WWWBoard New Message: Message 34: Re: O Uoorzycah (The history of Sorbs)

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   Posted by Robert on 07/19/01 at 6:11 PM

Subject:   Re: O Uoorzycah (The history of Sorbs)

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In Reply to: O Uoorzycah posted by Robert Brytan on 07/15/01 at 5:45 AM:

The History of the Sorbs

The Sorbs (or Wends) in both parts of Lusatia belonged to the Slav tribes which migrated to the area between the Oder and the Elbe/Saale from the fourth century onwards. Despite the fact that from the tenth century onwards they were subject to German rule, they were able to retain their separate ethnic identity up till the present day.

In the early nineteenth century, under the influence of the Enlightenment and Romanticism, there was a reawakening of national consciousness amongst the Slav peoples and also amongst the Sorbs of Lusatia. Between 1845 and 1847 the first scientific-cultural, (pan-Sorbian) society, the Mac´ica Serbska, was formed; it aimed to cater for the intellectual needs of the Sorbian people in a variety of different ways. During the following decades a relatively broad press developed, including academic and literary publications. In 1912 the Sorbian associations joined together to form an umbrella organisation, the Domowina (Homeland), in response to constant political and economic pressures and the process of Germanization.

In the inter-war period the Sorbs concentrated on the attempt to realize their national rights as laid down in the Weimar constitution (Article 113). There followed a flowering of literature, art, music and science. In 1937 the Sorbian language and its culture were banned by the Nazi leadership and practically vanished from public life. Thanks to the defeat of German fascism the Sorbian people escaped the physical annihilation that threatened them.

In 1948 the Saxon parliament passed 'The Law to Safeguard the Rights of the Sorbian People' which allowed for the establishment of permanent structures in the cultural life of the Sorbs. State funding was introduced for Sorbian schools as well as for other institutions promoting Sorbian culture, education and research (for example, theatre, a National Ensemble, a publishing house, the institutes of the University and the Academy). Despite this material support the process of assimilation continued during the existence of the GDR. Parts of the areas populated by Sorbs were devastated to allow for extensive lignite mining; restrictions that were imposed on the education system had a damaging effect on the strength of the Sorbian community. In a few cases works by Sorbian writers, composers and painters managed to cross ethnic boundaries, cultural traditions were preserved and developed; the study of Sorbian language and literature gained international recognition as an academic subject.

After German unification in 1990 a wide variety of Sorbian associations began to develop. Their political and cultural aspirations were brought together in the reformed umbrella organisation, the Domowina. The Free State of Saxony and the State of Brandenburg guaranteed the political rights of the Sorbs in their constitutions and other laws. In 1991 the two States together with the Federal Government established by decree the 'Foundation for the Sorbian people', by which they pledged (sic!) to support the Sorbian language, culture and research in order to preserve the identity of the Sorbs.


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