing, clothing and food. It was a moneyless economy and farmhands were paid with wood, housing, grain, hog fodder and milk or a piece of land for potatoes. People who failed to live up to the rigidly structured code of that time were automatically excluded from society or removed from sight and shipped off to America. The young rebelled against these conventions until they learned to appreciate the fact that instability follows when convention is trampled on. In the years 1812-1813, the Cossacks came through town, and the people prepared for dreadful scenes - arson and plunder. Estates in East Prussia were a mixture of owner-managed units called "the farm" and tenant farms on estate-owned land. The estate comprised a farm that employed its own workers THEN the village which comprised the tenants, artisans, and laborers, usually with an inn as the social center. These were Estates. Then there was the village. The estate employed some of the villagers, and the village also had people that worked their own tenant farms on land owned by the estate. Tenants had to work on the estate 1-2 weeks doing sharecropping. Their leaseholds were 2-3 hides (hide being a measurement of land). Rent was 10-20 thalers per hide.

The Emancipation Edict of 1807 said that peasants were proprietors of land but no longer got aid from the estates. So, it seems that they became land owners in their own right, but the estate didn't help them as much as it used to. However, the book went on to say that this Emancipation Edict didn't take affect all over all at the same time and it was decades before this was universal, and in some places, it never changed to this situation.

Entailed estate - in Prussia, land was generally given to the eldest son, but the younger kids could demand their share. (In East Germany and specifically in Wurttemberg, it went to all the kids and that's why the kids had to leave because the land was becoming too small to support a family). In Prussia, the younger sons were given a good education and the daughters given a dowry. And, the eldest son inherited the estate. However, this was NOT LAW, and the younger siblings could demand their share of the estate and it would have to be split up, but this never happened, because the siblings loved their estate with its nice castle/house, so they saw the wisdom in letting the eldest have it. They were guaranteed the right to live there all through their lives if they so wished. So, the estate owners would write up this thing called "Entailed Estate", so that the younger kids couldn't demand their share and made the eldest son a trustee and this kept the estate whole and was LAW.

"Intimate Prussia" - This book was written in 1918 and was about a student who went to East Prussia to live for a while. He wrote about his experiences and the people. He stayed in the city of Koenigsberg and this book is about what life was like in the big city. I never realized Prussians were so proud of their Prussian ancestry until I read this book.

My Prussian ancestors kept up with the Prussian traditions and were proud of their Prussian Heritage. SO, the one thing that I came away with from reading this book is this - the Prussians were STRICT disciplinarians. If you did something wrong as a child, you were getting a beating, either by the belt or a switch. My Grandfather said that his father was always going after him or any one of his 11 brothers or sisters. No guff for the parents from the kids. If you did something wrong, you were going to pay the price. This book talked about this a lot. T he Prussians were VERY proud, and very particular about their clothing. They ALWAYS were dressed nicely, even if they didn't have much money, because they believed your manner of dressing told a lot about you. You went to work dressed nicely, and immediately came home and hung up your clothes. Then, you put on even nicer clothes to wear around the house. I can testify to this as well, because every picture that I have of my great-grandfather, he's in a suit, even if the picture was a casual one taken in the back ard. I have NO picture of him in anything but a suit and hat.

This book talks about the family that the author was lodging with. They had two grown daughters and two lodgers. One of the lodgers took a liking to one of the daughters . The girls were NOT allowed to be alone with any men. One day the Mother came home from the market and founds the man holding her daughter's hand and talking to her. The Mother kicked the man out of the house, and then the parents expected this man to marry their daughter because he had compromised her just by holding her hand! In the end, they did end up getting married. The second daughter was interested in a man who was a painter. He had these two sisters come to his house so that he could paint their portrait. The daughter and painter fell in love. Neighbors of the family told the Mother that they saw her daughter going to the painter's apartment. Because of this the Mother sent the daughter to a relative’s house in West Germany because the man was not a good match and didn't make a lot of money.

"Ordinary Prussians" by William W. Hagen

This is a great book that shows what the Prussians were like. M any of Hitler's generals were Prussian aristocrats, and while some of them participated in the 1944 plot to assassinate him, they were so intimately tied at the end of World War II to the German militarism, that they stood profoundly discredited. Today, there are few people still alive who would describe themselves as Prussians, unless they descend from the former far-distant Baltic province of East Prussia.

It goes on to say that the Prussian's had authoritarianism's defects. They were taught to be very subordinate to the ruling authority, and thus taught their children to be subordinate as well. Because of their subordination, this allowed the ideas of Nazism to spread, because they were taught to tow the line when it came to authority. Because the men were subordinate to the authority, that made them authoritarians in their own households. The children lived with their parents until their early teens. In one case among a deceased farmer's ten children, a daughter of fourteen was "still at home." Following their retired mother's wish, the new proprietor would keep the youngest son (aged 12) on the farm until he has taken communion. After religious confirmation, children often began work as servants and apprentices. So, this goes to show us that by the time children were 14 years old, the boys were sent out as apprentices and the girls were sent out to work as domestics. This book is all based on the research of one town, called Stavenow, because its records were incredibly intact to an early time. The author did a study of the vital records and the court records to show what life was like in Prussia.

Marriage - an unmarried pregnant woman's impending child's father could promise - assuming the baby arrived when expected - that "he will bring her again to honor" through marriage. Around age fourteen, children entered servant status, whether bound to parents at home or in another household. They anticipated the moment when they would marry. Marriage was also an important social and economic event to the uniting kin groups, and even the lordship. Among landholding farmers, first marriages coincided with previous proprietors' and wives’ retirement. Marriage portions were fixed when a new cultivator would pay his or his bride's unmarried siblings from farm resources. Incoming brides' dowries loomed large because they helped offset these impending losses. It was also essential that the man marry an able helpmate, and this was also true of women. The basic gist here is that fathers gave their daughters dowries so that a man would want to marry her and so that the groom had money to pay his sister's dowries (if he was the inheriting son of the farm). So, marriage was planned quite well by all involved. Another story told of two soldiers who confessed to fathering extramarital children with young women, and to escape Frederick II's deadly wars, they declared themselves ready to return home and marry the mothers. The Lordship pursued its interest in minimizing poor-relief and disorder in its bailiwick. So, they didn't want unmarried pregnant women on the poor relief rolls, and wanted marriage to occur. The rumor of an illegitimate pregnancy would come to the court's attention because the people wanted to preserve the moral order of the village. Men were usually fined 10 talers and women were fined 5 talers. The fine would be cut in half if the couple agreed to marry or the man agreed to pay child support.

"Germans, Poles, and Jews" by William W. Hagen

The general gist of this book was that when Poland was partitioned in 1795 (amongst Prussia, Austria, and Russia), it was the main aim of the Prussian government to "Germanize" the Poles that lived in their partition. They started out slowly, by buying up land owned by the Poles and offering settlement opportunities to the Prussians/Germans. This didn't move along quickly, so then they decided that they would ban the Polish language in schools and churches. The Poles didn't like this and protested vehemently. Prussia backtracked and tried to be nice, hoping that the Poles would accept the fact that they needed to be Germanized and follow the Prussian Government. That didn't work, so then they really got tough, but it never did work. After World War I, when Poland became a country again, Russia controlled a big portion of what was Poland. (The boundaries moved westward, with Germany shrinking in size, giving back the land they had to Poland), and Russia picked up a good bit of what was in Eastern Poland. Life was not good in the Russian sector. Hitler based his beliefs on the Germanization of the Poles, as he learned it from the Prussian experiment. Not only did the Prussians try to Germanize the Poles, but they also tried to Germanize the Jews as well. So, this is where Hitler got his ideas, and it just continued onward in World War II. Back in their time of control, the Prussians were tied to the nobility, the farm owners. These people voted for the Prussian leaders, so the leaders didn't want to make the people mad, so that is why the land that was Poland (and was ruled by Prussia) never flourished. The Prussian government should have been modernizing and going the industrial route, but they were trying to appease the nobility farm owners. The author explained that this is why Poland was so backwards and also why they never had their own strong military. So, basically, this book lays the blame on the troubles of Poland at the feet of the Prussians, and shows the strong emphasis that the Prussians had on Hitler.

Prussia began freeing its peasants during the Napoleonic wars, and these reforms were copied in other parts of Germany. However, after 1815 the rulers of Prussia reverted to a more conservative stance and slowed the freeing of the peasants, forcing them to "compensate the estate holders for their freedom both through payment in cash and through the forfeit of land." The end result was similar to that in the southern United States after the Civil War, when former slaves became tenant farmers, entering a new form of economic slavery as they could never earn enough to get out of debt to their landlords. In Prussia, many landlords became quite wealthy by exploiting this system, which lasted until after the First World War, and in some areas even until the communist era. It is likely that many Prussians chose to leave - escaping these legal obligations, if not literal serfdom. If they owed money to their landlord, it wouldn't be surprising if they wished to keep their whereabouts secret, perhaps never sending letters to their relatives that remained in the old country. Some emigrants funded their passage to the United States by using money they borrowed from the estate holder for the spring seed-corn. (Information from Rural Settlement and Farming in Germany, 1973 by Alan Mayhew).

The LDS catalog shows entries for Ilawa (Deutsch Eylau). Ilawa was close to Gros Herzogswalde and Peterkau in West Prussia. The microfilms titles show the following:

1. Parish registers of baptisms, marriages and deaths for the 1st regiment of the Old Prussian Army. The regiment was headed finally by Elias Maximilian Graf Henckel von Donnersmarck and was garrisoned in numerous locations including Bischofswerder, Deutsch Eylau, Freystadt, Garnsee, Liebemuhl, Marienwerder, Riesenburg, Rosenberg, Malzahn, Breslau, Schweidnitz, etc. Continued after 1806 by Leibkurassier Rgt. 1 of the new army. 1730-1809

2. Military parish registers of baptisms, marriages, and deaths for Deutsch Eylau, Westpreussen, Germany now Ilawa, Olsztyn, Poland. 1833-1937

The first entry ends with 1809 and I assumed that this regiment ended in 1809 due to Napoleon. The second entry shows that the regiment was active from 1833-1937. I wondered what this regiment was doing at the time – who was it protecting the area from? I searched the internet for the 1st regiment of the Old Prussian Army and found some information, but I could not find anything about "Leibkurassier Rgt. 1" of the new army which continued until 1809. And, since #2 above does not give a name of the regiment that continued from 1833-1937, I wondered what the name of the military organization was that would have covered this 1833-1937 time period. I posted a query and the above question to the Prussia mailing list and received the following reply:

"I just finished reading a history of Prussia by Koch. One of the things the various Fredrick's (Ruler of the area) did was to establish a standing army. That army fought for Napoleon, against him, against Russia, Austria, Sweden and who knows who else, as well as with them at various times in Prussian history. This group could have been part of that standing army, or could be part of the build up at various times they were needed. If there was a fort nearby or it was a garrison town, troops would have been there the whole time. There were a number of towns that had garrisons/troops stationed near/in them prior to Napoleon, as well as later. Records can be found for these military people in the church's records in these areas. What the soldiers were supplied by the government was pitifully little, and many were only 'temporarily' on duty for part of the year, expected to work/farm/etc. for the rest of the year - on call, so to speak. The Napoleonic wars continued until 1815, and others occurred after that as Prussia went its way into becoming Germany. This did not happen peacefully. Check out the history of Prussia and the other surrounding countries during that time, and you will see that Europe was quite a hot bed. Among other events, in about 1831 there was a revolution primarily in Polish Russia, as there was in 1861. In the 1848 timeframe, many countries had peasant revolutions, and in the Czech Republic it led to freedom for the serfs. Russia was in there too with various 'threats' that Prussia had a finger in. All was not goodness and light after Napoleon's march through the countryside."


Westpreussen's (West Prussia) capital was in Danzig. Its districts and Kreise (counties) were:

What the Nazis did was downright evil, but what the Allies did as the Second World War ended to Germans and Germany was no less evil. Why were innocent German men, women and children persecuted and thrown out from their centuries' old homes? Was their only fault that a kinky leader and his followers won power through devious compromises in 1933 and then went on to stifle democracy in Germany? Many say this was war and in war the innocent too suffer. Does not make sense to me.

German refugees in Berlin. 1945
We have read about the calamity that befell the German people as its ruling Nazi regime was slowly facing defeat. The mass rape of German women by Russian soldiers. The use of Germans as slave labor by not only Russia but also Allied nations. The slow starvation of the German people. The dismantling of German industrial plants and taking them away. Germany was reduced to an near primitive agrarian economy. It was only after the Berlin Blockade, that America understood that a strong West Germany was needed as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism, that the country starting getting aid and investment. Till than the thinking was "they did so many wrongs and they deserve to suffer".


One facet of the crucification of the German people was the mass scale driving away of Germans from lands that they lived in for centuries. East Prussia, parts of Poland, Czechoslovakia and other countries.

We have dealt with East Prussia (Hell On Earth) and Czechoslovakia before, but the scale of human misery is such that we felt impelled to look at the ethnic cleansing of Germans again.

The phrase "driving away" is a gross understatement of what the German people endured.

Refugee trek in the Spreewald, 1946.

Parallel to the large waves of refugees from East Prussia, Pomerania, Brandenburg, and Silesia, began between winter 1944 and summer 1945, the systematic expulsion of the Germans from the formerly occupied territories. In Poland, the Sudetenland, the southern, northern and western border regions of Bohemia (Czechoslovakia), in German "Volga Republic" on Russian territory, in Hungary, Romania (Transylvania, Banat), Croatia (Slavonia), Serbia (Vojvodina ), Slovenia and the Baltic States: The expansionist settlement policy under the Nazi regime had claimed countless victims. Now the resentment of oppressed peoples was discharged against the German civilian population. Hatred and destruction were the answers to the violent crimes of the Nazis. Indiscriminate attacks, killings, summary executions, rape, dispossession, humiliation and repression of the hated Germans occurred . The exodus of the German population was initially only sporadic, later they were systematically expelled from Eastern Europe.

Where the Nazis had settled Germans (CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

The hell on Earth that life became for Germans who underwent ethnic cleansing as Hitlerite Germany was nearing defeat (and after the defeat) has rarely been discussed outside of German-speaking countries. The taint of Nazism has been so severe that the German expellees have been victimized by both journalists and historians. Sinister motives for this phenomenon are unlikely. There has been not so much a concerted conspiracy to withhold the truth, as an embarrassed reluctance to tell it. The passions and confusions of World War II and the Cold War discouraged writers and politicians from defending a group of people who were as powerless as they were despised.

Few in the English-speaking world, even history buffs, know that, as a result of the Potsdam Conference of July-August 1945, millions of Germans lost their 700-year-old homelands in the eastern provinces of Germany and Eastern Europe. The expulsion of Germans from the East, a process that over 2 million did not survive, deserves our attention because of its implications for Europe and for ourselves. The expulsion and its attendant horrors are not overwrought fantasies of German revisionist historians.

The merciless revenge that poured over the entire German civilian population of Eastern Europe, in particular in those sad years of the expulsions from 1945 to 1948 should also awaken compassion, for in either case the common people—farmers and industrial workers, the rich and the poor—all were the victims of politics and of politicians.

Expelled Germans west of Wroclaw. 1945

Churchill said on May 24, 1944:
"There is no question of Germany enjoying any guarantee that she will not undergo territorial changes if it should seem that the making of such changes renders more secure and more lasting the peace in Europe."

Labour MP John Rhys Davies on March 1, 1945 before the House of Commons:
"We started this war with great motives and high ideals. We published the Atlantic Charter and then spat on it, stomped on it and burnt it, as it were, at the stake, and now nothing is left of it."

Churchill and US President Franklin D. Roosevelt had discussed the resettlement of populations of Germans or people of German heritage even before the US had officially declared war on Hitler. In the summer of 1941, the two men met on the British battleship HMS Prince of Wales anchored off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, to hash out the details of an Atlantic Charter for a postwar political order.

Once the Nazis had been destroyed, the two leaders decided, self-determination and other rights removed by violent means would be reestablished in Europe. However, there should be no territorial changes that did "not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned."

The Polish and Czechoslovakian representatives were briefly dumbstruck, but then vehemently rejected the very notion. Czech President-in-Exile Edvard Benes, for example, demanded the forcible resettlement of Germans, and even proposed what he called a "painful operation" -- with success. The Allies gave in. They said the charter didn't necessarily apply to Germany. After all, it wasn't a "bargain or contract with our enemies." As early as September 1942, British Foreign Minister Anthony Eden told the Czechs that his cabinet would "agree in principle to resettlement." Meanwhile, Roosevelt indicated to the Poles that he wouldn't object to resettlement.

When the victorious Allies met in Potsdam in the summer of 1945 to lay down the new borders of Europe's nations, Stalin flippantly remarked that there weren't any Germans left in the territories they were handing over to Poland. "Of course not," said US presidential advisor William Leahy to Harry Truman. "The Bolshies have killed them all!"

Why was Prussia dissolved?

What I don't understand is that why a nation like Prussia, filled with culture, history and such, would be dissolved.

It was never really dissolved. Prussia merged into what would become a unified Germany, The German Empire. The man who orchestrated this was a Prussian, Otto von Bismark. The Prussian state held a lot of power within the empire, in particular the military. The vast majority of high ranking German officers were Prussian, trained in their famous Prussian military colleges, which were the envy of Europe. Truth be told, Prussia wasn't "dissolved" until the collapse of the German Empire at the end of World War I in 1918.

Edit: As u/vandal_bandito pointed out, Prussia wasn't dissolved in 1918, I meant that it lost a huge amount if it's power. I should of worded it better.

I would say that between 1918 - 1944 Prussia still had a strong presence within Germany, especially in politics, it's famous politicians and their clout. And Prussia was officially dissolved in 1947 by the Allied occupation government as an political item. It's true dissolvent started earlier with Prussians escaping en mass from the advancing Red Army, which was continued by the USSR by relocating Prussians to the new German state, and moving in their place Poles from the regions of newly created Ukraine (which were belonging to Poland before 1939).

Adding onto this, Otto Von Bismark wanted to merge with Germany to create a power house with Prussia as the most influential state. After the Siege of Paris in September 1870, he proved to Germany that merging was a good idea and they formed the German Confederation.

There is an excellent book on the subject, Christopher Clark's The Iron Kingdom. It describes the rise and eventual forced dissolution of Prussia by the Allied forces. If you want an overview of the subject, it is a good place to start. Also in a way very troubling to see such a "developed" country be prone to humankinds worst instincts.

I have this book and it is great, would recommend to anyone interested and it covers the 30 and 7 years' war(s) and WWII quite extensively.

Also: The Vanished Kingdom: Travels Through The History Of Prussia by James Charles Roy

Prussia was dissolved due to the spoils of war following the conclusion and settlement of WW2 between the Allies and the USSR in the East.

During WW1, what was known as Prussia was made up of lands on the Baltic Sea, known as East Prussia and then West Prussia was later annexed during the final partition of Poland between Austria, Russia and Prussia. West Prussia was given back to Poland following WW1 with the creation of a Polish State, the Allies wanted Poland to have access to the Baltic, and as a result East Prussia became a separate enclave of Germany, very similar to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in regards to Palestine. The Prussian Elites as a result also lost significant power in the Greater German affairs, East Prussia was treated almost like a colony by the Weimar Republic.

With the opening of WW2, Hitler sought to return the lands lost to Poland therefore reuniting East Prussia with Greater Germany. Subsequently East Prussia was more or less conquered in total by the USSR, not only was it conquered, East Prussia lost its entire German Population due to a massive German Exoduses from East Prussia and East Germany to West Germany in an effort for many Germans to avoid capture and eventually placed under the Soviet Yolk of leadership.

Today (following the cold war) the area known as East Prussia is actually Russian Land and a major Russian naval and military base of operations. Ironically, what East Prussia was to Germany before WW2 is what it is today to the Russian Federation because its separated by the motherland from Poland, Lithuanian and Belarus.

There was a minor attempt by Russia to relocate Volga Germans to what was East Prussia, however most Volga Germans found it more beneficial to return to the German Republic through modern day Germany's 'right of return policy'.


At the time of the Reformation Pomerania within the Holy Roman Empire (Duchy of Pomerania) consisted of three separate states, the two branch duchies of Pomerania-Stettin (capital: Stettin, renamed as Szczecin as of 1945) and Pomerania-Wolgast (capital: Wolgast) as well as of the secular principality (capital: Kolberg, renamed as Kołobrzeg as of 1945) ruled by the Prince-Bishops of Cammin, who – in Roman Catholic respect – presided over the exempt Roman Catholic Cammin diocese (seat: Cammin, renamed as Kamień Pomorski as of 1945) comprising all the prince-episcopal state, Pomerania-Stettin, parts of eastern Mecklenburg, the New March and much of Pomerania-Wolgast. The latter's island Rügen formed part of the Roman Catholic diocese of Roskilde, converted to Lutheranism by the Danish king in 1537, the northern mainland area of Pomerania-Wolgast formed part of the Diocese of Schwerin.

Reformation and formation of Lutheran state churches Edit

On 13 December 1534 the Pomeranian Common Diet in Treptow an der Rega voted in favour of the introduction of Lutheranism in the branch duchies, so in the subsequent years most congregations and parishioners in Cammin diocese converted to Lutheranism. Only in Cammin's prince-episcopal state Bishop Erasmus von Manteuffel-Arnhausen [de] could defend the Catholic faith. In 1535 the first Lutheran church order (Kirchenordnung church constitution) for Pomerania was designed by the famous Pomeranian Reformator Johannes Bugenhagen, also called Doctor Pomeranus, but was only implemented in 1563. In 1535 the two Pomeranian branch duchies, Pomerania-Wolgast and Pomerania-Stettin, each appointed its own spiritual leader (called general superintendent as of 1563), seated in Greifswald for Pomerania-Wolgast and in Stettin for western Pomerania-Stettin, [2] and, however, subordinate to Stettin, in Stolp (renamed as Słupsk) [3] as of 1945) with subsidiary competence for the eastern part of Pomerania-Stettin.

In 1544 the Cammin diocesan cathedral chapter elected Bartholomaeus Suawe [de] as successor of Manteuffel, becoming the first Lutheran on the Cammin see, however, not confirmed by the Holy See. Suawe then introduced Lutheranism in the prince-episcopal state. His competence as spiritual Lutheran leader, however, was restricted to the prince-episcopal state (Hochstift), everywhere else in the former Cammin diocesan ambit superintendents, appointed by the respective ducal rulers, had taken Lutheran leadership. Protestantism had since been the prevailing Christian denomination in all of ducal and episcopal Pomerania.

The Lutheran churches in the three states of ducal and prince-episcopal Pomerania ranked as state churches. Temporary partitions without share in the Pomeranian governments, such as Pomerania-Barth (1569–1605 ecclesiastically under the general superintendent in Greifswald) and Pomerania-Rügenwalde (1569–1620 ecclesiastically under the superintendent in Stolp till 1604, then Stettin), had no effect on the structure of the two ducal state churches. The Administrators of Cammin prince-bishopric, elected in 1557 and later, lacked theological skills and did not serve as spiritual leaders of the prince-episcopal Lutheran state church any more, but superintendents (Stiftssuperintendenten i.e. superintendent of the Hochstift) were appointed since 1558. In the same year the Cammin prince-bishopric also established a Lutheran consistory of its own. In 1556 Pomerania-Wolgast had established its own consistory (Greifswald Consistory [de] ). Its ambit comprised Pomerania north of the river Randow and west of the rivers Swine and Oder. Between 1575 and 1815 Stralsund, a city in Pomerania-Wolgast, maintained an own consistory for the Lutheran congregations within the city boundary.

During the Thirty Years' War (1618–1648) Pomerania fell under Swedish occupation. In 1625 the Wolgast ducal branch was extinct in the male line and bequeathed to Stettin. With the extinction of the Stettin line too in 1637 the electors of Brandenburg inherited Pomerania, however, inhibited by the Swedish occupants. In 1653, after quarrels and negotiations Sweden and Brandenburg partitioned ducal Pomerania into Swedish Pomerania (comprising former Pomerania-Wolgast and the west of former Pomerania-Stettin), and Brandenburgian Pomerania (comprising the former Cammin prince-bishopric and central and eastern parts of former Pomerania-Stettin).

As to the Lutheran state church of Swedish (Hither) Pomerania it took over the Wolgast-Pomeranian ecclesiastical institutions in Greifswald (consistory and general superintendency), whereas consistory and general superintendency in Stettin were closed down. The Lutheran state church of Brandenburgian (Farther) Pomerania reorganised Cammin's consistory as the Pomeranian and Cammin spiritual Consistory [de] (till 1668 aka Kolberg Consistory [de] ) and took over the superintendency in Kolberg, elevated to general superintendency. The Pomeranian and Cammin spiritual Consistory, established as Cammin Consistory in 1558 in Cammin's capital Kolberg, was seated in that city (1558–1668, and again 1683–1686), in Stargard in Pomerania (1668–1683, and again 1686–1738) and afterwards in Stettin. With the Edict of Potsdam (1685) Huguenots founded Calvinist congregations in Stargard (1687), Stolp and Kolberg (1699). [4] Swedish Pomerania did not allow the immigration of Calvinists.

After in 1713 Swedish Pomerania had ceded Stettin, in 1721 Calvinists founded a congregation there too. With the repeated cessions of Swedish Pomeranian territory to Brandenburgian Pomerania in the early 18th century also the ambit of the general superintendency in Greifswald shrank in favour of that for western Brandenburgian Pomerania. In 1738 the Pomeranian and Cammin spiritual Consistory moved to Stettin, however, due to the distance to remote eastern Farther Pomerania (the Hinterkreise i.e. farther districts) it opened a subsidiary consistory for the east, the Farther Pomeranian Consistory of Köslin (aka Köslin Consistory [de] ) in 1747. In 1750 the new Superior Consistory in Berlin (Lutherisches Oberconsistorium zu Berlin) became the superior authority for all Lutheran church bodies in Brandenburg-Prussia. The few Reformed (or Calvinist) congregations in Pomerania became subject to the Reformed Church Directorate in Berlin (Reformierte Kirchen-Direction).

Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania within the Prussian Union of churches Edit

In 1815 Swedish Pomerania became a pawn in the hands of the powerful, Sweden ceded it to Denmark which passed it on to Prussia in exchange for Saxe-Lauenburg. Swedish Pomerania was renamed as New Hither Pomerania (Neuvorpommern). In 1817 the supreme governor of the Lutheran State Church and the Reformed State Church in Prussia, Frederick William III, initiated the merger of both churches to form the Evangelical Church in Prussia, avoiding in its name the terms Lutheran or Reformed. This new state church, an administratively united umbrella comprising Lutheran, Reformed (Calvinist) and United Protestant congregations, built up regional subdivisions, so-called ecclesiastical provinces (Kirchenprovinzen).

Its Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania, comprising congregations within the borders of the Province of Pomerania, consisted of the Lutheran congregations within the state church of former Swedish Pomerania, of the Lutheran congregations previously subject to the Stettin general superintendent under the Lutheran Superior Consistory in Berlin, and of the Reformed (Calvinist) congregations located in Pomerania and previously subject to the Reformed Church Directorate in Berlin.

The King originally intended the merger of locally established Lutheran and Calvinist congregations into congregations of a United Protestant confession, and the adoption of the Union confession by all local congregations without an existing local partner of the other confession to merge with. His intention, however, failed due to strong Lutheran resistance throughout his monarchy, especially among Lutherans in Pomerania and Silesia.

This fight even caused the schism of the Old Lutherans. A number of Lutheran congregations refrained to join the new umbrella or seceded from it in the 1820s and 1830s, forming the independent Evangelical Lutheran Church in Prussia recognised in 1845, which was why the Evangelical Church in Prussia renamed as Evangelical State Church in Prussia (Evangelische Landeskirche in Preußen), indicating its privileged status. So finally the merger, not including all congregations, materialised as a mere administrative Union, including in Pomerania mostly Lutheran congregations, the traditionally prevailing denomination, and some few Reformed and United Protestant congregations.

Reformed congregations were usually found in cities or newly established or resettled villages in formerly Brandenburgian Pomerania, where Calvinist immigrants ensconced after 1685. United Protestant congregations usually emerged in cities, where Calvinists and Lutherans lived side by side and disliked the denominational split.

The ecclesiastical province had its headquarters, the 1815-founded Royal [or Evangelical (as of 1918)] Consistory of Pomerania Province [de] and general superintendent, domiciling in Stettin, taken over from the Brandenburgian Pomeranian Lutheran Church, the latter's local Köslin Consistory had been dissolved in 1815. The Swedish Pomeranian former Greifswald Consistory and the local Stralsund Consistory [de] were stripped of their competences and dissolved in 1849 and 1815, respectively, the general superintendency in Greifswald was not restaffed after 1824. Since initially the office of general superintendent was not provided as a function in the new Evangelical Church in Prussia at all, the respective offices had not been restaffed when their previous incumbents retired, causing a vacancy. However, since the late 1820s the Evangelical Church in Prussia appointed general superintendents in all its ecclesiastical provinces.

Bismarck's church reforms strengthened the autonomy and self-rule of the state church, which in 1875 renamed as Evangelical State Church of Prussia's older Provinces (Evangelische Landeskirche der älteren Provinzen Preußens), since in Prussian provinces annexed since 1866 their regional Protestant church bodies had remained independent of the Evangelical State Church of Prussia. The reform laws strengthened the parishioners' participation through elected presbyteries and provincial synods in matters of the Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania. In 1892 the Consistory of Pomerania Province moved into its new building on Elisabethstraße (today's ulica Kaszubska in Szczecin). With the end of the monarchic summepiscopacy [de] the church lost its status as state church and assumed independence. With its new church order and name, Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union (as of 1922, Evangelische Kirche der altpreußischen Union APU), it accounted for these changes.

The parishioners in the congregations elected synodals for their respective provincial synod – the legislative body – which again elected its governing board the provincial church council (Provinzialkirchenrat), which also included members delegated by the Evangelical Consistory of Pomerania Province. The consistory was the provincial administrative body, whose members were appointed by the Evangelical Supreme Church Council in Berlin, the central administrative body of the old-Prussian Union church. The consistory was chaired by the Stettin general superintendent, being the ecclesiastical, and a consistorial president (German: Konsistorialpräsident), being the administrative leader. In 1921 the Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania was divided into two general superintendencies (Westsprengel and Ostsprengel), the western ambit seated again in Greifswald, the eastern ambit in Stettin. The provincial synods and the provincial church councils elected from their midst the Pomeranian synodals for the general synod, the legislative body of the overall Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union. In 1927 the general synod of the old-Prussian Union church legislated in favour of the ordination of women.

With the Nazi-imposed premature reelection of presbyteries and synods within the old-Prussian church in July 1933 the Nazi-submissive Protestant movement of German Christians gained majorities in most Pomeranian presbyteries and the Pomeranian provincial synod, like in most old-Prussian ecclesiastical provinces. In June 1933 the Nazi government of Prussia, ignoring religious autonomy, furloughed the then incumbent general superintendent Walter Kähler [de] (western district, seated in Greifswald), whereas his colleague Paul Kalmus [de] (eastern district, seated in Stettin) retired in October the same year. This allowed the German Christians, dominating the provincial synod, to install their proponent Karl Thom [de] as provincial bishop (Provinzialbischof), combining the ambits of Westsprengel and Ostsprengel, self-aggrandising as Bishop of Cammin, claiming Führerprinzip-like authority over all the provincial clergy.

Especially among the many Pomeranian rural Pietists the opposition, forming the Confessing Church movement, found considerable support. Due to the Nazi regime's interference causing the violation and de facto abolition of the church order, new bodies emerged such as the provincial bishop (as of 1933) and the provincial ecclesiastical committee (Provinzialkirchenausschuss) since 1935 (dissolved in 1937, presided over by Karl von Scheven [de] , a member of the Emergency Covenant of Pastors of the Confessing Church), depriving the extremist Thom of his power again in 1936. The provincial ecclesiastical committee provided for the ignoration of Thom, so that the constitutional two general superintendencies could be restaffed. In 1941, following the incorporation of Posen-West Prussia into Pomerania (1938), also the Ecclesiastical Province of Posen-West Prussia was dissolved and its ambit became a part of the Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania. In 1941 about two million of the Pomeranians, then amounting to 2.394 million inhabitants, were parishioners of the Pomeranian ecclesiastical province.

On 22 December 1941 the official new umbrella, the pan-German Evangelical Church, called for suited actions by all Protestant church bodies to withhold baptised non-Aryans from all spheres of Protestant church life. [5] Many German Christian-dominated congregations followed suit, whereas confessing congregations in the Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania dared to hand in lists of signatures in protest against the exclusion of the stigmatised Protestants of Jewish descent. [6]

By the East Pomeranian Offensive, February–April 1945, the Red Army advanced so speedily, that there was hardly a chance to rescue refugees, let alone archives of congregations in Farther Pomerania, as was recorded in a report about the situation in the ecclesiastical provinces (10 March 1945). By the end of the war hundred thousands of parishioners and hundreds of pastors were fleeing westwards. The Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania tried to relocate its Stettin-based institutions, the consistory, general superintendency, and pertaining offices, to Greifswald. Between April and July 1945 the Soviets handed over all of Pomerania on both banks along the Oder and east thereof to Poland. Thus the east district (Ostsprengel) dropped into dissolution. With the simultaneous atrocities against and expulsion of the remaining Pomeranians and the systematic suppression of any kind of their organisations and associations the church life in Polish-annexed Pomerania came to an end. Chattel, such as archives and files of the ecclesiastical province and the congregations, could only be partially rescued to places in the west ambit. In August 1945 the three Allies of Potsdam approved these facts and agreed to house and feed the destitute Pomeranians expelled to their zones of occupation.

On the occasion of the first meeting of representatives of Germany's persisting Protestant church bodies in Treysa (a part of today's Schwalmstadt) on 31 August 1945, the representatives of the six surviving old-Prussian ecclesiastical provinces (March of Brandenburg, Pomerania, Rhineland, Saxony, Silesia, and Westphalia) and the central Evangelical Supreme Church Council took fundamental decisions about the future of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union. They decided to assume the independent existence of each ecclesiastical province as Landeskirche (Protestant regional church body) and to reform the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union into a mere umbrella organisation ("Neuordnung der Evangelischen Kirche der altpreußischen Union"). In Treysa the representatives of all Protestant church bodies from Germany founded a new umbrella, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD).

Most of the parishioners remaining in Polish-annexed Pomerania Province were expelled by Poland in the post-war period of expulsion of Germans between 1945 and 1948. With most of the territory, formerly comprised by the eastern ambit (Ostsprengel) of the Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania, transferred to Poland, it expropriated all church property there, parochial and provincial alike, without compensation, with the church buildings mostly taken over by the Roman Catholic Church, and most Protestant cemeteries desecrated and devastated. The provincial church institutions were built up anew in Greifswald, while the Soviets handed over Stettin, the former seat, to Poland in July 1945.

The majority of the 1.5 million fled and expelled Pomeranian parishioners found refuge outside of the remaining territory of the Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania and thus joined congregations within other Protestant regional church bodies, about 70,000 parishioners perished through war, flight and expulsion. But many stranded also in the west ambit (Westsprengel) with its original 500,000 inhabitants. The situation turned severe with a massive shortage of food and lodgement. However, since the Soviets had decided to keep most of Hither Pomerania, which included the Westsprengel, as part of their occupation zone refugees from Hither Pomerania, fled from there from March to May 1945, could return afterwards and congregational and provincial ecclesiastical structures were rebuilt. However, the position of general superintendent remained vacant after 1945. In October 1946 the 20th Pomeranian provincial synod elected Scheven general superintendent, and allowed him to adopt the new title of bishop. [7]

Pomeranian Evangelical Church Edit

The 20th Pomeranian provincial synod, 9–11 October 1946, had also decided to develop a new church order in order to reconstitute the Ecclesiastical Province of Pomerania as an independent regional Protestant church body. [7] On 2 June 1950 the Pomeranian provincial synod adopted the prepared new church order and thus established the Pomeranian Evangelical Church, territorially comprising those parts of the former ecclesiastical province located in then East Germany (German Democratic Republic, GDR). By its new constitution its spiritual leader, titled bishop since late 1946, would continue to use that title. The Pomeranian Evangelical Church became a full member of the Evangelical Church in Germany and between 1950 and 2003 was a full member of the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union, now a mere umbrella. Under communist pressure the Evangelical Church of the old-Prussian Union had to skip the term Prussian from its name and renamed as Evangelical Church of the Union (Evangelische Kirche der Union EKU) on its general synod in December 1953. In 1956 the Pomeranian church counted 720,000 parishioners, about one third of them with refugee background.

Evangelical Church in Greifswald Edit

Following the second constitution of the GDR, enacted on April 9, 1968 and accounting for its de facto transformation into a communist dictatorship, the Council of Ministers of the GDR demoted all church bodies from statutory "Public-law Corporations" (German: Körperschaft des öffentlichen Rechts) to mere "Civil Associations". Thus the Council could force the Pomeranian Evangelical Church to remove the term Pomerania from its name, because East German propaganda silenced about all terms recalling former German territory annexed by Poland or the Soviet Union. The church body then chose the new name Evangelical Church in Greifswald.

Along with the status as "Public-law Corporation" the new GDR constitution did away with the church tax, automatically collecting parishioners' contributions as a surcharge on the income tax. Now parishioners had to fix the level of their contributions and to transfer them again and again on their own. This together with ongoing discrimination of church members, which let many secede from the church, effectively eroded the adherence of parishioners and the financial situation of the Evangelical Church in Greifswald. In 1969 the church body, like all its East German fellows, seceded from the umbrella Evangelical Church in Germany and joined the Federation of Protestant Churches within the GDR [de] .

Pomeranian Evangelical Church from 1990 to 2012 Edit

In 1990, after the end of the GDR dictatorship, the church body returned to its former name. With the dissolution of the GDR-Federation of Protestant Churches in 1991 the Pomeranian Evangelical Church reentered the EKD and remained its member until the merger in 2012. The blessing of same-sex unions was allowed. The number of parishioners continued to sink and reached 140,000 in 1997, somewhat more than 20% of the Hither Pomeranian population. On 28 March 2009 the synod voted in the merger with the two Lutheran church bodies of Mecklenburg and North Elbia, by 44 out of 58 synodals. The merger took effect on Pentecost, 27 May 2012.

Historically the church was subdivided into districts (later called Sprengel in German), partially due to different secular rulers reigning different parts of Pomerania, or partially due to the mere extension of the territory. Thus originally these districts territorially resembled the political subdivisions of Pomerania at the time. Each ecclesiastical district had a consistory and a spiritual leader (usually called general superintendent). At times there were additional subordinate consistories and spiritual leaders with regional competence.

Supreme governors (1534–1918) Edit

Between 1534 and 1918 the incumbents of the different Pomeranian thrones were simultaneously Supreme Governors (summus episcopus) of the State Church, like the English monarch as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. Since 1532 the ducal House of Griffins was divided into two lines, ruling in partitioned parts of the duchy (Pomerania-Stettin 1532–1637 Pomerania-Wolgast 1532–1620). Furthermore, the third political unit was the Prince-Bishopric of Cammin (1248–1650), a prince-bishopric in parts of Farther Pomerania, ruled by Catholic and later Lutheran bishops of Cammin or by administrators elected by its governing body, the collegial cathedral chapter of Cammin, since the Reformation mostly staffed with Lutheran capitular canons.

Two dependent branch duchies, Pomerania-Barth (1569–1605) and Pomerania-Rügenwalde (1569–1620) were without share in the government, thus also without competence as to the Lutheran state churches. After the extinction of the Griffins in 1637 Pomerania was divided into a Swedish and a Brandenburgian part, where the monarchs of Sweden and the Berlin-based Hohenzollern rulers, respectively, then wielded the summepiscopacy.

How would YOU carve up Germany?

The title says it all. If you had total control, how would you tweak the German border at the end of WW2?

I'd reverse all the expansions made in WW2, of course. The Saar would be a French protectorate (as in OTL) whose final fate would be later decided (likely returning to Germany) eventually. East Prussia would go to Poland entirely-no point in a Russian enclave (or exclave, whatever term is accurate). Germany would keep Silesia and Pomerania (which went to Poland in OTL), as well as Austria, which has no point in existing without the Hapsburg monarchy around.




Have Austria vote on whether it wants to become independent or remain part of a new reformed Germany.

Similarly hold votes in Silesia and Pommerania on a county (or whatever they were divided into) level on if they want to remain in Germany or join Poland.

Give South Schleswig to Denmark and hold a vote in Holstein on joining Denmark or remaining part of Germany (very high chance it remains German).

Make East Prussia an independent state.

Hold a Referendum in Danzig giving the option to either become fully independent or join the East Prussian nation.

Give the Netherlands some of the territory in the Bakker-Schut Plan.

Urban fox

One half to France, other half to Poland.


Have Austria vote on whether it wants to become independent or remain part of a new reformed Germany.

Similarly hold votes in Silesia and Pommerania on a county (or whatever they were divied into) level on if they want to remain in Germany or join Poland.

Give South Schleswig to Denmark and hold a vote in Holstein on joining Denmark or remaining part of Germany (very high chance it remains German).

Make East Prussia an independent state.

Hold a Referendum in Danzig giving the option to either become fully independent or join the East Prussian nation.

Give the Netherlands most of the territory in the Bakker-Schut Plan.

I agree to most of these points. However, the Saarland should remain a protectorate instead of being outright annexed and only the third version of the Bakker-Shut Plan should be used.

Btw, for those of you to lazy to look it up on Armenian Genocide, here is the map for the Bakker-Shut Plan, with the purple area being the tolerable version.

The Vet

One half to France, other half to Poland.

Dr. Luny




It's the second time this came up, so, to clarify: at that time there were NO Polish areas in Pommerania. Well, unless you meant West Prussia, which is Pommerania for the Poles and West Prussia for everybody else, but I don't think so. The only areas in pre-war Germany that had a substantial amount of Poles were Upper Silesia, and southern part of East Prussia (most of them were Protestants and identified with the German state, the Catholics - more pro-Polish - inhabited areas around Allenstein and Stuhm only). That's it, and any plebiscite in Pommerania is pointless.

Jimbrock: Many Germans actually stayed in Upper Silesia, and many of those live there even now (many more left though, if you can leave Communist Poland for West Germany it's a nobrainer)


I wouldnt call it many. The Red Army let some Germans stay whose expertise was important for the coal mining and steel industry, but, well, yes, it werent many.

As for my take on it, of course Id say I wouldnt carve up Germany at all, but then Im biased Ideally there also would have been no ethnic cleansing and the like, but with Stalin in the east, how realistic is that, really?

I think the idea for occupation zones was that the French gain the Saar protectorate and the Rhineland as pictured as state on the map as occupation zone, but not South Baden. South Baden and Thuringia are additional parts of the American zone, and in return Stalin gets all of Austria. With the additional bonus effect that after teh fall of communism many Austrians might be for reunion with Germany for economical reasons


It's the second time this came up, so, to clarify: at that time there were NO Polish areas in Pommerania. Well, unless you meant West Prussia, which is Pommerania for the Poles and West Prussia for everybody else, but I don't think so. The only areas in pre-war Germany that had a substantial amount of Poles were Upper Silesia, and southern part of East Prussia (most of them were Protestants and identified with the German state, the Catholics - more pro-Polish - inhabited areas around Allenstein and Stuhm only). That's it, and any plebiscite in Pommerania is pointless.

Jimbrock: Many Germans actually stayed in Upper Silesia, and many of those live there even now (many more left though, if you can leave Communist Poland for West Germany it's a nobrainer)


I need to clarify. The area where quite a lot of the German populace stayed is the part of Upper Silesia that was German in 1937. I's not many compared to the vast swathes of land annexed to Poland in 1945, but in that small area, it's quite a lot. Even now there are gminas with over 40% Germans in the Opole/Oppeln voivodship (10% ATM, but the area where Germans stayed was basically where there were local Poles, see map: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/German_Minority_Upper_Silesia.png). Jimbrock didn't know if it's possible for them to stay, well, it is, as these people show.

Why is the border between Brandenburg, Silesia and Pommern shaped like that? I mean, the historical 1919-39 one was ugly, but this one is even worse, wouldn't it be better to return to good ol' pre-partitions border? It has this nice angle, plus, you know, nostalgia. I'm not criticizing, just asking, there has to be some reason.


Basically, to give Poland more land, after they already got less than IOTL even with Königsberg and Lvwiovw (not shown on map) Polish. I mean, the Pommeranian border, at least the border of the province of Pommerania, really went very far out east. Its just easier to give this appendix to Poland. More Polish coast line that way, too. And that Upper Silesia would become fully Polish was rather clear, too. And in Lower Silesia and the Neumark Poland got some random bits of land.


You're right, very hard, still, if the territories would be small, it is possible IMO that they'd be allowed to stay, most of them would leave anyway. There's no need for Stalin and his slightly less evil henchmen to cleanse them if they weren't a threat.