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The Kashubs: Past and Present

Past and Present

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Edited By Cezary Obracht-Prondzynski and Tomasz Wicherkiewicz

The Kashubs, a regional autochthonous group inhabiting northern Poland, represent one of the most dynamic ethnic groups in Europe. As a community, they have undergone significant political, social, economic and cultural change over the last hundred years. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Kashubs were citizens of Germany. In the period between the two World Wars they were divided between three political entities: the Republic of Poland, the Free City of Danzig and Germany. During the Second World War, many Kashubs were murdered, and communist Poland subsequently tried to destroy the social ties that bound the community together. The year 1989 finally brought about a democratic breakthrough, at which point the Kashubs became actively engaged in the construction of their regional identity, with the Kashubian language performing a particularly important role.
This volume is the first scholarly monograph on the history, culture and language of the Kashubs to be published in English since 1935. The book systematically explores the most important aspects of Kashubian identity – national, regional, linguistic, cultural and religious – from both historical and contemporary perspectives.

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Józef BorzyszkowskiA History of the Kashubs until the End of Communism 5

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Józef Borzyszkowski A History of the Kashubs until the End of Communism Sources for research into the Kashubs’ history In order to start writing the Kashubs’ history at the beginning of the twenty- first century, one should be aware that it is inseparable from the history of the whole of Pomerania – that is, the territory situated between the Baltic Sea in the north and the Noteć and Warta rivers in the south, and between the lower Oder (Polish: Odra) river in the west and the lower Vistula (Polish: Wisła1) river in the east. This ideological, determined shape of the Kashubian native land was attributed to the Kashubs in the second half of the nineteenth century by their foremost representatives, the architects of the Kashubian-Pomeranian movement and ideology. A particular phenomenon of Pomerania is its role as an area where various worlds, consisting of dif ferent geographical, cultural and political realities, came into contact. This is a land where sea and earth abut, a point of meetings (or frictions) and dif fusion between two great cultures: the Slavonic and Germanic worlds. Since the end of the first millennium AD, both Pomerania and its inhabitants, the Kashubs, as well as the whole of Slavdom, became the subject of rivalry between the Germanic states in the west and the developing Polish state in the south. Germanic expan- sion drove towards the east; the Poles strained towards the north, to the sea, being aware of their common Lekhitic2 heritage with the inhabitants...

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