Introduction to Police history.
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