Weis(s)enborns east of the current German-Polish border.

Posted on Facebook on 9 December 2016.

I am all but certain that all Weis(s)enborns originate from Thüringen and its border areas, where we find many villages with the name Weißenborn. In my database I now have a number of families Weis(s)enborns east of the current German-Polish border, see the attached map. Only recently did I notice that the data of many of them did not yet go further back in time than the first three decades of the 19th century, and for one family to the last two decades of the 18th century. That is the time of Napoleon. By coincidence?

From history lessons, and much more from Tolstoy's War and Peace, I knew that Napoleon had conquered and occupied most of mainland Europe, and had invaded Russia in 1812. I still thought that after Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo in 1815 all countries had licked their wounds and affairs had continued as before Napoleon. I even kept thinking this way after I had read Leopold Kohr's masterpiece "The Breakdown of Nations" several times. Ingrained ways of thinking are slow to give way, even to blatantly obvious truths.

In the 1790s Napoleon had gradually amassed power above the critical amount, namely the amount which enabled him to use it AND get away with the results. Hence he has used his power bigtime, until he failed. Prussia found itself in possesion of the critical amount of power in 1815. At the negotiations in Vienna in 1815 and 1819 it demanded and acquired large parts of Poland, both to reduce Poland's power and increase its own.

It now becomes quite intelligible why we see Weis(s)enborns entering the new parts of Prussia in the first quarter of the 19th century: I believe that their immigration was stimulated and even facilitated by the Prussian government, by means of legal and probably also economic privileges, just like today's Jewish settlers on the Westbank.

Similarly, in the wake of the Second Schleswig War - which was won by Prussia - we find a family Weissenborn in Hellevad/Hellewalt in Denmark in 1875. In the treaty of Vienna of 1864, the whole duchy of Schleswig, which encompasses the southern part of the current Denmark, became Prussian.

Prussia lost parts of the acquired territory in the treaty of Versailles of 1919, after its defeat in the First World War. Further parts were lost after the defeat in the Second World War. Today Weis(s)enborns (and all others) in Poland and Russia who can prove their German ancestry are enabled to return to Germany. Several descendants of Carl Weissenborn who was born in Danzig in 1806 have made use of this arrangement. As far as migration is concerned, history is turned back.