1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Pomerania

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[ 47 ]

POMERANIA (German, Pommern), a territory of Germany and a maritime province of Prussia, bounded on the N. by the Baltic, on the W. by Mecklenburg, on the S. by Brandenburg, and on the E. by West Prussia. Its area is 11,630 sq. m., and the population in 1905 was 1,684,125, showing a density of 145 inhabitants to the square mile. The province is officially divided into the three districts of Stralsund, Stettin and Köslin, but more historical interest attaches to the names of Vorpommern and Hinterpommern, or Hither and Farther Pomerania, the former being applied to the territory to the west, and the latter to that to the east of the Oder. Pomerania is one of the flattest parts of Germany, although east of the Oder it is traversed by a range of low hills, and there are also a few isolated eminences to the west. Off the west coast, which is very irregular, lie the islands of Rügen, Usedom and Wollin; the coast of Farther Pomerania is smooth in outline and is bordered with dunes, or sandbanks. Besides the Oder and its affluents, the chief of which are the Peene, the Ücker and the Ihna, there are several smaller rivers flowing into the Baltic; a few of these are navigable for ships, but the greater number only carry rafts. Many of them end in small lakes, which are separated from the sea by narrow strips of land, through which the water escapes by one or more outlets. The interior of the province is also thickly sprinkled with lakes, the combined area of which is equal to about one-twentieth of the entire surface.

The soil of Pomerania is for the most part thin and sandy, but patches of good land are found here and there. About 55% of the whole is under tillage, while 16% consists of meadow and pasture and 21% is covered by forests. The principal crops are potatoes, rye and oats, but wheat and barley are grown in the more fertile districts; tobacco, flax, hops and beetroot are also cultivated. Agriculture is still carried on in a somewhat primitive fashion, and as a rule the livestock is of an inferior quality, though the breed of horses, of a heavy build and mostly used in agriculture, is held in high esteem. Large flocks of sheep are kept, both for their flesh and their wool, and there are in the province large numbers of horned cattle and of pigs. Geese and goose feathers form lucrative articles of export. Owing to the long line of coast and the numerous lakes, fishing forms an important industry, and large quantities of herrings, eels and lampreys are sent from Pomerania to other parts of Germany. With the exception of the almost inexhaustible layers of peat, the mineral wealth of the province is insignificant. Its industrial activity is not great, but there are manufactures of machinery, chemicals, paper, tobacco and sugar; these are made chiefly in or near the large towns, while linen-weaving is practised as a domestic industry. Ship-building is carried on at Stettin and at several places along the coast. The commerce of Pomerania is in a flourishing condition, its principal ports being Stettin, Stralsund and Swinemünde. Education is provided for by a university at Greifswald and by numerous schools. The province sends 14 members to the German Reichstag, and 26 to the Prussian house of representatives. The heir to the Prussian crown bears the title of governor of Pomerania.

History. — In prehistoric times the southern coast of the Baltic seems to have been occupied by Celts, who afterwards made way for tribes of Teutonic stock. These in their turn migrated to other settlements and were replaced, about the end of the 5th century of our era, by Slavonic tribes, the Wilzi and the Pomerani. The name of Pomore, or Pommern, meaning “on the sea,” was given to the district by the latter of the tribes about the time of Charlemagne, and it has often changed its political and geographical significance. Originally it seems to have denoted the coast district between the Oder and the Vistula, a territory which was at first more or less dependent on Poland, but which, towards the end of the 12th century, was ruled by two native princes, who took the title of duke about 1170 and admitted the authority of the German king in 1181. Afterwards Pomerania extended much farther to the west, while being correspondingly curtailed on the east, and a distinction was made between Slavinia, or modern Pomerania, and Pomerellen. The latter, corresponding substantially to the present province of West Prussia, remained subject to Poland until 1309, when it was divided between Brandenburg and the Teutonic Order. Christianity was introduced in the 12th century, a bishopric being founded in the Island of Wollin, and its advance went rapidly hand in hand with the Germanizing of the district.

The history of Pomerania, as distinct from that of Pomerellen, consists mainly of an almost endless succession of divisions of territory among the different lines of the ducal house, and of numerous expansions and contractions of territory through constant hostilities with the elector of Brandenburg, who claimed to be the immediate feudal superior of Pomerania, and with other neighbouring rulers. The names of Vorpommern and Hinterpommern were at first synonymous with Pomerania proper, or Slavinia and Pomerellen, but towards the close of the 14th century they were transferred to the two duchies into which the former was divided. In 1625 the whole of Pomerania became united under the sway of Duke Bogislaus XIV., and on his death without issue, in 1637, Brandenburg claimed the duchy by virtue of a compact made in 1571. In the meantime, however, Pomerania had been devastated by the Thirty Years' War and occupied by the Swedes, who had taken possession of its towns and fortresses. At the peace of Westphalia they claimed the duchy, in opposition to the elector of Brandenburg, and the result was that the latter was obliged to content himself with eastern Pomerania (Hinterpommern), and to see the western part (Vorpommern) awarded to Sweden. In 1720, by the peace of Stockholm, Swedish Pomerania was curtailed by extensive concessions to Prussia, but the district to the west of the Peene remained in the possession of Sweden until the general European settlement of 1815. Then Sweden assigned her German possessions to Denmark in exchange for Norway, whereupon Prussia, partly by purchase and partly by the cession [ 47 ] of the duchy of Lauenburg, finally succeeded in uniting the whole of Pomerania under her rule.

For the history, see J. Bugenhagen, Pomerania, edited by O. Heinemann (Stettin, 1900); von Bohlen, Die Erwerbung Pommerns durch die Hohenzollern (Berlin, 1865); H. Berghaus, Landbuch des Herzogtums Pommern (Berlin, 1865-1876); the Codex Pomeraniae diplomaticus, edited by K. F. W. Hasselbach and J. G. L. Kosegarten (Greifswald, 1862); the Pommersches Urkundenbuch, edited by R. Klempin and others (Stettin, 1868-1896); W. von Sommerfeld, Geschichte der Germanisierung des Herzogtums Pommern (Leipzig, 1896); F. W. Barthold, Geschichte von Rügen und Pommern (Hamburg, 1839-1845); K. Mass, Pommersche Geschichte (Stettin, 1899); M. Wehrmann, Geschichte von Pommern (Gotha, 1904-1906); and Uecker, Pommern in Wort und Bild (Stettin, 1904). See also the publications of the Gesellschaft für pommersche Geschichte und Altertumskunde.