Update : The video below has been replaced by a better edited version in which one actually can read the subtitles. (Sep 16, 2007)

By coincidence I am visiting my parents right now, when the Danish minority has its annual meeting (in Danish: “Årsmøde”). It lasted for three days, and I was back in Oslo the last day, so I decided to take my sister and shoot a little video of one of the celebrations in a tiny little village called “Ascheffel” (just far enough away for me not to run into old teachers from kindergarten, etc.). The resulting video has many flaws, amongst which are:

– The sound is not very good + you need to know both German AND Danish to make sense of it all. But then again, it’s subtitled!

– There are quite a few references which don’t make much sense to anyone who hasn’t been there. (though look at the very bottom of this article)

Now I am putting the video up now nevertheless, because I know I will not have much time at a pc in the near future due to me travelling to Copenhagen tomorrow, then to Oslo from there and on Tuesday I’ll be in Amsterdam for a week, before going back to Oslo. (and yes, I’m staying in my tent both in Amsterdam and Oslo). Anyways, for anyone who doesn’t mind all these problems and is interested in a tiny documentary about the Danish minority in Germany from a critical perspective… enjoy the download!

Update: The anthropology sites Kansatieteilijän desktopilta (Finnish), sblog, Antropologi.info and Savageminds.org have linked the video.


Zone 1,2,3: In 1920 elections were held whether the area of Schleswig should go back to Denmark. Zone 1 was the most northern zone. Zone 3 was the most southern zone. Zone 1 voted first, and they voted Danish. Zone 2 voted German and so elections were cancelled in zone 3. See also the map here.

Bismarck: Chancellor of Prussia 1862-1890. They put a statue of him on the hill Aschberg near Ascheffel. read more about him here.

The Border Society: Is the main organization in Denmark with local chapters all over the country that mobilizes support for the Danish minority. Because it is no longer normal to have huge flag parades, they instead have to participate in the ones in Southern Schleswig. Their website is here.

The Schleswig League: Is a minor, but more radical organization in Denmark that also mobilizes support for the Danish minority. Their original goal was to get the Southern Schleswig reunited with Denmark. Although they nowadays say that it is “unrealistic” to achieve that goal, their website still focuses a lot on it. The League does not receive government support fopr its support projects in Southern Schleswig. Instead they collect money from private individuals. Their website is here.

10 thoughts on “”

  1. hej johannes.
    1000 tak for en dejlig oplevelse.
    maaske ved du at jeg er gaaet pa askfelt dansk skole og at mine foraeldre er tysker. og de taler ikke en skid dansk!!
    tak for dit bidrag til diskussionen om det danske mindretal.
    og tak for at jeg fik lov til at rejse tilbage i tiden og se min gamle laerer og min elskede skole.
    jeg sender din film videre til en tysk veninde der laeser dansk i hamborg og skriver om mindretallet i sydslesvig.
    jeg glaeder mig at se dig igen og snakke med dig om mindretals"problemet".

    mange hilsner fra berlin fra mali, der baade foeler sig tysk og dansk, men har kun tysk pas!!

  2. Hi Mali!
    Nice to hear. BTW: I talked to some guy at a party in Oslo the other night who said he knew you from Hoejskole. Rune was at the party too, so you can ask him about details…

    Johannes, who feels like a world citizen

  3. hiya johannes,
    interesting little documentary. it’s amazing what people can do with their free time when they don’t have playstations.
    and your sister’s quite cute.

  4. I just watched your documentary on South Schleswig through Google Videos. I come from Shetland, 200 Km west from Bergen and 200 Km south of Faroe.

    I used to live in Denmark and was very interested in the Danish minority. My family were Danish citizens, like everyone here, four or five hundred years ago.

    King Christian the First couldn’t afford to pay the Scottish crown to marry his daughter Margrette so he put Orkney and Shetland up as "pant" then when he had the money he came with it but by this time Scotland didn’t want to give it back. There was no official handover and no official changing of soverignty so possibly maybe these islands are still Danish.

    We actually have direct ferries to Hanstholm, Bergen, Torshavn and Seydisfjordur in Iceland plus usually a direct flight to Oslo and to Torshavn.

    The Danish people here became British though so I don’t know if that is an omen for the Danish minority in Germany?

    Very interesting documentary though. A surprise find.


  5. Keith wrote: "The Danish people here became British though so I don’t know if that is an omen for the Danish minority in Germany?"

    Well, absolutely. Over time the minority of people who have descendants from before the handover to Prussia/Germany in 1864 and who still feel Danish because of that will disappear. In fact, I believe that did already happen during the latter part of the 19th century.

    However, historically there have always been new reasons for people to join the minority — after both wars obviously because Denmark was better off. After WWII the membership went down up until some time in the 1960s/1970s (one is not allowed to count the actual membership of the minority, so no-one knows the certain year). Since then the amount of students at the Danish schools south of the border has been increasingly steadily. While the Schleswig League is losing members, the Danish minority is about to built its 2nd high school because the existing one is running far above its capacity.

    However, I think there are some valuable qualities to the institutions of the Danish minority — mainly these are related to the relative independence the individual schools, kindergarten, etc. have from the governments of both Germany and Denmark because neither can spend the time making laws and regulations that only apply to a few 10,000 cross-nationals (or in other situations one has to follow two incompatible sets of laws). This form of autharcy is mirrored in the view of nations many of us with background from those institutions (like my sister and I) have. If one could just cut out the nationalist tendencies…

    I would argue that the last increase in membership is due to the fact that Denmark and Germany together pay 271% compared to what Germany pays per student at a German schools. However, some would call me an economical determinist when I say that.

  6. I’ve seen your clip and i liked it. I’m a catalan 47 and it is quite interesting to see how in europe one can find national identities "tensions" more often than the mainline politics like to recognize. just one remark: you say at the beginning that you are going to be like a journalist more or less. when trying to make people talk about something important to them you should find the way to "isolate" them from external noise, it helps them to concentrate on themselves and let go things that they have not much chances to let out. adopting the rol of a child helps, but not overtreatilizing. i studies journalism and i ll say that most journalists are unable to do good interviews. when you are interviewing someone you are stealing him/her his/her time and you should be as codicious as you could be. 2/ i don’t know danish nor norwegian but the last phrase of the clip is really good: the misunderstanding between sell and send. i ll look on the dictionary about those verbs in your languages. cute . best wishes.

  7. Hi Nyebit!
    I am glad you liked the video. I agree with you,t hat you usually should try to interview people while they are separated from other activities and have time to focus on the journalist. However, part of the aim of this clip was to show "the real South Schleswigans". As you can see in the first very long part, there is built-in mechanism in the organization culture of the Danish minority to send you on until you encounter someone who speaks Danish fluently and who usually gives you a rather skewed presentation of the area — a story about the national communities that exist as objective sizes. These are the leader figures of the organizational complex that calls itself the "Danish minority" and of course their interest and power lies are deeply connected with the continuation of a model in which national communities are counted as being the most important ones. I doubt it could have been done very much differently. But next time I would use a better camera. 🙂
    The words for sell and send are spelled almost the same in Danish and Norwegian. It’s just the pronunciation that is different, and since I sometime have somewhat of a Norwegian accent when speaking Danish, my sister does not always understand me. That’s all. 🙂

  8. Jeg synes at kunne huske, at der i den tidligere version af filmen var et interview med Slesvig-Ligaens formand. Er den editeret ud af en speciel grund?

  9. Hei, jo det er der skam stadigvaek. Men desvaerre viser nettvideo-udbyderen kun de foerste par minutter, saa maa man downloade resten. Jeg skal proeve at se om jeg faar uploaded videoen paa endnu et sted for at man kan se paa hele videoen igne i netlaeseren.

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