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Some Observations about Researching the Wends

by Bill Biar

Friday 18 November 2011 at 11:33 pm.

It is a pity that so much of the history written about the borderland between Slavs and Germans is steeped in bias and prejudice.  There were no early Slavic historians.

Much of the early history of the Slavs was written by Germanic writers.  Since Germany was not a  homogenous nation, the early writers represented Germanic tribes and cultures, such as, Franks and Saxons.  Many were clergymen and their records, written in Latin, represent the church's point of view.  During the Germanic “surge toward the east” (Drang nach Osten), church and state worked together, thus generally a  pro-German stance was given to many historical events.  When Slavic historians appeared on the scene, they were pro-Slavic, while Germans continued to be pro-German.  Often objectivity was not observed by either side.  It is not unusual to find completely opposite views on identical events.  Most English historians portrayed a pro-German stance until World War I and pro-Slavic after that.  Since World War II some German historians have been much more objective, but Slavic writers continue to be pro-Slavic.

At times research is quite difficult because of all the distortion.  This writer feels that early Slavic and Germanic people were not all that nationalistic, since they lived in tribal and cultural isolation.  One tribe often engaged in warfare with a near-by tribe.  Sometimes a Slavic tribe joined the Franks or Saxons to fight against another Slavic tribe.  There  were numerous bribes and betrayals.  Most tribes appear to have been interested mainly in their own survival.  Later on, even during the German colonization of Slavic lands in the east, it appears that the movement was more economic than nationalistic.  This, however, does not excuse the exploitation of the poor Sorbian, as well as, German peasants, by the German nobility.  During much of the tribal warfare, German tribes were much more prone to unite than the Slavic ones.  When the chips were down, the failure of Slavic tribes in Germany to unite, made them vulnerable to attack, as tribe after tribe was subjugated and assimilated.

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