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Sorb People (Brandenburg and Saxony, Germany)

Sorben, Wenden

Last modified: 2002-05-10 by santiago dotor
Keywords: germany | sorbs | wends | brandenburg | saxony | lausitz | luzice | domowina | law |
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[Sorb People (Germany)] 3:5
by Carsten Linke
Flag adopted 23rd March 1848, abolished 1935, readopted 17 May 1945



See also:


Introduction

There is a tiny nation in Central Europe called Sorbs, which has no contemporary relation to the Balcanic Serbs (they are both Slavic nations, of course). Germans call this nation Sorbs (Sorben) or Wends (Wenden). With 150,000 souls, they are the smallest Slavic nation in existence. They live in the region of Germany called Lausitz (Luzice), on the rivers Neisse (Nysa) and Spree. Their region encloses the south-east of Brandenburg state and eastern Saxony. The most important cities are Cottbus, Lübben and Bautzen. They are the descendants of the Western Slavs who in 6th-10th centuries A.D. controlled what is today north-eastern Germany. I understand that their cultural life is quite active, they have their own press, schools and a political organization (Domovina).

Greg D., 29 August 1995 and
Thomas Binder, 4 August 1998

I did some report on the Sorbs in December 1993. I went to Bautzen (Budysin) and I interviewed people in the Domowina (the general organisation of Sorbs), the Sorb programme in the MDR Radio Station and the Serbski Institut. (...) So my information:

  • The Sorbs did also suffer of the totalitarian regime of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). Budysin was the place of an infamous jail. Of course the GDR had a very politically correct discourse on the minorities, just like in former USSR.
  • Back to democracy the Sorbs convened and refounded the Domowina as a true cultural gathering of the Sorbs.
  • A man in the Domowina building showed me a 1946 map with Lusatia (the land of Sorbs) annexated to Czechoslovakia. It seemed some Americans had these ideas of unification of the Western Slavs (but not the Poles).

Jean-François Blanc, 15 November 1999

The modern name for the Wends is Sorbs (Vendes also included some other West Slav people, but these are now extinct/assimilated in Germany). The Sorbs live in Southeast Germany (Saxony mostly) nowadays. The Saxons came from [Lower] Saxony too — roughly the same area as is now Saxony-Anhalt and Lower Saxony in Germany, if I understand it correctly — present day Saxony on the other hand, was not Saxon land in those days.

The king of Sweden had the title King of the Wends until 1973 (...) when our present king succeeded to the throne and thought this part of the title was out of fashion. Swedish kings had borne this title since some time in the middle ages. This had also led to the arms of the Wends (Gules a dragon Or) being used in official Swedish decorations. The origin for this part of the title of the Swedish king is to be found in the 1540's, when King Gustaf I took up this title; it was used by the Danish king, and King Gustaf took it as an answer to the fact that the Danish king styled himself Goters konge (king of the Gotlanders). Gotland had been Swedish in the Middle Ages, but conquered by Denmark. The Danish king took the title King of the Vendes in the second half of the 12th Century, when the Danes were crusading against the Wends and forced them to accept Danish supremacy. Although the Danish power on the north coast of present day Mecklenburg-Pomerania was taken over by German princes, the title was kept — I do not know if the Danish Queen is still styled Queen of the Wends, though.

It can be added that in the 16th century, when Gustaf I took this title, the Wends were mistaken for Vandals, which were said to have been beaten by the Goths at the Time of the great Migration, and the Goths (who were also considered to have given name to Götaland and Gotland) were supposed to have had the same origin as the Swedes... Source: Nationalencyklopedin, 1990's.

Elias Granqvist, 11 September 2000

Queen Margrethe discarded a number of her father's titles, when she succeeded in 1972. Her father, Frederik IX, was Konge til Danmark, de Venders og Goters, Hertug til Slesvig, Holsten, Stormarn, Ditmarsken, Lauenborg og Oldenborg [i.e. King of Denmark, of the Wends and Goths, Duke of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn, Dithsmarchen, Lauenburg and Oldenburg]. Margrethe II is Danmarks Dronning [Queen of Denmark]. (...)

Ole Andersen, 11 September 2000

The Sorb people have their own culture, language, press, schools and a political organization (Domowina). In the year 1912, the organization Domowina (in Sorb 'native country') was established in Lusatia (Lausitz). The organization was an alliance of the Sorb minorities of Lower and Upper Lusatia. The Sorb group of the Wends (Wenden) lives in Lower Lusatia (Niederlausitz). They are Protestants. In the Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz) the group of the Catholic Sorbs, the Sorben or Serben (not to be confused with the South Slavic Serbs). The Sorbs call their country Serbstwo or Serbska, 'country of the Sorbs'. The Domowina was forbidden from 1939 to 1945 and was established 1945 again.

The Sorbs people fly officially since 23th March 1848 the known flag, horizontally blue-red-white in proportion 3:5. In the year 1842, the flag was first hoisted in the village of Lohsa (near to Hoyerswerda, Oberlausitz District). This was also forbidden under the nationalsocialist regime. On 17th May 1945, the flag was hoisted officially. As soon as April 1945, at the end of World War Two, the Sorbs greeted the Polish and Soviet troops with the Sorb flag.

There is no current law on the Sorb flag. The sequence of the colors and their official use are established in the constitutions of Saxony and Brandenburg, whereby the use of the flag is officially allowed. In Saxony, the use of a Sorb coat-of-arms is also allowed. There is no coat-of-arms of the Sorbs however, only the Domowina uses an emblem, regarded as the unofficial emblem of the Sorb people.

Both Lower Lusatia and Upper Lusatia have flags.

Jens Pattke, 27 March 2001


Description

According to Crampton 1990, "The Sorbs, a slavic community in what is now [1990] East Germany, also adopted a [horizontal] tricolour in 1848 of blue, red, white. There is no Sorb state as such but the flag is still in use." Illustration on page 134.

Roy Stilling, 30 August 1995

The flag of the Sorbs is mentioned in the Constitutions of the German states of Brandenburg and Saxony. Sources: Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Brandenburg and Sächsisches Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt.

Pascal Vagnat, 19 December 1995

Some explain the meaning of the colours, "At the top is the sky, and towards the bottom it gets lighter and lighter".

Carsten Linke, 24 June 1996

The flag of the Sorbs was first mentioned in 1842. On 23 March 1848 the order blue (top), red, white (bottom) was established by representatives in Berlin of several Slavic peoples. The order was chosen for practical reasons to distinguish it from the flags of other Slavic nations. In 1912 the Bund Lausitzer Sorben, the Domowina, was established as umbrella-organisation of all Sorb associations. It was forbidden by the Nazis from 1937 till 1945. The flag of the Sorbs was already forbidden in 1935. When in the spring of 1945 the Russian and Polish troops entered Lausitz, the flag was flown again, at 17 May 1945 officially by the Domowina.

In the flag laws of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the Sorb flag was not mentioned, but in decisions of the Councils of the Bezirke Cottbus and Dresden and the bilingual Bezirke of Lausitz, its use was regulated for special occasions and holidays.

After the collapse of the GDR the use of the Sorb flag is regulated by the constitutions of Brandenburg and Saxony. Note that the flag of the Sorbs was never the flag of an administrative territory, simply because such an entity never existed.

Sources: Günther 1998, page 40 and Günther 1999, page 27.

Mark Sensen, 16 October 1999


Flag Legislation

[From the Brandenburg Constitution:]

Verfassung des Landes Brandenburg
(...)
4. Abschnitt: Rechte der Sorben [Wenden]
(...)
Artikel 26 (Rechte der Sorben [Wenden])
(...)
4) (...) Die sorbische Fahne hat die Farben Blau, Rot, Weiss. (...)
Unofficial translation:
Constitution of the State of Brandenburg
(...)
Section 4: Rights of the Sorbs [Wends]
(...)
Article 26: Rights of the Sorbs [Wends]
(...)
4) (...) The Sorb flag has the colours blue, red, white.
Source: Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Brandenburg, Nr. 9 vom 7. Juni 1991. In the Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Brandenburg, Nr. 18 vom 20. August 1992, article 25 says the same thing.

The Gesetz zur Ausgestaltung der Rechte der Sorben [Wenden] im Land Brandenburg vom 7. Juli 1994, (Law on the Specification of the Rights of the Sorbs [Wends] in the State of Brandenburg, of 7th July 1994) says also in its article 4, in German and Sorb:

4.- Sorbische (Wendische) Fahne
Die sorbische (wendische) Fahne hat die Farben Blau, Rot, Weiss. Sie kann im angestammten Siedlungsgebiet der Sorben (Wenden) gleichberechtigt mit staatlichen Symbolen verwendet werden.
4.- Serbska chorgoj
Serbska chorgoj ma modru, cerwejenu a be^lu barwu. Wona sme^jo se w starodawnem sedlen'skem rumje Serbow rownops^awnje ze statymi symbolami wuz^ywas'
Unofficial translation:
4.- Sorb (Wend) Flag
The Sorb (Wend) flag has the colours blue, red, white. In the traditional settlement areas of the Sorbs (Wends) it can be used alongside the state symbols, with equal rights.
The constitution of Saxony also mentions the possibility to use the Sorb flag in the Sorb territory. In April 1999, Saxony issued a law called Gesetz über die Rechte der Sorben im Freistaat Sachsen (Sächsisches Sorbengesetz) vom 31. März 1999, published in Sächsisches Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt, 30. April 1999, which says in its article 4, in German and Sorb:
4.- Sorbische Farben und Hymne
1) Farben und Wappen der Sorben können im sorbischen Siedlungsgebiet gleichberechtigt neben den Landesfarben und dem Landeswappen verwendet werden. Die sorbischen Farben sind Blau-Rot-Weiss.
2) Die sorbische Hymne kann im sorbischen Siedlungsgebiet gleichberechtigt verwendet werden.
4.- Serbske barby a hymna
1) Barby a wopon Serbow moz^a so w serbskim sydlenskim teritoriju runoprawne po'dla barbow kraja a wopona kraja wuz^iwac'. Serbske barby su mo'dra-c^erwjena-be^l/a.
2) Serbska hymna mo'z^e so w serbskim sydlenskim teritoriju runoprawna wuzÓwac'."
Unofficial translation:
4.- Sorb colours and anthem
1) The colours and coat-of-arms of the Sorbs can be used in the Sorb area of settlement alongside with the state colours and coat-of-arms, with equal rights. The Sorb colours are blue-red-white.
2) The Sorb anthem can be used with equal rights in the Sorb area of settlement.

Pascal Vagnat, 13 November 1999, with translations by Stefan Schwoon, 27 March 2001


Domowina Emblem

['Domowina' Emblem (Sorb People, Germany)]
by Jens Pattke

On 8th October 1949 the Domowina, adopted a red emblem with a white limetree showing three large leaves, bordered with a blue fimbriation. The design was made by artist Ms. Hanka Krawcec. The emblem is regarded as the unofficial emblem of the Sorb people.

Jens Pattke, 27 March 2001





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