21 / 2005
Marjan Drnovšek


The Gottscheer Germans (Kočevarji) lived as a linguistic island in the south east part of the present Slovenia for more than six hundred years, that is until their forced migration (1941/42) and afterwards withdrawal and extradition from Yugoslavia after 1945. From the 15th century on, they were known as peddlers; they also included themselves in mass emigration to the United States of America after the year 1880. One of the questions of emigration is in Slovenia appurtenance to the language of intercourse that Austrian censuses from the years 1880, 1890, 1900 and 1920 state. In 1890, 18.622 persons in the Gottschee region declared for German language as language of intercourse (of those, 1.210 in the town of Kočevje), and 1.587 for Slovene language (of those, only 103 persons in the town of Kočevje). Solely in the court circuit of Kočevje, 14.301 persons lived in 1890 who spoke German, and 4.895 persons who spoke Slovene. Therefore: as much as 72% of the population of the court district of Kočevje belonged to German language as language of intercourse. Alltogether 639 persons emigrated from that district in the years 1892 and 1893, which does not mean few in regard of early time of emigration. Two cases: in 1890, 526 persons of Slovene language and 409 persons of German language lived in the community Draga (Suchen), and 76 persons emigrated in the years 1892 and 1893; in the community Koprivnik (Nesselthal) where 1.738 persons of German language and only 115 persons of Slovene language lived in the same period, 50 persons left for the United States of America. From the entire district of Kočevje (consisting of court circuits of Kočevje, Ribnica and Velike Lašče), in the years 1892-1913 (by partly missing data), 76.195 persons emigrated form the province of Carniola, of those as many as 17.566 from the region of the Kočevje district, that is, almost a quarter (23,05%). In short, the Kočevje region stood out by number of emigrants among who the Gottschee Germans were strongly present. In the mentioned emigration wave from the district of Kočevje, there were in 1892 as many as 31,25% women, a year later 24,65% (according to American data, 81,6% men immigrated to the USA in the years 1898-1914 and only 18,4% women of the so-called “Slovene and Croatian race”). For the period 1892-1913, the Kočevje emigration wave consisted of as many as 64,77% of single young men and women. In the years 1892 and 1893, at the most daily agrarian workers left, following were maids, landowners, cottagers etc. The majority had no property. Shortly, young people and those with no means were the majority of emigrants in that early period of emigrating from the present Slovenia. Undoubtedly, the emigration wave of the Gottschee men and women presents in the time of mass emigration to the USA a significant share in the so-called Slovene emigration wave, which we must pay regard to in researching this phenomena on Slovene territory.