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Guide to Prussia - Westpreußen ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.

Welcome to the Westpreußen page!

FamilySearch Wiki is a community website dedicated to helping people throughout the world learn how to find their ancestors. Through the Westpreußen page you can learn how to find, use, and analyze records of genealogical value. The content is variously targeted to beginners, intermediate, and expert researchers. Please visit the help page to learn more about using the site. The Westpreußen Portal Page is a work in progress, your contributions and feedback are essential!

Getting Started with Westpreußen Research

Conducting research in an area of the world where neither the government nor peoples of that former land remain can be challenging. The following articles are provided to assist you in conducting more effective searches:

Free Tools, Techniques & Guides to Help conduct Prussian/German Research

Background

In the Middle Ages, the geographic area of Provinz Westpreußen (German: Westpreußen; Kashubian: Zôpadné Prësë; Polish: Prusy Zachodnie) was inhabited by Slavic and Baltic tribes: by Pomeranians in Pomerelia west to Vistula river, by Old Prussians and later Masovians in Kulmerland, and by 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.

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 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 (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 (Rzeczpospolita) by the 1569 Union of Lublin.

The Provinz of Westpreußen was established in 1773 when the First Polish Republic was divided between Prussia, Russia and Austro-Hungarian Empires. Proviz Westpreußen was divided in 1806 by Napoleon, and restored in 1815. In  1919 the Treaty of Versailles granted most of Westpreußen to the Second Polish Republic. This action created the "Polish Corridor" and granted Poland access to the Baltic Sea. Westpreußen was disestablished in 1922.

During the long period of German administration and settlement, most civil records and many church records used for researching family history were written in the German language. A notable exception was Catholic church records, which were kept in the Latin language.

Jurisdictions of Westpreußen (West Prussia)

In 1900 Westpreußen (West Prussia) was divided into two Regierungsbezirke, namely Danzig and Marienwerder:

Regierungsbezirke of Westpreußen 1900 - 1910
Regierungsbezirk Communities Area in square kilometers Population
     Year 1900 1910 1900 1910 1900 1910
Danzig 1,165 1,132 7,956.93 7,958.76 665,992 742,619
Marienwerder 2,197 2,133 17,577.97 17,595.88 897,666 960,855
Total for Westpreußen 3,362 3,265 25,534.9 25,554.64 1,563,658 1,703474

In February 1920, following its defeat in WW1, Germany was required by the League of Nations to cede the central portion of West Prussia to allow for the creation of the Polish Corridor and the Free City of Danzig (Freie Staat Danzig); the remaining portions of West Prussia remained within the German Weimar Republic and either became the new Posen-West Prussia or were joined with the Province of East Prussia as Regierungsbezirk West Prussia (Westpreußen).

Following the ascent of Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich, the territory was reincorporated into the Deutsches Reich within Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia (1939). Following the WW2 defeat of Germany (1945), the region was ceded to Poland and its ethnic German populations were forcibly expelled from the region. 

Westpreußische Kreise (Districts/ Counties)

It is important to note that none of the former German West Prussian Kreise (Districts/ Counties) exist in today's Poland.  Today's post-WW2 governmental jurisdictions/ regions are uniquely Polish and are not reflective of any previous German governmental organizations or jurisdictions.

The 1920 governmental jurisdictions are listed below.

Note: the Polish place names apply, most appropriately, to post-WW2 genealogical research of the region; it is best, most prudent, to use German place names for any pre-1945 research.

Research Tools

Population

Population Province West Prussia

  • 1,343,057 (1875)
  • 1,405,898 (1880)
  • 1,433,681 (1890), of which 681 195 Protestant, Catholics 717,532, 13,158 other Christians, 21,750 Jews
  • 1,563,658 (1900), of which 730 685 Protestant, Catholics 800,395, 14,308 other Christians, 18,226 Jews

Native speaker of the population in 1900:

  • German: 1,007,400 (64.4%)
  • Kassubisch: 99 357 (6.4%)
  • Polish: 437 916 (28.0%)
  • Bilingual German and Kassubisch: 1,349 (0.1%)
  • Bilingual German and Polish: 16,130 (1.0%)

Population Province Posen-West Prussia

  • 332 485 (1925)
  • 337 578 (1933)

Official Statistics for 1905

Kreis Polish Name Population 1905 Polish, Kasubian in Percent German in Percent
Regierungsbezirk Danzig
Elbing-Stadt Elbląg 55627 175 0,31 55328 99,46
Elbing-Land Elbląg 38871 105 0,27 38737 99,66
Marienburg Malbork 63110 1705 2,70 61044 96,73
Danzig-Stadt Gdańsk 160090 3065 1,91 154629 96,59
Danzig-Niederung Gdańsk 36519 178 0,49 36286 99,36
Danziger Höhe Gdańsk 50148 5703 11,73 44113 87,97
Dirschau Tczew 40856 15144 37,07 25466 62,33
Pr. Stargard Starogard Gdański 62465 44809 71,73 17425 27,90
Berent Kościerzyna 53726 29898 55,65 23515 43,77
Karthaus Kartuzy 66612 46281 69,48 20203 30,33
Neustadt Wejherowo 55587 27358 49,22 27048 48,66
Putzig Puck 25701 17906 69,67 7629 29,68
Regierungsbezirk Marienwerder
Stuhm Sztum 36559 13473 36,85 22550 61,68
Marienwerder Kwidzyn 68096 24541 36,04 42699 62,70
Rosenberg Susz 53293 3465 6,50 49304 92,51
Löbau Lubawa 57285 45510 79,44 11368 19,84
Strasburg Brodnica 59927 38507 64,26 21008 35,06
Briesen Wąbrzeźno 47542 25415 53,46 21688 45,62
Thorn-Stadt Toruń 43658 13988 32,04 29230 66,59
Thorn-Land Toruń 58765 30833 52,47 27508 46,81
Kulm Chełmno 49521 25659 51,89 23521 47,50
Graudenz-Stadt Grudziądz 39953 4421 11,07 30709 76,86
Graudenz-Land Grudziądz 46509 19331 41,56 26888 57,81
Schwetz Świecie 87151 47779 54,82 39276 45,07
Tuchel Tuchola 30803 20540 66,68 9925 32,22
Konitz Chojnice 59694 32704 54,79 26581 44,50
Schlochau Człuchów 66317 10180 15,35 55981 84,41
Flatow Złotów 67783 18002 26,56 49167 72,54
Deutsch Krone Wałcz 63706 653 1,03 62977 98,86

Administrative structure province of West Prussia (before 1920)

Regierungsbezirk Danzig

  • Berent (Landkreis)
  • Danzig (Stadtkreis)
  • Danziger Niederung (Landkreis)
  • Danziger Höhe (Landkreis)
  • Dirschau (Landkreis)
  • Elbing (Stadt- und Landkreis)
  • Karthaus (Landkreis)
  • Marienburg i. Westpreußen
  • Neustadt i. Westpreußen (Landkreis)
  • Preußisch Stargard (Landkreis)
  • Putzig (Landkreis)

Regierungsbezirk Marienwerder

  • Briesen (Landkreis)
  • Culm (Landkreis)
  • Deutsch Krone (Landkreis)
  • Flatow (Landkreis)
  • Graudenz (Stadt- und Landkreis)
  • Konitz (Landkreis)
  • Löbau (Landkreis)
  • Marienwerder (Landkreis)
  • Rosenberg i. Westpreußen (Landkreis)
  • Schlochau (Landkreis)
  • Schwetz (Landkreis)
  • Strasburg i. Westpreußen (Landkreis)
  • Stuhm (Landkreis)
  • Thorn (Stadt- und Landkreis)
  • Tuchel (Landkreis)

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  • This page was last modified on 29 June 2015, at 15:38.
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