German tragedy of destiny

West Prussia, Posen, Danzig







736,000 people fled West Prussia and Posen, of which 117,000 died on the way.


In this province once lived 763,000 Germans.

Major cities:

Danzig, Posen, Birnbaum, Bromberg, Dirschau, Graudenz,

Hohensalza, Kolmar, Kulm, Löbau, Schwetz, Strasburg, Thorn,

Wirsitz and Zempelburg


Danzig, the then German city (now Gdansk, Poland)


West Prussia, Posen and Danzig in a nutshell


The area of West Prussia is almost as big as Switzerland and the size of the free city of Danzig is comparable to Luxembourg.


Between 1922 and 1938 the province of West Prussia and Posen was in alliance with the German Reich. Its borders have changed several times.


The area around Schneidemühl was until 1919 a part of West Prussia; in 1920 it came to East Prussia, in 1939 to West Prussia and Posen, then to the province of Pomerania.


The area around Meseritz was until 1919 also a part of Posen; in 1938 it came to the province of West Prussia and Posen, then became a part of the province of Brandenburg.


The district of Fraustadt was until 1919 a part of Posen; in 1938 it came to West Prussia and Posen, then it became a part of the province of Silesia.




 History of West Prussia and Posen


4th millenium B.C.

First evidence of settlements.


0 B.C.

Settlement by Germanic tribes.



First mention of Danzig.



Duke Konrad of Mazovia bestowed the Kulmerland upon the Teutonic Order of Knights.



With the Golden Bull of Rimini the Emperor Frederick II confirmed that the Kulmerland and the Prussian Land to be conquered belong to the Teutonic Order.



In the Golden Bull of Rieti Pope Gregory IX placed the lands of the Order under the protection of the Holy See.



Marienburg became the seat of the a Grand Master of the Teutonic Order.



Establishing the Province of West Prussia.

Frederick II (the Great) was crowned King of Prussia.



Danzig and Thorn came to West Prussia.


1807-1813 French Period

The Peace Treaty of Tilsit declares Danzig a Free City under a French governor.



The Vienna Congress confirms the attachment of West Prussia to the Kingdom of Prussia, with the capital of Danzig.



Dictate of Versailles: by referendum in 1920 four districts of West Prussia stay with the Reich, the rest of West Prussia and the whole of Posen fall to Poland, Danzig becomes Free City. Almost a million people leave the ceded area.



Founding of the Reichsgau (district) Danzig-West Prussia.



Flight and expulsion of 600,000 Germans from their native West Prussia and Posen.




Flight and expulsion


West Prussia and the eastern Warthegau were the first affected by the massive Soviet offensive in January 1945.


Many residents of these areas tried to flee west or to Silesia.


But the Red Army advanced so fast that the biggest part of West Prussia and Warthegau were already occupied in February.


A flight was therefore almost impossible. Only from the Danzig area succeeded a small group in escaping by boat across the Baltic Sea.


Those who remained, mostly elderly, the sick, women and children, were delivered to the atrocities of the occupiers who plundered, murdered and raped without restraint.


The able-bodied men and women were deported and pressed into forced labor.


Many were - as they have just met - driven without shoes or coats towards the Vistula. For the majority it was transition into death.


For others - 600,000 Germans - it was systematic expulsion from their native West Prussia and Posen.


117,000 dead




Important personalities of West Prussia, Posen and Danzig


Famous names; who remember where they came from?


Emil Adolf von Behring - Hansdorf, 1854-1917, physician and bacteriologist


Wernher von Braun - Wirsitz, 1912-1977, physicist



Günter Grass - Danzig-Langfuhr, 1927-, writer and graphic artist


Johannes Hevelius - Danzig, 1611-1687, astronomer, inventor of the pendulum clock


Paul von Hindenburg - Posen, 1847-1934, President of Germany


Klaus Kinski - Zoppot, 1926-1991, actor


Nikolaus Kopernikus - Thorn, 1473-1543, astronomer and canon


Walter Leistikow - Bromberg, 1865-1908, painter


Hermann Löns - Kulm, 1866-1914, poet


Erich Ludendorff - Kruszewnia, 1865-1937, general


Dorothea von Montau - Montau,

1347-1394, mystic and saint


Walther Nernst - Briesen,

1864-1941, chemist, physicist, Nobel-Laureate


Andreas Schlüter - Danzig,

1664-1714, sculptor and builder


Arthur Schopenhauer - Danzig, 1788-1860, philosopher


Kurt Schumacher - Kulm,

1895-1952, politician