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Historical Demography of Pomerania

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Historical Demography of Pomerania

Pomerania has experienced several transitions not only of culture and administration, but also of its population.

The first historically noted major change occurred in the midst of the first millennium, when large parts of the indigenous population left Pomerania as Germanic Goths and Rugians to write history in the Roman Empire. Earlier West Baltic Prussian tribes, who lived west of the Vistula river and had moved to east of the river, when Goths and Gotones took over, moved back to their old settlements west of the Vistula and by 997 AD a large number of Prussians were baptized by Adalbert of Prague in the Vistula Delta in territory known as Gothiscandza, which is reflected in the name of the later city of Danzig /Gdansk. By that time Slavs had moved up north and the territory became known as Pomerania by 1046 AD. They settled and spread their culture, shifting Pomerania from Germanic to Slavic, who were part of the Frankish Empire of Charlemagne and Louis and later Holy Roman Empire under Saxon and Hohenstaufen emperors.[1] The Slavs diverged into several small tribes referred to as Baltic Coast Wends.

The second major transition of most of the Pomeranian tribes was from Slavic to German in the 13th century. At the end of the first millennium, Christian Piast Poland incorporated whole of Pomerania into its state. Afterwards, in the beginning of the second millennium, Denmark and the German Holy Roman Empire started to incorporate pagan Pomeranian territories into their expanding feudal states. After all Slavic Pomeranian tribes had lost their independence in late 12th century, local dukes called in German settlers to resettle areas devastated in the wars, to populate and cultivate formerly uninhabitable areas, mostly consisting of large woodlands separating former Slavic dwellings, to found cities and—as the result of and the reason for all of this—pay plenty of taxes. In the course of the 13th and 14th century, the Duchy of Pomerania became populated by Germans and only diminishing number Slavs were left not assimilated. Where Slavic population was left, they were called Wends, Kashubians or Slovincians to distinguish them from the German Pomeranians. Whereas through later history the Kashubs were only minority in the Eastern Duchy of Pomerania, their numbers were notably higher in Pomerelia as well as the numbers of Germans were significantly lower there either. Pomerenian history was, from that time, closely tied to the history of Germany, Denmark and Sweden, whereas Pomerelian history was also until 1308 and between 1466 and 1772 closely tied to Poland.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Thirty Years' War and the Nordic Wars had a severe impact on all of Germany including the Pomeranian population. More than half died, lots of villages were completely wiped out. After this enormous population drop, new settlers were called in from less devastated German territories. Yet, not all villages were repopulated, so today's density of communities is not as high as back in the Middle Ages.

The third major change of Pomeranian population happened in the course of World War II and its aftermath. In Nazi Germany, Jews and many members of the Polish minority were murdered. Due to the advance of the Red Army and the territorial changes after the war, nearly all Germans populating post-war Poland that survived the war and failed to evacuate in 1945 were expelled to post-war Germany 1945-1947. The major, now Polish part of Pomerania was resettled mostly with Poles, in part expellees from the former eastern territories of Poland annexed by the Soviet Union.

References

de:Geschichte Pommerns
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