Introduction to Police history.

     Police belongs to the oldest towns of Western Pomerania. Its history began in the ninth century, when a Slavic stronghold and a borough were established on the border of present Police and Msciecino. The area must have been also populated by representatives of the Lusatian culture who left behind coins, tools and decorations.
     According to the medieval documents, the settlement was in possession of Knight Bartlomiej throughout the period 1243-1259. Since he left no heir, after his death it was taken over by Prince Barnim I and developed quickly after it had achieved municipal status and had been granted the right of duty collection and the right to freely catch fish, about 1140 hectares of arable land and two islands located in the Odra river. It obtained also a crest - a white griffin's head against a blue background with two green twigs in the lower part of the shield. The historical records quote different forms of the town's names. Originally called Polyz or Politz, it changed into Pulitze later on. The forms derived from "pole" or "opole" (Polish words for "field") or "polic", a Slavic term for swamps or marshes.
     The predominant - and rather lucrative - activities of the residents were cattle raising and growing hop crops, farming, craft and boat construction. However, the development of the settlement was arrested by Otton I's decree from 1321, subjecting Police to Szczecin, the rule of which lasted till 1808. Apart from imposed taxes and levies, Police lost the right to appoint a local administrator and a court official and its church jurisdiction was granted to St Mary's church in Szczecin following the ruling by the Bishop of Kamien Pomorski (1268). Police retained a stretch of land along the Odra river granted by Prince Boguslaw IV in 1294, however even the smallest fishing harbours were controlled by Szczecin willing to prevent the development of a competing port. The historical buildings of Police formed a rectangle sized 650 x 350 metres. Only the four gates (Szczecinska or Mlynska, Srodkowa, Chmielowa or Jasienicka and Wodna) are mentioned in historical records. In 1592 Police had a population of approximately 500 people. In the years 1592-1753 the number of its timber framed thatched cottages grew from 109 to 153 in spite of frequent fires that plagued the settlement in the sixteenth and the seventeenth century (1546, 1650, 1733). In 1510 one of them destroyed completely the town hall and St Mary's church situated in the middle of the market square . The latter, reconstructed in 1514, was demolished in the late nineteenth century, yet its granite chapel has survived till nowadays.
     The periods of wars and struggles left their imprints on Police's history. During the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) the residents were obliged to provide for Albrecht von Wallenstein's army, which terminated only with signing the Westphalia Treaty. The conflict between Sweden and Brandenburgia followed soon. The region suffered also from the consequences of the Great War of the North (1700-1720) when the Russian army quartered in the town. After signing the Stockholm Treaty Western Pomerania fell into Prussian control and remained a Prussian province until 1945, which was interrupted by a short occupation by the French army during the years 1807-1812. The matter was regulated on the basis of the Vienna Treaty (1815) confirming the Prussia's ownership of the region.
     Apart from war consequences Police suffered also those resulting from natural disasters since floods struck the town and its surroundings several times. Only two instances were recorded (in 1909 and 1913), yet there is no doubt that every year during the spring thaws the waters of the Odra river reached the town's borders causing panic. Therefore, in order to protect the residents, the decision was made to strengthen the river embankments and to raise the level of some streets.
     In the mid-eighteenth century the town redeveloped as hop crops, prized on London market and at international commodity exchanges, brought a handsome profit. The increased demand for highly qualified ship carpenters resulted in their growing number: in 1736 there were 14 of them registered; in 1780 already 129. Gaining autonomy in 1808 proved a significant breakthrough: a pottery factory was built, a ship connection to Swinoujscie established and a rail line to Szczecin opened in 1898. A local newspaper started to be published and educational growth was marked by establishment of Royal Teachers' Training Seminar (1862), the completion of which endowed its graduates with qualities necessary for teaching in elementary schools. The candidates were accepted for a two years' preparatory course, followed by a three years' study at the Seminar. Afterwards they were obliged to teach for two years treated as a trial period. The educational process was completed with a complicated exam. Solid brick public utility buildings started to appear in the nineteenth century (the primary school, St Jürgen hospital). In 1906 an impressive edifice of a new town hall housing administration offices, a detention room, a municipal court and a little museum was erected. The river shipyard was modernised and a regular daily ferry service established between Police and Swieta.
     The period between 1835-38 was characterised by accelerated economic growth as Police was to play an important part in the Third Reich's preparations for World War II. In 1937 the decision to build a huge complex of the synthetic petrol plant (Hydrierwerke AG) was made by the main investor, I.G. Farbenindustrie concern. The workers from over a 100 building and installation companies found the employment on the plant premises. In order to accommodate them, new settlements were built in the northern part of the town. In 1939 Police became a part of Great Szczecin managed by its own municipal administration. The number of forced labour workers exceeded the total of Police's inhabitants. They were accommodated in camps for foreign workers and war prisoners built on the grounds adjoining the plant (Pommernlager, Nordlager, Tobruklager, Wullenwever-Lager, Arbeitserzeihungs Lager Hägerwelle, Dürrfeld Lager). A trade ship moored on the Odrea river also served as a camp (Umschulungslager Bremerhaven), where 100 prisoners were detained and served also their penalty. Since 1944 a concentration camp was located in the Msciecino forest. Due to the plant location, Police was recognised as an industrial centre of military significance and as such subject to intensive allied air raids, which started as early as August of 1940. The most intensive ones took part in 1944. After the bombardments the plant was immediately rebuilt.
     In 1945 the front line approached the town borders and made the German authorities evacuate the camps to the west. Police was under fire of the Russian army that took possession of the town on April 26, 1945. Polish-Russian negotiations led to establishment of so called Police Enclave including Police, the plant grounds and Jasienica. The Enclave was controlled by Russian War Commander for Meklemburg occupational zone till September 25, 1946. Still, a restricted area was administered by German authorities represented by Erich Spiegel. German prisoners working at the disassembly of the plant were detained on its grounds. The town maintained no contact with the Polish authorities in Szczecin, yet the post office contacted regularly the German post in Meklemburg, which lasted until September 24, 1946. On September 7,1946 the Polish authorities took over Msciecino, followed by Police and Jasienice on September 19. On February 25 the plant also passed into Polish control. Since that moment first settlers arrived in the region, joined by refugees from Greece and Macedonia in 1953.
     The town reconstruction accompanied by its development progressed and more and more serious investments were realised. Completion of Zaklady Chemiczne (Chemical Factory) "Police" in 1969 proved the most significant one, leaving the lasting imprint on the town's landscape.
     The region has always been of interest to numerous visitors appreciating the picturesque views and villages. The opening of the Szczecin-Jasienica-Trzebiez rail line build in the years 1898-1910 proved an important investment that stimulated the growth of holiday and bathing resorts. Tourists and holidaymakers from Szczecin enjoyed their journeys to Msciecino and Trzebiez, during which they could admire views of welcoming llittle stations such as Jasienica or Uniemysl. Characteristic spots of fast developing Trzebiez, many of which exist no longer today, were frequently portrayed. Today only old photographs and postcards evoke the charm of the little harbour, bathing beaches, restaurants, open air cafés and hotels in their prime. Some of the villages situated in the region boasted palaces owned by rich families (Lesno Górne, Zalesie). Jasienica, presently a part of Police, was numbered among the largest villages of the region. It was established as an Augustinian monastery settlement in the thirteenth century. Subsequently, it was taken over by Benedictines, followed by Wictorians who built drainage channels, adjusted the Gunica river and ran schools. However, the redecorated monastery and church fell into decay in the seventeenth century. The church was demolished and replaced by a brick structure in 1725. At the start of the nineteenth century Jasienica was no longer of interest to the authorities, who sold the estate to the Kallers in 1811 and (for the second time) to the Zietermanns in 1837. The gradual process of social and economic change has begun.

     Only few old buildings in Police survived the war since most historic buildings and examples of fine architecture vanished from the earth surface. Surrounding villages shared the town's fate: some of their palaces and timber framed. Cottages are nowhere to be found. Only the remaining photographs and postcards depict ancient places and recall the atmosphere of old times.

Dr Bogdan Frankiewicz