Schonlanke by Paule Muller
History of the town of Schonlanke by Paul Mallach, former teacher in Schonlanke. (Based on these two major sources. Eduard Spude of Driesen, History of the Town of Schonlanke and District, issued Deutsch Krone 1885 and Professor Carl Schulz, Schonlanke: Sources and History of the District, issued in Schonlanke 1936.)
The Polish Historian, Lucaszewicz claims in 1510 the area was in the property of Wenzel Trzcinski, the geographer. The land was available for settlement and was permitted to be called Trzianka. In 1581 Trzianka Lanka had 27 horses, and 1 mill. The boss of the village was Mrs. Hedwig Czarnkowska.
On September 6, 1610 Adam Czarnkowski sold his village and herititary disposition Trzianka Lanke plus surroundings to Mrs. Hewig von Trzezka von Helkowo for 4000 Guilders. A registration of this transfer is mentioned in the Kroner Register on November 29, 1610. In 1629 a schulze Kierstanus (Kersten) is mentioned with regards to a sworn tax declaration.
In 1641 a report from a visitor, Braneckis talks about the settlement of 80 tradesmen (with houses and gardens), 28 tenants, and 1 school principal. The minister George Rzepinski could speak German. In this report it is also mentioned the amount of grain or money each family has to give to the minister and the principal. Nothing is mentioned about confessions of the people.
In 1671 the village Schonlanke had achieved such an importance that King Michael gave them the right to hold four country fairs. There are exact rules as to what can be exhibited, sold, bought etc.
The Polish authorities had tried for years to persuade German farmers to settle and now they are eager to get tradesmen as well. Sheep raising in that area resulted in cloth weaving. In 1679 Andreas Gembicki gave the weavers, Lorenz Braun, Michael Patz, Hans Zybarth, Hans Hesler, Georg Sckhroeder, Andreas Mielke, Joachim Zager, and Michael Ising the privelage with exact rights and duties. These included the masters' rights and duties towards their journeymen and apprentices, and what rules and laws have to be observed within their trades when hiring apprentices and at meetings and the acceptance of new tradesmasters.
The manufactured cloth was easily sold to Poland, Russia, Danzig, and even China. Besides the weavers, other trades immigrated. The mayor of Usch, Adam Alexander Naramowski, heir of Czarnikau and Schloppe, in December 15 1701 gave special rights and privileges to the shoemakers, Michael Glesmer, Peter Henselin, Christoph Henselin, and George Schwart.
The power of the landowners was very strong. For the purchase of real estate, the landowners ok was required. There are documents of land purchases by Adam Naramowski and Martin Kemitz in 1707. In 1720 Peter Ivanski sold to Martin Warnke and his wife Eleonare Schroder a deserted homestead. Several other deals are on record. In 1721 purchases recorded were by Anton Szembek, Bartholomaus Mittelstadt and his wife Katarina Ponto.
On March 3, 1731 a new settlement was formed next to Schonlanke by newly settled tradesmen. This new settlement achieved more and more importance. King August of Poland recognized this and gave them the Magdeburg townrights. The date March 3rd, 1731 is now the official founding date of the town Schonlanke.
The citizens of the town now could elect their own mayor and councilors that could speak and enforce justice and settle disputes. The settlers of the village, however, remained servants of the property owners.
The languages of the surrounding villages were remarkably different and it is assumed that the citizens were mainly from Northern Germany, Holland and the Rhine Valley. These are areas in which weaving had been long successful. This trade was given the permit in 1734 to build a cloth dying plant. Amongst the settlers were a number of Jews, who got special rights given to them by the commissioner, Johan Zandrowicz, by order of Count Stanislau Poniatowski.
The cloth trade was regulated; for example, when and where they can buy wool, what they can use as trade, and what tax they have to pay. In 1753 the privilege given to the weavers had been misused because many Masters could not understand the Polish language. Therefore the privileges has been repeated, point by point in German. In 1764 a second dying plant was build because the one could not handle the demand. In all these years many documents talk of buying and selling of real estate, farms and meadows that required the approval of the landowners.
The town Schonlanke became very successful thanks to the efforts of the settlers. When in 1772 the whole district including Schonlanke became Prussian, the surrounding areas had a population of 543 people. The town of Schonlanke had 2071 of which 264 were Jewish (merchants, tailors, butchers and furriers). Almost all people where German.
In the peace treaty of Tilsit in 1807 Napoleon confiscated the towns Schloppe and Schonlanke, and gave them to his friend, Marchal Berthier. A French governor did the administration of the land. He fired the mayor Schade in Schonlanke and councilors. Mr. Schade died of a broken heart one year later.
In 1807 French troops followed the Prussian Army into East Prussia and Schonlanke was under French Occupation. They occupied the best rooms in the best houses. All food was confiscated. The French troops destroyed all the farms and stole the cattle. In 1812 there was a great famine. The villagers came begging into the town and were fed by the town's people even though they had very little.
The Polish officer Czywinski became the new mayor. His deputy was a Doctor Fraelich. The treasurer was a stranger by the name of Ulmann. Since Schonlanke belonged to the principality of Warschau (1807-1815), the council in Warschau sent Councilor Bayl to Czarnikau in July 1813. On October 1 Councilor Bayl called the mayor and the school principals to the office and relieved them from all agreements with Prince Bertheir.
It was really bad when the defeated French Army came back from Russia. An emergency hospital was built for the beaten, starving soldiers. It was in the house of the merchant Ludke. Soon the makeshift hospital was overcrowded. It was the bricklayer Moll who ran the hospital. When he reported the conditions, his face turned grave. He had to drag the dead by their feet down the stairs into a big hole into the garden. The bodies were then covered with layers of caustic calcium then water. The mass grave became a big hill. In a decade's time, the grave collapsed and nobody knew anymore where it was. The war was over and Schonlanke was Prussian again!
Written records of this time are not available but Edward Spude, who was born in 1820 in Schonlanke and who wrote the first book about Schonlanke, collected the reports of his grandfather and of other older people who lived during that time.
In July 1815 members of the new Prussian Government in Bromberg arrived. They wrote a comprehensive report about the businesses, especially the large weaving industry and the incomes of the citizens, churches, and schools. It carries the signatures of all the councilors and judges.
With great effort the past ruins were removed and in 1815 Schonlanke had population of 2915; 1677 were Protestant, 628 Catholic, and 610 Jews. The citizens owned about 40 hectares of land. They grew rye, barley, oats and peas. The main food was potatoes. Potatoes were eaten in many different forms. In the morning, potato soup, at noon, potatoes with bacon or meat or fish. Evening again potatoes with herring, butter and salt, but the people got strong and were able to work hard.
From July 1, 1814 to July 1, 1815, the weavers made 21404 pieces of cloth on 250 looms. 1071 workers brought in 256848 talers (3 talers = one dollar). In spite of the destruction by the French, the town soon had 380 cows, 2 horses, 120 sheep, 15 lambs, and 23 pigs. The government was the rulers. They selected the mayor and he selected the magistrate.
In 1822 the Russians closed the borders and business slowed down. Even though Holland, England and Danzig bought the cloth, soon a new enemy appeared.
On the Rhine River in Westfalia, in Sachen, in the Lausitz, machines replaced the hand weaver. Small towns were unable to follow the trend. Although the government was willing to help, the weavers fell into proverty. Many went to Poland and Russia where they found work in Lodz, Kiew, and Odessa in more modern factories. Those that stayed behind had to find new ways to earn a living.
In 1836 the citizens were allowed to elect their own mayor. The former mayor who was appointed by the government was very unpopular. That is why in 1837 the justice lawyer Matzky from Schloppe was elected. It was a good choice, since he was justice for almost half a century. Good ruling positions were also given to the pharmacist Tietze and the weaver August Spude. Women had no voting rights but were satisfied with the order.
The political unrest in 1847-1848 was not without problems for Schonlanke. The unrest hampered commerce, business, construction and manufacturing in Berlin and other large cities. Many workers became destitute and were ready to be hostile against the rulers. Efforts were made to relocate the unhappy masses as far away from the cities as possible and give them work and time to calm down.
Already in 1842 there were plans to build a railway line from Berlin via Konigsburg to the Russian border. The tracks were surveyed and the cost estimates made. The first part of the line was started from Kreuz to Schnedemuhl. The unsatisfied workers from Berlin were moved there. They were housed in barracks. Building offices were established in Filehne, Schonlanke and Skhneidehuhl. Military outposts were built along the line "just in case". Because of this and the friendly treatment from the supervisors the people calmed down and building was speedy.
In July 1849 the line from Schnedemuchl to Bromberg was opened. A locomotive, decorated with flowers and wreaths was driven along the route and cheered by bystanders. When finally connected between Schneidemuhl; Dirschau; and Konigsberg, the rail line from Berlin to St Petersberg was completed; the work ended on 12 October 1857. Even if Schonlanke was only a small stop on the line, an improvement in travel and business was noticeable. Agricultural and other products could be taken to the railways and brought to other towns and villages much easier to be sold.
After the weaving business declined, the shoemaking trade developed strongly. The shoemaker master Stegemann founded a Co-Op. It was very successful and it had 704 members in 1873. It had a yearly turnover of 1,382,362 marks. After the founder’s death, his daughter Emiline Stegemann was his successor. Her picture was published in 1900 in the magazine "Die Woche" with the description "the first Bank manager of Germany". This co-op changed its name to "Volkbank" (People’s Bank) but it came to an end with the arrival of Soviet Troops in 1945.
In 1794 there already was a gun club in Schonlanke. After the wars of 1864; 1866; 1870; and 1871, a new Defense League was established. The League asked the Emperor to be issued a flag. The plea was granted and the royal crest painter, Glynski was ordered to create a Flag. The crest showed a golden steer in a black background. Also a monument to remember the three wars was placed on a plaza in front of the railway station, Bismark Strasse. It consisted of a granite socket of several meters high, topped with a solid eagle with open wings. In 1945 the Russians placed a tank at the market place. The eagle was placed beneath the tank to emphasize that the Russians defeated the German eagle
CHURCHES, SCHOOLS AND LAW
Soon after Schonlanke had a larger municipality a simple wooden church was built. In an old record, it said, "our old wooden church has collapsed and a new one was built in 1601. It was again a wooden church. A big fire in Schonlanke consumed this church. In 1717 again a church made of wood was built. The church was never consecrated because the government collapsed and no proper architect design could be produced, or cost estimates so a place was bought from the widow Zantow for 25.00 dollars.
A building permit was issued on January 20th, 1775. The building was started to the plan of building inspector Jawein. Instrumental were the weavers, Christoph Mittelstadt, Andreas Modrow, Johannes Kruger, Martin Wiese. The building was built for 1669 dollars, 17 dimes and 6 pennies. The interior was still missing but many good dollars were found and the interior was decorated and finished with an altar, pews and even an organ. The church was officially consecrated in 1775. Soon it was apparent that the church was too small for the large congregation therefore the village built their own church in 1799. This church burnt down in a huge fired on August 31st, 1829. This church was never rebuilt.
There were plans to build a big church and it was started on September 14th, 1943. Not on the old site but on the northern end of the big market place. On October 15, 1847, the birthday of King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who paid almost all of the building costs, the church was consecrated. It had two choirs, connected with a bridge where the minister held his services. When the church was renovated, 50 years later, the bridge disappeared and a proper pulpit was built. That is what the church looked like when the soviets occupied the area in 1945. The Poles did not use the church as such. In time it became to be used as a house of culture, later as a storehouse. The church fell more and more into disrepair and has now totally collapsed.
The official superintendent was Pastor Hartmann when the church was consecrated. Following Pastor Hartmann, was Pastor Janike. After him came Pastor Ritter. When he died his son-in-law, Altmann took over. With him was Pastor Henke. After him was Pastor Hessler who was much honoured and loved. Then came Pastors Wessberge, Bartel, and Trapp. The last pastor was Pastor Schroer. He had the sad duty of burying the citizen killed by the occupied Russians. Finally, he too, was captured by the Russian and he died somewhere in Russia.
The first time a school was mentioned was by the visiting Bishop Brenecki in 1641. It says, "there is a schoolhouse for children. The principal was to receive yearly, 12 bushels of rye". Another bishop, "Kierski" mentions a school in 1738. The location of the school can only be assumed, which was mostly likely near the church. The teachers were the tradesmen. In 1834 the school had two grades and a properly trained teacher was hired. Teacher Arndt was hired and assisted by teacher Schommel in 1882. After that the teacher was "Grosser" until 1901. The school now had three grades.
The schoolhouse was no longer safe and from 1839 to 1849 classes were held in rented rooms. Only in 1854 the schoolhouse was repaired and was again used. Soon the two classrooms were not enough. A new schoolhouse was built on Linden Strasse besides the village school and had six class rooms, as well as, an apartment for the principal. Under the leadership of the new principal the school got 7 classrooms. Finally the apartment of the principal was also converted into classrooms. Now the school had 8 classrooms and a small teacher’s room. There was still not enough room and all teaching implements and books had to be stored on the floor in the classrooms.
On April 1, 1926 when Mr. Kastner became principal, his aim was to build a better, bigger school. After long negotiations, the government finally agreed to build a new school by incorporating the old one. The city architect "Grahmann" designed a masterpiece and work started without interrupting the schooling. Sometimes teachers and students had to climb over ladders to get to their classrooms. August 1932, the new school was finally finished.
The new school year started in November 1933. This new school had 13 classrooms, 2 rooms for teaching equipment, 1 principal’s office, and a teacher’s room, a drawing room, which also served as a conference room. Also there was a room for teaching handy work and one room apartment for the custodian. In the basement there was a kitchen and a shower room. The school was named the "Hindenburg School". When the Russians marched in, the school burnt down, but the Poles rebuilt it and used it for other things.
A Lutheran school did not exist during the Polish rule. Private teachers taught the children until 1773 when Lutherans schools were permitted. In 1787 the first Protestant school was erected at the site where later, a war memorial stood. On January 1st, 1788 a Theologist, Gabriel Hanow was the first teacher. Succeeded by Gottllob Voight. In 1809 Techner, much later, 1874 the main teacher was Buchholz, 1876 main teacher Knopke, 1800 Bieber, 1883 Langholz, 1885 principal Sabatke, 1909, principal Grau. After his death came Principal Siegfried. He was transferred to the teacher training school in Schneidemuhl. His successor was principal Klawitter. He was captured by the Russians Troops in 1945 because he was a leader in the German Home Defence. After his release he worked as a junior high school teacher in Cuxhaven and died on January 10, 1952.
The Vocational Schools remained even when Protestant schools started in 1787. Only in 1826 they were united with the other schools and a trained teacher was hired. Both teachers had about 400 students to teach. In 1830 the school had 3 classes; 1833, there were 4 classes. At last it was a school with 7 sections and 18 classrooms and 16 Vocational places besides the town school.
The village had their own school. In the beginning it had only one room, 1837, 2 rooms, and in 1893, four rooms. In 1898, the village school was united with the town school, 4 in the village school and a confirmation room. This arrangement did not work well, therefore several houses and other buildings at the Matzky place had to be demolished to make room for a very impressive new school with several additions. After World War 1 it had 25 classrooms, 1 principal office, 2 teacher conference rooms, 4 equipment rooms, 1 drawing room, 1 kitchen, 1 shower room and an apartment for the custodian. After 1933 the school was renamed "Adolf Hitler School". In 1938 all religious schools were united with public schools into 2 districts.
The Jewish congregation was ordered in 1823 to build their own school for their 200 children. Reluctantly, a schoolhouse was erected but the number of children declined and in 1913 it was dissolved because only 10 children remained.
On September 1st, 1886 a public and vocational school was established. Besides regular teachers there were masters of all trades lectured. In 1920 the school was called a Trade School and had educated trades school teachers. The last Director was Johannes Schmidtchen. On April 1st, 1939 the school became a college. The Head was Rector Birkholz, followed by Rector Villaret in 1898. Between 1849-1888, the Head was Rector Zimmermann. In 1854 the class was transferred to the ex town hall which was bought by cloth weaver Sauer. Also two more classes moved in. 1903 under the leadership of Rector Herbst, for 5 classes. 1907, the government took it over. On April 1st, 1925 the school was improved to become a university and diplomas were issued. The Head was Director Kirsch. The last leader was Kolhhase in 1945.
In 1846 Hulda Boltz established a private school for girls who wanted a higher education. It existed until 1879. Teacher Erdmann Hentschel, established a similar school which however was connected with a public school for boys. This school was taken over by Miss Elise Ruhe in 1893 and existed until 1922. The economic situation forced the closure of that school. Some of the female students were taken over by the college. Others went to a girl's high school that was part of the Protestant School Board. From these classes they formed a very popular girls middle school administered by the principal of the public school.
City administrators tried unsuccessfully to have a teachers college in Schonlanke. However in April 1st, 1900 a teacher’s preparation school was established in the former boys' school. Later, a better teacher college was established, this school was closed in 1923. Sons and daughters of farmers were better educated at the school for agriculture, which was established in 1902. In 1925 the municipality renewed this school.
Schonlanke was well equipped with schools. North of the rail was Schneidemuhl-Filehne Line, which was administered by a district school department. All the schools south of the railway line were under the jurisdiction of the Schneidemuhl council. In the last decade the following principals resided in Schonlanke; Rajewski; Dr. Radtke; Homburg and Saddey. The top administrator was in 1935 a son of our city, Emil Pax, who was transferred to Osnabruck as a top director for the government shortly prior to his retirement.
HOSPITALS, & LAW
An old log house at the market square served as a hospital. Due to the lack of proper medical equipment and small rooms, the condition was impossible. In 1923 the hospital was moved into the former teachers college on Bahnhof Street. It was progress.
One of the practicing doctors was also a hospital doctor. Soon this house was also too small and an addition was added to include a surgery department. A very good chief surgeon Dr. Mohr was hired. He made a name for himself with his appendectomies and other more tricky operations. Unfortunately, he committed suicide when the soviets marched in.
When Schonlanke was declared a city in 1731 it also became under the law of the Magdeburg justice system. It became a more comprehensive justice system because the village of Schonlanke remained under the Polish rule. In 1772 when Prussia took over, all these justice systems were abolished and both systems were united and put under Schneidemuhl’s justice system.
In 1788 the German language was the language of justice and business. The new peace time justice system changed little at the present system. Only in 1835-1837 was the system reorganized and Schonlanke received two courts, one for the city, and one, for the country.
The first Director was Mr. Mehler. In 1849 wartime courts were established and Director Mehler was transferred to Danzig. Director Klotzsch took over the job. These courts also took in the district Filehne, Czarnikau, and surrounding villages. These courts had 8-10 justices and several lower assistants. The building was now too small and the jail was too unsafe. Therefor a new building including a jail was erected in the middle of the town. It had a strong wall surrounded it.
Reorganization took place in 1879 and Schneidemuhl received a Supreme Court. Lower courts were in Schonlanke, Filehne and Czarnikau. The number of judges was reduced to three. This way all justice systems were united with those of the whole German Fatherland even though this was detrimental to Schonlanke. The last acting justice was Konrad Moller who found a peaceful home after an adventurous flight in Wolfenbuttel near Braunschweig.
Schonlanke did not have a City Hall. The elected mayor Ludwig Matzky bought a farmhouse at 32 Linden Street in 1838. It had rooms for city administration and also an apartment for him. He also bought a two-story apartment building on Bahnhof Street in 1854. There was room for offices and a boy’s school. When the school got its own building the upper rooms were changed to an apartment for the Mayor. Mr. Matzky was honored for his work in the development of the city. Therefore the place in front of Protestant school was called "Matzky Square". After the decline of the weaving industry he called the shoemakers, locksmiths, tailors and other tradesmen.
The houses were all built of logs. The wood came from the surrounding forests. The roofs were covered with shakes. This is why fires destroyed whole streets in the years 1740, 1751, 1759 and 1777. Also the nice cottages disappeared. King Friedrich The Great gave everyone who built a house from brick with a massive chimney a reward of 200 Talers (dollars). It was no longer an advantage to build houses from wood. The last wooden houses were the Pharmacy and Luttke’s house at #9 Bahnhof Street. Although their appearance was not very good, they still were preserved as heritage buildings after 150 years. Mr. Matzky died in 1896. His successor was Oskar Lessing 1896 to 1900. After him came Emil Rentel, who governed the city until 1910.
In all those years new wood working sawmills were built. Lumber and other wood products manufactured by Mr. Zindler, Herrmann, Gebhardt, Korehnke, Levy, and last Oberlander. Furniture produced by Michel Zimpel was much in demand. The fashion demanded many carvings and lathe work. A new business started for many hundred of workers in the cigar factory of the Brothers Will, Eckersdorf, Haase, Grunwald, Grunberg and Eppenstein. Wages were low, 16 to 17 Marks was very little to live on. The wives had to also work to make ends meet.
The teachings of Marx, Engels –Lasalle found many open ears. Soon a Socialist Union was formed. They celebrated May 1st, as Labor Day. May policeman were in attendance to make sure the red flag was only unfolded outside the town. The electoral district of Kolmar, Czarnikau, Filehne were politically represented by a Conservative Minister. Many years it was the factory owner Zindler, Schonllanke followed by landowner Count von Stieglitz.
The 18 town councilors were elected by a 3rd class system. Therefore the Jewish Community was the strongest because they were the highest tax payers. The talented town mayor, schoolteacher, Gustav Rosen Treter, made sure the Jewish influence was held down. The town’s representatives did make a good choice, when they elected the mayor of Exin, Erich Froese to become their mayor after Rentels past away. His knowledge, skill, and understanding for the needs of the people made him very popular. He started his job June 1st, 1910. In the First World War he took part as a Lieutenant of the Reserves. He was wounded four times and got captured by the French. He was released February 1820 and continued his former job. When the Russians occupied in 1945 he did not leave and he was taken to Russia on Feb. 3rd. During the trip he took ill and died in a Polish Clinic on April 3rd, 1945.
In 1898 the village Schonlanke was partly and totally united with the town Schonlanke. The town had now 8000 residents. Up to that time, gas or kerosene illuminated the streets. Later the town council decided to have them electrified. In the beginning of the 20th century a power plant and a slaughterhouse were built on Rathans Street. Power consumption increased from year to year, because factories had electrical machinery. Therefore the town had to be hooked up to the electrical-net.
Losing the war of World War 1 was very significant. The provinces of Posen and West Prussia became almost totally the property of Poland. In a People’s Plebiscite it was decreed that the railway line Krenz-Schneidenuhl-Konitz remain under German administration. The Line became the borderline. The southern part of the community of Kolmar, Czarnikau, Filene and Schonlanke became Polish. The northern part became a new community and Schonlanke became the main city.
Now it was necessary to build housing for the municipal workers. So the Department for Municipal Affairs and new apartments built in the Jahn Street and Marke Street and in other locations. Altogether, 150 apartments were built. Many departments opened including a Tax Department, Customs Department and also Banks.
On the Lake Zaskov a bathhouse and beach hall were built. Before and after W.W.1 there were several exercise and body building clubs, a rowing club and in 1919 the club "Hellas" also engaged in Soccer. A famous member was Gerhard Stock, who won the Gold Medal in javelin throwing and a Bronze in steelball throwing in 1936.
In those years Schonlanke also got a long planned waterline with a pumping station on Zasker Lake. The City received a whole new appearance when the streets were paved and pedestrian walkways were renewed. The population was now 9000. Approximately two thirds were Protestant and one third Catholic. There were also 386 Jews.
In 1925 Adolph Hitler formed the Nazi Party. They were mainly fighting communism. There were had many sympathizers amongst the unemployed (7 million). The powerless government of the Weimar Republic was unable to create work and income for those masses. It was impossible to unite all the groups and clubs (32) to achieve a majority. The government changed many times. Hitler promised to end all of this. The ex-president, Marchal Paul von Hindenburg named Hitler to be Chancellor on January 30, 1933. Hitler outlawed all other parties. So his N.S.D.A.P. (Nazi) became the only governing party. Also in Schonlanke a new group joined the new party. The first orders by Hitler promised an improvement. New rules and regulations were a definite improvement for the business owners. Hitler’s hope was to enlarge the German Country using warlike activities.
On November 8th, 1938 the synagogue in Schonlanke, together with other Synagogues went up in flames. The remaining Jews were herded into a long freight train and moved away. Where they ended up is not known. Some Jewish families managed to immigrate to America or Palestine but it has to be mentioned that the Nazi’s in Schonlanke managed to have nobody from Schonlanke taken to a concentration Camp.
Then came World War 2. The troop movements also touched the city. The successes against Poland and France gave everybody much confidence. It only became doubtful when the troops marched into Russia in spite of the non-aggression treaty from 1939. In spite of great successes in the beginning, the goal to reach Moscow was not achieved.
Behind the Sports Arena a Barracks was built in which 700 Balkan Germans found shelter. In July 1943 Schonlanke accepted evacuees including 2 public schools with 400 and 120 children. Housing was difficult because with the children came also their mothers. Although the pupils were spread over all the other schools, it was soon impossible to oversee them all. The school was converted into field hospitals. The town grew to 10,500 people.
After United States of America entered the war, air raids were more frequent. Schonlanke was Germany’s Air Raid Shelter. Only once a bulk of 140 airplanes flew over the town in 1944 but no bombs fell.
In August 1944, 700 women were moved to Jastrow to work building defense structures. After October, also in Schonlanke shelters and ditches were built. In mid January 1945, ethnic Germans from the Warthegau moved through the town. Soon the German front on the river Werchsel collapsed. On January 26th, 1945, seven Russian tanks appeared. Of these 2 were destroyed by bazookas. The others escaped. An officer who was on Leave and with relatives was able to round up 50 soldiers from the hospitals to defend the city, but on January 27th the Russians conquered it.
Artillery and fire destroyed many houses in Bahntof Street and the Market Place as well as in other areas. Approximately 50% of the town was destroyed. The appointed Polish mayor put all the remaining people to work. From time to time, officers of the G.P.U. collected first the men, then the women and put them into a camp at Schwiebus. From there they were moved to Russia. The last transport of 5000-6000 people took place on April 6th. Many died of hunger, cold and sickness. Very few were able to return.
Women in Schonlanke removed the cobblestones in the 140 m long and 70 m wide Market Place and they hauled in topsoil from the outlying fields in pails and baskets. The former Market Place was transformed into a park with trees, benches and walkways and a fountain. In front of the Protestant Church a memorial was erected in the form of a Pavilion in which 36 Russian soldiers found their last resting place.
Approximately 6000 people remained in the city. The children from Bochum were transported back in July 1945. Weekly, some people were allowed to accompany the so called grain trains which brought grain to Pankow. For a long time the Russian word "Uri-Uri" was heard and in the evening "Frau Komm Mit" (come with me woman).
Our beautiful town is now Polish and looks totally different. Where there were houses, the railway station, and market place is now parks, trees and bushes. The railway station is rebuilt. Also a sports field, a new school and apartments were rebuilt.
I am the author of this report and was injured on January 27 with fragments of shells in both my legs. After many tortures and beatings I was moved to Schwiebus with 14 men and 10 women. A Russian female Doctor released us as invalids. After strenuous walks, on crutches, I reached the old homestead in 10 days on September 22, 1945. Therefore I am an eyewitness of all the happenings the way I have reported it.
Title, Der Netzekreis - Altpommersches Grenzland: Heimatbuch. Author, Paul Müller. Edition, 4. Publisher, Patenkreis Nordfriesland, 1977.