Sorbian history – a piece of Bautzen’s history

The city’s history is tightly interlinked with the history of the Sorbs. The development of our city has always been shaped by both German and Sorbian citizens.

1002 “Budusin”, the main castle of the Milzener, is first documented in the chronicle of Thietmar von Merseburg.
1295 A Sorbian-speaking clergyman is appointed for the Church of the Lady.
around 1500 About one third of the approximately 5,000 inhabitants of the city of Bautzen are Sorbs.
From 1523 onwards As a result of the Reformation there is a confessional separation among the Sorbs in the Upper Lusatia (Oberlausitz). Catholic Sorbian communities remain in the Bautzen-Kamenz-Hoyerswerda districts.
Around 1530 The oath of citizenship of Bautzen (“The Burger Eydt Wendisch”) is regarded as the oldest Sorbian written document.
1574 The Book printing house of Nikolaus Wolrab in Bautzen, founded in 1552, produces the first printed Sorbian book, a collection of Lower Sorbian church songs, which also contains Luther’s “Small Catechism”.
1728 The first complete Sorbian Bible appears in Bautzen.
1842 Handrij Zejler founds the weekly newspaper “Tydźenska Nowina” in Bautzen. It was published continuously from 1854 until 1937 under the title “Serbske Nowiny” (from 1920 as a daily newspaper). It reached its highest circulation with 6000 subscribers in 1923.
1845 The first Sorbian singing festival in Bautzen began the tradition of large meetings of Singers and holding of concerts, especially through the dedication of the teacher and cantor Korla Awgust Kocor (Katzer).
1845/47 The Sorbian Scientific and Cultural Society “Maćica Serbska” is founded in Bautzen. In the mold of scientific and cultural academies of larger nations, it assumed complex responsibilities, and soon became a supraregional and supra-religious spiritual center of the Sorbs and the home for all areas of Sorbian culture. Their magazine appeared until 1937.
1851 Jan Arnošt Smoler (Schmaler) founds the first Sorbian publishing house bookshop in Bautzen.
1875 The first Sorbian printing works is established.
1862 The first (upper) Sorbian theater performance in the Bautzener Hotel “Zur Krone” by members of the local Sorbian association “Bjesada”; A Czech comedy was shown.
1904 The Wendische Haus in Bautzen, Lauengraben/Ecke Outer Lauenstraße, is opened after seven years of construction. With printing press and publishing house, a library and an archive, the Maćica, the Sorbian National Museum, and a cafe with a national lecture hall, it was the center of the Sorbian cultural life. It burned down in the last days of the war in 1945.
1920 For the surveillance of the Sorbs the “Wendenabteilung”, which existed up to 1945, was established in Bautzen. The purpose of this was the “exposure of every Wendish (Sorbian) national movement as being hostile to the National Government” and the “promotion of the rise of the Wenden in German culture”.
1921 Establishment of the Bautzen Circle of the Domovina “Jan Arnošt Smoler”.
1937 The National Socialists ban all statements of Sorbian language and culture in public and close the Sorbian institutions. The Domowina is banned. Engaged Sorbian teachers and clerics of both confessions are transferred out of the Lausitz.
1939 The Sorbe Alois Andritzki is ordained by Bishop Petrus Legge in the St. Petri Cathedral in Bautzen. He was a determined opponent of National Socialism and was murdered in the Dachau concentration camp in 1943. In 2011 his beatification took place.
1948 The Saxon Parliament adopts the law for the protection of the rights of the Sorbian population. As a result, political and cultural institutions are created on the basis of this legislation.
1950 With a Sorbian People’s Meeting (“Zjězd Serbow”) the tradition of central events with wide ranging cultural programs is resumed in Bautzen.
1956 At the 2nd Sorbian People’s Meeting the newly built house of the Sorbs / Serbski dom is handed over to the Domowina. The construction started in 1947 with donations and voluntary brigade missions and was completed with state funds from 1949 onwards.
1966–1989 In this period seven Sorbian festivals are held in Bautzen. They testify to the will of the Sorbians to maintain their identity and demonstrate the high level of Sorbian culture. At the same time, they serve to propagate political goals.
1991 After the reunification of Germany, the Sorbian institutions created in the GDR change to new organizational forms. In order to secure their economic base, the Foundation for the Sorbian People is founded. It decides on the use of the financial resources of the National government and the States of Saxony and Brandenburg to promote the Sorbian language and culture as well as to preserve the Sorbian identity.
In Bautzen, the Sorbian National Ensemble, the German-Sorbian Folk Theater, the Domowina Publishing House and the Sorbian Institute continue to operate on this basis.
1998 The city council passes “the Statutes of the City of Bautzen to promote the Sorbian Language and Culture”, and a working group for Sorbian affairs is founded.
1999 The Saxony State parliament passes the law on the rights of the Sorbs in the Free State of Saxony.
2003 Reopening of the Sorbian Museum after two years of closure due to extensive refurbishment and reconstruction measures.
2008 After extensive reconstruction, the Sorbian School and Meeting Center opens its school again.