Classic EssaysRevilo P. Oliver

Ihr Ländchen

WE OWE to the late Robert Ardrey a series of books that have contributed to the education of “Liberal intellectuals” who can read intelligently. Although they think themselves grown up and too mature to believe the childish stories in the Jew-Book, they retain in their minds the myth about a special creation of human beings by a god, and Ardrey’s well-written books taught the more intelligent ones that the various species called human are only mammals who differ from other mammals only in a development of the brain that permits speech and some measure of thought.

I was especially reminded of Ardrey’s Territorial Imperative by a handsomely printed volume that an anonymous donor sent to Liberty Bell a few months ago.

In the Fourteenth Century a Count of Ortenberg invited into his domains in Carniola German peasants from Carinthia, largely of Franconian and Thuringian ancestry, to occupy and develop a region of primaeval forest and, no doubt, to introduce reliable subjects into a territory largely populated by the detritus left by the many invasions of Noricum and Pannonia that followed the collapse of the Roman Empire in the West and accompanied the long agony of the Byzantine Empire. Carniola, it will be remembered, lies directly east of Aquileia and the city of Trieste at the head of the Gulf of Venice, and was a Dutchy and crown land of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The land is dominated by the Julian Alps and their eastern spurs, and the climate is not Mediterranean, as you might imagine from a glance at a map. The winters are cold and often severe; the summers are usually hot and dry. The soil is calciferous and of relatively low fertility, but it supports forests that quickly encroach on neglected clearings and soon efface them. Only a people as industrious and stalwart as the Germans could have reclaimed from the wilderness the territory allotted to them.

One enclave of Germans was settled in the county, containing numerous villages and hamlets, that surrounded the little town of Gottschee, from which it took its name. Over the centuries, the German peasantry developed a peculiar dialect of their own, consisting chiefly of German words mispronounced and hence not always easily recognized in the spelling adopted when the dialect was written (e.g., bintl = Windel; moarn = Morgen).

In 1876, the German population of the enclave numbered about 26,000. After the disastrous war of 1914-1918 and the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the “Peace” Conferences that were dominated by the idealistic verbiage of the crackpot whom the Jews had trained for the Presidency of the United States, Gottschee became part of a strange hodgepodge called Yugoslavia, and the Slovenians began a systematic persecution of the Germans, forbidding use of both the local dialect, spoken by the peasants, and High German, spoken by the educated. Many “Gottscheers” emigrated, commonly to the United States or Canada. In 1930, the population was 14,500.

During the Jews’ World War, the lands on or near the eastern coast of the Adriatic were occupied by the Italians, and in 1941 Hitler and Mussolini reached an agreement in keeping with Hitler’s policy of “reclaiming” Germans who lived in enclaves within territories having an ethnically diverse and usually hostile population. The Germans of Gottschee were to be uprooted and settled in geographically similar territory in Lower Styria in exchange for the Slovenian enclave in the valleys of the Drave and Save rivers.

A total of 11,756 persons were thus taken from Gottschee by the officials appointed by the German Reich. An unknown number elected to remain in their homeland; most of them were eventually murdered by the Slavic “partisans” who were financed and supplied by the Judaeo-Communists’ principal satrapies, Britain and the United States, to ensure Soviet occupation of Yugoslavia after the War.

How well the interchange of populations would have worked in a time of peace must be conjectural. When carried out by two governments engaged in a desperate war with the overwhelming forces the Jews had mobilized against them, the work was inevitably inefficient, and the result became disastrous when the two nations were defeated. After much suffering and many deaths by violence, some of the displaced Germans from Gottschee eventually found homes in Germany (which compensated them for at least part of their losses), Austria, and the United States and Canada. It was estimated in 1970 that there were a total of 25,000 “Gottscheers,” emigrants before 1941, survivors of the displacement, and their descendants, in the world.

What is deeply impressive about the tragic end of this little enclave is the passionate attachment of its population to their “Ländchen.” it was only with heartbreak that the majority of them were persuaded to leave their homes to rejoin the majority of their race. What is amazing is their loyalty to their lost homeland even in exile, and the attachment with which they and their descendants cherish memory of it by associations that continue to unite them in the diverse regions in which they now live. The territorial imperative is strong in our racial psyche and lingers long after separation from the homeland.

Their “Ländchen” is lost forever. It is futile for them to visit Gottschee now. There is nothing left. As one visitor reports: “The homeland now exists only in memory…. After one has fought one’s way through the thickets and established the approximate location of one’s former house of birth, one stands uncomprehending before very small mounds, overgrown with stinging nettles, weeds, brush, huge shrubs, thirty-five-, thirty-, and ten-year-old trees, the grave mounds of former farms, one’s former birthplace. For a few moments one imagines the village as it once was, the houses, the barns, the fruit trees, the village pond — but the image is strangely lifeless, like painted stage scenery.”

This small band of a few thousand individuals who remain devoted to the memory of their lost homes has subsidized the publication of a handsomely bound book of 218 well-printed pages plus numerous nostalgic photographs in color and in black-and-white, “Das Jahrhundertbuch”: Gottschee and its People through the Centuries, by Erich Petschauer, completed after his death by loyal collaborators, and ably translated into English by Herma Moschner. It was published in 1984 by the Gottscheer Relief Association, for which I have no address. The German original was published in Vienna by the Braumüller Universitäts-Verlagsbuchhandlung.

It is a work of scholarship, which traces the history of Gottschee from the Eleventh Century (before Germans came to the wilderness) and carries that history almost to the time of writing, and it is a labor of love by a man who strove to convey in words an impression of his beloved homeland, “the vastness of its forests and the almost unearthly stillness — the silence which to the human ear often seems absolute, that silence that can awaken you in the middle of the night when the rustling of the forest has suddenly ceased or when the choir of crickets at once grows silent.”

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Source: Liberty Bell magazine, April 1988

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