The Port of Szczecin is the capital of Zachodniopomorskie Province in Poland. Lying on the western bank at the mouth of the River Oder as it enters Dabie Lake just south of the Pomeranian Bay, it is about 65 kilometers inland from the Baltic Sea. The seventh largest city in Poland, the Port of Szczecin is the country’s biggest seaport when combined with the Port of Swinoujscie about 60 kilometers to the northwest. The Port of Swinoujscie is governed by the same port authority. In 2005, over 420 thousand people lived in the Port of Szczecin.
With three shipyards, shipping and ship-building are the major occupations in the city. Fishing is an important part of the local economy, and the city also supports a steel mill. Several major companies are based in the Port of Szczecin, including some in the IT sector. The Port of Szczecin is a center for culture in western Poland. With four universities, several theaters, an orchestra, and the National Museum, it is a beautiful city dotted with parks and small lakes.
Archaeological evidence suggests that seafaring people lived in the area some 2500 years ago, but the history of the Port of Szczecin began in the 8th Century AD when Slavs settled the Pomerania area and built a fortification and settlement on the site of today’s modern castle. While Mieszko I of Poland was able to rule some regions in Pomerania during the late 10th Century, he could not conquer this area.
During the 12th Century, the Port of Szczecin became a powerful and important seaport on the south coast of the Baltic Sea. The town was conquered by Boleslaus III of Poland in 1121, and its residents were converted to Christianity by bishop Otto of Bamberg over the decade of the 1120s. The local duke Wartislaw was able to regain some influence and expand his territory to the west, forming the Duchy of Pomerania. During the later half of the 12th Century, German tradesmen from the Holy Roman Empire moved into the city.
Polish sovereignty was short-lived. In 1164, the local Stettin lord became vassals to the German Duchy of Saxony, and the Stettin-castellan became a vassal of Denmark. Control of the area went to the Holy Roman Empire for a short time, and then the Stettin dukes again became vassals of Denmark.
In the 13th Century, more Germans began to settle in Pomerania. The town received a local government charter in 1237 that separated the German and Slavic communities. When the Port of Szczecin fell under German town law in 1249, the Slavic settlement was dissolved and its residents moved to suburbs outside the town.
The Thirty Years’ War raged when the Treaty of Stettin of 1630 made the Port of Szczecin and most of Pomerania part of the Swedish Empire. They held the area until 1720 when they ceded the Port of Szczecin to King Frederick William I of Prussia after the Great Northern War.
The modern Port of Szczecin began to grow in 1826 when with frequent navigation of the River Oder. The port continued to grow, largely because of its proximity to Berlin some 145 kilometers southwest, until World War II. In 1926, the channel to the port was deepened, and the outport of Swinoujscie was enlarged. The Port of Szczecin became an important Prussian city and, in 1871, part of the Prussian-ruled German Empire.
In the 1930s, about 400 thousand people lived in the Port of Szczecin, and it was the third largest seaport in Germany. The German Wehrmacht made it a military headquarters for the region in 1935. In the 1939 invasion of Poland that started World War II, the Port of Szczecin was the base for the German 2nd Motorized Infantry Division.
In 1940, Jews were expelled from the Port of Szczecin, signing away their property to the Nazis and being put on SS-escorted trains. Publicity of the event was great enough that the German leadership ordered future actions to be handled more discretely.
In 1944, Allied air raids and fierce battles between German and Soviet troops destroyed over half of the city’s buildings, its seaport, and its major industries. The Red Army took the Port of Szczecin in 1945, but they took a near-deserted city because its residents had escaped before their entry into the town.
In 1945, the Germans were forced out of the Port of Szczecin, and it was resettled with Poles from areas that were annexed by the Soviet Union. In 1947, many Ukrainians came to the Port of Szczecin after the Communists forced them to leave eastern Poland.
The Polish residents of the Port of Szczecin rebuilt and enlarged the city after the war. The city became an important industrial center for the country and a major Polish seaport serving Poland, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany.
In the 1970s, citizens of the Port of Szczecin participated in anti-communist rebellions, and they took part in the famous Solidarity movement of the 1980s. The Port of Szczecin became the Capital of Zachodniopomorskie Province in 1999.