The territory of Slovakia has long been a meeting place for ethnic communities and different cultures. More secular coexistence of numerous ethnic groups became a complex of values commonly called the common cultural heritage.
The contribution of individual nations within the entire ethnic structure of a territorial social group is still a topical issue of the interdisciplinary study (the entire structure of ethnic-territorial social unity is still the current edition of the interdisciplinary study).
German settlements were not very numerous, but very rewarding and useful. German colonists played a major role in the emergence of cities in Slovakia. The foundation of cities had a great influence on the development of handicrafts with historical consequences. In view of the economic and social superiority of the German guests over the local population, they influenced the development of technology in crafts between domestic and ethnicity.
German colonists considered areas in Slovakia as their homeland for more than seven centuries. Together with the Slovaks and other relatively small ethnic groups, in a relatively small area of Slovakia, the Germans created a unique form of ethnocultural values.
Due to the geopolitical position of Slovakia, intensive contacts with the German cultural environment already show in early archaeology in the first century AD, when the territory was inhabited by Germanic tribes. Slavs had agile contacts with the Frankish Empire, especially in the early Christianization.
Around the middle of the 12th century, the settlement took place according to German law, which, until its end in the 15th century significantly, influenced a large part of Slovakia and Hungary in economic, cultural and political life.
Migration of the German population took place in Slovakia in other centuries at a much lower intensity. There were fundamentally different legal, economic, and socio-political conditions. Not only in the vicinity of Moravia, Bohemia, Transylvania, Poland, and Carpathian Ukraine is the settlement of the German population covered.
The Slovak settlements in the area of the German ethnic group were held in several stages and the colonization was carried out according to Emphyteutischen law in the 12th – 15th century. The last wave of settlement in the compact form of the arrival of the Germans was in the village of Michalkau ( Michaelsdorf) in eastern Slovakia in 1899. Michalkau lies 10 km from Vronau an der Töpel ( Frö (h) nel an der Töpel) and the farmers of the village also acquired property in the Czech Tachau area.
After the dissolution of the Austrian-Hungarian monarchy, the Germans, together with citizens of the Habsburg monarchy, settled in Slovakia and Hungary. When Czechoslovakia was founded in 1918, the German minority had problems distinguishing between the settlements in the territory of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia and the minority in Slovakia and Carpathian Ukraine. An acceptable solution with regard to the German minority was the naming of Carpathian Germans (author Raimund Friedrich Kaindl). In the first decade of the 20th century, R. F. Kaindl treated the Germans as ethnic Germans. In the 40s of the 20th century, the term was often used by Slovak Germans.
German ethnicity was found not only in the Slovak territory but also in many towns and villages. Three geographical regions of German settlements in Slovakia are also three cultural units divided into several subdivisions. These are:
Bratislava and surroundings – Bratislava itself with the existing neighboring districts, some towns and wine villages in the Small Carpathians and seven villages of the Great Szigetköz Island, Kremnitz with the surrounding villages and the surroundings of German samples, Hauerland, and the Zips (Oberzips, Unterzips. and Bodwatal).
In all regions, there are significant differences that stem from many factors and assumed the overall cultural development of the ethnic communities. These circumstances include the historical settlement of Germans in the territory of Slovakia and associated privileges. In addition, it is the type of vocational orientation or employment in the newly settled area, also parent company, i.e. standard – area settlers. These were later adopted as an important factor with regard to the adoption and maintenance of new Lutheran religious currents and related interaction and developed through studies in German countries that have contributed strongly to the development of educational levels.
The differences between the three mentioned regions and support of the ongoing processes of adaptation, respectively different conditions for their being, such as ethnic isolation, interethnic distance, a process of adaptation, acculturation, or vice versa, related elements in the culture surrounding communities around ethnicity.
In addition to the three regions mentioned, German ethnic groups formed numerous diasporas in several cities and towns. Such distribution of ethnic groups of several families, usually not mixed marriages, came to Slovakia from the 12th century onwards.
German ethnic settlements took place in Slovakia in several periods. Most authors devoted to this topic identified four basic phases of migration.
The first phase is the settlement of German law in the 12th – 14th centuries, but also in the 15th century, which had the largest number of colonists. Especially in the 2nd half of the 13th century and the beginning of the 14th century, a strong German element arrived at the territory of Slovakia and brought new forms of administration, justice, and culture.
German colonists came from a progressive environment, especially in the economic sense, to a new country and received extensive privileges and royal privileges. This is the most important factor in ensuring the rapid economic, social and cultural development of the Germans in Hungary. Check out also this post about German and Hungarian minorities in post-war Slovakia.
In this phase, the upper and lower Zip, mountain towns of Central Slovakia and its surroundings, several towns in Eastern Slovakia, and also many towns in Western Slovakia – Bratislava, Tyrnau and Small Carpathian wine villages were settled.
The second phase of settlement in Slovakia by German ethnic groups is connected with the Counter-Reformation in Europe in the 16th-17th century. At that time, people from Bavaria, Tyrol, Switzerland, and other German countries, also from northern Italy, settled in several places of the Záhorská lowlands as far as Trenèín. They practice a new form of religion – Anabaptists. This group of Germans is called Habans in Slovakia.
During this period, Slovakia was in a liberal-confessional situation. Other religious exiles from several Austrian and German regions had settled in Bratislava and its surroundings and on the small Szigetköz Island.
The third phase of the settlement took place in the 18th century. For various political and economic reasons, the future German ethnicity came in several waves. The first wave was the situation after the Turkish War when it was necessary to rebuild the destroyed economy and devastated areas. These included Wiesleburg County, Jahrndorf, Karlburg, and Sandorf. In 1946 these areas were annexed by Czechoslovakia.
Many feudal lords and landowners invited German settlers to their estates to create mutually beneficial conditions. In the second half of the 18th century, Smolenitz and rot – Kamensk were founded on the estates of Palffy. Second subsidiary for a group of lumberjacks from Tyrol, the Alps, and Styria. The Germans bore the name of their profession. Woodcutters and lumberjacks were ethnically known as woodcutters.
The influx of German settlers was intensified during the reign of Joseph II. The royal representatives settled several areas of Slovakia under very favorable conditions. E.g. Germans from Swabia, Alsace – Lorraine, and Bavaria were assigned to Diosek (formerly part of Diosek – Németh Dioseg). After 1785 several families lived in the Zips, some experts for the cultivation and processing of flax and improvement of weaving techniques, others as cattle breeders.
The fourth phase of the settlement of Germans in Slovakia was during the 19th century with the foundation and development of branches of metallurgy and metal industry.
In none of the four phases are the migratory movements of glassmaking included. They are small ethnic groups with family leadership. Glassmakers were endogamy communities in the same area. The natural resources made it necessary for them to migrate to other areas after exhaustion. Glass smelting plants played an important role in Slovakia during the Middle Ages.
Germans in the Middle Ages formed a strong ethnic element in Slovakia. Some estimates about the number in the older literature are exaggerated. Their number was estimated at 250,000 inhabitants at the end of the 14th and early 15th centuries, which corresponds to about a quarter of the population of the area of Slovakia at that time. Later, the development of the German minority in Slovakia was negatively influenced. (The decline of the mining business, the bankruptcy of the associated crafts and the long-term natural assimilation of the local population).