Zur Frage des nationalen Bewußtseins der Masuren im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (auf der Basis statistischer Angaben)

Leszek Belzyt


The Mazurs formed a national group which inhabited the southern part of the province East Prussia. Their most important characteristics were the Polish mother tongue and their Protestant confession. The Statistical data concerning their language supply extensive information about the number of group members before World War I. But these sources need a thorough correction with the aim to find out about the real national situation in this area.
In the eight East Prussian districts Osterode (Ostróda), Neidenburg (Nidzica),
Orteisburg (Szczytno), Sensburg (Mrągowo), Johannisburg (Pisz), Lötzen (Giżycko), Oletzko (Olecko) and Lyck (Ełk) the Mazurs were a distinctive national majority, which in 1831 made up more than 90% and in 1910 a bit less than 70 % of the entire population. The process of Germanisation and assimilation among the Mazurs proceeded perpetually in this period. The most important fact but was that they did not want to decide themselves for one national Community, neither the German nor the Polish. They tried to keep an own identity as Single ethnic group. Politically the attitude of the Mazurs was very passive. Polish attempts at agitation among them were always in vain. In the interwar time many, especially young Mazurs became supporters of the national socialistic movement and its ideology. The Germanisation of this group was then, up to 1945, almost concluded.
When the Polish took over the area Mazovia, only a few so-called Autochthone remained there. Thousands lost their lives in combat, others were deported to Russia. More than half of this group ended up in the occupied Germany beyond the river Oder, after the chaotic evacuation during the winter of 1945. Their difficult economic and social Situation in Poland and in addition wrong politics of the communist government destroyed the attempts of many, also native activists at "Polonization" or "re-Polonization" of the Mazurs. The Mazurs felt discriminated against and the majority wanted to emigrate to Germany. This happened in various emigration waves in the years 1956-1958, 1971, 1976, and after 1980. Today there are just about 10000 Mazurs in Poland, and their specific Community belongs to history.