The Info List - West Prussia

The Province of West Prussia
(German: Provinz Westpreußen; Kashubian: Zôpadné Prësë; Polish: Prusy Zachodnie) was a province of the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
from 1773 to 1824 and again from 1878 (with the Kingdom itself being part of the German Empire
German Empire
from 1871); it also briefly formed part of the Weimar Republic's Free State of Prussia until 1919/20. It was created out of the earlier Polish province of Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia
following the First Partition of Poland. In February 1920, following Germany's defeat in 1918, West Prussia
was divided: the mainly Slavic-speaking central parts became the Pomeranian Voivodeship of the Second Polish Republic, also known as the Polish Corridor; the city of Danzig
became the Free City of Danzig, a semi-autonomous city-state under the protection of the League of Nations; the remaining territory was retained by the Free State of Prussia/Weimar Republic, with the western parts being joined to what remained of the former Province of Posen
Province of Posen
to form the new Posen-West Prussia
Province, and the eastern parts being joined to the Province of East Prussia
East Prussia
as Regierungsbezirk
West Prussia. The territory was included within Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
1939–45, after which it became part of Poland. West Prussia
is also used as a general name for the region in historical context from the 13th century to 1945. In the Middle Ages, it was inhabited by Slavic and Baltic tribes: by Pomeranians in Pomerelia
west to Vistula
river, by Old Prussians
Old Prussians
and later Masovians
in Kulmerland, and by Old Prussians
Old Prussians
(mainly Pomesanians) in the part of the region located east to Vistula
river and north to Kulmerland. Due to immigration and cultural changes, the population became mixed over centuries and consisted of Germans, Kashubians, Poles, as well as Slovincians, Huguenots, Mennonites, and Jews, among others. Most of the territory of West Prussia
is today part of Poland's Pomeranian Voivodeship, whose capital is Gdańsk
(German: Danzig).


1 History

1.1 Context 1.2 Establishment 1.3 Restoration 1.4 Dissolution

2 Historical population 3 Subdivisions 4 Office holders 5 See also 6 Notes 7 References 8 External links

History[edit] Context[edit]

Royal and Ducal Prussia
in 1525

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
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
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
Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth
(Rzeczpospolita) by the 1569 Union of Lublin. East Prussia
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
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
Kingdom of Prussia
were separated by Polish land. Establishment[edit] 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
Baltic Sea
and rendering East Prussia
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
Partition Sejm
ratified the cession on 30 September 1773. Thereafter Frederick styled himself "King of Prussia" rather than "King in Prussia." The Polish administrative and legal code was replaced by the Prussian system, and 750 schools were built from 1772-1775.[1] 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
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.[1] 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"[2] 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".[3] He considered West Prussia
less civilized than Colonial Canada[4] and compared the Poles to the Iroquois.[3] 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."[5] Frederick invited German immigrants to redevelop the province,.[1][6] Many German officials also regarded the Poles
with contempt.[4] According to the Polish historian Jerzy Surdykowski, Frederick the Great
Frederick the Great
introduced 300,000 German colonists.[7] According to Christopher Clark, 54 percent of the annexed area's and 75 percent of the urban population were German-speaking Protestants.[8] 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
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. Restoration[edit] In 1815, the province was administratively subdivided into the Regierungsbezirke Danzig
and Marienwerder. From 1824-1878 West Prussia was combined with East Prussia
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
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
German Empire
in 1871 during the unification of Germany, it was subjected to measures aimed at Germanization of Polish-speaking areas.

Acquisitions of Polish land for Germanization by the Prussian Commission of Colonization

The Polish historian Andrzej Chwalba
Andrzej Chwalba
cites Germanization measures that included:

Ethnic Germans
were favoured in government contracts and only they won them, while Poles
always lost.[9] Ethnic Germans
were also promoted in investment plans, supply contracts.[9] German craftsmen in Polish territories received the best locations in cities from authorities so that they could start their own business and prosper.[9] Soldiers received orders that banned them from buying in Polish shops and from Poles
under the threat of arrest.[9] German merchantmen were encouraged to settle in Polish territories.[9] Tax incentives and beneficial financial arrangements were proposed to German officials and clerks if they would settle in Polish inhabited provinces.[9]

In the German census of 1910, the population of West Prussia
was put at just over 1.7 million, of whom 65 percent listed their first language as German, 28 percent Polish and 7 percent Kashubian. Dissolution[edit] After the Treaty of Versailles
Treaty of Versailles
in 1919, most of West Prussia
was granted to the Second Polish Republic
Second Polish Republic
(the Polish Corridor) or the Free City of Danzig, while small parts in the west and east of the former province remained in Weimar Germany. The western remainder formed Posen-West Prussia
Posen-West Prussia
in 1922, while the eastern remainder became part of Regierungsbezirk
West Prussia
within East Prussia. The region was included in the Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia
within Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
during World War II and settled with 130,000 German colonists,[10] while between 120,000 and 170,000 Poles
and Jews
were ethnically cleansed by the Germans.[11] 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
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
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. Historical population[edit]

Map of West Prussia
and the Bay of Danzig
in 1896

Administrative divisions and languages in West Prussia
according to the German census 1910. The numbers include German military stationed in the region, as well as civil clerks and officials, were settled as part of German state's official policy of Germanisation of Polish areas[9][12] Legend for the districts:   German language   Polish language   Kashubian language   others or bilingual

Perhaps the earliest exact census figures 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%).[13] 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%.

1875 - 1,343,057 1880 - 1,405,898 1890 - 1,433,681 (717,532 Catholics, 681,195 Protestants, 21,750 Jews, others) 1900 - 1,563,658 (800,395 Catholics, 730,685 Protestants, 18,226 Jews, others) 1905 - 1,641,936 (including 437,916 Polish speakers, 99,357 Kashubian speakers)[14]

According to the official German census of 1910, in the areas that became Polish after 1918, 42 percent of the populace were ethnic German in 1910 (including German military, civil clerks, and settlers).[15] Contemporary sources in late 19th and early 20th centuries gave the number of Kashubians
between 80,000–200,000.[16] Subdivisions[edit] 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


Elbing-Stadt Elbląg 55,627 175 0.31 55,328 99.46

Elbing-Land Elbląg 38,871 105 0.27 38,737 99.66

Marienburg Malbork 63,110 1,705 2.70 61,044 96.73

Danzig-Stadt (City) Gdańsk 160,090 3,065 1.91 154,629 96.59

Danzig-Niederung (lowland) Gdańsk 36,519 178 0.49 36,286 99.36

Danziger Höhe
Danziger Höhe
(highland) Gdańsk 50,148 5,703 11.73 44,113 87.97

Dirschau Tczew 40,856 15,144 37.07 25,466 62.33

Preußisch Stargard Starogard Gdański 62,465 44,809 71.73 17,425 27.90

Berent Kościerzyna 53,726 29,898 55.65 23,515 43.77

Karthaus Kartuzy 66,612 46,281 69.48 20,203 30.33

Neustadt Wejherowo 55,587 27,358 49.22 27,048 48.66

Putzig Puck 25,701 17,906 69.67 7,629 29.68


Stuhm Sztum 36,559 13,473 36.85 22,550 61.68

Marienwerder Kwidzyn 68,096 24,541 36.04 42,699 62.70

Rosenberg Susz 53,293 3,465 6.50 49,304 92.51

Löbau Lubawa 57,285 45,510 79.44 11,368 19.84

Strasburg Brodnica 59,927 38,507 64.26 21,008 35.06

Briesen Wąbrzeźno 47,542 25,415 53.46 21,688 45.62

Thorn-Stadt (City) Toruń 43,658 13,988 32.04 29,230 66.59

Thorn-Land Toruń 58,765 30,833 52.47 27,508 46.81

Kulm Chełmno 49,521 25,659 51.89 23,521 47.50

Graudenz-Stadt (City) Grudziądz 39,953 4,421 11.07 30,709 76.86

Graudenz-Land Grudziądz 46,509 19,331 41.56 26,888 57.81

Schwetz Świecie 87,151 47,779 54.82 39,276 45.07

Tuchel Tuchola 30,803 20,540 66.68 9,925 32.22

Konitz Chojnice 59,694 32,704 54.79 26,581 44.50

Schlochau Człuchów 66,317 10,180 15.35 55,981 84.41

Flatow Złotów 67,783 18,002 26.56 49,167 72.54

Deutsch Krone Wałcz 63,706 653 1.03 62,977 98.86

Office holders[edit]

Administration of West Prussia
before 1919

See also[edit]

History of Pomerania


^ a b c Koch, p. 136 ^ Przegląd humanistyczny, Tom 22, Wydania 3–6 Jan Zygmunt Jakubowski Państwowe Wydawn. Naukowe, 2000, page 105 ^ a b Ritter, p. 192 ^ a b David Blackbourn. "Conquests from Barbarism": Interpreting Land Reclamation in 18th Century Prussia. Harvard University. Accessed 24 May 2006. ^ MacDonogh, p. 363 ^ Norbert Finszch and Dietmar Schirmer. Identity and Intolerance: Nationalism, Racism, and Xenophobia in Germany and the United States. Cambridge University Press, 2006. ISBN 0-521-59158-9 ^ Duch Rzeczypospolitej Jerzy Surdykowski - 2001 Wydawn. Nauk. PWN, 2001, page 153 ^ Christopher M. Clark (2006). Iron Kingdom: the rise and downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947. Harvard University Press. p. 233. ISBN 978-0-674-02385-7.  ^ a b c d e f g Andrzej Chwalba
Andrzej Chwalba
- Historia Polski 1795-1918 pages 461-463 ^ Bogdan Chrzanowski: Wypędzenia z Pomorza. Biuletyn IPN nr 5/2004, May 2004. ^ WYSIEDLENIA Z ZIEM ZACHODNICH RZECZYPOSPOLITEJ W OKRESIE OKUPACJI NIEMIECKIEJ doctor Andrzej Gąsiorowski Stutthof Museum ^ A history of eastern Europe: crisis and change Robert Bideleux, Ian Jeffries page 180, Routledge; 1st edition 1998 ""It systematically Germanicized "eastern" place names and public signs, fostered German cultural imperialism, and provided financial and other inducements for German farmers, officials, clergy, and teachers to settle and work in the east. After Bismarck's fall in 1890, Kaiser Wilhelm II actively encouraged all this. Not only did he provide large benefactions..." ^ Hassel, Georg (1823). Statistischer Umriß der sämmtlichen europäischen und der vornehmsten außereuropäischen Staaten, in Hinsicht ihrer Entwickelung, Größe, Volksmenge, Finanz- und Militärverfassung, tabellarisch dargestellt; Erster Heft: Welcher die beiden großen Mächte Österreich und Preußen und den Deutschen Staatenbund darstellt. Verlag des Geographischen Instituts Weimar. p. 42.  ^ Zeno. "Westpreußen". www.zeno.org. Retrieved 19 March 2018.  ^ http://web.ku.edu/~eceurope/hist557/lect11_files/11pic2.jpg ^ Kilka słów o Kaszubach i ich mowie (in Polish)


Blanke, Richard (1993). Orphans of Versailles. The University Press of Kentucky. p. 316. ISBN 0-8131-1803-4.  Koch, H. W. (1978). A History of Prussia. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. p. 326. ISBN 0-88029-158-3.  MacDonogh, Giles (2001). Frederick the Great: A Life in Deed and Letters. New York: St. Martin's Griffin. p. 436. ISBN 0-312-27266-9.  Ritter, Gerhard (1974). Frederick the Great: A Historical Profile. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 207. ISBN 0-520-02775-2.  de Zayas, Alfred-Maurice (1994). A Terrible Revenge: The Ethnic Cleansing of the Eastern European Germans
1944-1950. New York: St. Martin's Press.  Rota, Andrea (2010). Wiedersehen mit der Familie, Wiedersehen in der Heimat. SÖHNE von Volker Koepp. In Elena Agazzi, Erhard Schütz (Ed.): Heimkehr: eine zentrale Kategorie der Nachkriegszeit. Geschichte, Literatur und Medien. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot. p. 257-268. ISBN 978-3-428-53379-4

External links[edit]

Wikimedia Commons has media related to West Prussia.

has the text of the 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article West Prussia.

www.westpreussen-online.de (in German) Administrative subdivision of the province in 1910 (in German) Das Westpreußenlied (Real Audio) West Prussia
FAQ Extensive West Prussian Historical Materials East and West Prussia
Gazetteer West & East Prussia
East Prussia
Map Collection

v t e

Territories and provinces of Prussia

Before 1701

Duchy of Prussia Margraviate of Brandenburg Cleves / Mark / Ravensberg (1614) Farther Pomerania
Farther Pomerania
/ Minden / Halberstadt (1648) Lauenburg–Bütow / Draheim
(1657) Magdeburg (1680) Colonies

Gold Coast Arguin St. Thomas

After 1701

Neuchâtel (1707) Guelders (1713) Minden-Ravensberg (1719) Western Pomerania
Western Pomerania
(1720 / 1815) Silesia
/ Glatz (1742) East Frisia (1744) East / West Prussia
(1772–73) South Prussia
(1793) New East Prussia
East Prussia
/ New Silesia

Post-Congress of Vienna (1814–15)

Brandenburg Principality of Neuchâtel (1814–1848) Pomerania Grand Duchy of Posen1 Saxony Silesia Westphalia Rhine Province2 (1822) Province of Prussia
Province of Prussia
(1824–1878) Hohenzollern (1850) Schleswig-Holstein / Hanover / Hesse-Nassau

Territorial reforms after 1918

Lower / Upper Silesia
(1919) Greater Berlin (1920) Posen-West Prussia
Posen-West Prussia
(1922) Halle-Merseburg
/ Magdeburg / Kurhessen / Nassau (1944)

1 Became Province of Posen
Province of Posen
in 1848.   2 From the Lower Rhine and Jülich-Cleves-Berg.

v t e

History of Pomerania

10,000 BC – 600 AD 600–1100 1100–1300 1300–1500 1500–1806 1806–1933 1933–1945 1945–present


Western Pomerania Farther Pomerania (before 1945)

Billung March Northern March Principality of Rügen Duchy of Pomerania

House of Pomerania List of Dukes Cammin Gützkow Schlawe-Stolp Lauenburg-Bütow Partitions Pomerania-Stolp

Swedish Pomerania Brandenburgian Pomerania (Draheim) Province of Pomerania 1815–1945

Neumark Köslin Region Stettin Region Stralsund Region Posen-West Prussia
Posen-West Prussia
Region List of placenames


Zachodniopomorskie (after 1945)

Szczecin Voivodeship Koszalin Voivodeship Słupsk Voivodeship West Pomeranian Voivodeship


Medieval duchies (Samborides) State of the Teutonic Order Royal Prussia
Royal Prussia
( Pomeranian Voivodeship
Pomeranian Voivodeship
1466–1772) Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
1807–1814 West Prussia Pomeranian Voivodeship
Pomeranian Voivodeship
1919–1939 (Polish Corridor) Free City of Danzig
Free City of Danzig
1920–1939 Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia Pomeranian Voivodeship


Roman Catholic


Conversion of Pomerania Diocese of Kolberg (Congress of Gniezno) Diocese of Cammin Diocese of Culm Diocese of Roskilde Diocese of Włocławek (Leslau) Prelature of Schneidemühl


Archdiocese of Berlin Archdiocese of Szczecin-Kamień Diocese of Koszalin-Kołobrzeg Diocese of Pelplin


Protestant Reformation Evangelical Lutheran Church in Northern Germany Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession in Poland Pentecostal Church in Poland Evangelical State Church in Prussia
(extinct) Pomeranian Evangelical Church
Pomeranian Evangelical Church


Archaeological cultures

Hamburg Maglemosian Ertebølle-Ellerbek Linear Pottery Funnelbeaker Havelland Corded Ware Comb Ceramic Nordic Bronze Age Lusatian Jastorf Pomeranian Oksywie Wielbark Gustow Dębczyn (Denzin)


Gepids Goths Lemovii Rugii Vidivarii Vistula
Veneti Slavic Pomeranians Prissani Rani Ukrani Veleti Lutici Velunzani German Pomeranians Kashubians Poles Slovincians

Major demographic events

Migration Period Ostsiedlung WWII flight and expulsion of Germans Post-WWII settlement of Poles
and Ukrainians

Languages and dialects

West Germanic

Low German

Low Prussian Central Pomeranian Mecklenburgisch-Vorpommersch East Pomeranian West Pomeranian

Standard German

West Slavic

Polabian Polish Pomeranian

Kashubian Slovincian



Kremmen (1236) Landin (1250) Kępno (1282) Soldin (1309) Templin (1317) Stralsund (1354) Stralsund (1370) Thorn (1411) Soldin (1466) Thorn (1466) Prenzlau (1448 / 1472 / 1479) Pyritz (1493)


Grimnitz (1529) Stettin (1570) Franzburg (1627) Stettin (1630) Westphalia (1648) Stettin (1653) Labiau (1656) Wehlau and Bromberg (1657) Oliva (1660) Saint-Germain-en-Laye (1679) Lund (1679)


Stockholm (1719 / 1720) Frederiksborg (1720) Kiel (1814) Vienna (1815) Versailles (1919) Potsdam (1945)

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 127854681