„The Times of Varnsdorf“: The Czech-Sorbian school education project in context of the post-war years 1945–1950
The declared goal of the Czech-Sorbian initiative, which was constituted after the end of the Second World War in Czechoslovakia, was the formation of a national elite. Originating in the experiences and losses during the National Socialist regime, representatives of the Czech School Association (Ústřední matice školská), the Lusatian Friends Association (Společnost přátel Lužice), the Lusatian-Sorbian National Committee (board of exile Sorbs in Prague), the Domowina-Groups in Czechoslovakia and the re-established Domowina in Bautzen initiated the build-up of a new Sorbian elite. At the end of the year 1945 they started a school education project for children and adolescents from Lusatia, to which the response was enormous. Espacially for the purpose of the formation of Sorbian national elite, schools were founded in Varnsdorf, Česká Lípa und Liberec, where approximatly 800 Sorbian students received secondary education.
Retrospectively, the declared intention of the initiators, to promote the development of a new elite of the national minority of the Sorbs, seems to have worked out. Many observers point out the enormous significance of the so-called "Times of Varnsdorf" for the elite formation of the Sorbs. Since the 1990s, the experiences in schools and boarding schools behind the Saxonian-Bohemian border take a wide space in the culture of remembrance of the Sorbs. Despite of its importance, the school education project was described only in a rudimentary way and has not been scientifically reviewed so far.
This project aims to reconstruct the Czech-Sorbian educational project in the context of Czech, Sorbian and German post-war history based on a historical, source and contemporary witnesses supported approach, focussing on the motives and experiences of the actors involved, as well as the manifold impacts of the school education project beyond the graduation year 1950.
Project team members: Jana Piňosová
(lead), Peter Schurmann
, Jana Schulz, Thomas Menzel