Lusatia

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Lusatia
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Logo of Domowina

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Flag of Lusatia

Logo of Domowina Flag of Lusatia
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Geograhic location of Lusatia


Lusatia (German Lausitz, Upper Sorbian Łužica, Lower Sorbian Łužyca, Polish Łużyce, Czech and Serbian Lužice, French: (la) Lusace), sometimes called Sorbia, is historical region between Bbr-Kwisa rivers and Elbe river in southeastern Germany (states of Saxony and Brandenburg), south-western Poland (voivodship of Lower Silesia and northern Czech Republic. It is divided into the Lower Lusatia: northern part with the main city Cottbus, and the Upper Lusatia with the main city of Bautzen.

Lusatia comprises a region in the southern parts of Brandenburg, eastern parts of Saxony, Germany and south-western Poland. The name derives from a Sorbian word meaning "swamps/water-hole". There are also the Lusatian Mountains in the north Czech Republic.

Contents

Sorbian-Lusatian people

The Sorbian Slavic minority continues to live in the region. Many still speak their language (though numbers are dwindling and Lower Sorbian especially is considered endangered), and road signs are usually bilingual.

Upper and Lower Lusatia

The region is divided into two parts.

Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz) belongs to Saxony; it consists of hilly countryside rising to the Lausitzer Bergland (Lusatian hills) near the Czech border, which rises even higher to form the Lusatian Mountains (Lužick hory/Lausitzer Gebirge) in the Czech Republic.

Most of the portion belonging to Brandenburg is called Lower Lusatia (Niederlausitz), and is characterised by forests and meadows. In the course of much of the 19th and the entire 20th century, it was shaped by lignite industry and extensive open-cast mining. Important towns include Cottbus, Lbben, Lbbenau, Spremberg, Finsterwalde, Senftenberg.

Upper Lusatia is characterised by fertile soils and soft hills, as well as historic towns and cities such as Bautzen, Grlitz, Zittau, Lbau (Lusatia), Kamenz, Lubań, Bischofswerda, Hoyerswerda, Bad Muskau.

Lusatian capitals

Lusatia is not an administrative unit, though the city of Cottbus (Chośebuz, Chociebuż) may be regarded as the capital to the region. (Historically, Luckau (Łukw) was Lower Lusatia's capital. Bautzen (Budyšin) is often regarded as the capital of Upper Lusatia.)

History

Lusatia was inhabited by several Lusatian tribes since the early Middle Ages. The process of the state formation was interrupted by the expansion of the more powerful neighbours. The region belonged to the Samo state, Greater Movarian Empire, and next to Bohemia. Lusatia was part of Poland in years 1002-1018, next came under overlordship of the margraves of Meissen. In 1076 Lusatia was awarded by the German king Henry IV to the Bohemian duke Vratislav II, who managed to retain only the Upper Lusatia. After a short period of Brandenburgian and Polish Silesian Piasts' domination Lusatia came under Bohemain rule for a longer period. At this time the Lusatian cities underwent period of German colonization, while the countryside remained basically Slavonic. During the 16th century Lusatia becase mainly Protestant.

Saxon rule

In year 1635 most of Lusatia became a province of Saxony, except a region of Cottbus possesed since 1462 by Brandenburg. After 1697 when the elctor of Saxony were elected also Polish kings, Lusatia became an politicaly important region, and the electors-kings seeked to create a land connection betwwen their Polish and Saxon posessions. During the peace congress of Vienna in 1815, most of Lusatia was awarded to the Kingdom of Prussia, except the southern part with Lobau, Kamentz, Bautzen and Zittau, whicj remained part of Saxony. The Lusatians in the Prussian state demanded their land to became a separated administrative unit (province or region/bezirk) but their land were divided between several Prussian provinces.

Prussian and German rule

During the 19th and 20th centuries the country suffered intensive Germanization policies, but despite administraive coersion, this period was also an era of Slavonic Lusatians national revival. The modern languages of Upper and Lower Lusatian (or Sorbian) were formed, national literaure flourished, many national organizations were initiated like (Macica Serbska and Domowina). During the Nazi regime im Germany all of Sorbian-Lusatian organization were abolished and forbidden, the newspapers and magazines closed, any usage of Sorbian-Lusatian languages forbidden. Most of the lusatian activists were arrested, executed, exiled or sent to the concentration camps, where most of them died. In years 1942-1944 the underground Lusatian National Comittee was formed and active in Nazi occupied Warsaw, Poland.

After World War II

After World War II the region was divided between Eastern Germany and Poland along the Lusatian Nysa river. There have been endeavours by the Sorbs to create a Lusatian Free State in the past - particularly after World War II, when the Sorbian National Committee demanded that Lusatia be attached to Czechoslovakia. In 1950 the Lusatian obtained the language and cultural autonomy (by - then - Saxony). Lusatian schools and magazines were launched, Domowina association was revived, under increasing political control of the ruling communist party. The local institutions support the development of the regional Sorbian-Lusatian arts and culture.

At the same time, the great German speaking majority of Lusatia still kept up a considerable degree of local, 'Lusatian' patriotism of its own.

Autonomy movement

Another attempt to regain limited autonomy after German reunification in 1990 was rejected by Helmut Kohl's government. Currently, a Grlitz-based initiative demands a Lusatian Free State.

Demographics according to 1900 census

Share of Polabian Slavs:

  • Cottbus (Provinz Brandenburg) 55,8 %
  • Hoyerswerda (Provinz Schlesien) 37,8 %
  • Bautzen (Knigreich Sachsen) 17,7 %
  • Rothenburg i. d. Oberlausitz (Provinz Schlesien) 17,2 %
  • Kamenz (Knigreich Sachsen) 7,1 %

Total number: 93,032

The number of Polabian Slavs decreased due to Germanisation.

See also

External links

de:Lausitz ja:ラウジッツ pl:Łużyce

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