Recently I received an set of email messages from a very helpful reader (Vielen dank, Hans!). I have taken a risk and translated the gist of his correspondence into English. I have blended his materials along with my research to reconstruct a view of Pietzkendorf. I will add more information as it comes to light. Hopefully this “accumulated view” will paint a small picture of what Pietzkendorf once was… the neatly mown fields of today’s Poland not withstanding.
In days gone by, Pietzkendorf residents attended schools and Churches in nearby Ladekopp. The population was small, just a few families and homes were located in the village. The area was peopled largely by simple farm families. The Pietzkendorf, and Ladekopp area had been settled by German families as long ago as the 1500s. To quote Gameo:
By 1772 there were some 400 Holländerdörfer established in the Vistula region, but not nearly all were occupied by Mennonites or by Dutch settlers. Felicia Szper (p. 110) lists for 1676 the following villages as “Holländische Hufen” in the two Werders of Marienburg occupied by Dutch Mennonites: Platenhof, Tiegenhagen, Tiegerweide, Reimerswalde, Orlofferfeld, Pletzendorf, Orloff, Pietzgendorf, and Petershagenerfeld.
Horst Penner lists for the 18th century the following villages with a predominantly Mennonite population: Altebabke, Altendorf, Beyershorst, Blumen-Ort, Einlage, Freienhuben, Glabitsch, Gross-Plehnendorf, Gross-Walddorf, Halbstadt, Herrenhagen, Heubuden, Klein Mausdorf, Kozelicke, Ladekopp, Marienau, Neuendorf, Neunhuben, Orloff, Orlofferfelde, Petershagen, Pietzkendorf, Poppau, Pordenau, Reimerswalde, Rosenort, Rückenau, Scharfenberg, Schönhorst, Schönsee, Schmerblock, Schönau, Tiege, Tiegenhagen, Tiegerweide, and Wotzlaff.
The villages located on the Vistula were also characterized by being established in swampy areas that had to be drained. Ditches and canals led to the river at the elevated end of the land. Homes were located along the street, which at times followed the windings of the river. Villages established according to the old “German right” did not have the residence, barn, and shed under one roof, as did the Dutch villages, in which the barn was directly connected with the residence and the shed was attached to the barn, the whole in some cases forming a triangle. At some places the dwelling had an addition for the retired parents called Endenkammer. The porch added to this structure in many cases was of Prussian and not Dutch background.
In some instances the land of each farmer adjoined his yard. This would indicate that the pattern was related to the “Hufendörfer” practice. […] This village therefore more nearly resembled a Hufendorf. However, it developed peculiarities of its own. For this reason it is best to identify this type of village simply as Holländerdorf.
The streams and nearby river provided swimming activities for those from nearby villages and towns such as Ladekopp. It was a green, verdant area with trees, water, and a very wet environ (the area was 4-12 feet below sea level, even then). Windmills pumped water from the ground and into the drainage streams, keeping the land reasonably dry and arable. When the lowering of the ground water levels by German settlers began some 500 years ago, the main mechanical assistance was provided by windmills. Windmills provided the power to operate water wheels (early simple pumps) to scoop water from the lowest and wettest lands moving it up to areas behind constructed dikes. In the early 1900s, steam engines in `kalteherberge` performed this task and replaced the original windmills. Toward the end of the Second World War (1945), the entire area was flooded in a valiant but vain attempt to slow and repulse invading Russian artillery and tanks. Today the area is again ‘nearly’ dry but it is much lonelier and emptier than before. The entire village of Pietzkendorf is gone except for its cement roads (see photo below).
The name of the village itself is derived from an old German word “pietzker”. In German, a Pietzker is a member of the fish-family ´schmerle´ which in English is known as ´loach´. Pietzkers are a tasty, flavorful fish that lives in the mud or muddy water of a slow moving river. The Linau running through Pietzkendorf is just such a river. The Pietzkers, in days gone by, were plentiful.
The residents of pre-World War 2 Pietzkendorf attended churches in Ladekopp; Roman Catholics, Lutherans and Mennonites, alike. My family (Recht und Wedhorn) attended the Lutheran Church (Evangelishe Kirche) in Ladekopp. I have found both records of Recht and Wedhorn family births and weddings in the ev. Kirche Ladekopp.
It is worth mentioning that there was at least one Baptist family in Pietzkendorf; almost every Sunday, they bravely and devotedly walked nearly 12 kilometers through Ladekopp to the Baptist congregation in Neuteich. Their names are lost in the mists of time.
Milchbude Lage und Pietzkendorf
The following photos provide images of the area that used to be Pietzkendorf as it appeared in 2010. This is the same area where Frieda Senger was born and raised in the early 1900s. Today nothing remains of the buildings and village that was Pietzkendorf.