Views of the Town Hall Square in Przedecz. On the left the Town Hall itself, built about 1805. Photographs taken by me in October, 2000.

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German Schools in the Parish of Przedecz,Hermann Textor Poland

by Hermann Textor (1895-1967),
published in "Deutsche Blätter in Polen 6" (1929),
translated from German by Jan Textor

Even prior to the second partition of Poland there was such a large-scale German immigration to the region of Kujawy (in Poland) that it caused a serious headache to the Sejmik (regional council) which was assembled at Radziejewo, and which was hostile towards this immigration. This is clearly evident from the following decision made by the council on 15. August 1778:

"Many people who are known by the name of "Hollaender" are spreading throughout this country; they are demanding rights for themselves for forty years, and thus elements are coming to the country which can bring losses to the general public: You deputies will make every effort to persuade the ruling classes of the Republic to grant the rights for a period of twenty years only and at the expiration of same a purchase price must be paid, thus impeding the rush and removing a cause of public misfortune."

However, such decisions did not have much influence on the immigration. The Polish noblemen and landowners took no notice of them. Even the Starost of Przedecz, Kretkowski, whose deputy Kielczewski was one of the people who had signed the above decision, founded the "Hollaender" colony Psary on his lands as early as 1779. However, the colonists did only receive nine free years here.

Apart from Psary, the following colonies were founded about 1780 near Przedecz: Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wies Wielka), Neu-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Nowy) and Zgórze. In all probability these were "Hollaender" settlements, too. The Swabian (Schwaben) colony Augustopol is mentioned for the first time in 1799 in the church books of Chodecz as Wilhelmsthal. Officially, the village kept its German name until at least 1810, but unofficially until today (1929). Shortly thereafter the colony Alt-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Stary) was founded by Swabians who originally had settled in Strelno (Strzelno) near Posen (Poznan) in the period 1779-1785 with the permission of Friedrich II (the Great). At the same time some of them went to the already existing Swabian villages of Wilhelmsthal (Augustopol), Rosenthal (Różopol) and Lilienthal (Liliopol). All these settlements sprang up in the state forest areas of the Przedecz and Kowal districts. The villages of Przysypka and Łanięta received colonists from northern Germany.

On the whole, there was a majority of people from northern Germany among the colonists who had immigrated to the region of Kujawy. This could explain why the Swabian characteristics (dialect etc.) have almost totally disappeared from the region today (1929). Most of the Swabians who immigrated to the Chodecz and Przedecz parishes had used places like Schönlanke (Trzcianka), Labischin (Łabiszyn), Jarotschin (Jaroszyn), Nakel (Nakło), and Strelno (Strzelno) as jumping-off points for their further voyage east. Many came directly from their home places, however. The latter were mainly clothmakers who settled in the towns of Chodecz and Przedecz.

The immigrants from northern Germany were mainly from the Netze (Noteć) district, from West Prussia and probably from the border districts of the Kaschubei (Kaszuby) region. That is why they even today (1929) are called "Kaschuben", although they have nothing in common with the Slavic Kaszuby tribe.

Apart from Swabians and people from northern Germany, there were also a few immigrants from Alsace. Names like de Phillipp, Durier, Commend, and Courbiés indicate as much. Another indication is the still existing belief that a few colonists from Jasieniec had been obliged to serve as interpreters for the French troops that were passing through in 1812. The fact that Alsatian tobacco farmers are mentioned in the church chronicle of Chodecz also confirms it. Busch writes in his "Beiträgen zur Geschichte und Statistik" that some colonists had kept their French citizenship as late as 1867.

Whatever their origin, the immigrants all had one requirement in common: The establishment of schools which at the same time would make up for the churches of their home country. ………. What they had here could certainly not replace what they had left behind, but at least it could refresh their memories, and for many years it could conjure up the Sundays of their home country. The best person to read and write would be chosen from their midst to deliver a sermon every Sunday, and to teach their children every day. Thus every village had its own schoolteacher. In Neudorf (Nowa Wieś) they even recorded births, marriages and deaths until the (Lutheran) parish of Chodecz was founded in 1800. Travelling pastors may also have served the scattered colonies. And in many cases the baptisms and weddings took place in the Roman-Catholic churches. However, for the most part it was the duty of the village schoolteacher to act as spiritual adviser. About 1810 Kurbies and Kommand are mentioned as schoolteachers in Jasieniec, and Kommand and Martin Schendel in Neudorf (Nowa Wieś). It is evident from the preserved documents of these teachers that their education was rather lacking. They hardly had much to offer the young people, who on the other hand did not make great demands. The financial circumstances of the colonists must also have been rather poor, because very often they were in arrears with the salaries and other remuneration of the teachers, even of the very unpretentious ones. In a letter in German from 1813, the district authorities of Przedecz (Katarzyna) inform the mayor of Przedecz that due to the excessive fees and high taxes it is impossible to recover the required school contributions, and that all the measures to that effect are fruitless. However, the demand of the mayor in his capacity as school director of the Przedecz parish will have to be satisfied as soon as the people will be able to raise the necessary funds.

As from 1817 the State laid its hands on the schools of the mentioned colonies. Already in 1808 the "Izba Edukacyjna" (chamber of education) in Warsaw had enforced a law to the effect of establishing elementary town and village schools, in which it is said a.o.: "No village and no town shall remain without a school. A village that cannot have its own school must be connected to a neighbouring school. Such an association of about 200 farmers shall be called a school parish. All inhabitants of a town or a village shall form the school parish, regardless of the class they belong to. The supervisory school committee (dozór szkolny) shall be constituted by the landowner or his deputy, the parish priest, the Lutheran pastor if there is one, the mayor or the "wójt" (chief administrative officer of the parish or a group of villages), and one or two farmers. Everybody regardless of social position or religious belief shall be obliged to contribute to the salary of the teacher. The payers will be classified into four groups. Group I. will be constituted by farmers who own 15 – 30 Morgen of land, millers, land-agents (stewards), shepherds with a flock of their own, etc. Group II. will consist of farmers who own 1 – 15 Morgen of land, serfs, brewers, distillers, etc. To group III. belong innkeepers, craftsmen, etc. And finally group IV. is made up of charcoal burners, workmen, and servants.

This act, including certain supplements and additions, was made public in 1817 in the 60th number of the official Gazette of the province of Mazowsze and therefore caused the authorities to take an interest in the German schools as well. Special officials called school organizers were sent into the country and had to see to it that as many schools as possible were established. Of course these officials welcomed the fact that they already found existing schools in the German colonies. Citizens who took a special interest in the establishment of schools were to be publicly honoured (by publication of their name from the pulpit, or before the parish council), because by promoting education in the country they deserved the highest mark of respect (”chluba obywatelska”). Ordinarily, these honours were only awarded to the Germans, because the Poles in many cases resisted the establishment of schools.

Changes were made in the colonist schools. The villages Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka), Alt-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Stary), Neu-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Nowy), Klein-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Mała), Lipiny, and Przysypka, which each had had its own school until that moment, were combined into one school parish. The teachers were dismissed, and in their place came a new teacher who admittedly was more skilled and had a far better education than his predecessors, but who had no relationship at all with the village people. An employment contract was signed 22 December, 1817 by the members of the school committee, the rural dean of Przedecz, Piotrowski and the steward of the State estate Katarzyna, von Koelichen, on one hand and the new teacher, George Ernst Kitzmann, on the other. According to this employment contract Mr. Ernst Kitzmann was to take over the duties of schoolteacher at the elementary (primary) school of Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) in order to teach the school children there German and Polish, in accordance with the provision made by the Chamber of Education. For conscientious fulfilment of these duties Mr. Kitzmann was to receive the following annual salary: 350 złoty in cash plus a certain amount of wheat, rye, barley, peas, and firewood (equal to a value of 5,000-6,000 zloty at 1929 level). It should be added that the cash amount and the grain was to be provided by the parish, and only the wood was to be delivered by the state.

The deed of foundation of the elementary (primary) school of Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) reads as follows:

Passed in Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) 26 May, 1818

The organizer of elementary (primary) schools in the county of Kujawy came to Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) on behalf of the government to establish an elementary (primary) school. He found that such a school had already been set up the previous year by the mayor of the town of Przedecz, Mr. Ciekorski, and convinced himself from the documents that the organization details with the introduction of Mr. Kitzmann as teacher already had been submitted to the chief administrative officer of the county. In the presence of the supervisory school board, made up of the steward of the State estates near Przedecz: von Koelichen, the village mayor of Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka): Martin Fitz, the lay assessor Christian Zimmer, and the farmer Christoph Hirsekorn, he proceeded to install the teacher in question, and as of today he handed over to him the schoolhouse, the garden, and the school apparatus, and authorized him to receive the budgeted salary and other remuneration. I warned him to fulfil his duties as schoolteacher meticulously, and to submit his monthly reports concerning the teaching in triplicate to the supervisory school board. At the same time I made it the duty of the supervisory school board, and in particular of Mr. von Koelichen in his capacity of steward of the State Estate Katarzyna, to annually pay the teacher according to budget and to submit the annual bill to the Government in accordance with No. 60 of the official Province Gazette. This record has been read out and signed as prescribed.

(-) von Koelichen,
(-) Kitzmann, teacher,
(-) Martin Fitz, village mayor,
(+++) Christian Zimmer,
(+++) Christoph Hirsekorn,
(-) Grudzinski, organizer.

Passed in Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) 26 May, 1818

In accordance with Gazette No. 60 and after joint deliberation we the undersigned have undertaken the task of supervisory school board in Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka), and will fulfil our obligations with the utmost conscientiousness for the good of state and country. However, we would ask of the Government that the schoolhouse which belongs to the State estates be repaired and brought back to its original state as soon as possible. Secondly, if it pleases the Government, to let the teacher have the firewood due to him, and to honour this contract at all times.

(-) von Koelichen,
(-) Martin Fitz, village mayor,
(+++) Christian Zimmer,
(+++) Christoph Hirsekorn,
(-) Organizer Grudzinski

It appears from the budget made up by the Mayor of Przedecz that the school parish of Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) had the following number of paying members: Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) 35, Klein-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Mała) 5, Lipiny 5, Alt-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Stary) 23, and Neu-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Nowy) 19, totally 87. Of these the following had their own farms: Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) 24, Klein-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Mała) 4, Lipiny 3, Alt-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Stary) 11, and Neu-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Nowy) 4, in total 46. The number of children of school age was: Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) 62, Klein-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Mała) 14, Lipiny 10, Alt-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Stary) 24, and Neu-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Nowy) 24, in total 134. The interference of the State in the German school system did not turn out to be a success. The parishioners are dissatisfied with the new system and, above all, with the new teacher. They refuse to send their children to school, to pay the salary of the teacher, and to provide the budgeted grain. The dispute between the parishioners and the teacher went on for years. The first complaint of the teacher Kitzmann is dated 5. June 1818, i.e. a few days after his instalment. He has a fine handwriting as well as a distinguished mode of expression both in German and Polish, from which can be concluded that he was highly educated for his time. As a result of this complaint the "Wójt" threatens the farmers to collect the debt by execution, but the farmers do not react to this either. On 29. June 1818 Kitzmann submits the required list of children frequenting the school to the steward (of Katarzyna). However, only 5 of the 134 are listed (Zimmer, Ristof, Ristof, Jakobi, Heyn). Both disputing parties are submitting complaints to the High Commissioner of the province by way of the steward, von Koelichen. The one by the farmers is in German and reads as follows (in translation):

Actum Katarzyna, 30 June, 1818

Representatives of 1) the parish of Nowa Wieś Wielka (Gross-Neudorf, 2) the parish of Klein-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Mała), 3) the parish of Przysypka, 4) the parish of Narty, 5) the parish of Lipin (Lipiny), 6) the parish of Neu-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Nowy), 7) the parish of Alt-Jasieniec (Jasieniec Stary) appeared before the undersigned to put the following on record:

On the appointment of the present schoolteacher Kitzmann and the setting up of the school in Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka), we have been bound not only to make the necessary joint contributions towards the salary and other remuneration of the school teacher in Neudorf (Nowa Wieś), but also to send our children to the mentioned schoolteacher Kitzmann in Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka). Ever since the establishment of our village we have taken care of the teaching of our children of our own accord without being requested to do so by the high authorities of the country, and we think that we have distinguished ourselves extraordinarily in this respect compared to all neighbouring parishes. Therefore, it is very painful for us to dismiss our old schoolteacher (M. Schendel), with whom we have been perfectly satisfied, without any just cause, and to entrust the care of our children to a man whose conduct so far cannot inspire us with respect or confidence, especially with regard to his strong addiction to drink which often has rendered him unconscious in our presence. Apart from these facts there is the very important circumstance that our previous teachers were obliged to hold a formal service every Sunday and teach our children religion, however, the presently employed schoolteacher Kitzmann is neither ready nor able to do this, because not only does he ask for a separate payment for this, but he is also unfit to hold services due to his lack of the necessary qualities required for the edification of the congregation. Under these circumstances we would respectfully ask that our following petition be presented to a higher authority. 1) We the parishioners of Gross-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Wielka) will certainly as hitherto employ our own schoolteacher but have in mind to make it his duty to hold services every Sunday, to arrange funerals, to say prayers and to give thanks to God after the service, etc. We will strive to find a qualified candidate and will propose same for examination by the high authorities, we hope, however, that Kitzmann, as a person in whom we have no confidence at all and who has brought nothing but quarrel and discord to the parish, will be removed immediately and that we may wait with the presentation of another candidate. 2) The parishioners of Lipin (Lipiny) and Klein-Neudorf (Nowa Wieś Mała) also wish permission to jointly engage a schoolteacher

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