Discover Kashubian culture
Museum for literature and music in Kashubia located in the castle Keyserlingk of former Neustadt
Wejherowo Palace, North Kashubia, Poland
The German von Keyserlingk family built the palace around 1800. In 1995, it became the Museum of Kashubian-Pomeranian Literature and Music, which upholds and presents the culture and traditions of the Kashubians, who are the native ethnic group. A special feature of the exhibition is the common cultural heritage of the South Baltic countries down the centuries, such as the symbolic and heraldic use of the griffin.
The Museum of Kashubian-Pomeranian Literature and Music in Wejherowo is a highly recognized institution with a successful program of education and exhibitions on Kashubian culture – such as literature, music and crafts. They work on a constantly growing spectrum of activities. In the area of interest, apart from titular ones in the field of literature and music, there are also art, theatre and new forms of communication. The overall development of the facility is dedicated to the implementation of research related to the broadly culture of Kashubia, Pomerania and the area of the southern Baltic. The Baltic Manor history showcase presents selected elements from the history of Pomerania in the region from Rostock to Gdańsk from the Middle Ages to the present day, as well as the cultural connections between music, art and iterature of this region with the countries of the Baltic Sea Region. The theme of the exhibition is the figure of a mythological creature – the griffin, present among others in the heraldry and art of the Baltic States since the Middle Ages.
The history of the castle Keyserlingk
In 1945, the von Keyserlingk family, like most German landowners in northern Kashubia, left their estates, fleeing the impending Red Army. In the post-war years there was briefly a Citizens’ Militia station here, and for several years there was a middle school here as well. From the 1950s, a kindergarten for deaf children was located in the Palace. After the political transformation in the 1990s, the Palace was handed over to the Museum of Kashubian-Pomeranian Literature and Music.The Keyserlingk family owned the palace until World War II, the last owner of the property was Henry Keyserlingk. After the Red Army entered Wejherowo, the palace was not seriously damaged, but its equipment was stolen and dispersed; few movable antiques and mementos have been preserved. After World War II, the Palace housed the headquarters of the Citizens’ Militia (1945–1947), and then the Forestry Middle School (1947–1951) as well as kindergarten for deaf children (1952–1995). In 1995, the building was handed over as the seat of the Museum of Kashubian-Pomeranian Literature and Music in Wejherowo.
Impressions from Wejherowo
For the Baltic Manors festival in Kashubia, the Museum in Wejherowo offers a lively program to bring the Kashubia culture to all generations.
Some background on the Kashubian culture
Kaszëbi (Polish: Kaszubi, English: Kashubs) are indigenous Slavic people, currently mostly inhabiting the Province of Pomerania. In the Middle Ages, the territory inhabited by the Kashubs covered the whole of Pomerania – from the Vistula to the Oder.
It is not known exactly what the origin of the name Kaszuby [Kashubia] is – probably the word meant wetlands. Kashubs were called Pomorzanie [Pomeranians] by the neighbors of Poland living in the south, which stood for people living in the areas aż po morze [literally: up to the sea].
These days, the Kashubian community includes about 500,000 people. Kashubs live in the following districts: Puck, Wejherowo, Kartuzy and Kościerzyna – in these areas they constitute the majority, as well as Lębork, Słupsk, Bytóaw, Chojnice, and cities: Gdynia, Sopot and Gdańsk – where they are in the minority. The historical capital of Kashubia is Gdańsk.
Kashubs speak the Kashubian language which belongs to the West Slavic language group. It is most closely related to the Polish language and the extinct speeches of the Polabian Slavs who – in the Middle Ages – lived west of the Oder. In Kashubian one can find many common features for Slavic languages and a lot of Germanisms that have permeated from German (including plattdeutsch), Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Frisian or even the Baltic languages.
The Kashubian language disappears under the pressure of stronger cultures: Germanization (formerly) and Polonization (now). Currently, it is used by around 200.000 people, mainly people over 50 years of age. Most Kashubs use local varieties of the Kashubian language, often significantly different in phonetics, accent and vocabulary. Literary Kashubian has only been taught since the mid-1990s. Radzëzna Kaszëbsczégò Jãzëka (Polish: Rada Języka Kaszubskiego, English: Kashubian Language Council) deals with the standardization of the supra-local Kashubian language.