Facts / Background
History of the German expellees and their homelands
The German Balts
Since the 12th century, Germans had been settling in the territories of today's
Republics of Latvia and Estonia (the northern part of the historical Livonia today belongs to Estonia, the
southern part, together with the capital Riga, to Latvia). Germans, missionaries, orders of knights and merchants
came to the lands in the course of the conversion to Christianity of the Estonians and the Livonians (related to the
Finns) and of the Baltic Latvian tribes (related to the Lithuanians and Prussians) who lived there. The Order of the
Brethren of the Sword, which was founded in Riga in 1202, merged in 1236 into the Order of the Teutonic Knights, which
overtook the entire territory of old Livonia.
The historical Livonia rose in the protection of the Church and Hanseatic League and was
for almost 350 years a part of the Holy Roman Empire. As a result of the Reformation, the state of the Order
fell apart in 1561 to form the provinces of Estonia, Livonia, Saaremaa and the Courland (Kurland). In the coming
centuries, the Germans remained the socially, culturally and politically leading class, while living at times and at
places under Polish, Danish, Swedish and since 1710 (Estonia and Livonia) and 1795 (Courland) Russian sovereignty.
After the Russian Revolution in 1917 and the collapse of the Russian and German Empires,
the German Balts actively took part in 1918/20 in the liberation wars of the Baltic peoples against
the Red Army, fighting in the Baltic Landeswehr (Home Guard) in Latvia and in the Baltic Regiment in Estonia.
After the Republics of Estonia (declaration of independence on 24.2.1918) and Latvia (
18.11.1918) came into being, the Germans lost their leading role and lived on, as did also Russians and
Jews, as national minorities side by side with the peoples who gave their names to the states. Their economic
status was very greatly weakened by the wide-scale expropriation of their large estates, and many, especially
those in the rural districts, emigrated to the Germany.
Germans usually won six parliamentary seats at elections to the Latvian Saeima (parliament)
between 1920 and 1931, while they won between two and four seats in the assembly at elections to the
Estonian Riikogu (state assembly) between 1919 and 1932. In 1939, there were still 23,000
Germans (two percent of the population) living in Estonia, while 64,000 Germans (3.2 percent) were
living in Latvia, of whom more than 60 percent were living in Riga.
As a result of the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 23.8.1939, which delivered up Estonia,
Latvia and Lithuania to the Soviets, Germany concluded agreements on the resettlement of the
Germans, on 15 October with Estonia and on 30 October with Latvia. Although there was theoretically
the option to stay, in the face of the direct threat of the Soviet annexation of the independent
Baltic republics, which was carried out in June 1940, the vast majority of the Estonian and Latvian Germans
decided to resettle.
In the late autumn/winter of 1939/40, a total of 13,700 Germans left Estonia
and a total of 51,000 left Latvia. In the course of the so-called "late resettlement" in
spring 1941, there followed 7,000 from Estonia and 10,500 from Latvia. About 5,000 of the late
resettlers were designated as "non-German". The settlement took place in the annexed Polish
parts of West Prussia and in the so-called Warthegau. Many thousands of German Balts died as
soldiers during the war or fell victim as they fled.
From January 1945, they shared the same fate of expulsion that
ensnared all the other eastern European Germans. Flight and expulsion then resulted
in almost one in five Germans from the Baltic losing their lives or still being missing to
this day.In 1950, more than 40,000 German Balts were living in West Germany and about 10,000
in Soviet Zone of Occupation (SBZ/DDR), of whom many fled to West Germany in the following years.
Several thousand emigrated overseas.
In November 1950, representatives of the already existing associations of displaced
persons and of other Baltic organizations met in Treysa (Hesse) and founded the Deutsch-Baltische
Landsmannschaft (German Baltic Community) in West Germany. Its first spokesman, Axel de Vries, was
one of the primary authors of the "Charta der deutschen Heimatvertriebenen" (Charter of German Expellees")
Being a founder of the Vereinigte Ostdeutsche Landsmannschaften (
United Eastern German Communities) in 1957/ 58, the first chairman of the League
of Expellees, Georg Baron von Manteuffel-Szoege, who held the office for many years,
was one of the two equal-ranking chairmen of the Bund der Vertriebenen (League of Expellees).
Today, the Deutsch-Baltische Landsmannschaft is located in the City of Darmstadt,
which has also been the sponsor of the German Balts since 1962. In 1990, the Federal Land of Hesse
assumed a sponsorship for the Deutsch-Baltische Landsmannschaft.
The Banat Swabians
The Banat is bordered by the middle course of the Danube, by the Theiss
and the Marosch and by the eastern frontier of Transylvania. The Peace of Passarowitz
(1718) led to its transfer from the Ottoman Empire to the Habsburgs, and it remained a
crown domain under its own administration until 1778, when it became part of Hungary.
Just like the other Swabian settlers of the Danube (cf. Danube Swabians),
the Banat Swabians arrived in the course of the planned colonization of the Danube region by
the Habsburgs after Turkish rule came to an end in the 1720s. Around 1900, about 90,000 Swabians
emigrated overseas. In 1910, 388,000 Germans represented 24.5 percent of the population of the
After World War I, Hungary was forced to cede most of the Banat (19,000 square kilometres)
to Romania by the Peace of Trianon in 1920 (9,000 square kilometres went to the "Kingdom of the Serbs,
Croats and Slovenes", which became Yugoslavia in 1929; only 270 square kilometres were retained by Hungary).
A "Swabian National Council", which was formed in December 1918 and which had sent its own delegation to the
peace negotiations in Paris, was not able to prevent the division of the Banat.
Although 42,000 Swabians emigrated overseas from the Romanian Banat for economic
reasons in the years between 1921 and 1930, 275,000 Germans lived there in 1930, representing one
fifth of the Banat's population. This meant that there were then more Swabians than Transylvanian
Saxons (237,000), making them the largest group among the 745,000 Germans living in Romania. In
general, they were not discriminated against because they were seen as internal allies against the
suspected separatist Hungarians.
After Romania shifted into the Allied camp in August 1944 and before
Soviet and Romanian troops, who were now allied with the Soviets, marched in, about 70,000
Banat Swabians were able to be evacuated or to flee to Austria and Germany. In January 1945,
40,000 were deported to the Soviet Union for forced labour, of whom little more than a half
returned. As a proportion of the total of the Romanian Germans, it may be assumed that almost
50,000 Swabians died in the war as Romanian or German soldiers, when they were attempting to flee
or when Soviet and some Yugoslav units invaded and in the course of the following repressions.
In 1948, there were 170,000 Germans living in the Romanian Banat.
In 1951, 10,000 of them, together with other national groups and Romanian "class enemies",
were deported from the areas immediately adjacent to Tito's Yugoslavia into the Baragan
Steppe in south-eastern Romania.
In the following decades, tens of thousands were resettled to Germany as
a consequence of the difficult and unfair living conditions in which they had to live until 1989.
After the Ceausescu dictatorship came to an end, more than 160,000 Germans left Romania from 1989
to 1991. About half of them may well have originated in the Romanian Banat. Today, only some 20,000
to 30,000 Germans, mostly elder people, live in the Banat. They have been organized since the beginning
of 1990 in the "Democratic Forum of the Banat Germans".
In May 1950, the Landsmannschaft der Banater Schwaben (Cummunity of Banat Swabians;
(until 1989: Landsmannschaft der Banater Schwaben aus Rumänien (Community of Banat Swabians from Romania)
was founded in Munich, where it is still located today. The Saarland was the sponsor of the Banat Swabians
from Romania from 1967 to 1998.
The Bessarabian Germans
In terms of territory, Bessarabia is essentially identical with the former Soviet
Republic of Moldavia (Moldova), which has been independent since 1991 and is located between the rivers
Dnjestr and Pruth. After the land was ceded by the Ottomans to Russia, it soon became, as did other border
regions of Imperial Russia, a targeted area for a systematic settlement policy under Tsar Alexander
I.Between 1814 and 1818, 13 German colonies, which had names such as Leipzig, Wittenberg and Paris,
came into being especially thanks to settlers from Russian part of Poland. Eleven more colonies were
added from 1821 to 1842. Until the eve of World War I, dozens of additional colonies developed from them.
Between 1861 and 1919, the numbers of the almost exclusively peasant German population in Bessarabia rose
from 33,000 to 79,000 (three percent of the population; 64 percent Romanians). In the Akkerman District,
Germans represented 16.3 percent of the population at the end of the 19th century. In terms of settlement
history, the Bessarabia Germans are not part of the Romanian Germans but Russian Germans.
In February 1918, during the confusion of the Russian Civil War, the country was able
to declare itself "independent" and to join Romania two months later, before being annexed by the Soviet
Union in June 1940. German-Soviet agreements resulted in about 86,000 Bessarabian Germans being resettled
in September/November 1940, half being resettled to West Prussia and half to the "Warthegau", where they
shared the fate of the other Germans there at the beginning of 1945. A few thousand were deported to Siberia,
or as the Soviets understood it, "repatriated", since all those originating from the territories of Romania,
Poland and the Baltic which were annexed in 1939/1940 were claimed as their own. About 10 percent did not
survive war, expulsion and deportation.
A "Hilfswerk für ev. Umsiedler" (Charity for Protestant Resettlers), which was founded in
autumn 1945, became the Landmannschaft der Bessarabiendeutschen (Commmunity of Bessarabian Germans), which
has had its location in Stuttgart from the outset. The City of Stuttgart also assumed sponsorship of the national
The (East) Brandenburgers
Of the former Prussian province of Brandenburg, more than 11,000 square kilometres, i.e.
more than a quarter, namely the Neumark and the eastern Niederlausitz (Lower Lusatia), is located on the
right banks of the Oder and Neiße (today's German Federal Land of Brandenburg occupies 29,000 square kilometres).
The territory of the later Brandenburg, in which the Slav Wends and Lusatians had been settling
since the migrations of the peoples (Völkerwanderungen), became part of the Holy Roman Empire in the 12th and
13th centuries thanks to the Ascanians, who had been calling themselves margraves of Brandenburg since 1144. The
seizure of the land went hand in hand with the German settlement and the conversion to Christianity of the territories,
particularly in the 13th century. The foundation of the bishopric of Lebus was important in 1133. The settlers came
chiefly from the Ascanian lands in Westphalia, the Netherlands and Flanders. Cities were then founded under German law:
these included Königsberg/Nm. (1240; Polish: Chojna), Frankfurt/Oder (1253; Polish: Slubice), Landsberg a.d.Warthe (1257; Polish: Gorzów Wielkopolski), Schwerin a.d.Warthe (1312; Polish: Skwierzyna),
Küstrin (1317; Polish: Korstrzyn), etc.
The whole territory gradually fell to the Prussian-Brandenburg state. In 1920, the municipal
area of Berlin was also included into the Prussian province Brandenburg which was formed in 1816.The elections
to the Reichstag of December 1924 led to just under 1,900 votes being cast for the "Polish People's Party" in
Brandenburg east of the Oder and Lausitz Neiße out of an electorate of more than 570,000. One year later, just
under 3,500 Polish native speakers were counted in East Brandenburg.
Of the 645,000 inhabitants - including 3,000 non-Germans in 1939 - more than 40,000 died as
soldiers during the war, 395,000 had come to West Germany or East Germany by 1950, 208,000 died in the course
of flight or were murdered or went missing as a result of the forced displacement which was carried out in June 1945
on a wide scale by the Poles in the strip of territory immediately east of the Oder and Neisse. This outstandingly
high level of 38.9 percent of losses and unexplained disappearances during the war and the post-war period means that
East Brandenburg is well to the fore in terms of the statistics of all areas of expulsion. One reason for this may
have been the very rapid advance of the Red Army to the mid-Oder in January 1945, which hardly permitted flight or more
or less managed evacuations. The Polish annexation of East Brandenburg meant that the towns of Küstrin and Frankfurt were
torn in two at the Oder and that Guben (Polish: Gubin)and Forst were torn in two at the Neiße in the Lausitz.
The Landsmannschaft Berlin-Mark Brandenburg (Berlin-Mark Brandenburg Commmunity) was founded as an
association of interests in Hamburg on 9 October 1949 not only for the expellees from East Brandenburg but also
for the refugees from the western part of the territory (that time GDR) and from the eastern part of divided Berlin.
After spending a number of decades in Stuttgart, the Landsmannschaft Berlin-Mark Brandenburg moved its location to
Fürstenwalde between Berlin and Frankfurt/Oder when the "Haus Brandenburg" was established in 1999.
The Bukovina Germans
The Bukovina (Buchenland), which is located at the eastern edge of the Carpathians
passed from the Ottoman vassal state of Moldavia to Austria in 1775. There followed a systematic
settlement of Germans from the Banat, Bohemia, etc. to the territory of 10,000 square kilometres in
which only 60,000 Romanians and Ukrainians then lived. There was a rapid increase in the peasant population
(the population had increased sixfold to 370,000 by 1846) as well as a great expansion of the national
capital, Czernowitz (Ukrainian: Chernivtsi, Romanian: Cernauti) in modern Ukraine in which the German-language
Franz Joseph University was founded in 1875. Germans/Austrians represented a quarter of the population of
Czernowitz before World War I.
In 1910, 73,000 Germans (9.2 percent of the population) lived together with Ukrainians
(38.4), Romanians (34.4), Jews (12.0) and other language communities in the Bukovina. Irrespective of
nationality, everyone had to speak several languages.
In 1919, the Bukovina fell to Romania by the Treaty of St. Germain, before its northern
part, including Czernowitz as well as Bessarabia, were annexed by the Soviets and awarded to Soviet Ukraine
in June 1940. The German-Soviet resettlement agreement of 5.9.1940 and a German-Romanian agreement of 22.10.1940
led to a total of about 93,000 Germans not only leaving the part which had fallen to the USSR but also the part
of the Bukovina which had remained a part of Romania between September and December 1940. 55,000 of them
were accommodated in eastern Upper Silesia and in the Wartheland, from which they had to flee or were expelled
at the beginning of 1945. If - as is probable - the losses of the Bukovina Germans correspond to those of the
other Romanian Germans, about 15,000 died as a result of war and displacement.
The Landsmannschaft der deutschen Umsiedler aus der Bukowina (Community of German Resettlers
from the Bukovina (since 1951 Landsmannschaft der Buchenlanddeutschen (Community of Bukovina Germans)) was founded
in Munich in October 1949. Its first spokesman was Dr. Rudolf Wagner, who was a representative also of the
other associations of German expellees from south-eastern Europe and who was a cosignatory in 1950 of the
"Charta der deutschen Heimatvertriebenen" (Charter of German Expellees). The Bavarian governmental district
of Schwaben assumed sponsorship.
The Danzig Germans
Danzig (Polish: Gdansk) was founded in 1224/25 as a German city within the Principality of
Pommerellen (approximately the territory of the later West Prussia west of the Vistula). It gained great
importance in the Baltic area as a city of merchants and trade and as a port city. Being a city with its
own statute, it was clearly separate from the surrounding - then still Slav - surrounding territory, but it
soon became a starting point for the German settlement of the largely fallow Vistula land. Together with
Pommerellen, Danzig fell to the Order of the Teutonic Knights in 1308/09 and came under the protective sovereignty
of the Crown of Poland in 1454 while maintaining its rights and independence. As an almost independent city republic,
it held its own more than other cities of so-called "Royal Prussia" in the following centuries even after the
unilateral and thus illegal Polish act of incorporation of 1569. In its period of economic prosperity around
1650, Danzig, German city of merchants, had almost 80,000 inhabitants (at this time: Hamburg 60,000, Breslau
30,000, Berlin 6,000).
In the context of the Second Partition of Poland in 1793, the city decided that, on the basis of
its own law, it should be connected with the Kingdom of Prussia, to which it belonged until 1918/20 - interrupted
only by a pseudo-independence as a "Free State" from 1807 to 1814 which had been forced on it by Napoleon. From 1815
to 1829 and since 1878, Danzig was the capital of the province of West Prussia.
The Treaty of Versailles separated Danzig together with its surrounding
territory from Prussia and the Reich, but did not assign it, however, to the restored Poland,
constituting it rather in 1920 as a state of its own, the "Free City of Danzig", placing it under
the "protection and care of the Allies, represented by the League of Nations and a Commissar of the League
of Nations. This bizarre construction was partly a result of the Polish endeavour of separating Danzig from
the German Empire, and partly a result of the fact that it was impossible simply to assign the territory to
Poland on the grounds of its demographics:
Of the 330,000 people who were living in the territory of just under 2,000 square
kilometres in 1910, more than 95 percent spoke German, just under three percent Polish, and fewer than one
percent were Casubians and Mazovians. In 1923, i.e. after the separation from the German Reich, 97.6 percent
of the population identified German as their native language (Polish, Casubian, Mazovian: two percent). The free
parliamentary (Volkstag) elections of May 1933 led to 3.2 percent of the votes being cast for Polish lists.
On the very day that war began on 1.9.1939, the reconnection of the territory of the "Free City
of Danzig" with Germany was proclaimed. Until 1945, Danzig was the capital of the "Danzig-West Prussia Reichsgau".
About 22,000 Danzig Germans died as soldiers during the war. Of the approx. 407,000 who
were living in the territory of the Free City of Danzig in 1945, more than 100,000 died in the course of
their flight, expulsion or deportation.
After Danzig had been taken by Soviet and Polish troops on 27.3.1945, one in five Danzig
Germans died violent deaths or as a result of the circumstances during the period of occupation or during
the expulsions or was reported missing.
In 1950, 225,000 Danzig Germans were living in West Germany, about 60,000 in
Soviet occupied zone (GDR). From June 1945, there was in Lübeck a "Danziger Hilfskomitee"
(Danzig Auxiliary Committee). In April 1946, initially banned by the Allies, the Bund der Danziger
(League of Danzig Germans) was then founded in August 1948 as an association of expelled persons. Based on the
llegality under international law of the two annexations of 1939 and 1945 and on the de jure continuation of the
"Free City of Danzig", there has been since 1947 the "Rat der Danziger" (Council of the Danzig Germans),
representing the Danzig Germans' interests to the outside world. The sponsoring city for the Danzig Germans
The Dobruja and Bulgarian Germans
Germans had been settling in the Dobruja (Romanian: Dobrogea), which is located between the
lower reaches of the Danube and the Black Sea, since the 1840s, when the territory was still under Ottoman
sovereignty. They emigrated from the neighbouring Bessarabia to the north and from Ukraine. New settlements were
still coming into being in the 1920s. It was predominantly a peasant population, although Germans were also living
in the Black Sea city of Konstanza (Romanian: Constanta). In addition to Romanians (around 1930 constituting 40 percent
of the population) and Bulgarians (around 1930 constituting 25 percent), they represented (constituting 1.5 percent)
one of the many smaller national groups, which were living in the territory of about 23,000 square kilometres: Turks, Tatars, Russians, Greeks, Circassians, Jews, etc. The people of the Dobruja could regularly speak two, three or four languages, irrespective of their nationality. After the war between Russia and Turkey of 1877/78, the Dobruja fell to
Romania, while the southern Dobruja, where, however, only a few hundred Germans were living, belonged to Bulgaria from
1878 to 1913, in 1918/19 and has belonged to Bulgaria since 1940. After Romania entered World War I, many Germans were
interned in 1916/17.
After agreements were made between the Germany and Romania of 22.10.1940 and between
the German Empire and Bulgaria of 21.11.1941, a total of approximately 16,000 Germans were resettled from
the territory, of whom just under 6,000 each were resettled in the "Reichsprotektorat of Bohemia and Moravia"
and in the Wartheland, from which they fled or were expelled in 1945 as was also the case for the Germans who were
In May 1950, the Landsmannschaft der Dobrudschadeutschen (Community of Dobruja Germans (since
1955: Landsmannschaft der Dobrudscha- und Bulgariendeutschen (Community of Dobruja and Bulgarian Germans)) was founded
in the city of Heilbronn, which also assumed sponsorship of the national group of expellees in 1954.
The Danube Swabians
The German tribe which developed out of immigrants from south-western Germany as well as
from Bohemian and Austrian tribal landsapes on both banks of the middle course of the Danube in the central
Pannonia region after Hungary had been freed from Turkish rule in the 18th century have been termed Danube
Swabians by anthropologists since the 1920s. The Slav and Magyar neighbours who were living in the same area had
called these Germans "Swabians" since the time of their settlement there.
After they had ruled over most of Hungary for about 150 years since 1526, the Turks failed
in their siege of Vienna and suffered at the Battle of Kahlenberg in 1683 that defeat which was to prove to
be the political and cultural turning point for the whole of south-eastern Europe.
The settlement of Ofen (Hungarian: Buda) and of the Ofen
mountain country by German farmers and artisans began in 1686, and Emperor
Leopold I issued the first patent of settlement in 1689 for the repopulation
of the Kingdom of Hungary. After Prince Eugen's victory over the Turks
at Zenta in 1697, the Turks did not intervene in the War of the Spanish
Succession (1701-1714), a period of crisis for Austria. When, however,
the newly strengthened Ottoman Empire successfully attacked the Republic
of Venice, Austria considered itself at risk and began in 1716 that victorious
war against the Turks, which, after conquering Temeswar (Romanian: Timisoara)
and Belgrade, ended in 1718 with the Peace of Passarowitz (Serb/Croat:
Pozarevac). This assured the rule of the Habsburg Emperor over western
Hungary, the Banat, the Batschka, Syrmia and parts of Bosnia. As a result,
the Hungarian estates demanded at the Landtag of Bratislava in 1722/23
that Emperor Karl VI call "free persons of all kinds" into the country
and to solicit them in his patrimonial domains and in the Empire.
From this time, the Emperor Charles VI (1711-1740), his daughter Maria Theresia (1740-1780) and her son
Joseph II (1780-1790) endeavoured to repopulate the desolate and sparsely settled country and to establish an
economically self-sustaining "bulwark of Christianity". They called colonizers into the country between 1722 and
1787. There were thus three "great processions of Swabians" (1723-1726; 1763-1771; 1784-1787) and, in a series of
smaller processions, about 150,000 Germans came to the territories of the Hungarian Mittelgebirge which are located
to the north of Lake Balaton, to the "Swabian Turkey" (Komitate of Baranya (German: Branau)), Somogy (German: Shomodei)
and Tolna (German: Tolnau), to the Banat, the Batschka, Syrmia and Slavonia.
The southern frontier of the colonization was formed by the Sava and, from Belgrade in an
easterly direction, the Danube rivers. The colonists came from south-western Germany and the Habsburg lands.
In addition to the Germans, Hungarian, Ruthenian and Slovak farmers were settled and, particularly in the
Banat, Serbs and Romanians were admitted from the border lands which were dominated by the Turks as well as Italians,
Frenchmen and Spaniards as specialist workers.
The 19th century was marked by an upward economic development of the
Danube Swabian village communities, but also by a strong tendency on the part of the urban German bourgeoisie to allow
itself to become Magyar. The pressure of Magyarization increased after the Hungary had been put on an equal status
with the Austrian half of the Empire in the so-called settlement of 1867. These circumstances prevented the Danube Swabians from forming an independent intellectual class of leaders and developing a powerful political consciousness.
The "National Party of Hungarian Germans" was not founded until 1906.
Although about 200,000 Danube Swabians had emigrated overseas for economic reasons from
about 1880 to 1910, there were living in 1910, for example, about 390,000 Germans in 130 communities in
the - undivided - Banat (23 percent of the population), 190,000 in 44 villages of the Batschka (24.5 percent),
150,000 in the Swabian Turkey (35 percent), 126,000 in Slavonia and Syrmia (11 percent) as well as 80,000 in
Budapest (9 percent).
The reduction of Hungary to 31 percent of its core territory which was forced on it
after World War I in the Treaty of Trianon (4 June 1920) also resulted in the settlement area of the
approximately 1.5 million Danube Swabians being divided three ways among the successor states to the
Danube Monarchy. The easterm Banat and Sathmar fell to Romania (cf. Banat Swabians), the western Banat,
the Batschka, the southern Baranya triangle, Syrmia and Slavonia to the newly created Kingdom of the
Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (from October 1929: Yugoslavia), and the remaining settlement areas were
retained by what was left of Hungary (cf. Hungary Germans).
The Danube Swabians and other Germans in the former Yugoslavia
In addition to the approx. 510,000 Danube Swabians living in the modern
Serbian Voivodina and in the modern Slavonia which today belongs to Croatia, about 70,000 former
Austrians came from the now annexed Lower Styria and from Upper Krajina and about 20,000 Gottscheers
came under the regime of the south Slavs. Experiences with political movements of other nationalities
as well as a growing sense of being swamped brought about the awakening of a desire for self-assertion
and led in 1920 to the foundation of the "Swabian-German Cultural League", which was banned three times
in all. At the elections to the Yugoslav parliament, the Skuptina, the "Party of the Germans", which was
founded in 1922, won eight seats in 1923, five seats in 1925 and six seats in 1927. It was, however, like
all other nationally oriented parties, banned in 1929 when the "royal dictatorship" was established.
In the course of land reform, estates were assigned only to Slavs, but not to the
just as needy Danube Swabians. The fruitless struggle on the part of the leadership of the "Swabian
German Cultural League" and of the Danube Swabian politicians against these and other discriminatory
measures led to the rise of a renewal movement which stood under the influence of the Nazis.
The moderate forces in the renewal movement assumed the leadership of the Cultural League in 1939 under
pressure from Berlin.
After Yugoslavia collapsed in April 1941, the Danube Swabians were divided once
again three ways and, in addition, were obliged for reasons of state to serve in the military associations
of Germany and/or of its allies. As a result, the Communist partisans, who were active in the territory of
area of Yugoslavia as of mid-1941, as well as the Serbian "Chetniks", who were loyal to the monarchy,
projected their hatred also onto the Danube Swabians, and the Communist "Antifascist Council for the National
Liberation of Yugoslavia" (AVNOJ) resolved in 1943 and 1944 to carry out their expropriation in full and
to eliminate them.
Of the 510,000 Danube Swabians who were living in Yugoslavia at the start of the war,
somewhat more than half of the civilians were able to flee or be evacuated at the end of 1944 before the
Soviets invaded and the partisans took control, including more than 90 percent from Syrmia and Slavonia,
about half from the Batschka and the Baranja triangle and only about 15 percent from the western Banat. About
195,000 civilians stayed under the Tito regime.
12,000 Danube Swabians, including 8,000 women, were deported to the USSR for forced
labour in 1944/1945. 2,000 of them had died by 1949. More than 7,000 civilians were murdered in 1944.
Almost all the other 170,000 who stayed behind suffered expropriation, were deprived of their rights and
interned in work camps and in eight concentration camps. 50,000 of them died within three years as a result
of hunger, sickness and shootings, while 35,000 were able, by risking their lives, to escape from the camps
across the nearby frontiers to Hungary and Romania. From 1946, thousands of children were brought from the camps
into children's homes and assimilated there.
60,000 Germans, i.e. almost one in three of the persons who were expelled from
their homeland, were victims of the Communist regime.
The camps were broken up in 1948.
Of the 425,000 who had fled and survived, 290,000 found a new homeland in Germany, 80,000 in Austria
and 35,000 overseas. There are umbrella associations of expellees in Germany, Austria, the USA and Canada.
The Federal German Land of Baden-Württemberg assumed sponsorship of the Danube Swabians in Germany in 1954.
Carpathian Germans in Slovakia
Germans did not enter Slovakia, which belonged to Hungary
for more than one thousand years from 907 to 1918 as "Upper Hungary",
in greater numbers until around 1200. Settlement areas were in the east
the Zips (Slovak: Spi, Hungarian: Szepes) around Leutschau (Levoca/
Löcse) and Kesmark (Kesmarok/Késmárk), in the centre
of the country the Hauerland around the mining towns of Kremnitz (Kremnica/Köärmöcbánya),
Schemnitz (Banská tiavnica/Selmecbány), Krickerhau
(Handlová/ Nyitrabánya) and Deutschproben (Nemecké
Pravno/Németpróna) and, finally from 1234, in the west the
Schüttinsel near Pressburg (Hungarian: Pozsony, Slovak: Bratislava
since 1918), which was the Hungarian capital from 1526 to 1784. They were
especially miners and artisans, later farmers also, who advanced the development
of the land as "guests" summoned by the Hungarian kings. The
settlers came from Bavaria and Franconia, while the miners also came from
Bohemia and Silesia. The invasion of the Mongols in 1241/42 was a heavy
setback at the beginning of the colonization. The population losses were
The Germans had a characteristic self-administration which
guaranteed them rule of the land; one of example of this is the "Zipser
Willkür" (Freedom of Zips) of 1370, which continued until 1876.
The German cities were assured their own jurisdiction, free choice of
priests and judges, etc. Migration continued also in later centuries,
especially from the Habsburg lands, to which Slovakia, together with the
non-Ottomann part of Hungary had belonged since the lost Battle of Mohács
in 1526. The Reformation spread quickly among the Germans around 1530
and promoted education. Latin schools in Pressburg and Käsmark and
many village schools were founded.
With the Austrian-Hungarian settlement of 1867, a period
of intensified Magyarization began for the Germans throughout Hungary,
which saw, in particular, the German language being rigorously excluded
from school lessons. After 1900, only Hungarian, a language which school
beginners in many cases did not even understand, was taught even in the
primary schools of purely German or Slovak communities.
In 1910, there were just under 200,000 German native speakers
(6.7 percent of the population) in "Upper Hungary", including,
however, many Jews. After the land passed to Czechoslovakia (1918/19),
there were in 1921 and 1930 about 150,000 (4.7 to 4.9 percent) of the
population of Slovakia which saw itself as having German nationality.
In any event, they represented a quarter of the population of Bratislava.
Having entered an electoral alliance with the "Sudeten German Party",
the "Carpathian Germans Party" sent one senator and one deputy
to Prague in 1935. In the Slovakia which became independent under the
protection of the German Reich in 1939, the Germans obtained national
group rights and a German schools minister.The Slovak national uprising
in autumn 1944 brought about losses among the German population and triggered
wide-scale evacuation measures, which led to Bohemia and Moravia. The
Carpathian Germans then shared the fate of displacement with the Sudeten
About 5,000 Carpathian Germans fell in the war as Slovak
or German soldiers in the east, while 4,000 civilians were deported to
the east for forced labour and about 13,000 died while fleeing or being
expelled, especially in Bohemia/Moravia.
At the 2001 census, about 6,000 Germans considered themselved
to have German nationality in Slovakia, which had been independent since
1993, and they had been supported since the events of 1989/90 by their
compatriots living in Germany.
In 1949, the Karpatendeutsche Landsmannschaft Slowakei (Carpathian
Germans Community Slovakia) was founded at a first Federal German meeting
in Ludwigsburg. In 1951, together with representatives of the Slovak exile,
it signed an agreement which condemned expulsions and acknowledged the
right to a homeland on the part of the Slovakia Germans. In 1985, it was
renewed with the "World Congress of the Slovaks". Since 1957,
the national group of Germans from Slovakia has had the sponsorship of
the City of Augsburg.
Germans from Lithuania
Settlement by Germans in the territory of the modern Republic
of Lithuania began considerably later than, for example, in Estonia and
Latvia. It was not until the 15th century that Germans came to the country,
and, in contrast with the German Balts, they had a rather more peasant
structure. This migration continued into the 18th century as a result
of the soliciting by Polish and Lithuanian magnates and led to further
settlement, especially of the neighbouring East Prussia in the 19th century,
under Russian rule. There was a small German bourgeoisie in Wilna (Lithuanian:
Vilnius) and Kowno (Kaunas). Lithuanian industry, which was slowly developing
in the second half of the 19th century, was chiefly built up by German
entrepreneurs and workers.
In World War I, thousands of Germans were deported to the
interior of Russia in 1915/16 and many died there. After independence
was achieved (16.2.1918, - July/October 1918 chiefly under Duke Wilhelm
von Urach as King Mindaugas II.- , finally 2.11.1918) and a war of defence
had finally been successfully fought against the Red Army in 1919/20 alongside
Baltic and German associations, there were in the then Russian gouvernements
of Kauen (Polish: Kowno, Lithuanian: Kaunas), Suwalki and Wilna (Lithuanian:
Vilnius), which now essentially formed the state territory of the Republic
of Lithuania, 30.000 Germans resident in 1923 and 35,000 resident in 1929,
corresponding to about 1.5 percent of the total population. Together with
the Germans in the Memelland (cf. East Prussia) which was annexed by Lithuania
from 1923 to 1939, they formed the second largest minority after the Jews,
however, in the relatively homogeneous (more than 80 percent in 1939)
area ruled by the Lithuanian government.
After the Memelland had been reintegrated with East Prussia/Germany
in March 1939 and the Hitler-Stalin Pact of 1939 had been concluded, the
Reich did not, as it had done in the cases of Estonia and Latvia, conclude
a resettlement treaty with Lithuania, which after initial and quickly
revised German-Soviet provisions was to remain in the German sphere of
interest. Such a resettlement treaty was not concluded until 10.1.1941
with the Soviet Union, which meant that the Lithuanian Germans had to
bear three-quarters of a year under Soviet rule. The actual number of
the national group proved to be about 50,000, of whom about 60 percent
were resettled to East and West Prussia and to the Warthegau in January/March
1941, enabling some hundreds of Lithuanians to be "smuggled along".
The remainder were resettled within the borders of the old Reich.
About 3,000 Lithuanian Germans died as soldiers in the war,
about a quarter of the Germans from Lithuania did not survive war, flight
and expulsion. Most survivors were received by West Germany, where
they founded in 1953 their association of expellees, for which
the town of Neheim-Hüsten assumed sponsorship in 1959. After a reform
of local government, and the town of Arnsberg, being the legal successor
to Neheim-Hüsten, assumed sponsorship in 1975.
The south-eastern part of Silesia(Polish: Slask), which
had been sparsely settled by a small residual Germanic-Vandal population
and by Slavic Opolans who had migrated from the east since the end of
the period of the Völkerwanderungen (migrations of peoples), came
under Polish rule around 1000 and, as a result of the numerous divisions
of inheritance on the part of the Piast dynasty, had undergone since the
second half of the 12th century a certain special development in comparison
with Central and Lower Silesia (Duchy of Ratibor in 1163), from which
it is delimited roughly by the left Oder tributary of the Glatz Neiße
and by the right Oder tributary of the Stober. Since 1202, when Ratibor(Polish:
Racibórz) took control of Oppeln(Opole), which now gave the land
its name, the Upper Silesian branch of the Silesian Piasts became more
and more distinct from the rest of the princely family. There were no
longer any of the otherwise very frequent hereditary links and successions
between the two parts of the land. From 1281, the Duchy of Oppeln disintegrated
into a number of partial duchies: Beuthen(Bytom), Oppeln, Ratibor, Teschen(Cieszyn),
Cosel(Kozle), Auschwitz(Oswiecim) and Zator, whereby the last two fell
to Poland in 1457 and 1479. Thereafter, the Silesian-Polish
border was for almost half a millennium one of the least contested and
most peaceful borders in the whole of Europe.
As was the case with the other duchies of the Piasts of
Silesia, those of Upper Silesia accepted in the 1320s/1330s the suzerainty
of the Bohemian crown which was then held by the Luxemburgers, to which
the land remained connected until 1742 and, in some parts, to the end
of the monarchy in 1918. By the Treaty of Trentschin(Trencin) in 1335,
Poland renounced "for all time" in favour of Bohemia the right
to claim Silesia. At the latest when Silesia thus passed to Bohemia, it
had become a part of the Holy Roman Empire. In 1532, the branches of the
Oppeln Piasts died out, and the Teschen Piasts died out in 1625.
The German colonization of south-eastern Silesia with the
medieval centres of Oppeln (award of German city status in 1217 to the
German "Hospites"/guests), Beuthen (1254) Ratibor (1299), Teschen
(1374), etc. began in the 13th century, a few decades later than that
of Lower Silesia (cf. Silesians). The colonists came from all parts of
the empire and initiated a process of gradual and informal assimilation
of the resident population by introducing new and efficient legal and
economic forms. The reinforcement of ecclesiastical organization also
contributed to this. Within 150 years, 20 cities and more than 200 villages
in accordance with German law were founded in Upper Silesia, in the Duchy
Because the colonization had not begun until later in comparison
with other target regions of eastern settlement, the effects of the Black
Death in 1347/48 and the devastating incursions of the sectarian Czech
Hussites in 1425-35 were particularly marked here, since not only was
the population decimated, but also the flow of migrants from the empire
suffered a great downturn, whereas those from Poland increased. In Upper
Silesia, the process of linguistic assimilation in particular came to
a standstill east of the Oder and in the south. As a consequence, especially
the rural population had developed bilinguality since the middle ages
with the German and Polish dialect which is marked by many German and
Czech borrowings (this was long referred to as "Wasser Polish",
but linguists have for quite some time preferred to use the term "Upper
Silesian"). The German language was soon dominant in the cities.
A key characteristic of the Upper Silesians was and is to
this day their marked Catholicism, which survived for centuries in spite
of the temporary successes of the Reformation in the 16th century. After
Silesia passed to the Habsburgs in 1526, the Counter-Reformation at the
end of the 16th century and in the 17th century was particularly rigorous
here. Only in southern border areas around Teschen and Bielitz(Bielsko)
and around Kreuzburg (Kluczbork) in the north was Protestantism able to
hold its ground among Germans and among Poles.
As a result of the First Silesian War (1740-42), the whole
of Silesia and also the County of Glatz(Klodzko) fell to Prussia, with
the exception of the Upper Silesian duchies of Troppau(Czech: Opava),
Jägerndorf(Krnov) and Teschen, which were retained by the Bohemian
crown (cf. Sudeten Germans). Prussian Upper Silesia became in 1816 the
governmental district of the Province of Silesia which was formed in the
The headstrong industrialization (hard coal, zinc), especially
in the second half of the 19th century led, firstly, to heavy immigration
by Polish "guest workers" from Russian Congress Poland, and,
secondly, to a rapid urbanization of the Upper Silesian mining district:
the number of inhabitants of Kattowitz (Polish: Katowice) rose in a few
decades from 4,800 (1865) to 36,000 (1905), of Gleiwitz (Gliwice) from
9,000 (1852) to more than 60,000 (1905), of Königshütte (Królewska
Huta; today Chorzów) from 14,000 (1868) to 66,000 (1905), of Zabrze
(1915: Hindenburg) from 10,000 (1885) to 54,000, etc. At 157 inhabitants
per square kilometre, the density of population was finally (1939) more
than twice as high as, for example, in the Prussian governmental districts
of Königsberg or Frankfurt/Oder (Slubice).
The resulting rise of new social contrasts and the spread
of the Polish national movement from Posen and West Prussia (cf. ibid.)
to Upper Silesia in around 1900 soon combined in an explosive manner.
At the elections to the Reichstag in 1903, one of the twelve Upper Silesian
constituencies - which until then had been almost unwinnable bastions
of the Catholic Centre Party, which had endeavoured to achieve national
conciliation - was taken for the first time by a Polish candidate. In
1907, five Poles were elected and, in 1912, a total of 94,000 votes (30.8
percent) went to Polish candidates in nine of the twelve constituencies,
In the north-west of Upper Silesia, four were elected unopposed.
After World War I, Poland tried to annex most of Upper Silesia.
Three so-called "Polish Revolts" in which regular Polish armed
forces participated in 1919, 1920 and in May 1921 were, however, put down
by German self-defence associations. In March 1921, a referendum in the
part of Upper Silesia which had been placed under Allied administration
and occupation yielded the result that 707,000 voters (59.6 percent) voted
for remaining in Germany, and 479,000 (40.4 percent) for the land passing
to Poland. The Conference of the Allied Ambassadors decreed a partitioning
of the land, resulting in 3,213 square kilometres with a population of
985,000 inhabitants passing to Poland in 1922 (even in this ceded part,
only 55.8 percent had voted for Poland, although two thirds of the population
had identified Polish or Upper Silesian as their native language in 1910.
The large cities which had fallen to Poland had had majorities voting
to remain with Germany: Kattowitz 85 percent, Königshütte 75
percent. By 1925, about 120,000 Germans, some as a result of pressure,
emigrated from eastern to western Upper Silesia or to other parts of Germany.Eastern
Upper Silesia, together with the ceded eastern part of Teschen Silesia,
was combined to form a voivodeship with certain rights of autonomy and
a parliament (Sejmik) of its own, in which there were also representatives
of the German national group represented. The various German parties won
at the parliamentary elections 25.8 of the votes in 1922 and 34.2 percent
in 1930. At the end of the 1930s, there were about 490,000 Germans, including,
however, about 360,000 bilingual persons, living in eastern Upper Silesia,
including Teschen Silesia. Assigning those speaking more than one language
to a specific national group was always problematical, resulting in the
use of the term "floating nationality". Many bilingual persons
escaped and continue to escape the pressure to acknowledge a national
consciousness by defining themselves as "Silesians".
More than 830,000 Germans (60.4 percent) and 390,000 German,
Polish and "Silesian" bilingual persons (or often trilingual
persons: Polish, German, Upper Silesian) were, in 1925, living in western
Upper Silesia, which had been retained by Germany and Prussia. The fact
that language was not an indicator of national identification was shown
by the plebiscite of 1921 as demonstrated by the results for the Polish
National Party at the Reichstag elections in the province of (western)
Upper Silesia: ten percent in 1922, 7.8 percent in December 1924, 5.4
percent in 1928, etc.Of the more than 1.5 million inhabitants of the province
of Upper Silesia (in its prewar boundaries, not including eastern Upper
Silesia which joined it in October 1939), 85,000 died in the war, 570,000
had been displaced by 1950, more than 90 percent of whom to West Germany.
Especially North Rhine-Westphalia and then, quite some way behind, Lower
Saxony and Bavaria, were the main areas of reception. About 800,000 Upper
Silesians were verified as so-called autochthonous persons who could be
returned to Polish nationality, were held back and in the following decades
were subject to heavy pressure to become Polish. The use of the German
language was banned for a long time.
More than 215,000 Germans were expelled from the territory
of the voivodeship of (eastern) Upper Silesia with Teschen. These also
included 85,000 bilingual Germans, chiefly those who had had themselves
registered in the so-called German National Lists I and II during the
war. Several tens of thousands, who could only with great difficulty be
differentiated from the other expulsion losses of the Germans from
(prewar) Poland, died violently, some in concentration camps such as the
notorious Zgoda near Schwientochlowitz.
In the following decades, especially in the mid-1950s, at
the beginning of the 1970s and especially so at the end of the 1980s,
hundreds of thousands of Upper Silesians left the land as émigrés
(Aussiedler) and represented by a long way the majority of German émigrés
from the People's Republic (since 1989, Republic) of Poland, including
about 470,000 out of 540,000 solely in the years 1988-91.
Today, there are still about 300,000-500,000 Germans living
in the voivodeships of Oppeln/Opole and "Silesia" (Slask) (=
eastern Upper Silesia, including Kattowitz). About 150,000 have had their
continuing German citizenship confirmed since the beginning of the 1990s
by having a German passport issued. In the Polish Sejm, the national group
has been represented since 1991 with its own deputies. The émigré
movement has returned to nothing because of the freedom of movement and
of travel which has existed since 1990.
In the Federal Republic of Germany, some Upper Silesians
have organized themselves in the Landsmannschaft Schlesien - Nieder- und
Oberschlesien (Community of Silesia - Lower and Upper Silesia) which was
founded in March 1950 and which is today located in Königswinter.
Others are organized in the Landsmannschaft der Oberschlesier (Community
of Upper Silesians (located in Ratingen-Hösel), which also came into
being in 1949/50. The Federal Land of Lower Saxony was the sponsor for
the Silesians from 1955 to 1990. Since 1964, North Rhine-Westphalia has
been the sponsor for the Upper Silesians. The long-standing spokesman
of the Landsmannschaft der Oberschlesier, Herbert Czaja, was also President
of the Bund der Vertriebenen (League of Expellees) from 1970 to 1994.
The Poles took the initiative for Germans to settle what
was to become the territory known as East Prussia. This territory belonged
to the eleven Prussian Baltic clan districts of Pomesania (cf. West Prussia),
Pogesania, Natangen, Nadrauen, Samland, Sudauen, Galinden, Warmia, Sassen,
Schalauen and Barten, which have retained their names for describing the
geographical areas involved. The duke of the Polish Part Duchy of Masovi
(Polish: Masowsze), from which the Prussians had taken the Kulmerland
on the reaches of the lower Vistula at the beginning of the 13th century,
summoned in 1225/26 the Teutonic Order(Deutscher Orden), which had been
founded in the Holy Land in 1190/98, to assist him against the not yet
Christianized Baltic tribes. After the possession not only of the Kulmerland
(cf. West Prussia) but also of all other possible conquests had been promised
to the order by the Hohenstaufen Emperor Friedrich II by the "Golden
Bull of Rimini" which was dated 1226 but which was actually issued
in 1235, the seizure of the land and the "mission of the sword"
began east of the Vistula in 1231. To secure the land, the first castles
of the order were built: Thorn (Polish: Toruñ), Kulm (Che³mno)
in 1232, Marienwerder(Kwidzyn) in 1233, Balga (Weselnoje) in 1239, Memel
(Lithuanian: Klaipeda) in 1252, Königsberg (Russ.: Kaliningrad) in
1255, Marienburg (Pol.: Ma³bork) in 1274, which was the headquarters
of the order from 1309 to 1457, etc. They were also the starting points
for German colonization, which was accomplished at the same time as military
subjection by what latest estimates put at approximately 200,000 Prussians.The
knights of the order, themselves committed to a celibate life, had a lively
interest in settling German farmers, artisans and merchants. In the 13th
and 14th centuries, the settlers came chiefly from Lower Germany, the
areas of influence of the Hanse, for which the Knights of the Teutonic
Order developed at times a role as a protective power, and from central
Germany, to some extent also from other eastern settlement areas such
as Silesia. In the course of the centuries, the new tribe of East Prussia
formed from them and from the sections of the Prussian population which
were resisting conversion to Christianity. The Prussian language held
its own in a number of parts of the land even until into the 17th century,
the related Lithuanian in the north for long beyond that. In form a territory
of priests, the state of the order was for its time a highly modern and
effective administrative state.Reverses to the work of colonization such
as the Prussian revolts of 1243-53 and 1260-73 which were encouraged from
without did not prevent the whole territory of the later East Prussia
being subject to the order from 1283. It shared rule over the land with
the bishops of Ermland, Samland, Pomesania and Kulm, who exercised secular
rule also in a third of the land of Prussia from 1243. In 1410, when the
decline of the rule of the order began with the defeat at the Battle of
Tannenberg, fought against Polish-Lithuanian and the country's own revolting
troops, there were in the Prussian land of the order - i.e. including
what was later to become West Prussia - 93 cities under German law and
1,400 German villages. After the Black Death had led in 1347/48 to the
end of the influx of settlers from the empire, Polish settlers from the
territory of what was later to be called Masovia had been settling since
the 15th century in the south. The Masovians, especially as a result of
the transition to the Reformation in the 1520s and the acceptance of other
Polish Protestant "dissidents" in the 17th century, lost their
inner connection to the Polish people and state and became East Prussians.
In the north, Lithuanian groups, which gradually assimilated and also
became Protestant, again and again settled between the 15th and 17th centuries.It
was not until the war of 1454-66, waged against the order by the revolting
estates which had come together in the "Prussian League " -
including 19 German cities such as Elbing (Elblag) and Thorn - and by
Poland-Lithuania that the rule of the order was seriously shaken: By the
Second Peace of Thorn of 1466, the Teutonic Order had to cede Pommerellen,
the Kulmerland, Danzig, Elbing and Marienburg (cf. West Prussia) to the
crown of Poland, the Bishopric of Ermland became a suzerainty to the Polish
king and always remained Catholic, by contrast with the remainder of the
country. These territories, by way of distinction from the remaining land
of the order, became known in future as "Royal Prussia".
In 1525, the remainder of the Prussian order state including
the capital Königsberg (seat of the Grand Master of the Order since
1457) finally fell to the suzerainty of the Polish king after it had been
secularized and converted into a secular inherited duchy under Grand Master
Albrecht von Brandenburg-Ansbach. This "Ducal Prussia" fell
by way of inheritance to the Elective Principality-Brandenburg line of
the Hohenzollerns in 1618. Under the Great Elector Friedrich Wilhelm,
freedom could be gained from Polish sovereignty by the Treaty of Oliva
in 1660 after the First Nordic War.
In 1701, the coronation of the Elector Friedrich III of
Brandenburg in Königsberg as the "King in Prussia" led
to the name of the land soon being transferred to the entire Brandenburg-Prussian
state as far as the lower Rhine.
An outbreak of the plague largely depopulated East Prussia
in 1709/10 and led to new state-directed settlement measures, of which
the most famous was the acceptance of 15,000 Protestant "exiles"
from the Prince-Diocese of Salzburg in 1731/32, who had opposed recatholicization
in their old homeland. Instead of older Prussian localities, new German
cities such as Ragnit (Russ.: Njeman) and Stallupönen (later: Ebenrode;
Russ.: Nesterow) came into being in 1722, Pillkallen (later: Schloßberg;
Russ.:Dobrowolsk) and Gumbinnen (Russ.: Gusev) in 1724, Nikolaiken (Polish:
Mikolajki) in 1726, Tapiau (Russ.: Gvardejsk) in 1728, etc. The Russian
occupation of the country in the 1750s during the Seven Years' War remained
an interlude, leaving no traces.
In 1772, there was the First Polish partition of most of
"Royal Prussia", the Ermland passing to Prussia. The provinces
of East Prussia - including the Ermland and the capital Königsberg
- and West Prussia - including the capital Danzig - were formed in 1773.
Both remained outside the German League, which was formed in 1815, but
belonged to the North German League from 1867 and to the German Reich
from 1871, forming 1824-78 the united province of Prussia.
The Treaty of Versailles resulted in the eastern part of
West Prussia which was not to be ceded to Poland passing to East Prussia
as a government district (capital: Marienwerder) in 1919. Poland insisted
on a plebiscite being held in southern East Prussia in August 1920 to
decide to which state Mazovia should belong to in future. The result of
the plebiscite was clear: in the East Prussian government district of
Allenstein (Polish: Olsztyn) (12,400 square kilometres with 580,000 inhabitants),
97.9 percent voted to remain in Germany, only 8,000 for Poland, while
in the government district West Prussia/Marienwerder (2,440 square kilometres
with 165,000 inhabitants) 92.4 percent voted to remain in Germany, just
under 8,000 voting for Poland. The overwhelming majority of the Mazovians
and the Catholic Ermländer had made their positions quite clear.
Poland, which had presented itself as the liberator from "Prussian
suppression", was shown up humiliatingly in the eyes of the whole
world, and had only itself to blame.
The other end of East Prussia did not want to be "liberated"
either: the Memelland, the four East Prussian districts (2,708 square
kilometres with 154,000 inhabitants) located north of the Memel separated
from Germany in October 1919 and placed under an allied regime, was occupied
and annexed by Lithuania in January 1923, but the population made clear,
especially at the time of the parliamentary elections, to whom they felt
that they belonged. Although only 71,000 Memelländer were German-speaking,
whereas 67,000 were Lithuanian-speaking or bilingual in Lithuanian and
German, in spite of Lithuanian pressure, settlement by Lithuanians and
falsified election results, the German parties achieved 94.0 of the votes
in 1925, 82.2 percent of the votes in 1930 and finally 87.2 of the votes
in 1938. The situation was unsustainable. In March 1939, the country was
returned by a state treaty to Germany in accordance with international
In October 1944, the eastern government district Gumbinnen was the
first territory of the old Reich to be the scene of ground fighting between
the German Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army and of the first random massacres
of the civil population. The small village of Nemmersdorf (Russ.: Majakovskoje),
which had been temporarily won back by German troops and which seen terrible
events taking place became the warning for the Germans in the east. Only
a few weeks after the beginning of the Soviet Vistula offensive in January
1945, East Prussia was cut off from the west and overland flight was made
impossible. Almost half a million people were able to bring themselves
to safety only over the frozen Frisches Haff, and even here many died
as a result of the ice breaking or attacks from Soviet aircraft. Königsberg
was surrounded and capitulated on 9 April 1945. Although more than a thousand
ships of the German war marine and of the commercial navy were able to
save about 2.4 million people, including also many soldiers, between January
and May 1945, ("only" 33,000 = 1.3 percent died, of whom 9,000
were on the "Wilhelm Gustloff", which was torpedoed by a Soviet
submarine on 27.1.1945, 6,700 were on the "Goya" and 3,600 on
the "Steuben"), a large number of civilians experienced the
terrors of Soviet occupation and the beginning of the Polish regime.
There had been approximately 2.5 million East Prussians
(including the Memelland), and 220,000 of them (one in four East Prussian
capable of bearing arms!) had been killed as soldiers in the war, while
another 240,000 died violent deaths as a result of flight and expulsion.
The unparalleled excesses of violence on the part of the Soviet soldiers
in particular claimed enormous losses among the civilian population. Of
the population of Königsberg that had stayed behind, more than half
died in the years 1945-48 as a result of murder, hunger and , disease.
After the war, East Prussia was divided three ways: the
Memelland was incorporated into the Lithuanian Soviet Republic, and the
rest of the northern part - 13,205 square kilometres (1,160,000 inhabitants
in 1939), including Königsberg ("Kaliningrad" since 1946),
became a part of the Russian Soviet Republic. Expulsion of the Germans
who were still in the part of East Prussia that was dominated by the Soviet
Russians was total and was completed by 1948. The territory remained a
closed military area until 1991 and was inaccessible for all outsiders.
The south - 23,791 square kilometres (1,330,000 inhabitants
in 1939) - was assigned to Poland. In the voivodeship Allenstein which
was formed there, after most of those there had been expelled, about 160,000
Germans, especially Mazovians were held back, and these were considered
to be capable of identifying with Poland. In the following decades, having
become tired of being patronized and led by the nose by Polish officialdom,
the majority has emigrated for the Federal Republic of Germany. Not only
Poles arrived in the south of East Prussia as new settlers: in 1947, about
100,000 compulsorily deported Ukrainians from Poland's south-eastern border
areas also arrived in the south of East Prussia.
In 1950, there were 1,960,000 expellees from East Prussia,
of whom 1,350,000 were in West Germany. On 3 October 1948, the Landsmannschaft
Ostpreußen (Community of East Prussia) had been founded in Hamburg,
where it is still located to this day. Dr. Ottomar Schreiber was elected
to be the first spokesman of the Landsmannschaft Ostpreussen (until 1951).
From 1932 to 1934, he had been the president (head of government) of the
Memelland when it had been ruled by the Lithuanians. In 1950, Schreiber
was one of the co-authors and signatories of the "Charta der deutschen
Heimatvertriebenen" (Charter of the Germans Expellees).In 1978,
the Free State of Bavaria assumed sponsorship of the Landsmannschaft Ostpreußen.
The German settlement of Pomerania began at the end of the
12th century by the Wend-Slav Greifen Dukes, who had ruled since the beginning
of the century, the Hanse and missionary orders working together: Premonstratensians
(Belbuck Monastery in 1180) and Cistercians (Kolbatz Monastery in 1173,
Hilda in 1199) were engines of missionary activity and of colonization
of the territory between the Oder and the Vistula which had been sparsely
settled since the 7th century by the Slav Pomoranians. The Pomoranians
("people on the sea shore") always lived in conflict with their
southern neighbours, the Poles ("people of the field").
Especially between 1230 and 1280, many locations - cities
and villages - were founded. Cities founded in accordance with Lübeck
law (Stralsund in 1234, Kolberg (Polish: Kolobrzeg) in 1255, Wolgast in
1259, Greifenberg (Gryfice) in 1262, Stolp (Slupsk) and Neustettin (Szczecinek)
in 1310, Leba in 1357, etc.) or in accordance with Magdeburg law (Stettin
(Szczecin) in 1243, Stargard in 1243/53) marked the Germanization of the
land. As early as the 14th century, Lower German had become the language
in general use. Peaceful settlement soon led to joining the Holy Roman
Empire of the German Nation. The Pomeranian duke accepted his land in
1181 as a fief of Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa. In 1338, the Duchy of
Pomerania finally became an estate of the Empire.
The Reformation enjoyed complete success in the 1520/30s
thanks to the activities of the Luther confidant Johannes Bugenhagen ("Doctor
After being divided many times by way of inheritance into
the part duchies of Stettin (Szczecin), Wolgast, Demmin, Stolp, Stargard,
etc. the Greifen dynasty died out in 1637 in the middle of the Thirty
Years' War, which cost the land between one quarter to one third of its
population. In 1648, most of the later expulsion areas of Eastern Pomerania
fell to Electorate-Brandenburg, the national capital Stettin, including
Western Pomerania and a strip of land east of the Oder fell to Sweden,
which had to cede the city to Brandenburg-Prussia in 1720. Under Friedrich
II, there was increased development of the land from the 1740s: 159 new
villages were refounded and peopled with settlers from Swedish West Pomerania,
from Mecklenburg, Swabians, Saxons and from the Palatinate. Around 1748,
Prussian East Pomerania had a population of about 310,000 inhabitants.
In 1815, the remainder of Western Pomerania - west of the
Oder - was transferred from Sweden to Prussia. In 1938, most of the dissolved
province of the borderland of Posen West Prussia, including Schneidemühl
(Pila), Deutsch-Krone (Walcz), Schwerin an der Warthe (Skwierzyna), etc.
(cf. West Prussia), whose population is also considered in the following,
were joined to the province of Pomerania.
The chiefly rural population of the province of Pomerania
east of the Oder, including Stettin and Swinemünde, was inhabited
by about 1,9 million Germans within the borders of 1938 (31,300 square
kilometres) at the beginning of the war. It was 95 percent Protestant.
There lived a small Catholic minority of Casubians (cf. West Prussia)
only in the extreme east. In the eastern border areas, there were living
about 8,000 German/Polish or German/Casubian bilingual persons. The Casubians,
more numerous in West Prussia (cf. ibid.), may be regarded as the last
descendents of the Pomoranians.
125,000 Pomeranians from this eastern part of the province
fell as soldiers in the war. More than 40,000 died as a result of air
attacks or in the course of the fighting in 1945. More than 1.4 million
Pomeranians were expelled in 1945/47. About 330,000 Germans - one in six
of the population - died while fleeing, in living in camps, in the course
of being deportated for forced labour in the Soviet Union or as a result
of arbitrary violence. The expulsion was almost complete. The majority
of the new Polish settlers did not originate from the part of eastern
Poland which had fallen to the USSR, but from central Poland.
In 1948, the Pommersche Landsmannschaft (Pomeranian Community)
came into being in West Germany under its spokesman Herbert von Bismarck
(until 1953), a great nephew of Otto von Bismarck. The exppellees from
the parts of West Pomerania which had fallen to East Germany also joined
this Community. In 1954, the Federal Land of Schleswig-Holstein, in which
hundred of thousands of Pomeranians had found refuge since 1945, assumed
the sponsorship of the Pommersche Landsmannschaft.
Germans in Russia
Since the 16th century, Germans had been living as tradesmen,
officers, doctors and civil servants in the different parts of the Russian
Empire. German Balts (cf. ibid.) in particular also occupied leading positions
at the court in St. Petersburg. Especially the higher class urban Germans
in Moscow and later St. Petersburg, however, gradually became russified
as a rule. In the following, Russian Germans are to be understood only
as those settlers and their descendents who since the time of the Tsarina
Catharine II, i.e. since the 1760s, came to Imperial Russia.In particular,
the south Russian and Ukrainian parts of the country were only sparesely
settled after the Tatars and the Turks had been displaced by Russians
and Cossacks and remained much less well developed than they could have
been. The immobility of the Russian code of serfdom counteracted a sustained
colonization from Russia's own resources. In 1762 and 1763, the Tsarina
used two manifestoes to address those willing to settle from central and
western European - with the exception of Jews -, and they were assured
of wide-ranging privileges: freedom of religion, freedom of trade, freedom
from taxation for up to ten years, self-administration in the community,
freedom of movement, etc.
Especially in Württemberg, Hesse, Franconia, Baden,
Alsace, the Palatinate, Switzerland as well as in West Prussia, the appeal
had the effect of encouraging many entrepreneurs and those with a free
spirit to undertake the journey to the empire of the Tsars. In two waves
of settlement, about 100,000 Germans came in 1763-69 to the largely empty
territory on the middle reaches of the Volga around Saratov and Samara,
to Voronezh and to the territory of St.Petersburg, and in 1787-1823 to
southern Ukraine which had been taken from the Turks, to the Crimea, to
Bessarabia (cf. ibid.) and to the Caucasus. The colonists founded - strictly
separated according to religion (Lutheran, Catholic, Mennonites, Moravians,
etc.) - enclosed and autonomously administered settlements, to which they
often gave the names of their places of orgin, such as Neu Weimar, Mannheim,
Braunschweig, Marienburg and Zurich and Basel on the Volga. In Ukraine,
colonies such as Karlsruhe, Darmstadt and Landau were founded. Catastrophes
such as the Great Cossack Uprising of Pugatchov in the 1770s meant only
a temporary setback for the work of settlement. At the end of the 19th
century, the formation of German new settlements extended to West Siberia.
The ending of exemption from military service in 1874 and
the beginning of an aggressive Russification policy carried out in the
1880s under Tsar Alexander III, involving the erosion of cultural autonomy
and sidelining of the German language brought about a considerable emigration
movement, especially to North America, above all among the strictly pacifist
German Mennonites.At the beginning of World War I, there were nevertheless
about 2.4 million Germans living in tsarist Russia in about 3,500 settlements
and working 134,000 square kilometres of land. Without taking into account
the Germans in the Baltic area, in Congress Poland, Volhynia and Bessarabia
(cf. German Balts, Vistula-Warthe), about 1.4 million Germans were living
in the European part of Russia and in Ukraine, while there were more than
200,000 living in Siberia and in the Caucasus.
During World War I, they were exposed to many repressions
and deportations (cf. Vistula-Warthe). After the Bolshevist October Coup
in 1917, they were, being chiefly well-off farmers ("Kulaks"),
the object of confiscatory and nationalistic greed. About 200,000 Germans
left the USSR in the 1920s. Nevertheless, as early as October 1918, the
primarily emancipatory Leninist nationalities policy led to the formation
of the autonomous Volga German "Working Commune", on which was
based the Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic of the Volga Germans (ASSRVD)
in January 1924. The first head of government of the "Working Commune"
was not a Russian German, but a Bolshevized German prisoner of war until
1920, who, after he had returned to Germany, immediately broke with Communism
and finally in 1947-1953, at a most difficult time, was the Governing
Mayor of (West) Berlin: Ernst Reuter. But only one third of the Germans
in the Soviet Union lived in this so-called Volga Republic, in which they
represented two thirds of the population. Larger cities such as Pokrovsk
and Katharinenstadt were renamed "Engels" and "Marxstadt".
In the civil war of 1918/21, tens of thousands died as a result of violence
The intensification of collectivization of Soviet agriculture
at the beginning of the 1930s resulted in famine, compulsory appropriation,
deportation of the "Kulaks" and arbitrary massacres also among
the Germans, claiming the lives of hundreds of thousands of victims, especially
in the Ukrainian Black Sea area, where a total of about six million people
died as a result of Communist state terror. All self-administrative bodies
(national rayons) and schools of the Russian Germans outside ASSRVD the
were dissolved in 1938/39. A total of about 1.4 million Germans were living
on Soviet territory on the eve of World War II.The beginning of the German-Soviet
war in June 1941 was the final trigger for the catastrophe to overcome
most of the Germans in the USSR: on 28.8.1941, the "Presidium of
the Supreme Soviet of the USSR" decreed the deportation of the Volga
Germans to Siberia and central Asia, since Stalin and Beria suspected,
without stating any reasons for doing so, that there were "thousands
and tens of thousands of saboteurs and spies" among them, although
most had had hardly any contact with Germans or, indeed with anything
of the non-Soviet outside world for decades. Within a few weeks, more
than 700,000 Germans were deported by troops of the KGB precursor, the
NKWD, not only from the ASSRVD, which had been dissolved for ever, but
also from Ukraine and the Caucasus; about one third of those affected
did not survive the excesses involved in internment, the weeks of rail
transportation and the initial period in the desolate areas in which they
arrived. They died within weeks of thirst, hunger, exhaustion, diseases
and all too often of the notorious "eight grams of lead in the neck"
(Solzhenitsyn). Tens of thousands of German soldiers in the Red Army were
removed from the troops in 1941 and also deported or simply shot.
280,000 Germans, who were spared deportation in the western
border regions of Ukraine as a result of the rapid advance of the Wehrmacht
in 1941 and who moved west with the German Wehrmacht in 1943/44, were
handed over to the Soviets by the western Allies in 1945/46 and deported
to the Asian regions of the USSR. Tens of thousands of contracted resettlers,
who had left the west of Ukraine and Belorussia in 1939/40 and had never
been Soviet citizens, were "repatriated". Hardly two out of
three survived. By 1955, most Germans lived under the command of the so-called
Trud Armia (Work Army) as forced labourers under conditions of imprisonment.
Even after they were partially "rehabilitated" in 1964, they
were not allowed to return to their homelands on the Volga or on the Black
Sea, in contrast with other peoples such as Chechens, Kalmucks or the
Ingush who had been deported in 1943/44. The German language was radically
suppressed by the Soviets; a first (Communist) German-language newspaper
did not appear until 1957 in Moscow, where there were hardly any Germans
In spite of the massive and, it should be noted, completely
undeserved losses of human lives, the first reliable census after World
War II in 1959 counted in the USSR 1,620,000 Germans, of whom half lived
in the Asian parts of the Russian SFSR, while most of the others lived
in Kazakhstan and other central Asian Soviet republics. In the year of
the last Soviet census in 1989, there were 2,040,000 Germans living in
the USSR: most - 960,000 - in Kazakhstan, 840,000 in Russia - of whom
only 35,000 were living on the Volga around Saratov and Volgograd -, more
than 100,000 in Kirghizia, 40,000 in Uzbekistan, etc. Only 38,000 were
now living again in Ukraine.
After "perestroika" had given hopes of a restoration
of the Volga Republic at the end of the 1980s which had soon, however,
turned out to be illusory, there was an enormous movement of emigration
to Germany. The new law on travel into and out of the country which had
been passed in 1986 granted de facto freedom of movement. Whereas only
a few thousand or even only hundreds of Germans emigrated each year in
the 1970s and early 1980s so that families could live together (1986:
1,349), more than 1.4 million came to Germany in the years from 1988 to
1996 and another 560,000 Russian Germans and family members came to Germany
from 1997 to 2002 (1st half year), most from Kazakhstan.
In the individual former Soviet republics, in particular
in Russia (estimated for 2000: another 800,000 Germans; 0.6 percent of
the population), in Kazakhstan (400,000 to 500,000) and in Ukraine, Germans
have been organizing themselves in associations since the end of the 1980s
and are endeavouring to restore their culture and language, which had
been repressed for 50 years.
In autumn 1950, the Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Ostumsiedler
(Society of Eastern Resettlers) was founded at the initiative of religious
associations - Lutherans, Mennonites, free churches, Catholics - in the
Federal Republic of Germany by the minority of those Russian Germans who
had not been handed over to the Soviets by the British and the US-Americans,
and who were now German citizens having identity papers indicating places
of birth such as "Karlsruhe", "Landau" or the like
(about 50,000). This led to the creation of the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen
aus Russland (Community of Germans from Russia) in 1955. Since the end
of the 1990s, it has been the most important contact point for compatriots
coming in their millions to Germany, who have not left their original
homeland but the destinations of the deportations in 1941 and in 1944/45.
The sponsor for the Germans from former Soviet Union as
a whole is the Federal Land of Baden-Württemberg. The sponsoring
Federal Land of the Volga Germans especially is Hessen.
In the north-west of Transylvania around the city of Sathmar
(Romanian: Satu Mare, Hungarian: Szatmár) and in the Komitat (county)
of the same name, there were, as early as the high middle ages in the
12th/13th centuries, German settlers who had been summoned to the land
by the Hungarian kings, as had also been the case in the not far distant
eastern Slovakia (cf. Carpathian Germans). Unlike them, however, they
had soon be Magyarized. By the Peace of Sathmar, the Habsburgs renounced
Transylvania and provisionally recognized, after 40 years of confusion,
Ottoman sovereignty over Transylvania.
It was not until after the wars against the Turks, Hungarian
uprisings against the Habsburgs, plague (1709-11) and depopulation that,
there began, at the beginning of the 18th century, a new and planned settlement
on the part of German colonists from Upper Swabia. This did not come about
at the direction of the state but by the local dynasty of magnates, the
Károlyis. After the Hungarian Kuruzzen Uprising (1703-11), which
was ended by the Peace of Sathmar in 1711, German - and necessarily Catholic
- farmers began to be solicited and settled in the devastated territory
in 1712. More and more followed them, in particular in the 1720/30s. By
1838, a total of 8,000 Swabians had come to the lands of the Károlys.
In contrast with the other Danube-Swabians who originated in a great variety
of parts of the empire, the Sathmars are overwhelmingly of genuine Swabian
Around 1800, about 10,000 Swabians were living side by side
with Magyars, Romanians and Ukrainians in the Komitat. The national group
has not escaped to this day the intense policy of Magyarization, supplanting
the German language since the second half of the 19th century, although
the majority of Sathmars fell, along with most Swabians, to Romania as
a result of the Treaty of Trianon in 1919. The Romanian state supported
the national consciousness of the Sathmars and of other Danube Swabians
who were living in its borders as a counterweight to Hungarian separatism
in Transylvania. 47,000 Germans (four percent of the population) were
counted in the now Romanian territory of Sathmar/Marmarosch in 1920. Magyarization,
which was primarily supported by the Catholic Church, led to only 31,000
persons identifying themselves as German in 1930, of whom only 22,000
After the territory, together with the whole of northern
Transylvania has temporarily belonged again to Hungary from 1940 to 1945,
the Sathmar Swabians, like the other Romanian Germans, were not subjected
to general displacement measures after the end of World War II, although
about 3,000 fled in 1944 and about 6,000 were deported to the Soviet Union
for forced labour, of whom only few were to return alive after many years.In
September 1947, Landsmannschaft der Sathmarer Schwaben (Community of Sathmar
Swabians), which is today (2004) located in Stuttgart, was founded in
In the 1980s, the German population of the territory was
estimated to number about 40,000 around the cities of Sathmar and Grosskarol.
In 1989/90, they largely joined the mass emigration of the other Romanian
Germans to Germany. The Swabian district of Biberach an der Riss has been
the sponsor of the Sathmar Swabians since 1962.
Silesia, traversed by the Oder, measures about 400 kilometres
from Görlitz (Polish: Zgorzelec) in the north-west to the south of
Upper Silesia and about 150 kilometres from the south-west of the Sudeten
to the old German-Polish border in the north-east. In the course of its
history, although it has been divided many times, it has always remained
a historic unity. Since the early middle ages only sparsely occupied by
Slavs who had moved in after most of the Germanic-Vandal Silings, who
had given the land its name, had moved away (5th century), the land became
a target area for German colonization in the east in the 12th century.
This was initiated by the Silesian Piast dukes, who, by
this time, - but finally in 1163 - had lost any connection with the Polish
Piasts and who very soon turned to Germany and the Empire, not least as
a result of the continuous "marriage policy": the national patroness,
who was and is venerated to this day by German and Polish Silesians alike,
was the wife of Duke Henry I, Saint Hedwig of the Franconian Andechs-Meran
dynasty (1243). The centres of peaceful colonization were at the
outset especially the monasteries of the orders which had been summoned
into the land: the Premonstratensians (St. Vincenz in Breslau (Polish:
Wroclaw) around 1120, Czarnowanz near Oppeln (Opole) in 1228) and the
Cistercians (Leubus; Lubiaz) in 1175, Trebnitz (Trzebnica) in 1202/03,
Heinrichau (Henryków) in 1227/28, Grüssau (Krzeszów)in
1242, Kamenz (Kamieniec) in 1247, etc.). The Leubus Cistercians were expressly
accorded the privilege in 1175 of fetching German settlers into the country
and these were to be "for all time and without exception to be exempt
from all Polish law." Between 1200 and 1350 alone, 63 cities and
almost 1,500 new villages were founded in Lower and Central Silesia in
accordance with German law, while another 20 cities and more than 200
German villages were founded in Upper Silesia. Estimates suggest that,
as early as around 1300, 175,000 Germans were living in Silesia.
The uncontested centre of the land and of attraction of
German colonists was, however, at that time Breslau, which had been founded
around 1000 and which had enjoyed German city status since about 1250.
As early as the 14th century, it had had 20,000 inhabitants, making it
for the conditions of that time a European city.
There were great setbacks to settlement: the devastating
invasion of the Mongols in 1241, to whom the majority of the Silesian
nobility, including Duke Henry II - Hedwig's son - in the forefront, fell
victim at the the Battle of Wahlstatt (Legnickie Pole), and the Black
Death of 1347/48, which, although it was comparatively less raging in
Silesia than in other countries, greatly dampened the movement of settlers
from the west. From the 1420s, Silesia was for decades one of the main
targets of attack and plundering for the Czech Hussites, who advanced
from Bohemia again and again. 40 cities were destroyed. At this time -
1420 - the first and only imperial Reichstag took place in eastern Germany
under Emperor Sigismund in Breslau.
Separation from Poland as a state had already been completed
in the 1320/30s, when the Piast duchies (there were 17 in 1327!), which
had split into a number of sub-lines, subjected themselves one after another
to the suzerainty of the Bohemian crown: the Oppeln dukes in 1327 (cf.
Upper Silesia), those of Liegnitz(Legnica), Brieg(Brzeg), Sagan(Zagan),
Oels(Olesnica) and Steinau(Scinawa) in 1329, of Glogau(Glogów)
in 1331 and of Münsterberg(Ziebice) in 1336. Breslau, the mighty
duchy without a duke, but de facto a patrician civil republic with a mind
of its own since the extinction of the Piasts there in 1335, even sent
the Breslau Bishop to Neisse(Nysa) with a flea in his ear, had also requested
and obtained Bohemian sovereignty in 1327. For more than three centuries,
until 1635, the Breslau city council, which was elected by the citizenry,
was a collective "Landeshauptmann" (head) of the whole land.
At the Silesian princely sessions, the dukes had to go to the city hall
to the representatives of Breslau's citizenry.
Since that time, the whole land belonged to the Holy Roman
Empire (of the German Nation). By the Treaty of Trentschin in 1335, Poland's
King Kasimir III renounced "for all time" in favour of Bohemia
the right to lay claim to Silesia. At the latest when Silesia passed to
Bohemia, Silesia had become a part of the Holy Roman Empire. This corresponded,
of course, to the peaceful Germanization, which had been largely completed
at this time in Lower and Central Silesia and in western Upper Silesia.One
after another, the Silesian Piasts died out. They had all called themselved
Dukes of Silesia, although they had had, except at times in Upper Silesia,
areas of rule of sometimes only a few hundred square kilometres: the Breslau
line in 1335, the Schweidnitz-Jauer(Swidnica-Jawór) line in 1392,
the Liegnitz line in 1417, the Münsterberg (Ziebice) line in 1428,
the Oels (Olesnica) line in 1472, the Glogau (Glogów) line in 1476,
the Sagan (Zagan) line in 1504, the Oppeln line in 1532, etc. Individual
duchies fell temporarily to dynasties such as the Hohenzollerns, the Saxon
Wettiners, the Bohemian Premyslides and the Podiebrads. In 1675, the last
Piast of all finally died, when the only 15 year old Duke Georg Wilhelm
von Liegnitz, Brieg and Wohlau died in the 17th generation since Duke
Henry I. The whole of Silesia now directly belonged to the lands of the
Bohemian crown, which had been worn by the Habsburgs since 1526. This
had been preceded by the conversion of most of the duchies to the Lutheran
religion. As early as the 1520/30s, Liegnitz, Breslau, Schweidnitz-Jauer,
Oels, etc. as well as large parts of the Upper Silesian duchies (cf. ibid.)
had become Protestant. The Counter-Reformation, which had made huge strides
in the 17th century, especially since the end of the Thirty Year War (1648)
and which had been decisively carried forward by Jesuits led to a partial
Recatholization of the land, which, however, remained split on religious
lines for ever thereafter. The proportion of Lutherans decreased from
the north-west to the south-east, that of the Catholics rather uniformly
increased (cf. below). The capital Breslau always remained a city of two
Christian religions, whereby the Jewish community later was the largest
of eastern Germany as a result of immigration from Poland and Russia.
In 1742, most of Silesia and also the County of Glatz (K³odzko)
fell to Prussia after the First War of Silesia and finally by the Peace
of Hubertusburg (1763). Only the duchies of Troppau-Jägerndorf and
Teschen, which had long been without dukes, were retained by Austria (cf.
Sudeten Germans). Under Friedrich II, wide-scale colonization projects
were advanced and the entire provincial administration modernized. About
one million people lived in the land around 1740. 1.5 million were counted
Prussia's province of Silesia, in the German League since
1815, in the German Reich since 1871, had in 1885 4.1 million inhabitants,
of whom 3.2 million were German-speaking and 850,000 Polish-speaking or
Upper Silesian-speaking. 60,000 Czech/Moravia-speaking "Schlonsaken"
were living in south-western Upper Silesia around Ratibor (Racibórz).
52 percent of the population of the province was Catholic, particularly
in Upper Silesia and the County of Glatz. In addition, the third-largest
Jewish community in Germany lived in Breslau.
In 1920, after World War I and a referendum in parts of
Upper Silesia, eastern Upper Silesia was separated and fell to Poland
(cf. Upper Silesians). The vote itself had proven that language was not
a criterion of nationality in Upper Silesia in particular: in a district
such as Gross-Strehlitz (Strzelce Opolskie), which had a population of
only 17 percent declaring itself to be German-speaking in 1910, 49.3 percent
voted to remain with Prussia and Germany in 1921. In the district of Kreuzburg
(K³uczbork), one of the few Protestant districts of Upper Silesia, 96
percent of the population (only 47 percent of which was German-speaking
in 1910) voted against joining Poland. Also in the large cities of the
territory to be ceded, the majority had opted for Germany (Königshütte
75 percent, Kattowitz 85 percent). In Ratibor and Oppeln, which then also
remained in Germany, more than 90 and 95 percent respectively had voted
for Germany, etc.
In the two thirds of Upper Silesia which did not fall to
Poland, there was another vote in 1922, in which more than 90 percent
voted against having a state of their own within the German Reich and
for remaining in Prussia.
In the three Prussian government districts of Silesia (about
35,000 square kilometres), there were living 4.6 million people in 1939:
in the Liegnitz district (east of the Neisse) 1,070,000, in Breslau 1,970,000
and in Oppeln 1,530,000. The proportion of the non-German population was
less than one percent in Lower and Central Silesia, and there were almost
none at all in very many cities and communities. The government district
of Liegnitz was 81 percent Protestant in 1933, Breslau 58 percent Protestant,
Oppeln/Upper Silesia 89 percent Catholic. About 0.8 percent of the Silesians
(35,000) were Jews.
280,000 Silesians from this territory fell as soldiers in
the war. About 60,000 civilians died during the Soviet siege and bombardment
of Breslau between February and May 1945. Tens of thousands of refugees
from Silesia were burned to death in undefended Dresden in February 1945.
As a result of flight and expulsion, and in Polish concentration camps
such as the notorious Lamsdorf, Zgoda near Schwientochlowitz (wiêtochlowice)
and Gleiwitz (Gliwice)camps, 400,000 civilians died of exhaustion, hunger
and as a result of murder between 1945 and 1947. One in six Silesians
died an unnatural death in the 1940s. Expulsion from Lower and Central
Silesia was almost total, while, in Upper Silesia, some of the population
was retained for economic reasons (miners), some for racial reasons (as
"autochthonous" Slavs) (cf. Upper Silesians).
Although many displaced persons came especially to Breslau
from Lemberg (Polish: Lwów, Ukraininan: Lwiw), which had again
fallen to the Soviet Ukraine in 1939 and in 1944, the majority of the
new settlers in Silesia originated from central Poland or were reemigrants
from western Europe.
Only the tip of Silesia around (West) Görlitz, Weisswasser,
Hoyerswerda and Niesky, which lay west of the Neisse did not fall to the
Polish regime in 1945, but to the Soviet Zone of Occupation and to the
GDR in 1949. Since 1990, it has been part of the Federal Republic of Germany.
In 1950, 2.1 million expellees from the province
of Silesia in its prewar borders were living in West Germany (including
West Berlin), and 1.1 million were living in East Germany (including East
Berlin). The East Upper Silesians (cf. Upper Silesians) and Sudeten Silesians
(cf. Sudeten Germans) should also be included.In the following decades,
especially in the mid-1950s, at the beginning of the 1970s and in very
large numbers at the end of the 1980s, hundreds of thousands of Silesians
left the land as émigrés and represented by a long way the
majority of the German émigrés from the People's Republic
(since 1989, Republic) of Poland. In the years from 1988 to 1991, they
represented about 470,000 out of 540,000.
Today, there are still about 300,000 to 500,000 Germans
living in the voivodeships of Oppeln and "Silesia" (Slask =
East Upper Silesia including Kattowitz). In the voivodeship of Lower Silesia
(Dolny Slask) which has existed since 1997, there are only a few thousand
Germans living scattered there. About 150,000 have had their continuing
German citizenship confirmed by having a German passport issued since
the beginning of the 1990s. In the Polish Sejm, the national group has
been represented with its own deputies since 1991. The émigré
movement has decreased to almost zero also because there have been freedom
of movement and freedom of travel since 1990, but also because of increased
bureaucratic obstacles on the part of Germany since the mid-1990s.
In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Silesians organized
themselves in the Landsmannschaft Schlesien - Nieder- und Oberschlesien
(Community for Silesia - Lower and Upper Silesia) which was founded in
March 1950 and which is today located in Königswinter. Some of the
Upper Silesians organized themselves in the Landsmannschaft der Oberschlesier
(Community of Upper Silesians), which came into being in 1949/50 (located
in Ratingen-Hösel). The Federal Land of Lower Saxony had sponsorship
of the Silesians from 1955 to 1990. North Rhine-Westphalia has been sponsor
to the Upper Silesians since 1964.
Germans were living for more than 850 years in Transylvania
(approx. 60,000 square kilometres; Hungarian: Erdély, Romanian:
Ardeal) in the curve of the Carpathians. With the exception of the 150
year long interruption by Turkish rule in the 16th and 17th centuries,
Transylvania belonged to Hungary for 1,000 years. In 1141, a few thousand
north-west German and Flemish colonists came to the land at first at the
invitation of the ruling Hungarian Arpad dynasty. Only a few probably
really came from Upper and Lower Saxony. The Hungarian King Andreas II
decreed in his "Golden Charter" "to our faithful guest
settlers, the Germans beyond the forest" in 1224 that they would
retain for ever the privileges that had been granted to them when they
settled: estate holding, freedom from tax and customs duties, freedom
of movement, free choice of judges and priests, etc. So-called locators
(recruiting officers) ensured a continuous supply from the Empire to (old)
Hungary. For a time (1211-25), the Order of the Teutonic Knights also
carried out colonization, in particular in the Burzenland (Hungarian:
Bárczaság, Romanian: Tara Bârsei) in the south-east
of Transylvania around Kronstadt (Hungarian: Brassó, Romanian:
Brasov), before the order became too headstrong for the Hungarians and
transferred its activities to East Prussia (cf. ibid.).
The "Saxons" worked as artisans, tradesmen, farmers
and miners and developed the only sparsely settled land. The invasion
of the Mongols in 1241 was a setback for the work of colonization, but
it also led to (re)settlement being more heavily oriented to the cities.
In addition to or instead of peasant settlements, there came into being
fortified German cities such as Hermannstadt (Hungarian: Nagyszeben, Romanian:
Sibiu), Kronstadt, Bistritz (Hungarian: Beszterce, Romanian: Bistrita),
Klausenburg (Hungarian: Kolozsvár, Romanian: Cluj), Schässburg
(Hungarian: Segesvár, Romanian: Sighisoara) and others. This always
remained also the sole characteristic of the Transylvanian Saxons that
marked them out in comparison with the German settlers, some of whom did
not come to the Danube region in (old) Hungary for another five hundred
years: the intense urbanization as well as the Reformation, which also
quickly and thoroughly made its lasting mark later in the 1540s, represented
by their own "Saxon bishop". In 1486, the " Universal Saxon
Nation", as the totality of the "Saxons" were called in
Transylvania, was finally confirmed by the Hungarian King Matthias Corvinus
as the third nation of the state of Transylvania in addition to the Hungarian
nobility and the free Hungarian peoples of the Szekler. The Romanians
and the very numerous Gypsies were excluded from state affairs.
The Turkish advances and raids, which were ever more numerous
and aggressive toward the end of the 15th century, finally came to a head
from 1526 in the de facto separation of Transylvania from Hungary and
in the imposition of vasall status toward the Ottoman sultans (1529).
The three "nations" of the nobility, the Saxons and the Szekler
elected the prince, the Voivod (to 1688). The ambiguous condition of Transylvania
between the now Habsburg (rump) Hungary and the Turks again and again
led to wars and uprisings, to devastation and also to a downturn in the
work of settlement in the following one and a half centuries: parts of
the territory which had been colonized by the Saxons in the middle ages
were again lost. In 1695, 6,000 derelict and abandoned farms were counted
in 228 Saxon localities. The Germans were now living in four partially
disconnected parts of the land: the largest part of the "Königsboden"
(Hungarian: Királyföld, Romanian: Pamântul Craiesc)
around Hermannstadt, the Nösnerland around Bistritz, the Burzenland
around Kronstadt and in the so-called Kokel district around Schässburg
and Mediasch (Hungarian: Medgyes, Romanian: Medias).
In the 1680s, the land was conquered by the Austrians, who,
having to struggle long and hard against the resistance of the Hungarians,
and, at some times and in some places also against the Saxons, gradually
ended the autonomy of the lands. The centralistic absolutism and pressure
of Catholization brought to bear by the Austrians also created problems
for the Saxons, who now stood up against pressure of Magyarization - as
was also the case in the 19th century, in particular after the Austrian-Hungarian
settlement of 1867 -, although the Universal Nation as a body and the
"Königsboden" as a self-administering unit were dissolved
in 1876. The most important factor that integrated the Saxons remained
the Protestant Church.
It was not until 1918/20, when Transylvania passed to Romania,
that there was again an undisturbed political and self-administering unit.
235,000 Germans were living at the time in Transylvania (8.5 percent of
the population) in addition to Romanians (56.5 percent), Hungarians and
Szekler (31.4 percent) as well as other smaller groups. The Saxons were
the second-largest German national group in the new greater Romania after
the Banat Swabians. Like other Germans outside Germany, the Transylvanian
Saxons and their organizations fell under the influence of Nazi operations
outside Germany to some extent in the 1930s. In 1940, the Nazis influence
was total after the "national group leadership" had been taken
over by the Himmler confidant Andreas Schmidt (1912-48).
When the north of Transylvania together with the Nösnerland,
Klausenburg and Sathmar had to be ceded by Romania to Hungary from 1940
to 1945, this also affected - in addition to the Sathmar Swabians (cf.
ibid.) - about 35,000 Saxons. In 1941, there were 213,000 Germans living
in south Transylvania, which remained Romanian.
German-Romanian agreements led to about 54,000 Saxons being
forced into joining the Wehrmacht and the Waffen-SS, and of them, between
8,000 and 9,000 died as soldiers during the war. It was possible to evacuate
about 50,000 at the end of 1944, before the Soviets invaded from Transylvania
into the west. About 35,000 Saxons were deported until 1949/50 for forced
labour to the USSR, where thousands died.
In 1948, just under 160,000 Germans were still counted in
the now once again undivided Romanian Transylvania. In the following decades,
especially in the 1970/1980s, tens of thousands resettled in West Germany.
After the collapse of the Communist regime in 1989/90, most of those still
living in the country emigrated (60,000 to 70,000 emigrés). Today
(2002), there are still about 17,000 mostly older Germans in Transylvania,
and they are organized in the Siebenbürgisches Regionalforum (Transylvanian
Regional Forum) of the Demokratisches Forum der Deutschen Rumäniens
(DFDR: Democratic Forum of the Germans of Romania). Since May 1990, they
have been represented in the Bucharest parliament with one deputy. In
1992, the Transylvanian Regional Forum of the DFDR joined the international
"Federation of Transylvanian Saxons", which has been in existence
since 1983.Sponsorship of the Verband der Siebenbürger Sachsen (Association
of Transylvanian Saxons), which has existed since January 1949 and which
has been the Landsmannschaft der Siebenbürger Sachsen (Community of Transylvanian Saxons) since the end of 1950 is carried out
by the Federal Land of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The border areas of Bohemia, Moravia and Sudeten Silesia,
that small part of Silesia which had remained with Austria after the Seven
Years' War between Austria and Prussia in 1763, are the homeland of the
Sudeten Germans and comprise just under 28,000 square kilometres.
The term "Sudeten Germans" is derived from the
chain of mountains of the Sudeten which is about 330 kilometres long and
which stretches across the north of Bohemia, Moravia and Sudeten Silesia.
The name "Sudeten Germans" has established itself since the
beginning of the 20th century, especially from 1919, being a collective
term for the more than three million Germans in the Bohemian lands. The
Sudeten Germans are very varied. They differ in dialect, origin and regional
culture, corresponding to the neighbouring German regional populations
of the Old Bavarians, Franconians, Saxons and Silesians, from whose territories
settlement was then carried out in the middle ages.
Before the Czechs reached the interior of Bohemia and Moravia
in the middle of the 6th century, this land had been inhabited for more
than 500 years by Germanic tribes, the Marcomanni along the Elbe in Bohemia
and the Quadi in Moravia. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Bohemian
dukes and kings then summoned Germans into the country to be farmers,
miners, artisans, merchants and artists to develop and to cultivate especially
the hitherto very sparsely settled mountainous border areas. Centres of
the territory were German cities such as Leitmeritz (Czech: Litomeøice;
Germans city status in 1227), Eger (Cheb; 1242), Brünn (Brno; 1243),
Pilsen (Plen)1288), etc.
The Bohemian lands had boen part of the Holy Roman Empire
since the 10th century, even if they had often enjoyed a large degree
of indepedence. The Bohemian kings had been members of the elective college
of princes which, with its seven members, had then been developing since
the 14th century. From 1346 to 1400 (Luxemburgers) and from 1526 to 1806
(Habsburgs), the Bohemian kings were almost uninterruptedly also Holy
Roman German Emperors. For about 800 years, Germans and Czechs lived side
by side and mostly at peace. To the extent that there were tensions, these
had, if anything, religious and social rather than national origins. Nor
did these conflicts, apart from during the Hussite Wars (1419/20-1436),
issue in violence. The rather large islands of the German language in
inner Bohemia that had existed until then were largely destroyed during
these wars in the 1420s. This took place as a result of displacement and
assimilation, but also, to some extent, as a result of physical annihilation
of the German inhabitants. Whole German cities such as Aussig and Teplitz
were destroyed. By contrast, the Germans in Prague and in the border regions
survived the Hussite Wars, although suffering considerable losses. The
whole land, which had enjoyed a leading status in Europe before the Hussite
Wars, was subjected to a great blow to its development. It took about
200 years for this setback to be overcome.
In 1526, the Bohemian lands came under the rule of the Habsburgs,
thus becoming part of Austria. A further important date is the Battle
of the White Mountain at the beginning of the Thirty Years' War near Prague
(1620), when the Catholic Habsburgs put down an uprising of the Bohemian
Protestants (including both Czechs and Germans). With the now beginning
Restoration and Counter-Reformation, the Czech language was to some extent
ousted from public life.
Until 1806, Bohemia and Moravia belonged, together with
the whole of Austria, to the Holy Roman German Empire and, from 1815 to
1866, to the German League. In 1848, the Sudeten Germans also elected
and sent deputies to the first German National Assembly in the Paulskirche
in Frankfurt am Main. Czech deputies too from Moravia were represented
there, though Czech deputies from Bohemia were not. Not least the Jewish
community, which was overwhelmingly German-speaking, was a major part
of the cultural and academic development of the Bohemian lands.The end
of World War I in 1918 meant the disintegration of the Austro-Hungarian
multinational state. The Czechs, numbering about 6.7 million people, demanded
a state of their own, to which the highly industrialized settlement areas
of the Sudeten Germans were also to belong.
After the Czechoslovak Republic (CSR) was proclaimed on
28 October 1918, the Sudeten Germans, calling on their right of
self-determination, demanded that their homeland areas remain with the
Austrian State, which had been reduced to the Republic of German Austria.
Trusting in the right of self-determination which had been proclaimed
by the victors, the Sudeten Germans brought little opposition to the occupation
of their land by the Czech military (31.10.1918 - 28.1.1919). Fighting
and bloody attacks took place only sporadically, resulting in the deaths
of a few dozen Germans.
Until the end of 1918, about 95% of the Sudeten German territories
were militarily occupied. On 4 March 1919, almost the entire Sudeten German
population peacefully demonstrated for their right of self-determination.
These demonstrations were accompanied by a one-day general strike on the
part of the Germans. The Sudeten German Social Democrat Party, which was
the largest party at the time, was responsible for the initiative of carrying
out these demonstrations, but it was supported by the bourgeois German
parties. These mass demonstrations were smashed by the Czech military,
involving 54 deaths and well over one hundred injuries.
The Sudeten Germans were assigned, against their express
will, to Czechoslovakia by the Treaty of St. Germain of 10.9.1919 and
were regarded by the Czech state as a "minority", although 90
percent of them were living in territories in which they themselves represented
90 percent or more of the population. The confidant of the later President
Toma Garrigue Masaryk, Edvard Bene, played a major role in
the formation of the CSR, acting unscrupulously and with great skill at
the Paris peace conferences, as his memoranda and marked cards for the
peace conferences show.In 1921, the population of Czechoslovakia comprised
6.6 million Czechs, 3.2 million Germans, two million Slovaks, 0.7 million
Hungarians, half a million Ruthenians (Ukrainians), 300,000 Jews, 100,000
Poles as well as Gypsies, Croats and other groups. The Germans thus represented
one third of the population of the Bohemian lands. It was only by maintaining
the fiction of a "Czechoslovak" people that it was possible
to establish dominance in the new state.
Although the foundation of the CSR thus took place against
the will of the Sudeten Germans, the majority supported the so-called
activist parties at the elections in the twenties and early thirties,
sometimes posting individual ministers. They were not able to prevent,
however, the policy of assimilation and discrimination which was directed
against the Sudeten Germans: systematically discriminating against the
German language and culture, ousting Germans from the civil service, placing
German industry at a disadvantage in many areas, reducing German self-administration
in communities and districts.
One consequence of this policy was that unemployment in
the Sudetenland was at about five times the level as that in the Czech
lands in the mid-1930s. Especially the implementation of land reform at
the beginning of the 1920s and the replacement of Germans by Czechs in
the civil service amounted to a Czech settlement policy in the Sudetenland.
From 1919, the Czech population increased in the Sudetenland by just under
one percent annually.
This policy of the CSR was not only in opposition to political
reason but also to the international obligations which the CSR had entered
into, namely the Minorities' Protection Agreement of 1922. It gradually
led to a profound alienation between the Sudeten Germans and the Czechoslovak
State and to the German parties that supported the state being utterly
compromised in the eyes of their voters. At the parliamentary elections
of 1935, there was finally a landslide victory of the newly founded Sudeten
Germans party (SdP), which demanded the implementation of constitutional
and political equality of the Sudeten Germans in the form of territorial
autonomy, gaining about two thirds of all German votes.The Sudeten German-Czech
differences finally reached a climax as a result of the external German
pressure applied in the Sudeten crises in May and September 1938. These
ultimately led to the Munich Agreement of 29.9.1938, resulting in the
CSR being forced, under British and French pressure, to cede to Germany
the Sudetenland which was inhabited by 3 million Germans.One result of
the agreement was that many of the Czechs who had settled in the Sudetenland
since 1919 had to leave this land at short notice. Including soldiers
and policemen, together their families, these numbered up to 400,000 people.
This did not involve any expropriations, and the Czechs who had always
been living in the Sudetenland were not affected.
In breach of the Munich Agreement, German troops occupied
the rump area of Bohemia and Moravia ("Reichsprotektorat") on
15 March 1939 after the CSR had de facto disintegrated on the previous
day by Slovakia becoming independent and Hungary annexing the Carpathian
Ukraine. The 260,000 Germans of Prague (1939: 41,000 long resident Germans)
and the internal Bohemian/Moravian language islands (3.5 percent of the
population of the Reichsprotektorat) were now still living in this Reichsprotektorat.
About 180,000 Sudeten German soldiers died in the war or
as prisoners of war. In addition, almost 10,000 Sudeten German civilian
died as a result of air raids and ground fighting. Apart from sporadic
Allied air raids, the territory was not directly affected by the war until
April 1945. The fate of about 80,000 Jews of the Bohemian lands, whose
culture and language for the most part was German, was tragic as they
did not survive German occupation regime.
The expulsion of the Sudeten Germans was planned and prepared
from his London exile by Edvard Bene, who, after his resignation
in London in 1938, was only the self-appointed Czech president in exile.
Expulsion began immediately after the war ended, in May 1945, with the
"Prague Uprising" three days before the war came to an end.
The Czech national committees and so-called partisans, led by Communists,
began, in a first phase, with wide-scale mistreatment and murder, expulsion,
rape and internment in Czech concentration camps, for example, Theresienstadt.
By the end of the Potsdam Conference of the victor powers on 2.8.1945,
about 750,000 Sudeten Germans had been expelled without any authorization.
1946 represented the real principal phase of expulsion.
Most recent investigations show that approximately 165,000
Sudeten Germans died violent deaths directly in the course of displacement,
while another approx. 105,000 died of its immediate consequences during
or after displacement. Of those who survived, more than 1.9 million were,
in 1950, living chiefly in the US-American zone of occupation (more than
one million in Bavaria, 400,000 in Hesse, etc.), more than 700,000 in
the Soviet zone of occupation, 8,000 in Berlin and 140,000 in Austria.
About 250,000 were able to stay in their homeland - or had
to stay there, because the CSR did not want to do without them because
of their specialist capabilities. They too suffered expropriation and
were deported within Czechoslovakia, while about 40,000 were deported
to the USSR. The remaining German population emigrated in the following
decades, mainly to West Germany. At the 1991 census, there were still
just under 50,000 persons identifying themselves as being German. The
actual number may well be higher by a few tens of thousands.
In the Federal Republic of Germany, the Sudeten Germans
founded an "Arbeitsgemeinschaft zur Wahrung Sudetendeutsche Interessen"
(Work Group for the Preservation of Sudeten German Interests) in July
1947. This has been the Sudetendeutscher Rat (Sudeten German Council)
since 1955. In 1949/50, they founded the Sudetendeutsche Landsmannschaft (Community of Sudeten Germans),
whose first spokesman until 1959 () was the last head of German
Bohemia in 1918, Rudolf Lodgman von Auen. Sponsorship of the Sudeten German
national group was assumed by the Free State of Bavaria in 1954.
Germans in Hungary
In the middle ages, the Hungarian kings summoned German
and other western European settlers to the country (cf. Carpathian Germans,
Transylvanian Saxons, etc.). However, Germans have been living since the
9th century within the frontiers of present-day Hungary such as have existed
since 1920 as a result of Bavarian eastward colonization in western Hungary
around Ödenburg (Hungarian: Sopron), Wieselburg (Hungarian: Moson)
and Steinamanger (Hungarian: Szombathely), which, unlike the remainder
of the Burgenland, did not have to be ceded by Hungary to the Republic
of Austria in 1920.
Medieval German interior settlement was soon subsumed in
the politically dominant Magyar surroundings, especially in the cities.
Social advance regularly went hand in hand in the central Hungarian lands
with assimilation, unlike the more remote Transylvania. This was to continue
in the later modern age, in particular in the 19th/20th centuries in the
case of the urban populations and the intelligentsia.
Only in the course of the modern colonization, which was
state-directed by the Habsburgs and which took place in the lands which
had been liberated from the Turks since the 1720s and at that time was
almost unpeopled, did there come into being larger continuous areas of
German settlement such as in the Ofen Bergland in the north-west, the
Swabian Turkey (Hungarian Comitate Baranya/ Branau, Somogy/Schomodei,
Tolna/Tolnau) between the Danube and the Drava (cf. Danube Swabians) around
Fünfkirchen (Hungarian: Pécs). There also came into being
individual German villages also around Ofen (Hungarian: Buda) and Pest
(both united only in 1872 with Obuda to form Budapest).
Settlement was steadily carried out in the Hungarian central
area, but went beyond the peasantry to lead to the formation of a commercial
middle class. This continued, however, to stand in the shadow of continuing
Magyarization, which underwent an enormous intensification after the settlement
of 1867, i.e. after (old) Hungary had gained equivalent statehood with
the Austrian part of the empire. It is assumed that assimilation brought
about two million new Hungarians or Magyars, including 600,000 Germans,
700,000 Jews, 200,000 Slovaks, etc. in the years 1880-1910. The assimilated
Germans who became Magyars were pejoratively referred to by the Germans
who lived in the Hungarian lands and who were not prepared to become Magyars
as "Madjarons". In addition, more than 200,000 Germans emigrated
from the Kingdom of Hungary in the years 1899-1913, mostly to America.
These included more than 90,000 Banat Swabians, 50,000 from the later
"Trianon Hungary" (cf. below), i.e. from the central lands,
25,000 from the Batschka, etc.
The reduction of the Kingdom of Hungary, which was enforced
by the Treaty of Trianon (4 June 1920) as a result of World War I and
which remained a kingdom without a king under the "imperial administrator"
Admiral Miklos Horthy until 1944, to thirty percent of the territory of
the central lands led to the formerly Hungarian Germans being split among
five states: Yugoslavia (West Banat, Slavonia, South Batschka; cf. Danube
Swabians), Romania (East Banat, Transylvania with Sathmar; cf. ibid.),
Czechoslovakia (Carpathian Germans; cf. ibid.), Hungary itself and also
Austria (Burgenland, not including Ödenburg/Sopron).
In the relatively homogeneous Hungary which came into being
as a result of these many losses of territory of the multinational kingdom,
reducing it from 327,000 to 93,000 square kilometres, there were nevertheless
still living a large number of national minorities, including the Germans,
who made up the largest minority and who numbered about 550,000 (6.9 percent
of the population) in 1920 and 480,000 (5.5 percent) in 1930. All other
minorities, not including Roma, constituted only 3.5 percent of the population.
The national group itself counted in its own survey in 1930 about 650,000,
but this figure may well have included a number of "Madjarons".
One of the most important spokesmen for the Germans in Trianon
Hungary, Jakob Bleyer, was the minister for nationalities in 1919/20.
But also under the authoritarian Horthy regime, an intense policy of assimilation
was carried out, the German language being completely forced out of educational
establishments and public life, and Germans being forced out of economic
life. Significantly enough, one of the most striking examples of this
came under the radical nationalist Madjaron Gyula Gömbös (actually
Julius Knöpfle, minister president 1932-36), who maintained a good
relationship with Nazi Germany. As in the case of other Germans outside
Germany, the Hungarian Germans and their organizations came under the
influence of Nazi operations outside Germany to some extent as a result
of their internal relationships in the 1930s.
Of the Germans in Hungary, 32,000 died as Wehrmacht or Honvéd
soldiers in the war. During 1944/45, it was possible to evacuate 50,000
Germans in Hungary before the Soviets invaded, though 60,000-65,000 were
deported for forced labour in the Soviet Union, where thousands died.
In the summer of 1945, the new and already partially Communist Hungarian
government exerted its influence on the main Allies at the Potsdam Conference
to give authority for the enforced expulsion of Germans from Hungary.
The displacement began in January 1946 and affected only about half of
those still there: 200,000-220,000. This was a unique procedure in the
total complex of the expulsion at this time. The US Americans brought
about the end of the expulsions because their zone of occupation was completely
overloaded. About 6,000 did not survive the hardships of transportation
and individual attacks.
Several already existing national organizations have come
together since 1949 to form in March 1951 the Landsmannschaft der Deutschen
aus Ungarn (Community of expellees from Hungary). Sponsorship of them
is carried out by the towns of Backnang and Gerlingen.
The Landsmannschaft Weichsel-Warthe (Association of Vistula-Warthe
expellees) unites the Germans from the Polish territories which
fell to Russia and Austria in 1815 as well as the Germans from the former
Prussian province of Posen (Polish: Poznañ), thus including the Germans
of the Second Polish Republic (1919-39) apart from the West Prussians
and the (eastern) Upper Silesians. They have their origins in the four
very different groups of settlement carried out by Germans from the former
province of Posen, from central Poland around Lodz (Polish: £ód¿), from
Galicia with its centre in Lemberg (Polish: Lwów, Ukraininan: Lwiw), and
Since the 12th century, though in larger numbers since the
13th century, German settlers and merchants followed the call of the Polish
lords for monks to come to the territory of the later First Polish Republic
(of the nobles), which had been an elective kingdom since the 16th century.
These immigrants long determined the appearance of the cities, being the
first to form a bourgeois urban middle class in the otherwise almost entirely
agricultural country. The initiators of the colonization under German
law, which involved numerous privileges being accorded, were the resident
estate owners and lords, the Polish "magnates", who envisaged
technical innovation and economic progress. In cities such as Gnesen (German
city statute in 1253), Posen (1253), even in the then capital Cracow (German:
Krakau, Polish: Kraków, in 1257), etc., Germans often represented
in the 13th/14th centuries half of the population.
As, for example, also in Silesia and Pomerania, Premonstratensian
monasteries such as Lekno (1143) and Strelno (1193) soon became the centres
of development for peasant German settlement. As in the above-mentioned
places also, the settlement movement came to a standstill in the 14th
century, and there followed in the cities and in the countryside a wide-scale
assimilation of the Germans who had settled and who were almost nowhere
self-contained. Nevertheless, about one third of the population of Cracow
and Lemberg were German. At this time, the religiously still tolerant
Poland, in particular the so-called Greater Poland (around Posen and Gnesen)
was the place of refuge for many German Protestants, who had to leave
Silesia under the pressure of the Counter-Reformation.
In the territories (so-called "South Prussia")
which only temporarily (until 1807) fell to Prussia as a result of the
Second and Third Polish Partitions in 1793/95, the land was developed
comprehensively under state direction in a few years, which led to the
foundation of a number of new German settlements. The territory around
Posen, from 1815 to 1848 a grand duchy within Prussia, thereafter only
a province, but until the 1870s officially bilingual in German and Polish,
was 40 percent German around 1900. However, since the middle of the 19th
century, Posen was a centre of the national Polish movement in Prussia:
between 1867 and 1912, the chiefly rural Posen constituencies of Buk,
Kröben, Schrimm, Wreschen, Krotoschin and Adelnau as well as the
Bromberg (Polish: Bydgoszsz) constituencies of Inowrazlaw (German in 1905:
Hohensalza) and Gnesen elected Polish, usually aristocratic, deputies
to the German Reichstag without exception, while the constituencies of
the city of Posen, Posen-Samter and Bromberg-Wirsitz almost always elected
In Austrian Galicia, there were living 80,000 Germans (1.1
percent of the population) around 1900. In 1918/19, the country, which
had a majority Ukrainian population in the east, fell to Poland.In Russian
central Poland, there came into being German colonies in and around Lodz
(industry) and peasant settlements in the area of Cholm in the first half
of the 19th century. Overall, more than 400,000 Germans, more than 90
percent of whom were Protestant, were counted in so-called Russian Congress
Poland in 1897. In 1897, there were 170,000 Germans living in Volhynia,
where Germans -Mennonites in particular - had intensively settled since
1820. Tens of thousands were deported to the interior of Russia in 1915/16.
The western part of Volhynia around Luck fell to Poland in 1921.
In the former partitioned territories, not including eastern
Upper Silesia or West Prussia!, which were incorporated by the Second
Polish Republic in 1918/21, there were still almost 700,000 Germans living
in 1939 overall: 360,000 in central Poland (of whom 155,000 in the voivodeship
of Lodz), more than 190,000 in the voivodeships of Bromberg and Posen
(approximately the territory of the previously Prussian province of Posen),
70,000 in Galicia, 65,000 in (West) Volhynia. In the preceding years,
there had been an enormous legislative and administrative outsting of
Germans from the territories which had fallen to Poland, which had affected
more than 700,000 people in West Prussia (cf. ibid.) alone and the Warthe
area around Posen. In the area of the voivodeship of Posen, the number
of Germans fell from 363,000 (28.5 percent) in 1910 to 97,000 (7.1 percent)
in 1931. In 1922 and 1928, nine out of the 17 and 20 German deputies respectively
came to the Polish Sejm from Poland and the Posen lands. In 1939, the
Posen lands were annexed as the "Reichsgau Wartheland" and,
in 1939/40, received about 250,000 German resettlers from the eastern
and south-eastern European territories which had been annexed by the USSR:
almost 100,000 from Volhynia, 70,000 Germans from Romania, 50,000 German
Balts, etc. About 450,000 Poles were deported to the "Generalgouvernement".
If it is assumed that the Germans from Posen and Poland
had equally high war and postwar casualties as the ethnic German population
of the Second Republic as a whole, then it can be taken that about 50,000
died during the war as German soldiers, while a smaller number in 1939
died as Polish soldiers, and about 100,000 died violent deaths as a result
of excesses, murder, life in camps, in the course of or after deportation
to the Soviet Union (more than 100,000 in total from prewar Poland) or
in the course of expulsion.
The Landsmannschaft Weichsel-Warthe (Community of Vistula-Warthe)
was founded in West Germany in May 1949, organizing
some of the approximately 400,000 Germans from the Second Polish Republic,
while the West Prussians and (eastern) Upper Silesians founded their own
associations (cf. ibid.). Some bilingual Germans were held back as "autochthonous"
and gradually left Communist Poland in the following decades as emigrés.
The sponsor of the German expellees from the Lodz industrial
area is the city of Mönchengladbach.
The West Prussians
The Duchy of Pommerellen, which had been settled by the
Slav Pomoranians since the 6th/7th centuries and which was located west
of the lower Vistula, separated from Pomerania in the 11th century and
came for a time under Polish rule. The Baltic Prussians (cf. East Prussia)
settled East of the Vistula after the Teutons left.
German settlement of what was to become West Prussia, including
Pommerellen around Danzig (Polish: Gdañsk) being the main area as well
as Pomesania and the Kulmerland east of the Vistula, began essentially
like that of East Prussia (cf. ibid.), with conquest and missionary work
carried out by the Teutonic Order at the beginning of the 13th (Kulmerland)
and 14th centuries (Pommerellen). After the Pomoranian Samborid dukes
of Pommerellen died out in 1295 and disputes with Poland, Pomerania and
Brandenburg, the order established its rule west of the Vistula in 1309
too. Although many cities such as Kulm (Che³mno), Marienwerder (Kwidzyn)
and Thorn (Toruñ) (German "Kulm" city statute in 1233), Elbing
(Elbl¹g;1246), Marienburg (Malbork; around 1280), Graudenz (Grudzi¹dz;
1291), Bromberg ( Bydgoszsz) (1346), Preussisch-Stargard (Starogard; 1348),
etc., the cession of Pommerellen, the Kulmerland and the Ermland (Warmia;
cf. East Prussia) by the Teutonic Order to the Polish crown in 1466 prevented
the territory from becoming so completely Germanified as the neighbouring
lands of Pomerania and East Prussia. The Reformation also made only partial
headway in the 16th century, favouring Polish assimilation of the German
part of the population which remained Catholic.
In 1569, the land was annexed in a unilateral declaration
by Poland, but the large German cities such as Danzig (Polish: Gdansk),
Thorn and Bromberg largely retained their independence. Most of the land
fell to Prussia as a result of the First Polish Partition in 1772, the
remainder, including Danzig and Thorn, falling to Prussia by the Second
Polish Partition in 1793. It was not until now that the term West Prussia
came into being for the former "royal (Polish) Prussia", i.e.
for Pommerellen, Pomesania and the Kulmerland. Danzig (cf. ibid.) was
a pseudo-independent "Free City" owing to French pressure from
1807 to 1813. In the second half of the 19th century, Pommerellen as well
as Posen (cf. Vistula-Warthe) was the centre of the Polish national movement
in Prussia/Germany. The chiefly rural constituencies of Danzig-Neustadt(Gdañsk-Wejherowo),
Danzig-Berent (Gdañsk-Kocierzyna) and Marienwerder-Konitz (Kwidzyn-Chojnice)
elected continuously from 1867 to 1912 solely Polish, usually aristocratic,
deputies to the German Reichstag, while the constituencies of Rosenberg
(Susz), Graudenz (Grudzi¹dz), Thorn (Toruñ) and Schwetz (wiecie) repeatedly
elected such deputies.
At the 1910 census, native languages were identified to
be 65 percent German, 28 percent Polish, seven percent Casubian in the
Prussian province of West Prussia (25,500 square kilometres, 1.7 million
inhabitants). The Casubians should be regarded as direct descendants of
Slav, but not Polish, Pomoranians.In January 1920, the province was divided
four ways as a result of the Treaty of Versailles: most of Pommerellen
and the Kulmerland (16,000 square kilometres), the so-called "corridor",
together with most of Posen to Poland, without reference to the wishes
of the people, a narrow strip in the west was retained by Germany and
fell to the province of Pomerania in 1938, the east became the government
district of "West Prussia"/Marienwerder (2,400 square kilometres)
and became the province of East Prussia, Danzig with its surrounding territory
(1,900 square kilometres) became a "Free city" under the mandate
of the League of Nations.In the government district of West Prussia/Marienwerder,
92.4 percent of those entitled to vote voted to stay as part of Prussia
and Germany, while only 7.6 percent voted to join with Poland in July
In the part of Pommerellen which fell to Poland and in the
Kulmerland, 433,000 (45 percent) had identified themselves as speaking
Polish as their native language, 412,000 (43 percent) German and 105.000
(eleven percent) Casubian in 1910. 15,000 had stated that they were bilingual.
Rigourous expropriation measures, enforced emigration and numerous bureaucratic
hurdles resulted in hundreds of thousands of Germans being forced out
of the territory. The German population of the territory of the voivodeship
of Pommerellen fell from 421,000 (42.5 percent) in 1910 to 176,000 in
1921 and, finally, to 105,000 (10 percent) in 1931. The German population
of the territory of the voivodeship of Bromberg (including the north of
the former province of Posen) fell from 316,000 (45.2 percent) in 1910
to 162,000 in 1921, then to 96,000 (ten percent). In 1928, four Germans
were elected from the voivodeships of Pommerellen and Bromberg to the
Polish Sejm.After war began, 5,000-6,000 German civilians in Polish Pommerellen
and in the voivodeship of Bromberg fell victim to Polish pogroms ("Bromberg's
After annexation by Germany and the formation of a "Reichsgau"
of Danzig-West Prussia (26,000 square kilometres, including Bromberg and
the Netze district) in 1939, the formerly Polish part of West Prussia
became one of the main settlement areas for Germans from the territories
which had fallen to the Soviet Union: more than 40,000 Germans from Bessarabia
and 6,000 German Balts were able to come here to stay on a temporary basis
in 1939/40 before they, together with the entire German population, fled
or were expelled in 1945.
If it is assumed that the Germans from the part of West
Prussia and the voivodeship of Bromberg which fell to Poland in 1920 had
equally high war and postwar casualties as the ethnic German population
of the Second Republic as a whole, then it can be taken that about 15,000
died during the war as German soldiers, while a smaller number in 1939
died as Polish soldiers, and about 30,000 died violent deaths as a result
of Soviet and Polish excesses, murder, life in camps such as Potulitz
and Graudenz, in the course of or after deportation to the Soviet Union
(more than 100,000 in total from prewar Poland) or in the course of expulsion.
These figures do not include the Germans of Danzig (cf. ibid.) and the
government district of Marienwerder. Of the Casubians, who were kept back
as being susceptible to "repolonization", most emigrated to
West Germany in the following decades, having become tired of being patronized
and discriminated by the Polish administration.The West Prussians from
Pommerellen and from the former East Prussian government district of Marienwerder
founded in April 1949 their community, for which the Landschaftsverband
Westphalia-Lippe (Regional Association of Westfalen-Lippe) assumed sponsorship
in 1960. The community has been located in the city of Münster since