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Political & administrative status of the Province

Political & administrative status of the Province

The Prussian province of Posen (Poznan) was established in 1815 and comprised the major part of the Polish region called 'Greater Poland'. Only the South-Eastern part of Greater Poland, with the city of Kalisz, became the Kalisz Gubernya within the quasi-autonomous Kingdom of Poland. Until the 1850s, the term "Grand Duchy of Posen" was officially used as a name of the Province. This stressed the slightly different position of this area within the Prussian monarchy, still maintained according to its predominately Polish character. Still, due to the increasing pressure to unify Prussia, this name was abandoned and the name 'Provinz Posen' was introduced as the only official reference. Despite this terminological change, the territory of the Province remained unchanged during the entire century (until 1919). The region is correctly referred to as "Province of Poznan/Posen" during this time period. thus it won't cause much ambiguity to refer to it as "Province of Poznan/Posen" all throughout this period. Some historical information concerning this area is available within the Genealogy & Poland guide.

 

Please note: as "Posen" can mean also the capital town (Poznan) of this province, I will use the term "the Province" to refer to the province of Posen throughout my guide.

 

In 1815, the Province was initially divided into 26 districts. Their seats were in the following towns (German names in brackets): Babimost (Bomst), Buk, Bydgoszcz (Bromberg), Chodziez (Chodziesen), Czarnków (Czarnikau), Gniezno (Gnesen), Inowroclaw (Inowrazlaw), Jarocin (Jarotschin), Koscian (Kosten), Krobia (Kröben), Krotoszyn (Krotoschin), Miedzychód (Birnbaum), Miedzyrzecz (Meseritz), Oborniki (Obornik), Odolanów (Adelnau), Ostrzeszów (Schildberg), Pleszew (Pleschen), Poznan (Posen), Srem (Schrimm), Sroda (Schroda), Szamotuly (Samter), Szubin (Schubin), Wagrowiec (Wongrowitz), Wrzesnia (Wreschen), Wschowa (Fraustadt), Wyrzysk (Wirsitz). The North-Eastern part of the Province belonged to the Regierungsbezirk (administrative region) in Bydgoszcz/Bromberg while the rest constituted the Regierungsbezirk Poznan/Posen. The division of the Province into administrative regions, though important in the structure of the Prussian administration is not pertinent to genealogical research. On the other hand, the division into districts and parishes is very important as in all documents the district affiliation of towns used to be provided.

 

In 1887 administrative reforms increased the number of districts from 26 to 42 (cf. the map). This new scheme remained practically unchanged until the end of World War I or even to 1932, except for the areas directly affected by the post-WWI border.

 

After the W.W.I., the major part of the Province of Posen was returned to the restored Republic of Poland and only the westernmost strip of it remained German. Several changes were made to the district divisions as a result of the new political borders. The Polish part of the former Province became the new voivodship of Poznan (although the North-Eastern districts of Bydgoszcz, Mogilno, Strzelno, Inowroclaw, Wyrzysk, Szubin and Znin were later incorporated into the voivodship of Polish Pomerania with the capital seat in Torun/Thorn). The German part was included into a new Prussian province named Grenzmark Posen-Westpreussen (Borderland of Posen and West Prussia) with the capital in Pila/Schneidemühl. In 1938 this small province was divided between Brandenburg, Pomerania and Silesia. In the voivodship of Poznan the district borders were changed in 1932 (the number of districts was decreased). In 1938 the Eastern part of historical Greater Poland was also included into the voivodship of Poznan.

 

As the result of the German invasion of Poland in September 1939, Hitler incorporated the voivodship of Poznan into the Third Reich and renamed it Warthegau (Warta River Region). After WWII, the pre-War Poznan voivodship was restored. In 1975, the administrative map of Poland was again redrawn and the areas of the 19th century Province of Poznan became part of 8 new voivodships: Poznan (its entire territory), Pila (its southern part), Leszno (its entire territory with small exceptions), Konin (some areas in its western part), Kalisz (its western 2/3), Gorzów Wielkopolski (its eastern portion), Zielona Góra (small eastern strip), Bydgoszcz (its southern 1/3). In 1999 the borders established pre-1975 were restored with minor adjustments. The voivodship is now called Wielkopolskie which literally means 'Greater Polish'.

 


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