One of the great challenges in researching areas like the former German Eastern Provinces
is that they are all gone- governments, people, Churches, libraries, Universities, and yes, in many cases, houses and villages as well. In an effort to help me, and perhaps others, identify place names, I am creating this document with its eclectic cross reference materials.
Hopefully these documents, websites, etc. will prove useful to those of us who have difficulty in finding ‘our family’s’ former German places and locations.
Former Prussian Places & Locations
(Westpreußen u. mehr/ West Prussia & more)
In keeping with my map theme, I have provided links and pointers to what I consider 4 of the Internet’s best sites for genealogically useful maps covering the regions of pre-WW2 Poland (Polska) and the former German Eastern Provinces (mainly, Ost und West Preussen, Silesian, Pommern). When used in combination with current map tools such as Google Maps, you should meet with fairly high success in finding old place locations, names, etc. At least, I have had that good fortune.
The most comprehensive database of its kind in the world. It contains 90820 locations with over 38.691 name changes once, and 5,500 twice and more. All locations are EAST of the Oder and Neisse rivers and are based on the borders of the eastern provinces in Spring 1918. Included in this database are the following provinces: Eastprussia, including Memel, Westprussia, Brandenburg, Posen, Pomerania, and Silesia.
The Atlas des Deutschen Reichs shows the division of the Empire into the nine main maps and two smaller maps of the original atlas. This atlas is a digitized version of an item in the collections of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries.
Author: Ravenstein, Ludwig.
Title: Atlas des Deutschen Reichs / bearb. von Ludwig Ravenstein.
Summary: Zehn Blätter im Massstab 1:850,000, mit vollständigem Register aller auf der Karte enthaltenen Namen, nebst drei statistischen Karten der Bevölkerungsdichtigkeit, Konfessionen und Gewerbthätigkeit in Deutschland, und 16 Produktionskärtchen über Bodenkultur, Tierzucht, Nutzpflanzen und nutzbare Mineralien; mit ausführlichen statistischen Übersichtstabellen.
Zadaniem internetowego Archiwum Map Zachodniej Polski jest bezpłatne, szerokie udostępnianie wysokiej jakości kopii map archiwalnych. Szczególne miejsce zajmuje wśród nich niemiecka mapa topograficzna w skali 1:25000, cechująca się wysoką szczegółowością i dokładnością.
There are many websites on the Internet with scanned old topo maps, but resources related to Poland are limited. Polish Military Geographical Institute (1919-1939) developed and printed topographic maps which, in the 1930s were rated among the best in the world. Nowadays these maps are a fountain of information about pre-WW2 Poland and, at the same time, can be still used in the field to locate villages which have long disappeared from the ground and can not be found on modern maps. For these reasons we believe these maps should be made widely accessible and what better way than through the Internet? Although a daunting task we are positive we will manage to collect and present scanned images of all WIG maps and other geographic materials the Institute published.
The maps on this page indicate where various European German speaking peoples lived prior to the German Expulsions (Vertreibung) post-World War 2.
* Beschreibung: Darstellungskarte der deutschen Mundarten im Jahre 1937. Daneben werden auch die Dialektgebiete in Holland und Belgien angeführt, die in der deutschen Sprachwissenschaft noch bis 1945 als Teil des deutschen Sprachgebietes galten. Diese Gebiete sind farblich blasser gestaltet.
* Zeichner: Postmann Michael
* Lizensstatus: Public domain
* Green: Upper German
* Blue: Central German
* Orange: Low German
* Light orange: Dutch
* Rose (light and intense): Frisian
* Light blue: Limburgish
Description: Representation map of the German dialects in the year 1937. Mapmaker: Postmann Michael
The following map gallery illustrates the historical migration of Germans to the East as well as the pre-World War 1 location of other linguistic groups.
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.
Pietzkendorf bei Ladekopp Foto
Milchbude Lage und Pietzkendorf Landkart
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.