German tragedy of destiny

West Prussia, Posen, Danzig

 

<-- HOME | <-- FLIGHT AND EXPULSION

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Danzig

 

 History of West Prussia and Posen

 

4th millenium B.C.

First evidence of settlements.

 

0 B.C.

Settlement by Germanic tribes.

 

997

First mention of Danzig.

 

1225

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

 

1226

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.

 

1234

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

 

1309

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

 

1772

Establishing the Province of West Prussia.

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

 

1793

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.

 

1815

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

 

1919

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.

 

1939

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

 

1945

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