Sorbs & Wends
The Sorbs/Wends belong to the Slavic tribes that settled in the Spreewald in the 6th century and are still inseparably linked with the region today. For many holidaymakers, this is first reflected in the bilingual signage, as the Slavic language has survived in the region to this day. About 60,000 people of Sorbian origin still live in the Spreewald today, some of whom still speak the Sorbian language.
In addition, there are numerous testimonies to early settlement, such as the Slavic castle ramparts that run through the region. The striking Wendish settlements also make the Spreewald unique, as the traditional half-timbered architecture with single-storey houses and rectangular windows has become a real trademark of the Spreewald.
The History of the Sorbs, Wends & Slavs in the Spree Forest
The name "Sorbs" is borrowed from the Slavic word "Serby" and refers to one of the approximately 20 Slavic tribes that settled in the Spreewald. The term "Wends" dates back to Roman times and has survived into modern times, encompassing all Slavic tribes. Both terms are used synonymously today.
The rule of the Sorbs over the Wends was broken in the 10th century by Boleslaw I, Duke of Poland. Since the Sorbs did not succeed in founding their own state after their immigration, they were incorporated into the German Empire over the centuries. Around 1200, German farmers, merchants and craftsmen then settled in the region and mixed with the Slavic tribe of Sorbs. Many Slavs moved together to Lusatia, where you can still strongly experience the influence of the Sorbs today.
Today's Sorbs in the Spreewald
At the beginning of the 18th century, German-speaking teachers were increasingly employed at the schools, so that the Sorbian language was increasingly pushed back. Currently, 60,000 Sorbs still live in Lusatia, only a few of whom still speak their Sorbian mother tongue. Only the older generations still cultivate the language at Sorbiancustoms and events in the Spreewald.
With the growing awareness of tradition, the Sorbian language is being reintroduced as an optional subject at schools.