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Pomerania (pŏm´ərā´nēə), region of N central Europe, extending along the Baltic Sea from a line W of Stralsund, Germany, to the Vistula River in Poland. From 1919 to 1939, Pomerania was divided among Germany, Poland, and the Free City of Danzig (Gdańsk). The German part constituted the Prussian province of Pomerania (Ger. Pommern; 14,830 sq mi/38,410 sq km), with Stettin (Szczecin) as its capital. The Polish part formed the province of Pomerelia (Ger. Pommerellen, Pol. Pomorze; 6,335 sq mi/16,408 sq km), with Bydgoszcz as its capital. After the Potsdam Conference in 1945, all (c.2,800 sq mi/7,250 sq km) of former Prussian Pomerania W of the Oder (but excluding Stettin) was incorporated into the Soviet-occupied German state of Mecklenburg (see Mecklenburg–West Pomerania); the remaining and much larger part was transferred to Polish administration.

A part of the North European plain, Pomerania is a primarily agricultural lowland, with generally poor, often sandy or marshy soil. It is dotted with numerous lakes and forests and is drained by many rivers, including the Oder, Ina, and Rega. Cereals, sugar beets, and potatoes are the main crops; livestock raising and forestry are important occupations. Industrial products include ships, metal products, refined sugar, and paper. Along the Baltic coast are numerous seaside resorts and fishing villages.


By the 10th cent. AD, when its recorded history began, Pomerania was inhabited by Slavic tribes. It was conquered by Boleslaus I (992–1025) of Poland but became an independent duchy early in the 11th cent. Poland regained control in the 12th cent. and introduced Christianity. The country was split into two principalities. Pomerelia, as E Pomerania came to be known, became independent in 1227, was annexed to Poland in 1294, and was taken in 1308–9 by the Teutonic Knights, who incorporated it into their domain in East Prussia. The histories of Pomerania and Pomerelia after 1308 must be traced separately.

Pomerelia, including Danzig, was formally restored by the Teutonic Knights to Poland at the Treaty of Torun of 1466. Although frequently overrun in the wars of the following three centuries, it remained an integral part of Poland until the first Polish partition (1772), when it passed to Prussia and was constituted into the province of West Prussia. In 1919 part of West Prussia was given to Poland (see Polish Corridor). After the outbreak (1939) of World War II, Germany reannexed the independent state of Danzig and the Pomeranian region of Poland. These areas were returned to Poland in 1945.

Pomerania continued as a duchy of the Holy Roman Empire until the death (1637) of Bogislav XIV, when the region was granted to the elector of Brandenburg. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) gave Hither Pomerania (Vorpommern)—i.e., the western part, with Stettin, Stralsund, and the island of Rügen—to Sweden, while Farther Pomerania (Hinterpommern)—i.e., the eastern part, with Stargard—went to the electorate of Brandenburg (after 1701, the kingdom of Prussia). In 1720, as a result of the Northern War, Sweden lost about half of its part of Pomerania (including Stettin but not Stralsund) to Prussia. In the rest of Swedish Pomerania, the kings of Sweden remained princes of the Holy Roman Empire until the dissolution of the empire in 1806.

Napoleon I overran Swedish Pomerania in the War of the Third Coalition but restored it on making peace with Sweden in 1809. In the Treaty of Kiel (1814), Sweden exchanged Pomerania with Denmark in return for Norway, but at the Congress of Vienna (1815) Denmark ceded its share of Pomerania to Prussia, receiving the duchy of Lauenburg in return. Thus, from 1815 to 1919, all Pomerania and all Pomerelia were in Prussian hands.

Pomerania had by then been thoroughly Germanized; Pomerelia, like the rest of Prussian Poland, was subjected to intense Germanization. After the transfer in 1945 of the larger part of Pomerania to Polish administration, the German-speaking population was largely expelled. The most important cities in the region—Danzig, Stralsund, Stettin, Stargard, Toruń, Chetmno, and Marienburg (Malbork)—were, for a long time, flourishing members of the Hanseatic League; by the 17th cent., however, they had lost the virtual independence they had enjoyed during the greatness of the League.

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POMERANIA , former duchy, subsequently Prussian territory; divided between Poland and Germany since 1945. The earliest references to Jewish settlement in Pomerania date from the 13th century, when (in 1261) Duke Barnim I decreed that the clauses of the Magdeburg *Law concerning the Jews would apply to Stettin (*Szczecin) and the rest of Pomerania. It is recorded that in 1320 the Jews of Templin, Prenzlau, and Pasewalk enjoyed civic equality; indeed, until the *Black Death persecutions (1350) the position of Pomeranian Jewry was relatively favorable. Originally the Jews made their living as traders, later turning to moneylending. Nevertheless, in spite of the privileges of 1481 and a grant of residence to 22 Jewish families, Boguslaw x expelled them in 1492/3. On the other hand, Frederick William, the "Great Elector" (1640–88), extended an invitation to Jewish merchants who had been expelled from Vienna in 1670 to settle in his domains, and by 1682 at least four Jewish families were living in the part of Pomerania that was under Prussian rule. However, numerous complaints against Jewish business practices caused him to threaten Jewish expulsion in 1687/8. By then 15 families had been licensed to reside in Pomerania, the gentry frequently interceding on their behalf. Polish Jewry continued to immigrate to Pomerania in spite of obstructive regulations. In 1706 a rabbi was elected by an assembly of Pomeranian Jewry (46 licensed families), but the king appointed his own nominee to the position.

In the western half of Pomerania, intermittently under Swedish rule, harsher regulations against Jews were in force. From 1728, however, all laws of Prussia applied to the Jews of Pomerania, who at that time totaled about 325 persons. During that period the Jews were mainly engaged in the wool, wheat, and amber trades, and in peddling.

The communities grew after 1812 (c. 1,700 Jews) until 1880 (13,886), after which date they began to decline. In 1932 there were 7,760 Jews (0.4% of the total population) in 50 communities, 28% of whom lived in the modern industrial city of Stettin. During World War ii the majority of Pomeranian Jews were deported and annihilated. After the war a community was renewed in Stettin.


H. Loewe, in: Zeitschrift fuer Demographie und Statistik der Juden, 7 (1911), 146–9; L. Hiller et al., in: Der Jugendbund (Jan. 1931), 1–3; Fuehrer durch die juedische Gemeindeverwaltung und Wohlfahrtspflege in Deutschland (1932/33), 69–81; U. Grotefend, Geschichte und rechtliche Stellung der Juden in Pommern von den Anfaengen bis zum Tode Friedrich des Grossen (1931); B. Brilling, in: Gemeindeblatt der Synagogen Gemeinde zu Stettin (1932), no. 9; ajyb, 63 (1962), 376–7; Germania Judaica, 2 (1968), 658; S. Stern, Der preussische Staat und die Juden (1962), 1 Akten, 125–48, 385–414, 536; 2 Akten, 713–804. add. bibliography: Der faschistische Pogrom vom 9./10. November 1938 – zur Geschichte der Juden in Pommern (1989); L. Baecker, Juden in Schwedisch-Vorpommern, Neuvorpommern von 1648–1871 (1993); W. Wilhelmus, Juden in Vorpommern (Reihe Geschichte Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, vol. 8) (1996); idem (ed.), Flucht oder Tod. Erinnerungen und Briefe pommerischer Juden ueber die Zeit vor und nach 1945 (2001); J. Sziling (ed.), Neighborhood Dilemmas. The Poles, the Germans, and the Jews in Pomerania along the Vistula River in the 19th and 20th Century (2002); W. Wilhelmus, Geschichte der Juden in Pommern (2004).

[Henry Wasserman]

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