The ‘hard-working and God-fearing people’ of Bambrzy hit streets of Poznań to celebrate 300th anniversary of their 700 km migration
A colourful procession paraded through Poznań this Sunday, celebrating the 300th anniversary of German migrants settling in villages around the city.
The so called Bambrzy, who hailed from Bamberg, a northern Bavarian town in Germany, were invited by the Polish king August II to inhabit dwellings abandoned due to war and plague.
On August 1st, 1719 Poznań’s authorities signed the first contract with the German Catholics from Franconia (now part of Bavaria), who moved to the village of Luboń.
In the four waves of migration that followed, 900 people made their homes in villages decimated by the Great Northern War (1700-1721) and a cholera epidemic. Many of these settlements are now parts of Poznań.
As part of the celebration, a herald welcomed the participants of the parade, just like the citizens would have greeted them 300 years ago: “People of Poznań! Here to our city, which suffered from wars, marching armies, plunders and plague, arrives the first group of settlers from villages around the city of Bamberg. Greet them with applause!
“They travelled 700 miles despite hardships and numerous dangers. They walked persistently for almost five months from town to town, through the forests and from parish to parish.
“These free people have reached us to settle and rebuild the extinct, destroyed and abandoned villages of Poznań and to become full citizens. Show them your heart, reach out to them and trust them, for they are calm, hard-working and God-fearing people.”
The settlers would voluntary assimilate with the Polish majority – children learned Polish and both communities mingled so well, that during a 19th century census all claimed their nationality was Polish. Even the word ‘Bamber’ (singular for Bambrzy) would change meaning to include people living in villages in general.
On Sunday, the joyful parade of Bambrzy in their traditional clothing, as well as animals and carts walked the streets of Poznań from Środka to the Old Town Square, symbolically recalling the road taken by the 18th century migrants.
On the way, they were stopped next to the Cathedral, where priest Irenuesz Szwarc presented Bamberg’s Deputy Mayor Wolfgang Metzner with a bog-wood cross. The procession then reached the Bamber girl statue, which was decorated with flower garlands and proceeded to the Square, where a cultural program and feast was waiting.
Poznań’s deputy president, Katarzyna Kierzek-Koperska underlined the significance of Bambrzy in the city’s development: “It was a group that not only firmly established itself in our city, but also contributed a lot: its own culture, cuisine, work ethic. Bambrzy showed great loyalty at a time when they were forced to Germanize.”
The parade was only one of the events planned this year to celebrate the Bambrzy’s settlement. In October, the Adam Mickiewicz University will hold a conference entitled ‘300 years of Bambrzy in Poznań. Cultural heritage of small migrant communities in Poland’ and a concert.
Since last year the traditions of Poznań Bambrzy are listed as a protected cultural heritage.