Germans In Lithuania: Notes from Puidokienė's "Die deutsche Minderheit in Litauen 1918-1940"

The Annaberger Annalen, a publication of academic-level articles written by experts in all things to do with Germans from Lithuania, continues to produce many gems. This certainly applies to Inga Puidokinenė's "Die deutsche Minderheit in Litauen 1918-1940” [The German minority in Lithuania 1918-1940] which is published on the website from 2011 and has been translated into German Arthur Hermann, another well-known expert in this field.

Puidokienė’s article deals with several subjects as they relate to Germans living in Lithuania during the post WWI years—and her particular focus deals with those individuals living outside of the Memel area. This is an important distinction to the reader, if your ancestors came from the region of Lithuania closest to East Prussia—where the highest concentration of German Lithuanians lived outside of the Memel area.

The entire article can be read, in German, on the Annaberger Annalen website. However, I have provided some takeaways of my own as they relate in importance to my own Salecker ancestors from Wischtiten.

  • From the 1897 general Russian census, farmers made up over half the population of Germans in Lithuania

  • The same census reported around 16% of the population of Kreis Wilkowischken were German however some experts believe that number is more around 14% due to the fact that Russian officials often referred to all Protestants in Lithuania as ‘German’

  • The author discusses information from the Lithuanian census of 1923. It would be useful to see this census. It appears that it is housed at the archives in Vilnius.

  • This 1923 census proved that the majority of Lithuania’s German population lived alongside the border with East Prussia

  • Data is gathered from “Daten über die kulturelle und wirtschafliche Lage der Deutschen in Litauen. Diese Quellensammlung wurde unter dem obigen Titel auch auf Deutsch von der Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Litauen herausgegeben” which was published in 2009 by Karl Fuchs who is the director of the organization of Germans from Lithuania [Landsmannschaft der Deutschen aus Litauen.] This publication lists hundreds of farms in Lithuania and properties owned by German Lithuanians. I would very much like to view this document however, it appears to be difficult to obtain here in the U.S. from the Landsmannschaft. A review of this publication is written in the Annaberger Annalen from 2011 written by Arthur Hermann.

  • Around 1,100 German farms were located in Kreis Wilkowischken

  • The author includes a quote from a contemporary individual who explains that Germans located in this area lived a better life. They had nicer homes and farms and better technology.

  • A large part of the author’s paper focuses on the importance of the Kulturverband in Lithuania and its importance to Germans in Lithuania. It influenced politics, education and culture for many years. It also played a key role in the [unfortunate] spread of Nazism among Germans in Lithuania.

  • The author mentions that some of the German Lithuanian children in the border areas visited Germans schools in East Prussia. One can presume if the Salecker children did visit schools like this in East Prussia, it would have been in neighboring Stallupönen or Pillupönen.

As so many of the talented writers of this publication, Puidokienė's provides important research to learn more about the German Lithuanians (who I call Prussian Lithuanians) in the Kreis Wilkowischken area—including a bibliography that will additionally help the researcher.