Pommerscher Verein Freistadt
The Pomeranian Society of Freistadt
The Pomeranian Society of Freistadt

Immigration and Emigration

Einwanderung und Auswanderung

See also: Pomeranian Immigrants in America, Brazil, South Africa, and Other Places

In the 1100s, the Slavic princes invited Germans into Pomerania to improve farming skills and tools and introduce some trades.  This migration involved both nobles and peasants. The Catholic church was also given large tracts of land. The church brought in more German peasants and skilled workers from the Netherlands to work the church's land.  During this period, the Hanseatic League also grew and promoted trade in the area.  Around 1309, the Teutonic Knights moved into Lauenburg, Bütow, and Brandenburg's Neumark (Schivelbein and Dramburg). Most of Pomerania was settled during the 1200-1300s. Eventually, the Germans migrants intermarried with the native Slavs, and the Slavic language was replaced with German.

The earliest German settlers migrated to Rügen and came from Holstein, Westphalia and Lower Saxony. The next group came from the Harz Mountains, diocese of Magdeburg, and Brandenburg. Also, in the 1300s, and later in 1500-1700s, some families came to Pomerania from Scotland.  Some Huguenots from France were also invited to Pomerania in the 1700-1800s. After the Swedish occupation in 1720, settlers from northern Germany also came into the area. Some Swedes remained in Vorpommern. In the 1700s Lutherans from Salzburg, Austria were invited to settle in Pomerania. There were also relocations from Poland, Bohemia, Switzerland, and Alsace. Around 1747, immigrants came from southwest Germany, mainly the Palatinate, but also from Saxony, Württemberg, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt, Hesse-Nassau, and Mecklenburg. By 1770, one out of six residents in Pomerania was an immigrant.

During the Swedish occupation years (1648-1815), some Pomeranians from Vorpommern moved into Hinterpommern or regions even further east like East Prussia or the Volga area of Russia.  Some also migrated into Sweden.

Before 1800 very few Pomeranians emigrated.  There were laws starting in 1730 prohibiting emigration without permission. In 1827, families looking for land moved from Kreis Schlawe, Neustettin, Rummelsburg, and Belgard east into West Prussia and Posen. Between 1844 and 1871 an estimated 91,279 people emigrated from Pomerania, with many going to the United States. In 1850 Pomeranians went to Guatemala, 1858 to South Africa, 1840-60 to Australia and 1860-61 to Russian Poland. During the period of the American Civil War, many Pomeranians went east instead of to the United States.  The most popular destination in the 1860s was Russia.  The largest emigration from Pomerania to other countries lasted from 1880 until World War I. During this period, emigrants also moved from the eastern provinces in Germany to Berlin and industrial sections of the Rhineland and Westphalia.
Source: Herrick, Linda M. and Wendy K. Uncapher. Pomerania: Atlantic Bridge to Germany.  Origins, 2005.

Printed and handwritten ship passenger lists compiled by the various shipping companies that transported emigrants to America survive among the record groups Pommersches Polizeipräsidium and Schifffahrtsdirektion Stettin.  The lists cover the years 1869-1902, and contain about 500-800 passengers per year.
          Vorpommersches Landesarchiv
          Martin-Andersen-Nexö-Platz 1
          D-17489 Greifswald, Germany
          Email: LAGreifswald@t-online.de

  • Clemens, Lieselotte, and James Laming. Old Lutheran Emigration from Pomerania to the U.S.A.: History and Motivation; 1839 - 1843. Kiel: Pomeranian Foundation, 1976. 
  • Krügener, Elke. "How Much Did a Journey to America Cost in 1851?" Die Pommerschen Leute. 28, 4 (Winter 2005), 61-63. Originally published as "From Mecklenburg into the World, 188 Talers for the Journey," in the Mecklenburg Magazine, 21 (May 2005).
  • "Finding Ship Records For Your Pomeranian Genealogy." Die Pommerschen Leute 29, 1 (Spring 2006)
  • Jacobi, Werner von. Die Abwanderung der Landbevölkerung Pommerns, vornehmlich der Kreise Randow, Greifenhagen, Saatzig und Pyritz in der Zeit vom 1. 1. 1928 bis 30. 6. 1929. Greifswald: Verlag Ratsbuchhandlung L. Bamberg, 1930. The migration of the rural population of Pommern, Germany, especially the counties of Randow, Greifenhagen, Saatzig and Pyritz, 1928-1929.
  • Jensen, Larry O. "Pommern Immigration and Emigration," German Genealogical Digest, 2, 1 (1st quarter, 1986)
  • Krohn, Heinrich.  Und warum habt ihr denn Deutschland verlassen?: 300 Jahre Auswanderung nach Amerika. Bergisch-Gladbach: Lübbe, 1992. And why have you left Germany? 300 years of emigration to America.
  • Learned, Marion Dexter: Guide to the Manuscript Materials Relating to American History in the German State Archives. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Institution of Washington. Publication no. 150, 1912, 
  • Radde, Heinz. "Where Are the Pomeranians From?" Die Pommerschen Leute, 23, 1 (Spring 2000)
  • Reich, Uwe. Aus Cottbus und Arnswalde in die Neue Welt: Amerika-Auswanderung aus Ostelbien im 19. Jahrhundert. Osnabrück: Rasch, 1997. Emigration from Cottbus and Arnswalde to America.
  • Sternberg, Paul. "Finding Ship Records for Your Pomeranian Genealogy." Die Pommerschen Leute. 29, 1 (Spring 2006) 1, 4.
  • Stockman, Robert Lee. North Germany to North America: 19th century migration. Alto, Mich.: PlattDüütsch Press, 2003. Detailed descriptions of customs, occupations, farm equipment, methods of transportation, historical events, and much more. Interspersed with black and white photos and Plattdeutsch poems and sayings. Detailed accounts of how various Midwestern states were settled.
  • Wagenknecht, Daniel M. The Old Lutheran Emigrations from Pomerania to Wisconsin. pub. 1994. 
    Nov. 2020