Carpathian Germans

Carpathian Germans ( _de. Karpatendeutsche, _hu. Felvidéki németek, Slovak: "Karpatskí Nemci"), sometimes simply called Slovak Germans (German: "Slowakeideutsche"), is the name for a group of German language speakers on the territory of present-day Slovakia. The term was coined by the historian Raimund Friedrich Kaindl, and is also sometimes used to refer to Germans in the Carpathian Ruthenia.

Germans settled in the northern territory of the Kingdom of Hungary (territory of present day Slovakia) from the 12th to 15th centuries ("see Ostsiedlung"), mostly after the Mongol invasion of 1241. There were probably some isolated settlers in the area of Pressburg earlier. The Germans were usually attracted by kings seeking specialists in various trades, such as craftsmen and miners. They usually settled in older Slavic market and mining settlements. The main settlement areas were in the vicinity of Pressburg and some language islands in the Spiš and the Hauerland regions. [cite web |publisher=Museum of Carpathian German Culture ("Múzeum kultúry karpatských Nemcov") |url= |title=Karpatskí Nemci ("Carpathian Germans") |language=Slovak |date=no date |accessmonthday = May 4 |accessyear=2008] The settlers in the Spiš region were known as "Zipser Sachsen". Until approximately the 15th century, the ruling classes of most cities in present day Slovakia consisted almost exclusively of Germans.

The Carpathian Germans were, as the Slovaks, subjected to Magyarization policies in the latter half of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. However many Carpathian Germans as Germans in general [] ] voluntary magyarized their names because they saw that act as a tool (and possibility) of getting higher on the social and economic ladder.

On 28 October 1918 the National Council of Carpathian Germans in Kežmarok declared their loyalty to the Kingdom of Hungary, but Slovakia became part of Czechoslovakia two days later.

During the First Czechoslovak Republic (1918-1938), Carpathian Germans had a specific political party, the Zipser deutsche Partei (1920-1938) of Andor Nitsch, who was elected from 1925 to 1935 on a common Hungarian-German list for parliamentary elections. In 1929, another party, more nationalist-oriented, was formed in Bratislava, the Karpathendeutschen Partei, which made a common list at the 1935 parliamentary elections with the Sudeten German Party, whose leader Konrad Henlein became its head in 1937 with Franz Karmasin as deputy. In 1935, both parties obtained a seat in both parliamentary assemblies. In 1939 the KdP was renamed Deutsche Partei with as führer Franz Karmasin, who had become in October 1938 state secretary for German Affairs in the Tiso government. [ [ Herta Brydon, Limbach - Geschichte und Brauchtum eines deutschsprachigen Dorfes in der Slowakei bis 1945, 1991] ] [ [ Dr. Thomas Reimer, Carpathian Germans history] ] [Ondrej Pöss, Geschichte und Kultur der Karpatendeutschen, Slowakisches Nationalmuseum - Museum der Kultur der Karpatendeutschen, Bratislava, Bratislava/Pressburg, 2005]

The status of Slovak Republic as a client state of Nazi Germany during World War II made life difficult for Carpathian Germans at the war's end. Nearly all remaining Germans fled or were evacuated by the German authorities before the end of the war. Most Germans from Spiš evacuated to Germany or the Sudetenland before the arrival of the Red Army. This evacuation was mostly due to the initiative of Adalbert Wanhoff and the preparations of the diocese of the German Evangelical Church, between mid-November 1944 and January 21, 1945. The Germans from Bratislava were evacuated in January and February 1945 after long delays, and those of the Hauerland fled at the end of March 1945. The Red Army reached Bratislava on April 4, 1945.

After the end of the war, one third of the evacuated or fugitive Germans returned home to Slovakia. However, on August 2, 1945, they lost the rights of citizenship,ref label|Benes|i| by Beneš decree no. 33, and they were interned in camps (German: "Sammellager") in Bratislava-Petržalka, Nováky, and in Handlová. In 1946 and 1947, about 33,000 people were expelled from Slovakia by the Potsdam Agreement, while around 20,000 persons were entitled to remain in Slovakia because they chose the "Reslovakisation" process , which meant that they declared themselves as Slovaks and changed their names into their Slovak equivalent or simply Slovakized them. Out of approximately 128,000 Germans in Slovakia in 1938, by 1947 only some 20,000 (15.6% of the pre-war total) remained. The decree was revoked in 1948.On the other hand 270 civilians from Dobšiná, mostly Germans fled to Czech lands as refugees and intended to return home after the war. Czechoslovakian soldiers forced them off the train at the train station of Přerov and ordered them to dig their own graves before butchering all of them including small children. When Communists took power in 1948 they made research of the site and investigation of the massacre impossible. [ [ Dunabogdány honlapja ] ]

In 2004 there were fewer than 6,000 Germans in Slovakia. The Carpathian German Homeland Association exists now to maintain traditions. The most prominent member of this group is the former Slovak president and politician, Rudolf Schuster.

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