Germans in Belarus
|Regions with significant populations|
|Minsk, Hrodna, Polatsk|
|German · Belarusian|
|Lutheran · Roman Catholic|
The first German merchants and missionaries, including Bruno of Querfurt, arrived in what is now Belarus in the late 10th and early 11th century. The medieval Duchy of Polatsk had active trade contacts with the Hanseatic League and the city of Polatsk had a notable German community.
Significant numbers of Germans settled in what is now Belarus during the times of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and after the annexation of the lands by the Russian Empire.
In early 20th century there were close to 50 thousands ethnic Germans living in Belarus. Minsk was home to a two thousand people strong community of Germans with a Lutheran church and a German-populated area around it.
Germans faced deportations after the beginning of the First World War and during the Soviet repressions in Belarus. After the Second World War, the historical German communities in Belarus disappeared. A minor number of ethnic Germans from Kazakhstan and Russia migrated to Belarus during the Soviet occupation after the Second World War. A small German expat community emerged after Belarus regained independence in 1991.
According to a census conducted in 2009, 2,474 ethnic Germans lived in Belarus. There are Lutheran church buildings in Hrodna and Polatsk. A sign commemorating the German community of Minsk was opened in May 2019.
Lutheran church in Hrodna, one of the few active Lutheran churches in Belarus
Former Lutheran church in Polatsk
Lutheran church in Minsk (destroyed during the Soviet occupation)
Lutheran church in Mahiliou (destroyed during the Soviet occupation)
Notable Belarusian Germans
- Lavon Volski, rock musician of German descent
- Barys Hiunter, member of the Supreme Soviet of Belarus from the Belarusian Popular Front, of Volga German origin
- Eduard von der Ropp, Roman Catholic archbishop of Mahiliou from 1917 to 1939, one of the advocates of the introduction of the Belarusian language in the Catholic Church in Belarus
- Juliana Menke, activist of the Belarusian national revival movement, from a Lithuanian German family
- Перепись населения — 2009. Население по национальности и родному языку(in Russian)
- Этналогія Беларусі: традыцыйная культура насельніцтва ў гістарычнай перспектыве. Вучэб.-метад. дапам. [The Ethnology of Belarus: traditional culture of the population in a historical perspective], by T. Navahrodzki and others. Minsk, 2009, ISBN 978-985-518-121-8; p. 310-311
- У Менску паставілі памятны знак нямецкай слабадзе [A memorial sign for the German community was placed in Minsk] - Radio Svaboda, 14 May 2019
- Памяці Барыса Гюнтэра [In memoriam Barys Hiunter] - Radio Svaboda, 22 August 2014
- ГЮНТЭР БАРЫС ДАВЫДАВІЧ [Hiunter, Barys Davydavic], Virtual Museum of Political Repressions in Belarus
- З Богам да Беларусі [With God to Belarus], by A. Stankievich, Vilnius, 2008, p. 510, quote: “На запыты вернікаў пра магчымасьць увядзеньня беларускай мовы ў касьцёле адказваў, што «ня толькі можна, але й трэба».” [“answering to requests by the faithful about the possibility to introduce the Belarusian language in the church, he said “it’s not only possible, it’s necessary””]
- ЮЛІЯНА ВІТАН-ДУБЕЙКАЎСКАЯ [Julijana Vitan-Dubiejkauskaja] - Official website of the Rada of the Belarusian Democratic Republic. Quote: “Паходзіла зь сям’і віленскіх немцаў-купцоў” [“came from a family of German merchants from Wilno”]