Understanding Your Prussian-Lithuanian Ancestor's Timeline: Neubacher's "One Family - 7 States"

If your ancestor fit into the category of Prussian-Lithuanians, you’ve probably realized that understanding the timeline of geopolitical events—and their effect on your ancestor’s statehood—can be confusing. For ethnic Germans living along the boarder of East Prussia (like my own Saleker family), this becomes even more daunting to untangle—especially if, like me, European geography was not a subject broached in school.

Researcher Gerhard Neubacher has come to the rescue with an article that may help you wrap your head around the sequencing of events surrounding your ancestors from this region—from 1731 (for those like me with Salzburger roots) to the end of WWII.

Neubacher published the paper “Salzburg - Preußen - Polen - Russland - Litauen - Sowjetunion - Deutschland 1731 - 1945 Eine Familie - sieben Staaten” via the Annaberger Annalen that gives a susccient but complete timeline of his ancestors from Kybartai (German Kybarten) from their expulsion in Salzburg to the resettlement in West Germany.

The paper is written in German and can be found on the Annaberger Annalen website here.

After 1940, Neubacher’s timeline becomes more specific to his family’s experience—however, anyone with ancestors who had a similar experience would find his research and findings extremely useful.

To illustrate, I’ve translated a select few of his titles from his timeline here:

1731

Emigration patent of Salzburg Archbishop Leopold Anton von Firmian. 22,000 Protestant subjects must leave the archbishopric of Salzbug…

1732

Invitation of Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm I. 15,500 emigrations settle the Prussian-Lithuanian part of Prussia, centered around the city of Gumbinnen as farmers and craftsmen.

Ancestors Neubacher, Grubert, and Klug are Prussian Subjects.

1795

Third partition of the Polish-Lithuanian dual state under Austria, Prussia, and Russia: Lithuanian on the right of the Memel, falls to Russia. Lithuanian on the left side of the Memel (Suvalkija) belonged from 1795-1807 as “New East Prussia.” Second and third generation Salzburgers mainly settle here as farmers.

It is possible that ancestors Neubacher, Grubert, and Klug have settled here during this time…

1807

Partition of Europe by Napoleon: Establishment of the Grand Duchy of Warsaw, in which New East Prussia is added. The former border with Prussia (before 1795) is reestablished.

Ancestors Neubacher, Grubert, and Klug, are now Polish subjects.

1815

Congress of Vienna: After the defeat of Napoleon, the Grand Duchy of Warsaw becomes Kingdom of Poland (Congress of Poland) with far-reaching autonomy under Tsarist rule…

Ancestors Neubacher, Grubert, and Klug are Russian subjects…

1914-1918 World War I.

16 Feb 1918 Declaration of Lithuanian Independance.

Neubacher, and Klug families, are Lithuanian citizens…

Neubacher goes on to trace this timeline past WWII. At the end of the document, he also displays some of the supporting documents from his research, including EWZ documents that will be familiar to some readers.

I highly recommend you read this paper—as it neatly organizes—in a reader friendly way—why your Prussian-Lithuanian ancestors may have belonged to 7 nationalities over time.