Observations about “The German Population”

The authors of the Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923 observed 1 that the German “colonists” were
• A small number of Prussian subjects from neighboring Mazurian districts
in the south.
• A number of German districts in the center.
• A number of Lithuanian districts in the north.

German Colonization Totals 2

In Suwalki Protestants in the 1897 Census numbered 6.4%. From 1897 to 1910 they decreased 0.9%.
The 1897 %age of Germans was 5.8%. From 1897 to 1910 it decreased 1.5%.
In 1897 the Germans numbered 30,000. From 1879 to 1910 this decreased by 3,000 or 10%.

This data reveals a decrease in the German population. The -at families were all part of this overall emigration of Germans from the Government of Suwalki.

The authors of the Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923 concluded:

The influx of Germans into the Kingdom of Poland is of no great importance and, at the present day, they form at the maximum, merely about 3.5% of the total population….German immigration has succeeded only in creating … agricultural colonies, which live severed from their surroundings, scattered about in different parts of the Kingdom…. As a sequel to their natural increase, to the return of colonists to their original homes, and to the process of assimilation, the proportion of the German element is shrinking in all the governments….The Kingdom contains slightly more than 400,000 German colonists. 3

Correlating evidence furnished by the Consistory for the Lutheran Augsburg Confession in 1913 estimates that the Lutheran population was 500,000 at most; in 1897, 99% of the Protestants in Suwalki were Lutheran. There were between 433,000 and 440,000 German Lutherans in 1910. Few German manors were established between 1890 1893, and a larger number of the old colonies had disappeared.

Thus the German population of the Kingdom forms little groups of scattered colonies, groups that are neither important nor homogeneous, not linked one to the other in different parts of the country. A certain national conservatism characterizes the German farm worker, but commercial relations bring him closer to the Polish peasant. The German agriculturists live in compact aggregations and perhaps attract other Protestants. Furthermore, Germany is incapable of supplying and the Kingdom of receiving, any agricultural colonists. 4

The authors suggest a few reasons why the German population did not emerge as a distinct class: they were much more attached to their respective mother countries than to the great German fatherland, for local patriotism was a strong trait. They also attached themselves to the country that provided them with work. The authors concluded:

There is in every German something of this generative (having the power or function of originating, producing, or reproducing) force of the ancient Germanic tribes which impels him to transfer his efforts and his breed to other nationalities. 5 In Poland this meant that the three to four percent of Germans lived there without any great problems.

In the Kingdom of Poland the Germans were more numerous in the lower classes of the Protestants, and the Poles belonged to a more cultured class. 6

Germans Born in the Kingdom of Poland as recorded in the 1897 census

In 1897 there were 30,485 Germans born in the Kingdom pf Poland.
1,683 were German subjects.
1.599 were Prussian subjects.
2,304 were born in Prussia.
33 were born in the German states.

A large majority of the German population was not composed of foreign subjects but of people born in the Kingdom. There were few new immigrants. The immigrants that came were not only from Prussia but from distant parts of the German Empire. Thus, the German immigration into Poland did not come from a natural advance of Germany. In Suwalki, however, there was an overwhelming Prussian migration into the Kingdom of Poland, especially to the government of Suwalki. 7

Note: In the –at family researched the relatively small number of German Lutherans also resulted in several marriages between and among the same families.

Because of the extremely small proportion of Germans in the liberal professions and traders in the Kingdom, where language and close relations with the general population were important, and because those professions hold the highest places in social life, the authors suggest that German society had no existence in Poland. German “kultur” is preserved in “the bosom of their homes and within their scattered colonies, but…they are incapable of transmitting it to their surroundings.” They took no part in the public life of the Kingdom and did not form a separate party. 8

Occupational Groups of the German People

Six occupational groups of the German people are listed: Liberal Professions, Agriculture, Industry, Ways and Communications, Commerce, and Miscellaneous, 9 but only the agriculture occupation is shown.

The agricultural population of Germans numbered 5,323,175.
The total agricultural population was 9,372,313.

In 1897, the German colonists owned, as a rule, their farms; on the other hand, there were very few Germans who were large landowners in the Kingdom. About 3.1% of the Government of Suwalki could be considered “German landed property.” As the German population declined, the same amount of property held by the Germans also
diminished. 10

Differences between the Industrial and Agricultural Groups

In Suwalki the % of Germans was 5.8%.
There were 0.9% in the Liberal Professions.
There were 58.2% in Agriculture.
There were 30.2% in Industry.
There were 1.5 in Commerce.
There were 10.8 in miscellaneous occupations.

In the Kingdom of Poland the %age of Germans was 4.3%.
There were 1% in the Liberal Professions.
There were 50.3% in Agriculture.
There were 36.7% in Industry.
There were 2.7 in Commerce.
There were 9.3 in miscellaneous occupations.

There was a very small proportion of Germans in intellectual occupations and in commerce. The occupations of ancestors and immigrants of the -at researched included a gamekeeper, a blacksmith, a painter and musician, and an unskilled laborer. In Suwalki the differences between the industrial and agricultural groups fit the national average. 11

Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 711.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 713.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 714.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 715.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 716.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 717.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 719.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 720.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 719.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 721.
Polish Encyclopaedia of 1923, 720

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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