Pomerania, Germany Genealogy
Guide to Pomerania ancestry, family history, and genealogy: birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, parish registers, and military records.
Finding Birth, Marriage, and Death Records for Pomerania
Most of your genealogical research for Pomerania or Pommern will be in three main record types: civil registration, church records, and, when available, a compiled town genealogy ("'Ortssippenbuch" or "Ortsfamilienbuch" in German). These articles will teach you how to use these records on digital databases, as microfilms, or by writing for them.
- Civil registration
- Church records
- Town genealogies
- Finding Genealogy Records from the former German East
The name Pomerania comes from Slavic "po more", which means Land by the Sea.
This former maritime province of Germany is situated on the southern Baltic coast. The area was settled by the Slavic tribes Pomorzanie and Polabs in the 5th century AD. German migration into the western and central regions of Pomerania began in the late 12th century. In 1648, Sweden acquired western Pomerania (Vorpommern) by the Treaty of Westphalia, part of which was returned to Brandenburg in 1720. In 1815, Prussia recovered the rest of western Pomerania, thus uniting it with central Pomerania into one province called Pommern. Eastern Pomerania (Hinterpommern) was annexed by Prussia in 1772. In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles created the Polish Corridor, dividing Prussia and leaving part of Pomerania as a German border province with an area of 11,644 sq. miles.
The region was strongly affected by post–World War I and II border and population shifts. After Nazi Germany's defeat in World War II, the German–Polish border was shifted west to the Oder–Neisse line and all of Pomerania was under Soviet military control. The German population of the areas east of the line was expelled (forcibly removed), and the area was resettled primarily with Poles (some themselves expellees from former eastern Poland, today Ukraine) and some Jews and Ukrainians (resettled under Operation Vistula). Most of Western Pomerania (Vorpommern) remains in Germany, and today it forms the eastern part of the state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, while the Polish part is divided between the West Pomeranian and Pomeranian voivodeships, with their capitals in Szczecin and Gdańsk.
For German Research, You Must Know Your Ancestors' Town
- To begin using the records of Germany, knowing that your family came from Pomerania will not be enough to use the records of Germany. Records are kept on the local level, so you will have to know the town they lived in.
- Details about the town will also help:
- the county or "Kreis" of that town,
- where the closest Evangelical Lutheran or Catholic parish church was (depending on their religion),
- where the civil registration office ("Standesamt") was, and
- if you have only a village name, you will need the name of the larger town it was part of.
Research to Find the Town
If you do not yet know the name of the town of your ancestor's birth, there are well-known strategies for a thorough hunt for it.
- Use Gathering Information to Locate Place of Origin as a guide in exhausting every possible record to find what you need.
- Or watch this webinar: Online Class: Finding German Places of Origin
Pomerania emigration records:
- Pomerania, Germany, Passenger Lists, 1869-1901, index and images. ($)
If You Know the Town, Next Use Meyers Gazetteer
Once you know the town name you need, the other facts you need are contained in Meyers Orts- und Verkehrs-lexikon des deutschen Reichs, the gazetteer on which the FamilySearch catalog for Germany is based.
- Use MeyersGaz, the digital gazetteer, to find the details you need, particularly the Kreis (county) it belonged to, found after "Kr".
- MeyersGaz Help Guide
- Abbreviation Table
Here is part of an entry from MeyersGaz.org. (The whole entry can be studied at Heusenstamm, MeyersGaz.)
Next, find your town in Kartenmeister.com to learn the Polish name and upper jurisdictions that the town became known by after 1945.
A Typical Kartenmeister Record
Take These Online Classes to Prepare
- German Research: Strategies and Sources for Eastern Provinces. Be sure to download the class syllabus.
- Watch the Specific Geography portion to learn how to use MeyersGaz.org and Kartenmeister.com to get the details of the German and Polish names of your town and its higher jurisdictions.
- Watch the General Resources portion to learn how to check for parish registers using
- Watch the Pomerania portion, which begins at 28:52 minutes.
Genealogy Record "Loss"
Large numbers of genealogy records from this region are either lost or very difficult to obtain. The LDS Church only holds a small subset of the records that existed prior to World War II.
Displaced Persons Research
Towards the end of World War II, the Germans had to flee from the advancing Russian troops. Many families were split up along the way. These displaced persons eventually found new homes all over West Germany. Some eventually emigrated to the United States, Canada, and other countries. Many areas of German were given to Poland, and the German citizens were expelled. Several organizations have worked to gather data on displaced Germans in order to reunite families and provide aid.
- The International Tracing Service (ITS) in Bad Arolsen . Recently the ITS made its material available to the public for research.
- The Genealogical Society for Pomerania, the Pommerscher Greif, has volunteer research specialists who know about available sources and strive to encourage dialog between researchers.
- Heimatkreise, or “homeland organizations” exist for various Pomeranian counties in Germany today. Members include those who were born in the respective Kreis or had their permanent residence there, as well as their descendants. The Heimatkreis may be able to help you locate relatives or others who came from the same area as your ancestors. Many groups have homepages on the Internet ( usually in German), which can be located by entering “Heimatkreis + [county name] “ in a search engine such as www.google.de. Similar homeland organizations exist for the various Kreise in East Brandenburg, Posen (Poznan), Silesia (Schlesien), East Prussia (Ostpreussen), and West Prussia (Westpreussen).
- The Arbeitsgemeinschaft Ostdeutscher Familienforscher (Work Group of East German Family Historians or AGoFF) can also point you to various helpful organizations and web links for each area.
- The Kirchlicher Suchdienst (Tracing service of the ecclesiastical Welfare organizations) can also help in locating relatives who were displaced after 1945. More than 20 million persons are included in card files arranged by the town of origin known as "Heimatortskartei". Information about the Heimatortskartei Pommern is found here.
- Go to top right of screen. > Click "in English". > Go to "Town search in Pomerania". > Enter locality name. > Select from list of results. > Scroll down. > Click to interact with map
- Finding Genealogy Data in Central & Eastern Europe
- So you think your ancestor was Prussian…
- Researching “Lost” Eastern German Provinces
- Finding Former Eastern German Place Names
- Might your family be descended from Prussian Mennonites?
- Prussian Mennonite Research Materials
- Prussian Research Help and Tools
- Address Books
- Bund der Deutschen Minderheit Polens
- Deutsche Minderheit in Polen
- Finding Online Records in Poland
- Are Your Ancestors From Pommern, Cochem-Zell or From Pomerania (Pommern)?