Sorbs – A Struggling Minority Then and Now

  • November 22, 2017      Friendly Borders Staff

Berlin – Germany has lands that stretch widely with beautiful landscapes and historical sites. Amidst the grandeur of these natural wonders, there is a community that many have yet to fully understand. They are called the Sorbs–the ethnic minority of the country.

The Sorbs are divided into two major groups based on their locations that do not share a similar language or set of customs. Nevertheless, they remain connected as survivors of various acts against their communities. Their connection is evident in their resistance to assimilation dating back to the Middle Ages.

Persecution and Survival

The Sorb communities experienced persecution and even forced assimilation in the past, but they survived and continued their cultural activities and traditions. However, despite their efforts, the Sorbs remain a struggling minority in the region to this day. Even though they have been living around the banks of the Elbe and Spree Rivers for thousands of years, the Sorb people fought their way past various ethnic troubles and gradually survived together.

The Sorb survived even the Nazis, who tried to make the Sorbs more of an Aryan community. Their members experienced having their schools closed down, their churches locked, and even their own native language banned. Through all these changes, the Sorbs showed tenacity in making sure that their members worked together to preserve their traditions. Some even call the minority’s survival as a miracle.

Thus, even though the Sorbs have been surrounded by the Germans all their lives, they have managed to keep their beliefs, customs, and identity intact. They have successfully passed on their language, practices, and even literature to the next generation of Sorbs who they believe will keep the community alive.

Cause of Worry

Despite being a small yet determined group of people, the Sorbs still face struggles daily. This time, it is no longer caused by assimilation and persecution, but more of a financial challenge.

In recent times, unemployment has driven Sorbs to move far away from home. The Sorbs are now becoming one of the many minorities forced to spread across various regions for survival. This has affected not only their numbers but also the continuity of their traditions and their language.

The Sorbs are apprehensive that their young members will forget about their language and history. As those who seek financial stability in other regions or countries continue to live far from home, they may eventually forget about their own language because they need to use a foreign one to communicate. These Sorbs will also settle down in different communities, build their own lives, and may practice their own sets of traditions that may be passed on to the coming generations. This is a valid concern that must be addressed by the German government to help not just the Sorbs but other ethnic minorities who are faced with similar troubles.

Image from splintered, https://www.flickr.com/photos/splintered-arts/