The German-Balts (or German Balts , even Balts or Baltic German ) had one in the area of present-day Estonia and Latvia -based German-speaking minority , which from the late 12th century large as immigrant upper class influence on religion, culture and language of the Latvians and Estonians had. In addition, the German-Baltic nobility played an important role in the history of Russia . Numerous Russian ministers, politicians, generals and admirals came from its ranks . The German-speaking university in Dorpat had a firm place in German cultural life, especially in the 19th century.
The Baltic Germans made up the nobility and the majority of the bourgeoisie and, until well into the 19th century, the majority of the city dwellers in the Russian Baltic Sea Governments of Estonia , Livonia and Courland . Although the states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are now counted as part of the Baltic States , the German minority in Lithuania (Lithuanian Germans) did not belong to the Baltic Germans. Both minorities ended their existence in the first year of World War II as a result of the Hitler-Stalin Pact , which added the Baltic States to the Soviet sphere of influence, by moving to Germany. Today there are very few German speakers in the Baltic countries.
Until the end of the 18th century, the Germans living in Courland and Zemgallia , in Livonia and in the Estonian governorate felt themselves connected as Kurlanders, Livonians and Estonians, i.e. above all to the “ landscape ” in which they lived. Only after the Duchy of Courland and Zemgale fell to the Russian Empire in 1795 and Courlanders , Livonians and Estonians now all lived in the same state did they gradually develop an awareness of togetherness. When the educated bourgeoisie emerged as a political force alongside the nobility and city officials in the mid-19th century, the term Baltic came up. This was also used in Russia and Germany, mostly without including the non-German-speaking population such as Estonians , Livs and Latvians . The more precise expression Baltic Germans prevailed before the First World War . German-Russians were spoken in official German at that time .
The term Baltic Germans , which was previously documented but rarely used, was in official use at the time of National Socialism in analogy to ethnic Germans , Sudeten Germans, etc. and was first used in Latvia by the so-called " movement " Erhard Kroeger . Nevertheless, "Baltic Germans" continued to be used.
Although it was recommended by linguists not to use it any more in the early 1970s at the latest, “Baltic Germans” was and is still used in German-language media.
The first Germans came to the country from the end of the 12th century as part of the German settlement in the east and the conquest of the then pagan Baltic region by the Order of the Brothers of the Swords. The Order of the Brothers of the Sword was able to bring the entire area of present-day Estonia and Latvia (the later historical areas of Courland , Livonia and Estonia ) under its rule. Most of the German settlers came from the areas of today's Lower Saxony , Schleswig-Holstein and Westphalia . In contrast to Prussia to the south (later East Prussia ), which was conquered by the Teutonic Order , there was no area-wide settlement of German farmers in the Baltic States. The German population element remained largely limited to the bourgeoisie in the cities, the large landowners and the aristocratic and ecclesiastical upper class of the country. The German speakers never made up more than 10% of the population; however, they formed the largest population group in almost all cities.
In the large cities founded mostly by Germans, which often joined the Hanseatic League (e.g. Riga , Reval / Tallinn , Dorpat / Tartu , Libau / Liepāja , Mitau / Jelgava , Dünaburg / Daugavpils ), the German bourgeoisie remained politically and culturally Setting the tone well into the 19th century, both under Swedish and Russian rule. In the Middle Ages, the knighthood of German descent put the upper class against the indigenous peasantry, who had long been serf .
The history of the Germans in Lithuania was different, which is why they are not counted among the Baltic Germans . The first German settlement in Lithuania did not come about as a result of a conquest by a religious knightly order , but on the initiative of the Lithuanian princes Mindaugas and Gediminas . It was limited to the cities of Vilnius , Trakai and Kaunas . The Gothic townscape of medieval Kaunas, where the Hanseatic League opened an office in 1440, can be traced back to them. In the 16th century, invited Lithuanian magnate , which the Reformation in Poland-Lithuania had joined Protestant German to settle in their possession a. The third and largest wave of immigration occurred in the 19th century through the immigration of poor farmers from East Prussia , who founded new communities near the border, and the influx of job seekers from the rest of Germany into the larger cities of Lithuania.
Early modern age
In the course of the Reformation , the Baltic Germans as well as the Estonian and Latvian populations overwhelmingly adopted the Lutheran faith . After the ruins of the Teutonic Order state collapsed in the 16th century, the Baltic States initially came under the rule of neighboring states (Poland-Lithuania, Sweden , Denmark ). The German-Baltic nobility, however, was able to largely retain its privileges under the various rulers. After the Great Northern War in 1721, Estonia and most of Livonia ( Polish Livonia remained with Poland) came under Russian rule. In the course of the Polish partitions from 1772–95, Polish Livonia also came to Russia, as did the Duchy of Courland and Zemgale.
Overall, the Baltic Germans were able to come to terms with Russian rule and the Baltic German knighthoods asserted a large part of their traditional rights. The German-Baltic nobility gained great weight in Russian politics and the military. Numerous generals, admirals and high political officials in the Tsarist Empire were of German-Baltic descent.
19th and early 20th centuries
Towards the end of the 19th century, however, there was increasing Russification in the Tsarist Empire ( Russian as the official language in the Baltic States and also at the previously German-speaking University of Dorpat ), and there was an awakening of the Estonian and Latvian national feeling, which also strongly opposed the dominant one German-Baltic upper class was directed. The Baltic Germans first emigrated to Germany, and from the end of the 19th century they were increasingly pushed into a minority position. In most of the larger cities, such as Riga, Dorpat or Reval, the Baltic Germans lost the majority of the population that had existed since the Middle Ages. In Riga, for example, due to the constant influx of the Latvian rural population and the increasing settlement of Russians, the proportion of the German-speaking population fell from around 43% in 1867 to just under 17% in 1913, while the proportion of Latvian-speaking residents of around 23% rose to almost 40% and the proportion of Russians remained more or less stable.
During the time of the German occupation of the Baltic States in World War I from 1915 to 1918, plans arose to establish a German-Baltic dominated state ( United Baltic Duchy ) under the protection of the German Reich . A large number of German settlers were to be settled on formerly German property, which the German-Baltic nobility was willing to cede. After the defeat of the German Reich, numerous Lutheran clergy and other Baltic Germans fell victim to the first Latvian Soviet Republic in December 1918 and in the first few months of 1919 . After they had achieved their independence and defended them in hard battles against the Bolsheviks on the one hand and the Baltic State Armed Forces and German Freikorps on the other, the new nation -states expropriated the Baltic-German landowners in Estonia and Latvia in favor of the previously landless Estonian and Latvian peasant class through land reform laws. Nonetheless, the two Baltic states granted their national minorities extensive cultural autonomy.
Resettlement and World War II
The line under the more than 700 years of German-Baltic culture was set by an additional protocol to the German-Soviet border and friendship treaty of 1939, which resulted in the resettlement of the Baltic Germans, who were considered "racially valuable" by the ideologues of National Socialism, to Germany or, above all, to foreseen the newly conquered Polish territories . In the "Agreement on the Resettlement of Latvian Citizens of German Belonging to the German Reich of October 30, 1939" between the Reich Government and the Latvian Government, the latter undertook to release those Baltic Germans from Latvian citizenship who leave their permanent residence in Latvia wanted to. A similar protocol had already been signed on October 15, 1939 by the Estonian Free State and the Imperial Government. Most of them submitted to these measures without resistance, gave up their Latvian or Estonian citizenship and followed Hitler's call , since the Nazi propagandists threatened to lose their German nationality if they stayed. In addition, life in the circle of power of the Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin did not seem attractive. The resettlement of the Baltic Germans went hand in hand with the expulsion of the Poles from their property in order to make room for the newcomers in the newly annexed districts of Wartheland and Danzig-West Prussia . Towards the end of the war , the Baltic Germans, mostly settled in the so-called Warthegau around Posen , had to leave their new homes again and flee to the west.
Today there are still smaller minorities of German speakers in the Baltic countries. According to the last census (2000), there are still 1870 German speakers in Estonia. In Latvia there are 3,311 (2004 census), and in Lithuania there are also a few thousand native speakers. These German speakers are often not Baltic Germans, but immigrant Russian Germans from Siberia and Kazakhstan or Germans who live in the Baltic States for professional or other reasons and have only recently settled there. In Estonia and also in the other Baltic states, a new generation of Baltic Germans is emerging, who settled there after independence in 1991 from Germany and are mostly very well integrated.
Today, traditional German-Baltic associations try to maintain or revive the memory of ancient history. There is also lively interest from the Estonian and Latvian sides in reviving memories and historical connections that were suppressed for ideological reasons during the times of Soviet rule. An expression of this was, for example, the rebuilding of the House of the Blackheads in Riga.
- 12th century: first Low German trade and mission stations on the Daugava
- 1201: Establishment of Riga by the Bremen canon Albert von Buxhoeveden , Bishop of Livonia, and beginning of the subjugation of the Baltic pagans by the Order of the Brothers of the Sword (later the Order of the German )
- 1242: Heavy Tritter be by the Russians in the Battle on the Ice beaten
- 1346 to 1561: Livonia (today's Estonia and Latvia ) is part of the Teutonic Order
- 1558 to 1583: Livonian War : The order's territory falls apart
- 1561: Privilegium Sigismundi Augusti : The municipal estates receive the right to use the German language, German jurisdiction and freedom of religion even under Polish-Lithuanian sovereignty
- End of the 18th century: influx of German academics (including Johann Gottfried von Herder ), craftsmen and theologians
- 1919: Fighting of the German Freikorps , the Baltic State Armed Forces and the Baltic Regiment, initially against Bolsheviks , then also against the young Baltic states.
- 1919/1920: Land reform: expropriations and subsequent emigration of many Baltic Germans.
- Before the Second World War : Germans make up 1.6 percent of the population in Estonia and Lithuania, and 3.3 percent in Latvia.
- 1939: End of the history of the Germans in the Baltic States with the German-Soviet border and friendship treaty : In October, resettlement agreements were concluded with Estonia and Latvia. At the end of the year, more than 50,000 Germans from Latvia and 14,000 from Estonia had already been resettled, the majority of them to the newly annexed Polish areas, the new districts of Wartheland and Danzig-West Prussia . The subsequent resettlers, a few thousand in 1940, a further 7,000 from Estonia and 10,000 from Latvia in 1941, were resettled in the " Old Reich ".
- 1944/45: Flight and expulsion of the remaining Baltic Germans to the west
- 1945: Deportation of the Baltic Germans who remained in Estonia (342 people)
- 1950: Reorganization of the exiled Baltic Germans into compatriots and knights
The historical idiom of the German minority in the Baltic States is called Baltic German . It is not only characterized by a particularly colored pronunciation, but also by a large number of loan words from neighboring languages.
Various organizations support cross-border relations with the Baltic states, others promote scientific research:
- German-Baltic Society with 14 member organizations
- Association of the Baltic Knighthoods
- German-Baltic student associations
- Baltic Historical Commission
- Paul Kaegbein Foundation
- Georg-Dehio-Gesellschaft eV (1976-2005) - dedicated to the collection, care, promotion and preservation of German-Baltic culture and science. On behalf of the German-Baltic Landsmannschaft she also acquired art objects at auctions or from private collections.
Well-known Baltic Germans
- Karl Ernst von Baer (1792–1876), naturalist
- Michael Andreas Barclay de Tolly (1761-1818), Russian Field Marshal General and Minister of War
- Werner Bergengruen (1892–1964), writer
- Ernst von Bergmann (1836–1907), surgeon
- August Bielenstein (1826–1907), theologian, folklorist and linguist
- Gertrud von den Brincken (1892–1982), writer
- Georg Dehio (1850–1932), art historian
- Heinz Erhardt (1909–1979), humorist
- Wessel Freytag von Loringhoven (1899–1944), military resistance against Adolf Hitler
- Meinhard von Gerkan (* 1935), architect
- Robert Gernhardt (1937-2006), satirist
- Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930), theologian
- Monika Hunnius (1858–1934), writer
- Ida Kerkovius (1879–1970), artist
- Eduard von Keyserling (1855–1918), writer
- Otto von Kotzebue (1787–1846), circumnavigator
- Juliane von Krüdener (1764-1824), writer
- Otto Graf Lambsdorff (1926–2009), politician
- Jakob Michael Reinhold Lenz (1751–1792), poet
- Dietrich A. Loeber (1923–2004), international lawyer
- Boris Meissner (1915–2003), an expert on Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, established the Institute for Eastern Law in Cologne
- Bernd Nielsen-Stokkeby (1920–2008), journalist
- Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1932), Nobel Laureate in Chemistry
- Rosa von Praunheim (* 1942), film director
- Elisa von der Recke (1754–1833), writer
- Alfred Rosenberg (1893–1946), National Socialist politician
- Oda Schaefer (1900–1988), writer
- Paul Schiemann (1876–1944), politician and journalist
- Ludwig Stieda (1837–1918), anatomist in Dorpat and Königsberg
- Frank Thiess (1890–1977), writer
- Jakob Johann von Uexküll (1864–1944), zoologist and philosopher
- Siegfried von Vegesack (1888–1974), writer
- Ferdinand Wrangel (1797–1870), explorer
Biographies and Biographical Reference Works
- Heinrich Bosse, Arved von Taube (Ed.): Baltic heads. 24 life pictures from eight centuries of German activity in the Baltic countries. With contributions by Werner Bergengruen . Baltischer Verlag, Bovenden near Göttingen 1953, OCLC 27992558 .
- Wilhelm Lenz (Ed.): German Baltic Biographical Lexicon 1710–1960 . Böhlau, Cologne / Vienna 1970, ISBN 3-412-42670-9 .
- Johann Friedrich von Recke , Karl Eduard Napiersky , and supplements Theodor Beise (editor): General writers and scholars lexicon of the provinces of Livonia, Esthland and Courland
- Bastian Filaretow: Lexicon of German Baltic Scientists . Publishing house science and politics. Cologne 1994.
- German-Baltic Yearbook. Yearbook of the Baltic Germanness. New episode. Volume 61 ff., 2013 ff., ISBN 978-3-923149-71-1 , and others (up to 2012: Yearbook of the Baltic Germans. ). (Ongoing annual volumes), published by the Carl-Schirren-Gesellschaft e. V. on behalf of the German-Baltic Society e. V., Lüneburg.
- Hartmut Boockmann (ed.): German history in Eastern Europe. 10 volumes. Siedler, Berlin 2002, ISBN 3-88680-771-1 .
- Yorck Deutschler: The Baltic Germans versus the Baltic Germans. In: The Singing Revolution. Chronicle of the Estonian Freedom Movement (1987–1991). Part 1: Chronicle and Appendix. Schwarz-Weiß-Druck, Ingelheim 2000, ISBN 3-88758-075-3 (including Annex III: A fragmentary essay on the meaning of the word "Baltic". Annex II: German-Baltic versus Baltic Germans ).
- Wolf-Harro Fabricius: Situation and development of the German minority in the Baltic states compared to Transylvania. Diss., University of Graz, 2011, OCLC 815603624 .
- John Hiden , Martyn Housden : Neighbors or enemies? : Germans, the Baltic and beyond . Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2008 ISBN 978-90-420-2349-9
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- Eckhart Neander, Andrzej Sakson (ed.): Resettled - Displaced. Baltic Germans and Poland 1939–1945 in the Warthegau . Herder Institute, Marburg 2011, ISBN 978-3-87969-367-2 .
- Wilfried Schlau (Hrsg.): The German Balts (= displacement areas and expelled Germans. Vol. 6). Langen-Müller, Munich 1995, ISBN 3-7844-2524-0 .
- Wilfried Schlau (Hrsg.): Social history of the Baltic Germans (= library science and politics. Vol. 61). 2., verb. Edition Science and Politics, Cologne 2000, ISBN 3-8046-8876-4 .
- Matthias Schröder: Baltic German SS leaders and Andrej Vlasov 1942–1945. "Russia can only be defeated by Russians". Erhard Kroeger , Friedrich Buchardt and the Russian Liberation Army . Ferdinand Schöningh, Paderborn 2001, ISBN 3-506-77520-0 .
- Robert Schweitzer, Waltraud Bastman-Bühner (ed.): The Gulf of Finland as a focal point. Wandering and working German-speaking people in the European northeast. Contributions to the "I. International Symposium on German Culture in the European Northeast ”of the Foundation for the Promotion of German Culture (Aue Foundation) Helsinki and the Baltic Sea Academy Lübeck-Travemünde from September 6th to 10th 1995 in Tallinn / Estonia (= publications of the Foundation for the Promotion of German Culture . Saksalaisen Kulttuurin Edistämissäätiön julkaisuja. No. 9). Foundation for the Promotion of German Culture, Helsinki; Baltic Sea Academy, Lübeck-Travemünde 1998, .
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- Konstatin von Freytag-Loringhoven: Adolf von Harnack (1851–1930) and Wilhelm Ostwald (1853–1932). Living and learning in Dorpat as a lifelong reference for two Baltic German scientists . Once and Now, Yearbook of the Society for Corps Student History Research, Vol. 59 (2014), pp. 41–90.
Literature - Music - Fine Arts
- Erik Thomson : Baltic Bibliography: 1945–1953; Directory of the independent publications by German-Baltic authors that appeared in the years 1945–53 and of the writings on the Baltic States and the Baltic States published in the same period . Lueneburg 1953.
- Carola L. Gottzmann , Petra Hörner: Lexicon of the German-language literature of the Baltic States and St. Petersburg . De Gruyter, Berlin 2007, ISBN 978-3-11-019338-1 .
- May Redlich: Lexicon of German Baltic Literature. A bibliography. Science and politics, Cologne 1989, ISBN 3-8046-8717-2 .
- Gero von Wilpert : German Baltic literary history. C. H. Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-53525-9 .
- Helmut Scheunchen : Lexicon of German Baltic Music (= series of publications by the Georg Dehio Society ). Edited by the Georg Dehio Society. Harro von Hirschheydt, Wedemark-Elze 2002, ISBN 3-7777-0730-9 .
- Wilhelm Neumann : Lexicon of Baltic artists. Danowski-Press, Zurich 1998, ISBN 3-906653-60-9 (reprint of the Riga 1908 edition).
- Kuno Hagen: Lexicon of Baltic German visual artists. 20th century (= continuation of: Wilhelm Neumann : Lexicon of Baltic Artists ). With the assistance of Margarete Hagen. Edited by the Georg Dehio Society. Verlag Wissenschaft und Politik, Cologne 1983, ISBN 3-8046-0101-4 .
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