First posted on March 8th 2009

Demographic History of Silesia

Note : this page is conceived telegram-style and selective (lists of wars deemed destructive, lists of epidemic diseases, years of famine etc.)
The data given below refer to the territory Niedersachsen since 1946, including historical events pertaining to the territory further back in history.
In regard to placenames, the German spelling (Niedersachsen instead of Lower Saxony, Hannover instead of anover, Braunschweig instead of Brunswick) is used.

Deportation & Genocide
Ethnic Groups : Wends
Ethnic Groups : Frisians
Ethnic Minorities : Roma (Gypsies)
Religious Minorities : Catholics, Lutherans, Jews
Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
Labour Migration : Immigration, Emigration
Political Refugees : Emigrants, Immigrants
Rural Population
Population Figures
Wartime Destruction : Battleground Silesia

Deportation & Genocide
1234 Crusade into Stedingen, massacre of Stedingers
1350 Anti-Jewish Pogrom in Braunschweig; Jews expelled from Hannover and Wildeshausen
1371 Jews expelled from Duchy of BraunschweigLüneburg
1424 Jews of Osnabrück, except for two families, expelled
1457 Jews evicted from Princebishopric of Hildesheim
1543, 1545 Anti-Jewish Pogroms in Braunschweig
1546 Jews evicted from Braunschweig
1557 Jews evicted from Duchy of Braunschweig
1588 Jews expelled from Hannover's Altstadt
1591 Jews evicted from Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
1595 Jews evicted from the city of Hildesheim
1609 Jews evicted from the city of Hildesheim
1933-1945 Concentration Camps at Bergen-Belsen, Börgermoor, Esterwegen, Neusustrum (the last three in 1938 combined to Papenburg), Moringen, Vechta (all within the borders of modern Niedersachsen) were sites where genocide of Jews and Gypsies, and murder of political opposition and other victims of the NS regime was conducted
1938-1945 The Jews of Hannover, Braunschweig, Oldenburg, Schaumburg-Lippe were deported to concentration camps.

Ethnic Groups : Wends
The district of Lüchow-Dannenberg is also called Hannoversches Wendland, because here a Slavic language has been spoken until about 1700. The introduction of mandatory elementary education in the Lutheran Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg is regarded the cause for the assimilation of Wends into speakers of German.

Ethnic Groups : Frisians
Historically, East Frisia, the Jeverland, Rüstringen, Butjadingen, the Stadland and Land Wursten, among Niedersachsen territories, formed part of Friesland. Here, in the Middle Ages and in the Early Modern Era, Frisian law prevailed. Recently, however, only in a few villages in the Saterland a dialect of Frisian was spoken. It appears that toward the close of the Middle Ages many Frisians were bilingual (Frisian, Lower German); in the following centuries, Lower German replaced Frisian as the first language. An attempt to revive the Frisian language in the 19th century, in the Lower Saxon parts of Frisia, did not find much resonance. Frisian was not only a term describing an ethnicity, but also a political constitution (Frisian Liberty).
In the western part of East Frisia (in and around Emden), from the 16th to the 18th century, Dutch was spoken. In all of the aforelisted territories, from the 16th century onward, Latin and Lower German were the language of administration; from the 18th century on, High German was taught in schools.

Ethnic Minorities : Sinti and Roma (Gypsies)
Present in the region from the 15th century. In 1935-1945 exposed to deportation and genocide.

Religious Groups : Lutherans
Conversion to Lutheranism : County of Hoya 1523, East Frisia before 1528, city of Braunschweig 1528, in the Duchy of Braunschweig-Lüneburg in 1527-1530, the County Bentheim in 1544, c.1568 the Duchy of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel, in 1568 Stift Bremen. Oldenburg, which first had implemented the Reformation Calvinist style, switched to Lutheranism in 1573. The Lower Stift Münster remained Catholic; the Stifts Osnabrück and Hildesheim were contested by Lutherans and Catholics.

Religious Minorities : Catholics
The bulk of the ethnic Polish population of Silesia remained Catholic. The Counterreformation, implemented since c.1620, resulted in a steady growth of Catholicism (Conrads p.295).

Religious Minorities : Jews
Pogroms and expulsions in the 14th to early 17th century. In a number of cases Jews were readmitted soon after expulsion; the frequency of such expulsions, and the coordination of expulsions in 1591 however resulted in reducing the Jewish population of the region to very low numbers; only in he 18th century did the Jewish community experience significant growth, which continued through the 19th and early 20th century. During the period of Nazi rule subjected to the Holocaust.

Epidemic, Pandemic Diseases
1350-1351 Bubonic Plague in Braunschweig
1365-1366 Bubonic Plague in Braunschweig
1565 Pest in Braunschweig
1582 Pest in Braunschweig
1597 Pest in Braunschweig
1609 Pest in Braunschweig
1625 Pest in Braunschweig
1657-1658 Pest in Braunschweig
1667 Pest in Oldenburg

1664 Famine

Labour Migration : Immigration 1961-1975 Turks, Spaniards, Italians, Greeks, Yugoslavs

Labour Migration : Emigration

Political Refugees : Emigrants
1933-1945 opponents of Nazism; victims of Nazi persecution

Political Refugees : Immigrants
1568-1648 Dutch Revolt; Calvinist refugees from the Netherlands seek refuge in Emden
1903-1910 Jews expelled from the Russian Empire
1945-1946 Ethnic Germans from east of the Oder Neisse line, from the Sudetenland etc.
1946-1990 East Germans
1992-1995 Bosnians

Rural Population
Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony) is part of the "Altsiedelland" (old area of settlement). It was not affected by the "Ostsiedlung" or settlement of ethnic Germans, with superior skills in crafts, trade and agriculture, in hitherto thinly populated areas east of the Elbe river.
Within Lower Saxony, the low-lying coastal stretches of the Frisian coast and the southern parts of the country, as far as they are not mountainous, are very fertile; much of Niedersachsen is Geest, a landscape shaped by sandy hills and intermittent moors. The soil of the Lüneburger Heide, for instance, was too poor to sustain farming without fertilization, and long was used for sheep herding, hence the heather.
On the Frisian coast in the late Middle ages, land reclamation took place by the means of dyke construction. The drainage of swamps began in the middle ages and was conducted at larger scale in the 19th and early 20th century, with improved technology. The introduction of fertilizer in the 19th century made possible the production of larger quantities of food, a factor Germans were reminded of when the country was under blockade twice (1914-1919, 1939-1945), when imports of fertilizer were interrupted and the quantities of harvested crops dropped sharply.
Serfdom had affected Niedersachsen only partially; outside of Frisia and of stretches of land with a similar constitution (Hadeln, Kehdingen, Altes Land). In those areas where it did exist, serfdom was abolished in the early 19th century, permitting persons from the country to freely migrate to cities. The expanding industries of Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover, Braunschweig, Wolfsburg and more distant agglomerations attracted workers from rural communities.

Population Figures
Niedersachsen was created in 1946; hence no censi for this area were held prior to that date. Lahmeyer gives its population for 1946 as 6,430,800, in 1961 as 6,675,000, in 1980 as 7,256,000, in 2001 as 7,926,000 inhabitants.
Populastion dates are available for the years preceding 1946 for the political entities which merged to form Niedersachsen in 1946 - the Prussian province (until 1866 Kingdom of) Hannover, the Grand Duchies of Braunschweig and Oldenburg, and Schaumburg-Lippe. However, the figures for Braunschweig include the inhabitants of small territories which in 1937/1946 were integrated into Sachsen-Anhalt (Blankenburg). Also, minor border corrections have been made (Bremerhaven, Amt Neuhaus) which do affect the population figures.
Kingdom of Hannover 1843 1,755,400, 1862 1,854,700, Prussian Province Hannover 1868 1,937,700, 1881 2,120,000, 1911 2,942,500, 1939 3,457,500. Grand Duchy of Oldenburg (without Birkenfeld, Fsm. Lübeck) 1841 220,900, 1862 239,200, 1876 248,100, 1901 318,400, 1911 311,200, 1939 577,700; Grand Duchy of Braunschweig 1841 262,900, 1862 282,400, 1881 348,900, 1901 464,300, 1911 494,300, 1939 599,200, Schaumburg-Lippe 1844 27,600, 1939 53,200.

Seats of bishoprics : Osnabrück, Hildesheim, Verden. Imperial palace : Goslar. Immediate cities : Braunschweig (until 1671). City status since the Middle Ages : Stade, Lüneburg, Celle, Hannover, Wolfenbütel, Northeim, Einbeck, Göttingen, Hameln, Emden, Wildeshausen, Delmenhorst, Oldenburg etc.
Cities which emerged in consequence of the Industrial Revolution : Harburg, Salzgitter, Wolfsburg, Bremerhaven, Wilhelmshaven.

Wartime Destruction : Battlefield Niedersachsen
1229-1234 Crusades into Stedingen
1369-1373 Lüneburg War of Succession
1519-1523 Hildesheim Stift Feud
1525 Conquest of Wursten
1542 Expedition of Schmalkaldic League against Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel
1545 Failed attempt of Duke Heinrich of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel to reconquer his Duchy
1546-1547 Schmalkaldic War
1553 Siege of Minden
1568-1648 Dutch Revolt (affected adjactent territories)
1605-1606 Siege of Braunschweig
1615 Siege of Braunschweig
1618-1648 Thirty Years War
1653-1654 First Swedish War on Bremen
1663-1664 Border Conflict between Münster, East Frisia
1666 Second Swedish War on Bremen
1671 Siege of Braunschweig
1672-1674 Münster at war with he Dutch Republic (Dutch War of Louis XIV.)
1689-1693 Lauenburg War of Succession
1756-1763 Seven Years War
1799-1802 Second ar of the Coalition
1805 Third War of the Coalition
1809 Black Duke fought his way to the coast
1813-1815 Wars of Liberation
1848-1849 German Revolution & its suppression
1866 Seven Weeks War
1918-1919 German Revolution & its suppression
1939-1945 World War II; 1940-1945 Niedersachsen xposed to aerial bombardment; 1945 battleground

Konzentrationslager 1939-1945 auf dem Gebiet des heutigen Niedersachsen, from Stiftung Niedersächsischer Gedenkstätten in German
Article Geschichte des Judentums in Braunschweig, from Wikipedia German edition
Articles Brunswick, Emden, Goslar, Göttingen, Hameln, Hanover, Hildesheim, Oldenburg, Osnabrück, from Jewish Encyclopedia
Article Stedingen, from Wikipedia
Hanns Dieter Schmid, "wie Judensachen zu behandeln". Die Behandlung der Sinti und Roma durch die Finanzverwaltung (Oberfinanzdirektion Hannover), in German
Article Landkreis Lüchow-Dannenberg, from Wikipedia German edition
EKD : Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Oldenburg
Articles County of Bentheim, Brunswick-Lüneburg, Duchy of Brunswick (-Wolfenbüttel), Bishopric of Hildesheim, Calenberg, County of Hoya, Prince-Bishopric of Osnabrück, Oldenburg (state), Archdiocese of Bremen, from Wikipedia
Article Pest in Braunschweig, from Wikipedia German edition
Zeittafel Oldenburg, from Treffpunkt Oldenburg
Zeittafel zur Geschichte Emdens, by Katharina Helms
DOCUMENTS Germany : Historical demographical data according to administrative division since 1950, historical demographical data of the administrative divisions: before 1950, by Jan Lahmeyer
REFERENCE B.R. Mitchell, International Historical Statistics 1750-1988 [G]

This page is part of World History at KMLA
First posted on March 9th 2009

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