The Mazurs or Masurs ( _pl. Mazurzy) are a sub-
ethnic groupin the Masovian and Warmian-Masurian Voivodeships in Poland. Mazurs from Masoviaare known as Masovians ( _pl. Mazowszanie; _de. Masowier). Some of them moved to Prussiaespecially during and after Reformationand in the 1800s Masuriaregion of East Prussiawas named after these Protestant Masurians ( _pl. Mazurzy; _de. Masuren).
The name of the sub-ethnic group is derived from the
Lekhitictribe of Masovians who gave their name to the land of Masovia in Poland.
Middle Ages, the inhabitants of the northern Duchy of Masoviawere called "Mazury" in Polish. Between the 15th and 17th centuries, settlers from northern Masovia moved to southern territories of Duchy of Prussiaand later Kingdom of Prussia, the land of the Old Prussiansfollowing their conquest by the Teutonic Knights.
Because of the influx of Masovians into the southern lakeland of the
Duchy of Prussia, the area started to be known as " Masuria". During the Protestant Reformation, Masurians, like most inhabitants of Ducal Prussia, became Lutheran Protestants, while the neighboring Masovians remained Roman Catholic. The small minority of Protestant Masovians in the south emigrated into Prussian Masuria. Masuria became part of the Kingdom of Prussiain 1701 and the Prussian-led German Empirein 1871.
Beginning in the 1870s, Imperial German officials restricted the usage of languages other than German in Prussia's eastern provinces. [Clark, p. 580] The German authorities undertook several measures to Germanise the Masurians or separate them culturally from neighboring Poles by creating a separate identity. [Becoming German: Lessons from the Past for the Present" Brian McCook in Leitkultur and Nationalstolz-Tabu -German Phenomena? Bonn, April 2002Alexander von Humboldt Foundation pages 33-42] Many Masurians emigrated to the
Ruhr Area, especially to Gelsenkirchen.
Support for Germany was strong amongst the Masurians during
World War I. [Clark, p. 608] In 1920, the East Prussian plebiscitewas held to determine the new border between the Second Polish Republicand German East Prussia. Although a small group of Masurians did vote for Poland, the vast majority (97.9%) opted to remain in Prussia. [ [http://quellen.herder-institut.de/M01/materialien/Mat02/Dok02.doc/TextQuelle_view| Rocznik statystyki Rzczypospolitej Polskiej/Annuaire statistique de la République Polonaise 1 (1920/22), Teil 2, Warszawa 1923, S. 358.] ]
Support for the
Nazi Partywas high in Masuria, especially in elections in 1932 and 1933. [Clark, p. 640] Nazi political rallies were organized in Polish during the campaigning. [Clark, p. 640] Several Masurian towns and villages had their original Slavic or sometimes Baltic Prussian names changed to new German names by Nazi Germanyin 1938. Along with German-speaking East Prussians, many Masurians fled to western Germany as the Soviet Red Armyapproached East Prussia in 1945 during World War II. The post-war Potsdam Conferenceplaced Masuria under Polish administration. After 1956 most Masurians who had remained in Poland immigrated to West Germany, due to economical and political reasons.
The Masurians have been studied by the sociologist
*cite book|last=Clark|first=Christopher|authorlink=Christopher Clark|title=Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia 1600–1947|year=2006|publisher=Belknap Press of Harvard|location=Cambridge|pages=776|isbn=067402385-4
11 September 2006
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