[Ger-Poland-Volhynia] Re: Registration of deaths by Germans

Jerry Frank franklyspeaking at shaw.ca
Tue Dec 16 08:18:00 PST 2003

I could not answer your question directly but I have a friend in Germany
who is currently reading one of Oskar Kossman's books about this era.  Here
is his response.  The English is a little bit stilted by I think the basics
are understandable.  I did some minor editing to improve the readability.

The questions, which Richard Stein put, made me look into
Kossmann, Oskar Eugen: Die Deutschen in Polen seit der Reformation, Marburg
(Herder-Institut) 1978.

Richard Stein regarded the BMD-development/course  of the Sompolno-region
in the years 1782 to 1799.

The Sompolno - region at this time has to be seen as typical colonisation
area into which groups of people invaded, willing to clear and cultivate
land.  Having a look into the church-registers, is noticeable that there
are only a few  marriages:  Kossmann refers on page 304 that before leaving
the former home, the younger people married "zu Hunderten" which I
translate with "in enormeous numbers that could be only counted with groups
of several hundred people".  You can say that the colonists arrived either
as married couples or as not married young men, as bachelors.

That there where only few cases of death seems to me to have  natural

As far as I know,  all BMD events had to be registered in the church
records, generally of the catholic churches. These registrations  have been
the income of the parish priests.   Looking to the children4s    the
mortality - rates it is for me difficult to say if they are in a,
statistically seen, "normal" range.   Holsche [Kossmann p. 204/205 ] gives
informations about the birth- and mortality-rates in the Netzedistrikt, the
region we are speaking about.

First he says that the mortality rates are generally not exact, of the BMD
- records the worst - documentated.   Kossmann calculates of Holsche4s
"Mortlitdts- und Zeugungslisten" (= D and B - records) of 1785 to 1790 for
the year 1788 a birth-rate of 50 pro mille (50 for 1000) and a
mortality-rate of 32 pro mille (32 for 1000),  for 1790 a birth-rate of 50
pro mille and a death-rate of 30,5 pro mille.

It is evident that the birth rates and the death rates as recorded
for  Polajewo in the time we are looking at, could not be correct.   The
birth rates will be most correct, as the colonists have been devout
(Lutheran) Christians and let all their children baptize.

I presume (!) 2 reasons for the disproportionateness:
Being poor people, the settlers buried their children on their own ground
and not on the churchyard, having as minister/priest their (Lutheran)
preacher whom they saw every Sunday. So they saved money for the record in
the catholic church.
On the other side, they needn4t to meet  the not so beloved representative
of the catholic church: at this time there have been greater hostilities
with the catholic church which regarded themselves as the only true church
and forced people to become catholics.

Perhaps I should remark that the Polish farmers haven4t got the same status
as the Germans had:
The Polish have been dependants (Frohnbauern) of their landlords, a
situation, which made them raise  only few children. The German Colonists
have been able to do on their farms, which were  at their own, what they
wanted. They had much more children than the oppressed Polish farmers.

Well, hope to have given Richard Stein a satisfactory reply,
Dietmar Kurtz

At 02:56 PM 12/12/2003 -0700, Richard A. Stein wrote:
>I have been looking at Polajewo Catholic records on LDS film 2065552/5
>covering the period from 1653 to 1799.  Polajewo is located about 15 km
>northwest of Sompolno. Germans started to settle in the area around 1780 and
>registered their BMD in the Polajewo Catholic church.  The earliest German
>villages in this parish were Rucko Wielki, Przewoz Maly, Kaczewarta, and
>For the period 1782 to 1799, I identified German people as follows:  130
>births, 12 marriages, 5 deaths.
>In view of the normally high infant mortality rate prevalent then, I would
>have expected many more deaths.  I can understand the low number of
>because most were young families with few children of marriageable age.
>I have several questions:
>1. Were the people compelled to register BMDs before the annexation by
>in 1793?  between the annexation and the arrival of Napoleon?
>2. Did they register births because they were compelled to, or because they
>wanted to christen their babies?
>3. Did the Germams simply not bother to register their deaths, or is there
>some other reason?

*Please Note NEW Email Address*
My old one will be phased out early in the new year.
Jerry Frank - Calgary, Alberta
FranklySpeaking at shaw.ca

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