North Frisians

The North Frisians are one of the four officially recognised national minorities in Germany and live predominantly along the North Sea coast of Schleswig-Holstein in the regions of North Frisia and on the island of Helgoland. Article 5 of the constitution defines the Frisians as a protected ethno-cultural group whose language and culture are promoted by the state. The North Frisian language (a branch of Frisian) is an important identification factor for this group and is still actively spoken by around 10,000 people today. 

For more information visit the Frasche Rädj/Friesenrat Sektion Nord e.V.

Germans (Denmark)

About 15-20,000 people in Denmark belong to the ethnic minority of Germans, who call themselves North Schleswigians. This group emerged as a national minority after the 1920 referendum, as they lived in the northern part of Schleswig, which reverted to Denmark. They are Danish citizens, but define themselves as ethnic Germans and are recognised as such. Today, the minority runs its own German-language kindergartens, schools, libraries and clubs and publishes the German-language daily newspaper "Der Nordschleswiger"

More information can be found at the Bund Deutscher Nordschleswiger (BDN)

Danes (Germany)

The Danish minority in Schleswig-Holstein consists of about 50,000 people living in the northernmost region of present-day Germany, a region that belonged to Denmark until the war between Prussia and Denmark in 1864. With the Schleswig referendum of 1920, when German-ruled Schleswig was divided, the Danes of southern Schleswig became part of the population of Germany. Today, the Southern Silesian Danes are an officially recognised national minority in Germany, supported by Denmark, running their own schools, kindergartens and clubs, as well as the daily newspaper Flensborg Avis, and actively participating in the political life of the country. 

For more information, click here: Sydslesvigsk Forening

Sinti and Roma

The Sinti and Roma of German nationality in Schleswig-Holstein are a minority that has had its home here for a long time. They were first mentioned in documents in Lübeck in 1417. An estimated 5,000 Sinti and Roma live in Schleswig-Holstein today. On 14th November 2012, Schleswig-Holstein became the first federal state to include the German Sinti and Roma as a minority in the state constitution. Romani is one of the minority languages protected under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.

For more information visit Verband Deutscher Sinti und Roma e.V. - Landesverband Schleswig-Holstein

Connected across borders

The Minority Competence Network of Schleswig-Holstein/South Denmark (MKN) has been active as a network of national and regional minorities in the German-Danish borderland since it was founded in 2020. The focus of our work is to strengthen the understanding of minority issues, to promote language and culture and to exchange information and experience across Europe through close cooperation.

Joint dialogue

As part of our activities, we organise events for interested parties from Germany and Denmark as well as other European countries, where we portray experiences from the relationship between minorities and majorities in Schleswig-Holstein and Southern Denmark as positive examples. Our aim is to make the competences of the minorities for the cooperation in the German-Danish borderland visible for everyone.

This is where the Minority Competence Network comes in: What can members of European minorities or members of the majority society discover and experience from regions with minorities in the German-Danish borderland for themselves? For us, our network partners on both sides of the border are important when it comes to answering this question. The German-Danish border region is characterised by diversity and cohesion. Everyone can and is allowed to live their own language and culture. Everyone has the right to do so.

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In our short film "Think across borders" we introduce you to the four national minorities in the German-Danish border region: The German Sinti and Roma, the North Frisians, the German minority in Northern Schleswig and the Danish minority in Southern Schleswig.

The film aims to give an insight into what constitutes the identity and culture of minorities in our borderland, how minorities and majority live together and what minority life means in everyday life.


Comments on the project

Christian Pletzing, Director of the Sankelmark Academy Center

"We can learn from the minorities of the German-Danish borderland how to move away from conflict to mutual cultural enrichment."

Helen Christiansen, former coordinator of the Minority Competence Network

"We would like to convey the positive experiences of the borderland to people from other European border regions."

Uwe Jessen, Chair of the network

"The network's projects should take place in Schleswig-Holstein or the region of Southern Denmark, thereby strengthening the region’s minority policy role at European level."

Johannes Callsen, State Commissioner for Minorities

"With this alliance of minority associations, we aim to contribute our minority policy expertise even more strongly as an example of best practice in Europe - through projects, seminars and measures of encounter and exchange."

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