Wroclaw History - A Brief Retrospective

Wroclaw is a town with a more colourful and torrid history than most. Located at the crossroads of Central Europe it has found itself embroiled in more than its fair share of fracas and power struggles. Today it is a town rising from the ashes of World War II and Communism, and once again is emerging as a cosmopolitan centre of commerce - a face that has defined its character through so much of history.

The first permanent settlers in Wroclaw were the Slavic Slezan tribe, who built a stronghold on the island of Ostrow Tumski sometime in the 9th century. (Ostrow Tumski is no longer an island since an arm of the river Odra was filled in 1810). Later this settlement was absorbed into Czech territory from where the name Wroclaw is thought to have been derived - after a Czech leader by the name of Wrocislaw. It wasn't until around 990AD that Prince Mieszko I, of the Piast dynasty and founder of the Polish state, seized control of Wroclaw and incorporated the region of Silesia into Poland.

By 1000 Wroclaw must have already been a town of some prominence as King Boleslaw the Brave established one of three bishoprics here, the other two being established in Krakow and Kolobrzeg: as a result the town became the religious centre of Silesia. Wroclaw continued to grow in the next two centuries mainly due to its thriving trade economy and craftsmanship; however in 1241, along with most of southern Poland, the city fell foul of the marauding Tartar army and was razed to the ground.

The town leaders used this misfortune as an opportunity to rebuild the city around a massive Market Square on the south side of the river - the same Market Square that you can still see today. This ambitious building program was a success and soon Wroclaw was enjoying a healthy revival; however in 1336, the last of the Piast Princes died and the duchy of Silesia was annexed to Bohemia - despite the efforts of King Casimir III of Poland to hold onto it. His failure to do so meant that it was six hundred years until Wroclaw was returned to Polish hands.

Wroclaw, or Prezzla as it begins to be known as, continued to flourish under Bohemian rule and in 1387 gained admittance into the Hanseatic League, a powerful conglomeration of trading cities (think of it as a medieval version of G8!). The winds of change picked up again in the 16th century when King Ludwig died in battle, leaving no heirs, and the Bohemian estate elected Duke Ferdinand, of the Austrian line of Habsburgs, as King. Now Wroclaw was under Austrian rule.

The early 17th century saw a marked downturn in fortunes for Wroclaw, as both the Thirty Years' War (1618-48) and the plague took their toll on the city - indeed this period saw the population reduced by half. However when the warring factions of Europe eventually signed the Treaty of Westphalia and brought an end to the fighting, it was business as usual for Wroclaw and an economic and cultural revival began.

The next chapter in the city's colourful history began in 1741 when King Frederick II seized Lower Silesia and brought it under Prussian rule. It was he who officially gave the city its German name of Breslau (or Prezzla), although it had been used for many centuries before by the large ethnic German population. Wroclaw spent the next two hundred years in German hands and by the end of the 19th century it was the third largest Prussian city behind Berlin and Hamburg, and began to be heavily industrialised.

When the Nazis seized power in 1933 the last vestiges of the city's Polish origins were all but gone, and the 20,000 Poles still living there (along with the Jews) were politely asked to leave. Wroclaw, or Breslau as it had then been known for 200 years, was so Germanised by that time that it eventually became the last stronghold of the Nazis. It was the last town to surrender to the Soviets, after a 14-week siege, on May 6th 1945.

After the war, as a result of the Potsdam conference, Wroclaw was handed back to Poland as the whole country was effectively shifted westwards. The remainder of the German residents were expelled and the city was re-populated by Poles from Lwow (now the Ukranian town of Lviv), which was lost to the Soviet Union, Wilno (now the Lithuanian town of Vilnius) as well as many arrivals from Warsaw and Poznan. The new settlers, or 'pioneers' as they were called, inherited a foreign city that was 70% destroyed.

In the sixty years since the war Wroclaw has had to undergo a painful rebuilding process, as well as having to survive and recuperate from the terrors and hardships of Communism and Soviet oppression. In 1989 however, when Poland held it's first elections and saw off the Russian regime, the city put the dark times behind it, and the last decade has seen its successful re-emergence as the economic, cultural and academic centre it has been for so much of history.


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Peter Heimann from Austria Reply Mar 12th, 2017

I am an American of partial German descent whose paternal German grandfather was born in Breslau as Wilhelm Heimann. He was a businessman who eventually moved from Berlin to New York in 1935 with his wife Charlotte and his only child, my father, who rarely mentioned this part of his past. I rediscovered the Breslau connection after reading Microcosm by Prof. Norman Davies of Oxford Univ. For those who wish to know more about the history of Breslau, please read this marvelous book. In it I discovered via footnotes reference to Bankhaus E. Heimann, perhaps a connection, perhaps not. I will probably never know. My grandfather was an only child and never mentioned his family or happened to them. Much digging ahead to unearth this past. Perhaps there are people out there reading this with the same family name. Prof. Davies does make reference to a family named Arndt one of whose descendants was or still is a professor at Dartmouth Univ. in New Hampshire. He had a brother who ended up an academic in Austrialia. So many scattered to the wind......

petra from Australia Sep 24th, 2017

Heinz Wolfgang Arndt born in Breslau 1915 eldest son of Fritz Georg Arndt and Julia(nee Heimann) Arndt lived in Australia died a number of years ago daughter Bettina Arndt

carol from United States Reply Jan 28th, 2017

I'm sorry I also forgot to mention, Clara Simon/Simmon's father, Albert Simon, was a surveyor for the French government. If anyone knows any more about the Simon/Simmon's (spelled differently on different pictures) or the Schlicht family I would love to learn more. Txs.

Carol from United States Reply Jan 28th, 2017

I have just begun the search for more knowledge of my ancestors on my father's side. I know his mother's family lived in Breslau in 1907, because we have a photo album of my Grandmother, Elsa King Fair and her mother Agnes Schlicht's trip there. Agnes was born there (or nearby?) and she immigrated to England as a young woman, than to Canada and then to the US in the mid'1800's. Agnes and Elsa came home to stay for about 2 years in Breslau, after the great San Francisco earthquake in 1906. Agnes's father's name was Albert Schlicht. He married Clara Sim(m)on of Trier, France. I'm learning the names of these towns have changed over the years. Albert Schlicht was a station master, but his passion was music. He was supposed to be able to play virtually any instrument. He also wrote band music. My Grandmother, Elsa, wrote that he died at age 42 (struck by lightening). Albert and Clara had 6 daughters and one son. I have their names. Also Clara Simmon's father's name was also Albert. Albert Simon (it is spelled two ways on different pictures) was born in "freimel"-spelling may be wrong-having trouble reading the name. I don't have Clara's mother's name yet. But Clara Simmon's parents had 13 children. Would love to learn more. I do know that at least one of my great-grandmother's (Agnes Schlicht) sisters was still in the area during WWII and at that time, the return address on those letters say Poland as the place of origin. I'll will be getting them out again. I would love to learn more! About the area and about family. Someday I hope to also visit. If anyone has any ideas as to how to learn more. I would be very grateful. I have recently joined Ancestory.com as well.

Sieglinde from United States Reply Jan 8th, 2017

After I reread my comments I realised I forgot to write down the full name of my grandfathers. Carl Emil Wegehaupt and Friedrich Schwarz. Both my parents had awesome step mothers of which I new very little. So much of th

Sieglinde from United States Reply Jan 8th, 2017

My parents and grandparents were born in Breslau. My father, Gerhard Wegehaupt in 1908, my mother Martha Frieda Schwarz in 1910. My grandfather Wegehaupt worked for the Postal Service and was born in 1872. When he retired he moved to Karlsruhe. He an my grandmother were shot to death by the Russian Army in 1945 when they decided not to flee. I was born in Namslau,in 1938 and lived in Wilkau, were my parents had a grocery store and small bank. My mother and I fled the Russian Army in Jan 1945. Several days later our house/store was blown up. Walked most of the time, like most refugees, thru Breslau, the Czeck, Republic to Bavaria. After my father escape Russian prison camp, we immegrated to the US were we have relatives. My son and I went back to Wilkau after the wall came down.We took the train from Breslau to Wilkau. There was very little I remembered from Breslau, even though I visited often with my mother on buying trips for the store, and also visiting relatives. On one of those trips went through a night long airraid. The ground were our house stood is an empty lot. But there was a mother & daughter selling sundries in a kiosk. They were supper friendly and invited us to their home for lunch. Had a great time. Hope to go back once more to Silesia especially to go to Karlsruhe and visit my grandparents grave. They buried in a mass grave in the church cemetery. If anyone reading this has heard of the Wegehaupt or Schwarz families, I would like to hear from you. I can be reached at dicksieg@aol.com

Ed Wenzig from United States Reply Aug 25th, 2016

After some digging i have found out that my Great Grandfather changed his last name. it was Rheinhardt (Reinhold) Winzig. He married Ida Hauski (Hansekke). they had family and friends in Breslau. they had 4 children Arthur, Ida, Alfred, and Rheinhardt (Reinhold) Jr. Does anyone have any information on this family?

Lynn B from United Kingdom Reply Jul 8th, 2016

Interesting as others have commented. Like many others my family were born in Breslau but we cannot find any birth or marriage certificates for them. For instance my Great Grandfather, Hermann Frederick Jung was a businessman who lived in 28 Hermannstrasse in 1880s. I cannot find his birth anywhere. He was born 1851 or 1852. I also do not have his parents names or birth dates. Nor can I find the birth certificate for my grandmother Marie Elfriede Helena Elsie Jung who was born in Breslau in 1881 or 1882! I found the birth certificate of her brother Georg but not hers. Can anyone help? It would be lovely to know where they lived in Breslau and any information about them. They eventually lived in the UK and died here too.

pauline edwards from United Kingdom Reply Jul 5th, 2016

Interesting info on Breslau, Wroclaw. I wonder if anyone knows anything about a young German soldier, HANS LIESS, from there in 1945 who was captured in Ireland (no idea why he was there) and while he was being held at the police station he drew a very good portrait of my uncle who was in charge of guarding him, Would love to know more about him.

Sergio Ferreira from Brazil Reply Jun 27th, 2016

My grandfather was born in Breslau-Wroclaw in 03-09-1897(Mr. Leopold Lazarus Brieger) and left to Brazil in 1940. He left his mother and father ancles and cousins. Is there any way I can find out more about him?

Dorothea Wendt from Germany Reply Feb 26th, 2016

This is an interesting historicl review of my birth- city.

Ed from United States Reply Jan 6th, 2016

My great grandfather Reinhardt Wenzig Sr. was born in or near Breslau-Wroclaw about 1850. As a young man he and his brother worked in a tannery. Reinhardt had to leave around 1890 and came to the US. He left his wife, Ida (Eda?) and 5 children behind. Is there any way I can find out more about him?

Guest from Canada Reply Dec 1st, 2015

I agree with you. They organised fantastic tour for me. In Canada prices for such services are definitely much higher, that’s why my friend from Poland recommended it to me. And I wasn‘t disappointed.

Sara from United States Reply Nov 19th, 2015

The best travel agency which organises tours around Wroclaw and from Wroclaw to other cities is Wratislavia tour. It is my tested company from Poland.

Mrs E Vernon from United Kingdom Reply Oct 25th, 2015

I have a beautiful, carved arts and crafts cabinet made by Koch und Wallfisch, Breslau. I am very interested in finding its origins

Michele Geister from Canada Reply Jul 30th, 2015

Thank you, Trying to find my German roots. Wondering if there are any Geisters there still. My grandfather's name was Rudolph Geister and his family also lived in Lichtenthal, Poland. Information that the family name came from Breslau, led me here.

BEN from United Kingdom Reply Jan 13th, 2015

My mother was born 14/12/1924 Her name is Katherin Hedwig Agnus Knorr Her mother was surname Bleil born 1889 Breslau now Wroclaw Has any one any info if there may be family memebers with the name Bleil still there My E Mail is topshamman@hotmail.com

petra from Australia Reply Nov 30th, 2014

Breslau has been rebuilt (what was destroyed) beautifully, love the city of my birth, visited it the first time in 1991 and again in 1999 have done lots of family research and not finished yet so another visit might be possible.

Chris from United Kingdom Reply Sep 4th, 2014

A very nice short history of beautiful piekna Wroclaw. I worked in nearby Dzierzoniow for around 2 years and totally loved my time in Wroclaw and Dolno Slaskie. This was mainly due to the many lovely kind people I meet. . . .many thanks. I hope very much that I can continue 'trying' to learn terrible lovely Polish and would love to return there to live one day. Wroclaw is now a really great City to visit and spend time in. When I read how it was 70% destroyed after WW2 and how it is now, the people of Wroclaw must be very proud and rightly so. Additionally, I am very aware how things have also moved on since the early 1990's. I am sure that this dynamic city can move forward in the same way during the next 25 years. Best Wishes to Wroclaw, Najlepsze zyczenia dla Wroclaw i twoje ludzi (przepraszam bardzo za moj jezyk ;-P)

John from United States Reply Dec 18th, 2012

I have just returned from Wroclaw (November 2012), and it is a wonderful city! So much so, that I plan to move there when I retire. It the university center of all of Poland, a modern city of 500,000 with a new airport and train station (thanks to this year's Euro Cup which Wroclaw helped to host), yet still filled with historic buildings that go back nearly a thousand years. The Centrum Miasto (center square) is one of the loveliest in Europe, and the 13th Century Town Hall is an architectural masterpriece. The city is well landscaped, and instead of being dominated by oppressive Soviet era apartment buildings, there are many simple yet lovely private homes in the unique Polish style. The people struck me as upbeat, friendly, and the populations is young. By the way, to English speakers not yet aware: somehow those letters in Polish are pronounced something like "Vrats-waff," so don't make the same mistake I made the first time I was in Poland (2001) and ask where "Row-claw" is! :-)

Pat Stromberg from United States Reply Sep 24th, 2012

My great grandparents, Samuel Black, a tailor, born 1841 and Rosalie Frankel Newman, born1840, immigrated to U.S. in 1876 from Breslau to California. Rosalie's brother, Edward Newman, born 1843, immigrated to San Francisco about 1860. I am looking for information about their families of origin.

Lilian from Australia Reply Aug 26th, 2012

My family names were Berman and Galewski - my grandfather owned a department store with the name Berman on the building - We are Jewish - those of us whom could fled Breslau pre WW2 - does anyone have any recollection of this family ?

Jan Eckardt Butler from United States Reply Aug 7th, 2012

This page is so interesting. I am searching (with my 2 sisters and 1 brother) for more info on my great great grandparents who emigrated from Breslau in 1884 to Sheboygan, WI, USA. August Zimbal was born 3/31/1816 and married Ernestina Kuhnert in Brelau in 1844. Does anyone have more information on Zimbals (Zimble) or Kuhnerts in Breslau? Would these be German names? not Polish. And would they be Catholic or perhaps Jewish?

Ralph Zimmeramnn from United States Reply Jul 24th, 2012

I have questions of anyone who is interested in the history of the area around Wroclaw. I am in the early stages of writing a book about my father's life. He was born in 1902 in Schmiegel, half-way between Wroclaw (then Breslau) and Posen. I am interested in information about the region from the end of WWI through the years of the Weimar Republic. My grandfather, Heinrich Zimmermann, owned a ziegleri around the Schmiegel area, possibly in Czacz. If anyone knows anything, can point me in a promising direction, or knows of someone who can, please let me know. I'd ask my father, but he passed in 1987 ... before I came to my senses and realized how important this is to me. Thank you.

Alice from United Kingdom Reply Jul 20th, 2012

Is there any special in Wroclaw to remember Edith Stein, the Jewish/Catholic convert philosopher and Carmelite who died in Auschwitz? I should like to visit any places associated with her. Any help appreciated.

Volker Bradley from United States Reply Jul 8th, 2012

Hi, It's beautiful city living in peace. Wonderful to see. Pictures of what this city looked like after the 82-day siege are shocking. As an aside, while visiting in Russia, I became friends with a man who was born in Wroclaw. I was born there in 1937 because my father was stationed there with the German army. 10 years later my friend was born there because his Dad was stationed there with the Russian army. That terrible war and that terrible time. Glad to see that the terrible animosities of that time have passed. I visited another section of Poland where I had lived near Gdansk and found that citizens of Poland were very kind to German visitors and American visitors. Hope to see this city some day again. It looks beautiful. The people who rebuilt this city must be very proud.

Jonathan Yorck von Wartenburg from United States Reply Jul 7th, 2012

My family's estate was in Kleinoels, Olesnica Mala. That is south of Brelau, Wroclaw. I have been very fortunate to visit it twice. I hope to go there again.

Sharon from Australia Reply Jun 22nd, 2012

Hi, I'm Sharon and my greatgrandfather Ehrenfried Reinholdt WARTHOLD - was born on the 27th May 1884 at Breslau, Silesia. Warthold emigrated out of the Deutsch Reich by way of the life of the sea, and found interim refuge in teh U.S.A. for four years and then in Great Britain for two years, from which country he embarked at the Port of London with passage on the Australian-route vessel 'WILCANIA" to arrive in Australia at the Port of Adelaide on the 11th November 1911. We still dont know who my grandfathers mother was; I believe she was Polish Jewish and I am struggling to find any information of either of their pasts.Can you offer any suggestions? I'm in Australia

Alan Wolanicki from Canada Reply May 20th, 2012

my name is Alan, trying to contact more family i have in poland, im from winnipg MB and know very little of my family, anyone can help i would greatly be thankfull...nazywam się Alan, próbując skontaktować się z większą rodzinę mam w Polsce, im z winnipg MB i niewiele wiem o mojej rodzinie, ktoś może pomóc to ja bardzo się thankfull

matthew from Poland Reply Feb 4th, 2012

History! We all know what we read. somethings appear to be true or resemble fractions of true. This article is a very simple and brief review of a city. Its quite nice to see the polish people smiling as they go about there work here. They are polite and gentle people. lacking in anger and supremacy. Thank God is Polish. From An Englishman.

orit from Israel Reply Jan 29th, 2012

"20,000 Poles still living there (along with the Jews) were politely asked to leave". hahaha you must be joking! surely! My grandfather, who was a Jewish Dr. of law, was taken to a concentration camp and when released (after 6 months and a heavy fine was paid) suffered a permanent disability due to the beatings by the Nazis in the camp, was given 48 hours to leave Germany! with nothing but a couple of suitcases! The big villa in Karlowiz the office in the main square...all taken over by the poles, with not a penny paid in reparations!

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Sep 17th, 2011

Hi, Yasha, if you look under: """http://wroclaw.hydral.com.pl/test.php?ulica=MDEyNjY=&start=120&tend=128""" you may find what you are looking for. There are many photos. Otherwise try a Google Search for "podwale wroclaw". Good luck!

Yasha (Jack) from United States Reply Aug 17th, 2011

I benefited immensely (flooded with emotion) reading this ‘blog' -especially the historically sensitive and understandably painful commentary -which prompted this reply. My parents immigrated to Wroclaw /Breslau in the late 1950’s (from Lwow/Lviv)and my childhood recollections are spotty but I remember (as if it was a Parent mantra recited in Polish)living on "Podwale #61". At the time there was a German Family living and sharing the multi-dwelling apartment with us. Eventually, they repatriated to Germany… I recall going on many countryside outings and playing with their children in the large interior courtyard (probably communicating in Russian/Ukrainian –or ‘tiny’ German). If any of you should know this address (across the street was the Odra River –where in winter I ice- skated) or can take few pictures of the locale; I would be forever grateful… Yasha (Jack)

B Weber from United States Reply Jul 27th, 2011

Just wanted to see information about the area my Schoengarth family came from. They left in the 1870's. Don't know who remained, nice to have a little history. Thanks

Michelle from United States Nov 30th, 2016

We have also been working on a family history with the last name of Schoengarth. I would be very interested in talking to you and share what we each have found.

Delores Rocks Humphrey from United States Reply Jul 15th, 2011

Interesting site! My dad, Julius Rocks, was born in Breslau 3/1892, & his family moved to Canada in 1897. My great grandparents were left behind, & I know nothing about them. It would be great to find out more.

Jerry from United States Reply May 31st, 2011

It's an excellent article and there are many interesting comments on a city that has embodied most of the positive and negative aspects of the human condition. Perhaps when people matter more and are simply measured by the content of their character instead of their ethnic or religious identity, national boarders will mean a great deal less and if we are just a bit lucky, this world will know peace.

Eva Strangfeld from United States Reply Apr 3rd, 2011


Robert from United Kingdom Reply Oct 29th, 2010

Hi everybody. My Grandfather was called Joseph Deynert or dienert and was born in Breslau in 17-09-1875. He had a sister called Hedwig and a brother that I don't know the name of, but he was a fireman. My Great Grandfather I believe was the head of a fire station and may have been called Joseph also. I believe that his wife or my Great Grand Mother was called Dorothea. The were members of the catholic church but lived in the Jewish quarter. I have found a Joseph Dienert who was a fireman in an old address book who lived at Stockgasse 6 (H11) in 1868. This could possibly be my Great Grandfather. I know that both my Great Grandparents died from cancer and were buried in Breslau. If there are any relations sill living there, or people that can help me trace my ancesters please contact me.

Linda from United States Reply Aug 15th, 2010

I'm hoping one of your readers can assist. I have a late 17th Century Piano marked Julius Mager, Breslau. It was made prior to the time when serial numbers were entered in piano's or for some other reason the serial number which identifies the maker was left off. It has 6 octives + 5 keys. I'm trying to research who Julius Mager was and any history from this piano. Can anyone assist?

Eva from Canada Reply Jul 30th, 2010

I found this article by accident. I, too, was born in Silesia/Slonsk, though not in Wroclaw. [I don't mind whether it's "Breslau" or "Wroclaw"-- English-speaking countries call "Wien" "Vienna" and "Koeln" "Cologne"--and who cares?) I am now a grateful, proud, and very patriotic Canadian. I found the article interesting, though historically a little murky. Be that as it may, I am appalled at some of the comments. SLAV: the Poles did not just expel Nazi criminals--my grandfather and other family members were among the expelled, but while they were Germans, they were not Nazis. (I know you will say: "They all claim they were not Nazis," but Silesia actually was very Catholic and had relatively few "native" Nazis!) My mother and I escaped from Silesia a month before the Russians arrived.) I bear no grudge--Germany as a whole had been responsible for the war and its terrible crimes! Besides, through those events, I ended up in my wonderful new country, Canada. Last but not least, such are the happenings of history. ANTONIO: Poles did NOT kill millions of Germans from those areas! They expelled them, but there were few killings. Those that occurred were probably the sad results of retaliation or were done by sick minds. MICHAEL AND DANIEL: your way of thinking is exactly what may lead to another terrible war and/or genocide. It is utterly primitve, to put it mildly. Besides, perhaps you both ought to improve your English grammar before exposing your lack of it on public sites again? Daniel: There is no "Forever," except in eternity. But here I am, throwing stones myself--my apologies! Can't we all live together in peace and harmony? That's what I love about Canada. We have our differences, too, but we make it work.

alexandra from South Africa Reply Apr 28th, 2010

i live in Cape Town South Africa ,was born in Germany and my fathers family came from Breslau/Wroclaw -my grandfather was an architect(trained in Breslau)(he was taken prisoner by the russians) and also my father who trained in Germany(after esacping with my grandmother)-I am a Interior Designer and I very much believe in Genetic Memory and am hoping to visit this very interesting place so I can learn more about where my father grew up and why I am drawn to ancient historical towns

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Feb 21st, 2010


Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Feb 21st, 2010

Hallo, Paul, you may like to write to the Registry Office in Wroclaw-Breslau as follows:: Urz¹d Stanu Cywilnego, ul. W³odkowica 20/22, 50-072 Wroc³aw, and address your request to:: Stanowisko do spraw Obs³ugi Archiwum Niemieckiego ( = Archiv der deutschen Standesurkunden) II piêtro, pokój 27 tel. (0048 71 777-91-53)Whether they speak English I do not know. Apparently one may be able to deal with them in German. There is also a web site for the Staatsarchiv in Breslau: http://www.ap.wroc.pl/ with the address at ul.Pomorska 2, 50-215 Wroclaw. They appear to have birth, baptismal, marriage and death certificates from 1909 onwards.I have copied these details from the internet site www.breslau-wroclaw.de - If you can read German, that internet address may be of use to you. I hope that all this may be of help to you.

Paul from United Kingdom Reply Feb 20th, 2010

Helloe evryone, Can someone help with access to birth marriage and death records please? Looking for records relating to: DEINERT,Joseph,Feuerwehrmann, Stockgasse 6,H.II I beleive that Stockgasse is now known as Wiezienna. Any help or advice on how to get access to birth marriage and death records for this person would be very helpful. Please can someone help?

jan Deinert from Netherlands Feb 19th, 2017

Did you get any response? Ans if so, do you have info about Deinert family?

Peter R from Australia Reply Jan 16th, 2010

Three things, in my view, are difficult to deny: Wratislavia was originally a Slavic city and part of the first Polish state; Breslau was ethnically a predominantly German city for most of the 700 years until 1945; Wroclaw has been a Polish city since 1945. Poles have restored the city admirably. It was a harsh peace for Germany, but Germany had unleashed a harsh war. As an Australian of Silesian descent I regret Silesia's loss to Germany. However, I believe most German Silesians accept its loss and want nothing more from Poles than a just recognition of the area's German history. I believe this is now happening, in contrast to the nationalist myth-making of the Communist era. Personally, I find the reconciliation between Poles and Germans a beautiful thing in a world where there is too much hate and unforgiveness.

JCoker from Australia Feb 20th, 2017

A good comment. Regrets, but bygones be bygones and live in peace respecting the history of the peoples who built the land

petra from Australia Jul 30th, 2017

yes i believe so as well that forgiveness and moving on is a good thing, the new polish generation do not carry so much hate towards the Germans as the older people, are much more open and welcoming, I found the city of Breslau or Wraclaw a very vibrant town on my visits having been born there.

Morvah from United Kingdom Reply Sep 8th, 2009

"The above article,with reference to the 1930s, suggests that at that time Wroclaw had been known as "BRESLAU" for only 200 years. This is incorrect. The history of the name "BRESLAU" in all its variations over 700 years is recorded in Paul Hefftner's "URSPRUNG UND BEDEUTUNG DER ORTSNAMEN IM STADTKREIS BRESLAU - Breslau 1909" (www.sbc.org.pl) as follows: ""These are the names for Breslau in early GERMAN documents: 1280 "stat Wratislaw", 1295 "Wrezlaw", 1301 "Wraislaw", 1302 "Bretzla", 1314 and 1334 "stat zu Breslau", 1314 and 1357 "Brezlaw", 1324 "Bretzlav" and "Bretzlau", 1327 "stat czu Wretslaw", 1333 until 1370 on a number of occasions "Breczlaw", 1337 "Wratislauia" (Latin), 1339 "Breslou", 1348 and 1351 "Breslaw" and "cives Wraczlauiensis" (Latin), 1350 "Bresslawe" and "stat zu Presslaw". 1359, 1361, 1363, 1367 "Bresslow", 1359 "Bresslaw", 1360 "Breslow", 1367 "Brezslaw", 1371 "Bresslau" and "Bretzlaw", 1452 until 1620 repeatedly "Breßlaw", 1453 until 1800 invariably "Breßlau", 1555 and 1561 "Presslaw", 1713, 1792, 1801 and from then on exclusively "Breslau"" - A correction of the above article and its "historical summary" is long overdue.

Lerge from United States Reply Sep 3rd, 2009

Just repeating the correct address:"breslau-wroclaw.de"

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Sep 3rd, 2009

Hallo Peter Sauer, if you can communicate in German (and even if you can't), go to www.breslau-wroclaw.de. I think you will get the answers you are looking for. There are extremely helpful Germans and Poles trying to assist with any queries.

Peter Sauer from Canada Reply Sep 2nd, 2009

Are there any digital records available on the internet of Breslau where I can research my family.

Morvah from United Kingdom Reply Sep 2nd, 2009

The "BRESLAUER URKUNDENBUCH" (Digital Library of the University of Zielona Gora) dates the first document in the GERMAN LANGUAGE the 3. August 1280 - Extract as follows: S. 295 ff. ""Wir rathman, scheppfen und burgere gemeine von Wratislaw thuen wissendlich und kunt allen, die diesen brief horen (ge)lesen, das wir durch bete des edelen fursten, hertzoge Heinriches von Glogau, seinen burgeren der stat zu Glogowe gesant haben diesen brief mit beschriebenen rechte, also als man is in unser stat Wratislaw ymmer me halten soll und von alder zeit bisher zu rechte hat gehalten nach weichbildes rechte.……etc…etc…"". Documents prior to 1280 were written in LATIN. Whilst Breslau is called WRATISLAW, it is quite evident that German was its official language prior to 1300.

Moryc Beniowski from United States Reply Aug 30th, 2009

Just to clarify the origins of Wroclaw as a city. It was created around 800-850 A.D. by Slavic people and the original name was Wrotizla. You can't say it was Polish or Chech as the states didn't exist yet. It was ruled by Silesian Piasts (first royal dynasty of Poland) till 1335 when Casimir the Great traded the Silesia to Chechs for their rights to Polish crown. After mongolian invasions of 13 century German influence is growing due to mass enslavement of Polish population by Tartars. Silesia was simply depopulated. Anyway city was a part of Chech crown till 1526 when it was taken by Habsburgs. The official name was then Vreclav. Under Habsburgs it became Presslau aand was a part of Holy Roman Empire till 1741 when after Silesian Wars Frederic the Great captured the city and renamed it Breslau. That's the date we can talk about Prussian-German real ownership of Wroclaw. But to show the full picture of the situation Wroclaw was a part of Gniezno archbishopry till mid19th century and Polish catholic church was supervising Wroclaw catholic clergy. After 1945 in Yalta it was decided by Chuchill, Roosevelt and Stalin that Polish borders were going to be shifted westwards alltogether with german and polish populations. If anyone want to complain about today situation please contact USA, British and Russian governments respectively.

Sonnenblume from France Reply Aug 25th, 2009

Was hat das noch zu bedeuten, ob Breslau 200 Hundert Jahre oder 600 J. Deutsch oder Polnisch war, Deutschland hat dieses Teil, wo ich noch geboren wurde als meine Heimat ansehe durch diesen Mörderischen Angriffskrieg verloren.Ich habe Breslau 1979 besucht,war begeistert über die Freundlichkeit mit der ich dort von den Menschen Empfangen wurde. Ich wünsche den Menschen die dieses Gebiet jetzt ihre Heimat nennen alles alles Gute.Möge nie mehr ein 39-45 in Europa geschehen.

Tim from United Kingdom Reply Aug 14th, 2009

Dita: I can only read the English part of that page and it seams an internal legal German problem. It's not the view of any other European nation or of the EU and Strassbourg courts. I can see that there may be powers in Germany which could exploit this legal matter, but for everyone else the game is already over.

Dita from United Kingdom Reply Aug 12th, 2009

As I wrote some time ago: "Legally, the German-Polish-Border Treaty of 1990 - like the Warsaw Treaty of 1970 - is a treaty of non-aggression, not a treaty of border settlement. If you can read German the following Link may interest you. http://www.uni-kassel.de/fb5/frieden/themen/Befreiung/polen-grenze.html". No permanent settlements can be achieved by historical amnesia.

Tim from United Kingdom Reply Aug 11th, 2009

Here is a part of the "Resolution on the German-Polish Frontier adopted by the German Bundestag on 21 June 1990." It leaves no room for interpretation about the current border: "The two sides reaffirm the inviolability of the frontier existing between them now and in the future and undertake to respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity without restriction. The two sides declare that they have no territorial claims whatsoever against each other hand that they will not assert such claims in the future. The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany is formally called upon to communicate this resolution to the Republic of Poland as the expression of its will."

Stephen from United States Reply Aug 7th, 2009

This history is highly bias and as such is falsified. Firstly, Silesia became a German fief in 1163 (though Polish influence remained until the Mongol Attack), the German settlement of the region starting shortly thereafter, encouraged by the local rulers, just as it had been in Pomerania. As for Breslau, it was re-founded in 1262 (and thereafter the only name used in official documents) after the Mongol Attack. Between 1200 and 1300, Silesia became virtually wholly German in character due to the eastwards shift of Europe (culminating in the conquest and settlement of Siberia by Russia and not excluding the Poles settling in Galicia all the way to the Dniper river and the Ukrainians beyond the Don, although this Polish settlement was reversed save in Galicia and Wilno from 1831-1914 and destroyed following 1945), save the Cieszyn region as well as the duchy of Oswiecim/Auschwitz, the latter absorbed into Poland in 1454/1494. Silesia (always excluding Cieszyn) remained virtually wholly German until the early 15th century, the Hussite Wars decimating much of the population of Upper Silesia which was subsequently settled or re-settled if you wish, by Poles. Thereafter, Upper Silesia remained some 5/8 Polish for nearly 500 years, and Silesia was a German territory from roughly 1300-1945, or 650 years. The same timeframe is true for Pomerania and Prussia, albeit Pomerelia is not included--as it was always Polish. Indeed the majority of Silesia was mainly German from 1250-1945, nearly 700 years.

Lerge from United Kingdom Reply Mar 26th, 2009

Robert, I thought the reply, on 30.11.08, of D. Thomas in the Breslau-Wroclaw Forum might have been of help to you.

Robert Arditti from United Kingdom Reply Mar 24th, 2009

I tried to get http://www.breslau-wroclaw.de./ but nothing happened, just a blank page. I guess I am not going to find any body with the name Deynert

Robert from United Kingdom Reply Mar 14th, 2009

this is for Lerge thank you for trying to help but I had no luck, Oh well back to the drawing board

Morvah from United Kingdom Reply Mar 10th, 2009

The above article, refering to the 1930s, says that Wroclaw had then been "known as Breslau for 200 years". This is misleading in that it suggests that Breslau was "germanic" for approximately 200 years only. However, the "Breslauer Urkundenbuch" to be found in the digital library of the university of Zielona Gora dates the first document in the German language the 3. August 1280 (pg 48) - Extract: 50. Rechtssätze, welche die Breslauer den Glogauern mitgetheilt haben am 3. August 1280. Abschrift im Liber Niger des glogauer Stadtarchivs, Supplemente S. 295 ff. ""Wir rathman, scheppfen und burgere gemeine von Wratislaw thuen wissendlich und kunt allen, die diesen brief horen (ge)lesen, das wir durch bete des edelen fursten, hertzoge Heinriches von Glogau, seinen burgeren der stat zu Glogowe gesant haben diesen brief mit beschriebenen rechte, also als man is in unser stat Wratislaw ymmer me halten soll und von alder zeit bisher zu rechte hat gehalten nach weichbildes rechte.……etc…etc…"". Documents prior to 1280 were written in Latin.

Tom from United Kingdom Reply Mar 5th, 2009

How can you say in the article that the jews and poles were politely asked to leave by the Nazi's?

DITA from United Kingdom Reply Feb 27th, 2009

Hallo, Christa, as someone also born in Breslau and having had to flee from the Soviet army in 1945 with my mother and brother, I can only confirm your experience. On my first return in 1991 I was warmly received by the present occupants of "our home" where the furniture of my parents was still being stored in the attic room. I have also been back since and have no regrets.

Christa from United States Reply Feb 19th, 2009

I just happened upon this page and I am glad I did. I too was born in Breslau before the war and left with my parents in Jan. 1945. My grandparents stayed behind and had to leave in 1946 after the polish people moved in. If one understands history, they will grasp that the polish people were victims just the same. My father had the good fortune to visit Breslau for the first time in 1975 and was most warmly recieved by the people, at that time, occupying the our family home on Nelkenweg. He made other visits over the years and I did too in 1992 nad 1993. The same people were still there and I too was welcomed, although my dad was not with me. I have the highest regard the for the polish people who rebuilt our beautiful Breslau. I visited again in 2006 and hpope to make at least one more journey to my hometown, the city I will always love.

LERGE from United Kingdom Reply Nov 28th, 2008

Hallo Robert of the previous entry, if you speak German (and even if you do not), have a look at www.breslau-wroclaw.de. You may well find quite a bit of information about your distant family in old address books etc or through the help of knowledgable individuals who may respond to your queries, even if they are in English. Good luck!!!

Robert from United Kingdom Reply Nov 8th, 2008

I am not Polish or German, however I do have a conection to Breslau, now called Wrocklaw. My Grandfather was from there but moved to England at the end of the 1800s. He was not a follower of Hitler, nor were his family. When he moved to England he left his German family behind and made his own family in the UK. His daughter, my mother married a jew and I was a result of that union. My Grandfather's name was Joseph Deynert, a very old German name, and his father was the head of the fire bregade in what was then Breslau. His Brother also worked as a fireman. These were people who lived like anybody else. In fact my Great Grandfather died in Breslau of cancer, as did his wife Dorothea. I don't know what happened to my Great Uncle or my Great Aunt Hedwig, but I am sure they went years ago. What I find sad about some of the comments on here, is that people are still clinging to the past. They are still looking for someone to blame. The only thing I would say is that I am sad that I can not find anything out about my Great Grand Parents, or if I have cousins still in that area. It seems that no records remain prior to 1946 about the people that have lived there. I know that My Great Grand Parents were buried there, but have no idea where.

Dita from United Kingdom Reply Aug 28th, 2008

Correction..correction: Border..Border

Dita from United Kingdom Reply Aug 28th, 2008

Polarring, thanks for your comment and Links. Legally, the German-Polish-Boarder Treaty of 1990 - like the Warsaw Treaty of 1970 - is a treaty of non-agression, not a treaty of boarder settlement. If you can read German the following Link may interest you. http://www.uni-kassel.de/fb5/frieden/themen/Befreiung/polen-grenze.html

Polarring from United Kingdom Reply Aug 26th, 2008

Dita, there is the German-Polish Border Treaty from 1990 regulating border disputes between two countries http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German-Polish_Border_Treaty_(1990). It is legally binding and recognized by international community. Polish Provisional Government of National Unity was Soviet puppet and it did not represent Polish nation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Provisional_Government_of_National_Unity

Dita from United Kingdom Reply Aug 24th, 2008

The following extract from the Potsdam Conference of 1945 clearly leaves the "final delineation of the western frontier of Poland" open until "the peace settlement". There has never been such a settlement. There is therefore no legal reason why "Wroclaw" should not still be considered to be "Breslau" by its former inhabitans. B. WESTERN FRONTIER OF POLAND. In conformity with the agreement on Poland reached at the Crimea Conference the three Heads of Government have sought the opinion of the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity in regard to the accession of territory in the north 'end west which Poland should receive. The President of the National Council of Poland and members of the Polish Provisional Government of National Unity have been received at the Conference and have fully presented their views. The three Heads of Government reaffirm their opinion that the final delimitation of the western frontier of Poland should await the peace settlement.

SilkyJohnson from Canada Reply Aug 15th, 2008

I cannot believe all these people that are saying it is a German City, did you not read the brief history, It was POLISH first Then German, Poles where there first, history does not start in the 17th century People!!! Anyway its Polish now has been for for the last 65 years, and its going to stay like that Plus Poles REBUILT the CITY so there are no German claims to it at all

Slav from United States Reply Jun 12th, 2008

Antonio, no we did not expel any germans, we expelled Nazi criminals. Sometimes the “human- cultural world” reaps what it sows. Be glad Nazi criminals from Austria got out so easily.

Janusz Pankowski from United States Reply Jun 9th, 2008

I am going to Wroclaw to meet with my German friend whose family came from Breslau. We are Polish living in United States. I don't need to remind anybody that the past is filled with horrible events. We intend to talk about them in civilized way, asking questions, learning for our children so they can grow without prejudice. Janusz Pankowski

fake from Algeria Reply Jun 3rd, 2008

How many germans have slavic ancesters?

Jeremy from Canada Reply May 31st, 2008

My grandmother was born near here and kicked out of her house in 45 and made to leave all together in 1946. Some people here really hate Germans and Germany, time for you people to stop living in the past or look at your own people first. Today with the European Union Germans are free to move back. As the older people die off the need for compensation will disappear. It's too bad these people who DO NOT bear the guilt of their parents couldn't get something but it is just another page in the large book of human crimes. Can't wait to visit this place in September for the first time! It will always be a German city to me but the Poles are welcome to live there, it's not their faults either.

Antonio from Austria Reply May 30th, 2008

Wroclaw is still Breslau for the human- cultural world. 1944-1948: poland explused and killed millions of germans from the former easter german territories. In fact, the was no big different between the nazi and the polish. But sti criminals.

Nicola from Italy Reply Feb 16th, 2008

Nazi Germany inflicted grief and pain to the rest of Europe in its war against the world. But we have to be honest and recognize that millions of Germans had to go through terrible suffering, losing their centuries-old heimat. I recommend that you read Guido Knopp beautiful account on the eviction of 15 millions from their lands. After 63 years we can have a quiet debate on our recent history and admit that Breslau was a German City that the terrible events of history turned to Poland, the same events that were turning the Polish city of Lwow to the USSR.

Fred Thorlackson from United States Nov 16th, 2016

Nicola seems to have it together here. Danke Gott all these incredible folks never had to face the horrors of war first hand. They obviously base their insights on relative stories and/or reading a few historical accounts Nicht wahr? Don't be quick to judge what happened in this part of the world unless you survived it. War is so much easier to understand if you don't have to be personally caught up in it. Wroclaw/Breslau is becoming a great city again, slowly recovering from the horrors of 1945-1946. Our visit there last summer was a highlight of our central European holiday.

Chris from United Kingdom Reply Feb 13th, 2008

I found this brief history very interesting and helpful. One small point "it's" should be "its".

abo from United Kingdom Reply Jan 29th, 2008

Went to Wroclaw May 2007 for a great weekend, beautiful place, people friendly. Have recommended it to many people. Abo

Angie from United States Reply Dec 28th, 2007

I'm heading over to Wroclaw tomorrow for almost a week. I'm excited to meet the good people of Poland. I sure have found good people everywhere including germany where my ancestors stem from. Let us all remember to love each other and change whatever has been done in the past to good will to each other. Let us remember what has been done in the past, and do our best to change things for the future.

Michael from Australia Reply Nov 23rd, 2007

Yea, germans want compensation for being expelled from that part of europe - the only compensation they deserve is a big swift kick up the arse! They're country tried to take the whole of europe, killed millions, and lost - now they want compensation? What is this, the twilight zone??

Pam from United States Reply Nov 1st, 2007

What a privilege I've had since first visiting Wroclaw in 1989 and many summers since! I've been a witness to incredible historical changes---and have fallen in love with the Poles. They have done a magnificent job of rising from the ashes which were handed to them! It has become a vibrant, lively cultural center which people should definitely visit.

Pam from United States Reply Nov 1st, 2007

What a privilege I've had since first visiting Wroclaw in 1989 and many summers since! I've been a witness to incredible historical changes---and have fallen in love with the Poles. They have done a magnificent job of rising from the ashes which were handed to them! It has become a vibrant, lively cultural center which people should definitely visit.

Dita from United Kingdom Reply Oct 17th, 2007

Born in the former Breslau, with Silesian roots back to the 17th century and probably before, I am delighted that Wroclaw is a city open to all. My departure, as a child, from the city was as a refugee in 1945. My first return was in 1991 as a visitor who was most warmly received. Even the people in the house of my birth treated me like a friend. I wish Wroclaw well and cannot wait to return to that cosmopolitan and hospitable city of great beauty.

bob from United States Reply Oct 15th, 2007

Hey David from Aug 25th posting. My grandparents were also of Jewish descent and lived in Breslau. Have some old pictures. I'd like to go back someday. Any advice? Bob

Daniel from United States Reply Sep 30th, 2007

Wroclaw, once in the hands of the Polish Kingdom now again and forever the hands of the Polish. Any German that feels they still have claims on my holy land is a dirty racist.

Adam from Australia Reply Sep 23rd, 2007

Dan sounds like an idiot!

Zenon from Poland Reply Sep 3rd, 2007

Dan are you joking?

Simon from New Zealand Reply Aug 25th, 2007

I think the comments mentioned above are a little one sided and quite antagornistic, especially the one who seems to think that only Europeans are capable of killing. No state has clean hands in this respect and I don't think it helps anyone to point fingers for past generations. The history of Wroclaw is very interesting and there is a definate feel that the city is rising from the ashes of the last 60 years. Today, thousands of tourists, including Germans, from all over Europe come here. I think the city has so much going for it with regard to a university city that is extremely well designed. Very easy to walk around by foot. With regard to the first persons comments about whether it should be given back, the question seems a little naive. Even Germany has agreed that it has no claim to Lower Silesia, so why give a Polish city to Germany?

David from United States Reply Aug 25th, 2007

I am in Wroclaw as we speak visiting the place where my German-Jewish grandfather was born. We just got back from Auschwitz where part of my family perished. Let all of us remember that Germany has forfeited any claim to any land, including their own, during the last century of bloodshed brought about by the continuing German canard of their "racial superiority." It was extremely disturbing to see Wroclaw referred to as Breslau all the way to the Polish border. As Churchill stated, the seeds are planted. What family survived the Holocaust now lives in Denmark, another land filled with bigots, their whipping children are the Muslims they invited to live as basically second class "workers" that the Danes apparently thought would happily submit to the tiny, narrow worldview they hold. The last half of the second millenium is basically a story of Europeans rampaging around this planet, killing probably close to a billion people with their guns, germs and steel, destroying thousands of cultures, pillaging resources and subjugating whoever was left over. To the comment regarding the American Indian, please note who was doing the killing/pillaging - it sure wasn't indigenous Americans, it was Europeans doing what they do best - killing.

Rodman E. Doll from United States Reply Aug 19th, 2007

It is interesting to note that the shift of the borders of Poland west was suggested by Winston Churchill at one of the conferences with Stalin and Roosevelt. Later, he had second thoughts, and said that it might produce the seeds of future wars. On the whole, I prefer the large Poland before the war to the small Poland, (subjugated by Russia) after the war.

Slav from United States Reply Jul 28th, 2007

Sure Dan, just after USA returns its land to the rightfull owners ie American Indians.

Piotrek from Poland Reply Jul 3rd, 2007

Wroc³aw always polish!!!

Dan from United States Reply Jun 23rd, 2007

Dont you think its time to return the region to its rightful owner ie Germany?