The Beginnings of Mother Tongue Lessons of Slovenian Language and Culture in Germany in the Twentieth Century
This paper focuses on mother tongue lessons of Slovenian language and culture in Germany, which began almost one hundred years ago. They were first organized between World War I and World War II and later re-established after the signing of the bilateral agreement between Germany and Yugoslavia (1968). While favorable political, social, and economic circumstances in the country of origin and in the country of destination are important, the paper emphasizes that individuals are crucial. Individuals overcome bureaucratic obstacles and enable the beginning and implementation of mother tongue lessons of Slovenian language and culture for Slovenian emigrants.
KEYWORDS: Slovenians in Germany, Slovenian mother tongue and culture lessons, economic migrants
The paper introduces the beginnings of mother tongue lessons of Slovenian language and culture in Germany as one of the consequences of Slovenian migration processes to Germany. The first courses of Slovenian language were organized in 1926 by the German priest Božidar Tensundern for the children of mineworkers who came to work in north Germany from the end of the nineteenth century. A few years later, with the support of the government of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, eight Slovenian courses were organized in seven German cities, too. These courses were interrupted by World War II and revived after the signing of the bilateral agreement between Germany and Yugoslavia in 1968. The agreement influenced a renewed emigration from Slovenia to Germany, the founding of Slovenian cultural associations, and the organization of Slovenian schools in 1970 and afterward. However, official support from the country of origin is not enough if no individuals are willing to dedicate their private lives to preserving their mother tongue, as the life stories of Jana and Franc Kolman show. They migrated in 1970 and 1971 and established the Slovenian sport-cultural association Drava Augsburg in 1979 to start mother tongue lessons of Slovenian language and culture in Augsburg. Mother tongue lessons of Slovenian language and culture among Slovenian emigrants are still supported today. In 2019/20, the Republic of Slovenia financed thirty-six teachers, six of them in Germany, who taught Slovenian language and culture to Slovenian emigrants and their descendants in nineteen European countries.