People and Religions

The People

In the Middle Ages the Germans who colonized Prussia and the Kingdom of Poland were primarily Northern Germans (Lower Saxons) and Germans from the Centre (Franconians). A few Dutchmen and Southern Germans (Bavarians) also came to this area. After Poland was partitioned in the late 18th century, Germans emigrated from all parts of Germany. In the Kingdom of Poland, the most numerous were Prussians, South Saxons, Franconians of the Palatinate, and Swabians from Württemberg. 1 Which one of these German groups, if any, the -at ancestors may have come from remains unknown. Generally, Germans had been migrating east for centuries; there was no mass migration at any one time.
The Government of Suwalki encountered many national evolutions. (See The Lithuanian Perspective in a subsequent post.) Originally, the Lithuanians settled the northern part of the land as well as the territory to the south and the west. Eventually the Lithuanians gave way to the Poles who took over former northern Lithuanian areas. In the same way that the German nationality merged with the old Western Slav countries, the Lithuanians merged with the Poles, but the Lithuanian influence did not have a great impact on the Polish culture. By the early part of the 20th century, the Lithuanian influence included a few legends and a few place names. Throughout all these evolutions the Government of Suwalki remained the dividing point of the two nationalities: the Lithuanians occupied the north, and the Poles the south. Lithuanians geographically defined the five northern districts in the Government of Suwalki. The present borders of Poland and Lithuania show this division of the former Suwalki government 2 (See maps in previous posts.) comprised of six linguistic groups, the large Polish mass, and five small groups, Lithuanians, Jews, Germans, Russians, and Ruthenians. 3 (Ruthenians were an eastern Slavic-speaking people who today inhabit the area that is now Belarus and the Ukraine.). 4 The 1897 Census reported that 9.3 % of the population of Suwalki was Lithuanian and 45.1 % was Polish.


In the whole Kingdom of Poland there were 407,274 Germans or 4.4% of the population reported on the 1897 Census. There were 425,216 Protestants of which 414,769 were Lutheran. Of the soldiers included in the census, 3,127 declared German as their language. The 1897 Census also reported that 81.6% to 85.7% Catholics lived in Maryampol. In Wylkowiszki the census reported that 70.3% were Catholic, the average number in Suwalki. Indeed, over 80% of all the districts in the Kingdom were both Polish and Catholic, except for five districts in the Government of Suwalki, two of which were Wylkowiszki and Maryampol. Clearly, Maryampol and Wylkowiszki were a small area populated by German Lutherans but in a government of mostly Catholic Poles and Lithuanians.

Differences in Religions in the Kingdom of Poland from 1827 to 1909

Roman Catholic were 84.1% in 1827 and 76 % in 1909.
Orthodox were 0.1% in 1827 and negligible in 1909.
Jewish were 9.3% in 1827 and 14.6% in 1909.
Greek Catholic were 1.9% in 1827 and 4.7% in 1909.
Protestant were 4.6% in 1827 and 5.3% in 1909.
Others were 0.1% in both 1827 and 1909.
Both 1827 and 1909 total 100%.

Religious Make-Up

In the Kingdom of Poland the Germans were a minority as the figures from the 1897 Census show.

German Minority in the Kingdom of Poland in 1897:
Single, Married, Widowed, Divorced, Unknown

Poles: 2,512,502 single; 318,288 married; 4,193 widowed; 2,797 divorced; none unknown.
Jews: 748,692 single; 465,186 married; 49,526 widowed; 3,227 divorced; 563 unknown.
Russians and Ruthenians: 356,164 single; 251,067 married; 23,799 widowed;
253 divorced; 578 unknown
Germans: 239,426 single; 149,378 married; 17,805 widowed; 523 divorced; 142 unknown
Lithuanians: 186,432 single; 107,466 married; 16,495 widowed; 139 divorced; 99 unknown
Others: 21,078 single; 7,945 married; 623 widowed; 27 divorced; 134 unknown
Total: 5,469,515 single; 3,493,544 married; 426,536 widowed; 8,345 divorced; 4,313 unknown

1 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 65.
2 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 752.
3 Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 622.
4 “Ruthenians,” online , data downloaded 25 September 2009.

About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
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