Szczecin Stettin

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Szczecin, Zachodniopomorskie, Polenmap
Surnames/tags: Poland Pomerania Germany
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This page is provided by the West Pomeranian Voivodeship page for the Poland Project in collaboration with the Germany Project


Welcome to the Szczecin / Stettin Page

The purpose of this page is to provide a place for researchers to collaborate while researching their ancestors who are from this city, or for anyone with a special interest or knowledge.

Researching ancestors from Stettin or Szczecin is difficult because it used to be considered a Pomeranian German region within the Kingdom of Prussia. Whilst, it is now in the present day West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Poland. Therefore, complications with language, location, place names, etc are inevitable.

On my personal research journey I have learnt a great deal from researching this city, and I still know very little. A place for collaboration seemed necessary for that reason...personal experience.

Information about the city history

The history of the city of Stettin dates back to the 8th century. Stettin (polish: Szczecin), which has belonged to Poland since 1945, has a history of over 700 years as a German city. The German place name "Stetin" is first found in documents from 1140 and 1223. The Polish name is found later in 1273 in a Latin document as "Sczecin". From the 15th century onwards, the second "t" was doubled, which soon became common and led to Stettin.

Stettin is located on the river Oder and was first the capital of the Duchy of Pomerania (Herzogtum Pommern), then from 1648 - 1720 under Swedish rule and finally from 1815 the provincial capital (Provinzhauptstadt) of the Prussian province of Pomerania (Provinz Pommern) until 1945. Since 1808, it was also the seat of the President of the Government of the Stettin District (Regierungspräsident Regierungsbezirk Stettin).

Since 1360 the city was a member of the Hanseatic League (Hanse) and had the largest Prussian port and, as the city on the Oder estuary, the most important free port in the Baltic region. The port was connected with the outer harbor of Swinemünde (now Swinoujscie, Poland) through the Stettin Lagoon (Stettiner Haff) also called Pomeranian Lagoon or Oder Lagoon (Pommersches Haff, Oderhaff), to the Bay of Pomerania (Pommersche Bucht) by a 60-Kilometer-long shipping channel Kaiserfahrt (now Piast canal). From 1914 there was a direct connection to Berlin via a water route due to the opening of the large shipping route (Großschiffahrtsweg) from Stettin to Berlin.

Historically, culturally and touristically significant landmarks of Stettin / Szczecin include

  • the Griffin Castle (Greifenschloss - Zamek Książąt Pomorskich) was the seat of the Dukes of Pomerania-Stettin of the House of Pomerania (Griffins), who ruled the Duchy of Pomerania from 1121 to 1637. About 1720 the castle was allocated to the Prussian garrison commander Christian August, Prince of Anhalt-Zerbst, whose daughter Sophie Auguste Friederike (later Catherine II of Russia) was born here in 1729 and grew up in the castle.
  • the Gothic St. Jacob's Cathedral (Jakobskathedrale), formerly Evangelical Protestant Jacobi Church until 1945. In 1944, bomb hits destroyed large parts of the church, causing the collapse of the spire and considerable damage to other parts of the building. The north wall, all altars, the organ and works of art inside were destroyed by the bombs and the subsequent fire. It was not until 1971 that the reconstruction of the church as a Roman Catholic cathedral began. The Roman Catholic St. Jacob's Cathedral is one of the largest churches in Pomerania, the Polish Pope John Paul II elevated the church to the rank of basilica minor in 1983.
  • the Gothic Church of Saint Peter and Paul (St.-Peter-und-Paul-Kirche, polish Kościół św. Piotra i Pawła) is considered the oldest church in the city and in Christian Pomerania. Its foundation dates back to the beginning of the 12th century and until 1945 it belonged to the Evangelical Church of the Old Prussian Union, now the Old Catholic Polish Catholic Church. The building is one of the listed monuments on the "European Route of Brick Gothic". The church records from the Protestant period of the church are preserved in large numbers (baptisms: 1619-1945, marriages: 1647-1945, burials: 1744-1945, confirmations: 1836-1944) and are located in the Protestant Central Archive (Evangelisches Zentralarchiv) in Berlin-Kreuzberg.
  • the Gothic St. John's Church (Johanneskirche, polish: Kościół św. Jana Ewangelisty) on the southeastern edge of the Old Town on the former Heiliggeiststraße (now ul. Św. Ducha) on the left bank of the Oder River, dates back to a 13th-century Franciscan foundation and is now a Roman Catholic church. It is one of the listed monuments on the European Route of Brick Gothic.
  • the Old City Hall (Altes Rathaus) at the Haymarket (Heumarkt, now Rynek Sienny) in the Old Town (Altstadt). The originally Gothic building has a Baroque gable on the north side and a Renaissance gable opposite. The Old Town was only partially rebuilt after severe destruction during World War II. To this day, numerous wastelands characterize the cityscape in the oldest part of Szczecin. Between preserved or reconstructed according to old documents old buildings stand numerous very simple residential houses of the 1950s.
Old City Hall, Stettin
Deutsch: Altes Rathaus English: Old City Hall 'Polski: Stary Ratusz
  • the 500-meter-long Haken Terrace (Hakenterrasse, named after the long-time mayor Hermann Haken, active from 1878-1907 - today Wały Chrobrego) with the the former Municipal Museum (Städtisches Museum, now the Polish National Maritime Museum), next to it the former government building of the Stettin administrative district (Regierungsgebäude des Regierungsbezirks Stettin, now the administrative seat of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship), the former Pomeranian Regional Tax Office and Main Customs Directorate (Landesfinanzamt Pommern und Hauptzolldirektion, now the Maritime Academy) and the former Pomeranian Regional Insurance Institute (Landesversicherungsanstalt, now also the Maritime Academy). Located on the western bank of the Oder River, it was built between 1900 and 1914 on the site of the former Fort Leopold.

Today, the only reminder of the medieval city walls is the Gothic Seven Mantle or Maiden's Tower (Siebenmantel- oder Jungfrauenturm - Baszta Siedmiu Płaszczy/Baszta Panieńska) at the northeast corner of the former city area. The building is considered as symbol of Stettin / Szczecin.

The two preserved Baroque fortress gates, the Berlin Gate (Berliner Tor or Hafentor - Brama Portowa) in the west and the King's Gate (Königstor - polish equivalent Brama Królewska) in the north, were built only in the course of the fortress expansion after the transition to Prussia under King Frederick William I (König Friedrich Wilhelm I.) at the beginning of the 18th century. They were designed by the Prussian fortress architect Gerhard Cornelius von Wallrave and served not only military but also representative purposes, thus the inscriptions on the King's Gate document the seizure of the city by Prussia.

Königstor in Stettin, Pommern (King's Gate in Szczecin, Pomerania, Poland)

Over the long course of its history Stettin has been a place of birth and of residence for many famous individuals, including Empress Catherine II, called Catherine the Great of Russia (Zarin Katharina die Große von Russland) was born Sophie Auguste Friederike von Anhalt-Zerbst in Stettin on May 2, 1729.

One of the oldest cinemas in the world has been operating in Stettin. It was founded in 1907 by the German Otto Blauert as "Helios Welt-Kino-Theater", since 1945 it has been called "Kino Pionier 1907".

After World War II, the Soviet Union handed over the territories lying east of the Oder-Neisse line to Poland. The Western Allies confirmed this in the Potsdam conference.

After 1945 Szczecin became a major Polish industrial centre and an important seaport for Poland. With three state universities, the University of Szczecin, the Szczecin University of Technology and the Medical University of Szczecin, the university city of Szczecin is also an important research and higher education location. In addition, Szczecin is home to numerous vocational schools, art academies and a private business school.

In 1993 the town celebrated its 750th anniversary (town charter Stadtrecht granted in 1243 according to Magdeburg law).

Szczecin has been the capital of the West Pomeranian Voivodeship (Zachodniopomorskie) since 1999.

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