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- Location: Poland
Ethnic Sorbian lands in 1886 by Arnost Muka: http://slovnik.vancl.eu/mapy/
Large map (2400 x 2975 px): http://slovnik.vancl.eu/mapy/mapamuka2.jpg
Estimates of ethnic Sorbian/Lusatian population:
Year - number of Lusatian Sorbs (source):
1790 - 250,000 (Madlena Norberg)*
1858 - 164,000 (Boguslawski)
1861 - 165,000 (Leszek Belzyt)
1880 - 166,000 (Arnost Muka)
1886 - 166,000 (Arnost Muka)
1900 - 146,000 (Adolf Cerny)
1905 - 157,000 (Adolf Cerny)
1945 - 145,000 (Domowina)
*Estimate for the late 18th century.
Official census data from the 1800s:
Sorbs in Frankfurt Regency 1843-61 (from R. Boeckh "Der Deutschen Volkszahl und Sprachgebiet..."):
Sorbs in Frankfurt Regency 1861 (from L. Belzyt, "Die Zahl der Sorben..."):
Sorbs in Liegnitz Regency 1861 (from L. Belzyt, "Die Zahl der Sorben..."):
Sorbs in Sachsen 1861 (from L. Belzyt, "Die Zahl der Sorben..."):
After Poland regained its independence in 1918, interest in the history of Lusatia increased, especially when some Sorbs referred to point 13 of the Wilson Declaration demanding an independent province of Lusatia under the supervision of the League of Nations or national-political freedom in the form of a Czechoslovak state united with the state organism [Czechosorboslovakia?].
In the newly-established Polish state institutions and universities, Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Łużyczan (Eng. Friends of Lusatia Society) was established in Warsaw, Poznań and Katowice. In Cracow the Serbo-Lusatian Department was founded by the Slavic Association. In 1921 the West-Slavonic Institute was established at Poznań University, in addition to strictly scientific work undertaken by such researchers as Henryk Batowski, Józef Gołąbek, Adam Fiszer, Zdzisław Steiber, Tadeusz Lehr-Spławiński, Alfons Parczewski, Witold Taszycki and Józef Widajewicz. (...) Grażyna Wyder writes: “Contrary to popular sentiments and opinions suggesting little interest in the Lusatian subject during the interwar period, it increased due to Poland’s specific political and economic situation and its complicated political relations with Germany”10. Out of the circle of scholars, the interest of Polish society in Lusatia was also increased thanks to the work of popular science11 and especially because of the press coverage. After Hitler came to power, numerous articles in Polish newspapers emerged presenting the situation of the Sorbs in the Third Reich. At the same time, it should be noted that scholarly research relating to Sorbian culture was inspired by the individual interests of researchers, and they were not the result of the scientific policy of the Second Polish Republic12.
The new geopolitical order after WW2, as announced by Stalin, was supposed to bring liberation from “German enslavement” to the Slavonic nations, which also included Sorbs. However, for the authorities of the USSR Sorbs were a German population and “were not an ally in the denazification processes”13.
Some Lusatian organizations, since the end of the Second World War, had sought to distinguish Sorbs from the German population.
This was of particular importance because of the fact that during the march of the Red Army on Germany, many pre-war inhabitants of today’s Polish western territories became prisoners of the victorious army. (...) Shortly after the end of the war, the Polish authorities began to realize that the Soviet Union was going to treat the Lusatian question exclusively as a problem within Germany.
A note from the head of the Polish Military Mission in Berlin clearly confirms this:
'Ivanov’s attitude towards the Lusatian question is very reluctant. He believes that it is not worthwhile to engage in these complex problems of a not quite politically mature Slavic group and impede their political position. He also thinks that we [Poles, M.Ł., M.M.] should not be too involved, so that we are not accused of reaching even further areas before we settle our borders15.'
A closer look at the last sentence reveals another factor which was crucial for settling the dispute from the Polish side. The situation with Poland’s western border remained unclear and tense and concerns about the Germans re-entering territories on the western banks of the Oder and Neisse were widespread. On the contrary, the problem of creation of the Lusatian State was taken at both the political and public levels.
The first propaganda press releases concerning Lusatia appeared in the “liberated” areas of Poland even during the Second World War.
In March 1945 “Dziennik Polski” published 'Do not forget the Sorbs'16. This journal also published the article 'The Last Sorbs. We must return to Bautzen'17.
In April appeared a publication in the Western Journal 'When victorious armies are fightingin Lusatian lands'18.
All of these articles and those written in the following months recalled the historical relationship of the Poles with the Sorbs.
They also drew the readers’ attention to the historical moment of liberation of the fraternal nation and emphasized the role of Lusatia in securing the new Polish western border19. Often, the titles and postulates of Polish journalists towards Lusatia were formulated in an emotional way. In 1946 in Poznan, a landmark publication entitled 'Freedom for Lusatia!' was issued20. In the published volume of articles one can find texts on ethnic issues such as Bożena Stelmachowska’s article 'Lusatian Folk Costumes', and history articles such as 'Poland and Lusatia over the centuries'.
Another publication which aimed at highlighting the Lusatian problem and the justification of the argument for creating a separate Lusatian state was Wanda Goebel’s 'Forgotten Island'21. Over the course of time, varying, though weakening, press releases and reports, which were to introduce readers and Polish society to the Lusatian minority, were also published. The issue of the territorial affiliation of Lusatia involved Poland, Czechoslovakia and Germany.
The fate of these areas after the war had four major solutions at the time:
1. The establishment of an independent Sorbian state,
2. Lusatia either with Czechoslovakia or with Poland,
3. The creation of an autonomous region within Germany,
4. The relocation of Sorbs to Poland or Czechoslovakia in the protection against deprivation of identity22.
Due to the lack of confidence and interest by the USSR and the lack of Polish and Czech initiative, despite mutual competition, until 1948 no action was taken to legally settle the issue of the Sorbs and territories of Lusatia. On the other hand, German communist activists perceived Sorbian aspirations as “undesirable political separatism”23. As a result of widespread disagreement between the Sorbs concerned and the reluctance to engage in minority issue, the hopes of the Sorbian intellectuals were not fulfilled. Also, since 1948 in Poland there had been a decline or even loss of interest in the Sorbian problem, which lasted until 1990. (...) Polish authorities began to slowly distance themselves from Sorbian matters, as did Czechoslovakia. In spite of this, it should be noted that the two countries, as a few others did, supported Sorbian independence aspirations. However, they did this on the basis of supporting a good cause without any special obligation26.
Georg Rensch: Sorbian national hero.
After WW2 Sorbian patriot Georg Rensch undertook the task of presenting the Sorbian cause to the international community. He fought for independent Lusatia. After the eastern areas of the German Reich had been captured by the Soviet Union, Georg Rensch - a lawyer from Croswtwitz - saw a chance to strike a deal with Stalin with support of Yugoslavian leader Josip Broz-Tito. The goal of that deal was to create an independent Sorbian state, bordering to the east with Poland and to the south with Czechoslovakia - two Slavic countries, friendly to Lusatian Sorbs.
In that historic moment, Rensch saw a great chance for his nation, the new political division of Europe gave him such hope. After WW1 Lusatia was an enclave surrounded by German-speaking territory, but after WW2 it had a border with two other Slavic countries.
Already during the Paris Peace Conference in 1919, the Sorbian National Committee tried to make the Sorbian question public, it invoked President Wilson's declaration about the self-determination of nations. Unfortunately it did not find acceptance of the Allied states. France did not recognize the Lusatian problem. Britain did not want to weaken the defeated Germany too much. Poland was just regaining independence. Czechs did not support Sorbian independence but wanted to annex Lusatia into Czechoslovakia, promising Sorbs broad autonomy.
The situation after WW2 was different. Rensch was supported by Tito, and he decided to try to convince Joseph Stalin. But he did not succeed. Stalin immediately after the end of the war started to cooperate with the former Nazis, plenty of whom became members of the German Communist party SED. Former Nazis were also the majority of members of East Germany's Communist security service, Stasi.
As the result, Rensch was arrested by East German secret police and imprisoned for 25 years.
https://www.salon24.pl/u/lusatia/698591 ... odleglosci
More about Sorbs can be found here:
In English: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/6353/1/Gebel- ... entity.pdf
In German: https://books.google.pl/books?id=VzpbDA ... &q&f=false
- Host - Allied sections
- Posts: 3669
- Joined: 12 Jul 2006 19:17
- Location: Poland
I found this map. Distribution of Lusatian Sorbs in 1945:henryk wrote:An interesting concept. What would the percentage of Sorbs population have been in Lusatia?
http://yadda.icm.edu.pl/baztech/element ... e904cb567a