Possen, Prussia

+7 votes
I have a handful of ancestors born in Possen, Prussia during the 1840's to 1850's. Which seems to be a pre-Germany state in what was before the kingdom of Poland and is now Poland. For these people is it proper to add both the Polish and German roots flags?

What about other areas like Pomerania? Is there a guide or is it just each wikitreer's best judgement to their knowledge for each?

How do the projects deal with the changing boundaries?
in Policy and Style by Allison Schaub G2G6 Mach 1 (15.2k points)
Some inhabitants of the region were more German, others more Polish, in terms of language and culture. Germans tended to be Protestant, Poles usually Catholic (but there were exceptions, and even mixed-faith marriages). See what your evidence suggests.
Hi Alison, are you sure it is "Possen" and not "Posen"?

4 Answers

+8 votes
Best answer
It depends a lot on whether you look at the "roots" as an ethnic category or as a geographical one. Geographically, apart from being now in the modern country Poland it also was one of the core regions of the Kingdom of Poland from the early middle ages until the 18th century. Its northern part was annexed by Prussia in 1772 and the rest in 1793. It remained Prussian except for 1807 - 1815 until 1920. Given that history it certainly makes sense to talk about Polish roots in the geographical sense.

Ethnically it looks a bit different: German settlements, particularly in the western part, started in the 13th century and resulted in a German majority in that part with a Polish majority in the eastern regions. Cities also were predominantly German majority. In as much as "Polish Roots" is a subproject of "Slavic Roots" with "Slavic" having heavy ethnic connotations and really no geographic ones it seems off the mark to give Germans from these areas "Slavic roots". I see it parallel to the question whether Wolga Germans had Russian roots or German roots.
by Helmut Jungschaffer G2G6 Pilot (553k points)
selected by Anonymous Burnett
Thanks. It's a bit difficult for me to judge for some lines so I had wondered if there were any guideline. It's easy with my dad's side to know his Robaskiewicz line is Polish Catholics, however my mom's side has some ancestors from Posen I wasn't sure about. Her family considers themselves German, and has many German branches, but there's a United Methodist branch from Posen Prussia that got me a bit confused.
It is my experience with Czech and German names that you cannot always go by them: I have family branches with Czech names listed in the censuses as German and German names as Czech. And then 13% of the population in Germany today has Slavic names.
So the question "German or Polish" was't always so heavy. The number of mixed marriages shows that there wasn*'t an deadline between both nationalities. In the 19th century the school language and the language of the majority inuenced the language of people und changed it sometimes.. But the konfessions were also an influance.

Well said Helmut. I particularly like your first line "It depends a lot on whether you look at the "roots" as an ethnic category or as a geographical one."

I can certainly agree with your comment. While some of my family, especially the protestants clearly only married other German names, others did not especially as one moves further east. My mothers maiden name was clearly germanized and its spelling changed several times going back to the 1600s between polish and the german version.
+9 votes
I have ancestors from Pomerania.  I consider them German for they spoke the German language and they considered themselves German.  

On the United States Federal Census for the first half of the 20th century, they asked what language did you speak.  My ancestors were noted as speaking German and being from Germany.  I am adding the German roots flag to their pages.
by Michelle Enke G2G6 Pilot (337k points)
+4 votes

See Category: Posen, Preußen, which is the German Category for this area.  

They were Prussian between 1815 and 1920.  

by G. Moore G2G6 Mach 3 (35.6k points)
+3 votes

Hello, Alison, @ Possen: there is only al village called Possen in Thuringia. So it must be the province Posen, 1815-1919 a province of Prussia (after 1871 part German Reich "Deutsches Reich").

In most regions of this Province polish inhabitants were in majority, in some regions the German inhabitants.

In the "Regierungsbezirk" Posen 33% were Germans, in the Regierungsbezirk Bromberg 49 % were Germans (in 1900).

Germans dominated most cities, polish people lived more in villages.

source: www.deutsche-schutzgebiete.de/wordpress/Projekte/kaiserreich/koenigreich-preussen/provinz-posen

So the konfession is one tip (polish=katholic about 70-80%; protestant=german ca. 90%)

the other tip is the family name, but also that is not sure, because of marriages. A person can be called Schmidt, but the children spoke polish with their mother.

So don't care the nationality, search the ancestors. Perhaps you will find the origine.

by Albrecht Kauschat G2G1 (1.6k points)

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