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|Province of West Prussia|
|Province of Prussia|
|West Prussia (red), within the Kingdom of Prussia, within the German Empire, as of 1878.|
|Capital|| Marienwerder |
|•||Division by Napoleon||1806|
|•||Province of Prussia||1824–1878|
|•||Treaty of Versailles||1919|
|•||1910||25,534 km2(9,859 sq mi)|
|Density||66.7 /km2 (172.8 /sq mi)|
|Political subdivisions|| Danzig |
|Today part of|
The Province of West Prussia (German : Provinz Westpreußen; Kashubian : Zôpadné Prësë; Polish : Prusy Zachodnie) was a province of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and 1878 to 1922. West Prussia was established as a province of the Kingdom of Prussia in 1773, formed from Royal Prussia of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth annexed in the First Partition of Poland. West Prussia was dissolved in 1829 and merged with East Prussia to form the Province of Prussia, but was re-established in 1878 when the merger was reversed and became part of the German Empire. From 1918, West Prussia was a province of the Free State of Prussia within Weimar Germany, losing most of its territory to the Second Polish Republic and the Free City of Danzig in the Treaty of Versailles. West Prussia was dissolved in 1922, and its remaining western territory was merged with Posen to form Posen-West Prussia, and its eastern territory merged with East Prussia as the Region of West Prussia district.
German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.
Kashubian or Cassubian is a West Slavic lect belonging to the Lechitic subgroup along with Polish and Silesian. Although often classified as a language in its own right, it is sometimes viewed as a dialect of Pomeranian or as a dialect of Polish.
Polish is a West Slavic language of the Lechitic group. It is spoken primarily in Poland and serves as the native language of the Poles. In addition to being an official language of Poland, it is also used by Polish minorities in other countries. There are over 50 million Polish language speakers around the world and it is one of the official languages of the European Union.
West Prussia's provincial capital alternated between Marienwerder (present-day Kwidzyn, Poland) and Danzig (Gdańsk, Poland) during its existence.
Kwidzyn is a town in northern Poland on the Liwa river in the Powiśle region, with 40,008 inhabitants (2004). It has been a part of the Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999, and was previously in the Elbląg Voivodeship (1975–1998). It is the capital of Kwidzyn County.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.
Gdańsk is a Polish city on the Baltic coast. With a population of 464,254, Gdańsk is the capital and largest city of the Pomeranian Voivodeship and the capital of Kashubia. It is Poland's principal seaport and the centre of the country's fourth-largest metropolitan area.
West Prussia was notable for its ethnic and religious diversity due to immigration and cultural changes, with the population becoming mixed over the centuries. Since the early Middle Ages the region was inhabited by numerous Baltic peoples, such as Pomeranians in the Pomerelia region, Old Prussians and Masovians in Kulmerland, and Pomesanians east of the Vistula River. Later Slavs and Germans followed. Germans were also the largest group in West Prussia until its dissolution in 1922, with large numbers of Kashubians, Poles, Mennonites, and Jews also settling in the region.
In the history of Europe, the Middle Ages lasted from the 5th to the 15th century. It began with the fall of the Western Roman Empire and merged into the Renaissance and the Age of Discovery. The Middle Ages is the middle period of the three traditional divisions of Western history: classical antiquity, the medieval period, and the modern period. The medieval period is itself subdivided into the Early, High, and Late Middle Ages.
The Pomeranians were a group of West Slavic tribes who lived along the shore of the Baltic Sea between the mouths of the Oder and Vistula Rivers. They spoke the Pomeranian language belonging to the Lechitic branch of the West Slavic language family.
Pomerelia, also referred to as Eastern Pomerania or as Danzig Pomerania, is a historical region in northern Poland. Pomerelia lay on the southern shore of the Baltic Sea, west of the Vistula river and east of the Łeba river. Its biggest city was Gdańsk. Since 1999 the region has formed the core of the Pomeranian Voivodeship. Gdańsk Pomerania is traditionally divided into Kashubia and Kociewie.
In the Thirteen Years' War (1454–1466), the towns of the Prussian Confederation in Pomerelia and the adjacent Prussian region east of the Vistula River rebelled against the rule of the Teutonic Knights and sought the assistance of King Casimir IV Jagiellon of Poland. By the Second Peace of Thorn in 1466, Pomerelia and the Prussian Culm (Chełmno) and Marienburg (Malbork) lands as well as the autonomous Prince-Bishopric of Warmia (Ermland) became the Polish province of Royal Prussia, which received special rights, especially in Danzig (Gdańsk). The province became a Land of the Polish Crown within the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth ( Rzeczpospolita ) by the 1569 Union of Lublin.
The Prussian Confederation was an organization formed on 21 February 1440 at Marienwerder by a group of 53 nobles and clergy and 19 cities in Prussia, to oppose the arbitrariness of the Teutonic Knights. It was based on the basis of an earlier similar organization, the Lizard Union established in 1397 by Chełmno Land nobles.
Prussia is a historical region in Europe, stretching from Gdańsk Bay to the end of Curonian Spit on the southeastern coast of the Baltic Sea, and extending inland as far as Masuria. The territory and inhabitants were described by Tacitus in Germania in AD 98, where Suebi, Goths and other Germanic people lived on both sides of the Vistula River, adjacent to the Aesti. About 800 to 900 years later the Aesti were named Old Prussians, who, since 997, repeatedly defended themselves against take-over attempts by the newly created Duchy of the Polans. The territory of the Old Prussians and neighboring Curonians and Livonians was unified politically in the 1230s as the Teutonic Order State. Prussia was politically divided between 1466 and 1772, with western Prussia under protection of the Crown of Poland and eastern Prussia a Polish–Lithuanian fief until 1660. The unity of both parts of Prussia remained preserved by retaining its borders, citizenship and autonomy until western and eastern Prussia were also politically reunited under the German Kingdom of Prussia. It is famous for many lakes, as well as forests and hills. Since the military conquest of the area by the Soviet Army in 1945 and the expulsion of the German-speaking inhabitants it was divided between northern Poland, Russia's Kaliningrad exclave, and southwestern Lithuania. The former German kingdom and later state of Prussia (1701–1947) derived its name from the region.
The Vistula, the longest and largest river in Poland, is the 9th-longest river in Europe, at 1,047 kilometres in length. The drainage-basin area of the Vistula is 193,960 km2 (74,890 sq mi), of which 168,868 km2 (65,200 sq mi) lies within Poland. The remainder lies in Belarus, Ukraine and Slovakia.
East Prussia around Königsberg, on the other hand, remained with the State of the Teutonic Knights, who were reduced to vassals of the Polish kings. Their territory was secularised to the Duchy of Prussia according to the 1525 Treaty of Kraków. Ruled in personal union with the Imperial Margraviate of Brandenburg from 1618, the Hohenzollern rulers of Brandenburg-Prussia were able to remove the Polish suzerainty by the 1657 Treaty of Wehlau. This development turned out to be fatal to the Polish monarchy, as the two parts of the rising Kingdom of Prussia were separated by Polish land.
East Prussia was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and again from 1878 ; following World War I it formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia, until 1945. Its capital city was Königsberg. East Prussia was the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast.
Königsberg is the name for the historic German city that is now Kaliningrad, Russia. Originally a Sambian or Old Prussian city, it then belonged to the State of the Teutonic Order, the Duchy of Prussia, the Kingdom of Prussia, the German Empire, the Weimar Republic, and Nazi Germany. After being largely destroyed in World War II by Allied bombing and the Red Army, it was annexed by the Soviet Union and its surviving inhabitants forcibly expelled. Thereafter, the city was renamed Kaliningrad. Few traces of the former Königsberg remain today.
The State of the Teutonic Order, also called Deutschordensstaat or Ordensstaat in German, was a crusader state formed by the Teutonic Knights or Teutonic Order during the 13th century Northern Crusades along the Baltic Sea. The state was based in Prussia after the Order's conquest of the Pagan Old Prussians which began in 1230. It expanded to include at various times Courland, Gotland, Livonia, Neumark, Pomerelia and Samogitia. Its territory was in the modern countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden (Gotland). Most of the territory was conquered by military orders, after which German colonization occurred to varying effect.
In the 1772 First Partition of Poland the Prussian king Frederick the Great took the occasion to annex most of Royal Prussia. The addition gave Prussia a land connection between the Province of Pomerania and East Prussia, cutting off the Polish access to the Baltic Sea and rendering East Prussia more readily defensible in the event of war with the Russian Empire. The annexed voivodeships of Pomerania (i.e. Pomerelia) except for the City of Danzig, Marienburg (Polish: Malbork) and Kulm (Polish: Chełmno) (except for Thorn; Polish: Toruń) were incorporated into the Province of West Prussia the following year, while Ermland (Polish: Warmia) became part of the Province of East Prussia. Further annexed areas of Greater Poland and Kuyavia in the south formed the Netze District. The Partition Sejm ratified the cession on 30 September 1773. Thereafter Frederick styled himself "King of Prussia" rather than "King in Prussia."
The First Partition of Poland took place in 1772 as the first of three partitions that ended the existence of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth by 1795. Growth in the Russian Empire's power, threatening the Kingdom of Prussia and the Habsburg Monarchy, was the primary motive behind this first partition. Frederick the Great engineered the partition to prevent Austria, jealous of Russian successes against the Ottoman Empire, from going to war. The weakened Commonwealth's land, including what was already controlled by Russia, was apportioned among its more powerful neighbors—Austria, Russia and Prussia—so as to restore the regional balance of power in Central Europe among those three countries. With Poland unable to effectively defend itself, and with foreign troops already inside the country, the Polish parliament (Sejm) ratified the partition in 1773 during the Partition Sejm convened by the three powers.
Frederick II ruled the Kingdom of Prussia from 1740 until 1786, the longest reign of any Hohenzollern king. His most significant accomplishments during his reign included his military victories, his reorganization of Prussian armies, his patronage of the arts and the Enlightenment and his final success against great odds in the Seven Years' War. Frederick was the last Hohenzollern monarch titled King in Prussia and declared himself King of Prussia after achieving sovereignty over most historically Prussian lands in 1772. Prussia had greatly increased its territories and became a leading military power in Europe under his rule. He became known as Frederick the Great and was nicknamed Der Alte Fritz by the Prussian people and eventually the rest of Germany.
The Province of Pomerania was a province of Brandenburg-Prussia, the later Kingdom of Prussia. After the Thirty Years' War, the province consisted of Farther Pomerania. Subsequently, the Lauenburg and Bütow Land, Draheim, and Swedish Pomerania south of the Peene river were joined into the province. The province was succeeded by the Province of Pomerania set up in 1815.
The Polish administrative and legal code was replaced by the Prussian system, and 750 schools were built from 1772-1775.Both Protestant and Roman Catholic teachers taught in West Prussia, and teachers and administrators were encouraged to be able to speak both German and Polish. Frederick II of Prussia also advised his successors to learn Polish, a policy followed by the Hohenzollern dynasty until Frederick III decided not to let William II learn Polish. Despite this, Frederick II (Frederick the Great) looked askance upon many of his new citizens. In a letter from 1735, he calls them "dirty" and "vile apes" He had nothing but contempt for the szlachta , the numerous Polish nobility, and wrote that Poland had "the worst government in Europe with the exception of Ottoman Empire". He considered West Prussia less civilized than Colonial Canada and compared the Poles to the Iroquois. In a letter to his brother Henry, Frederick wrote about the province that "it is a very good and advantageous acquisition, both from a financial and a political point of view. In order to excite less jealousy I tell everyone that on my travels I have seen just sand, pine trees, heath land and Jews. Despite that there is a lot of work to be done; there is no order, and no planning and the towns are in a lamentable condition." Frederick invited German immigrants to redevelop the province,. Many German officials also regarded the Poles with contempt. According to the Polish historian Jerzy Surdykowski, Frederick the Great introduced 300,000 German colonists. According to Christopher Clark, 54 percent of the annexed area's and 75 percent of the urban population were German-speaking Protestants. Further Polish areas were annexed in the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, now including the cities of Danzig (Gdańsk) and Thorn (Toruń). Some of the areas of Greater Poland annexed in 1772 that formed the Netze District were added to West Prussia in 1793 as well.
After the defeat of Prussia by the Napoleonic French Empire at the 1806 Battle of Jena-Auerstedt, West Prussia lost its southern territory in the vicinity of Thorn and Culm (Chełmno) to the short-lived Duchy of Warsaw, it also lost Danzig, which was a Free City from 1807 until 1814. After the final defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Danzig, Kulm, and Thorn were returned to West Prussia by resolution of the Vienna Congress.
In 1815, the province was administratively subdivided into the Regierungsbezirke Danzig and Marienwerder. From 1824-1878 West Prussia was combined with East Prussia to form the Province of Prussia, after which they were reestablished as separate provinces. In 1840, King Frederick William IV of Prussia sought to reconcile the state with the Catholic Church and the kingdom's Polish subjects by granting amnesty to imprisoned Polish bishops and re-establishing Polish instruction in schools in districts having Polish majorities. However, after the region became part of the German Empire in 1871 during the unification of Germany, it was subjected to measures aimed at Germanization of Polish-speaking areas.
The Polish historian Andrzej Chwalba cites Germanization measures that included:
In the German census of 1910, the population of West Prussia was put at 1,703,474, of whom around 64 percent listed their first language as German, 28 percent Polish and 7 percent Kashubian. According to Polish authors the real share of Poles and Kashubians was 43% (rather than 35.5% as in official figures), but many of them were counted as Catholic Germans by Prussian census clerks.
In 1910, ethnic Poles were between 36% and 43% of West Prussia's populace.After the Treaty of Versailles in 1919, most of pre-war West Prussia's territory (62%) was granted to the Second Polish Republic or the Free City of Danzig (8% of territory), while parts in the west (18% of territory) and east (12% of territory) of the former province remained in Weimar Germany. The western remainder formed Posen-West Prussia in 1922, while the eastern remainder became part of Regierungsbezirk West Prussia within East Prussia.
The region was invaded, then included in the Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia within Nazi Germany during World War II and settled with 130,000 German colonists,while between 120,000 and 170,000 Poles and Jews were removed Germans through massacres, enslavement or killed in extermination camps. As in all other areas, Poles and Jews were classified as "Untermenschen" by the German state, with their fate being slavery and extermination. Later in the war, many West Prussian Germans fled westward as the Red Army advanced on the Eastern Front. All of the areas occupied by Nazis were restored to Poland according to the post-war Potsdam Agreement in 1945, along with further neighbouring areas of former Nazi Germany. The vast majority of the remaining German population of the region which had not fled before was subsequently expelled westward. Many German civilians were deported to labor camps like Vorkuta in the Soviet Union, where a large number of them perished or were later reported missing. In 1949, the refugees established the non-profit Landsmannschaft Westpreußen to represent West Prussians in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Perhaps the earliest estimations on ethnic or national structure of West Prussia are from 1819. At that time West Prussia had 630,077 inhabitants, including 327,300 Poles (52%), 290,000 Germans (46%) and 12,700 Jews (2%).
Karl Andree, "Polen: in geographischer, geschichtlicher und culturhistorischer Hinsicht" (Leipzig 1831), gives the total population of West Prussia as 700,000 - including 50% Poles (350,000), 47% Germans (330,000) and 3% Jews (20,000).
The population more than doubled during the next seven decades, reaching 1,433,681 inhabitants (including 1,976 foreigners) in 1890. From 1885 to 1890 West Prussia's population decreased by 1%.
According to the German census of 1910, in areas that became Polish after 1918, 42 percent of the populace were Germans (including German military, officials and colonists), while the Polish census of 1921 found 19 percent of Germans in the same territory.
Contemporary sources in late 19th and early 20th centuries gave the number of Kashubians between 80,000–200,000.
Note: Prussian provinces were subdivided into districts called Kreise (singular Kreis , abbreviated Kr.). Cities would have their own Stadtkreis (urban district) and the surrounding rural area would be named for the city, but referred to as a Landkreis (rural district).
Population according to the German census 1905:
|Kreis (district)||Polish Name||Population 1905||Polish, Kashubian||in Percent||German||in Percent|
|Danziger Höhe (highland)||Gdańsk||50,148||5,703||11.73||44,113||87.97|
|Preußisch Stargard||Starogard Gdański||62,465||44,809||71.73||17,425||27.90|
The Polish Corridor, also known as the Danzig Corridor, Corridor to the Sea or Gdańsk Corridor, was a territory located in the region of Pomerelia, which provided the Second Republic of Poland (1920–1939) with access to the Baltic Sea, thus dividing the bulk of Germany from the province of East Prussia. The Free City of Danzig was separate from both Poland and Germany. A similar territory, also occasionally referred to as a corridor, had been connected to the Polish Crown as part of Royal Prussia during the period 1466–1772.
Royal Prussia or Polish Prussia was a region of the Kingdom of Poland from 1466 to 1772.
Kartuzy ) ,(German: Karthaus) is a town in the historic Eastern Pomerania (Pomerelia) region of northwestern Poland. Previously in Gdańsk Voivodeship from 1975 to 1998, Kartuzy since 1999 is the capital of Kartuzy County in Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999.
Warmian-Masurian Voivodeship or Warmia-Masuria Province or Warmia-Mazury Province, is a voivodeship (province) in northeastern Poland. Its capital and largest city is Olsztyn. The voivodeship has an area of 24,192 km2 (9,341 sq mi) and a population of 1,427,091.
Wejherowo is a city in Gdańsk Pomerania, northern Poland, with 50,310 inhabitants (2012). It has been the capital of Wejherowo County in Pomeranian Voivodeship since 1999; previously, it was a city in Gdańsk Voivodeship (1975–1998).
The Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia was a Nazi German province created on 8 October 1939 from annexed territory of the Free City of Danzig, the Greater Pomeranian Voivodship, and the Regierungsbezirk West Prussia of Gau East Prussia. Before 2 November 1939, the Reichsgau was called Reichsgau West Prussia. Though the name resembled the pre-1920 Prussian province of West Prussia, the territory was not identical. In contrast to the former Prussian province, the Reichsgau comprised the Bromberg (Bydgoszcz) region in the South and lacked the Deutsch-Krone (Wałcz) region in the West.
Gdańsk is one of the oldest cities in Poland. Founded by the Polish ruler Mieszko I in the 10th century, the city was for a long time part of Piast state either directly or as a fief. In 1308 the city became part of the Monastic State of the Teutonic Knights until the 15th century. Thereafter it became part of Poland again, although with increasing autonomy. A vital naval city for Polish grain trade it attracted people from all over the European continent. The city was taken over by Prussia during the Second Partition of Poland in 1793 and subsequently lost its importance as a trading port. Briefly becoming a free city during Napoleonic wars, it was again Prussian after Napoleon's defeat, and later became part of the newly created German Empire.
The former eastern territories of Germany are those provinces or regions east of the current eastern border of Germany which were lost by Germany after World War I and then World War II.
The history of Pomerania starts shortly before 1000 AD with ongoing conquests by newly arrived Polans rulers. Before that the area was recorded nearly 2000 years ago as Germania, and in modern-day times Pomerania is split between Germany and Poland. The name Pomerania comes from the Slavic po more, which means Land at the Sea.
Dzierzgoń is a town in the Pomeranian Voivodeship in Poland. It is located in Sztum County east of Malbork and south of Elbląg on the river Dzierzgoń. Dzierzgoń has a population of 5,800, while the city and its environs have a combined population of 10,000.
The Pomeranian Voivodeship or Pomorskie Voivodeship was an administrative unit of interwar Poland. It ceased to function in September 1939, following the German and Soviet invasion of Poland.
History of Pomerania (1806–1933) covers the history of Pomerania from the early 19th century until the rise of Nazi Germany.
Recovered Territories was an official term used by the Polish People’s Republic to describe the territory of the former Free City of Danzig and the parts of pre-war Germany that became part of Poland after World War II. The rationale for the term "Recovered" was the Piast Concept that these territories were 900 years ago part of the traditional Polish homeland. They had been part of, or fiefs of, a Polish state during the early medieval Piast dynasty. Over the centuries, however, they had become Germanized through the processes of German eastward settlement (Ostsiedlung) and political expansion (Drang nach Osten) and for the most part did not even contain a Polish-speaking minority. In addition, some regions, like Western Pomerania, were controlled by Polish kings for only about 50 years during the early Middle Ages followed by more than 800 years of German rule, making the argument of traditional Polish homeland rather based on nationalistic ideas than on historical facts. Nowadays the term Western Territories is more popular because of its ideological neutrality.
Babidół is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Kolbudy, within Gdańsk County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately 3 kilometres (2 mi) south-west of Kolbudy, 13 km (8 mi) west of Pruszcz Gdański, and 18 km (11 mi) south-west of the regional capital Gdańsk.
Arciszewo is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Pruszcz Gdański, within Gdańsk County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) west of Pruszcz Gdański and 13 km (8 mi) south of the regional capital Gdańsk.
Będzieszyn is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Pruszcz Gdański, within Gdańsk County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately 4 kilometres (2 mi) south-west of Pruszcz Gdański and 14 km (9 mi) south of the regional capital Gdańsk.
Borowina is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Przywidz, within Gdańsk County, Pomeranian Voivodeship, in northern Poland. It lies approximately 5 kilometres (3 mi) south of Przywidz, 25 km (16 mi) south-west of Pruszcz Gdański, and 32 km (20 mi) south-west of the regional capital Gdańsk.
The first settlement in the vicinity of Toruń is dated by archaeologists to 1100 BC. During early medieval times, in the 7th through 13th centuries, it was the location of an old Slavonic settlement, at a ford in the Vistula river.
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