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Berlin in the 19th century

Brandenburg's history remains incomplete without Berlin. Over centuries, the city was the center of the country and the actual residence of electors and kings. Similar to Brandenburg, the city's development was shaped by its many migrants that settled here. In the 17th century the generous expension of the city began, new quarters developed, people from all over the world moved to the metropolis. Around 1700, a quater of Berliners were French. In the middle of the 18th century the city had not only developed into a political but also into one of the most important economic centers of the Old Kingdom: not least because of the many factories built by migrants.

The immigration into the city continued and spread to the surrouding areas during the 19th century, the age of Industrialisation. Between 1849 and 1871 the population numbers duplicated to 825 937. This number increased to 2 million thirty years later. In 1864, half of the people living in Berlin were not born there. The majority of immigrants - two thirds - were from Brandenburg, the second largest group from what today is Poland. The migants covered the demand for workers in the industry, mechanical engineering, metal processing as well as textile and garment operation. Even before the proclemation of the German Empire in 1871, Berlin was the biggest industrial city in Germany. The city only grew, new industries, namely electronics and chemics, railways and construction work were added, more and more people were coming. The city also became a trading center for Polish migrants, who didn't stay but moved to other industrial centers like the Ruhr area.

Without its migrants, Berlin's boom in the 19th century would not have been possible.

Mittag bei Borsig, Painting by Hans Baluschek © bpk / Knud Petersen

Around 1910, 60% of Berlin's residents with migrant background were from Poland. They were active in associations, organized help for newcomers and had their own newspaper. They did not live in own quarters and marriages with German women and men were frequent. In times of increasing nationalisation hostility towards them grew. However, many of them stayed even after WWI and the emergence of the state of Poland.


„Aus Preußisch-Polen. Die beginnende Enteignung.“, Caricature by H. G. Jentzsch, aus: Der wahre Jacob, Nr. 687, 16. November 1912, S. 7704 © Universitätsbibliothek Heidelberg, Der wahre Jakob: illustrierte Zeitschrift für Satire, Humor und Unterhaltung — 29.1912, Seite 7704 - CC-BY-SA-3.0.


Migration in Brandenburg - a historical overview

You can read an historical overview about migration in Brandenburg here.