Germans in Germany had various perceptions regarding Lithuania and its Germans. Up until World War I there was little knowledge about the structure of the people who lived in the Baltic provinces, even by German military officers. Baltic-Germans were considered to be Russians. Even among the small upper class in Germany, those most likely to be knowledgeable about Germans in the eastern regions did not know a great deal about the Baltic Germans. The same was true of those who taught in German schools.
The cultural interactions between Germans and Lithuanians began with the 14th century conquest of Lithuania by the Teutonic Knights and the first German settlement there. This introduction to German culture was followed by the subsequent arrival of German artisans after the archduke (who called himself king) sent messages to cities of the Hansa (Hanseatic) League, inviting German artisans to his realm. By the 15th and 16th centuries the German language was significant.1
The influence of the Protestant Reformation in 1517 and the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation also affected German migration to Lithuania.2 (See “The Salzburgers” in the next post.)
The 19th century German immigration to Lithuania also influenced German culture in Lithuania with the formation of various Lutheran churches in Lithuania. Specifically, 1841 is the date that German immigration is associated with Mariampol. 1869 is also the date in which German immigration is associated with Wylkowiszki.3
1 Jaekel, Bilder aus der Geschichte des evangelischen Deutschtums in Litauen, 5-11.
2 Jaekel, Bilder aus der Geschichte des evangelischen Deutschtums in Litauen, 5-11.
3 Jaekel, Bilder aus der Geschichte des evangelischen Deutschtums in Litauen, 5-11.