Milestones in Pomeranian History, with particular attention to Lauenburg and Buetow
From "Reflections on more than 2000 years of Pomeranian History" 
by Georg Sokollek, Eberbach (Germany), 1997,
edited by Heinz Radde (Switzerland),
translated by Leslie Riggle (Kansas) and John Liittschwager (Iowa), 1999

Meilensteine pommerscher Geschichte: Diese Seite auf Deutsch
Buetow und Lauenburg: Culture, History and Genealogy

1200 - 1000 B.C. First settlement by Germanic tribes.

500 B.C. Rapid worsening climate and resulting shortages of food.

325 B.C. The mariner Pytheas reports that the southern coast of the Baltic Sea is inhabited by Germanic tribes.

200 A.D. Further Germanic immigration by Goths from Scandinavia. Beginning of the Great Migration.

400 A.D. End of population migration and beginning of depopulation.

7th - 8th Centuries A.D. Beginning of resettlement by Wendisch Pomoranen and Cassuben tribes.

10th Century A.D. First Polish incursions. Beginning of the subjugation and decimation of the Pomoranen by Duke Boleslaw of Poland.

995. Swietopolk is made ruler of western Pomerania with his seat in Stettin by his step-brother, Boleslaw I.

1025-34. Mieszko II loses Pomerania to the Holy Roman Empire.

1119. Boleslaw III conquers eastern Pomerellen.

1122. The same Polish duke conquers all Pomerania.

1124-1128. Beginning of the Christianization of Pomerania by Bishop Otto von Bamberg.

1135. Boleslaw III accepts Rügen and Pomerania as a fief from Emperor Lothar von Saxony-Supplinburg.

1147. Crusade against the Wends by Albrecht the Bear of Brandenburg and King Waldemar of Denmark. Advances as far as Stettin, ruled by Duke Ratibor, who is already a Christian. Ratibor must assume the obligation to build cloisters and to call in monks of the Benedictine and Prämonstratenser orders.

1153-72. Ratibor's brother founds cloisters in Stolpe on the Peene, Grobe and Usedom and the Cistercian cloister of Dargun near Demmin.

1159. Ratibor dies, thereafter Pomerania and a part of Pomerellen appear to have been under Danish rule.

1173. Wartislaw, a nephew of Ratibor, founds the Cloister Kolbatz, known as "Mera vallis".

1178. (18 March) Founding of the Cistercian cloister Oliva by Pomerellen Prince Sambor.

1181. Entry of Pomerania into the German Empire; Emperor Frederick I awards Pomerania to Duke Bogislaw. Emperor Frederick Barbarossa takes the land from the Peene to the Persante into his protection against the Danes and declares these lands to be a part of the Holy Roman Empire and elevates the rulers to Dukes of the Empire.

1200. Beginning of increased German immigration into Pomerania and Pomerellen.

1220. Death of Prince Mestwin I. He had been forced to swear an oath of allegiance to the King of Denmark. At his death on the 1st of May 1220 he leaves four sons. The oldest son, Swantopolk becomes Duke of Pomerellen and rules from 1220-1266. The youngest son of Ratibor dies at an early age. Swantopolk leaves two sons: Mestwin II and Wartislaw. Mestwin receives Danzig and Dirschau, Wartislaw Schwetz on the Vistula.

1229. The Order of Teutonic Knights arrives on the Vistula, called by Duke Konrad of Masovien for protection against the constant raids by the neighboring native Pruzzen.

1269. The Pomeranian Duke Mestwin II places his inherited lands under the protection of the Margraves of Brandenburg in order to receive them back as a fief. This act was the basis of a claim by Brandenburg to Pomerania and Pomerellen during a later dispute over hereditary rights.

1277. Witzlaff II, Prince of Rügen, sells Schlawe Castle and its lands, as well as the town of Rügenwalde, to the Margraves Konrad, Otto and Johann of Brandenburg for 3000 silver marks.

1283. Rule of Duke Boleslaw IV.

1309. Brandenburg sells Danzig, Dirschau and Schwetz to the Order of Teutonic Knights for a sum of 10,000 silver marks.

1311. Emperor Heinrich VII confirms ownership of Pomerania by the Order. In the same year Pope John XXII specifically confirms this ownership by the Order.

1312. The Order of Teutonic Knights purchases lordship over Pirsna with 22 villages in the area of Karthaus and Berent for 300 silver marks from Princess Gertrud, daughter of Sambor II.

1321. The territory of Bütow is first mentioned as terra Butow in a document that is attested by its marshal, Henning de Beer, and granted by Duke Wartislaw IV for faithful service.

1329. The sons of this marshal sell their inheritance, the dominum et castrum Bütow, to the Teutonic Knights for 800 marks in Prussian coins. King John of Bohemia, who was also King of Poland, grants Pomerellen and Pomerania to the Order in thanks for the help of the Order in his war in Poland.

1330. In the deed of gift dated the 12th of March 1329 is stated literally: "As God and your holiness wills it, King John relinquishes all claim to Pomerania and also to Pomerellen, which is the seat and the property of the Order of the Brothers." At the same time he renounces all rights or claims for himself and his successors in the affairs of Pomerania.

1335. Peace Treaty of Wissegrod. In this treaty King Kasimir of Poland relinquishes claims to Pomerania in favor of the Order of Teutonic Knights. This treaty is rejected as humiliating by Polish estates (upper classes and clergy) and is not recognized. King Johann of Bohemia and King Ludwig of Hungary act as judges requested by both sides at a peace conference on the 24th of November 1335.

1337. King John of Bohemia and King Ludwig of Hungary, as well as King Casimir of Poland, meet with the Grand Master Dietrich von Altenburg at a conference of nobles at Leslau and consider once more the matter of Wissegrod. King Casimir swears an oath relinquishing Pomerania and Pomerellen for himself and his successors for all eternity. But even this promise of peace is rejected by the bishops and nobility of Poland. The pope is asked to decide.

1343. (8/7.) The decision in the Peace Treaty of Kalisch finally is made by Pope Clemens VI. King Casimir of Poland once again repeats his earlier relinquishment of Pomerania and Pomerellen. This agreement is guaranteed by the worldly wealth of Poland. On the 23rd of July 1343 all Woiwoden (princes), castle wardens and Starosten (tribe elders) are pledged to guarantee the keeping of this obligation.

1347. Marking of the boundaries between Poland and the land of the Teutonic Knights.

1387. Queen Margarete, the great aunt of Duke Erich I, unites the Kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden and Norway into one nation in the Kalmar Union. Because she has no children and dies without an heir, Duke Erich I, who grew up in Rügenwalde, is named as her successor.

1397. Duke Erich is called to be king of the Northern Union and rules in Copenhagen for 25 years.

1422. He is driven out, takes with him the treasures of the three kingdoms and retires to Gotland, where he builds the Viborg castle. From there he plunders the coasts of his former kingdoms. Sweden lays siege to Viborg. His subjects in Rügenwalde and Stolp send seven ships to aid him. The Swedes give up the siege. He leaves Viborg and takes with him his treasure. He dies in 1459 in Rügenwalde and is buried in a silver casket in the Buckow Cloister. (In 1945 the Russians arrested the caretaker of the castle in Rügenwalde and attempted to force him to divulge the hiding place of the silver casket, something he did not know.)

1410. Battle between the Teutonic Order and Poland at Tannenberg in East Prussia, known in Poland as Grunau. The army of the Order was beaten and Grand Master falls in the attack by the knights of Kulm against the combined Polish-Lithuanian armies, which also includes a contingent of heathens, Tartars from Kiev.

1411. Peace treaty between the Teutonic Knights and Poland. The so-called Peace of Thorn. The Order must pay an enormous ransom to secure the freedom of Duke Kasimir of Pomerania, which bankrupts the treasury of the knights.

1454. King Kasimir of Poland sends a challenge to the order on the 22nd of February. Thus begins the thirteen year Rider's War, which is conducted almost entirely by mercenaries.

1455. Danzig joins the Polish side and captures Lauenburg and Bütow. The castle of the Teutonic Order in Lauenburg is completely destroyed. An army of occupation in installed in the castle in Bütow.

1457. Due to a shortage of money the Order is forced to mortgage many of its castles to satisfy the claims of soldiers. Its leader, the Bohemian knight Ulrich von Czirwenka, sells these to the King of Poland for 436,000 Guilders. According to Polish sources the price was 190,000 Florins.

1460. Kasimir of Poland orders the city of Danzig to vacate Bütow and Lauenburg on the 9th of October and gives both to Duke Erich II as reward for his promised wartime assistance, which he did not deliver.

1466. Duke Erich II sells both to the Teutonic Order for 8,000 Taler, with the consent of the King of Poland.

1466. On the 10th of October the second Peace of Thorn is signed. Bütow and Lauenburg are returned to Poland. Duke Erich, however, withholds release their release on the grounds that certain conditions have not been met and holds them for ransom. From that time on until 1526 the two remain with Pomerania as "unsettled business".

1466. Beginning of what is known as the Ducal Period in Pomerania. It lasts 171 years and ends with the death of the last Pomeranian duke, Boleslaw XIV on the 10th of March 1637. Pomerania is returned to Poland as a fief, Pomerellen with the Peace of Thorn.

1466. Margrave Albrecht von Brandenburg, the last Grand Master of the Teutonic Knights, gives up his title, closes the order in his territory and in 1525 accepts what remains of Prussia as a hereditary duchy as a fief of Poland.

1467. Duke Erich II accepts the Second Peace of Thorn on the 24th of June and with it delivers Pomerellen to Poland.

1478. Duke Bogislaw X unites all Pomerania under his rule and in his own time is called "the Great". He breaks the power of the towns, frees the duchy from the overlordship of Brandenburg, reorganizes the administration and erects as a sign of his authority a residence and court in Stettin.

1491. He marries Anna, his second wife, daughter of King Kasimir of Poland.

1496. He goes on an important pilgrimage to the Holy Land and returns in 1497. Pope Alexander VI honors him as one who serves Christianity with a sacred cap and a sword of honor, which was crafted by the Roman silversmith Angelino.

1498. He donates the sword of honor and cap to the Otto Church in Stettin.

1534. On the 13th of December he assembles the usual Pomeranian Legislature in Treptow on the Rega and accepts the Augsburg Confession and with it the Protestant Reformation in his duchy.

1536. Bogislaw X is married in Torgau by Martin Luther to the Saxon princess Maria.

1569-1592. Duke Ernst Ludwig rules Pomerania-Wolgast.

1618. Outbreak of the Thirty Years War, during which Pomerania and Pomerellen suffer much destruction. In the Peace of Westphalia in 1648 the Kingdom of Sweden is promised that part of Pomerania that lies to the west of the Oder River, plus a strip on the right bank. Brandenburg receives the remainder of Pomerania to the east of the Oder, except for Lauenburg and Bütow, which had been returned to Poland in 1637. But the Swedes do not leave eastern Pomerania until 1653. By this time it had been plundered by Swedish and Polish troops, the cities burned and the castles reduced by explosives.

1656. Treaty of Labiau. In it the Elector of Brandenburg is named specifically as the sovereign duke of Prussia and Ermland and is recognized by Sweden.

1657. Peace Treaty of Wehlau on the 19th of September. It is followed on the 30th of October of the same year by the Treaty of Bromberg, by which the Polish King gives the Elector of Brandenburg a clear title to Lauenburg and Bütow and the right to pass them on to his heirs in recognition of his support against Sweden.

1658. On the 14th of April follows the ceremonial passing of Lauenburg and Bütow by order of the Polish King and by way of Johannes Ignatius Bakowski to the supporters of the Kurfürst, Adam von Podewils and Ulrich Gottfried von Somnitz. Therefore the Elector adds to his other titles still another, "Lord of Lauenburg and Bütow". He has this title once again confirmed by Sobieski in the year 1670 and by King Michael and in 1677 by King Johann III.

1660. Peace of Oliva. This officially ends the war between the Holy Roman Emperor and the Elector of Brandenburg, Sweden and Poland.

1688. On the 29th of April the Great Elector dies. He is succeeded to the throne of Brandenburg by his son, Elector Frederick III, who in 1701 takes the title of a King of Prussia.

1698. The last homage is paid to Poland. From this time the practice is dropped.

1700. (13/5) Almost the entire town of Bütow is destroyed by fire.

1707-09. There are many victims of the plague in Bütow and Lauenburg.

1758. On the 24th of April during the Seven Years War there appear 50 Cossacks before the Bütow Castle, but they are dispersed by a detail of dragoons from the von Platen Regiment. But Cossacks remain a scourge in Pomerania until 1762.

1772. The Prussian King Frederick the Great manages to finally end the sovereignty of Poland over Bütow and Lauenburg. From this time on he calls himself King of Prussia.

1773. On the 19th of December the Warsaw Treaty is signed, in which the part of Pomerellen belonging to the Teutonic Knight is returned from Poland to Prussia.

1773. Poland relinquishes its claim to Bütow and Lauenburg granted by the Bromberg Treaty on the 6th of November 1657, thus granting independence from Poland and coming firmly to Prussia.

1773. Lauenburg and Bütow are made part of the new Prussian province of West Prussia. The situation is complicated by the fact that while in matters of justice and church administration County Lauenburg-Bütow is West Prussian. But in matters of administration, business and finance it remains Pomeranian.

1777. Bütow and Lauenburg, on the 15th of May, are made into a single county, with its administration in Lauenburg.

1804. County Lauenburg-Bütow is returned to Pomerania completely.

1807. Kolberg in Pomerania is defended against Napoleon's troops for six months until the Peace of Tilsit. It is the only city that remains out of Napoleon's grasp. The Prussian commander is von Gneisenau, who receives critical assistance from Kolberg citizen, Joachim Nettelbeck.

1809. Hussar Major Ferdinand Baptist von Schill falls in street fighting in Stralsund. Schill had organized a volunteer army in Pomerania and had won fame for several spectacular attacks against Napoleon's troops.

1812. Without the consent of the King of Prussia, Ludwig Count York von Wartenburg, who came from Gross Gustkow in County Lauenburg, as commander of the Prussian troops who are forced to support Napoleon's campaign in Russia, signs the "Convention of Tauroggen" with the Russian troops. This is the beginning of the successful War of Liberation against Napoleon.

1817. King Friedrich Wilhelm III merges the Lutheran and Reformed Churches of Prussia.

1831. King Friedrich Wilhelm III imprisons dozens of Lutheran pastors who continue to conduct Lutheran services. Persons who attend these services are fined and punished. Those who remain faithful to the teaching of Martin Luther are called Old Lutherans. After forty years the Prussian government again legalizes the Lutheran Church in 1857.

1838. A group of Old Lutherans leave for Australia.

1839. A separate group, lead by Captain Heinrich von Rohr, leave for America. Some stop in the state of New York, but in October Captain von Rohr and forty families go on to Milwaukee in the territory of Wisconsin.

1839. Twenty families, led by Captain von Rohr, locate a few miles north of Milwaukee and form the first Lutheran church in Wisconsin. They call their settlement "Freye Stätte", later corrupted to Freistadt. Other Old Lutheran congretations establish churches in Wisconsin, but Freistadt is the first.

1839-1843. About 3,000 Old Lutherans arrived in America, Wisconsin and Minnesota are going to be centers of Pomeranian settlement in America.

1844. A permanent half-timbered church is built in Freistadt, 1884 the present Trinity Church is built of limestone. 1977 a "Pommerscher Verein Freistadt" is established in order to observe the Pomeranian heritage.

1845. On the 9th of December Bütow and Lauenburg are again separate.

1867. The Imperial Chancellor, Prince Otto von Bismarck, who grew up in Pomerania, purchases Varzin Castle in County Rummelsburg, where he later retires.

1870. (18/8) In the decisive battle of the Franco-Prussian War at Gravelotte Pomeranian regiments bore the brunt of the fighting and, in spite of heavy casualties, contributed significantly to the Prussian victory. This is memorialized to this day in the Memorial Hall of Gravelotte.

1919. (28/6) The Versailles Peace Treaty is signed. This follows the creation of what is known as the Polish Corridor. Pomerania is cut off from its natural markets in West Prussia. The result is complete economic destruction on both sides of the border, which is now 7.5 kilometers nearer. Pomerellen now belongs entirely to Poland.

1919-1924. There is hunger in agricultural Pomerania. Grocery stores are plundered. Conditions gradually improve until 1939.

1932. Pomerania, with its Baltic Sea resorts, developed into the leading German tourist area.

1933. On the 30th of January President Hindenburg names Adolf Hitler to be chancellor. Beginning of the Third Reich, which ends in total capitulation after nearly six years of war on the 8th of May 1945.

1938. The remaining border counties of Posen and West Prussia; Schlochau, Flatow, Deutsch-Krone, Schneidemühl, Netzekreis, Arnswalde and Friedeberg are joined to Pomerania. With these additions Pomerania now has the greatest land area of its history.

1945. Pomerania becomes the bridgehead for millions of refugees who are rescued in bitter cold by the German Navy and Merchant Marine. In the last 115 days of the war at least two million Germans are rescued in 500 Navy and Merchant Marine vessels, at least a half million of whom are wounded soldiers. Soviet submarines torpedo countless passenger ships and tens of thousands drown in the icy Baltic Sea. All who do not escape by sea attempt to leave in wagon caravans or by railway. Pomerania is now overrun by the Red Army. Between the 6th and 10th of March the eastern Pomeranian towns of Bütow and Lauenburg are occupied. Entire streets go up in flames. Many citizens decide to end their own lives out of fear of the Soviet cruelties they have heard about from refugees.

1945. (4-11/2) Yalta Conference. Setting up of the Oder-Neisse Line. Everything to the east that is German goes either to Poland or to Russia.

1945. (17/7 - 2/8) Potsdam Conference. Authorizes the forced evacuation of all members of the German population to the east of the Oder-Neisse Line. They are transported to the west in cattle cars, often without food and water, and must suffer the same cruelties that Germans had visited on Jews and other unwanted people. The number who die in their misery must be more than two million, but has never been calculated. Half-hearted protest by the western powers have no effect on this forced evacuation.

1946-47. Pomerania east of the Oder river and Stettin is now emptied of its German inhabitants. The villages and towns are now inhabited by Poles who, at least partly, come from areas of White Russia where they were themselves deported. The difference is that, while the Germans are sent into uncertainty the Poles move into furnished residences..

1970. (17/8) Signing of the Moscow Pact by Russian President Kossygin and the German Chancellor Willi Brandt. In this agreement both sides stipulate that the Oder-Neisse Line, as it is described in Paragraph IXb of the Potsdam Agreement of the 12th of July until the 2nd of August, is recognized as final.

1970. (7/12) German-Polish Treaty, known as the "Warsaw Treaty", in which the present boundary is recognized by both sides as permanent. With that Pomerania (after more than 700 years) is no longer a German province. Only the part to the west of the Oder River, with the exception of a small strip around Stettin, now is a part of the new Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany.

1991. After the German reunification in 1990, the German parliament ratifies the recognition of the Oder-Neisse border. With that, Germany accepts as permanent under international law the loss of that part of Pomerania to the east of the Oder River.