The article deals with three questions, the first being the chronology and range of so-called German eastern colonisation (Ostkolonisation, deutsche Ostsiedlung). In the opinion of the author, the beginnings of this movement should be sought in Dutch and Frisian colonisation of eleventh-century Saxony; there is no reason for regarding modern German colonisation settlements in the state of Muscovy (Russia) as part of this movement. The number of the colonists in the Middle Ages was never large, and the impression of the mass-scale character of the movement is produced by the state of the sources (the presence of 'locatio' documents issued to settlers and the absence of documents referring to the indigenous population) as well as the transference of the local inhabitants of Central-Eastern Europe to the so-called German law, a practice frequent from the thirteenth century on. The second problem consists of the role played by colonisation in German national awareness during the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century and, as a consequence, in plans for conquering lands to the east of Germany and populating them with Germans, pursued especially in 1939-1945. Moreover, the author proposed a comparison of German colonisation with analogous movements in the history of Europe, and particularly the settlement of the New World by the Europeans. (The English version of this article was published in 'German History' vol. XXII, 2004, pp. 323-343).
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.