Probably if you've been in town long enough you've heard the name Breslau mentioned and wondered what the hell he, she or it isâ¦? Ask any Germans however and they will be less puzzled, as Breslau was, until quite recently, one of the foremost cities in Prussia, the powerful Germanic state that bossed Europe until the end of the Second World War. And whereas today the majority of Europeans are happy to use the Polish name of Wroclaw, there are many west of the German-Polish border who still refer to this Silesian town by the pre-war title of Breslau.
Perhaps this is unsurprising if you consider that, whereas Wroclaw was governed first by the Polish Piast kings in the 10th century, from the 13th century onwards the city was populated predominantly by Germans. It was German settlers at this time that helped to rebuild the city after it had been sacked by the Mongols and to turn it into a thriving commercial centre. In the centuries that followed Wroclaw prospered under both the Bohemians and the Austrians, before, in 1741, Frederick the Great II took hold of the city and officially changed the its name to Breslau (the Germanic name however had been in use long before that). The next 200 years saw the city increasingly Germanised, although it was only in the years directly following the Nazis seizure of power in 1933 that this was done with aggressive intent. By 1938 the entire Polish community had been forced out of the city, along with two thirds of the Jews.
The city gained a new and bloody chapter in its turbulent history during the events of World War II, when Breslau became the last stronghold of the Third Reich in the struggle against the Soviet forces. Dubbed 'Festung Breslau' ('Breslau Fortress') by Hitler it was the scene of a brutal siege lasting 14 weeks and that cost the lives of 170,000 civilians, 6,000 German troops and 7,000 Russian troops. Finally the city capitulated (the last to do so, four days after Berlin) on May 6th 1945 in a state of absolute ruin. An estimated 70% of the city was destroyed. Those German civilians that hadn't been killed or evacuated were left at the mercy of the Red Army, for whom 'liberating' the city went hand-in-hand with drunken marauding, rape and pillage.
In the aftermath of the World War II, Stalin (who held the trump cards in the post-war negotiations) effectively shifted the whole of Poland west so as to include formerly Polish cities like Wilno (now Vilnius) and Lwow into the Soviet Union - granting Poland formerly German cities like Breslau as means of recompense. As a result the remainder of the German population of Breslau was evicted and forced to relocate within Germany's newly drawn frontiers. In their place arrived thousands of Poles from what is now the Ukrainian town of Lviv (which was previously the Polish town of Lwow). Naturally Breslau was given back its Polish name, Wroclaw.
Confused? Well so were the new settlers. Forcibly uprooted from their own town of Lwow, the shell-shocked Poles found themselves in a ruined German city, that they were now being told to call home sweet home. No wonder they didn't take to it straight away - not only did the German signs, road names, monuments and inscriptions evoke painful memories of their times under Nazi occupation, but the private possessions left behind in the houses were a constant reminder of the fact that they were living in a city that had been 'stolen' from another people.
In the years that followed Wroclaw underwent major surgery - both physical and mental. Great effort was made to propagate the myth of Wroclaw as a Polish city that has at last been returned from the hands of the dastardly Nazis to its rightful owners (a far from complete picture of the town's mixed heritage and colourful history). Much money was invested too, firstly in 'de-Germanising' the city with the removal of all German writings and inscriptions, and secondly in the restoration of the splendid 13th century buildings destroyed in the war, so that the bruised and battered city could hold its head high once more and embrace the future as a beautifully-restored Polish town.
However, underneath today's smiling and dynamic city lurk the shadows of history's wrongs. Questions raised about the unfair treatment of German civilians by the Polish after the war have undermined the moral high ground that many Poles like to take about their role in history and their perception of themselves as perpetual victims of foreign aggression. Perhaps that is why these days the Wroclawians genially welcome back the Germans as tourists looking to trace their former homes or those of their forefathers. They keep their consciences clean with the argument that whereas wrongs were done to many innocent Germans, much worse was done by the Germans to the Poles; and they remind themselves that they too were forcibly and unwillingly uprooted from their homes in Lwow, and by this reasoning they hope both to find empathy from their evicted counterparts, and more importantly to justify their abduction of the city. This last idea is something of a romanticised truth however - part of the Polish government's post-war propaganda was designed to assuage Polish guilt about the tenure of their new property. Only about 20% of the post-war population of Wroclaw arrived from Lwow and the surrounding area of the Kresy, with many more settlers in fact coming from Warsaw and Poznan.
Despite all the complications of its contentious past, or perhaps because of them, Wroclaw is a relaxed and forward-looking city that is keen to brush the cobwebs of history under the carpet. And let's face it, no one is keener to join them than the Germans, who more than any nation would like to encourage a 'forgive and forget' policy towards the events of the 20th century. This mutual acceptance of guilt serves the city of Wroclaw well. The Poles don't bring up the Germans' atrocities during the War, and in return the Germans don't ask for their city back. But whereas both parties would openly agree that they must be prepared to move on, the reality is less clearly defined. The fact is that you can forgive, but you can never forget - which is why Wroclaw today is full of German tourists hoping to find some small trace of the Breslau that they left behind.
If you are one of our German readers then you may find the following link useful for tracing Breslau's and her peoples' history: www.Breslau-Wroclaw.de
Polonus from United States Reply
For all those seeking documents related to birth , death , etc. go to Urzad Stanu Cywilnego , Wroclaw.... address is :..........Urząd Stanu Cywilnego - Registry Office, Ulica Pawła Włodkowica 20/22, 50-001 Wrocław, Poland. Good luck, Polonus.
Eric Kochman from Panama Reply
My father was born in Breslau in 1922, they left in 1938 . he was jewish. I wonder if i could find birth records or any other information regarding my family.
Stephen from Australia Reply
Thanks for this info and site. I am searching for info on Schmeigrode (Zmigrodek) where distant distant grandparent came from. Would any one your readers have suggestions, books, articles etc. Is anyone have family from here?
Anthony Morrow from United Kingdom Reply
My mother was born in Breslau in 1929 and even though I have travelled all over Poland I have never been to Breslau, but I have decided that next year I must go and see where my mother was born.
Gail Rose from United Kingdom
My mother was born in Breslau in 1925 and this year i went to see her home city . I had the most wonderful time and intend going back and take my daughter with me . You really must go and see this city
Armando Lara-Cuevas from United States Reply
I have a "Grand Father" clock which was made sometime I believe between 1900-1940. The name plate inside the clock shows it was made by Reinhold Assmann, Urmachermstr, Bismarckstr. 24. Breslau 10. I will be in Poland for the first time in September 2017 and will be traveling by train from Warsaw to Prague. If possible I would like to locate the location where the clock was made and determine if the Assmann family still lives at Bismarckstr 24.
petra from Australia
Armando, you are pushing your luck if you think the Assmann family could still be living at Bismarkstr.24,you might be able to get a city map of Breslau at a tourist office with German and polish names and from that you might find this place if it was not bombed just before war ended.Still enjoy your visit to Wraclaw - Breslau it is a beautiful town, good luck in your search,
Armando Lara-Cuevas from United States Reply
I found the review most informative and have posted a question below
Sieglinde Fretz (ms) from Germany Reply
I was born in Breslau in 1940. We remained in the city until early 1946 because my grandfather was tri-lingual and was useful to the Polish officials as a translator. Luckily we left for Northern Germany before the Iron Curtain came down later that year. I would love to locate my birth certificate but don't know if it survived. Does anyone have any contact info?
petra from Australia
Sieglinde, I was born in Breslau too in 1942, I found my birth certificate at URZAD MIEJSKI WROCLAWIA URZAD STANU CYWILNEGO ul.WLOAKOWLCA 20/22 5072 WROCLAW happily received a copy of the German original for a small fee. Hope you are "erfolgreich"
Debra Erkson from United States Reply
This was really interesting. I believe that Breslau or in surrounding area is where my Mothers side is from. There are docs that talk about Silesia and also Hermsdorf - not sure but their family name is Roenisch - they were meat cutters. How would I go about finding more on this area to see if they were here? All who would know that I could ask are now gone. :(
Ge4orge Somerville from United Kingdom Reply
my other was born in Brealau in 19-19, but I didn't read anything about all the Jews the Nazi's took and murdered, lucky for her, she got out and came to the U K in 19-39
Terrence Alleg from United States Reply
Originally from Lindenhurst,New York. Founded by mr Schlier from Breslau Silesia in the late 19th century as Thr City of Breslau,The name was changed to Lindenhurst about 1900.
Terrence Alleg from United States Reply
Interesting .Very informative, part of history I was not aware of.
max werner from Germany Reply
I was born in Breslau in 1940 and I believe in 1944 my mother and I became fluchtlinge and relocated to Munich. My father was killed in this war. This was the worst of times for my mother. Munich was pretty much bombed out. I thought this article was objective and insightful.
Kristin from United States Reply
My great great grandfather left Breslau in the early 1900's; however, several of his siblings remained. We have letters from his sister describing the turmoil after WW II. She talked about having her "papers" including her birth certificate taken from the Polish government and being forced to leave Breslau. She referred to herself as a refuge. She talks about losing all her families money when forced to leave. In one letter, she blames the "crazy, little Bohemian, Adolf Hitler" and reminds another brother about an argument they had in 1936 about the Nazi's. I assumed she was not a supporter. My question is this - my grandfather had copies of her letters. It does not say where she lived after she left Breslau. I was always told she lived in Eastern Germany. Does anyone know where many of the German residents of Breslau went? I read that most went to the Allied sectors, but she was caught behind the "iron curtain." She was 61 in 1945, so it has crossed my mind that she was not forced to leave immediately because of her age. No one left of that generation or my grandfather's to answer the questions.
Dan from United States
I am curious about the timeline of the letters. Were any letters from after being forced to leave Breslau? Do you know for sure if she made it to her new destination and setup a new home? If she did, it seems like you could find regular German records of her. They could be church, genealogy or government ones. Unfortunately, German civilians of all ages faced so much violence and inhuman conditions. It is a horrible story that not many know about. Her being 61 didn't give her any breaks since she spoke German. I don't know the answer to where many of them went after the war. You should share your grandmother's stories some how. It would be great for people to know how it was. You should read the read the book "Uprooted" by Gregor Thum, it might provide you some answers for Germans who lived in Wroclaw after the war.
Tish from Canada Reply
My birth Mother was born in Breslau in 1937 I am trying to find further information as none was given. I have little to go on first and last name. Any help on accurately where to acquire /inquire information would be great.
susan from United States Reply
My great-grandparents were from Breslau and they died in the camps in the early 1940s. My grandfather was able to escape by hiding in Vilnus for years. I have letters from them to my grandfather and had them translated. It's horrifying to read how they were one day living a "regular" life to then living in a labor camp then rounded up to be exterminated. I cannot find out any information on what happened to them. Poof! Just like that your family disappears. If anyone knows of a way to find out information on their disappearance, I'd love to know. The American-Holocaust Museum tried for me, but could not find anything. Very sad indeed.
Polonus from United States Reply
paai from Netherlands, please educate us and list all those "polish lies" and "polish propaganda", if you care ? There is no Breslau anymore and never will be. It was for hundreds of years and Germans , Poles, Czechs and others lived there in harmony. Wroclaw is the city that has a very rich multinational origins and "roots" not only exclusively German . The cleansing was ethnic , not genetic, and it was forced and done by the Russians and was based on the post-war treaties. The ethnic cleansing is horrendous crime , period.
paai from Netherlands Reply
I am sorry (but not really surprised) to see a lot of polish propaganda and lies on this site. Genetic cleansing was wrong, is wrong and will remain wrong, no matter who does it and why. I hope that Breslau will find its german roots again and will be proud of both its polish and german history.
susi Vinen from Australia Reply
This is very interesting to me. My mother who just died was born in Breslau in 1920 and is one of the people who had to leave all their belongings behind. Our ancestors names are PROSKAUER and WINTER. I tried to find out somethings about my grandfather's ancestors before my mother died to no avail. His name was Artur Bruno Proskauer and he was a a chemist. I plan to travel to this city and retrace my mother's childhood if it is possible.
petra from Australia
of course you should go and visit Wraclaw (Breslau) very interesting to do family research,Orbis tourist office might be of some help, also go to the university, the archive room, there are many books there with names and addresses of Germans up to as I remember to 1944 or so, some of the staff speak English also the Catholic or evangelical church might have some informations, you need lots of time for your research, am sure you will find some history, good luck
LaVerne Dierschke Knezek from United States Reply
My paternal great grandfather, Joseph Franz Dierschke was born in Endersdorf, Breaslau, Silesia, on Sept, 14, 1836. He married Pauline Seidel on Nov. 10, 1863 in Breaslau. She was born in Grottkau on Nov. 9, 1841. They landed in Galveston, Texas, on Nov. 6, 1867. I know nothing about any of their relatives left behind and cannot seem to find anything. Can anybody give me clues on further searching? Thanks.
Steven from Australia Reply
Thank you for the comments. I am tracing a distant relative who was born I believe born in Schmeigrode (a typing error had Lehmiegrode but I could not locate a village of this name in the municipality of Breaslau) I now believe it is the village called Schmeigrode)! Would u be able to derect me to a site of a map of this municipality listing towns and villages in the time of 1811-1837 when they immigrated to Australia. Many thanks for reading and help u can give Steve Oh sorry for the length!
Ted from France
She probably was born in "Lehmgruben" a village which is part of Breslau since the early 1920's. My Grandma used to live in this place before WWII and was relocated from there to Strasbourg in the end of 1944.
Polonus from United States from United States Reply
Who wrote this article and what was it's purpose ? Identify yourself by name ! Otherwise sign it with the sign of swastika ! This is the most stupid, naïve, ignorant , idiotic article ever written on the subject of the city of Breslau/Wroclaw. Somewhere else , in other article someone on this site "Local Life" wrote that Wroclaw is a "small city", small ? at 640 thousand ? as compared to what ? New York, Tokyo or Mexico City ? The idiotic, shallow statements in this article are too numerous to argue, but as an example, why don't you as the background to the article, mention the fact that when the Poles from the East came to the city , they found 75% of the buildings in ruins, 100 kilometers of sewers blown up, and no electricity and water ? Like they had time and energy to chase all those Germans remaining there, equally terrified and exhausted by war ? The Germans were expelled , they no longer belonged and were not welcome there, period ! They left in the organized manner, since the war was over and they did not have to duck their own soldiers killing them for trying to escape. Now it's Wroclaw and will stay this way for the next thousand years ! Now here I am a little emotional and maybe not rational? No problem. If you want objective, informative articles related to the subject, go to Wikipedia and read "Generalplan Ost", "Lebensraum", "Drang nach Osten", "History of German settlement in Central and Eastern Europe", "Devastation of Europe after WWII" and many, many others on the history of Germany, Poland and Europe in general. Then you will understand why the outcome of the war and the lot of countless cities and villages couldn't be any different than it was at the end. That's just for the beginner's and relatively easy reading. I was born in Wroclaw in January , 1947 and I am 3/4 German. I can attest to the carnage and destruction that the Germans inflicted on the city as the ruins were still visible well into the sixties. Yes, the Germans, because by establishing the Festung Breslau they signed the death certificate for that city. From the comments I've red , there are still a few Nazis coming around to play the "blame game" as if the Poles were equally guilty of the "war crimes". Nonsense ! No comparison ! Show me the proof of any Polish crimes, not a "hearsay". To all the Nazis out there, please come to Wroclaw and see for yourself how fantastic job the Polish nation did in rebuilding that city, maybe it was yours at those times? do not be afraid, they do not check under your arms anymore for the swastika tattoos ! Poles are ready there to welcome you and forgive you. To all those emotionally connected to this city, come as tourists but do not expect to find any traces of the past , such as streets, buildings, plazas, monuments, whatever, they do not exist ! A few old buildings that survived here and there mean nothing. There is now a new, fantastic Polish city named Wroclaw, very worthy of your visit and attention ! Anyway, in conclusion, the undeniable fact remains that all the German Kaisers, Caesars, Chancellors, Kings, you name it, are turning in their graves as their last dictator, "emperor" Adolf Hitler squandered the German progress of the last thousand years and by loosing that war , helped to reset the German territory to it's prehistoric borders ? Not mentioning the fact that now the Germans have to work really hard for the next few hundred years to repair their reputation ? And now, can we all get along in peace ? :) :) :) :) !
Anna from Poland Reply
I wondered the name Breslau and thats how I found this article. I didnt know much about the history of Wroclaw untill I read this article. Very interesting! I wanna visit soon.
Priebatsch from Israel Reply
I am interested to find a translation which helps to explore what is today's name of the prewar German street name. F.i what is the reichspraesidentenplatz platz called naw adays
Caroline McCasland from United States Reply
I enjoyed reading this article, as it concerns my heritage, and it was written in a way that doesn't form a prejudice for either the Germans or Polish people. My mother and her family were among the Germans who were expelled from their home. My mother was 20 years old at the time, and she didn't speak of what happened in much detail, as it was very difficult. Neither my mother, or any of her children, myself included, ever returned to or visited her homeland again. My mother passed away in 2007 in the United States, without ever seeing her German family again, but for one niece, who paid her a visit in the states. I would have loved to go there to walk among the places of my mother's childhood, but there is to much turmoil going on today in Europe, to take a chance to travel there. Thank you for the fairness to all parties in this article.
Gail from United Kingdom
Loved reading all the memories
Richard from United Kingdom Reply
Good article. Father was from Breslau but he was more than happy to call it Wroclaw. He visited the city only once more before he died and was overwhelmed with the welcome received from the Poles. He said it didn't matter who it belonged to as long as it was open for anyone to visit. I've been back many times, even learned some Polish (difficult language) much to the amusement and delight of the locals.
Margaret from Australia Reply
What a load of rubbish!!!! How dare anyone talks about "guilt"" that polish my feel in face of germans atrocities!!!!! The only true comment where you are right is you can forgive but never forget! !!!
Susan from United States
The Russians did just as much damage to this area as the Germans. My family lived through it. The Russians and Poles took all of my family's possessions and sent them packing.
Angela Baker from United Kingdom Reply
I am hoping for some help locating any family I may have from my Grandfather's side of the family. His name at birth was Paul Fritz Manfred Pohla, registered on his birth certificate as from Breslau. He remained in Scotland after his capture I believe in the 2nd world war. His papers state he was a mechanic although I'm led to believe he was part of the aircraft team, possibly captured during the war. He was born in 1921 and died in 1957 here in Glasgow. I would love any help, WW2 records are closed at present while they are digitally recorded.
Kerry from United States Reply
Hello All - my maternal Grandmother, her four siblings and mother were born in Breslau (she was born in 1923). We had a family history that went back well into the 1700s and likely much earlier. They escaped by train on February 13th, 1945 to Dresden, where their train stopped twice. The second stop was in a suburb, and the train could go no further. Then they set out on foot and walked following along the rail tracks to Bavaria, and just after the city began getting bombed. They ultimately left for Canada and the US in the early 1950s. She passed away in 2001. I have spent most of the summer collecting all of her stories about Breslau and their escape (as I was laid off from my job). I had been meaning to do this for many years, and now seemed like as good a time as any. I can't tell you how hard it has been, and how time consuming it has been. I have always considered myself an armature historian, so getting to the truth is very important to me. Information on this subject often times is very difficult to find, or I found is only partially accurate, or has misinformation of which the origins lie in both the communist Russian and Polish governments from the year just after the war (of which a small amount appears repeated above). Always cross reference your sources, and always be suspect when there is no author, publication or dates referenced. It is also very hard in that if you want a sense of the city as your German-Polish-Czech-Jewish ancestors experienced the city, everything is now in Polish. I had to recreate a big chunk of the city, in German, so I could begin to understand it the way my family had understood the city. The current tourist sites can only go so far in doing that for obvious reasons. I have found a number of ways to use the internet to translate information, and to sort out history. I have found, regarding some aspects of that history, that you will have to search for, and read several accounts, reconcile those accounts to your own family history, and then you might begin to see a more accurate picture. If your attempts at fining more "accuracy" lead you to additional discoveries, then you must be doing something right. It is not easy. It is very time consuming. It is tremendously rewarding. It is amazing what I have turned up, and the family members for which I have been able to reconnect with. As time permits, I would be happy to share anything I have learned about Breslau for those who had family living there from the late 1800s to 1945. I still have a great deal to learn, so I hope others can also help me advance my knowledge. There is no question the city, and culture were real gems in Europe. Good luck! My email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Gregor luttrell from United States Reply
My grandmother was from Breslau and came to America in 1924. Her family remained in Breslau and after the 2nd WW moved west. Her mother , who ran a stall selling eggs and some dairy in the narket, was in a nursing home and was killed, her brother was also killed in t h e war. She had two sisters and a brother that survived the war and resettlement in the west germany. I recently learned more of their flight and live during the war in breslau. Previously when I visited the cousins had not spoken if their life then. It is truly a testament of survival those that survived.
Tracey Jackson from United Kingdom Reply
My father was born in Breslau (now deceased).in 1926 ,his name was Erwin Kuntke .He never liked to talk about his life in Germany ,all we know is most of his family were killed and he was taken into Hitlers youth,was taken prisoner of war here and stayed and married my mum.Iwould love to know more but dont know where to start.Any ideas?
Angela Baker from United Kingdom
Hi Tracey, I wondered where in the UK your family are based. I'm Glasgow, my grandfaher was also from Breslau, born 1921, a POW, here and stayed after marrying my Gran. Did you ever find any information?
Gail Rose from United Kingdom
My mum was born in Breslau in 1925 . She became a displaced person when Breslau was taken . At the time she was a nurse and ended up on a boat to England . Sadly i lost my mum in 2007 , but in August my brother and i are going to Poland to see her homeland . Luckly i have all my mums papers so i hope to find out where
Fred-Christian Gabrielsen from Norway Reply
Thank you so much for this information. I know almost nothing about my fathers history. He was born in Breslau 16 July 1920 (Passport information). Is there any way to find birth records etc. from that period? Maybe at shot in the dark but my fathers name was Josef Michael Jedrzejczyc (he might changed the spelling - I don't know) And his mother name was Sofia Sonka. All I know is that they moved to another place in Germany before the war. My father came to Norway during the war and he never returned to his family. I wonder if I can have living cousins in Germany. Appreciate any help. Thank you :-)
Lukas from Hungary Reply
It's sad that i can read here so many lies probably by yours ignorance of history. We can read here in coments "1000 years german culture in Vratislavia" so WHO founded Archidioecesis Wratislaviensis ,WHY this diocese belonged to Polish Archidiocese in Gniezno for 800 years, WHY were there so many Polish dukes?? It's the fact that history of Vratislavia is largely german but you can't forget about Poles and Czechs because they created this city. It's funny when people wrote here that "Young Poles were being taught that Breslau had always been polish property and the Germans merely occupied the region for over 1000 years" NONSENSE! PS Don't blame Poles that they received this land because it wasn't their decision, their home was on east in Lwow,Wilno... Breslau could be german if germany didnt choose in democratically elected Adolf Hitler..
Werner Hoppe from Germany Reply
Interested in finding out how many Hoppe and Neumann famylies lived in Breslau - 1940. I was born in Breslau, 1934 - left in Dec. 1944 - ended up in Perg, Austria, train travel out of our hands - emmigrated to USA 1953 - drafted in 1954 thru 1956 send back to Germany with US Army - returned to to SLC, Utah. Thank you for all the Breslau postings. I visited with my 2 sons in 2012. We were impressed with the rebuilding, especially around the Rathaus. It was a great trip - hoping to return. All friendly receptions. We enjoyed our contacts at hotels, restaurants, stores and sightseeing tours. We hope to return. I seem to have overheard conversations of a survey choosing the Polish or German language to be spoken. The vote was close. Now that was interesting. Interestingly - all I wanted to know how was to find a specific group of perhaps - Hoppes and Neumans and find some relatives.
petra from Australia Reply
Volker Bradley you can go to Wroclaw Archivum, Archives,there are German "tagesbuecher" up tp 1942 I think, with names and addresses of people who lived there, maps of Breslau in Polish and German are available in the tourist office, hope you find your parents address
Rosel from United States Reply
My husband and I will be traveling to Poland in May as both of us have roots in Poland and my father was born in the Reichenbach area outside of Breslau. I recently ordered a book about Silesia that is like a photo album of over 1000 photos which made my 89 year old father very happy as he was not able to travel around his own country because of the WAR. If you study the history of eastern Europe prior to WWII, boundaries kept changing due to constant wars between the kings over centuries and then Silesia was given to what is now Poland after WWII. There has always been war but Hitler's Reich that invaded what was Poland at the time was devastating to all people. Breslau does not really belong to any one culture of people even though it is now part of Poland. We the people are at the mercy of our governments and military. I am so thankful that I can now travel to countries that were devastated by the war but even worse by communism ...the enemy of freedom. I will be happy to share my photos with my parents who were refugees of the war. Happy Travels
Kristi from United States Reply
My Great-Great Grandparents were born in Breslau. Thank you for clarifying the transition to Wroclaw. I recently found their U.S petition for Naturalization on Ancestor.com.....this explains quite a bit. Thank you
Klaus Hilse from South Africa Reply
My father was born in Breslau in 1916 and left in 1938 to live in South West Africa (now Namibia). His parents ended up somewhere near München towards the end of the war. We never met any of his relatives. It was very interesting to read about Breslau.
gerard from Argentina
Hi Klaus. My father also was born in Breslau and left in 1938 to live in Argentina. May we can contact :) email@example.com
Delores Rocks Humphrey from United States Reply
Is there any way of finding records from the late 1800's when it was Germany, or were they destroyed when it became a Polish city? My dad was born there in 1892 or 1893. Through Ancestry.com, I found passenger ship records (BULGARIA) from 1901 when they left Germany for Canada but would love to find other family records. My great grandparents & other relatives stayed in Germany & know nothing of them. The surname was ROKS on the passenger list, but maybe it was changed to ROCKS in Canada.
Janet from United States Reply
Breslau was German for centuries. It should return to Germany
petra from Australia
the thought of returning Breslau to Germany is wishful thinking inreality it would mean another war and we certainly had enough of this
gerard from Argentina
I agree Janet. firstname.lastname@example.org
caroline lewin from United Kingdom Reply
my grand father and grandmother lived there, before the war, they had a stud farm,and was great art collector he managed to flee before the war, was wondering if anyone knew him or my family im sure I have cousins somewhere I will visit Breslau soon ,
caroline lewin from United Kingdom Reply
very interesting article as my relations came from there
Judith Skilang from United States Reply
If anyone knows anything about marriage records please let me know. My Great Grandparents, Johann Muschell (Musiol) and Ide Pude were married in Breslau in the late 1800's. Thanks
Judith Skilang from United States Reply
It was a very informative article. I have been trying to do ancestry on my fathers family, so I clicked on the link. Unfortunately, I do not speak German. If there is a way to get such information, please email me at the following address. Thanks Judy Skilang
petra from Australia Reply
Most people in Wraclaw or Breslau have moved on, I found them friendly and helpful on my visits, soaked up its atmosphere, fantastic place, found my Opa's house standing there since it was built early 1920, I was born there in 1942 but cannot remember the town as I was a very young Fluechtling growing up in Germany
Dita from United Kingdom
I have also found people helpful and friendly and have in fact made friends. Like you I found the house of my birth and was invited into the flat itself. A very emotional experience.
Carl from United States Reply
I found this very interesting. My mother emigrated to the US in 1939. Some of her family were still in Breslau during WW2. I would be interested in information pertaining to Art and Adelt families. Some of the family members moved to Hannover just after end of WW2. Others had move to US before WW2 and in the 1950s.
Annegret from Germany Reply
I was born in Breslau in November of 1944 and left with my mother sometime in early 1945 with nothing more than the clothes we had on our backs and a baby buggy. We lived through the bombing of Dresden and continued on to Frankfurt to be with my mother's family. Enroute to Frankfurt, the kindness of strangers sustained us. We immigrated to the United States in 1950. The anti-German sentiment was so strong, that within six months after arriving in America, no one knew by my language skills that I was anything but American. Reading this article almost seventy years later makes me want to learn more about the city of my birth; but from what I'm reading the city I was born in no longer exists. I wonder if any records of births or baptism exists or were the obliterated along with cleaning away the German heritage. I have thought of going to Poland to see the city of my birth, but an wondering if I shouldn't go to Chicago or New York with the same effect.
petra from Australia
yes you should go and visit, it is a very beautiful town, I was born there too and found my original birth certificate in one of the towns offices.
Volker Bradley from United States
I was also born in this town in 1937 and visited there one month ago. It is a beautiful city now. While on a tour there, I asked how to find the address of where my parents lived. I was told that the best way to get this information is to ask for this information in Berlin. Don't know where to ask in Berlin
Jeannie from United States Reply
I found the article interesting and sad. My great grandmother, Rosalie Linke Dohrman was born in Breaslau in March of 1861, according to her death certificate and some other family records. I do not know anything about her before she married Fritz Wilhelm Dohrmann in October 1885 (I don't know where they married even). Within a month of their marriage, they emigrated to the US and settled in Concordia, Missouri, USA. Sadly Rosalie had 7 children, but only my grandfather, Adolph Heinrich Claus Dohrmann, lived long enouogh to marry and have children. Rosalie's husband and 6 children were all dead before 1925, leaving her and my grandfather. Rosalie never learned english and was blind when she died in 1950. Her belongings have long since disappeared and there are no records beyond a few pictures and letters written after 1918 and 1945. I want so very much to find out about Rosalie's heritage. There are a few pieces of mail written to her after WWI and WWII from her sister's children. However, I cannot seem to trace any of them. I do know who her parents were and I do not know where she and her husband Fritz were married. Fritz was from Hannover and was a Lutheran, but I suspect Rosalie may not have been born Lutheran, though her children were baptized Lutheran in Missouri, USA. How can I find out more about Rosalie Linke who was born in Breslau in 1861 long before either World War?
Heidi from United States Reply
I found this article so interesting as my mother was born is Breslau in 1919. She passed 4 years ago. She and her mother, like many, fled when the Russians invaded. Her 3 brothers all died in the war. I would like to know if there is any information on her family: Martha Schwarzer (my grandmother) Irene Schwarzer (my mother) Hans Schwazer (one of my mothers brothers) Karl Schmidt (my mother grandfather) Any information at all would be so wonderful as my mother and father are both gone and there is not much information to great any kind of a family tree to pass down to my children
deborag from United States Reply
Im yrying to findd people from breslau that lived there before the war or stayed after my mother inge kozlowski lived there with her familie her father herbert kozlowski was the local taylor please anyone from here contact me on facebook my name is deborah brock
George Cavanagh from United Kingdom Reply
I've just discovered that my maternal grand mother, Frau Marianna Gawronska, was from Breslau. A 1944 copy of my mother's birth certificate who was born in Dezember 1920 names her and the former German town and throws up some interesting details about my mother's past. I never knew Wroclaw once belonged to Germany.
Barbara G Smith from Germany Reply
I was born in Breslau Germany came to the USA in 1957 from Esslingen Germany! I find this Article very interesting sense I was very young when we had to leave Breslau! It would be very nice if someone could tell me where I could find a Map of Breslau that would have the Names in German on there, sense I am planing after so many Years to visit Breslau again!
Helen Weigel from Philippines Reply
My father was born and raised from Breslau and his name is Ersnt Wiegel . He came to the U.S at a very young age , having his name listed in Ellis Island , he enlisted in the navy , retired and went to southeast asia as an engineer.He fisrt got married to a wonderful japanese lady , who told my mother who is her friend to marry her husband once she will be gone .She died of cervical cancer. My father was 40 and my mother was 20 years old .When he became naturalized as a filipino he changed the spelling of his last name from Wiegel to Weigel but i don not know the reason behind it .When I was small my father always reminissed his parents and other members of his family and the farms that they own in Breslau and how beautiful the country was . He was about to bring my mother, brother and me to visit , having been tutored in speaking german to visit his home town but World War 11 happen. All of us have bounty in our heads when the japanese will capture us . My only regret is that I have not meet my relatives and seeing the place where my father was born. My dad passed away suddenly after the liberation party with all his american friends we have in our house . At 82 years of age , I wll just dream of how Bresalu would have look before the war.
Trent from Canada Reply
Pretty sure that after the war, much of Wroclaw was dismantled and by the Poles as they needed the bricks to rebuild their capital in Warsaw. Beautiful German mansions were taken down brick by brick for fear that eventually, the city would be taken back by the Germans (which almost happened had the Americans not stepped in). The idea was, if they're only going to have it for a while, let's get something out of it, at least. It's a beautiful city. The best pubs are under the railroad tracks and the best restaurant was Oregano. I wish there was more about the underground city, though. That is something that would be very interesting to know
Reinhold from France Reply
mon papa est né à Rausse, en banlieue nord de Breslau en 1925. Mes grands parents habitaient le long de l'Oder. Ma grand mère m'a expliqué les faits de guerre qui se sont déroulés dans cette région. Aujourd'hui, je voudrai retourner à Breslau et Rausse en mémoire de mes grands parents et de mon père.
Jim from United States Reply
Very good article> Is there some where I might find the history of Kainowe and Schlottau?
MAR from Norway Reply
A 1000 years of German culture cant be wiped off the map. No 1000 yeras, please read history again - is much more complicate - was Polish Czech Habsburgs Prus Greman and Polish again.
Mike Toepel from United States Reply
Thank you for this concise article. I was born there in Sept 1944 months before the evacuation of women and children as the Russians pressed thru moving the German army West.
Annegret from United States
Mike, I enjoyed reading your post. We are about the same age; I'm wondering about your story and how you ended up in Kansas?
HW von HAHN from United States Reply
My grandparents as well parents were born and raised in Breslau. They remained in Breslau until Festung Breslau was about to fall to the Russians. They then left Breslau with thousands of other Fluechtlinge, before the Russians entered the city. With a pack on their back, the only belongings they were able to take, they proceeded to the West, staying in many refugee camps on their trek. Our homes in Breslau as well as our farm in Weide-West outside of Breslau) were lost to the Russians and then the Poles. 1990 my mother visited for the first time Breslau again. She found our homes as well as our farm, all occupied by Poles. Some of the Poles who were residing in our homes were friendly and allowed my mother to enter their (our) homes, while other expressed a real hatred towards her and told her to leave their property. She found the church in which her parents were married as well as the graves of some of our relatives. Even the grave stones had anything in German removed. Young Poles were being taught that Breslau had always been polish property and the Germans merely occupied the region for over 1000 years. My parents were very active in Fluechtlings Vereinen, hoping that one day they would be able to re-acquire their property in Breslau and Schlesien, but realized that this would mean displacing again all the Poles who had been moved into our properties. They rejected that idea and accepted the fact that Breslau and Schlesien is forever lost. For years we remained active in Fluechtlings Vereinen in Germany as well as in New York City which had a Schlesier Verein. Subsequently we visited Schlesien and Breslau almost on an annual basis and got in contact with the German society in Breslau which is helping the Germans who remained in Breslau and Schlesien. We have shipped countless packages of clothing and German books to Schlesien. Until the border was open we smuggled German books into Poland. Breslau has now again a small German library with German books. The German government purchased a house in Breslau where there is an exchange in cultural items with the Poles. Slowly it is becoming acceptable again to mention in polish circles that one was raise in Breslau. Over 9 million Germans were ethnically cleansed from their homes. No one is suggesting that Schlesien should be forcefully made German again, but each time I listen to the Schlesier Lied, I have tears in my eyes. A 1000 years of German culture cant be wiped off the map.
Rheinhardt from United States Reply
A very good article.The new generation of Poles seems to be more realistic concerning the history of Breslau. There is still a substantial German minority in Silesia and Poland has been very gracious about allowing their culture to remain intact. The events after the war were atrocious and typical of European hypernationalism of the last 200 years. History is always written by the victors and lest it be forgotten the German invasion of Poland in 1939 was only after numerous attempts to rectify the borders drawn after WWI with numerous appeals from the German governments to the League of Nations during the inter war years. Millions of Germans found themselves in Poland after West Prussia (Polish corridor) was ceded to Poland. Germans were regularly harassed and "encouraged" to leave. The Poles are not the innocent victims the communists in Cold War Warszawa ( as hard to pronounce as Wroclaw, hence the English Warsaw, Ger. Warschau) liked to portray themselves. It is high time to admit that the French and British caused the conditions for the Second World War with their economic motives to eliminate Germany as an economic competitor. No high moral grounds here. Had Wilson's direction been followed, the war would have been avoided. Once again the German territory ceded to Poland, Russia and Lithuania were motivated by greed not justice. Please note that the expulsion of Germans from Silesia, Pomerania, East Prussia, Sudetenland and Memeland were the largest ethnic cleansing ever. The details of the murder of women, children and elderly (all able body men were fighting the Red Army) were a shameless act of cowardice. Yes, the atrocities of the Nazi's were unspeakable, but those committed by the Soviet Union, a UK and US ally, starting in 1917, are estimated to have claimed at least 20 million and as high as 70 million. Hopefully, Germans will be allowed to buy back farms and houses that their ancestors lost just as Germany allows Poles to buy land in Germany.
Ruth from United Kingdom Reply
THANK-YOU so much for the information on this website. I am a historian interested in Ferdinand Cohn, and seeking to know if anyone has any knowledge of what happened to his papers. Of course I recognize that with all the destruction of the city it is unlikely that should have survived.
sandy from United States Reply
This is an interesting read. My grandfather was born in Breslau, Albert Thiel G 1889. After he was married to Amanda Gecke or Geike, he lived in Fraustadt. Amanda Thiel had to leave after the WWII, and tells the story of walking with her suitcase for days, and sleeping in barns over night, until she was picked up by the Red Cross. My grandfather was released from a Polish POW camp and made his way home to Fraustadt to find Polish people living in their apartment. I would like to find out about my great grandparents, but am having trouble finding records.
Doreet from Israel
Dear Sandy I catch my breath to see your reqwest. My grand-grandmother was Rosa Thiel BORN AT 1875, I think from Breslau , married to Klammer ( Gustav ?) who left to USA.She was killed in Trebkinka at 1942.
Stephen McKenzie from Australia Reply
Thanks. my grandfather Hermann Alfred Moses was born here in 1888.
Peter Laws from United Kingdom Reply
Very interesting. My mother was born in Breslau in 1926, she and her 3 sisters left there as the Russian entered the town, They headed west and ended up in a Displaced Persons camp in Minden. However she left her parents and any other family in Breslau. Where would I find out what happened to the rest of the family.
Ed Stultz from United States Reply
Interesting article. To those complaining about how the Germans were treated - yes, they were treated badly. But whose fault was that? You can't expect much when you murder 40 million other people. Germans got off lucky considering what that country did.
Bill Lindborg from United States Reply
Hello, My 2nd Great Grandfather Ignatz Goeldner 1805-1550 and wife Maria Elizabeth (Zekel) Goeldner 1805-1881 were born in Breslau. Four Chrildren Julius G. 1824b, Carl Innatz G. 1829b, Veronica G. 1834b and Joseph G. 1844b. It was thought that Joseph may have be a Catholic Priest? I will be visiting Breslau in around July 21st 2012. Would like to find out more about the Goeldner family. Any recommendations would be great. Best regards!
Karen from United States Reply
I think this is a fair review of Wroclaw/Breslau Poland/Silesia. My family left there in Aug 1850. I would like to find if there are chruch or town records for this family. I have the dates of birth for the three children they brought with them but I have no idea of my ggrandmother's maiden name or any other information. The fact they were from (then) Breslau) is noted in the passsenger list from Bremen arriving in New York and on one death certificate I've found for the family. I'd like to find out if there was family still there until 1945 or if there was family that also immigrated. I fell certain there were given I find them among some of the same name- but no relationshp and not particularly close proximity in Buffalo NY in 1860, but he's dead sometime between 1860 and 1870 and she remarried. I've yet to find her but did finally find the second husband in Boston MA in 1900. None of that matters. I'd like to know their history in Breslaw/Wroclaw. He gave hi s occupation as watch maker coming into the US but he was an opera singer and that is how he made his living until his death. HIs grandsons continued that tradition and many were listed as professinoal musicians, including my grandfather during their life. Are there Church records or any civil records for Germans left in Wroclaw? If no, does anyone have any idea where to look for ethnic German's who lived in Wroclaw in the mid 1800's? I thought they were most likely Catholic but history says most German's living in the area were Lutheran or Evengelicshe? (my spelling isn't good. Does any one know where to find any marriage or baptism records for then Breslau now Wroclaw? Thank you in advance if you can help. I came to Berlin a few years ago but could not get anyone to go to Wroclaw with me. I would have loved to have visited despite or because of its history. War is ugly. Both sides are generally wrong. it would be nice if the world got that thought through their heads and found a better way but I have little hope. I can pray for such but reality isn't good.
Jeannie from United States
You wrote: "Does any one know where to find any marriage or baptism records for then Breslau now Wroclaw? Thank you in advance if you can help." Did anyone ever answer you? I am trying to trace my great grandmother who born in Breslau in March of 1861. I know very little about her. I would love to know where to write for church or historical records from mid 1800 to 1900.
Christine from United Kingdom Reply
Thank you for this article, reading it was very interesting. My mother was in Breslau whilst all of these atrocities were going on, she lived there with her then husband. The Russians and the Polish came into her home and told her to get out of it, she owned that home outright with her husband, she was forced to get out with the clothes she stood in and all that she ever had or worked for was taken there and then. The house was requisitioned. She never had any compensation for this and to to this day at the age of 88 finds it hard to talk about it even now she is scared. She went back to Breslau with my dad to find her street and it didn't even exist. Why was she never compensated? this I shall never know and don't even know who to contact. I feel sorry for her and for what she saw. So your article meant all that much to me to read.
petra from Australia
Most people who owned property in Schlesien were compensated by the "Lastenausgleichsamt" a department in Germany, I do not know wether it is too late now to inquire, worth a try
joanna payne-jones from United States Reply
thank you for the article. My great grandfathers family carl Charles Kolley came from Breslau I have a picture of his grave there. He was killed by Hitler and his paltry possessions sent to my grandmother around l932 . After reading this I realized that his entire family probably was chased out of that area. Would love to find out more hisory.
Thomas Kolley from Netherlands
My grandgrandfather was August Adolf Kolley born around 1855 and was some kind of official near Frankenstein south of Breslau. Family fled in 1945 in a traincar for animals west. I lknow very little and searching.
Pierre Savoie from Canada Reply
@Willi Krause, your analysis seems to use the loaded language of professional victimhood and civil-rights mania. I wouldn't say the U.S. stole Mexican land for example; if you actually are schooled in history, Mexico needed money, lots of money, to pay debts, and sold off a lot of what is now the Southwestern United States to do so. Except maybe for Texas: anglophone settlers did NOT learn Spanish and adopt the Catholic faith as Mexico wanted, and joined the United States instead. It is getting so bad, all this PC stuff, that I am thinking of buying a pre-1960, pre-hippie encyclopedia so some truth is preserved...
Barbara Novak from United Kingdom Reply
.... would like to lend support to Willi Krause's concicely argued case about the unfaireness of the frontier shift in favour of Stalin's Russia. It had horrific consequences on people and land, especially in Silesia, not just then, but to this very day. Barbara N.
Lerge from United Kingdom Reply
Hi Ian Williams,no Nicholas-Strasse is registered in Wroclaw/Breslau before 1945. There is a Nicholaistrasse under the following link http://www.breslau-wroclaw.de/de/breslau/geographic/street/?streetname=Nikolaistrasse -- Other than that there is a Niklasweg under the link: http://www.breslau-wroclaw.de/de/breslau/geographic/street/?streetname=Niklasweg -- Give it a try! And good luck!
Ian Williams from United Kingdom Reply
Where is Nicholas Strasse, Breslau?
Willi Krause from United States Reply
Many of you who have commented here are from USA so you know a thing or two about invading sovereign countries without so much as a declaration of war (ask an Iraqi about that)or stealing land that is not yours (ask a Mexican about that). So don't give us that holier than thou nonsense. Every country has committed murder, and USA is no exception to that.
Willi Krause from United States Reply
Mark and Vince are two of the most ignorant people. The Russians have always had a history of raping, plundering and murder. Did the Germans commit murder? Sure. Did the Allies commit murder when (a) the Russians invaded eastern Europe. (b) the Allies purposely bombed the ceners of German cities to murder women, children and old people and (c) after the war starve German POWs? Yes to all three. In the final analysis the Allies were no better than the Germans. They won so they write the books. Why are the Russians not held to their responsibility in stealing Polish land and taking it out of Germany to pay Poland. You want to talk murder? Stalin murdered more people on his worst day than Hitler did on his best. There's nothing worse than fooling yourselves about it but if that makes you feel good, and cements your hatred for the Germans then knock yourself out. You must be very insecure people.
marie jose loly from Belgium Reply
nobody in all the comments i've read talks about a prison camp that was in Breslau, during W.W.2 or very close by. it was called STALAG 10 - In this camp my father was a prisoner for several years. He was taken prisoner in 1940 as he was a soldier in Belgium, he had a gun but no bullets, as other soldiers had bullets but no guns. belgium was not prepared for war, and its soldiers were not even properly armed. But nevertheless he was taken prisoner and after being liberated, he suffered during his whole life of the consequences of the horible treatment he received. He weighted 30 kg when he came back to Belgium, a man, 37 years old, and he looked like a scarecraw. Does anybody know about this camp in Breslau? Thank you for answering.
Heidi from United States Reply
Great article. Mother born in Breslau 1938. Then moved to Striegau (Strzegom). don't know how to get in touch with other reviewers.
Cindy from United States Reply
I am writing a novel about my mother living in Sosnowka in 1938-1939, near Jelina Gora. If anyone has any information about the area during this time, please email me. Thank you
Renate Scletze from United States Reply
We lived in Breslau during WWII until January 1940- 1945.(i was 4-9) It was my mothers birthplace March 1912 Gertrude Agnes Wilde then married to Hans Schletze. Would like to reconnect with anyone who lived there at the same time. Thank You
Robert St. John from United States Reply
Great information on history and places to see/stay. Would like information on WWII airman shot down on 17 april 1945 safely landing near this town. He was never heard of again and his P-51 Mustang has not been found. His name was Col Elwin Righetti flying Kattydid. Crash landed in tact and presumed killed by cilvillians. His last bearing was 270 degrese heading after straffing mission across Riesa-Canitz Airfield or Airfield north of Dresden. An intire P-51 Mustang in-tact could not disapear, unless the Russions took it a couple weeks later when they arrived. any information is appreiciated. I am retired Military and would fly there if get respounces. thank you, Robert St. John 405 Holiday Dr. Lansing Kansas 66043 Phone 913-727-1907. I can only speak English.