The province of Pomerania ('Pommern')
in the former free state of Prussia ('Preußen')
Between 1815 and 1945 Pomerania ('Pommern') was a province in the former kingdom (until 1918) and free state of Prussia. The head of the province of Pomerania was the socalled Oberpräsident ('super president'). He had his seat in the pomeranian capital Stettin
In 1939 the province of Pomerania covered an area of 39,197 square-kilometres and in today's Germany it would be the third largest federal state. At the beginning of the 1930ies in Pomerania (in the borders of 1939, see provincial map) contained 93 cities (urban communities, 'Stadt'), 2854 rural communities ('Landgemeinde') and 34 real estate areas ('Gutsbezirk'). The latter being mostly unpopulated. The population lived in 1925 in 10,267 towns ('Wohnort') and there in total in 233,984 residential buildings.
Population of Pomerania
In 1925 the province of Pomerania (borders of 1939) had a population of 2,221,893 inhabitants (in average 9.5 per house). Of the inhabitants the gender of 1,083,203 was male (48.8 %) and of 1,138,690 female (51.2 %). This population lived in 539,114 households (4.1 inhabitants per household or 2.3 households per house). The population density was as low as 56.7 inhabitants per square-kilometre.
The confession of the vast majority of the Pomeranian population was evangelical as the result of the reformation in the year 1534. In the centre of Pomerania many rural communities were totally or nearly totally evangelical. In all of Pomerania 2,014,536 inhabitants (90.7 %) belonged to the united Lutheran-Reformed national church. Further protestantes were the 27,946 members of the free churches (1.3 %), especially the (Old)Lutherans. The second large Christian group were the Catholics with 149,224 church members (6.7 %). Especially in the eastern and south-eastern parts of Farther Pomerania ('Hinterpommern') there was a significant part of the population Catholic for a long time. In contrast, in northern Hither Pomerania ('Vorpommern') there was a certain number of Catholic farm hands that moved in not long time ago. Also recently immigrated was the small group of 2599 orthodox Christs (0.1 %). A further large religious community were in 1925 the 11,077 Jews (0.5 %), who were spread over all of Pomerania. At last, 9015 inhabitants belonged to other, not mentioned religions and 7496 inhabitants had no faith at all.
Administration of Pomerania
The socalled Oberpräsidium (executive super committee) and the other authorities of the provincial administration of Pomerania were located in Stettin. Furthermore there were four governments in the province of Pomerania - in Stettin (1815-1945), in Köslin (1815-1945), in Stralsund (1818-1932), and in Schneidemühl (1938-1945). Each one was headed by a socalled Regierungspräsident (government president). The government district of Stralsund was closed in 1932 and its counties united with the government district of Stettin. The government district Grenzmark Posen-Westpreußen with the seat in Schneidemühl was created in October 1938 following the closure of the province Grenzmark Posen-Westpreußen. It contained four rural and one urban county of the latter, two counties of the Neumark (formerly in the province of Brandenburg) and two counties of old Pomerania. After this extension in 1938 the outer borders of the province of Pomerania remained unchanged until 1945.
On an intermediate administrational level the province was devided in the beginning of 1939 into 32 rural counties ('Landkreis') und 8 county-free cities (urban counties, 'Stadtkreis') - (see the map). Before, in 1932 the rural counties of Bublitz and Schivelbein were closed (not on the map anymore) and mainly joined to the rural counties of Köslin and Belgard respectively. Afterwards, the last major change in the inner borders was the closure of the rural county Randow in Oktober 1939 (still on the map). Many communities (and also the cities of Altdamm and Pölitz) were joined to the city of Stettin and the remaining communities to the surrounding rural counties. The year 1945 was the biggest caesura in the Pomeranian history ever - the province of Pomerania ceased to exist. The German population of farther Pomerania ('Hinterpommern') - the area east of the river Oder - fled from the communist armies or those who remained there were expelled immediately or during the following years as one consequence of lost World War II that Germany had started. Hinterpommern and the city of Stettin came first under polish administration and since the treaties of 1992 it is now legal part of the Polish state. Hither Pomerania ('Vorpommern') - the part west of the river Oder (except Stettin) - is today a part of the German federal state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
County division of the province of Pomerania in early 1939
The rural counties in Pomerania in 1939:
- Belgard (Persante)
- Cammin i. Pom.
- Deutsch Krone
- Friedeberg Nm.
- Greifenberg i. Pom.
- Lauenburg i. Pom.
- Rummelsburg i. Pom.
- Schlawe i. Pom.
The urban counties in the province of Pomerania in 1939:
- Stargard i. Pom.
Genealogy in Pomerania
The research for ancestors (genealogy) in Pomerania has three major sources. At first (1) these are the files in private hands (not necessarily the own ones) in Germany and worldwide that survived world war II. This includes especially family books, ancestral charts or in general resources transscribed during the genealogy pushed Nazi-time as well as old photographies. Furthermore the knowledge of living relatives and other reseachers. In regard to this (2) published old books and journals are publically available. These cover printed original resources, official or half-official publications, chronicals as well as composed genealogies. Mainly in Germany these books and papers are accessible in several public libaries or via interlibrary loan. However, some prints are due to the war only preserved once. Worldwide these books are sometimes hard to get ahold but the electronic libraries in Poland and Germany emerge and gain importance. In contrast to the prints the (3) unprinted archive records in public hands are only accessible at the site of deposition. The prominent resources are church books, civil registry records, citizen directories, guild records, land and ground registers, and court records like testaments. Today these records are stored in public archives in Pomerania itself (Germany and Poland) or in Berlin. Only a small portion of it has been filmed by the Mormones and are accessible worldwide in their family history centers.
Pommernkontakte - the researchers directory of Pomeranian genealogy
To explore who else has information on the own ancestors or families of interest a site is necessary that documents this extensively. The project Pommernkontakte
, that exists since 2001, is this publicly and freely accessible directory of pomeranian genealogists. Into Pommernkontakte
already 12072 researchers in Pomerania submitted their information. Due to this they can be found by others. They could get new contacts, exchange specific information and find close or distant relatives worldwide. The submitted surnames are listed on these pages of the particular towns. The 34,385 total records are from 2758 of the 2947 communities (94 %) in the province of Pomerania.
The benefit of this gratis project increases as more researcher participate actively in it. Therefore all researchers with ancestors in Pomerania are called to sign up to Pommerkontakte
and submit records for their families in Pomerania. In regard to the members number the project is today one of the large ones - in Germany probably the largest - although it only covers the former province of Pomerania.
Pommern-L mailing list ('distribution list')
An electronic mailing list allows to put specific questions to at the beginning still unknown genealogists in the same area and to get research hints, to share information or to just benefit from the knowledge and experiences of other researchers. The mailing list Pommern-L
deals with genealogy and history of Pomerania
and offers all researchers in Pommern a board. The membership is totally free. After subscription to Pommern-L
one can read the new messages and write there, but even reading the sent and archived messages might be very helpful too.
Address books of Pomerania
A typical question of genealogists is where certain individuals or families lived or how often a surname occurs and where it is spread. There were several census' in Pomerania (last one in 1939) but only statistical data were published and the poll sheets with family information were discarded. However, published address books (directories) can answer some of these questions. If these directories are digitized and retrievable in a database they can replace the missing census in part.
With the project address book Pomerania
such a database exists and it is still growing. Today it contains 1,434,054 records from the years 1829 to 1942 out of 144 different pomeranian directories. Though, the completeness varies a lot between the counties, because the directories appeared not systematically and not for all rural counties. For the largest pomeranian cities the directories started in the 19th century, partially even in the middle of it, and were published frequently until the end of the 1930ies. In contrast, directories of the rural counties started only in the middle of the 1920ies and some counties have quite a few and others have none. To fill the gaps estate or business directories (yello pages) or telephone directories can be used, but they only contain parts of the population. As a result of all used directories for Pommern
the data are from 2843 of 2947 communities (96 %) in the province of Pomerania. For many towns the known family names out of the directories are all listed on these webpages. For the larger cities only a part is listed due to the huge number of records there.
Church books and civil registry registers of Pomerania
Church books and civil registry registers are the most important resources for pomeranian genealogists. Before world war II there were a few more than 738 evangelic and 80 catholic parishs as well as 858 civil registry offices in Pomerania. These keep all their records locally. That's why these resources in Farther Pomerania suffered a lot by the consequences of WWII and not only a small number was destroyed or is still missing today. The remaining church and civil registry books from Farther Pomerania were gathered but spread over many archives in Poland and Germany. In contrast, the church and civil registry books in Hither Pomerania are still located at site and are in process to be filmed (for preservation) yet. Unfortunately there is no public directory or printed book that lists the preserved records of this kind for Pomerania.
Therefore we will attempt to list the preserved church books and civil registry records on the webpages of the single pomeranian towns here as known. These information do not claim to be complete and are not complete for sure (but it should be kept in mind that a lot is destroyed definitely). Some information are not up to date too. However if a book or timeframe is listed there it is very likely that it is preserved, even if it is located elsewhere now. It shall be regarded as a first lead.
- Gemeindelexikon für den Freistaat Preußen. Provinz Pommern. Nach dem endgültigen Ergebnis der Volkszählung vom 16. Juni 1925 und anderen amtlichen Quellen unter Zugrundelegung des Gebietsstandes vom 1. Oktober 1932. Berlin: Preußisches Statistisches Landesamt, 1932.
- Gemeindelexikon für den Freistaat Preußen. Provinz Brandenburg. Nach dem endgültigen Ergebnis der Volkszählung vom 16. Juni 1925 und anderen amtlichen Quellen unter Zugrundelegung des Gebietsstandes vom 1. Juni 1932. Berlin: Preußisches Statistisches Landesamt, 1932.
- Gemeindelexikon für den Freistaat Preußen. Provinz Grenzmark Posen-Westpreußen. Nach dem endgültigen Ergebnis der Volkszählung vom 16. Juni 1925 und anderen amtlichen Quellen unter Zugrundelegung des Gebietsstandes vom 1. Dezember 1930. Berlin: Preußisches Statistisches Landesamt, 1930.