German slavs were called "Sorbs" or "Wends". These people are a west slavic speaking, of whom are mainly protestant. There're some catholic, too. The Sorbs are primarily located in Eastern Germany. The northern Sorbs in the Spree Forest southeast of Berlin are called "Wends". Most of them are protestant. The Sorbs first settled in what is now Germay during the Middle Ages. Heinrich I in 928 created the Mark Meissen and at this time te Sorbs were reported in Saxony. Sorbs are also found in Bohemia, the modern day Czech Republic. Main Towns in the area are Bautzen (Bydsin) Vetschau and Görlitz. The Sorbs never had their own state. They always were Prussian or German citizens. But they kept their culture, language and costumes.
German slavs were called "Sorbs" or "Wends". The Germans usually refer to the Sorbs as Wends.
In a more narrow sence the terms refers to the remaining Slavic population of Lusatia that slill speak the Wendish language. The Sorbs are primarily located in Eastern Germany. The northern Sorbs in the Spree Forest southeast of Berlin are called "Wends". Most of them are protestant.
The Sorbs first settled in what is now Germay during the Middle Ages. They are noted as early as the 6th century in northern and eastern Germany along the Baltic coast from the Elbe to the Vistula and south to Bohemia. Gradually antagonism between the Germans and Slavs grew. Heinrich I in 928 created the Mark Meissen and at this time the Sorbs were reported in Saxony. They were forcibly Christianized by the Saxons, probably about 990. The Germans saw the Slavs as a subject people. The very name Slav means serf in German. The German attitudes were displayed in the savage Wendish Crusade (ll47). Sorbs are also found in Bohemia, the modern day Czech Republic. Main Towns in the area are Bautzen (Bydsin) Vetschau and Görlitz. The Sorbs never had their own state. In modern German history they were Prussian or German citizens. Since the 19th century they have been subjected to great pressure to Germanize, especially during the NAZI era. But they kept their culture, language and costumes.
A large group of Wends settled in Texas in 1854, more came later. They wanted to escape "germanization" in Germany, but ironically they went to an area of Texas where many German immigrants had already settled (northeast of Austin). What did not happen in Germany, occured in Texas--the American Wends were absorbed by their German neighbors. The common bond was of course the language. By the 19th century most Wends were bilingual. They were able to found their own community, Sorbin, near Giddings. The German newspaper in Giddings at that time printed one section in Wendish for its readers. It was the only place in the world where a Slav language was printed in German characters, because the printers simply had no other alphabet. Within two generations through both intermarriage and German language schools, the Wends were assimikated within the lasrger German community. The assimilation process did not stop there. Sonnon the Germans in term were assimilated in to Anerican society. They are now americanized and don't speak Sorbish or German anymore, except for a few older people.
Both protestant and catholic Sorbs have kept their costumes and language, although there were efforts to Germanize them. The mainstay of Sorb culture has been the peasantry. The Sorbs are in fact famous for their customs. Eastern is a particularly important holiday for the Sorbs. One of the best known Sorb customs is brightly colored Easter eggs. There is also a tradition of thanking the birds. A legend provides that children who feed birds during the winter are rewarded with candy. Men go on rides on horseback wearing black suits and high-top (cylinder) hats (figure 1). There are many waterways, lakes and ponds in the swapy area where the Sorbs live. Parents warned the children of the "Wõdñy Muz" the Water Man who lurked at the water waiting there to pull unsuspecting victims down to his watery domain. There is Sorbian folk dancing and music performed in brightly colored costumes.
The Sorbs were found in the German eastern states of Saxony and Brandenburg. The Sorbs are primarily centered in the Spree River valley, in the area of Bautzen (Budyšin) and Cottbus. This area was part of the traditional region of Lusatia, a region named after a small Slavic tribe from which many Sorbs descended. After World War II they were found in the Nieder- and Oberlausitz in the East of East Germany. The German Democratic Republic (GDR--Communist East Germany) alloted them a special status as a minority. Today they can freely celebrate their customs. Around 60,000 persons speak the Sorbian language (1972). These cities all have bilingual names. A German reader reports, "I was in Bautzen and found it interesting to see Czech looking like signs in town (e.g. Pjekarnja and Lekarnja meaning bakery and apothecary)." Leipzig in fact, owns its name from the Sorbian (also Czech) Lipa meaning Oak in English.
These people are a west slavic speaking. It is amazing that the Wends could preserve their language until today, since Wendish was not taught at school. The first Wendish grammar was written by a German, Johann Gottlieb Hauptmann, in 1761, who said: "I am certain that the Wendish language is going to outlive all of us and the generations to come". He was right. There are two principal dialects the West slawic language, that is close to the Czech and the East slawic language, that is close to Polish. There's also a literature.
I do not have complete details, but I believe that schools in the Wendish areas during the German Empire wee taught in German. I think this was primarily Prussia. (German states retained responsibility for education during the German Empire. Children who were caught speaking Wendish got punished (this should sound familiar to American ears, where Navajo and other Indian children used to be punished also for talking in their native tongue). In spite of these laws and restrictions the Wendish population kept speaking their language. After World War II, when the German Democratic Republic was founded under Russian supervision, Wendish schools were opened everywhere in the region. Wendish books were published and streetnames in cities like Cottbus and Bautzen became bi-lingual. [Rinka] I'm not sure why the DDR promoted Wendish culture.
As folk costume they wore and perhaps still sometimes wear, according to Deutsche Volkstrachten a GDR book of 1955: "The colours are usually red, green, blue, white and black dresses with red and white bonnet and a cross sawn scarf.
When someone died the women wore a white long veil, if they had half trauer they wore only a half lenght veil. On every occasion there were different clothes for example while going to church the young maiden wore a black dress with a white ribbon that hold a black bonnet. They wore normally a wade lenght red or green wool dress and over it a blue printed apron (They're famous for blueprinted aprons) with a short long black sleeved jacket and a white bonnet. Brides wear a black bordered silk bonnet with green myrre circle and a black
silk Mieder and a white collar with a white dress and a large Schleife. Men wore a red vest, white trousers and knee socks a long blue jacket called "Bratenrock" a coloured sawn Schärpe and a blue two divided hat. Mostly they've got a color-banded stick with roses with them. These people had the duty to call the villagers for wedding. And they had to amuse the guests as well and held ceremonies. We do not know of any specifically boys' Sorb folk costume.
Blasig, Anne Blasig. The Wends in Texas.
Dr. Fritzsch, Dr. Fiedler and Ms. Dr. Koenig (Institut für Deutsche Volkskunde, Dresden). Deutsche Volkstrachten (1955).
Tinka, Erich. Mein Spreewaldbuch (Dresden 1954).
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