History has a tendency to repeat itself – Poznań Bamberg settlers

Poznań had to deal with the problem of declining population and farmland lying fallow many times throughout its history. The situation was most serious in the first half of the 18th century. The city was destroyed by the Great Northern War as well as by diseases and looting which came with it. Fires, floods and a hurricane which followed the war and hit Poznań delivered the finishing blow. The city lied in ruins and the population decreased by half – to only 3,500 people.

In order to provide Poznań with some temporary income, a decision was made to first help the surrounding villages. Therefore, the authorities invited settlers, mainly from the German city of Bamberg. Just like medieval settlers, they were given tax reliefs, building materials for houses and seeds to sow. However, there was one condition they had to meet to settle: they had to be Catholics.


Women settlers from Bamberg wearing everyday clothes, the beginning of the 20th century, photo from the collection of the National Museum in Poznań

Main photo - History has a tendency to repeat itself – Poznań Bamberg settlers

Between 1719 and 1753 about 90 families from Bamberg, that is 500-900 people, arrived in the land by the Warta River. They were not subject to serfdom. They paid rent for the land they received, which helped boost the city’s economy. As Catholics, over time, they assimilated into the local community, entering into mixed marriages. During the Prussian rule, when Otto von Bismarck’s rule directed against Poles and Catholics began, Bamberg settlers sided with the Polish community. Despite their background, they developed a separate identity which completely escapes simple national classifications.

Ślady dawnych gospodarstw bamberskich można odnaleźć w budownictwie niektórych dzielnic śródmiejskich. Na zdjęciu dawna zagroda bamberska na Jeżycach, domena publiczna

What was the population of Poznań?

  • 14th century about 4,000 people
  • 1600 20,000 people
  • 1714 about 5,000 people
  • 1800 about 18,000 people + about 3,000 Prussian soldiers
  • 1900 110,000 people + about 7,000 Prussian soldiers
  • 1946 about 267,000 people
  • 2021 about 630,000 people
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History has a tendency to repeat itself – Poznań Bamberg settlers