Last modified: 2011-05-14 by andrew weeks
Keywords: wilamowice |
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The little story I have written is based on the essay of Karolina Bielenin
"Holland at the foothills of Beskidy Mountains" and long article
from the Catholic newspaper "Tygodnik Powszechny". There is an English
and German text on the town's
Attached is a Coat of Arms of Wilamowice town (Wymysau in Wymysojer)
" Stöf duy buwla fest!
Skumma frmdy gest,
Skumma muma ana fettyn,
Z'brennia nysla ana epuln,
Ströf duy Jasiu fest!"
" Sleep, my boy, sound!
Foreign guests are coming,
Aunts and uncles are coming,
Bringing nuts and apples,
Sleep Johnny sound!"
(my translation, from Polish, not from Wymysojer).
No Pole, German, Dutchmen, Frisian or Belgian will understand this lullaby. It is in a language called Wymysojer and used in the town of Wilamowice (Wymysau) in the borderlands between Silesia and Małopolska. The inhabitants of this town are descendants of the XIIIth Century settlers brought to this area after the devastation created by Mongol invasion.
When asked today where are they from, the people of Wymysau will tell you: "we are from Holland". Actually, they are a mixture of former natives of Rheinland, Holland, Fryslân, Flanders, Scotland and Denmark. Linguists find the roots of Wymysojer coming from the Old High German, Middle High German, Frisian, Dutch, Flemish, English and Danish.
During the seven centuries in Poland, the people of Wilamowice developed not only their original language, but were standing alone in the sea of Polishness with their elaborate costumes, agricultural skills, enterprise, homespun textiles, and the sense of the unique community.
In 1939 everything changed; the Nazis declared them to be "pure German" and forced the majority to sign the volkslist, although many managed to escape and fought in the ranks of the Home Army - AK.
After the WW II, the communist power send many to gulags and domestic camps, forbade using the language, dressing in costumes, and declared them totally assimilated.
Now, it is estimated, only 100 speakers of Wymysojer survived and there are desperate efforts undergoing to save the vanishing sub-culture, remainder of the former glory of multiethnic and tolerant ResPublica Polonia.
The folk group FIL does a tremendous job of preserving Wymysojer songs and dressing up in authentic and magnificent folk costumes. There is some hope that mothers of Wymysau would be saying to their offsprings " buy gut maj zóon " - (" be good my son") for the time being.
Some hope that this jewel of ethnography will be preserved in Europe of 100 Nations.
Chrystian Kretowicz, 24 Apr 2003