In the Weimar Republic (1918-1933) the Danish and Polish minorities enjoyed considerable support since they possessed homelands inhabited by Germans. Minority schools in Germany thus used Danish or Polish as the language of instruction. By way of contrast, national groups that did not have a motherland (such as the Northern Friesians and the Serb Lusatians) received only sight assistance. The liberal policy was initially continued after the National Socialists seized power in 1933. Following the consolidation of the National Socialist state in 1937 the approach to the minorities became less lenient and revealed great differences between the 'Germanic' and Slav minorities. The Danes and the North Friesians retained all their previous rights. In 1937-1938 the officials began a mass-scale campaign against Polish and Sorb teachers, and transferred some to German schools. At the onset of the Second World War the situation deteriorated further and Polish minority schools were closed and numerous Polish teachers were arrested and interned in concentration camps. In Lusatia the German authorities planned a deportation of the whole Sorb elite, a project that up to 1940 was partially implemented. By 1938 the Lusatian language was relegated from the schools, and to 1940 - from the majority of the churches. In 1945-1990 the German school policy followed various paths, due to the division of Germany. In the Federal Republic only the Danish national group was long regarded as a national minority because it possessed a homeland. This is also the reason why numerous schools were set up for the propagation of the Danish language and culture. On the other hand, the situation of the North Friesian national group was unenviable - the Friesian language was used only in scarce schools and even then for a single hour a week. By way of contrast, the Sorbs in the DDR enjoyed considerable support and Lusatian was the language of school instruction. In the terrains settled by the Catholic Sorbs the whole school curriculum was taught in their mother tongue. In the wake of the reunification of Germany in 1990, the Danish, Lusatian and North Friesian languages continued to be protected in schools, and in certain regions the range of their use even expanded.
Edmund Pjech, Instytut Serboluzycki w Budziszynie (for postal address contact the journal editor)
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