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History of Pomerania

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The history of Pomerania starts shortly before 1000 AD with ongoing conquests by newly arrived Polans rulers. Before that, the area was recorded nearly 2000 years ago as Germania, and in modern times Pomerania is split between Germany and Poland. Its name comes from the Slavic po more, which means "land at the sea".[1]

Settlement in the area started by the end of the Vistula Glacial Stage, about 13,000 years ago.[2] Archeological traces have been found of various cultures during the Stone and Bronze Age, of Veneti and Germanic peoples during the Iron Age and, in the Middle Ages, Slavic tribes and Vikings.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8] Starting in the 10th century, Piast Poland on several occasions acquired parts of the region from the south-east, while the Holy Roman Empire and Denmark reached the region in augmenting their territory to the west and north.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15]

In the High Middle Ages, the area became Christian and was ruled by local dukes of the House of Pomerania and the Samborides, at various times vassals of Denmark, the Holy Roman Empire and Poland.[16][17][18] From the late 12th century, the Griffin Duchy of Pomerania stayed with the Holy Roman Empire and the Principality of Rügen with Denmark, while Denmark, Brandenburg, Poland and the Teutonic Knights struggled for control in Samboride Pomerelia.[18][19][20] The Teutonic Knights succeeded in annexing Pomerelia to their monastic state in the early 14th century. Meanwhile, the Ostsiedlung started to turn Pomerania into a German-settled area; the remaining Wends, who became known as Slovincians and Kashubians, continued to settle within the rural East.[21][22] In 1325, the line of the princes of Rügen died out, and the principality was inherited by the House of Pomerania,[23] themselves involved in the Brandenburg-Pomeranian conflict about superiority in their often internally divided duchy. In 1466, with the Teutonic Order's defeat, Pomerelia became subject to the Polish Crown as a part of Royal Prussia.[24] While the Duchy of Pomerania adopted the Protestant Reformation in 1534,[25][26][27] as part of the Empire by then termed the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation,[28] Kashubia remained with the Roman Catholic Church. The Thirty Years' and subsequent wars severely ravaged and depopulated most of Pomerania.[29] With the extinction of the Griffin house during the same period, the Duchy of Pomerania was divided between the Swedish Empire and Brandenburg-Prussia in 1648.

Prussia gained the southern parts of Swedish Pomerania in 1720.[30] It gained the remainder of Swedish Pomerania in 1815, when French occupation during the Napoleonic Wars was lifted.[31] The former Brandenburg-Prussian Pomerania and the former Swedish parts were reorganized into the Prussian Province of Pomerania,[32] while Pomerelia in the partitions of Poland was made part of the Province of West Prussia. With Prussia, both provinces joined the newly constituted German Empire in 1871. Following the empire's defeat in World War I, Pomerelia became part of the Second Polish Republic (Polish Corridor) and the Free City of Danzig was created. Germany's Province of Pomerania was expanded in 1938 to include northern parts of the former Province of Posen–West Prussia, and in 1939 the annexed Polish territories became the part of Nazi Germany known as Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia. The Nazis deported the Pomeranian Jews to a reservation near Lublin[33][34][35][36][37][38][39][40][41][42] and mass-murdered Jews, Poles and Kashubians in Pomerania, planning to eventually exterminate Jews and Poles and Germanise the Kashubians.

After Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II, the German–Polish border was shifted west to the Oder–Neisse line and all of Pomerania was placed under Soviet military control.[43][44] The area west of the line became part of East Germany, the other areas part of the People's Republic of Poland even though it did not have a sizeable Polish population. The German population of the areas east of the line was expelled, and the area was resettled primarily with Poles, some of whom were themselves expellees from former eastern Poland) and some Ukrainians who were resettled under Operation Vistula) and Jews.[45][46][47][48][49][50][51][52][53] Most of Western Pomerania (Vorpommern) today forms the eastern part of the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania in Federal Republic of Germany, while the Polish part of the region is divided between West Pomeranian Voivodeship and Pomeranian Voivodeship, with their capitals in Szczecin and Gdańsk, respectively. During the late 1980s, the Solidarność and Die Wende movements overthrew the Communist regimes implemented during the post-war era .[citation needed] Since then, Pomerania has been democratically governed.