Landkreis/Kreis: Landkreis, short just "Kreis," is the administrative body one notch above "village" or "town." From the top to the bottom the government was organized on these levels:
- Country, like "Kingdom of Prussia"
- State or province, like "Provinz Pommern" or older "Departement Pommern"
- Gubernatorial (or Administrative) District, like "Regierungsbezirk Stettin"
- County, like "Landkreis Randow" or just "Kreis Randow"
- Town, Township, or Village, like Blumberg
Background and History of Pomeranian Governmental Districts
In 1325, the Rügen family line died out, and this caused the War of Succession between Pomerania and Mecklenburg. Pomerania won the war and added the island of Rügen and its land on the mainland.
From 1354 to 1420, Ückermark was part of Pomerania until Brandenburg acquired it.
In 1541, Pomerania was divided, and the Oder River became the dividing line. Pomerania-Wolgast was west of the river and Pomerania-Stettin to the east. It was from this point in time that the use of the names Vorpommern and Hinterpommern started.
In the 17th century, Pomerania was divided between the royal family, nobles, church lands (e.g., Fürstentum Cammin and Domkapitel Cammin) and independent cities.
In 1637, Brandenburg inherited all of Pomerania when the last Duke died (Thirty Years' War was in progress, and Sweden was in possession of most of Pomerania at the time. The 1648 peace agreement upheld Brandenburg's right to inherit, but it took until 1653 for all Swedish troops to leave Hinterpommern).
In 1648, Fürstentum Cammin was granted to Brandenburg.
In 1668, Draheim was added from Poland.
In 1679, land that Sweden held east of the Oder River was won by Brandenburg. It included the towns of Greifenhagen, Bahn, Cammin and others.
In 1720, Brandenburg won land from Sweden, west to the Peene River including the islands of Usedom and Wollin.
In 1720, Alt-Vorpommern included the Ämter (governmental districts) of Anklam, Demmin, Randow and Usedom-Wollin. Neu-Vorpommern was divided into seven districts: Franzburg-Barth, Tribsees, Grimmen, Loitz, Greifswald, Wolgast and Rügen. (Source: Biewer, Ludwig. Pomerania under Prussian and Swedish Rule, 1648-1815).
In 1724, Pomerania, minus the Neu-Vorpommern, was divided into 17 districts and four city districts. (Source: Biewer, Ludwig. Pomerania under Prussian and Swedish Rule, 1648-1815).
Around 1780, the Duke's domains, which covered about 1/4 of Pomerania, were divided into Ämter (governmental districts), and the roughly 400 noble estates were divided into districts. In spite of the large number of nobles, 2/3 of the population was serfs. A 1780 map shows the 47 Ämter listed below.
||Treptow a Rega
||Treptow a. Trebel
In 1804, Lauenburg and Bütow districts were added from West Prussia.
In 1806, Neu-Vorpommern was divided into Härad (Swedish districts) Bergen, Franzburg, Grimmen, Greifswald.
In 1810, the term Kreis started to be used to describe the governmental districts or counties.
In 1814, Sweden traded Neu-vorpommern to Prussia. In exchange Sweden received the Duchy of Lauenburg. Land from Brandenburg became Schivelbein, Dramburg and part of Saatzig.
In 1815, land from Brandenburg's Neumark was added on 30 April 1815 to Pomerania and divided into Kreis Dramburg and Kreis Schivelbein. Part was added to eastern Kreis Saatzig.
In 1816, a small area around Löcknitz was added to Kreis Randow. Kreis Pyritz gained Brederlow, Naulin and Groß Möllen. That same year Bernstein went to Brandenburg.
In 1818, the areas around Heinrichsdorf and Groß Poplow were added to Kreis Neustettin from West Prussia.
In 1818, Pomerania was divided into three Regierusngsbezirke (administrative districts): Stralsund, Stettin, and Köslin. The existing Kreise were divided between the three administrative districts:
Stralsund: Franzburg, Greifswald, Grimmen, and Rügen.
Stettin: Anklam, Cammin, Demmin, Greifenberg, Greifenhagen, Naugard, Pyritz, Randow, Regenwalde, Saatzig, Stettin (Stadt), Ückermünde, Usedom-Wollin
Köslin: Belgard, Dramburg, Fürstentum, Lauenburg-Bütow, Neustettin, Rummelsburg, Schivelbein, Schlawe, and Stolp.
Each Kreis included one to five cities, a few dozen towns, and numerous hamlets, farms, estates, forest houses, etc.
In 1845, Kreis Lauenburg-Bütow was divided into two separate Kreise, Lauenburg and Bütow.
In 1872, Kreis Fürstentum was divided among the following Kreise: Bublitz, Köslin, and Kolberg-Körlin.
In 1918, after World War I, land from West Prussia and Posen was combined to recreate the country of Poland which had not existed since 1795. This land was referred to as the Polish Corridor.
In 1920, minor changes were made along the Pomeranian-Polish border. The villages of Zukowsken, Occalitz, and Knivenbruch were added to West Prussia.
In 1922, a non-militarized zone called "Grenzmark Posen-Westpreußen" under the authority of Brandenburg was established. It was made up of western parts of former West Prussia and Posen. This was a mainly German populated area.
In 1932, the administrative district of Stralsund was dissolved and added to the administrative district of Stettin.
In 1932, Kreis Bublitz was parceled out to Köslin, Rummelsburg, Belgard, and Neustettin.
In 1932. Schivelbein was parceled out mainly to Kreis Belgard and and a small part to Kreis Dramburg.
In 1937, the Pomeranian enclave, with the town of Rottmannshagen and Duckow, was added to Mecklenburg.
In 1938, parts of the Province of Grenzmark Posen-Westpreußen plus Kreis Dramburg & Kreis Neustettin from the administrative district of Köslin and Kreis Arnswalde and Kreis Friedeberg from the administrative district of Frankfurt, Brandenburg, formed Grenzmark Posen-Westpreußen. This Prussian province became a new administrative district in Pomerania.
In 1939, Kreis Randow was divided among the following Kreise: Stettin, Ückermünde, Naugard, and the most going to Greifenhagen.
In 1945, the Russian army swept across Pomerania burning and killing as they went. In March 1945 Hinterpommern was invaded and destroyed. About 1,884,000 Pomeranians were forced to leave or be brutalized. An estimated 10% of them were killed.
In 1945, Hinterpommern and a small amount of land west of the Oder River, including Stettin, were made part of Poland at the Potsdam Conference. Vorpommern went to the Soviet occupation zone. Poles from White Russia were pushed out by the Russians, and they settled in the deserted parts of Hinterpommern.
In 1946, the new German-Polish border ran west of the Oder River. The German Kreise now in Poland were renamed with Polish names and were no longer Kreise but powiaty (counties). These were grouped into fourteen large provinces called wojewodztw (voivodships).
In 1949, the Soviet zone dissolved and became the Deutsche Demokratische Republik with five Lander (states): Pomerania, Mecklenburg, Brandenburg, Saxony, and Thuringia.
In 1952, the five states in East Germany were divided into fourteen with Vorpommern included in Neubrandenburg, Rostock and Frankfurt. Pomerania's name was gone.
In 1990, East and West Germany were reunited as the Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of German). Pomerania was now back on the map, but as part of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.
Source: Herrick, Linda M. and Wendy K. Uncapher. Pomerania: Atlantic Bridge to Germany. Janesville, Wisconsin: Origins Books, 2005.
Counties / Kreise
Individual Counties / Einzelne Kreise
Gemeindeverzeichnis Ostpommern. Die Internetseite des Vereins Ostpommern e. V. - Verein für Familienforschung und Heimatkunde. Select the Kreis site on the map and it will list all of the villages for the Kreis, including population 1905, the village where they attended church, the name of the town for civil registration and the name of the town where the district court (like our courthouse) was located.
Kreisbücher. A partial listing of books on various Kreise (counties) of Pomerania. These offer a variety of information on the Pomeranian Kreise, home towns and the people who lived there. Information included will vary from book to book. (In German)
Kreise Presidents and Researchers. Contact these individuals for information on individual counties.
Pomeranian County (Kreis) Index. A table of the Kreis in Pomerania 1938-1945. (In German)
Pommern Regional Group of Minnesota. Pomeranian Genealogy, Culture, and History. The Group, 2007. In this publication every Pomeranian Kreis/County has a complete description with many photos. Forty-three topics include stories of home life, seasons, and holidays, as well as useful tips for travel in Poland and the use of the archives.
Preußische Provinz Pommern. by Michael Rademacher
Additional Locality Information
- Mittendorf, Willi, Translated by Martha and Leslie Riggle. "Life in Gross Schönfeld, A Small Village in Pomerania," Die Pommerschen Leute (Fall 2002)
- Pommernseiten Links to important websites on Pommern, with especially helpful links to the individual counties (kreise). (In German)
- Pommerscher Kreis-und Städtetag. Links zu weiteren privaten Adressen, die sich mit einzelnen Orten oder Kreisen in Pommern oder mit dem Thema Pommern beschäftigen. Links to sites relating to places and counties in Pomerania or with a Pomeranian theme. (In German).
- Der Provinzialverband Pommern: Verzeichnis der Mitglieder des Provinziallandtages. Veröffentlichungen der Historischen Kommission für Pommern, Bd. 44. Köln: Böhlau, 2008.
- Reich, Konrad. Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: ein Porträt. Rostock Reich 2005. Many exceptional color photos; humorous colored drawings.
- Schwedische Matrikel von Vorpommern. Familiennamen in Schwedisch Pommern 1692 bis 1698 (Dörfer) in der Veröffentlichung von Franz Schubert, Nach der Kreiseinteilung von 1935. An extract of the "Schwedische Landesaufnahme" of 1692-1703 from the library of Klaus-Dieter Kreplin. This Swedish survey contains the names of some of the inhabitants of each village in Vorpommern, primarily the farmers and others of a "higher" social standing. The names are a Swedish version of the German names.
- Verzeichnis der Gemeinden in der Provinz Pommern. Listing of all the towns and villages in Pommern in the 1939 census. (In German and English)
- von Diest, Heinrich. Zur Geschichte und Urzeit des Landes Daber. Stettin : Saunier, 1904.
- "What Makes a Village?" Die Pommerschen Leute / The Pomeranian People. 32, 3 (Fall 2009): 42-43.