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West Prussia

West Prussia

This province consisted of the eastern parts of historical Pomerania and some other regions acquired from the Teutonic Order by Polish Kings in the 15th century. Due to this, the historical name of the region was Royal Prussia. The territory which remained under the rule of the Order was then called Ducal Prussia and later became the province of East Prussia. In 1657 Poland lost the northwestern fragments of Royal Prussia which were taken by Brandenburg (marked in blue on the map) and later bacame part of Pomerania. The province of Royal Prussia was mostly inhabited by Catholics of Polish (or Cashubian) ethnicity and a significant German (partially Lutheran) minority, which was predominant particularly in the cities, as Gdansk (German: Danzig) and Torun (Thorn).


In 1772, as a result of the first Partition of Poland, the whole of Royal Prussia was annexed by Prussia and renamed West Prussia. In 1815 the region of Warmia (German: Ermland), shown in yellow-grey, was included into the province of East Prussia, whereas the area around Kwidzyn (German: Marienwerder), shown in green, formerly in the Ducal Prussia became part of West Prussia. At the beginning of the 20th century, the German-speaking inhabitants were about 50% of the total. The other half spoke Polish (partially the Cashubian dialect).


After WWI, the major part of West Prussia became part of independent Poland. The city of Gdansk (Danzig) with a small surrounding area became a Free City (marked in yellow), independent of Poland and Germany. Two westernmost districts remained in Germany as part of a new province, Grenzmark Posen-Westpreussen (marked in brown). The areas of the former West Prussia east from the Vistula River (shown in green and pink) also remained German and were incorporated into East Prussia.


After the Second World War, all the territory of the former West Prussia became part of Poland. German inhabitants either escaped or were expelled and were replaced by Polish refugees from Belarus, Lithuania and Ukraine.


The map below shows the territory of West Prussia at the beginning of the 20th century. The colored regions are explained above. The pink line is the post-WWII border between Poland and Russia. Polish and German names of cities are provided.




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