Multiple Language and Cultural Self-Identities Post 4

1. Most literate Russian Germans in Suwalki in the 19th century were bilingual in Polish. By the early 20th century variations in the written Russian language were of Polish rather than German origin. Individual variations of Russian, German and Polish signatures as well as baptismal names were common in this study. By their signatures and names, individuals could be identified as either German, Polish or Russian. This flexibility suggests that they had some identification with the Polish language and if they went to school, some identification with the Russian language as well.


2. The Suwalki gubernia was created in 1867 from the northern portion of the Augustowo Province of the Kingdom of Poland. The K of P existed from 1815 to after WWI as an autonomous administrative unit of the Russian Empire.
The eastern 2/3 of present day Lithuania was considered to be in Russia proper.

2/3 of the geographic area of the former Suwalki Province is now in Lithuania.

The former capital of the province, Suwalki, is now in Poland.

German and Lutheran were often used interchangeably.

Some pastors wrote the records themselves. Others had one or more scribes and only signed the records and made occasional corrections.

Another –at example is Pryczstat.

About 15% of the surnames in the etymological dictionary of current Lithuanian surnames (Lithuanian Surname Dictionary) as of 1985 are identified as being of German origin. Spurgaitis is one of them. Vanagas 1985. This should not be a surprise as the western coast of contemporary Lithuanian was part of the Prussian Empire and under German rule until after WWI. This is a direct reference to Memel and Heydekrug, and Tilsit.

The next three posts will be be about more recent articles from Landsmen, a publication of the Suwalki-Lomza Interest Group.


About suwalkigermans

I started family research in 1993. My first two books focused on my maternal grandparents. Both families came from Kreis Rosenberg, West Prussia, to Big Rapids, Michigan. I left the Spurgats from Wylkowiszki in the Russian Empire as the third book because of the difficult and challenging research it required. After I published the book in 2010, I wondered what to do next. I thought I might try to share some of my research with others and maybe at the same time, by going digital, someone would find me. When you read the comments, you will see that happened. The best part of all this is helping others.
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