October 11, 2013

Von Borskolitz among the Gefalkendorflers, or how Slavic is eastern Germany?

Over at West Hunter, Greg Cochran asks about present-day populations that more or less replaced an earlier one genetically and linguistically, in contrast to those who adopted the language of the conquered or whose small gene pool melted into the surroundings. My comments are copy-and-pasted below, since they're part of my ongoing look at the split between German speakers in the hilly/mountain regions vs. those of the Great European Plain.

East Germany. Not too many Slavs left in the former stomping grounds of the Wends. The (Ostro)Goths had been in parts of eastern Europe before, but didn’t really hang around long. Northeastern Europe was settled more by Balto-Slavic peoples. Then a series of raids, crusades, and settlements (Ostsiedlung) gradually stripped the land away in favor of Germanics.

There’s always been a minority of Slavic folks and their language in eastern Germany, but the cultural and AFAIK genetic Germanicization of that area is a fait accompli. The Balts managed to get back their territory from what used to be eastern Prussia, and the Slavs managed to take back Silesia in central Europe, but that’s it. Berlin and Leipzig aren’t going back any time soon.

Berlin — Slavic berl- (“swamp”) + -in

Leipzig — Slavic Lipsk (“linden tree settlement”)

Dresden — Slavic Drežďany (“people of the forest”)

Potsdam — Slavic Poztupimi (“beneath the oaks”?)

Chemnitz — Slavic Kamjenica (“stony brook”)

Lübeck — Slavic Liubice (“lovely”)

Rostock — Slavic Roztoc (“broadening of the river”)

Cottbus — Slavic Chotebud (Sorbian personal name)

Also, German surnames ending in “-itz” bear the Slavic suffix seen in “-ic” / “-ich” / etc. — von Clausewitz, Nimitz, and so on.

Although the eastern Germans don’t seem to be very linguistically or genetically Slavic, they do have that whole dark, brooding Sturm und Drang mindset that is more (Balto-)Slavic than Germanic. Admittedly, Nords are somewhat that way, but more in a resigned suicidal way — not in a resentful, revenge fantasy way like the narrator of Notes from Underground.

Those East German place names sound about as Germanic as Massachusetts and Minnesota sound English. Yet unless we read into the history, we don’t stop and think, Gee, those city names sure don’t sound like Krauttenhammer, Neumannerfetting, Gedorfenbacher, Schlausbund, or whatever our naive ears would have expected. Sometimes it’s hard to see what’s right under our noses.


  1. The stereotypical Prussian personality is really, really different from the stereotypical Slavic one. Slavs aren't regimented or rules-bound. They're less serious, less formal, warmer than any kind of Germanics.

    On the one hand there are lots of historical connections, some of which you've mentioned. On the other hand there is a serious difference in national characters, almost as serious as the one between Germanics and Mediterraneans.

    The classic treatment of this difference is the novel "Oblomov" by Ivan Goncharov.

    By the way, the last name Nimitz means "German" in Slavic languages. The original meaning of that word is "mute". People who don't speak your language are as good as mute to you. Why did Slavs end up applying it to Germans only, as opposed to all foreigners? No idea.

  2. I haven't seen any studies of regional genetic variation among Germans. Or maybe I did and just forgot.

  3. Slavs aren't regimented or rules-bound. They're less serious, less formal, warmer than any kind of Germanics.

    Some of the warmth and humanity the Slavs have seems to be due a general cynicism and world weariness applied to authority and regulations, that prevents them from taking them too seriously and becoming infected with The German Seriousness and technical perfectionism.

    Cynicism and world weariness have bad consequences as well - they can enable authoritarianism as much as batten against it, since cynical attitudes can lead to a "Why bother?" attitude to the leadership and government and cynicism about the general community can also empower the state.

    Perhaps you get the German Seriousness and earnestness is when half your cultural memes are pushing you towards more bleak Slavic cynicism and depressive realism and half are pushing you towards the more cheerful strain of British Isles (Celtic?) skepticism and irreverence. Possibly I'm being culturally ignorant but it does seem that both modern British and Irish and Slavs have noted surrealist comic traditions, of a slightly different ilk, more joyful and ridiculous in the British and Irish and darker and more bloodied in the Slavs. While the modern Germans (and Scandinavians) don't, so much.

    Re: the pastoralist vs farmer aspects of Northwestern and Northeastern Europeans, I wonder if some of the difference is also due to the average greater levels of Mesolithic hunter-gatherer ancestry and thereby perhaps adaptation among the Northeastern Europeans. They're higher hunter-gatherer as well as being possibly more farmer. Where there are more dissimilar traits between farmers and hunter-gatherers than farmers and pastoralists, East Europeans and East Asians should diverge more than West Europeans and East Asians (net of farmer ancestry), and the opposite for oppositely valent traits. That might help explain where East Europeans diverge from the expectation of being the European morph of the far East Asian personality type. Like they're still more like hunter-gatherers who are resigned to farming (and cynical about it) than natural born farmers whose attitudes are perfectly adapted to that way of life.

  4. Another book about the 20s has recently been published

    "Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism Year One"



  5. were Slaves originally pastoralists or farmers?


  6. First off I am reading Jean Manco new book "Ancestral Journeys" about genetics and prehistoric and early historical Europe. One of the notable haplotypes specific among Slavs do appear in East Germany. On page 232 of the book, she shows the very Slavic haplotype R1A-M458 appearing in parts of central and east Germany. This haplotype; however, does not appear in southern or nothern Germany.

    On a side note, the Prussians were Slavic pagans before they were Germanized by the Teutonic knights. They had a religion that was called Wendish. The Wendish religion revolved around a goddess name Soule. The Wendish people and Prussian pagans especially were some of Europe's last pagans. They were targets of their own crusade in 1147. And then there was the Prussian uprisings.

    This whole blogpost would have been better if you knew some European pagan history. Seriously, from Jayman bizzare ideas on the Puritans to your fascinations with internal European differences. You HBD people need to read some real western religious history.

    A good start for you would be A History of Pagan Europe written by Prudence Jones and Nigel Pennick. Also most pagan stuff is crap. I would avoid Alain Benoist, Colin Cleary, Varg Vikernes, Terence McKenna, and Isaac Bonewits. They are not bad writers, but you are not going to learn anything about European paganism from them.

  7. Great topic! The Slavic influence in Eastern Germany is a forgotten but very important episode in European early medieval history.

    My ancestors on my Grandfather's side are Wendish and yes, the Wends/Sorbs are still around in Brandenburg and Sachsen and overseas. Specifically in Ober and Nieder Lausitz (upper and lower Lusatia) as well as outposts in Texas and South Australia and eastern Victoria. I've travelled to lower Lusatia a while back.

    There is a small but valiant effort to keep their language and history alive in Germany. Bilingual road and rail signs, Sorbian language TV programs and small newspapers.

    A useful link:

    More to follow.


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