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Sorb People (Brandenburg and Saxony)

Sorben, Wenden

Last modified: 2013-12-09 by pete loeser
Keywords: sorbs | wends | brandenburg | saxony | lausitz | luzice | domowina | law |
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[Sorb People (Germany)] 3:5 Image by Carsten Linke
Flag adopted 23rd March 1848, abolished 1935, readopted 17 May 1945

On this page: More Regional/Municipal Flags in the Sorb region: See also: Other sites:
  • About Lusatia at the "Electronic Library of Sorbian-Serbian Cultural Ties" website.


There is a tiny group of people in Central Europe called the Sorbs, who have no contemporary relation to the Balcanic Serbs (although they are both Slavic, of course). Germans call them Sorbs (Sorben) or Wends (Wenden). With 150,000 souls, they are the smallest Slavic "nation" in existence. They live in the region of Germany called Lausitz (Luzice), on the rivers Neisse (Nysa) and Spree. Their region encloses the south-east part of Brandenburg state and eastern Saxony. Their most important cities are Cottbus, Lübben and Bautzen. They are the descendants of the Western Slavs who in 6th-10th Centuries controlled what is today north-eastern Germany. I understand that their cultural life is quite active, they have their own press, schools, and a political organization (Domovina).
Greg D., 29 August 1995, and Thomas Binder, 4 August 1998

I did a program on the Sorbs in December of 1993. I went to Bautzen (Budysin) and I interviewed members of the Domowina (the general organisation of Sorbs), on Sorb radio, and at the Serbski Institut. Here is what I learned:

  • The Sorbs did suffer under the totalitarian regime of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR). Many were held in an infamous jail in Budysin. The GDR had a political program that mistreated minorities, similar to what happened in the former USSR.
  • With the fall of the USSR the Sorbs convened back to democracy and (re)founded the Domowina as a true governing body for the Sorbs.
  • A man in the Domowina building showed me a 1946 map with Lusatia (the land of Sorbs) annexed by Czechoslovakia. They also seemed to have some American support for them unifying with the Western Slavs (but not the Poles).
Jean-François Blanc, 15 November 1999

The modern name for Wends are Sorbs. The Sorbs live in Southeast Germany, mainly in (Saxony.
The King of Sweden also had the title King of the Wends until 1973, when our present king succeeded to the throne and thought this part of the title was out of fashion. Swedish kings had borne this title since some time in the middle ages. This had also led to the arms of the Wends (Gules a dragon Or) being used in official Swedish decorations. The origin for this part of the title of the Swedish King is to be found in the 1540's, when King Gustaf I began using this title. It was also used by the Danish king, who styled himself Goters konge (King of the Gotlanders). Gotland had been Swedish in the Middle Ages, but conquered by Denmark. The Danish king took the title King of the Vendes in the second half of the 12th Century, when the Danes were crusading against the Wends and forced them to accept Danish supremacy. After the Danish holdings on the north coast (present day Mecklenburg-Pomerania) were taken over by German princes, the Danish royal family still kept the title (but I do not know if the Danish Queen is still styled Queen of the Wends).
In the 16th Century, when Gustaf I first took this title, the Wends were mistaken for Vandals, which were said to have been beaten by the Goths at the "Time of the great Migration," and the Goths (who were also considered to have given names to Götaland and Gotland) were supposed to have had the same origin as the Swedes. Source: Nationalencyklopedin, 1990's.
Elias Granqvist, 11 September 2000

Queen Margrethe discarded a number of her father's titles, when she succeeded in 1972. Her father, Frederik IX, was Konge til Danmark, de Venders og Goters, Hertug til Slesvig, Holsten, Stormarn, Ditmarsken, Lauenborg og Oldenborg (King of Denmark, of the Wends and Goths, Duke of Schleswig, Holstein, Stormarn, Dithsmarchen, Lauenburg and Oldenburg). Margrethe II is Danmarks Dronning [Queen of Denmark].
Ole Andersen, 11 September 2000

The Sorb people have their own culture, language, press, schools and political organization (Domowina). In the year 1912, the organization Domowina (native country) was established in Lusatia (Lausitz). The organization was an alliance of the Sorb minorities of Lower and Upper Lusatia. The Sorb group of the Wends (Wenden) live in Lower Lusatia (Niederlausitz). They are Protestants. In Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz) there is a the group of Catholic Sorbs, the Sorben or Serben (not to be confused with the South Slavic Serbs). The Sorbs call their country Serbstwo or Serbska, (country of the Sorbs). The Domowina, which was forbidden from 1939 to 1945, was established in 1945.
The Sorbs people have officially flown a horizontal blue-red-white striped flag (proportion 3:5) since 23th March 1848. However, the flag was first hoisted in the Village of Lohsa (near to Hoyerswerda, Oberlausitz District) in 1842. It was forbidden by the National Socialist regime, but on 17 May 1945, the flag was again hoisted officially. At the end of World War Two, the Sorbs greeted Polish and Soviet troops with the Sorb flag in April of 1945.
There is no current law on the Sorb flag. The sequence of the colors and their official use are found in the Constitutions of Saxony and Brandenburg, where the use of the flag is officially allowed. In Saxony, the use of a Sorb coat-of-arms is also allowed. However, only the Domowina uses an emblem, regarded it as the unofficial emblem of the Sorb people.
Both Lower Lusatia and Upper Lusatia have separate flags.
Jens Pattke, 27 March 2001


According to Crampton 1990, "The Sorbs, a slavic community in what is now [1990] East Germany, also adopted a [horizontal] tricolour in 1848 of blue, red, white. There is no Sorb state as such, but the flag is still in use."
Roy Stilling, 30 August 1995

The flag of the Sorbs is mentioned in the Constitutions of the German states of Brandenburg and Saxony. Sources: Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Brandenburg and Sächsisches Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt.
Pascal Vagnat, 19 December 1995

Some explain the meaning of the colours, "At the top is the sky, and towards the bottom it gets lighter and lighter.".
Carsten Linke, 24 June 1996

The flag of the Sorbs was first mentioned in 1842. On 23 March 1848 the order blue (top), red, white (bottom) was established by representatives in Berlin of several Slavic peoples. The order was chosen for practical reasons to distinguish it from the flags of other Slavic nations. In 1912, the Bund Lausitzer Sorben, the Domowina, was established as umbrella-organisation of all Sorb associations. It was forbidden by the Nazis from 1937 until 1945. In the spring of 1945 when the Russian and Polish troops entered Lausitz, the flag was flown again.
In the flag laws of the German Democratic Republic (GDR) the Sorb flag was not mentioned, but in decisions of the Councils of the Bezirke Cottbus and Dresden and the bilingual Bezirke of Lausitz, its use was regulated for special occasions and holidays.
After the collapse of the GDR the use of the Sorb flag is regulated by the onstitutions of Brandenburg and Saxony. Note that the flag of the Sorbs was never the flag of an administrative territory, simply because such an entity never existed.
Sources: Günther 1998, page 40 and Günther 1999, page 27.
Mark Sensen, 16 October 1999

Flag Legislation


[From the Brandenburg Constitution:]

Verfassung des Landes Brandenburg
4. Abschnitt: Rechte der Sorben [Wenden]
Artikel 26 (Rechte der Sorben [Wenden])
4) (...) Die sorbische Fahne hat die Farben Blau, Rot, Weiss. (...)
Unofficial translation:
Constitution of the State of Brandenburg
Section 4: Rights of the Sorbs [Wends]
Article 26: Rights of the Sorbs [Wends]
4) (...) The Sorb flag has the colours blue, red, white.
Source: Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Brandenburg, Nr. 9 vom 7. Juni 1991. In the Gesetz- und Verordnungsblatt für das Land Brandenburg, Nr. 18 vom 20. August 1992, article 25 says the same thing.
The Gesetz zur Ausgestaltung der Rechte der Sorben [Wenden] im Land Brandenburg vom 7. Juli 1994, (Law on the Specification of the Rights of the Sorbs [Wends] in the State of Brandenburg, of 7th July 1994) says also in its article 4, in German and Sorb:
4.- Sorbische (Wendische) Fahne
Die sorbische (wendische) Fahne hat die Farben Blau, Rot, Weiss. Sie kann im angestammten Siedlungsgebiet der Sorben (Wenden) gleichberechtigt mit staatlichen Symbolen verwendet werden.
4.- Serbska chorgoj
Serbska chorgoj ma modru, cerwejenu a bělu barwu. Wona smějo se w starodawnem sedleńskem rumje Serbow rownopšawnje ze statymi symbolami wužywaś.
Unofficial translation:
4.- Sorb (Wend) Flag
The Sorb (Wend) flag has the colours blue, red, white. In the traditional settlement areas of the Sorbs (Wends) it can be used alongside the state symbols, with equal rights.


The constitution of Saxony also mentions the possibility to use the Sorb flag in the Sorb territory. In April 1999, Saxony issued a Law on the rights of the Sorbs in the Free State of Saxony.
Pascal Vagnat, 13 November 1999, with translations by Stefan Schwoon, 27 March 2001

The Emblem of the Domowina

['Domowina' Emblem (Sorb People, Germany)] Image by Jens Pattke

On 8th October 1949 the Domowina, adopted a red emblem with a white lime tree showing three large leaves, bordered with a blue fimbriation. The design was made by artist Ms. Hanka Krawcec. The emblem is regarded as the unofficial emblem of the Sorb people.
Jens Pattke, 27 March 2001

Sorbo-Lusatian Republic
Serbisch-Lausatische Republik

According to source a flag of the Sorbs was first mentioned in the second half of 19th century. At the same time the anthem (Sorb: Rjana Luzica; German: Schöne Lausitz; English: Beautiful Lusatia) had been composed. As German pressure increased at the beginning of the 20th century, the Sorbs tried to gain rights of autonomy within the German Empire. After the end of WW1 there had been made attempts to establish an own Sorbic state. On 1 November 1918 a national committee of the Sorbs was established (German: Wendischer Nationalausschuss), led by Arnošt Bart with the goal of generating autonomous structures for the Sorb people in Germany. As these attempts had been ignored consequently by German government, the position of Sorbs became more radical. Finally at the beginning of 1919 the national committee first suggested either 1) to incorporate the sorb's region into the newly established Czecho-Slovakian Republic or 2) to establish an independent Sorbo-Lusatian Republic. Therefore Bart and his companion Jan Bryl travelled to the negotiations held in Versailles. Though there were many sympathies for the Sorb people, the idea of an own independent republic was not favoured by the winners and the Sorbo-Lusatian Republic never came to existence. The powers were afraid that tensions might increase and destabilize the whole region by establishing an independent state of Sorbs.
Source: email of Dr. Edmund Pech (Serbski Institut/Sorbisches Institut)
Klaus-Michael Schneider; 30 October 2009

Proposed Flag for Sorbo-Lusatian Republic

Image by Klaus-Michael Schneider; 30 October 2009

Description of flag: It was a blue over red over white horizontal tricolour. It is mentioned by source as flag of the republic, but we have to consider it merely as a proposal.
Source: [h6p06]; p.111
Klaus-Michael Schneider; 30 October 2009

Sorbs after World War II

After the German defeat in World War II, again national alternatives were considered by Sorb's representatives, such as being incorporation into the CSR as an autonomous region, foundation of their own state including membership in the UNO. PECH, however, clearly said, that the Sorb's never had been really independent and often were only puppets of Slavistic movements in Eastern Europe. And, as in 1946, the Soviet Union had refused every attempts to separate Lusatia from Germany, Lusatia also after World War II remained part of Germany.
Source: email of Dr. Edmund Pech (Serbski Institut/Sorbisches Institut)
Klaus-Michael Schneider; 30 October 2009

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