Autochthonism of the Wends or Serbo-Lusatians

This article by the Reverend Francis Domanski, S. J. first appeared in the Bulletin of the Polish Institute of Arts and Sciences in America in July 1944.

Authochthonism – the state of being aboriginal or native to a particular area.


By the Rev. Francis Domanski, S. J.

Durch die Ortsnamen, die ältesten und dauerndsten Denkmäler, erzählt eine vergangene Nation gleichsam selbst eigene Schicksale, and es jägt sick nur, ob ihre Stimme uns noch verständhch bleibt” – Topographic names reveal the history of most ancient and most lasting monuments as well as of peoples lost sight of in dawn of history; we need only to inquire whether their voice is still comprehensible. Wilhelm von Humboldt

            This significant opinion of the German linguist may be strictly adhered to in the case of the Sorbo-Lusatian or Serbo-Lausitzian people whom the Germans named “Restvolk,” remnants of a people … since they thought the nation dead and hoped that the world would soon forget about its remnants still living on the immense cemetery of Western Slavs.

            Fortunately, conscientious scholars, among them even Germans, in their philological and partly historical researches recognized the existence of Western Slavs in the basins of the Elbe and Oder rivers. The outcome of these researches furnishes an importance source of information to prove the autochtonism of the Sorbo-Lusatians. Objective truth, spoken by representative scholars of an unfriendly nation, lends formidable argumentative power to the problem in question.

            To this group of German scholars chiefly of the XVIII and XIX century, among others, belong: Burmeister, Domeier, Eccard, James Grimm and his brother William,[1] Leibnitz,[2] Jacobi, Oerlich, Pfefhnger, Tetzner.

            Their deductions concerning western Slavs, it is true, are predominantly one-sided and fallacious, nevertheless these researches in the realm of Slavonic languages furnish excellent source material proving that the Slavs are the autochtons of the Elbe and the Oder river basins.

            Pre-war anthropological, ethnological, particularly archaeological researches in Biskupin, Mogilno and Gniezno (in Poland) unearthed the historic truth about Western Slavs. They confirmed the results of nearly a century of research by Czech, Jugoslav, Lusatzian, Polish and Russian Slavists, like; Antoniewicz, Boguslawski’s, Czekanowski, Dobrowski, Hilferding, Hornik, Jegorov, Jencz, Katarga, Kętrzyński, Koczka, Kostrzewski, Lehr-Spławinski, Lelewel, Miklosich, Muka, Niederle, Niemierov, Palacky, Parczewski, Pful, Rudnicki, Smoler, Szafarzik, Strojev, Wachowski, Widajewicz, Wojciechowski and repudiated the German theory that the Western Slavs appeared as newcomers on ancient German soil (“urdeutsch”) in the basins of the Elbe, Oder and Vistula rivers in the sixth century after Christ.

            Sorbo-Lusatian autochtonism rests on solid foundations: 1-0 on the autochtonism of all European Slavs – thoroughly proven by Slavonic scholars; 2-0 on ancient Slavonic topographic names in Sorbo-Lusatia; 3-0 on ethnographic ancestral family names of the Sorbo-Lusatians of today; 4-0 on the religious ideas of ancient prehistoric Slavs of the Elbe basin; 5-0 on the outcome of researches concerning Slav languages in general and the Sorbo-Lusatzian tongue in particular; 6-0 on the prehistoric origin and the scope of Lusatzian culture.

            Since the fact is already firmly established, we shall in the course of this treatise merely touch upon the autochtonism of the Slavs. We intend to dwell more in detail on evidence of Sorbo-Lusatzian autochtonism evident in topographic and some family names.


            In this dissertation we are chiefly interested in the composite name of the country called “Sorbo-Lusatia” and in its inhabitants the “Sorbo-Lusatians.” Its compound character suggests that it is a geographic, ethnographic and historic definition. Consequently, in using the name “Sorbo-Lusatians” we have in mind the Sorbs who, under German pressure came to Lusatia from the triangle of the Sola (Saale), Mohan (Germ. Main) and Wettawa (Germ. Fulde) rivers in the IX and the X century. This definition may also be termed historic since Lusatia, or Sorbo-Lusatia of today is closely connected with the tragic history of the Transelbean Sorbs. When applied to the inhabitants of the country, the name Sorbo-Lusatians becomes an ethnographic definition since it is derived from two kin Slavonic tribes—the Sorbs and the Lusatians. The name Lusatia, used to define the country, is geographic. It began to be adopted in the X-th century. Prior to this period, the province bore the names of various tribes that dwelled therein. An example of this is ancient Milsko (now Upper Lusatia) which was inhabited by the Milzini, and Lusatia (now Lower Lusatia), the home of the Lusatians.

            What then is the correct name that should be applied to the inhabitants of Lusatia? Should it be the composite form of the name as is the case with the names Jugoslavs and Czechoslovaks, or the single name “Lusatians”? The majority of geographers and historians prefer the compound name: Sorbo-Lusatians; whereas Sorbo-Lusatian leaders and poets call the inhabitants – Sorbs, their language – Serbian and the mixed territory of today – Lusatia. Let us lend our attention to what John Arnoszt (Arnosht) Smoler has to say about his nation: “The Serbs called “Wends” (Wenden) by the Germans are a part of the great Slavonic peoples that at one time inhabited the entire province extending from the Bober to the Soła (Saale) rivers and to the Czech mountains. They bordered on the south with the Czechs and on the north with the Lutitzi. In some points the eastern borders touched on the Oder and the Warta rivers and the juncture at which the Soła empties into the Elbe. The Serbs consisted of many tribes, the most numerous among them being the Lusatians and the Milzini. Then as now, the Lusatians lived in Lower Lusatia, whereas the Milzini lived in what is now called Upper Lusatia but which at that time was known as Milczany or Milsko (Milzin).”[3] The Sorbo-Lusatian linguist and historian, J. A. Jencz, describes the ethnographic boundaries of the Sorbo-Lusatians as follows: “The Lusatians inhabited Lower Lusatia and the neighboring countries to the north as far as Berlin and on the east, they reached the Oder river. Whereas the Milzini lived south of Lower Lusatia, between the Queisse (Serb. Kwiaź) river, the Czech mountains and the Elbe river. In our days this country is called Upper Lusatia. The Sorbs, strictly speaking, lived on the left bank of the Elbe river and in the entire basin of the Queisse river, in the neighborhood of Lipsk (Leipzig), Starogrod and Zyc.”[4] (Zeitz, near Leipzig).

            According to Jencz, the Serbs were transplanted in the IX century from Transelbean soil to the present Luneburg (Drzewiany) to clear the Luneburgian forests. He bases this assertion on Mencken’s “Scriptores rerum Germaniae’ where in part 11, page 65, the author writes thus: “Carolus Magnus assumpsit etiam populum Transalbinum ad 10,000 utriustque sexus et per omnes terras distribuit, unde hodie per Teutoniam slavicae villae inveniuntur”. Charles the Great also chose about 10,000 Transelbean people of both sexes and scattered them throughout all parts of the territory; that accounts for the large number of villages in Teutonia that bear Slavonic names.[5] It is true that a large percentage of the Sorbs that dwelled in the Elbe river basin were dislodged from their native land by the Germans but this does not prove that Luneburg and Brunswick were never inhabited by Slavs. At present the historic boundary of western Slavs is scientifically established. The Transelbean Serbs lived in the triangle lying between the Upper Elbe river, the Erzgebirge (Kruszne Hory) mountains, the Soła (Saale), Wełtawra (Fulde) and upper Mohan (Main) rivers. Whereas the Lusatians dwelled on the right bank of the upper Elbe river in the west, and the Oder, Bober and Queisse rivers in the east, the Union of the Welets (Weletaben, Veletians, Wiltzi) in the north and the Czech mountains in the south.

            After establishing the boundaries of the Transelbean Sorbs and the Lusatians, let us direct our attention to the etymology of the names of these countries and of its inhabitants. Etymologically it is impossible to trace the derivation of Serbsko and of its inhabitants on the basis of ancient and more recent authors for lack of definite references. What was transmitted to us by some medieval and modern German authors is so uncertain and hazy that it appears more like the product of phantasy than historic facts.

            Jencz’s statement that the history of western Slavs is enshrouded in darkness may also be applied to the origin of the name Serbsko and Sorbs. The name of Transelbean Sorbs, according to Jordan, is derived from Slavi, that is the Slavs. “The Sorabs – writes Jordan – were also called Sorbi, Serbi, Svorbi, Sverbi, Sirbi, Svirbi, Servi.” Then citing Francelius, he continues: “We must seek for the derivation of the name Lusatia not elsewhere but in the name Sclavi that is Sorbi.”[6] According to Manlius, commentator on the works of Hoffman, the Sorbs are indebted for their name to the Sarmatians.[7]

            There is evidence of some kinship between the names Serbs and Suevi (very likely a Slavic tribe). The proximate neighborhood of the Suevi and the Serbs, the near identity of the sound of the names of these tribes (Suevi, Suavi, Sverbi, Servi, Serbi) leads to the supposition that probably the Transelbean Slavs are the Suevi Semnones distinguished by the Greek writer from the Suevi Teutoni.

            According to Kętrzyński and Kujot, the Suevi were Slavs. This opinion was formed on the basis of the chronicles of Procopius, where southern Slavs are called “Suevi” and on Caesar’s history, “De bello Gallico” which states that the lands of the Suevi extend as far as Slavonic topographic names of today, that is to the right bank of the Rhine river. Kętrzyński repudiates the German theory that the Sueves are Germans (Schwab) since most ancient sources indicate that the Suevi are autochtons.[8] However, the reports of Kętrzyński and Kujot encounter obstacles in the fact that the language of the Suevi of medieval times has nothing in common with Slavonic languages in general and with the Serbian language of the Elbe basin in particular. It is rather an old German tongue called by Scherzius – the Schwabian dialect.[9] Likewise many German linguists in presenting specimen and relics of the languages of various ancient peoples that at one time or another dwelled on the right bank of the Rhine river and in the Elbe basin, fail to present the language of the Suevi as Slavonic. There remains only one hypothesis, namely, that Ptolemy’s Semnonian Suevi differentiated by him from the Teutonic Suevi – were Slavs.[10]* * * 8 * 10

            On the strength of this hypothesis we may take for granted that the Slav language of the Suevi is the Sorbo-Lusatzian language. The fact that in remote times the Slav language was common to all the Slavs, confirms this hypothesis. Variation in dialects must have been very slight in those days since even at present, the remnants of languages of the Drzewiany, Lutitzi and Obodriti, differs little from the Sorbo-Lusatian language spoken in Luneburg. Thus, in the name of Transelbean Sorbs there is trace of etymological kinship with that of the Suevi. Probably in his description of the Slavonic tribe which he called: ‘‘Osmisjoj Ouenetaj, Souevoj Samnitaj,” whose dwelling place extended from the Elbe to the Sueve river, Ptolemy had in mind the Slavonic tribe that in medieval times was designated as Svorbi, Sverbi, Svirbi, Serbs.

            Vibius Sequester (VI cent.) in his work: “De fluminibus” mentions the Cervati, that is the Serbs. “Albis (Elbe) – he says – Suevos a Cervaus dividit.” The names Cervetii, Cervati, Ciervisti, Zerbisti, Kirvisti designate one Slavonic tribe, namely, the Serbs.[11]

            Although a thorough etymological clarification of the names Serbsko and Serbs has not yet been attained, nevertheless it is historic truth that from most remote days this country was Slavonic and its autochtonic population is of Slavonic origin and remains Slavonic to this very day. Jordan tries to prove, through reference to Nesenus, Cramer and Kunschke, that the Serbs were brought by Czechs to the banks of the Elbe river and the Lusatians to the Spree river.[12] These fantastic ramblings of German leaders and writers, by which they entangle themselves into an intricate mesh from which it is hard to extricate oneself, were aptly repudiated by Szafarzik.[13] In the latter part of the XIX century and in the period preceding the present war (World War II), German scholars endeavored to prove that the origin of the Sorbo Lusatians is German. Their bare worded boasts met with a sharp retort from such Sorbo-Lusatian scholars as: Pful, Smoler, Muka, Jencz.[14]

            The etymological derivation of the names Lausitz or (in Latin) Lusatia and Lusatians is not as difficult to as difficult to ascertain as to the names Serbsko and Serbs. The name Lusatia is derived from the nature of the country that lies between the rivers Black Halstrov (Die Schwarze Elster) on the west, Oder (wendish Vodra, that is weather, wind, in Ptolemy: Jado, Viadro, Viedro), Bober and Queisse on the east, the Veletian Union on the north, and Milsko (Upper Lusatia of today) on the south.

            Tacitus terms the Lusatians, or rather the Sorbo-Lusatians – Lygians.[15] Strabo calls them Lujans – a great people.[16] The ancient name Lygii, Luji corresponds to the Sorbo-Lusatian name: Łuhi, Łuhoyty, Łuża meaning – meadows, marshes, lowland fields; and the inhabitants of that country called Łużichenyo (Lusatians), in his book “Wo słowjanskich mestnych mjenach i wo jich wuznamje,’’ (About the Slavic topographic names and their meanings) Smoler explains the origin of the Lusatians in this manner: “The Upper and Lower Lusatians are people whom the Czechs call Serbs, but they proceed from Ługi that is meadows, marshes.”

            According to Jordan, the Lusatians hail from northern Slavs called Lutitzi.[17] Francelius derives the names Lusatia and Lusatians from the Serbian word “łuża” (marsh, moor, lake). This name, properly fitting Lower Lusatia is also used to for a part of Upper Lusatia.[18] Nesenus and Kunschke – like Jordan, derive the names Lusatia and Lusatians from Lutitzi.[19]

            There is no longer any shadow of doubt that the name Lusatia and that of its inhabitants is derived from the nature of their country, that is from “Ługi” (meadows, marshes). Similar names are encountered in Poland and Russia. There is the river Łužyca, tributary of the Prosna river, in the Kalisz district of Poland; Włodzimierz Wołyński (Vlodimir Volynski), also in Poland, is situated on the Ługa river. The Russian town of Ługa lies in the marshy regions of the Ługa river, which empties into the Gulf of Finland; the Łuża river is a tributary of the Donetz river in the Ukraine. All these topographic names derive their origin from the nature of the territory on which they are situated.

            In Local Lusatian dialects Sorbo-Lusatians are called Hajaks, Groniaks, Holans. Speaking about an Upper Lusatian, a Lower Lusatian will say: “This is a Hajak.” This expression is coined from the adverb “haj” which means – yes. Since in commonplace conversation the Sorbo-Lusatians often use the characteristic affirmative expression “haj, haj,” they are called Hajaks, Whereas Lower Lusatians are called Groniks or Groniaks from the word “gromić” which means – to speak, to say. In the Upper Lusatian dialect “to say” is expressed by the word “ryczec”- from “rykać, rzykać, recz, recz” In Polish this word means – to bellow. In the wooded regions in the vicinity of Mużakov, the Sorbo-Lusatians are also known as Holans or Holaks from the word “hola” (forest, woods); the diminutive form of this word is “holka” and when applied to persons it becomes Holak, Holk, The word “hola” in Sorbo-Lusatian dialect also designates the exclamatory word “hey!” Polish – hop, hop! The Poles call the Sorbo-Lusatians also Pushchans or Pushchaks from the word “pushcha” which means in Polish a thick, deep forest.[20] The same phenomenon of dialectic formation of ethnographic names is also encountered in Poland. For instance, name “Tajojki” (Tayoykee) from “ta joj!” is fondly applied to the Polish inhabitants of Lwów.

            As a rule, the Germans nowadays do not use the names “Sorbo- Lusatians, Lusatians,” but the ancient name of Wends (Wenden).

            According to Thompson, the word “Wend” was used (and still is) by North Germans to describe the Slavs of the Elbe and the Baltic coast, without distinction of tribe. “The name – says Thompson was derived from the Wenidi or Winidi, a formidable Slavonic tribe in the time of Charlemagne, and came to be used to indicate the Slavs much as the word waelsch (English Welsh) was employed to indicate foreigners in general, e. g., French and Italians. A modern parallel is the Boer word Uitlander (“Outlander”) in South Africa, to describe the English and Portuguese there.”[21]

            The names Wends and Wenedi, Winidi, Wenden, Vidi, etc. for Sorbo-Lusatians and all western Slavs became established in the non-Slavonic scientific world. But never did the Sorbo-Lusatians or other Slavonic peoples employ that name. This fact was demonstrated by the best Slavonic scholars and admitted by some German authors. Burmeister frankly concedes that no Slavonic peoples that dwelled between the Oder and the Elbe river ever called themselves Wends, only Serbs, Velets, Obodrites, Lutitzi, Kashubs, Poles, etc.[22]

            A question spontaneously arises as to the reason why ancient Roman and Greek as well as medieval and modern non-Slavonic authors called the Slavs – Wenden, Wends, Venedi, Vendi, Vidi, Vindi, Vinidi, Vinuli, Vidivarii. Concerning this matter there were many theories formulated in the past century and in recent days. Most curious of all are the linguistic arguments. We may say that the development of linguistics teamed with archaeological researches supplemented history, by establishing and clarifying many historic facts.[23]

            Hanusz traces the name Wenden to the Nordic word vata and the Lithuanian vandu, meaning water, and to the Latin word unda – wave, river, (In Polish, Russian, Czech, Slovak, Lusatian water means voda). The name Wenden used to designate the Slavs; it is also said to have originated from the Vangions, who owe their name to their king Vengius. He is said to have been a king of the Sarmatians. The third explanation of the meaning of the name Wenden, Hanusz derives from old German names: binden – to bind; wintan – to torment; and from ubar-winten – to conquer, to over-come, to bound. According to this explanation Wend means a conquerer and the conquered, the free and the slave.

            Miklosich leads this name out of the Sanskrit word bandh – to bind again, to bind behind. The old German binden and winten and the Sanskrit bandh correspond to the old Slavonic: witi – to bind which in turn comes from roots: ązu, otizu; ąza, onza, that is, fetters, shackles and from: ążika, onżika, that is wife, a relative. Hence come the words “mąż, mężatka” (husband, married woman). The Polish word wiązać, wić, wieńczyć – to bind, to wreathe, to crown with laurel, and the Czech venec, vencziti proceed from the same root. The Polish: zwyciężać, zwycięstwo, to win, winner, and the Czech: vitez come from the old Slavonic: witęzi, witęz (all these words designate victory). The Sorbo-Lusatian word: wićarz and wićaz means a winner.

            The name of the generally known ancient Slavonic pagan idol Sviatovit, Svetovit, in its literal meaning designates holy conqueror, holy contender. Even to this day Sorbo-Lusatians say: “Svjatovit, Svjato-Vit, holy conqueror.” Consequently, according to Hanusz and Miklosich the name Wends was given to the warring Slavonic tribes who became subjugated as a result of their constant battles with their western and northern neighbors. The name Wend, Wenden, Windi, etc. was already known to ancient Roman, Greek and Arabian writers. Pliny the Elder calls the Slavs – Venedi, Ptolemy – Ouenedaj, Enetaj and Antaj; Jordan – Ouins.[24] The mention in Icelando-Scandinavian sagas of Slavs under the name of Vani, Venetes and of their country Vindland, dates back to the Xth century. The sagas themselves or tales about Icelando-Scandinavia date from the XII-XIV centuries.[25] The information about Slavs as Wends given by Ibrahim-ibn-Jakub comes from the year 965. The Arabian text of this book “Al-Bekri” verified by the Dutch Orientalist, Goeje, contains descriptions of the Slavonic and Baltic countries and their inhabitants, which were at that time called Venedi by strangers but by natives they were called Slavs according to their tribal and clan names. Szafarzik further proves that the name Venedi, Vindi, Wenden was used only by non-Slavonic peoples, whereas the Slavs originally called themselves Serbs (Srb).[26]

            Hilferding traces the name of Wends to the Sanskrit wanitas, wantas a synonym for the name of the entire Aryan race that inhabited the region of Arjavarta. That name denotes “noble men” or well-bred people.[27] Niederle leads the name Wends from the days when the Slavs lived in contact with the Gauls – that is Celts by whom the Slavs were so called due to the light color of their hair and eyes.[28] In the Celtic language the root word vind, vend means white, fair colored. But the derivation of the name Slavs from the color of their hair and eyes cannot serve as a criterion to ascertain the origin of the name Wends. Because the Celts, particularly those that once lived in north-western Europe have hair of the same color as the Slavs. Consequently, we must seek a different criterion as a basis for the explanation of this name. It must be noted here, in passing, that there exists no scientific source to give us certainty in this matter The knowledge in the scientific world concerning the origin of ethno­graphic names in general bears the character of hypothesis, which in the majority of cases operates on probabilities.

            The aforegiven arguments concerning the origin of the name Wends afford certain linguistic comparisons that throw a little light on this difficult question. The very word Wend, Wind, vata, vandu, traced through the languages, has its very root in the Sanskrit. The name India, transferred through Persians to Greeks and through Greeks to Romans, comes from the Persian word Hindu, equivalent to the East Indian name Sindu, meaning river in general and the Indus river in particular. The Latin words unda, wave, river, water; una, dampness, liquid; and the Lithuanian vandu derive their origin from the common Sanskrit root: nadi, river, udadhi, sea; vari, water.[29] Since in prehistoric times the Slavs that came to Europe settled around rivers, lakes and seas, they might have been given the name Wends from the nature of the terrain they inhabited (water, river, sea), that is people living around water. North of Dekan land, in East India, there are the Windija mountains, cut by rivers that strongly remind us of the prehistoric names of Slavs, namely: Windi, Wendi, Wenedi, Winidi, etc.[30]

            Szafarzik derives the name of Slavs from the Hindus, called in Greek ho Indos, Indicos, he Indike; in Latin Indus, Indi, India; in Hebrew – Hondo; in Arabic – Hind; in Ethiopian – Hendu.[31] This leads us to the supposition that the origin of this name, still enveloped in historic haze, is Hindu. This name, as is evident from various linguistic combinations and from its present meaning, as it is given by Germans and Anglo-Saxons, passed through a series of historic transitions. Beginning with historic days up to our own rimes, the name Wends is synonymous with the name Slavs. According to the Arabian chronicles of Ismael Abulpheda: “Takwim al Boldan” an account of the government – “Al Mochtassar Fi Achbar, Al Basciar” – Universal History – the name Slavs comes from the Slav chief Seclaba. After dropping the vowel “e” the name was pronounced Sclaba, later Slaba, finally Slava. Such was, according to this line of reasoning, the origin of the names Slavs, Seclavi, Sclabi, Sclavi, Slavi. There are ancient, medieval and modern writers who claim that the name Slavs is derived from the Slavonic word sława (slava) that is fame, gloria. To these belong: Jornandes, Kadłubek, Kohlius, Kromer, Kulcinius, Papanek, Prohob, Skarga. According to Papanek, the word slava comes from gloria.[32] Hence the expressions: slavny wodz (famous chief, leader), slavny pan (famous lord) corresponds to the Latin: “Gloriosus dux, gloriosus dominus.” Since the idea of glory is always linked with the idea of light, majesty, certain pertinent expression came in vogue in the Polish language, like: “Jaśnie Panie” (illustrious or famous lord). Ancient and medieval Poles, Sorbo-Lusatians and Czechs gave their chiefs and the children of princely blood names like: Bogu Slav, which means glory to God; Bole Slav, growing in fame; Vraci Slav – returning, giving back fame, glory, etc.[33]

            Długosz, Heberstein, Jordan, Hajek derive the name Slav from the word slovo (word) that is from the language common to all Slavs. To this source they also trace the names: Slovacy (Slovaks), Slovency (Slavenians), Slovincy (Slovinians—now Kashubs). “There is no agreement – says Adam Mickiewicz – as to whether the name Slav comes from slava or slovo, but according to its general and most common meaning Slavanian designates the language common to all these peoples (Slavs).”[34]

            The arguments produced by non-Slavonic authors lead to the conclusion that Wend, Wenden, used by the Germans, is rather a depreciatory name for the slavs, since there is a certain amount of malice in the word meaning – which means fettered, slaves. On the other hand, the constructive meaning of Wenden, Wend (from “ubar-winten”), meaning glory, conqueror is adopted in their arguments by Slav authors. To a certain extent, this points to the fact that the words Wend and Slavs are synonymous. Amidst this uncertainty as to the origin and meaning of the names Wends, Slavs, there is one thing clear, namely that the western Slavs just like all other Slavs, especially the Sorbo-Lusatians derived their name from the characteristics of their native land and from the conditions of life forced upon them in the course of their often tragic history.

            We have seen how German pressure brought about the migration of Elbean Sorbs to the east of the Elbe river, where, together with the Lusatians they formed the Sorbo-Lusatian principality. The numerous and culturally more alert Sorbs, were instrumental in establishing in the IX and X century the name of the inhabitants of Lusatia as Sorbs, and to designate their language, consisting of several dialects, as Sorbian. The Lusatians, on the other hand, as a more numerous group left the imprint of their individuality and of their cultural supremacy over the Miltzini, by succeeding in having their name appear in the composite name Sorbo-Lusatians. The instinct of self-preservation, consciousness of common danger of extermination by the Germans led to this union, a trace of which is found in the compound name of the country and of its inhabitants. The remnant evidence of tribal differences can, however, still be detected in the dialects of Upper and Lower Lusatia and in the Sorbian language.

When did the Sorbo-Lusatians appear in the Basins of the Elbe and the Oder rivers?

            An answer to this question is to a great extent contained in the problem of autochtonism in general and partly in the aforesaid deductions concerning the origin and the meaning of the name Sorbo- Lusatia and Sorbo-Lusatians. Since the present treatise is chiefly concerned with the clarification of the problems of the Sorbo-Lusatian nation whose autochtonism is bitterly contended by the Germans, this point lends us an opportune moment to expose the false premises on which the Germans build their one-sided, imperialistic tendencies.

            The falsehood and error of German scholars repudiating the autochtonism of the Sorbo-Lusatians lies in the fact that these scholars fixed the VI century A.D. as the time for the coming of the Sorbo-Lusatians into the basin of the Oder and the Elbe rivers. Such is the opinion of the majority of German scholars but there are exceptions among them. For instance, Jordan in his work “De originibus Slavicis” (vol. I, part I, page 216-17) realizing that these deductions are illogical and in some instances contradictory (historic gap between I to VI and IX centuries A.D.) explains the matter in this fashion: “Since the authors (German) cannot state anything definite concerning the coming of the Slavs to Germany, I see no other reason for their presence here except the fact that the Slavonic peoples flooded Germany, not once but many times.”

            Honest German scholars were aware that neither Tacitus, nor Pliny the Elder, nor Caesar, nor Ptolemy, nor Herodotus knew anything more about the countries bordering on die Rhine, Elbe, Oder and Vistula rivers, than what they had learned from descriptions of merchants.[35] Careful investigation led German scholars to the conviction that the general name “Germania” is not accurate, and that the expression “totum” must be understood as “pro parte,” since only a small part of that territory (Germania and the Germans) was well known to the Greeks and Romans, whereas 75% of the region constituted for them a “terram ignotam,” which was inhabited by Slavonic peoples. Exactly about these peoples do ancient writers speak as early as the first and second century after Christ calling them Venedi, Vindi, Vidi, Ligii, Lygii, Lugani, Suevi Semnones, Suevi Diduni, Sverbi, Servi, Sclavi, Slavi.

            No wonder then that at least some German scholars could not overlook and pass in silence over these striking facts but endeavored to overthrow the arguments of their colleagues. In a foreword to Burmeister’s work on the language of the Obodrites (in reality they were the Drzewians), the German linguist J. Grimm states that the Slavs inhabited the basins of the Elbe, Oder and Danube rivers before the VI century after Christ.[36] On page 11 of his treatise, Burmeister states that the Obodrites who live along the northern Elbe basically do not differ in language and culture from the Lutitzi or the Velets and from Lusatian Sorbs.[37] Great similarity in customs, architecture, local costumes, folklore, songs, most ancient religious beliefs and fundamental similarity of language – all point to this fact. Furthermore quite evident are topographic Slavonic names in the basin of the Elbe river.[38]

            Szafarzik, one of the most outstanding Czech Slavists, points to the incongruity of the arguments of German scholars in their endeavor to explain the origin of the Slavs, to lack of logic and contradictions in their efforts to cast doubt as to the autochtonism of Slavs. These are Szafarzik’s words: “It is evident that all pre-nations, even today unmingled and self-sufficient, like the Slavs and the Germans in the prehistoric epoch of about 3000 years ago, must have been an unigenous tribe; had they (later in historic times) originated from intermingled tribes they would cease to be a pure, self-dependent pre-nation. But no sane person would dare to assert that the Slavs are not as pure a pre-nation as the Germans. Have the Celts, Latins and Greeks appeared on the stage of history as an intermixture of various tribes, as did the Wolochs who emerged out of the mixture of Gets and Romans? Such assertion would be proof of absolute ignorance of the history of ancient peoples, and of the intellectual culture of the Slavs embodied in their genuinely developed language attributes and its Slavonic character, the Slav language bears such evident characteristics of originality which is in itself an indisputable proof of its independent formation by a pre-Slavonic nation in prehistoric times.

            Some tribe might adopt a new and foreign language without losing its antiquity, as is the case with the Jadi, but they could never produce such an original, pure, grammatically perfect language, with a wealth of dialects, as is the Slav language, without a pre-ancient, self-dependent pre-nation.”[39]

            On the basis of the few remarks thus far given about the Sorbo-Lusatians we may conclude that: The Sorbo-Lusatian language with its wealth of dialects (90,000 words) bearing the same character and self-sufficiency as other Slavonic languages, must have its pre-source in the pre-historic times of the Slav pre-nation. Slav languages are as ancient as the Greek, Latin and German languages. The pre-historic remoteness of the Slav languages is the best proof of Slav autochtonism in Europe.[40]

            There is a whole series of German authors who on the basis of similarity of religious beliefs among ancient Slavs and Asiatic peoples of the Iranian Plateau and of India, try to uphold the assertion that the Sorbo-Lusatians appeared on German soil in the VI century after Christ.[41]

            This dissertation is not destined to repudiate the purposeful and at times malicious comments concerning the religious beliefs of ancient Slavs. This was attested to by Polish, Czech, Sorbo-Lusatian and Russian scholars.[42] Our attention shall be focused on tracing the lack of logic and of historic accuracy of German authors on this topic.

            Kinship between the Slavs, Medo-Persians and the peoples of Hast India can easily be established. But this is no proof that the Slavs came to Europe in the period of the migration of peoples that is in the sixth century. The dualistic religion of the Medo-Persians (element of good and evil, the spirit of light and the spirit of darkness) dated to six thousand or at least 700 years B.C. The oldest religious system of East India originated between 2,000 and 1,000 years B.C. From the existence of kinship and of occasional cases of identity of Sorbo-Lusatian religious beliefs with those of the Medo-Persians and of the Hindu, it does not follow that the ancient Sorbo-Lusatians migrated from Asia exactly at the time of the migration of nations. The excavations in Biskupin (in Poland), in Lusatia and in Stettin bear testimony that as early as 700 to 400 B.C., that is 2500 years ago, the Slavs already dwelled in the basins of the Elbe, Oder and Vistula rivers. Neither the numerous fortified outposts, nor towns, nor well established settlements could spring up suddenly. The very kinship and identity of some phases of Slavic religious ideas with those of the Medo-Persians and the Hindus points to the fact that the Slavs came to Europe at least a thousand years B.C.

            Thompson in his “Feudal Germany”[43] presents the religion of the Slavs falsely by comparing it with Manicheism or with the beliefs of the Cathari. The author cites Helmold, who detects in the beliefs of the Slavs satanism. These false outlooks were upset by the Sorbo-Lusatian scholars: Smoler, Jencz, Muka, Hornik. From the accurate and all-sided researches of these celebrated Slavists it is evident that in the religion of the Elbean Slavs especially Sorbo-Lusatians there is not the least trace of the cult of Satan, nor Manicheistic nor Catharistic ideas. The black deity in Sorbo-Lusatia Zcerneboh or Czarnyboh is not Satan but the personification and symbol of the powerful and destructive strength of nature. Again the white deity Bjelyboh or Bielboh is the source of all good especially of light and heat. The symbol of this deity is the sun which ancient and pre-historic Sorbo-Lusatians called Dazboh, which means the greatest gift of God. German chroniclers through their lack of knowledge of Slav language wrongly interpreted the names of Slavonic deities.[44]

            We shall agree with Adam Mickiewicz, that the religion of ancient Slavs is primitive, patriarchal, such as is given in the Book of Genesis. God, the enemy of God, the immortality of human soul and memory of some transgression that demands redemption are evident in the manner in which sacrifices were offered. Religion, as we know it from most ancient historians, monuments, Slav folklore and tradition proves the very remote antiquity of that nation. The threefold dogmatic beliefs in: God as Supreme Being, struggle of good with evil, and immortality of human soul differentiates the Slavs from Greek politheists, Celtic deists, believers in spirits, and the religion-less Ural tribes. This belief in dogmas regulated the basic aspects of their political and social existence. It is now generally known that a definite knowledge of the religious beliefs of a given nation is a requisite for the tracing of that nation’s formation. Religious ideas explain the essence of the life of these peoples in the past as well as their present state.

            Superficial evaluation (often based merely on the sounds of mythological words) of Slavonic mythology is responsible for erroneous conclusions that were reached by some historians. A profound, comparative study of the religions of all mankind by learned theologians of our days, revealed that many mythological beliefs of the pre-Christian era are simply a more or less deteriorated primitive faith in one God and in life beyond the grave.

Proof of Sorbo-Lusatian Autochtonism on Topographic Basis

            The names of places in the Upper Elbe basin and along the left tributaries of the Oder river constitute objective and authoritative sources of argument to prove the autochtonism of the Sorbo-Lusatians, since the name of a given place usually describes its essential characteristics, or an important circumstance, quality or property which originated the name. For instance, Bjeła Gora (White Mountain) a village in Lusatia is so named from the white hills on which it stands. Plonka, a village in the Lublin district of Poland, derives its name from wici (vitzi) or plonks that came from ancient Slav forests. In times of a threatening attack from the enemy, these “plonki” or “wici” were sent to neighboring settlements as a call to common defense.[45]

            German linguists and historians who repudiate the autochtonism of the Slavs of the Elbe, Oder and Vistula on the basis of similarity in Polish, Sorbo-Lusatian and German topographic and family names, argue that the Slavs who came later into that region, changed German names into Slavonic. These authors simply fall into their own trap since the fact is that the root of the Germanized names of families and places is not German but Slavonic. The names as they are given in German transcription not only fail to describe the nature of the place but at times express something meaningless or even ridiculous. German authors like Abel, Bender, Orlich, Oerlich, Pischon, Pott, Schelz, Schwenk, Steub, Cassel, Geisheim, Weinhold[46] – find difficulty in reading family and topographic names, found throughout the basins of the Elbe and Oder rivers, with apparently German sounds but in reality of Slavonic origin.

            Some conscientious German linguists and authors who treat matters objectively, openly admit that the Germans live on ancient Slavonic soil and that those who desire to gain a perfect knowledge of the German language must necessarily study the Polish, Czech, Sorbo-Lusatian and other ancient Slavonic languages. German linguists like Burmeister, Oerlich, Grimm, Eccard and Kirchmeier encouraged students to study those languages. Oerlich in his Latin work on Slavonic languages in the basins of the Elbe and the Oder rivers gives, according to his expression only “some” of these topo­ graphic names in Wittemberg and its environs to demonstrate the necessity of studying Slavonic languages by Germans. In Wittemberg: the villages Breda, Trebitz, Dobrun, Dobin, Bistritz, Labez (Labecy), Laez (Lecy or Lec), Dragun, Zemiennik (very likely derived from the Slavonic tribe – Ziemczyce),[47] Murzana, Klobik. Neighboring towns: Pretz, Deuben, Domitsch, Belgora, Boiza, Zehna, Seida, Jessen, Niemec, Belzig. Towns in other localities of the broad stretch of land on the right bank of the Elbe and the left bank of the Oder river and down to the Sudeten mountains: Servesta, Sorbiga, Gueterbock, Szlieba, Brena, Rochlitz, Strehla, Warzen, Lommatsch or Glomatsch from the Slavonic tribe Glomacze, Dresden (Drażdźany), Leipzig (Lipsko), Kemnitz (Kamienica), Brema, Rostock (Roztoka), Breslau (Wroclaw), Camentz (Kamieniec), Budissin, Lubec. The more important families of nobility: Miltitz (Milczyc), Hauchwitz (Gachwicz or Hachwicz), Marwitz (Marwicz), Koekritz, Cotwitz. “Then – continues Oerlich – follow generally known family names like Foyt or Voigt, Zeche, Schelm, Schok, all of Slavonic origin.” This haphazard enumeration of topographic and family names, Oerlich concludes with the remark: “And who would be able to state in detail all the countless Slavonic names?”[48]

            Mathaeus Belius (of the XIX century), a German linguist, in his book: “Institutiones linguae Germanicae” (without date or place of publication), writes thus on page 81: “Many people of Wend nation live on this seashore (Baltic Sea) together with their kings, and numerous towns, settlements and villages got their names from their native language. Whereas a much greater number of Wends was present on this seashore from about the middle of the past century (XVIII).”[49]

            The aforementioned German authors draw the attention of their countrymen to the fact that the Germanization of topographic and family names in the basins of the Elbe and the Oder rivers is quite superficial. The German conquerors of Slavonic soil contributed their orthography and pronunciation to the vanquished, but they failed not only to give essence to the names of places but also to give to the superficially Germanized Slavs the German spirit in customs and tradition; in a word they simply coated Slavonic culture with German paint.

            Concrete examples will best clarify the aforesaid remarks. In his precious book “About Slavonic names of places in Upper Lusatia and their meanings” Smoler cites instances of this surface deep Germanization of topographic and family names, effected in an artificial, naive and at time ridiculous manner. Here are some of these names: Miloraz (village in Lower Lusatia) changed by the Germans to Muellrose which literally means Garbagerose, since Muell stands for a garbage dump. A pretty Lusatian or Polish name becomes a German scarecrow. Bjela Gora (White Mountain) – a village in Lower Lusatia – becomes Byleghure which is sheer nonsense as far as the German language goes. Strożiszczo (meaning a post, watch tower) becomes Strohschuetz – protection of a straw or straw protection. Niza Wjes, meaning a village situated in a lowland, in German is rendered as Niesendorf, that is sneezer, since niesen in German means “to sneeze.” Lichan (the name of a village which in Lusatian language means poor, forlorn, miserable) was changed to Leichnam – a corpse, a dead body. Wysoka (High) – is transformed into Weissig, that is whitish, etc. This points to artificiality, naivete, and ignorance of the Sorbo-Lusatian language by the “godfathers” who changed beautiful, ancient prehistoric Slavonic names into ridiculous, nonsensical combinations of words. The cheap, shallow German recasting of Slavonic proper names transformed them into veritable monsters. From Hawsztynek (diminutive for Augustin) the Germans coined Hausding. The official ancient name for the fields of village, zagon, zahon, the Germans in their account books gave as Sauhahn, literally meaning a piggish rooster – since Sau in German means sow, and Hahn is the word for rooster. Smoler states that the XIII century saw the birth of these monstrosities. The Sorbo-Lusatians laugh at these officially published “beautiful names” while in their daily life they continue to use Slavonic names. This is true not only of Lusatia but also of Silesia, western Poland, Pomerania and East Prussia.

            On the whole, the Germanization of Slavonic topographic and family names was restricted to the addition of a German suffix to a Slavonic name. Let us take such Germanized names as Drauskowitz, Jannowitz. These names, in the purest Serbian language of Lusatia are Drużkecy (from drużk, druh – a friend), Janecy (Polish – Janecki). Whereas topographic names derived from these family names are Drużkovicy, Janovicy. (Polish Drużkowice, Janowice).

            It is evident in germanized Sorbo-Lusatian topographic names that in both of the Lusatian dialects in time “G” took the place of “H,” “D” of “DZ,” “T” of “C,” and “Ł” even as late as the XIII century was pronounced everywhere in Lusatia exactly as it is pronounced now in Lwów, Wilno and Warsaw, while at present, under the influence of Germanization it is pronounced as “W.” Let us compare such topographic names as Huska (goose) with German Gaussig; Hlina (clay) with German Gleina; Hora (mountain), with the German Guhra; Dźeżnikecy and German Denkwitz; Dźeże (a dough bowl) – German Diehsa; Hucina, and German Guttau; Necin – German Niethen; Cjemjericy, German Temmeritz; Łusk (now pronounced Wusk) – German Lauske; Łaz – German Lohsa; Luh – German Luga; Wuricy (formerly Łuricy) – German Auritz; Wopaleń (Opole) instead of former Opaleń which means scorched – German Oppeln; Boszowice, instead of Boszojce; Brodkowice, in place of Brodkojce.

            In proportion as, due to pressure, German influence on the German Sorbo-Lusatian language increased – Polish and Czech influence diminished, consequently the language adopted many abbreviations and German characteristics. There are many names in Upper Lusatian dialect ending in: ECY, ICY, ANY, OWY, AN, EN, IN, ON, UN, also in C, D, Dz, I, J, K, etc. – the same as in the Polish language. The following are some examples: From the surnames Boszecy, Jankecy (today the family of Boszow, Jankow) we have the origin of names of places like: Boszecy, Jankecy. The Germans transformed them into Baschuetz, Jenkwitz; Banecy (village in Upper Lusatia) became Pannewitz.

            The personal proper name BAN is often encountered among southern Slavs. It has the same meaning as the Polish “pan” (lord), “ksiązą” (prince), “władca” (ruler). Had the Germans at least an inkling of Serbian, Czech, Polish and Sorbo-Lusatian languages they could have named the places according to their historic derivation.

            The cited specimens constitute only a small part of superficially Germanized Lusatian names which nevertheless retained their true meaning.[50]

            The arguments stated in this sketch concerning the autochtonism of the Sorbo-Lusatians spontaneously bring forth the question why German literature is so voluminous in its treatment of the Slavs in the Oder and the Elbe river basins. What prompted German scholars to study the Slavs and how can one account for the frequently aggressive defense of their thesis? The answer to this is the fact that the Germans themselves know that at least 50 per cent of the German Reich is on land wrestled from the Slavs.[51] The memory of this truth is kept alive by erudite works of Polish, Czech, Sorbo-Lusatian, Russian and Jugoslav scholars. In the early part of the XIX century, learned Russian linguists and historians made a research expedition to the Oder and Elbe river basins at the expense of Czar Nicholas I. Professors Jegorov, Katarga, Niemierov and Strojev formed a part of the expedition. The work of reconstruction of the ancient Slavonic languages and the study of Slavonic culture around the Elbe and Oder rivers continued through the regimes of later Czars. For the same purposes worked the Polish learned Slavicists: Parczewski, Lelewel, Antoniewicz, the Bogusławski brothers, Czekanowski, Kętrzyński, Kostrzewski and many others aforecited Polish historians and linguists. In answer to this interest of Slav scholars in former Slav countries within the territory of the German Reich and to the strong pan-Slavistic contemporary movement came the feverish reaction on the part of the German world of learning. In spite of a conscious tendency (on the part of the German scholars) to obscure the Slavism that survived in the basins of the Elbe and Oder rivers with a rubbish of arguments about the “pre-Germanic” (“urdeutsch”) autochtonism of those lands, a considerable number of Germans, contrary to the general tendency of their colleagues, discovered that very Slavism, and thus rendered great service to the world of learning. This service of German scholars was particularly precious to the Poles.

            The latter part of the XIX century is replete with polemics between Slav and German scholars. True, it was only a battle in words but its influence was felt even on the eve of the First and the Second World War. After exhausting historic, prehistoric and linguistic arguments it passed into the field of “archaeology.” On the German side there appears a series of artificial concepts of political and aggressive tendencies. The numerous dissertations and works are brimful of erroneous premises, lack of logic and contradiction in their arguments.[52]

            From the learned works of Polish, Czech, Sorbo-Lusatian scholars fall calm but shattering arrows frequently based on German arguments which cannot withstand criticism. The tremendous arsenal of German evidential material became an excellent weapon in the hands of Slav scholars.

            Prior to the present war, after Hitler s rise to power, all birth records of pure Polish and Lusatian surnames in the entire territory of the Oder river basin and East Prussia were destroyed by Germans. They also did away with the Sorbo-Lusatian Ethnographic Museum in Budyszin (Bautzen) and now they are completing the work by destroying Polish and Sorbo-Lusatian libraries, cemeteries and all monuments of Slavonic culture in Poland and Lusatia. This procedure is Germany’s acknowledgement of its defeat in the field of learning and of its fear of consequences, of its uneasiness and remorse of conscience which in spite of centuries of lawlessness warns them: “Return what belongs to somebody else!” And divine and human laws insist: “Thou shalt not steal!” “Res clamat ad Dominum!”

            Characteristic expression of that fear is evident in the book of the German economist, Wilhelm Volz: “Die Ostdeutsche Wirtschaft,” Leipzig, 1930. The author warns the Germans that, due to the awakening of national consciousness of German citizens of Slav origin, there may come a moment when our grandchildren” – he says – will see the Elbe river as the eastern border of Germany. The entire German nation is aware that forty miles south of Berlin, there lives to this very day on the right bank of the Upper Elbe river the Slavonic Sorbo-Lusatian nation. In the ethnographic area of 15 counties this nation counts over 200,000 inhabitants speaking the Lusatian language and a few hundred thousand who, it is true, speak German, but they are extremely conscious of their Slavonic descent and know that their customs and culture are Slavonic. The Sorbo-Lusatians demanded liberty and at least an autonomy for themselves in 1919. But, alas, their demands were ignored. The Versailles Treaty left these Slav people to further slavery and extermination by the Germans. But this nation is unwilling to die and now pleads for consideration of its right to a life of freedom and security. This desire is expressed in an open letter of the Sorbo-Lusatian National Committee addressed to Winston Churchill written in 1943. The essence of the letter is as follows:

            “Sir! We would not dare to take the liberty of writing this letter, were our National Committee as so many others formed by emigrants under the protection of the best in the world of the Royal Airforce and of English Anti-aircraft guns.

            “Severed from the British Empire and scattered throughout occupied countries as soldiers and German functionaries, we have no means of informing British Authorities about the fate of our fatherland.

            “Let these circumstances justify our boldness in addressing this letter directly to you, as to the one who holds in his hands the destinies of the world.

            “Small, indeed, is the nation we represent, which through our medium has recourse to the Leader of the British Empire begging for the right to live under the protection of our fraternal nation – Poland. Century after century we were being pushed to the east until there was no native soil left for us. As late as three hundred years ago, our language was spoken in the whole Saxony and in southern Brandenburg, as far as river Saale, and even today the peasants of these lands have 80% Slavonic blood in their veins. The very name “Saxony” was brought to our ancient Slav country from seashore, until the fact that historic Saxony was in the environs of Hanover, became obliterated in the minds of the general public.

            “During thousand years of their beast-like government, the Germans, in spite of all, were unable to entirely eradicate our national consciousness. It is dormant in the hearts of the germanized Wend people on the left bank of the Elbe river and this consciousness is very keen in our kinsmen who live on the right bank of the river, especially in the upper and the middle course of the Spree river. These considerable concentrations of autochtonic Slav population, known in England under the name of Lower and Upper Wends, constitute the nucleus of our nation and the visible sign of its power of resistance.

            “Sir! If every nation has a right to happiness, then we certainly have earned it. Since the year 1032, that is from the time the Polish armed forces were recalled from our country, we were left forsaken by all and for 911 years withstood the ferocity of German storms. Through the course of nine centuries that preceded the coming of Hitler, we had ample occasion to become acquainted with the “modern methods” of warfare, which begin with mass executions and end in harnessing women and children to the German plough. Sir! The Germans were always the same. They only succeeded in cleverly masking their misdeeds in the eyes of Europe. They always had some “mission” ready at hand. Some they murdered in the name of Christ, others in the name of culture.

            “Nine centuries of desperate torments, and passive opposition, passed through twenty-eight generations from father to son, is ample proof of strength of which no other European nation can boast.

“Sir! we are by no means a nation of illiterates. In the short period of relative freedom, before the coming of Hitler, we created excellent literature, had our own theatre and press. The mass return to their native language of families that were Germanized a long time ago, caused much uneasiness among contemporary German authorities. We started our progress on the road to gradual de-germanization of the Wend lands on the bank of the Elbe river.

            “Today, our country is one great cemetery. Only those survived who knew how to conceal their descent. Those who write this letter live only because they are considered 100% Germans. But this is not the first time in the history of our nation that we had to become invisible. In Spring, when Polish and English soldiers will have brought us on their bayonets the liberation, we shall show the world that we are still alive, and whether we shall exist forever depends upon your will, Sir.

            “The necessary condition of our future existence is the support of our kinsmen, the Polish nation, which is so well disposed towards us. The expression of this conviction was our Memorial dated October 20, 1942 which authorized the Polish Government to carry negotiations in our name. This letter addressed with deepest respect to Your Excellency, confirms the authorization for the Polish Government to speak in the name of our Nation.”

The Sorbo-Lusatian National Committee.

[1] James Louis Grimm (1785-1863) and his brother W. Charles Grimm (1786-1859), celebrated scholars of the German language and its monuments, devoted much attention to Slavonic language in the course of their researches.

[2] Leibnit, G. W. (1646-1716) German philosopher and partly linguist developed a keen interest in the language of the Lüneburger Wends (Drzewiany). He gathered many Slavic words in his Collectanea Etymologica.

[3] Smoler, J, A., Wo słowjaniskich mestnych mjenach w Hornej Łužicy a wo jich wuznamje, Budyszin, 1867, p. 1.

[4] Jencz, J. A., “Powjeść wo serbskich kralach,” in Czasopis Towarstwa Maćice Serbskeje. Budyszin, 1849-50, II & III, vol. 1, p. 17.

            It must be noted here, that German authors by frequent reference to Roman and Greek writers often confused the Lutitzi (the Slavic tribes on the Baltic Sea) with the Lusatians, the Sorbs with the Durzynce (the Slavic tribes in what now is Thuringia) and the Drzewiany (Lüneburgische Wenden). Lutitzi literally means in old Polish, Lusatian and Lutitzian languages: inhabitants of the cold countries, around the Baltic Sea. Luto, lutość in ancient Polish language means cold, windy weather. The German authors translate incorrectly the meaning of this word by the adjective wild.” Only in the Russian language “lutyj” means wild, cruel, terrible.

                Ptolemy speaks in general terms about Slavs that lived on the Elbe and Spree rivers calling them Lutoj Omanoj, Leukones, that is Lukony (Lukons) from the Lusatian word “luka,” which means meadow, in accordance with the etymology of the “luka, lug” (marsh) Ptolemy calls the Sorbo-Lusatians – Lugans, Dydunas, Illigons, Suevs, Semnons. All these names refer to a single Slavonic nation consisting of numerous small tribes. “These peoples – says Ptolemy – and the Northern Lutitzi live in a region extending from the Elbe to the Vistula river.” See Ptolemy, Geographike hyphegesis, book II, vol 11.

                Tacitus terms the Lutitzi “Lygios Buros, id est aratores, quod plus vacarent agriculture, quam alii.” See J. Ch. Jordan, De originibus Slavicis, Vindobonae, 1745, page 216. “Medii inter Sorabos et Venedos i.e. Slavos Boreales (the author calls northern all the Slavs that dwelled north of the Danube river) ad Suevum amnem fuere Lusatii.”ibid.

[5] Jencz, ibid., pp. 16-48.

[6] Francelius, Abraham, Nomenclator utriusque Lusatiae, ad vocabulum Lusatia, vol. II, Budissinae-Lusatorum, 1696.

[7] 7. Hoffman, Scriptures rerum Lusaticorum, anno 1719, voL I, part I; Manlius, Comment, rer, Lus., liber I, caput 30, paragr, 1: “Lutici supra Suevum ad Albim usque in inferiore Lusatia consedere, superiorem Sorabi, antiquissimum Sarmatorum nomen referentes, obtinuerunt, una cum Misnia tota et principio Saxoniae superioris ad Herciniam. Unde dictae regiones uno nomine Sorabia appellatae sunt. Quidquid enim terrarum est supra Albim, usque ad montes Sudetes versus meridiem, ab ortu vero ad caput Suevi fluminis, et ab occasu secundum Salam, usque ad huius cum Albi confluentem, id omne Sorabi incoluerunt.”

                See also Alexander Lattyak, Explitcatio Geographiae Claudii Ptolemaei, exposita Budapestini, 1929, 12 die Januarii, in Societate Archeologica Hungarica, pag. 3.

                The commentator on Ptolemy’s geography draws the following conclusion concerning the knowledge of geography among the Romans especially about their accurate knowledge of the Roman Empire: “Romani ergo anno 165 post Christi nativitatem tabulas geographicas habebant, quae accurationem rostrarum omnino aequabant, de toto orbe tunc cognito et commenso, rationes itinerum, fluvios, ora maritima, urbes, montes et fines regnorum comprehendentes, quae originem probabiliter ex operibus astronomorum et geographorum graecorum ducunt” – ibid, pag, 3.

            We must note here, however, certain differentiations. On Ptolemy’s map there are besides accurately stated topographic and ethnographic names in the Roman Empire and the western part of so-called “Germania,” but large stretches of land extending east from Elbe river, and the central land of Slavs, which on Ptolemy‘s map, as a “terra ignota,” is simply shown as a white spot without any names. Only the most important rivers and the ethnographic contours of boundaries and some cities of uncertain names are shown. Whereas the amber path that extended through Kalisz (Kalish) to the Baltic Sea and the commercial route by way of the Vistula river and through Radom, are carefully designated on the map. Lusatia on Ptolemy’s map appears under the name of Lugia. The Elbe river is marked Albis.

                See also: Tabula prima Imperii Romani Constructa ex CL Ptolemaei Geographicae gradibus, Budapestini, 1921-1926, Alex. Lattyak; Hans Mzik, Afrika nach det arabischen Bearbeitung der Geographike hyphegesis des Claudius Ptolemeus von Muhaenmad ibn Musa al-Hwarizmi, Wien, 1916; Die Geographic des Ptolemeus, Handschriften, Text und Untersuchung von Otto Cuntz, Berlin, 1923, p. 49; Codices Graeci et Latini photographice depicti duce Scatone de Vries, Bibliothecae Universit. Leidensis Praefecio Supplementum IV. Taciti dialogus de oratoribus et Germania, Codex Leidensis Personianus, Lugduni Batavorum, 1907, Folium 31, Taciti Germania, 1-2.

[8] Kętrzyński, Wojciech, Swewowie a Szwabowie, Rozprawy Akad. Umiej., t.43 Kraków 1927, p. 47; Bagiński, Henryk, Polska i Bałtyk, Edinburgh, 1942, p. 46; Kujot, Stanisław, ks., Dzieje Prus Królewskich (Rocznik XX Tow. Naukowego w Toruniu), Toruń 1913, p. 167.

[9] Scherzius, Joan. Georg., Glossarium Germanicum medii aevi potissimum dialecti Suevicae, Argentorati, 1781-1784.

[10] Ptolemy, ibid. loco cit.

[11] Niederle Lubor, Slovanske Staroźitnosti, Praha, 1902-1925, p. 131.

[12] Jordan, J. Ch., ibid, vol. 1, pars I, pag. 216-217. Jordan admits that he does not trust the cited arguments nor his own words because there is no uniform opinion among the Germans on this subject: “Verum enimvero quod circa Slavorum in Germaniam adventum nihil certi auctores in medium proferre audeant.”

[13] Szafarzik, P. J., Slavische Alterthuemer. vol. I, Leipzig, 1843.

[14] Hornik, Pful, Smoler, Słownik Serbski, Budyszin, 1866. Muka, Arnoszt, “Apologia Serbowstwa,” in Łužica, Budyszin, 1884.

[15] Tacitus Publius Cornelius (54-117 AD) thus writes about Lusatia and the Lusatians in the CCCCLXIV (64th) book, of his work Germania: “Dirimit enim scinditque Suevum continuum montium jugum, ultra quod plurimae genttes agunt, ex quibus latissime patet Lygiorum nomen in plures civitates diffusum.”

[16] Strabo (66 B.C), the most celebrated Greek geographer. See: Jordan, ibid., pars III, pag. 242.

[17] Jordan, ibid, t, I, pars I, pag. 219.

[18] Frencelius, ibid., voL II, vocab. L: “Ex veritate ab Aventino Lusatos vocari gentem paludibus septam, communem sententiam esse, ab Luzicis sive Lusicis, vel Luzice, seu inferiore Lusatia, translatum ac propagatum vocabulum Lusatiae fuisse in superiorem: obindeque ortum natumque esse ex vocabulo Sorabico Luza, bohoemice Lauze (palus, lacus).”

[19] Nesenus, De Historia Lusatiae, vol. II, pars II, pag. 220: “Alii veto Luiticios sive Luticios Sclavos, quorum frequens in annalibus Francorum, ac antiquis historiae Germaniae scriptoribus memoria, Lusatiae nomen conjiciunt.” Then the author, referring to Helmold’s chronicle, lib. I, cap. 2 enumerates Baltic tribes, among them the Lutitzi from whom he derives the name Lusatia.

                Kunschke, Dissertatio Historica de Lusatia, notio l, paragr, 5, in which he speaks about the Lutitzi who also lived in Lusatia and gave to the country their name. The lack of knowledge of Slavonic languages and the hazy, generalized information reaped about the Slavs from Tacitus, Pliny the Elder, Strabo, Herodotus and Caesar may be responsible for these claims, for we know that ancient writers obtained their information from Greek, Roman and Arabian merchants.

[20] Hornik, M., Smoler, J. A., Pful, Serbski Słownik, Budyszin, 1866; Słownik Geograficzny Królestwa Polskiego, lit. Ł, by Alfons Parczewski, Warszawa, 1884.

[21] Thompson, James Westfall, Feudal Germany, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1928, page 536.

[22] Burmeister, P. J., Über die Sprache der früher in Mecklenburg Obodriten-Wenden, Rostock. 1840, page 2: ‘’Der Name Wenden oder Winden bezeichnet überhaupt den Gegensatz der deutschen Bevölkerung gegen die slavische in den westlichen Gegenden Deutschlands vom baltischen bis zum adriatischen Meere. Kein slavisches Volk hat sich je selbst Wenden genannt; es ist nur bei den Deutschen, dass Slaven Wenden genannt werden.” See also Strabo, ed. Casaubonus, 1587, pp. 134 and 146.

[23] Hanusz, J., “Über die Bedeutsamkeit der alterthümlichen Sitte des Bindens und Windens in der Kultur-Geschichte der Deutschen, Slaven und Litauer. Eine archeologische Studie” – in Jahrbücher für slavische Literatur, Kunst und Wissenschaft, ed. Smoler, Leipzig, 1854, II. pp. 305-330.

                Hanusz, J., Zur Literatur und Geschichte der slaviscben Sprachen in Deutschland, namentlich der Sprache der ehemaligen Elbeslaven oder Polaben, Wien, 1858, pp. 109-140.

                Miklosich Fr., Die Nominale Zusammensetzung im Serbischen, Wien, 1863; Die Bildung der slavischen Personennamen, Wien, 1860. Etymologisches Wörterbuch der slavischen Sprachen, Wien, 1866.

[24] Ibid. loc. cit

[25]Baltische Studien, vol. XXXI, 1881; Geschichtschreiber der deutschen Vorzeit, vol. XXXII, which contains the translation into German of the Arabic text of Al- Bekri; Wigger, Jahrbücher und Jahreobericht des Verens für Mecklenburgische Geschchte, 1880.

[26] Szafarzik, ibid., vol. I, page 34.

[27] Mueller, Max, Lectures on the science of language, New York, 1862, p. 199 Paulinus a sancto Bartholomaeo, Sidharubam seu Grammaltca Samscrdamica, cut accedit dissertatio historico-critica in linguam Samscrdamicam vulgo Samscret dictam, Romae, 1790.

                Bopp, Franciscus, Glossiarium Sanscritum in quo omnes radices et vocabula usitatissima explicantur et cum vocabulis Graecis. Latinis, Germanicis, Lithuanicis, Slavicis, Celticis comparantur, Berolini, 1847.

                Rosen, Fridericus, Radices Sanscritae, Berolini, 1827.

                Święcicki, Julian Adolf, Historia Literatury Indyjskiej, Warszwara, 1901, p. 16.

[28] Niederle, Lubor, “Najdawniejsze siedziby Słowian,” Encykl. Polska, t. IV, cz. 2, dzial 5. Ed Polish Academy, Kraków, 1912; Bagiński, ibid., p. 50.

[29] Bueckler, George, A Sanskrit Primer, Washington, 1885; Muller, ibid, loc. cit.; Paulinus, ibid.

[30] Święcick, ibid. loc. cit.

[31] Szafarzik, ibid., p. 201.

[32] Papanek, Gregorius, Historia Gentis Slavae, Quinque Ecclesiis, 1780, p. 134.

[33] Papanek, ibid.

[34] Dziela Wszystkie Adama Mickiewicza, t. V, p. 81. ed. T. Pini.

[35] Codices Graeci et Latini photographice depicti, loc. cit.; Tacitus Germania, loc. cit.

[36] “Offenbar sind – says Grimm – die Ortsnamen Tierna (Czerna), Bersovia, Sandava (present Sandau, Schandau), im Norden der Donau und Tergeste (Dargun), Pola, Lugeum, am adriatischen Meere Slavischen Ursprunges.” See: Burmeister, loc. cit.

[37] It is worth-while to add that the Obodrites and the Lutitzi did not differ in language and customs from the Drzewians. This is visible even now in the Sorbo- Lusatian language and in the Kashub dialect which differ little from the language of the Obodrites.

[38] Burmeister, ibid. pp. 2-3.

[39]Szafarzik, ibid. pp. 40-41.

[40] Szafarzik, ibid. p. 47. Most inaccuracies in treating the Sorbo-Lusatian problem are committed by German authors due to their ignorance of the Sorbo-Lusatian language, and Slav languages in general. But this irregularity creeps also into the works of non-Slavonic authors like Thompson. His work (“Feudal Germany”) is a precious scholarly contribution; but based principally on German sources it is one­ sided. The weak point of this book lies also in the discussion of the origin and the autochtonism of the Slavs.

[41] Jordan in the afore-cited work De originibus slavicis; Helmold, Chron. Slav I, 52; Giesler, Über den Dualismus der Slaven, p. 357; Contzen, Leopold, Origines Europae, Die alten Völker Europas mit ihren Sippen und Nachbarn, Frankfurt am Main, 1861; Schelz, T., Waren germanische, oder slavische Völker Ureinwohner der beiden Lausitzen? Goerlitz, 1842; Hauck, Kirchengeschichte Deutschlands, III, 69-87; Thietmar, VI, 17-18.

[42] 42 Szafarzik, ibid.; Afanasjev, Poeticzeskija wozzrenja Słovian na prirodu, Moskwa 1869-1886; Czubinskij, Trudy, Petersburg, 1872; Brueckner, A, Mitologia Słowiańska, Kraków, 1918; Haupt, Leopold, and Smoler, J. A., Volkslieder der Wenden in der Ober und Nieder Lausitz, Budyszin, 1841-1843; Stoeckl, A., Weingartner and Kwiatowski, F., Historia Filozofjr w zarysie, Kraków, 1927, pp. 2-20; Kostrzewski, J., “Biskupin, zatopiona wieś prasłowiańska z przed 2500 lat,” Przegląd Powszechny, t. 210, Nr. 630, Warszawa, 1936, pp. 311-324; Smoler, J. A., “Powostanki ze starodawneho nabožnistwa w serbskich Łužicach,” Czasopis Tow. Macice Serbskeje, Budyszin, 1848, IV, p. 21.

[43] Thompson, ibid., p. 387.

[44] “Est autem Slavorum mirabilis error; nam in conviviis et compatacionibus suis pateram circumferunt, in quam conferunt, non dicam consecrationis, sed execrationis verba cum nomine deorum, boni scilicet atque mali, omnem prosperam fortunam a bono deo, adversam a malo dirigi profitentes. Unde etiam malum deum lingua sua Diabol sive Zcerneboh, id est nigrum deum, appelant.” (Helmold, Chron. Slav., I. 52).

[45] Cfr. Adam Mickiewicz, ibid. V, 50.

[46] Abel, H. F. O., Die deutschen Personen-Namen, Berlin, 184 V, Archiv (Litterarisches) für Ethnographic und Linguistik, bearbeitet von mehreren Gelehrten und herausgegeben von F. J. Bertuch und dr. J. S. Vater, Weimar, 1808; Bender, Joseph, Die deutschen Ortsnamen, Siegen, 1846; Bernd, Ch. S. Th., Die Verwandtschafts der germanischen und slavischen Sprachen, Bonn, 1822; Campe, J. H., Wörterbuch zur Erklärung und Verdeutschung der unserer Sprache aufgedrungenen fremden Ausdrücke, Braunschweig, 1801; Contzen, Leopold, Origines Europae. Die alten Völker Europas mit ihren Sippen und Nachbarn. Frankfurt am Main, 1861; Cassel Paulus, Thüringische Ortsnamen. Erfurt, 1858; Grimm, Jakob, Geschichte der deutschen Sprache, Leipzig, 1848; Obermueller, W., Deutsch-Keltisches, Geschichtlich-geographisches Wörterbuch zur Erklärung der Fluss-Berg-Orts-Gau-Völker und Personen-Namen Europas, West Asiens und Nord-Afrikas im allgemeinen, wie Deutschlands insbesondere nebst den daraus sich ergehenden Folgerungen für die Urgeschichte der Menschheit, Leipzig, 1868; Olrich, G., Glossarium ad statuta Bremensia antiqua, Frankfurt ad Moenum, 1767; Oerlich, Joannes, Specimen reliquiarum linguae slavonicae in omnibus quibusdam regionum et locorum quae nunc a Germanis et hos inter imprimis Marchiae Brandenburgensis et Pomeranis possidentur, Berolini,, 1794; Pischon, F. A., Die Taufnamen, Berlin. 1857; Pott, Aug. Friedr., Die Personen-Namen, insbesondere die Familiennamen und ihre Entstehungarten, auch unter Berücksichtigung der Ortsnamen, Leipzig, 1853; Schelz, T., Waren germanische, oder slavische Völker Ureinwohner der beiden Lausitzen? Goerlitz, 1842; Geisheim, Felix, Berliner Namenbüchlein, Berlin, 1855; Weinhold, Karl, Beiträge zu einem schlesischen Wörterbuch, Wien 1855.

[47] Ziemczyce dwelled on the terrain between Struma, Elbe and Hobola rivers at Hawelberg. There was in that region the great Borki forest with its sacred woods, where the “Zemnanie” (very probably “Ziemianie”) known already to Tacitus, as representatives of 100 counties, gathered for meetings. Cfr. Baginski, ibid., p. 62.

[48] Oerlich,ibid., p. 4.

[49] Belius draws his knowledge about Wend kings from the memoirs, written during the reign of the elector of Brandenburg, Frederick William, by Jacobus Tolius, especially from the author’s “Epistola itineraria” II, p. 42. According to Tolius, the Sorbo-Lusatians, the Cassubians, the Obodrites and the Lutitzi even as late as the XVIII century chose their kings privately according to an ancient Slavonic custom. Tolius speaks about these kings with a tolerant irony as for instance one would speak about the election of the nomadic gypsy king.

[50] Smoler, ibid., p. 9

[51] Thompson, James Westfall, Feudal Germany, part II, c. XII: The German Church and the conversion of the Slavs of the Elbe, pp. 387-450; chapt. XIII: The expansion and the colonization of the German people beyond the Elbe; The conflict of the Saxon and the Slav, pp. 451-628; chapt. XVII: Medieval German expansion in Bohemia and Poland, pp. 612-657.

[52] In addition to the books and dissertations mentioned in this treatise it would be well for the reader to acquaint himself with Victor Jacobi’s book: Ortsnamen um Potsdam vom Standpunkte der Terainplastik und der Ansiedelungspraxis (Gegenschrift wider Herrn Dr. Cybulski in Berlin und die dortigen Sprachforscher und Geographen), Leipzig, 1859. The author artificially distorts Slav names in the vicinity of Berlin by deriving these names from Latin and then from Latin into German.


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