Poznan Province

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Prussian Province of
flag coat of arms
Flag of the Poznan Province Coat of arms of the Poznan Province
Situation in Prussia
Red: Location of the province of Posen in Prussia (blue)
Consist 1815-1920
Provincial capital Poses
surface 28,991.5 km² (1910)
Residents 2,099,831 (1910)
Population density 72 inhabitants / km² (1910)
administration 2 administrative districts
License Plate IY
Arose from Poznański Department ( Duchy of Warsaw )
Incorporated into Grenzmark Posen-West Prussia
Poznan Voivodeship
Today part of Greater Poland Voivodeship Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship
Map of the province of Posen 1905 (yellow: mostly Polish-speaking area)

The Province of Posen (identical to the Grand Duchy of Posen ) was a province in the east of the state of Prussia on the territory of historical Greater Poland , which existed from 1815 to 1920 . From 1848 to 1851 the province belonged partly to the German Confederation , from 1867 completely to the North German Confederation and from 1871 to the German Empire . It had an area of ​​almost 29,000 km² and was dominated by agriculture.

The province of Posen was formed in 1815 from two parts: from that part of the area annexed by Prussia in the course of the second partition of Poland in 1793 and lost by the Peace of Tilsit in 1807 , which it had received back through the Congress of Vienna , and that part of the network district which was incorporated into the Duchy of Warsaw in 1807 and which it also received back; the border against Poland, which existed in the 19th century, was established by the State Treaty of November 11, 1817. The province was the only Prussian province with a non-German majority of the population. Of the 2.1 million inhabitants around 1910: 60.9% spoke Polish and 38.4% German as their mother tongue . The language relationships also corresponded to a denominational contrast. More than 90% of the German speakers were Protestant, the Poles were predominantly Catholic. The Jews, whose share was relatively high at 1.5% (compared to 1.0% in the Reich), spoke German.

Most of the western border areas were populated by Germans, while the center and east were mostly Polish. There the German share in the cities was usually higher than in the surrounding area, but only Bromberg had a German majority. The smaller a community, the more likely it was either purely Polish or purely German. Larger cities besides the eponymous capital Posen were Bromberg, Schneidemühl , Gnesen and Inowrazlaw , Germanised to Hohensalza in 1904 . The biological reproduction speed of the two ethnic groups had been unequal in the past.

After Germany's defeat in World War I , there was a successful Polish uprising in 1918 . Except for the clearly predominantly German-speaking peripheral areas, the province came to the newly established Republic of Poland in 1919/1920 as a result of the Treaty of Versailles .


The landscape is mostly flat, drained by two large rivers, the Netze in the north and the Warta in the center. The glaciers of the Ice Age left moraine deposits behind; There are numerous small lakes scattered across the country, through which tributaries of the two large rivers flow. The main industry was agriculture .

coat of arms

Coat of arms of the Poznan Province.

The coat of arms of the province of Posen showed the Prussian eagle , on the chest of which there is a smaller shield with a Piast eagle .


Individual peripheral areas of the Kingdom of Poland , such as Fraustadt , Meseritz , Schwerin an der Warthe and the land north of the Netze were controversial compared to the neighboring territories of Silesia , Brandenburg and Pomerania . German farmers settled here in the 13th century, just as many cities in the core area experienced German immigration. In the 14th century these areas also came to Poland. Most of the later province was one of the provinces Posen and Province Kalisz .

Prussian period until 1867

After the collapse of Napoleonic supremacy , Prussia received the western part of the South Prussian province, which had been lost in 1807, back as the Grand Duchy of Posen at the Congress of Vienna in 1815 and formed it into the Province of Posen in 1816. The north-west of the former network district around Deutsch Krone and Flatow remained with the province of West Prussia, into which it was reclassified in 1807. In terms of administration, the two administrative districts of Poznan and Bromberg existed until 1920 , which were further subdivided into urban and rural districts .

The province, like the provinces of East and West Prussia, was outside the borders of the German Confederation . In the final act of the Congress of Vienna, Prussia had undertaken to secure the preservation of the nationality of the Polish subjects and to grant the province some economic advantages on a reciprocal basis with the Kingdom of Poland . In elections for the municipal self-government of the cities and municipalities and the provincial parliament and other provincial organs, there were no statutory provisions regarding the language of the elected representatives.

Initially, the Prussian state officially treated its residents equally. The Polish speakers did not experience any formal restrictions compared to the German speakers. Polish was first used in schools and authorities. Prussian policy also initially appeared to be accommodating towards the Polish upper class, for whom the memory of the Polish state it supported was still alive. The example of Anton Radziwiłł , who was appointed governor of the province, shows that parts of the Polish national movement were ready to come to terms with the Prussian state.

After the November uprising in Congress Poland against the rule of the Russian Tsar in 1830, the special position of the Grand Duchy within the Prussian state was largely eliminated. The politically leading conservative circles in Prussia feared that Poland could become the starting point for a liberal revolutionary liberation movement in Europe - which would have meant the end of the system of the Holy Alliance . Under the Prussian President Eduard von Flottwell , the systematic displacement of Poles from public offices and the Polish language from education intensified. This procedure should also strengthen Prussian friendship with Russia.

In 1846 a planned uprising of Polish nationalists in the province of Poznan in the wake of the Cracow uprising was uncovered. The so-called Poland Trial took place against those involved in 1847 .

After the beginning of the revolution of 1848, an uprising broke out. This was soon put down. As a result, the last vestiges of special privileges of the Grand Duchy were removed and the area was organized like any other province. The German speakers in the province addressed themselves to the Bundestag, which in April included German-speaking parts of the province in the German Confederation. The Frankfurt National Assembly decided to divide the province; in the rest the Poles should organize themselves. During the treatment of this question of Poznan, however, the area for the Poles became smaller and smaller.

After Prussia had to give up the establishment of an Erfurt Union in the Olomouc puncture at the end of 1850, it temporarily came to terms with Austria again. In 1851 the German Confederation was completely restored. On this occasion, Prussia had the inclusion of the Poznan territories in the Federation reversed: It derived its great power position from the existence of state territory outside the federal territory.

Attempts at Germanization in the North German Confederation and in the German Empire

Map of the Prussian province of Posen around 1905, with a brown-tone marking of the regional relative distribution of the Polish language

Prussia and with it the province of Posen became part of the North German Confederation in 1867 and of the German Empire in 1871 . The Polish speakers were no longer just citizens of Prussia, which was at least nominally neutral in national terms, but a linguistic minority within a state that understood itself to be German and soon found themselves exposed to targeted state exclusion in a number of ways. Now the province developed into a battleground between the Polish national movement and the Prussian authorities.

On the one hand, the Prussian government tried to force the Polish language out of school, Sunday catechesis and administration for good, which reached its symbolic - and later romanticized - climax in the Wreschen school strike in 1901. The refusal of Polish children from Wreschen - despite several hours of corporal punishment by the teachers - to answer in German led to the sentencing of 25 people to prison terms totaling over 17 years. This triggered a wave of solidarity protests that, by 1904, included around 75,000 children in 800 schools in the Poznan province.

The discrimination against Catholicism, to which most of the Poles belonged (while the Germans in the province of Posen were predominantly Protestant), in the course of the Kulturkampf, weighed heavily . This drove the long politically passive Polish rural population to Polish nationalism, who now longed for the establishment of an independent Poland, including Poznan.

There was also a change in the balance of power between the language groups. While the German-speaking proportion had grown from under 30% to almost 38% through assimilation, especially of most of the originally quite a few Polish Protestants, by 1890, this development has now declined. This was due, on the one hand, to the higher birth rate of the Poles, and on the other hand, the Germans were more subject to the so-called eastward flight , the emigration to the industrial areas of the empire. Measures to increase their share, especially the establishment of the Prussian Settlement Commission , which was supposed to buy land from Poland and only offered foreign Germans to buy for the purpose of settlement, could hardly compensate for these developments, but intensified the national political conflict. Nevertheless, the everyday coexistence of the language groups was consistently peaceful. The dissatisfaction of the Poles was directed against the German authorities, but not against the German housemates.

Poznan uprising 1918/1919

The German-Polish demarcation line in the province of Posen, established at the armistice in February 1919. It largely followed the language border , but was not identical to the later state border.

The Armistice of Compiègne on November 11, 1918 did not mention Poland, but the 14-point program of US President Woodrow Wilson provided for the "establishment of a Polish state, independent of Germany or Russia, with access to the sea".

The Poznan Uprising began on December 27, 1918 after the arrival of Ignacy Paderewski at the Poznan train station. The well-known pianist was a representative of the Polish National Committee between 1917 and 1919 in the USA and later became Polish Prime Minister. A day later, an uprising by Polish separatists broke out in the province of Posen, which led to open fighting between Germans and Poles. The aim of the separatists was to separate the province of Posen from the German Empire and to join this area to a newly founded Polish nation state. The actual uprising only lasted until February 16, 1919, when, due to Allied pressure, an armistice was enforced and a demarcation line was established before German border troops could regain control of the province. In practice, however, there were repeated shootings and skirmishes in large parts of the province of Poznan. This state of affairs lasted until the regular Polish military under General Haller took over the area , which took place in accordance with the provisions of the Versailles Treaty in January 1920.

The predominantly German-speaking peripheral areas in the west remained largely within the newly formed Prussian province Grenzmark Posen-West Prussia in Germany. Some predominantly German-speaking areas in the south and northeast, including the city of Bromberg, on the other hand, had to be ceded to Poland.

In the new Polish state

Between 1920 and 1929 , the Polish government expropriated many local Germans who were not granted Polish citizenship under Article 297 b) of the Versailles Treaty . From 1925 onwards, an agrarian reform law resulted in many German-speaking farmers - including those to whom the Prussian state had sold arable land - had to forcibly sell their land.

Warthegau in the Third Reich

After the attack on Poland, Nazi Germany annexed the Posen Voivodeship, in violation of international law, and formed the Reichsgau Wartheland with Posen as its capital , somewhat similar to the former province, but with the inclusion of other Polish areas . The area around Bromberg was added to the Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia .

After the Second World War

In 1945 the entire area of ​​the former province of Posen was returned to Poland and the German minority was expelled. After the territorial reform in 1999, it is now largely identical to the Greater Poland Voivodeship . However, some circles of the former province are among the provinces Kujawy and Lebus .

Administrative division 1914

Administrative division of the Poznan Province
  • Poznan Governorate
  • Bromberg administrative district
  • When the administration was divided up after 1815, 17 districts were formed in the Posen district and 9 districts in the Bromberg district. Then there was the city of Poznan and - in 1875 - the city of Bromberg. By law of June 6, 1887, 11 districts were divided into two new ones each and the two new districts Znin and Jarotschin were formed by separating areas from a further 6, otherwise existing districts. In 1914 the town of Schneidemühl left the Kolmar district. The following list shows the administrative structure otherwise unchanged from 1887 to 1919 in 40 rural and 3 urban districts.

    Poznan Governorate

    Bromberg administrative district

    Chief President

    State governors (state directors)

    1885–1893: Arthur von Posadowsky-Wehner
    1893–1911: Sigismund von Dziembowski
    1911–1919: Ernst von Heyking
    from 1919: State Director of Brandenburg in Berlin (provisional)

    Demographic statistics

    The language situation in the individual districts of the Posen Province according to the 1910 census:
  • German speakers
  • Polish speakers
  • Other languages
  • Around 1900 the province had almost 1.9 million inhabitants (901,853 male, 985,422 female). According to the creed, 1,280,172 were Catholics, 569,564 Protestants, 2,135 other Christians and 35,327 Israelites. According to nationality, 1,882,090 were Reich citizens, 5,184 Reich foreigners and 1 other. According to the mother tongue, 718,000 were Germans, the rest were Poles , Masurians and Kashubians .

    Population development
    year 1816 1819 1831 1861 1871 1880 1890 1900 1910
    Residents   820.176 883.972 1,040,712 1,467,604 1,583,843 1,703,397 1,751,642 1,887,275 2,099,831
    Share in Prussia ? 8.0% (1817) ? ? 6.4% 6.2% 5.8% 5.5% 5.2%
    Ew./km² 28 30th 36 51 55 59 60 65 72
    Proportions of denominations
    year 1871 1890 1910
    Catholics 63.7% 66.5% 67.7%
    Protestant 32.3% 30.9% 30.8%
    Jews  3.9% 2.5% 1.3%
    Share of Polish speakers
    year 1819 1831 1861 1890 1910
    official statistics ¹ 76.9% 58.3% 54.6% 60.1% 61.5%
    Estimate (Leszek Belzyt) ./. 71.5% 66.7% 62.4% 63.5%
    1) including the bilingual group
    1910 census population German Poland Bilingual
    Poznan Province 2,099,831 806.720 38.4% 1,278,890 60.9% 11,796 0.6%
    Bromberg administrative district 762.947 379,488 49.7% 378.831 49.7% 4,929 0.6%
    Bydgoszcz city 57,696 46,720 81.0% 9,350 16.2% 1,546 2.7%
    Bromberg country 96,473 58,783 60.9% 37,049 38.4% 590 0.6%
    Czarnikau 42,287 30,016 71.0% 12,027 28.4% 176 0.4%
    Filehne 33,653 23,504 69.8% 9,918 29.5% 216 0.6%
    Gniezno 56,250 21,461 38.2% 34,643 61.6% 129 0.2%
    Hohensalza 77.294 28,394 36.7% 48,599 62.9% 258 0.3%
    Kolmar in Poznan 76.020 61,600 81.0% 13,957 18.4% 422 0.6%
    Mogilno 49,253 14,274 29.0% 34,659 70.4% 192 0.4%
    Schubin 48,304 21,035 43.5% 26,799 55.5% 403 0.8%
    Strelno 37,620 7,437 19.8% 30.109 80.0% 67 0.2%
    We are seated 67.219 34,235 50.9% 32,446 48.3% 494 0.7%
    Witkowo 29.094 4,814 16.5% 24.164 83.1% 91 0.3%
    Wongrowitz 52,574 16.309 31.0% 35,955 68.4% 212 0.4%
    Tin 40.210 10,906 27.1% 29,156 72.5% 133 0.3%
    Poznan Governorate 1,335,884 427.232 32.0% 900.059 67.4% 6,867 0.5%
    Adelnau 36,306 4,681 12.9% 31,537 86.9% 87 0.2%
    pear tree 28,887 14,069 48.7% 14,513 50.2% 264 0.9%
    Bomb 63.120 30,980 49.1% 31,794 50.4% 214 0.3%
    Woman city 28,914 19,663 68.0% 8,902 30.8% 332 1.1%
    Gostyn 48,326 6,528 13.5% 41,720 86.3% 70 0.1%
    Grätz 36,483 5,997 16.4% 30,280 83.0% 191 0.5%
    Jarotschin 51,626 9,236 17.9% 42,168 81.7% 197 0.4%
    Kempen 37,050 5,933 16.0% 30,697 82.9% 236 0.6%
    Koschmin 33,519 5,719 17.1% 27,685 82.6% 58 0.2%
    costs 47,325 5,149 10.9% 42.091 88.9% 50 0.1%
    Krotoschin 46,874 15,822 33.8% 30,709 65.5% 324 0.7%
    Lissa 44,579 27,451 61.6% 16,659 37.4% 426 1.0%
    Meseritz 53,306 41,059 77.0% 12.207 22.9% 0 0.0%
    Neuto Mischel 34,292 15,700 45.8% 18,481 53.9% 109 0.3%
    Obornik 55,880 22,450 40.2% 33,139 59.3% 245 0.4%
    Ostrowo 43,887 9,713 22.1% 33,970 77.4% 165 0.4%
    Splash 37,362 6,200 16.6% 30,965 82.9% 128 0.3%
    Poznan city 156.691 65,319 41.7% 89,351 57.0% 1.311 0.8%
    Poznan W. 43,129 7,374 17.1% 35,474 82.3% 236 0.5%
    Poznan O. 49.119 14,102 28.7% 34,795 70.8% 174 0.4%
    Rawitsch 50,523 21,253 42.1% 29,150 57.7% 92 0.2%
    Velvet 66,856 17,071 25.5% 49,589 74.2% 143 0.2%
    Schildberg 37,290 5,470 14.7% 31,100 83.4% 718 1.9%
    Schmiegel 36,383 6,626 18.2% 29,544 81.2% 207 0.6%
    Schrimm 57,483 10,017 17.4% 47,088 81.9% 366 0.6%
    Schroda 49.176 6,201 12.6% 42,870 87.2% 92 0.2%
    Schwerin a. W. 21,620 19,729 91.3% 1,722 8.0% 142 0.7%
    Wreschen 39,878 7,720 19.4% 31,859 79.9% 290 0.7%

    See also


    • Bibliography East Central Europe (Herder Institute Marburg)
    • Helmut Neubach : Contributions to a biographical lexicon of Germans from the region of the province of Posen. Based on the “Posen Biographies” published by Joachim Heinrich Balde in the magazine “Der Kulturwart” from 1978–1998. Martin Opitz Library , Herne 2003, ISBN 3-923371-26-8 .
    • Manfred Raether: Poland's German Past. Schöneck 2004, ISBN 3-00-012451-9 . (Updated new edition as an e-book).
    • Martin Sprungala: The history of the Poznan districts and independent cities. Bad Bevensen 2007.
    • Martin Sprungala: Historical Directory of the Province of Poznan and the Poznań Voivodeship (Poznan). Bad Bevensen 2007.
    • Friedrich August Vossberg (ed.): Book of arms of the cities of the Grand Duchy of Posen . JA Stargardt, Berlin 1866 ( e-copy )
    • Bernhard Breslauer: The emigration of the Jews from the province of Posen. Memorandum on behalf of the Association of German Jews. Berthold Levy, Berlin 1909. (With statistical appendix.) Online (PDF; 1.6 MB)
    • Paul Krische and Carl Riemann: The Province of Posen. Their history and culture with special attention to their agriculture . Weicke, Stassfurt 1907 [reprint: Melchior, Wolfenbüttel 2011, ISBN 978-3-942562-64-5 ].
    • Heinrich Wuttke : City book of the country Posen. Codex diplomaticus: General history of the cities in the region of Poznan. Historical news from 149 individual cities . Leipzig 1864 ( e-copy ).
    • Georg Hassel Complete and most recent description of the earth of the Prussian monarchy and the Free State of Krakow . Weimar 1819, pp. 598-630.
    • Communications on the Grand Duchy of Poznan . In: Prussian provincial sheets . Volume 17, Königsberg 1837, pp. 455-469 and pp. 537-550 , Volume 18, Königsberg 1837, pp. 73-86 and pp. 166 ff.
    • A. Bäck: The province or the Grand Duchy of Poznan in geographical, statistical and topographical relation. According to the latest, mostly official news . Berlin, Posen and Bromberg 1847 ( e-copy ),
    • Johann Gottfried Hoffmann : The population of the Prussian state according to the results of the news officially recorded at the end of 1837 , Berlin 1839 ( e-copy ).
    • Royal Statistical Bureau: The municipalities and manor districts of the Prussian state and their population. Edited and compiled from the original materials of the general census of December 1, 1871. Part IV: The Province of Posen , Berlin 1874 ( e-copy ).
    • ACA Friedrich: Historical-geographical representation of old and new Poland . Berlin 1839, pp. 558-593.

    Web links

    Individual evidence

    1. a b Prussian Provinces 1910
    2. ^ Johann Gottfried Hoffmann : The population of the Prussian state according to the results of the news officially recorded at the end of 1837 , Berlin 1839, p. 2 ( online ).
    3. ^ Bernhard Breslauer: The emigration of the Jews from the province of Posen. Association of German Jews, Berlin 1909, esp. P. 3 (PDF; 1.7 MB); not Yiddish , see Jechiel Bin-Nun: Yiddish and the German dialects. Niemeyer, Tübingen 1973, ISBN 3-484-10170-9 , p. 86 f.
    4. Preuss. GS. 1887 pp. 197-207
    5. a b c d e f g h A more or less large part of the district area remained in 1920 within the newly formed border region Posen-West Prussia with the German Empire.
    6. ^ According to territorial.de
    7. Brockhaus Enzyklopädie , 14th edition (1903), 13th volume, p. 310.
    8. For 1816:?; for 1831, 1861, 1890: Leszek Belzyt : Linguistic minorities in the Prussian state 1815–1914. Marburg 1998, p. 17; for 1871, 1880, 1900, 1910:
    9. a b Georg Hassel : Statistical outline of the entire European and the most distinguished non-European states, with regard to their development, size, population, financial and military constitution, presented in tabular form; First issue: Which represents the two great powers Austria and Prussia and the German Confederation; National Diversity 1819: Poland - 680,100; Germans - 155,000; Jews - 48,700 ; Verlag des Geographisches Institut Weimar (1823), p. 43
    10. Michael Rademacher: German administrative history from the unification of the empire in 1871 to the reunification in 1990. Prussian province of Posen until 1922. (Online material for the dissertation, Osnabrück 2006).
    11. Leszek Belzyt: Linguistic minorities in the Prussian state from 1815 to 1914 . Marburg 1998, p. 17 f. ISBN 3-87969-267-X
    12. Dietrich Schäfer: Language map of the German east brands. Designed by Dietrich Schäfer . Publisher by Karl Curtius ( bibliotekacyfrowa.pl [accessed on March 13, 2017]).