Silesian German

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Lower Silesian
Schläsche Sproache
Native to Poland, Czech Republic, Germany
Region Silesia. Also spoken in Czech Republic, eastern Germany.
Native speakers
unknown (undated figure of 12,000 in Poland)[1]
11,000 in the Czech Republic (2001 census)
Language codes
ISO 639-3 sli
Glottolog lowe1388[2]

Silesian German (Silesian German: Schläsche Sproache/Schläs'sche Sproche, German: Schlesisch) or Lower Silesian is a nearly extinct German dialect spoken in Silesia. Variations of the dialect until 1945 were spoken by about seven million people.[3] After World War II, local communist authorities forbade the use of the language, after the expulsion of the Germans the province of Silesia was incorporated into southwestern Poland, with small portions in northeastern Czech Republic and in eastern Germany, and silesian german was continued to be spoken only by individual families expelled to the remaining territory of Germany and in cultural gatherings mainly in West Germany. Most offsprings of the silesian germans expelled to West and East Germany didn't learn the dialect any more, and the cultural gatherings were less and less frequented.


Historical area of distribution of the Silesian German

In origin, Silesian German appears to derive from 12th-century Middle High German, with a strong influence from High German, Upper Saxon German, East Franconian German, Thuringian and Silesian. The inhabitants of Silesia are thought to be descendants of Upper Lusatia, Saxony, Thuringia and Franconia settlers who arrived in Silesia in the 13th century.

After World War II, local communist authorities forbade the use of the language. After the expulsion of the Germans from Silesia, German Silesian culture and language nearly died out when most of Silesia became part of Poland in 1945. Polish authorities banned the use of the German language. There are still unresolved feelings on the sides of both Poles and Germans, largely because of Nazi Germany's war crimes on Poles and the forced expulsion and ethnic cleansing of native Germans from former German territories that were transferred to Poland in the wake of the Potsdam Agreement.

Today, Silesian German is a dialect spoken in Upper Lusatia, the part of the province of Silesia west of the Oder–Neisse line that remained German after 1945.[citation needed]

The German Silesian dialect is not recognized by the Polish State in any way, although the status of the German minority in Poland has improved much since the 1991 communist collapse and Polish entry into the European Union. It can be divided into Gebirgsschlesische Dialektgruppe, Südostschlesische Dialektgruppe, mittelschlesische Dialektgruppe, westschlesische Dialektgruppe and niederländische Dialektgruppe.[4]:138-139 The nordostböhmische Dialektgruppe belongs to Silesian, too.[5][4]:143

Silesian German was the language in which the poetry of Karl von Holtei and Gerhart Hauptmann was written, during the 19th century.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Silesian at Ethnologue (16th ed., 2009)
  2. ^ Nordhoff, Sebastian; Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2013). "Lower Silesian". Glottolog. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. 
  3. ^ Klaus Ullmann: Schlesien-Lexikon, 2. Band der Reihe Deutsche Landschaften im Lexikon, 3. Auflage 1982, Adam Kraft Verlag GmbH & Co. KG Mannheim, pp. 260–262.
  4. ^ a b Ludwig Erich Schmitt (Hrsg.): Germanische Dialektologie. Franz Steiner, Wiesbaden 1968
  5. ^ Alois Kreller: Wortgeographie des Schönhengster Landes. Kraus, Nendeln 1939, 1979 Kraus, vol. 3, p. 3

External links[edit]