Lusatia

  • Nacionalnoe samosoznanie i integracionnye processy luzhickikh serbov v Germanskojj imperii Chast II: Ot pervojj mirov vojjny do nashikh dnejj (ot 1914 goda do nachala XXI v.)

    The First World War (1914–1918) was inextricably connected with regular conscription. Undoubtedly it had a huge impact on reducing the population of Sorbs in Germany. Their number decreased from 102 801 to 70 998 people between the censuses in 1910 and 1925. After World War I, Lusatia failed to become a country independent of the German Empire. On 7 October 1925 the national organizations of Sorbs united (Maćica Serbska, Domowina, Lusatian Alliance) and established the Wendish People’s Party, which on 26 January 1924 accessed the Association of National Minorities in Germany. The Association’s publication was the monthly “Kulturwille” (since January 1926 “Kulturwehr”), which was issued until 1938. Its editor was a Sorb – Jan Skala (1889–1945). The censuses of 1925 and 1933 claimed that nearly 73,000 Sorbs lived in Germany. Under Hitler all Sorbian associations were dissolved and in both parts of Lusatia more than 60 Sorb ian place names were removed and replaced by German ones. The years of World War II (1939–1945) is the most tragic period in the history of the Sorbs – a period of even worse persecutions, arrests, taking the Sorbs to the concentration camps, the destruction of their properties, the suppression of all forms of autonomy and selforganization. Freedom from Fascism was given to the Sorbs on 6 April 1945 by troops of First Ukrainian Front and the Polish Second Army. On 23 March 1948 – under pressure from the Soviet occupation authorities – the National Parliament of Saxony (Landtag) passed a law guaranteeing the rights of the Sorbs. GDR authorities sought to reduce the population of the Sorbs and the use of Sorbian language. Only after the absorption of the GDR by the FRG – called the second unification of Germany – on 3 October 1990, the Sorbian population began to use civil rights emerging from the Basic Law of the FRG. Currently about 60,000 Sorbs live in Germany, out of which 20,000 in Brandenburg (Protestants) speaking Lower Sorbian (similar to Polish), and 40,000 in Saxony (Catholics) speaking Upper Sorbian (similar to Czech). The majority are elderly people (60 and over). Younger generation speaks almost exclusively German.

  • Nacionalnoe samosoznanie i integracionnye processy luzhickikh serbov v Germanskojj imperii Chast I: Ot srednevekovja do pervojj mirov vojjny (do 1914 g.)

    The Slavs came from the steppes of Eastern Europe to Balkan Peninsula in the firsthalf of the 1st millennium A.D. At the turn of the 6th century some of the tribes,looking for new places to settle, arrived at the area between the Elbe and Oder– occupying an area abandoned by Germanic tribes, who moved to the ScandinavianPeninsula – and were called Wends. Southern Slavs invaded and settledin Lusatia and reached the Saale. In the middle of the 9th century there were almost 50 Slavic settlements in Lusatia under the rule of Prince Derwan, an ally of Samo. At the turn of the 10th century, the Sorbs came under the influence of the Great Moravia (822–895), which adopted Christianity as early as the 9th century(831), and then Bohemia (895–1018), and from 1002 Poland (Christian since 965) tried to take control over the area. Boleslaw I of Poland invaded Lusatia and won it in the Peace of Bautzen (1018). In the Reformation period, Sorbian peasants and common people massively supported the teachings of Martin Luther, although he was opposed to translating the Bible into Slavic. Evangelicalism proved to be beneficial for the Sorbian national culture. It influenced its revival and strengthening. The University of Wittenberg became Sorbian cultural center, with its rector between years 1559–1576 being a doctor of Sorbian origin – Kasper Pauker from Bautzen. What strengthened the Sorbian national identity at the turn of the 19th century was the activity of Moravian Church (seeking to transform Lutheranism in people’s church), which was then settled in Upper Lusatia in Herrnhut, Niesky and Kleinwelka. At the turn of the 20th century the number of Sorbs in Germany decreased to about 157 000 people, out of whom as many as 10 100 lived outside Lusatia (including 4147 in Saxony – but without Lower Lusatia, 2687 in Westphal ia, 1521 in Rhineland, 847 in Berlin and 898 in other areas of the German Empire). The language widely used in Lusatia was Sorbian with its Lower and Upper dialect. The basis of the national activities of the Sorbs in Germany was “Serbian House” founded on 26 September 1904 in Bautzen to serve as a library, museum, bank, bookshop and publisher. The outbreak of World War I in the summer of 1914 gave hope to the Slavs to establish their own countries.

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