Talk:Baltic Germans

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Prior discussion[edit]

What does Gustavus have to do with the Baltic German? Was the university only open to Germans? Rmhermen 14:02 Aug 23, 2002 (PDT)

To User:Rmhermen Gustavus Adolphus and other Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Luxemburg, Italian, Spanish etc rulers pledged allegiance to emperor, were part of and ruled part of the Holy Roman Empire as duke, prince, or Prince-Bishop etc). Gustav Adolph very much was seen by Protestants as savior, because by then the Catholic "Spanish" Habsburg emperors and their supporters geared up for Counter- or Anti - Reformation, leading into the 1618-48 Thirty Year War, with the many turmoils actually starting long before that. user:H.J.

Still doesn't tell me why a university formed by Gustavus should be mentioned in the Baltic German article. Rmhermen 07:04 Aug 24, 2002 (PDT)

Again, user:H.J. knows a lot of facts, and is partially right, but doesn't get the whole picture. The Baltic Germans were Germans who settled in the Baltic area very early, many for trade. This was not difficult in the period when the Teutonic Order ran the place -- and please let's remember that officially, the TO reported to the pope, not the Emperor. And please let's remember that the Emperor often did little more than rubber stamp whoever ruled an area -- it's not always what it appears. JHK

I substantially rewrote this article, which implied mostly additions rather than revisions; I also sorted out the nomenclature. This is important for related entries referring to Estonia, such as University of Tartu and many scientists associated with it, but it's almost like a big stub and could use a lot of editing, addition, nuances, etc. Clossius 16:09, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I made some minor tweaks to your text, including changing [[Imperial Germans]] to [[Imperial Germany|Imperial Germans]], which of course can be changed back in case we really find it worth to write an article on Imperial Germans. I wonder however over your removal of the reference to Olof Palme, whom I guess is more well known than the two prominent Balt Germans you inserted there instead. Anyhow, great work!
--Ruhrjung 16:33, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Many thanks for any improving changes. I think in the end there should be a small entry for Imperial Germans, in the specific sense of Germans from the Empire as classified by Germans from regions outside it. I'm not sure about the "Imperial Germany" link, because that refers only to the 1871-1918 Kaiserreich, whereas reichsdeutsch is also used for times before and after that. As regards Palme, I think there are many more people with Baltic German lineage; the reference seemed more incidental than anything else. The two scientists were there already, and I only retained them for later expansion - they are of course not the most famous Baltic German ones at all, and some other ones, such as Karl Ernst von Baer, are already here on wikipedia.

That's my problem with the English term "Imperial Germans." I think it poorly covers Reichsdeutsche. Maybe Continental Germans could work? I don't know!

Alas, no; "Imperial Germans", especially since the last decade, is in fact used in the English-language historical literature about the Baltics, the University of Dorpat (where Imperial vs. Baltic Germans was the main conflict among the professoriate), etc. Thus, it clearly is the standard term (and one would search for in an encyclopedia if unfamiliar with it).
I see. I made the Wikipedia:Google Test and found it being more used referring to Imperial Germany, but now it turns out that an article on Imperial Germans is needed.--Ruhrjung 17:56, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
Okay, that can be done very briefly. Clossius
Just did; this is just a stub and can be much improved, but at least it's not circular anymore. Clossius 18:29, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

I am, by the way, impressed by your work. I took a look at your other contributions, and remain impressed!

Many thanks; that probably means I spend too much time here! :-)

Regarding Palme: yes, incidential, seen from Balticum, but maybe not seen from the perspective of international politics.
--Ruhrjung 17:24, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)

You can certainly restore it, if you want, but I think many eminent persons have some sort of Baltic German descent, and I don't think Palme is in the end that big, even internationally, to qualify for a single link. Clossius 17:35, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
(My impression is that he is "bigger" internationally – than in Scandinavia.)
But no, I'm not particularly keen.--Ruhrjung 17:56, 14 Mar 2004 (UTC)
That may well be so. I'm sorry I deleted him, I didn't see he was an addition on purpose, I thought it was something of a loose end. As a matter of fact, I hadn't even looked at the history of the article, because it seemed so mangled and in need of revision. I only now discovered that there were all kinds of political fights over it also. If I would have known that, I might have actually let it alone entirely.
That is what I consider a serious problem for and with Wikipedia. That the most serious contributors leave the lesser serious to make wikipedia into a war zone.--Ruhrjung 11:08, 16 Mar 2004 (UTC)
You are so right with your last remark. Just see the latest back-and forth on whether the ethnic Germans were a minority in the Baltics or not.Cosal (talk) 15:05, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
Instead of taking this as a war zone and adjusting the text by constructing misleading statements by using WP:Words to avoid, such as "despite" etc, I’d suggest providing refs from published sources and put the minority issue of Baltic Germans into context that would make sense. Thanks!--Termer (talk) 18:12, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

The last change is clearly completely wrong; native Prussians as defined here (i.e., not Prussians in the general sense) have nothing whatsoever to do with Baltic Germans, nor, dare I say, would they ever have been in any relevant discourse or literature. This should be removed, because it is really false. Clossius 19:25, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)

I think that was more confusing writing than deliberate misinformation, so I changed it to what I think was intended. — Jor (Talk) 19:33, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)
This way, it is certainly more correct, although still not completely so, and I don't think in the relevant literature, there is much lumping-together of the two, so I changed the qualifier from "usually" to "occasionally". Clossius 20:40, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)
Thanks. It certainly looks better now. — Jor (Talk) 20:43, 3 Apr 2004 (UTC)

1 question[edit]

"The German-language University of Dorpat, the only one in the Baltic region for centuries, was the intellectual focus of the Baltic Germans..."

You wanted to state that it was the only German-language university in the Baltic region?--Vytautas 09:26, 2004 Jun 6 (UTC)

Both that and the only University at all in the Baltic region - the first other universities in that region are early 20th century foundations, usually former polytechnics. In the Baltic Sea region, of course there were many more and some earlier ones, such as Uppsala, Rostock, etc. Clossius


Why prussian german are not counted as Baltic-german?

There is a difference between the Old Prussians (natives) and the Prussians in the modern sense, but neither of them are Baltic German, as they simply lived in a different area. Clossius

As i understand only germans that lived, in what is today Latvia and Estonia, counts as Baltic-germans, am i right?

Yes, you are. Lithuania was not considered Baltic for a long time (until into the 20th Century), and it was certainly outside of any Baltic German sphere. "Baltic" in that sense were only the Russian provinces of Estonia, Livonia, and Couronia. Clossius 11:12, 8 Jun 2004 (UTC)

A small change, and suggested changes...[edit]

I changed the sentence saying that the Baltic Germans were impoverished after Estonian and Latvian independence; at least in Latvia, they were the wealthiest ethnic group and extremely organized politically (with the highest per capita representation in the parliament, for example). Also, I tried to underscore the extent of their cultural autonomy -- highly educated, they had their own school system prior to 1934 (even including a higher education institution, the Herder Institute). The school board basically ran their cultural projects for a time. In Estonia, their cultural autonomy was even more extensive. Their designs on Latvia after WWI, e.g. support for Niedra's puppet government and the Bermondt-Avalov episode (for which reason Latvia actually declared war on Germany on November 15, 1919), should be mentioned. Their departure should also be detailed (the agreement between the Latvian and German governments, for example) -- as should the fact that the main Baltic German organization was taken over by local Nazis in the late 1930s (Nazism was rather widespread, especially in the younger generation). A good source is Pēteris Cedriņš 12:21, 26 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Baltic Germans vs. Baltic German nobility[edit]

Just as an observation, the article, as of now, really reads more like "the history of Baltic German nobility", and not "Baltic Germans as an ethnic group". Despite a popular misconception, which the article also seems to reinforce, the two (Baltic Germans and Baltic nobility) were nowhere near to being identical phenomena. In fact, throughout most of the history of the Baltic Germans (and the German-speaking population in the Baltic area) the majority of them did not belong to aristocracy, but were merchants, craftsmen, clergimen, soldiers and other laypeople. --3 Löwi 15:53, 29 October 2005 (UTC)

Good point, but better if it were integrated into the article! :-) The emphasis on the nobility may be correct in a history of the Russian provinces etc., but not when discussing the ethnic group, which is what this article is about. Clossius 16:55, 30 October 2005 (UTC)

Article name[edit]

Should this article be at Baltic Germans instead? Carpathian Germans, Danube Swabians, and Transylvanian Saxons are at the plural ending. OTOH, Ethnic German, German-Brazilian and Volga German are at the singular ending. Olessi 20:34, 30 December 2005 (UTC)

Good observation! The inconsistency probably irises from the fact that, in English, words ending with -ish or -ese are used in all these meanings, and so people or language have to be added. But an ethnic group name ending with -an in the singular will most often redirect to a disambiguation or to a language or dialect whereas the plural is more likely to redirect to a group of people. I would prefer seeing the plural form in the title, since the content of the article will invariably still use the plural of the noun (if not a derived adjective). But maybe it's nitpicking, really... ;] /Big Adamsky 21:03, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
Even better: "German Balts" should be used as they call themselves (Deutsch-Balten). Likedeeler 19:38, 15 December 2006 (UTC)
Not a good idea, since the English language follows a different logic than German. If you say "German Balts", an average English-speaking person will think of people of Baltic origin living in Germany. "German-speaking Balts", on the other hand, would be a possibility. Monegasque 23:43, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

New Assessment Criteria for Ethnic Groups articles[edit]


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I assume their presence today is really tiny but it would be interesting to make a mention of their numbers and places where there may be still communities nowadays. It would also be interesting to note -if true- whether there were certain areas of present day Germany with a remarkable higher Baltic Deutsch population as a result of a coordinated migration. Mountolive | Talk 07:04, 13 March 2007 (UTC)


I added {{Unreferenced}} tag to the article, as quite a lot of it seems to be unreferenced - and some possibly original research. There are no references at all and external links don't seem to cover all the claims in this article. Feel free to remove the tag, if you think that it is unwarranted. DLX 08:28, 4 June 2007 (UTC)

I've added the only ref to the article Henry of Livonia and removed the tag since the article felt more or less OK back then after I made a pass on it. But since it has done no good and someone keeps using the Wikipedia:Words to avoid by inserting misleading statements... I have to re-tag the article and later when time permits start reworking it again by using published sources only. --Termer 08:43, 15 November 2007 (UTC)

dear Termer, you are demanding citations for "these claims" that refer to the migration of Germans into the Baltics and to their numerical minority status. Why do you consider these mere "claims"? What is unsubstantiated about these facts and would require specific citations? The text states that the immigration began with the Northern Crusades; look them up. And as to the "minority" status, are you trying to imply that there were at any time more ethnic Germans there than Estonians and Latvians etc.? Cosal (talk) 19:32, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Minority status of Baltic Germans[edit]

The term "minority status" refers to a certain legal rights minorities have in the modern EU. At the time back then The Baltic Germans were minority exactly as much the British colonists were in India later on. Therefore the talk about minority is misleading. The article claims that the Germans started to settle in the region before the Northern Crusades. There is no evidence for any German settlements in the region before the crusades, instead the German merchants were trading in the area but never settled. The security of these traders was one of the reasons the crusades started in the first place. so only after the local people were subjugated, the German settlers, read colonists followed. The reason the citation tags are there is due to someone keeps edit warring by adding such claims to the article. Since removal of those claims has not helped, I've tagged it. In case clear references are not provided within reasonable time frame, these statements are going to be removed again. Thanks!--Termer (talk) 20:16, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

PS.Once I’m on it, there are other considerable inaccuracies in the article. Such as during the Swedish era the Baltic Germans lost most of the privileges including their estates that became Swedish state properties. Also the Swedish Law protected the native peasants. After the Northern War in 1721 Baltic Germans got all what was lost during the Swedish era back and more. The peasants fell into complete serfdom without any basic rights. That was the reason the majority of Baltic Germans always supported the Russian Empire. So basically, the so called minority ruled the territories backed up by the arms of the Teutonic order until the Livonian war and from the Great Northern war the arms of the Russian empire did the job.

Finally there was a split between Germans during the Enlightenment era where some started to advocate for the rights of the native peoples. And finally the lost Landeswehr war that ended the Baltic German rule in Estonia-Livonia for good that was enforced with the land reforms by the Republic of Estonia and Latvia later on by redistributing the Baltic German estates that ended the 700 years of colonization of the lands. Basically it's the same story like the British in India or the French in Africa etc. just that in a different time frame. So, the point is the article needs some adjustments and it's going to be done ASAP according to published sources, instead of an essay like article that doesn’t cite any direct refs like it is written now. That is the reason the article bookmarked with the general ref tag at the moment.--Termer (talk) 21:38, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

Dear Termer, I agree that the article contains much that is inaccurate, biased or simply wrong. My points are only about (a) the arrival of Germans and (b) their numerical minority. As to their arrival in the second half of the 12th Century, take a look at History of Riga, for example. And as to minority -- I don't believe the article claims or insinuates that these ethic Germans had "legal minority" status; it says that there were a minority, and that can hardly be disputed (although, as the article and you agree, this minority lorded over the majority.Cosal (talk) 21:47, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

There is a difference between (a) In the year 1158, some merchants and seamen of Bremen were thrown, out of their course by a storm, while on their way to Wisby to the gulf of Dwina and established a trading outpost on a little island... that is the fact andGerman people started arriving in the Baltic territories just before Northern Crusades...
(b)There is a difference between ...despite always remaining a minority ethnic group... and being an effective oppressor of the lands and the majority of the native peoples with the help of military force provided by the Teutonic Order and Russian empire. Feel free to adjust the text. However, all my attempts have failed so far as someone keeps adjusting it by making the statements misleading. Thanks!--Termer (talk) 22:03, 11 December 2007 (UTC)

OK Cosal, since you unfortunately didn't get it what the citation tags were all about, the only way to get rid of these is either by removing the text or providing direct citations from published sources. Thanks!--Termer (talk) 01:22, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

Well, Termer, just what is it that I don’t get with regard to the arrival of ethnic Germans in the Baltics around the turn from the 12th to the 13th century or their being a numerical minority there? In History of Riga you find this: “The modern founding of Riga is regarded by historians to have begun with the arrival in Latvia of German traders, mercenaries and religious crusaders in the second half of the 12th century, attracted by a sparsely populated region, potential new markets and by the missionary opportunities to convert the local population to Christianity. German merchants established an outpost for trading with the Balts near the Liv settlement at Riga in 1158. The Augustinian monk Meinhard built a monastery there ca. 1190.”

And in the German WIKI article on Riga you find a detailed table on the linguistic composition of the city’s population from 1867 onward. Baltic-Germans were primarily present in the towns and cities and as landowners in the rural areas. Riga had the largest concentration of ethnic Germans in the Baltics, and yet they were a numerical minority among the others.

„Die Zusammensetzung der Rigaer Einwohner nach ihrer Mutter- bzw. Umgangssprache ergibt sich aus nachstehender Tabelle für die Jahre 1867 bis 1913[1]

Sprache 1867 1881 1897 1913
deutsch 43.980 (42,9%) 66.775 (39,4%)  65.332 (25,5%)  78.656 (16,7%)
lettisch 24.199 (23,6%) 49.974 (29,5%) 106.541 (41,6%) 187.135 (39,6%)
russisch 25.772 (25,1%) 31.976 (18,9%)  43.338 (16,9%)  99.985 (21,2%)
jiddisch  5.254 ( 5,1%) 14.222 ( 8,4%) 16.521 ( 6,5%) 21.231 ( 4,5%)
estnisch    872 ( 0,9%)  1.565 ( 0,9%)  3.532 ( 1,4%)  6.721 ( 1,4%)
polnisch    ...    ... 12.869 ( 5,0%) 35.621 ( 7,5%)
litauisch    ...    ...  5.853 ( 2,3%) 25.824 ( 5,5%)
sonstige*  2.513 ( 2,4%)  4.048 ( 2,4%)  1.772 ( 0,7%) 16.895 ( 3,6%)
ohne Angabe    ...    769 ( 0,5%)    130 ( 0,1%)    ...
Gesamt 102.590 (100%) 169.329 (100%) 255.879 (100%) 472.068 (100%)

*Die Angabe für 1881 enthält hier auch die polnisch und litauisch sprechenden Einwohner

1. ↑ Rīga 1860-1917, Rīga, Zinātne 1978

I made no other claims but that these two facts are facts. Cosal (talk) 21:37, 12 December 2007 (UTC) s

Please read the article. It says Baltic Germans quickly came to control all the administrations of government, politics, economics, education and culture...despite always remaining a minority ethnic group in the Baltics. There is nothing about "numeric minority" there but just a misleading claim. As the fact is Baltic Germans quickly came to control all the administrations of government, politics, economics, education and culture after military conquest and colonization of the lands was completed by the Teutonic Order cooperating with Danish crusaders led by Valdemar II.

The first time the Baltic Germans became "a minority ethnic group in the Baltics" was after the Baltic republics were established and the Germans were granted cultural autonomy according to ethnic minority laws. And the table you provided shows that Germans were "numeric majority" in Riga at least up to the year 1881 contrary to the claimed "numeric minority". Its only in 1897 when the Germans became so called numeric minority in Riga. And thats the time when they started to loose the influence as well due to the Russification policies of the Russian Empire. -the administrations of government, politics, economics, education etc., German was replaced with Russian language at that time. --Termer (talk) 23:33, 12 December 2007 (UTC)

First, I had changed that sentence you keep citing to "numerical minority", but you changed it back. Second, being a numerical minority is not at all contradictory to being in control of pretty much everything; world history is full of examples of minorities (ethnic or otherwise) lording over others. Most of Africa during the colonial times comes to mind, for instance, or South America during the rule of the Spanish and Portuguese. As you said earlier: "At the time back then The Baltic Germans were minority exactly as much the British colonists were in India later on." Indeed, they were -- a minority and in control. Third, you don't seem to have much of a clue about just how many ethnic Germans there were in the Baltics; these were not millions but a few hundred thousand. Fourth, your definition of "majority" is astonishing; it's the first time I see anybody claim that less than 50 percent constitutes a majority. Fifth, what do EU legal norms on "minority status" have to do with any of this? I could go on, but you seem to prefer lecturing over discussing. Cosal (talk) 00:56, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

OK, since we're not communicating at all, as you like, we go back to the beginning and make it simple, just follow the WP rules. please provide direct citations from published sources that speak of the "despite", "numeric minority" etc. to the claims in the article or please remove the text. I'll do that anyway in case the citations are not provided in a reasonable time frame. It's time to make this article factual, encyclopedic without any "despite"-s (Please see WP:Words to avoid) etc. personal commentary added to it.
Regarding the Germans being the majority in Riga up to the end of the 19th cen. It says so, 42,9%. The next nationality Russians was just 23,6%. Considering that the political power of Germans was backed up by the Russians and the Russian empire until Russification era, that explains the control all the administrations of government, politics, economics, education and culture by the Germans, not any "despite being an ethnic or numeric minority". Nobody ever calls the major ethnic group in a place a numeric minority anyway. And thats what the Germans in Riga were, the largest ethnic group in the city...--Termer (talk) 02:00, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

The Baltic Germans may have been the majority ethnic group in the CITIES of Riga, Tallinn and perhaps Tartu, however everywhere else, especially across the rural areas, villages and small towns, ethnic Estonians and Latvians were the vast majority. Amorfati00 (talk) 15:07, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

So, what's the point? When needed, this "vast majority" became quickly unarmed minority against the military forces whoever was the ruler at cities, either Teutonic Order or the regular army of the Russian empire. Mahtra War on WP is just one of the examples of what this "majority-minority" thing was all about. So is the text in the article suppose to say that:they quickly came to control all the administrations of government, politics, economics, education and culture thanks to the military support of Teutonic Order and later Russian Empire? --Termer (talk) 08:47, 17 December 2007 (UTC)
I agree with Amorfati00. For security reasons the Baltic Germans were the majority in their cities while the other populations lived in the rural areas.--BurtReed (talk) 17:09, 18 April 2008 (UTC)

Forgive me if I butt in here, I just stumbled across this article while doing some family research - very interesting discussion! I am of Estonian-German origin myself but unfortunately know next to nothing about the history, I am shocked to find just how few Baltic Germans there were! I am in the early stages of a little private research project, maybe I can dig up some facts that I can contribute here eventually. Regarding the minority discussion - I am not sure that the comparison between German colonialism in Eastern Europe and the British in India is entirely fitting, or at least it may hold for the East India Company period but surely not the colonial period proper. Also, my impression is (which may be wrong) that most British in India retained much closer ties with Britain than the Baltic Germans did with Germany, perhaps purely for the reason that the climate generally did not agree much with their northern constitution. I think a more fitting comparison might be the Chinese in Malaysia - or the situation in Singapore, whose population is constituted of an ethnic mix of Chinese, British, Indians (Tamil, I believe), and Malaysians, with the Malaysians, who are the original inhabitants of the area, forming the bottom of the heap socially, while the Chinese seem to provide the intellectual and administrative class - and the British used to have the political power while Singapore was their colony. Another comparative situation to look at might be contemporary New Zealand - here, the immigrant colonial class is definitely the numerical majority, but they identify themselves by and large as New Zealanders rather than British. I know that my mother's family identified with Russian culture more than German (my grandparents spoke Russian with each other, but raised their children speaking German) - and if I remember correctly, some of my ancestors were among the Germans who volunteered to fight to protect Estonia's independence after 1917. I have no idea what views they held about the Nazis, but the family was resettled in 1939, spent the war years near Torun in Poland, and eventually ended up in Berlin. An aunt (my mother's sister) migrated to Canada, but I think that was later than the large group that is referred to in the article, sometime in the early 1960s. There seems to be a group of Baltic Germans where she lives in Toronto though, which she keeps in touch with. Other members of my family have ended up in Los Angeles, Portugal (via the United States) and Venezuela (and myself in New Zealand, just recently). My mother is the only member of that family who stayed in Germany. I wonder if anyone has any more information about other groups of Baltic Germans in other parts of the world? My mother's maiden name is Schnickwald, btw. -- thanks for the help! website for contact —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:10, 29 August 2008 (UTC)

Lithuanian Germans[edit]

What do we do about the historic Lithuanian German minority? They are not generally considered "Baltic Germans" in the German-speaking world, but on the other hand, they shared many of the same experiences during WWII (including Umsieldung). Should a brief note be added to this article about the different status of the Lithuanian German minority. After all, most English-speakers assume "Baltic" means "Baltic" (EE, LV, LT) or, perhaps, "Baltic" (LV, LT, Old Prussian, etc.). —Zalktis (talk) 15:30, 17 October 2008 (UTC)

Baltic German surnames?[edit]

Does anyone have any information on surnames among Baltic Germans besides what's already in the article? I'm wondering why/how Alfred Rosenberg had the last name he did but apparently wasn't Jewish. Historian932 (talk) 03:22, 18 August 2012 (UTC)

The article Rosenberg (surname) may answer your question. --Nug (talk) 19:45, 20 August 2012 (UTC)

Rüdiger von der Goltz is not Baltic-German!

Germanic Dutch[edit]

In the chapter on ethnic composition, what is meant by the term Germanic Dutch?

Rsmelt (talk) 19:57, 16 May 2016 (UTC)

  1. ^ Rīga 1860-1917, Rīga, Zinātne 1978