In 1466, as a result of the Second Peace of Thorn (Pokój Toruński) that ended the Thirteen Years' War between Poland and the Teutonic Order, Royal Prussia was created in western part of the State of the Teutonic Order and incorporated into Poland, together with Gdansk, Thorn (Toruń) and Elbing (Elbląg). The Teutonic Order state was liquidated and transformed into the Ducal Prussia in 1525, after the Teutonic Order Grand Master Albert Hohenzollern had paid homage to King Zygmunt I the Old of Poland.
Unlike in other parts of Poland, where they had been settling since 11th – 12th century, the Jewish people were still banned from settling in Royal Prussia. The ban was lifted in 1772, after the First Partition of Poland. It was then that Royal Prussia, but without Gdansk and Thorn, became a part of Prussia, a state created in 1701 as a result of merger of Ducal Prussia with the Margraviate of Brandenburg, where the Jewish people had been settling since 13th century.
In Gdansk and Thorn, the ban on settling down by the Jews had been in force until the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, when both towns were incorporated into Prussia.
In Prussia, the General Jewish Privilege was issued on 17 April 1750. Under this regulation, the Jews who wanted to live in Prussia had to obtain the protection letter (Schutzbrief). This privilege was in force also in the newly annexed province, called West Prussia, where some 20,000 Jews resided. Those who did not obtain such a letter, mainly poor ones, were expelled from Prussia, West Prussia included.
The number of Jews in West Prussia started to increase at the end of 18th century and had been growing steadily until 1870s or 1880s. However, at the end of 19th century and at the beginning of 20th century the number of Jewish residents in West Prussia had been gradually decreasing, due to antisemitic riots in many districts of Gdansk Pomerania. Out of 18,226 Jewish people domiciled in West Prussia in 1900, only 13,954 resided there in 1910.
The number of Jewish people who settled in Gdansk Pomerania started to grow again in 1920s. In 1919, the Pomerania Province with Thorn (Toruń) as its capital city was created on the part of former West Prussia awarded to Poland under the Treaty of Versailles. Due to impediments in using by Poland seaport facilities in Danzig (Gdansk), the Polish government decided to build its own port and develop the town of Gdynia. This resulted in the inflow to the area of settlers, also Jewish people, from other parts of Poland. Just before the outbreak of WWII, there were over 4,000 Jews residing in Gdynia and they made ca. 4% of population of the town.
In 1939, about 45,000 Jewish people were domiciled in the whole Pomerania Province. When Gdansk Pomerania was incorporated into the Third Reich and the Reichsgau Danzig-West Prussia (Danzig – West Prussia Province) established in October 1939, there were 14,458 Jews there. The Region did not include such towns as Włocławek, where some 14,000 Jews resided before the WWII or Rypin, with 6,000 Jewish people.
Since the end of 1937, Jewish residents had gradually been moving out from Danzig. On 1 November 1938, Albert Forster said in Messehalle: 'We set ourselves a task of solving the Jewish question by spring 1939'. This was followed by the order of 4 March 1939 'on supporting and securing the Jewish emigration from the Free City of Danzig'. On 1 February 1939, there were from 3,800 to 2938 Jews in Danzig; by 1 July 1939 further 1,272 of them departed the Free City.