Slavs in Germany - The Sorbian Minority and the German State Since 1945

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Charts the development of the Soviet-influenced nationalities policy in the German Democratic Republic, using the internal files of the SED (Communist Party) and the Stasi to demonstrate that the German Communists, despite initial attempts by some leading figures to redress the effects of the repressive policies of the Nazi state, ultimately accepted that greater cultural autonomy e for the Sorbians ran counter to their plans for the economic and political restructuring of East German society. The GDR did, however, create Sorbian cultural institutions and the bilingual school system which have survived the upheavals of German unification in 1990.


“Both the bibliography and the notes at the end of each chapter reveal how well read the author is and how thoroughly he has researched books, newspaper articles, archive materials, and other information, especially the work he has done in Lusatia thanks to his personal contacts there….Barker provides an overview of the historical and political developments in Lower and Upper Lusatia from 1945 to 2000….Looking back over this period from a contemporary perspective allows Barker to make interpretations and draw conclusions that were not previously possible. Especially noteworthy is the concluding chapter of the first part concerning the Slavic minority in a unified Germany…Particularly innovative is the second part of the book, ‘Culture and the Nationalities Policy’….we can hope that Barker’s book will find a broad readership in the British Isles (where it is interesting for its relationship to the ethnic-cultural movements of the Welsh or the Scottish Gael) as well as in other European regions and on other continents. This would be the first step in expanding westerners’ knowledge about the Sorbs.” – Slavic Review

“This is the first comprehensive study of the Sorbs to be written in English for over a quarter of a century, and the first to be able to take advantage of the opening-up of hitherto inaccessible GDR archives. . . . The author is a preeminent expert on the Sorbs, with a solid body of publications of the topic already behind him. . . .It quickly becomes clear that the book is based on a vast amount of original archival research, which has been conducted with determination and imaginative insight. The style is lucid and eminently readable, and the material is presented in a manner that weaves the presentation of a great wealth of concrete factual detail into a coherent and persuasive overall narrative analysis that consistently points up the wider implications of the issues at hand. This is a unique book on a little-researched topic that provides not only the most up-to-date and comprehensive English-language introduction to the Sorbs, but is at the same time an invaluable contribution to the ongoing debate – within Germany, within Europe, and at a global level – on the significance and fate of minority cultures in general.” – Dr. John Sandford,  Head of German Department and Director of the Centre for East German Studies, The University of Reading, UK

“ . . . an informative, thoroughly researched and balanced analysis. This authoritative study will be welcomed by anyone with a serious interest in contemporary Germany.” – Dr. Ian Wallace, Professor of German, University of Bath, UK

“This book will be the standard account of the post-war fate of the Sorbian people, and it will also be read carefully by those interested in the policies of the East German government.” – Dr. William Urban, Lee L. Morgan Professor of History and International Studies, Monmouth College

Table of Contents

Table of contents (main headings):
Foreword by Gerald Stone
Introduction; map
Part One: The Political Development of the Nationalities Policy
1. The Sorbs before 1945
2. The beginnings of the Nationalities Policy (1945-1949)
3. The Sorbs and the SED (1949-1952)
4. A bilingual Lusatia (1952-1958)
5. Language Policy (1958-1971)
6. The Honecker period: Stagnation or consolidation? (1971-1989)
7. From the ‘Wende’ to Unification (1989-1990)
8. A Slav Minority in a Unified Germany
Part Two: Culture and the Nationalities Policy
9. Sorbian Literature and the Nationalities Policy
10. The Sorbian Media and the Nationalities Policy
11. Conclusion
Bibliography; Index

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