Sorbs: relics of the Ostsiedlung

By Razib Khan | May 12, 2011 11:13 pm


Relics of a lost race?

One of the issues which I have been exploring and mulling over the past year and a half on this weblog has been the idea that population movements were much more extensive in the past than we have thought until late. I can say a year and a half because my thinking was clarified and made more urgent by the publication in January of 2010 a paper which totally overturned what we’d thought we’d known about what Y chromosomal phylogeography told us about European prehistory. A very common marker in Western Europe which had been assumed to be diagnostic of roots in Europe in the Pleistocene past was now argued to be a signature of the pulse of farmers out of the Middle East! The extremely high frequency of this marker among the Basques, and the presumption that the Basques were the Paleolithic ur-Europeans, allowed researchers in the early 2000s to peg the proportion of Paleolithic hunter-gatherer ancestry across Europe on the order of ~75%. At this point we don’t have total clarity, though I would argue that we need to lean ever so slightly toward accepting the proposition that the contemporary genetic landscape of Europe is an artifact of massive replacements and assimilations which occurred between five and ten thousand years ago. In this reformulation the Basques are the last cultural links to a wave of farmers which swept out of the eastern Mediterranean, and were either genetically or culturally overwhelmed across much of their range more recently.

ResearchBlogging.orgThis reconsideration of deep time prehistory forces us to reconsider the nature of the margins of genuine history. Last spring I reviewed Peter Heather’s timely Empires and Barbarians: The Fall of Rome and the Birth of Europe, which made the case for a more serious acceptance of the supposition that the fall of the Roman Empire and the shift to the Dark Ages was accompanied by mass folk migrations of Germanic peoples across Europe (i.e., not just men on the move, but their wives and children as well). The fashionable archaeological and historical view of the past few decades has been that in fact the switch from Roman to post-Roman was in many ways superficial, and certainly did not involve arrival into the Empire of massive numbers of people. Many historians even produce an anthropologically inflected model whereby tribes such as the Visigoths are relatively recent ad hoc social constructs with little more than fictive ethnic connotations. Heather disagrees with this for various reasons, as do I. For the purposes of this post though I want to highlight one portion of the narrative in Empires and Barbarians: the in-migration of the Germanic warriors and their families into the Roman Empire as federates also involved a depopulation of the vast eastern hinterland of what was once Germania. As if by a law of social physics this led to a prominence of the Slavic peoples, who percolated west as bands of German warriors took service in the wealthy barbarian post-Roman kingdoms of the south and west. To give an example of the wide scope of the latter dynamic, while one group of German Saxons famously emigrated to Britain, others are known have entered Italy to serve the Goths and later the Lombards!


And so it came to be that as the year 1000 approached much of what was in antiquity Germania was part of Slavdom, up to and including broad swaths of what even today are integral portions of the German cultural sphere along the Elbe. What happened? The Ostsiedlung, the German push toward the east in the early medieval period which extended down to the past few centuries (e.g., the settlement of regions of the Volga by German peasants at the behest of the German princess turned Tsarina Catherine the Great in the 18th century). Even after the mass expulsions of eastern Germans after World War II and the redrawing of the border between German and Poland so it was far to the west of where it had been, the modern expanse of greater Germany includes regions which were “reclaimed” from the West Slavs during the Ostsiedlung. We know this because not all Slavs were marginalized or assimilated. The Sorbs bear witness to this, as they are a Slavic ethnic group which is still resident as indigenes on the eastern fringes of modern Germany (they were enveloped by German speakers before the flight of eastern Germans in the wake of the defeat of the Nazis).

To understand where the Sorbs came from you have to know a little bit about what I think of as the “forgotten Crusades,” the centuries long bludgeoning of the pagan West Slav and Baltic people by Christian Germans, ostensibly for the purposes of spreading the faith to the heathen, but also clearly with obvious proximate material causes and incentives. This latter motivation is made obvious when one notes that after the conversion or extermination of pagans the German “religious” military orders continued their campaigns against Catholic Poland and Lithuania! (recall this predates the Reformation) The last pagan Lithuanians were resident not within Lithuania itself, but were chattel on the lands of German landlords, who like some American Southerners discouraged or impeded the Christianization of their property because of worries about the heightened scrutiny it might entail from the religious authorities as well as the demands which might issue from their new co-religionists. This is not the place to tell the tale of how the West Slavs were swallowed by the tide of German Christianity (West Slavic converts to Christianity in fact are known to have declared their allegiance to the German God, so confounded was the faith with German culture). But one does have to consider a question: to what extent are the Germans of the eastern Lander Germanized Slavs, who obtained their ethnicity along with their new religion?

This is where genetics comes in. A new paper in the European Journal of Human Genetics merges a host of data sets to compare Sorbs with other populations. Genetic variation in the Sorbs of eastern Germany in the context of broader European genetic diversity:

Population isolates have long been of interest to genetic epidemiologists because of their potential to increase power to detect disease-causing genetic variants. The Sorbs of Germany are considered as cultural and linguistic isolates and have recently been the focus of disease association mapping efforts. They are thought to have settled in their present location in eastern Germany after a westward migration from a largely Slavic-speaking territory during the Middle Ages. To examine Sorbian genetic diversity within the context of other European populations, we analyzed genotype data for over 30 000 autosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms from over 200 Sorbs individuals. We compare the Sorbs with other European individuals, including samples from population isolates. Despite their geographical proximity to German speakers, the Sorbs showed greatest genetic similarity to Polish and Czech individuals, consistent with the linguistic proximity of Sorbian to other West Slavic languages. The Sorbs also showed evidence of subtle levels of genetic isolation in comparison with samples from non-isolated European populations. The level of genetic isolation was less than that observed for the Sardinians and French Basque, who were clear outliers on multiple measures of isolation. The finding of the Sorbs as only a minor genetic isolate demonstrates the need to genetically characterize putative population isolates, as they possess a wide range of levels of isolation because of their different demographic histories.

The purpose of the paper then was to characterize the distinctiveness of the Sorbs in relation to other European groups as well as their distinctive characteristics. One has to keep in mind two parameters of interest in how population structure emerges: geography and culture. Clearly populations which are far apart in space are going to be genetically distinct. Over time genetic drift will introduce variants private to that group, and greater distance will reduce the power of gene flow to equilibrate between population variance. But it isn’t just simply distance which matters. Particular details such as terrain or bodies of water have a major effect. The second variable is culture. Groups like the Ashkenazi Jews and Gypsies have been resident among various European ethnicities, but gene flow has been retarded by cultural differences. The two examples given as comparisons to the Sorbs for genetic isolates are the French Basques and Sardinians, and I believe they illustrate both parameters. The Sardinians are sealed off by water from the European or North African mainland, and so have had time to develop their own genetic distinctiveness. After for the Basques, certainly geography matters, but I suspect the linguistic differences between them and the post-Latin speech of their neighbors served as a check on gene flow (and before that, Celtic, Gaulish in what is today France and Celtiberian in Spain).

Using the 30,000 quality controlled markers common across various European data sets they visualized the Sorbs along with various nationalities on a PCA plot. This shows the two largest components of genetic variance. The geographic clustering is clear. If you don’t recognize what the abbreviation means, try and superimpose a map of Europe on the plot. It’ll be come clear. The Sorbs are basically overlapping with the Poles to the top right of the plot:

Not only that, but the Sorbs are not nearly as genetically distinctive using measures like Fst (between population difference) with their neighbors nor do they exhibit the signatures of isolation like the Sardinians or Basques. Obviously Sorbs are not geographically separated like the Sardinians. They’re naturally going to have experienced gene flow with Poles, Czechs, and Germans, who are their neighbors. Additionally there is likely going to be a particular affinity with other Slavic groups, especially for groups like Catholic Sorbs who would have no confessional barrier to intermarriage with other West Slavic populations.

This part though is of interest to me:

One caution regarding our results is that the geographical origins of our reference populations are crudely characterized only by country and thus may not be random samples. If many of the Germans in the POPRES data are western German samples, this may inflate the apparent differences we observe between Germans and Sorbs. The LPZ Germans contained two individuals from Eastern Germany who do appear closer to the Sorbs, suggesting that population structure within countries is a valid concern. Certainly, a tighter and denser sampling of German, Polish and Czech individuals from regions surrounding the Sorbian territories would be ideal for confirming or refuting the results found in this study.

Other researchers have confirmed the importance of representativeness. The HGDP dataset produces crisp and clean clusters in comparison to the POPRES data set, probably because the latter is much more cosmopolitan and urban-focused. These results don’t really resolve the issue of the relationship between the Sorbs and the Germans of the east, though they are suggestive as the two deviated Germans are both of eastern provenance. In the future with richer coverage of regions we’ll be able to tease apart the impact of geography and culture far better. I suspect that geography is the biggest predictor, but, when you see deviations from the geographical trend line think culture.

Geography is ahistorical. It is culture which is a tied together with history. So to reconstruct the past, near and far, we are implicitly or explicitly navigating the superstructure of culture, whether it is concrete and living (as the Sorbs are) or simply shadows long forgotten. More to come!

Citation: Veeramah KR, Tönjes A, Kovacs P, Gross A, Wegmann D, Geary P, Gasperikova D, Klimes I, Scholz M, Novembre J, & Stumvoll M (2011). Genetic variation in the Sorbs of eastern Germany in the context of broader European genetic diversity. European journal of human genetics : EJHG PMID: 21559053

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Anthroplogy, Genetics, Genomics
MORE ABOUT: Genetics, Genomics, Slavs, Sorbs
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  • Eurologist

    There is no question that in addition to the easily identifiable and largely Slavic Sorbs, between the Elbe and Oder rivers there are many people of mixed heritage. I agree that one would need a much finer, local sieve to find out the details. One thing that always bothers me about these type of PCA studies is that they include so many populations from completely irrelevant, far-away places.

    In terms of y-DNA, I think we are almost there: one can see the first glimpse of R1a sub-types that have been present in Central Europe since roughly the beginning of agriculture (if not before) vs. those introduced by Slavic expansion ~1,500 years ago.

    As to your more general population migration comments, I still believe large shifts are the exception and not the rule since the onset of agriculture. But even for agriculture in Europe I disagree:
    I thought the paper by Balaresque et al. had been completely taken apart by the community? She neglected the “slight detail” that there are two different, completely separate known subgroups of R1b1b2 – one of them centered either in Italy or close-by in Franco-Cantabria, and one in Turkey.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_x6Y4ZgFsZdY/S94VA7nB00I/AAAAAAAAARw/K_wMCJpsNa4/s1600/R1b1b2+(Morelli+2010+annotated).png

    Figure “C” in your reference post is actually an overlay of two largely independent R1b1b2 subsets. As such, it is useless.

    If you were to accept the ridiculously young ages attached to R1b1b2 by the authors, the conclusion would be that a very large fraction of Europeans are descendants of *a single male* 7,000 years ago, from the Balkans, while in Anatolia a minority R1b had equal opportunity (also originating in the Balkans, ~2,000 years *after* the introduction of agriculture!). That makes absolutely no sense. However, especially since TMRCA’a are often known to be wrong by a factor of 3 or more, the entire pattern is of course much more easily explained by two separate expansions after LGM, *before* Anatolia’s y-DNA became dominated by other haplogroups because of agriculture.

    We know the mtDNA of early Central European agriculturalists is not that of Middle-Easterners, nor that of indigenous Europeans *at the fringe*, nor (largely) that of modern Europeans. What does that tell us? It was the mtDNA of the native middle Danubians who brought agriculture to central and northern Europe, but these people were later largely replaced by the natives from the fringe – all original Europeans.

    Autosomal studies confirm this: only Italy and Greece and the Eastern Balkans have a significant percentage of WestAsian autosomal DNA. Basques actually have almost none, and much of Iberia likely saw their first West Asian DNA only in Roman times.

  • Georg

    This latter motivation is made obvious when one notes that after the conversion or extermination of pagans the German “religious” military orders continued their campaigns against Catholic Poland and Lithuania!

    This is pure polish/catholic propaganda! The Ritterorden was nothing more than a regional power, engaged in the never ending quarrels of those powers!
    Like the main driving force of crusades, the Ritterorden was driven a lot by second or third sons of low nobility, seeking for a “living”. The Ostsiedlung was much less glamorous, the German settlers mostly interpenetrating in those sparsely populated countries. And more important: almost always on invitation of the local rulers.
    Think: to “posess” souls (today : taxpayers) was the most valuable thing then, not to posess (empty) soil!

  • http://rfmcdpei.livejournal.com Randy McDonald

    While that may be true, the treatment of subject populations wasn’t very pleasant. What happened to the original Prussians?

  • bucephalus

    One note : The Sorbs are but one surviving element in the miscellany of Slavic relic peoples, collectively known as Wends, in the lands subjected to the Ostsiedlung. You still have the Kashubs in Poland, though mostly in those bits of Poland which had been the east-most extent of pre-1945 Germany. And until the late 18th or early 19th century the so-called Polabians survived in the area to the north of the current Sorbian refugium in Saxony and Brandenburg. I believe, as languages, Kashubian, Sorbian, and Polabian are considered closely related dialects, but I’m not sure why they have such distinct names.

    There is one more element a study such as the above mentioned might consider : the German and Austrian surnames ending in -ka (as in Kafka) or -ke (Rilke), conventionally thought to betoken a Slavic heritage. In most Slavic languages several variations on -ka are diminutives (Ivanko, Sashka, etc.). Of course these names might simply indicate quite recent, and unexotic, Czech infiltration, but I think they are more common in northeastern Germany. So wouldn’t it be more fun and exciting if those names are evidences of Germanisation of Wends ? A genetic study of Germans with Slavic-origin surnames might be useful only because so many Germans from the East, who are potentially descendants of Germanised Slavs, were uprooted from the East, resettled in western Germany, and today have little connexion with the Länder associated with the former East Germany. Of course many of those have either changed their surnames or have only subtle hints of Slavic etymology in their surnames. The German author Günter Grass, for example, is a German born in Danzig now Gdansk and is known to have Kashubian heritage.

    A bit of trivia arising from the Wendish Crusades : until quite recently the Danish monarchy included amongst their styles the “king of the Wends”.

  • dufu

    Interesting fact: a small group of Sorbian religious dissenters emigrated to Texas in the mid-19th century as part of the larger German migration that settled the Hill Country region west of Austin and north of San Antonio. They’re usually identified as Wends, an older Germanic ethnonym for West Slavs. The Wends, however, stopped east of Austin where they founded the town of Serbin.

    Their descendants in the area still maintain their ethnic identity. And there’s evidence that there are still some living speakers of Sorbian, as the 2000 census found 37 speakers of a Slavic language “other than Polish or Russian” in the area.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wends_of_Texas
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbin,_Texas

  • Nathan M

    #2 Like the main driving force of crusades, the Ritterorden was driven a lot by second or third sons of low nobility, seeking for a “living”.
    That myth about the primary motivation for crusading was demolished years ago. No medieval or crusade historians argue that case any more. It may have been a factor in some crusaders’ decisions to “take up the cross,” but there were a variety of reasons. Jonathan Riley-Smith wrote a few books on the subject.

    #3 What happened to the original Prussians?
    We were assimilated into the surrounding peoples. I say we because my paternal ancestors were Prussian, haplogroup N1c1*.

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  • Dragon Horse

    I added this to Wiki myself based on an East German professors research into Slavic last names inside the German federation. I have had an interest in the history of the Holy Roman Empire since getting engaged to a Swiss woman.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Germanisation#Surname_and_Genetic_Evidence_of_Historic_Germanisation_of_Slavs

    “Professor Jürgen Udolph, of the University of Leipzig Institute for Slavic Studies, contends that 15 million people in modern Germany have Slavic or specifically Polish surnames.[74] He believes the concentration of Slavic names in East Germany is even higher than the national average, accounting for 30% of all surnames in the region.[75][76]”

    From what I have read of history Austria may have had even more Germanization of Slavs per capita than modern Germany. Who knows how Slavic the Volksdeutsche) “returnees” to Germany ( die Aussiedler odor die Spätaussiedler ) are. Lets remember that many of them were actually from present day Switzerland and Austria, but were recognized as Volksdeutsche due to linguistic reasons and the fact the when their ancestors left these areas there was no nation-state for Germanic people, but many fiefdoms, free cities, prince-bishop realms, etc loosely belonging to a common Holy Roman Empire of the “German Nation”. Today many Austrians prefer not to see themselves as ‘German” and German speaking Swiss definitely do not consider themselves even “Volksdeutsche”, but Swiss (something I know well).

    I can give a personal example. I had a Russian girlfriend once who immigranted to America in 1992 when everything was going to hell in Russia, especially Moscow. Her cousin came here a year before. He was considered “ethnically German” by the Soviet Union because he had a German surname. His ancestors were not the famous Volga Germans that came during Catherine the Great. He said that his family actually lived in present day Estonia, and were “acquired” by Peter the Great. He said he is not sure when, but he thinks his last “pure German ancestor” was his great grandfather. LOL All the rest intermarried with Russians or Balts. He did not speak German at all, only Russian and English, but he didn’t like the U.S.. He had always dreamed of living in Western Europe, so he married his German girlfriend and applied for his “right to return” to Germany. He was accepted. That was in 1996, he is still there today.

    That tells you as much about modern German mentality as much as it does the Germaness of many of the returnees. Some Germans today complain that many of these people aren’t “true Germans”, especially the ones from Poland (Silesia) and the Former Soviet Union. Thing is these people might have NEVER been “ethnically German” to begin with, but “Germanized by the Prussians [the latter not the former], etc.

  • Dragon Horse

    A bit more from the wiki peice (I originally added myself). This is in reference to Slavic surnames found in Germans:

    Surname groups were defined on the basis of spelling, using certain combinations of consonants and surname suffixes to categorise the origin of the name in question. Suffixes ‘-er’, ‘-mann’ and ‘-burg’, for example, are typically German whereas ‘-ke’, ‘-ka’, ‘-ow’ and ‘-ski’ are typically Slavic. In addition, the root morphemes of surnames were also examined. Examples for a Slavic root comprise ‘Lessing’, which sounds German but was derived from the Slavic expression for ‘forest settler’, and ‘Kafka’, which in Czech means ‘jackdaw’. Mixed surnames include both German and Slavic elements, that is, a German basis and a Slavic ending, or vice versa (‘Wudtke’ or ‘Kuppke’). These surnames are the result of a long parallel usage of both German and Slavic languages in the eastern part of Germany.”

  • bucephalus

    I can one-up Dragon Horse’s tale of his Russian girlfriend with an even more absurd instance of an alleged Volksdeutscher from the former Soviet Union. As you must know many Volga Germans were deported by Stalin to Kazakstan. Well, in the early to mid-1990s many of these had still remained in Kazakstan but managed to exercise their right of “repatriation” to Germany. A friend of mine in Frankfurt one day got a new neighbour who was a “Volksdeutscher”, with an impeccably German name, but not German-speaking at all, and looking quite Asian, an apparent product of intermarriage with Kazaks or similar groups in the former Soviet Union. Yet at that time even 3rd-generation Turks in Germany had a more difficult time acquiring German citizenship. (They could obtain, but it wasn’t as easy as for a Volkdeutscher.)

  • pconroy

    ” the contemporary genetic landscape of Europe is an artifact of massive replacements and assimilations which occurred between five and ten thousand years ago”

    Yes, this definitely seems to be the case. The question then becomes how many waves dispersed from outside to replace the Original Europeans, and has Europe always been a “population sink”, even from the time of the Neanderthals.

    Based on Dienekes’ 6 months analysis of his Dodecad members, here:
    http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/05/six-months-of-dodecad-project.html

    I made this comment in relation to PC3 showing an affinity between North Africans and Finns.


    Dienekes,

    Yes, North Africans and Finns lining up together is absolutely fascinating, as it open the possibility that both populations represent the relics of Pre-Neolithic Europe better than any other Caucasian populations – as in all other Europeans are essentially intrusive, at least parentally.

    It also brings up such questions, as did R1b enter Europe, via North Africa, as some such as Anatole Kloysev have suggested. He also suggests that R1b carrying men were originally what he calls “Turkic”

    http://s155239215.onlinehome.us/turkic/60_Genetics/Klyosov2010DNK-GenealogyEn.htm

    Wednesday, May 04, 2011 12:08:00 AM

    Questions to ponder!

  • pconroy

    Jean has more on this subject here – looking at mtDNA H1 and H3 the dominant mtDNA in Europeans:
    http://dna-forums.org/index.php?/blog/2/entry-150-franco-cantabrian-refuge-for-what-not-mtdna-h1-h3/

    Maju has some updated maps of prehistoric mtDNA here:
    http://forwhattheywereweare.blogspot.com/2011/05/more-ancient-mtdna-maps-of-europe.html

  • Robert

    “an even more absurd instance of an alleged Volksdeutscher”

    Bucephalus, what part Asian blood would you deem necessary to nullify a Kazak Germans right to repatriation? One-half? One-quarter? One drop?

  • Charles

    to dragonhorse and bucephalus,
    of course there will always be instances of people misrepresenting themselves to take advantage of this or that program. But I really don’t understand what your story has to tell about ‘modern German mentality’ or the ‘Germanness’ of returnees. Most of the younger emigres from Russia would not have had the opportunity to learn German. I’m an American, and my own ethnic heritage stems in part from the Wolgadeutschen. Although I am fluent in German, most of people in my hometown (who are descended from this same group of people) know little or no German at all. That does not make them any less ethnically German.

  • Ian

    My maternal grandmother was born in Sachsen-Anhalt, and her mother’s family goes back in that area several hundred years. After poking around on Wikipedia for a while, it looks like that area was just on the border between the Germans and the Sorbs in the 9th century. I have two great-great-great-great-great grandmothers who had non-German surnames (Gorgas, b. 1753 and Stoi, b. 1740)…I figured they must have had eastern European roots, and looking at where they are, I suppose ‘Wendisch’ (Sorb) is the most reasonable guess.

    Since that’s where I can trace my direct maternal line the furthest, and given the fact that men migrate more than women, I wonder if I have Sorb mt-DNA…and if there would be any hope of distinguishing it from German mt-DNA.

    Very cool stuff, btw…thanks for much for posting this.

  • Dragon Horse

    Charles:

    It is quite simple, but please understand that was not the main point of what my post.

    Germans (at least were) willing to let in people based on paternal heritage (despite their level of mixture, knowledge of culture, language ability) into the nation and give them permanent residency but made it very hard (until recently) to give even a Polish immigrant or a Turk (who might have been born there) citizenship! I mean, hell, I’m living in Switzerland now, and for all the talk of Swiss “Xenophobia” they aren’t that bad. And Germany wonders why they have a hard time attracting qualified workers, emigration is VERY high, etc. :-O

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/49506470/Germany-s-Immigration-Dilemma#source:facebook

    As I said that is a bit off topic though.

    The main point of my post was simply to show that returnees from ‘The East” could have never really been “ethnically German” their ancestors may have been Germanized Balts or Slavs who married other Balts and Slavs. Some others never had ancestors that lived in the Lands that are modern Germany but elsewhere.

    The idea that so many surnames in Germany are of Slavic origin is quite amazing to me. I know the Nazis denied the Sorbs even really existed as a distinct group, meaning they were just “Germans” were corrupted by Slavic cultural influences. LOL

    Anyway, if you want to talk about how German you or your hometown is (as compared to typical white American mutt), maybe we can discuss that some place else.

    To me, and my fiancee, a very Slav looking Ossi is this actress:

    Nadja Uhl

    http://i.fanpix.net/images/orig/w/c/wc9jcxx3q9yt9ccy.jpg

    I’ve seen a lot of Germans, work with them in Europe, and especially from the Bayern (Bavaria) and Baden-Württemberg Lands. She doesn’t look anything like them, she looks more Czech or Pole, being she is a Ossi, I would like to see some testing done on her and in her hometown.

  • bucephalus

    Robert :

    “Bucephalus, what part Asian blood would you deem necessary to nullify a Kazak Germans right to repatriation? One-half? One-quarter? One drop?”

    You want to insinuate that I am some sort of racist who holds as a disqualification one drop of Asian blood in an otherwise German person. But you’re holding the wrong end of the stick. The question ought to be, “What part German blood would you deem necessary to qualify a Kazak German’s right to repatriation?” It is precisely because I don’t believe in the one-drop rule that I find the case of the Kazak German so preposterous. I mean, if you are going to use blood affiliation as a criterion for citizenship, shouldn’t you have more than a drop of German blood ?

    Moreover, the point of my anecdote was, the silliness of the German variant of ius sanguinis. An Asian person with a German name, but speaking no German, having no German culture, and having only some distant ancestral connexion with Germany of the 17th or 18th century could automatically qualify for citizenship of the Federal Republic of Germany. By contrast, in the early 1990s, a born-and-bred resident of Germany whose grandparents came from Turkey was not automatically a citizen. So my anecdote had to do with the silliness and injustice of this difference. It is also ironic because the Kazak Volksdeutscher in question was probably mostly Kazak, a Turkic nation.

    Charles : I said nothing about the German mentality, so much as narrating one instance of taking ius sanguinis to its absurd extreme. I do not question that by ancestry you are German. If that’s what you are, that’s what you are. But the case of the Kazak Volksdeutscher might be thought analogous with these “Native Americans” who suddenly rediscover their nativeness (even though they may be, what, 1/8th Amerindian or even less ?), have little knowledge of native culture, and certainly speak no native language. Of course the case of the Kazak Volksdeutscher is perhaps more honourable, because, after all, post-Soviet states in the early 1990s were a catastrophe and you can’t blame people for finding ways to escape. But some of these newly minted Native Americans don’t have such excuses.

    Furthermore, I believe ethnicity is more than just a matter of biological ancestry. You have to have that, but you also must have the culture and the language.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    i think germans take into account how crappy your nation of origin is too. i have a friend whose mom is a german immigrant (born in germany, moved to canada at age 10, now lives in USA). he’s american and told me that people like him are not viewed in the same way as someone trying to get out of uzbekistan or whatever.

    (he did study abroad in germany too btw)

  • Charles

    To Bucephalus:
    Point taken esp. about the “Native Americans.” But despite however silly you think German law is, it is the country’s right to control who enters their country, for whatever historical/political/social reason.

    To Dragon Horse:
    I am quite familiar with the situation in Germany as I have lived there and travel there often. I find it interesting how Germans are lumped together as one homogenous group, when there are many different types (Bavarians, Swabians, Hessians, Saxons, etc) with their own dialects and customs.

    To Razib Khan:
    The U.S. has quotas for the numbers of immigrants allowed from each country. Would it surprize you that the numbers are higher for westernized countries? It seems there is a rationale behind having such restrictions.

  • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp Razib Khan

    charles, where the fuck did that response come from? seriously. and don’t respond to that comment, i don’t give a shit about why you thought i said what you thought i said. i was just passing on an observation a friend made since you guys were talking about germany’s old law (which i believe has been somewhat modified in the past few years), not making any implication about the positive or negative of immigration policy. i don’t respond kindly to imputation.

    i’m closing this thread if it keeps staying weird.

  • Onur

    How many databases were used in this paper? On the above PCA plot I see too many dots (i.e., samples). In the supplementary materials they mention POPRES, but in POPRES there are only 4 Turkish samples. In Behar et al. paper there are 19 Turkish samples, and on the above plot there are 23 Turkish samples. 4 + 19 = 23, so probably they also used the Behar et al. samples, but they don’t mention Behar et al. in the supplementary materials, so what is happening here? Is there another database that includes Turks which I don’t know of (in suppl. they mention a database called LPZ, and I have never heard of it before)?

  • Onur

    I have accessed the full paper. According to it, the dots on the above PCA plot aren’t samples, but basically the statistical/visual representations of where on the plot the populations concentrate, and the only Turkish samples used in this study are the 4 Turks of the POPRES dataset. On the above plot the 4 Turkish samples are represented with 23 (a random number, it could be any number equal to or bigger than the number of the Turkish samples) dots of varying sizes to show where they concentrate on the PCA plot in a statistical way.

  • Onur

    So the above plot is not an actual PCA plot, but a bootstrap (statistics-related) PCA plot. The actual PCA plot exists in the full paper too; on it the samples are shown with population abbreviations.

    BTW, as you might have noticed, on the above plot PC1 is on the y (vertical) axis and PC2 is on the x (horizontal) axis. The choice is cartographical, as in Europe the greatest genetic difference is between north and south.

  • Robert

    Bucephalus: “It is precisely because I don’t believe in the one-drop rule that I find the case of the Kazak German so preposterous. I mean, if you are going to use blood affiliation as a criterion for citizenship, shouldn’t you have more than a drop of German blood ?”

    And I am asking what exactly your quantifications are. (I take for granted that any definition of a “pure” German is a racist construct.) You seem equally put off both by the 100% Kazak and the one drop rule so I assume the necessary amount of German blood for you is somewhere between 0% and 100%. How many ethnicity points does a third generation immigrant Turk with no German blood receive? Is he automatically classified as German? Is there such a thing as an average German genome? Would that have to be recalculated taking into consideration Turk genes if they existed inside the borders of Germany for more than two generations?

  • Onur

    in suppl. they mention a database called LPZ, and I have never heard of it before

    Lastly, according to the full paper, LPZ (stands for “Leipzig dataset”) is a dataset that was prepared for this study and consists of the Sorbian samples plus some German and Slovakian samples.

  • Justin Giancola

    Can some one help me out with the eastern europe abreviations? I feel like there are too many for countries there, particularly in the south.

  • neshumno

    I think Eurologist makes valid points.

    If “the contemporary genetic landscape of Europe is an artifact of massive replacements and assimilations which occurred between five and ten thousand years ago”, then why do the European skulls (magdalenians and also eastern and northern european populations) look very similar to modern European skulls? (examples: http://dienekes.blogspot.com/2011/02/human-migration-and-cultural-change-in.html).

    @ pconroy : “showing an affinity between North Africans and Finns…It also brings up such questions, as did R1b enter Europe, via North Africa”

    I think it’s rather an ancient European input in north Africa that explains this link, since there is hg U5b1b and V in north African Berbers (like among the Finns). Besides, the structure of R1b1b2 in Europe doesn’t support your theory at all (and R1b1b2 is pretty rare in north Africa, still most of his subclades are related to the more recent European clades, not to the ancient R1b1b2 clades (that are found in the east of Europe and west Asia.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_x6Y4ZgFsZdY/THgPi2xnlbI/AAAAAAAAAZA/fQ9CRVXNv2A/s1600/R1b+sub-structure+V2.png

    We know there was an european paleolithic flow in north Africa (ibero-maurusian/oranian culture) and this could confirm it : “the younger and less diverse Tunisian H1 and H3 lineages indicate Iberia as the radiating centre” (http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ajpa.20979/abstract)

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Gene Expression

This blog is about evolution, genetics, genomics and their interstices. Please beware that comments are aggressively moderated. Uncivil or churlish comments will likely get you banned immediately, so make any contribution count!

About Razib Khan

I have degrees in biology and biochemistry, a passion for genetics, history, and philosophy, and shrimp is my favorite food. In relation to nationality I'm a American Northwesterner, in politics I'm a reactionary, and as for religion I have none (I'm an atheist). If you want to know more, see the links at http://www.razib.com

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