Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Silesian German

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ISO 639-3


Native to
Poland, Czech Republic, Germany

Silesia. Also spoken in Czech Republic, eastern Germany.

Native speakers
(undated figure of 12,000 in Poland) 11,000 in the Czech Republic (2001 census)

Language family
Indo-European Germanic West Germanic High German Central German East Central German Silesian

Silesian German (Silesian German: Schläsche Sproache or Schläs'sche Sproche, German: Schlesisch) or Lower Silesian is a nearly extinct German dialect spoken in Silesia. It is part of the East Central German language area with some West Slavic influences. Variations of the dialect until 1945 were spoken by about seven million people. After World War II, local communist authorities forbade the use of the language, after the expulsion of the Germans the province of Silesia was incorporated into southwestern Poland, with small portions in northeastern Czech Republic and in eastern Germany, and Silesian German continued to be spoken only by individual families expelled to the remaining territory of Germany and in cultural gatherings mainly in West Germany. Most descendents of the Silesian Germans expelled to West and East Germany no longer learned the dialect, and the cultural gatherings were less and less frequented.


In origin, Silesian German appears to derive from 12th-century dialects of Middle High German, including medieval forms of Upper Saxon German, East Franconian German and Thuringian. The inhabitants of Silesia are thought to be descendants of settlers from Upper Lusatia, Saxony, Thuringia and Franconia who arrived in Silesia in the 13th century.

After World War II, local communist authorities forbade the use of the language. After the expulsion of the Germans from Silesia, German Silesian culture and language nearly died out when most of Silesia became part of Poland in 1945. Polish authorities banned the use of the German language. There are still unresolved feelings on the sides of both Poles and Germans, largely because of Nazi Germany's war crimes on Poles and the forced expulsion and ethnic cleansing of native Germans from former German territories that were transferred to Poland in the wake of the Potsdam Agreement.

Today, Silesian German is a dialect spoken in Upper Lusatia, the part of the province of Silesia west of the Oder–Neisse line that remained German after 1945.

The German Silesian dialect is not recognized by the Polish State in any way, although the status of the German minority in Poland has improved much since the 1991 communist collapse and Polish entry into the European Union. It can be divided into Gebirgsschlesische Dialektgruppe, Südostschlesische Dialektgruppe, mittelschlesische Dialektgruppe, westschlesische Dialektgruppe and niederländische Dialektgruppe. The nordostböhmische Dialektgruppe belongs to Silesian, too.

Silesian German was the language in which the poetry of Karl von Holtei and Gerhart Hauptmann was written, during the 19th century.


Silesian German Wikipedia

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