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The ethnic minorities trail – the Galician Germans Trail

The Galician Germans, also known as the Josephinian settlers or colonists, were brought to Galicia to “give their help in bolstering the economy.” read more

The Galician Germans, also known as the Josephinian settlers or colonists, were brought to Galicia to “give their help in bolstering the economy.” The colonisation campaign was initiated by Empress Maria Theresa, and promoted by her son, Joseph II. Issued in 1774, the first edict of colonisation gave Catholic craftsmen the permission to settle in cities. Another edict, issued in 1781, allowed the agricultural colonisation of villages, including the settlement of Protestant farmers (The Patent of Toleration). The areas assigned to settlers included the table lands, i.e. former Crown lands and lands of defunct orders owned by the State Treasury. National campaigners were sent to German countries to motivate local peasants with the prospects of excellent conditions and Government support. Volunteers would go to Vienna to get colonisation passports from where, via Biała, they were directed to individual colonies within Galicia. In addition to the refund of travel costs, they would be given built-on parcels and a several-year-old lhota. The first colonies in the Sądecczyzna Land were built in 1783, most of them in the Dunajec Valley. The campaign lasted until 1789, by which time it had resulted in the establishment of 27 German settlements, all of them within Polish villages. The large majority of settlers, especially the Catholics, quickly integrated into Polish culture and language.

In 1939, a breakdown in relations between the descendants of the Galician Germans and their Polish neighbours took place, giving rise to mutual distrust and hostility. Many settlers, often put under pressure by the Nazis, would sign the Volksliste. Also, numerous young people joined the Hitlerjugend, whereas adults were called to military service or the Gestapo. Some joined the Fifth Column. However, there were individuals who withstood the pressure and remained on the Polish side. Halfway into 1944, with Hitler’s army in retreat, the settlers left Sądecczyzna at the request of the German authorities. Their property was handed over to the Poles, and only a handful of Polish-German families would remain.

Now living in Germany and Austria, the descendants of the Sądecczyzna settlers who survived the war remain in touch with the Old Country. Despite being of advanced years, they do their best to visit their homeland, are very keen to accept invitations to various events, and correspond with Sądecczyzna inhabitants they have befriended.

d) Trail: Stadła (elementary school, Evangelical Cemetery) – Stadła (the road via the village) – Nowy Sącz (Evangelical Church) – Nowy Sącz (The Sądecki Ethnographic Park) –– Barcice – Stary Sącz – Gołkowice Dolne


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WSPOMINA GERTRUDE THIELE
WSPOMINA GERTRUDE THIELE