Northern German states pledge to protect vulnerable Low Saxon language

An estimated 3 million people in Germany speak Low Saxon. Several northern German states have now decided to ensure the language's long-term viability with a new initiative based in the city of Bremen.

Four northern German states agreed on Friday to set up a joint center in the northwestern city of Bremen to protect and promote the Germanic language known as Low Saxon, or "Plattdeutsch" in German.

Politics | 21.08.2017

"We want to establish a new, effective cross-state coordination authority. To this end, four northern states have closely liaised with everyone who has been actively engaged in promoting Low Saxon," the State Minister for Science and Culture in Lower Saxony, Gabriele Heinen-Kljajić, said.

The states of Hamburg, Lower Saxony, Bremen, and Schleswig-Holstein will provide the center with €271,000 ($321,000) a year once it opens its doors on January 1, 2018.

Bilder aus Ostfriesland Flash-Galerie

This sign in the northwestern region of East Frisia is in Low Saxon and German

Endangered language

Lower Saxony had already provided €117,000 euros in its state budget to maintain Low Saxon, also known as Low German, and the latest effort will combine those funds with an additional €154,000 from the other three states.

Travel | 28.12.2016

The center is intended to represent the minority language's interests and work closely with organizations and academic institutes that are already active in promoting Low Saxon. According to the Lower Saxony Ministry for Science and Culture, the center will have a general manager, a research associate and several general administration personnel.

Low Saxon is primarily spoken in northern Germany and in the western provinces of the Netherlands. The UN's cultural agency, UNESCO, considers it a "vulnerable" language.

There are around 4.8 million speakers, according to UNESCO's latest estimate, with around 3 million located in Germany.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

Lüneburg Heath

One of the oldest tourist attractions is Lüneburg Heath. Starting from September, the spectacle of the lilac blooms attracts some five million tourists every year. A shepherd with a flock of docile heath-land sheep completes the picture of this pastoral idyll. A nature reserve since 1922, it is not only the oldest, but also - with 23,437 hectares - the biggest wildlife sanctuary in Lower Saxony.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

The North Sea

A popular destination at the coast is the Wadden Sea of Lower Saxony, which is a UNESCO natural World Heritage Site. This tidal area is home to more than 10,000 animal and plant species. One Wadden Sea inhabitant is especially popular with visitors: the seal. To get close to these animals head to the seal house in the German Wadden Sea National Park.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony


Famous landmark of the state capital is The New Town Hall. Take the unique lift, the only one in Europe with an arched course to the observation platform for a great view of the city with its narrow old town alleys, the sailing boats on the Maschsee lake and the Sprengel modern art museum. Must-see exhibits there include the colorful giant female sculptures by artist Niki de St. Phalle.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

Weser cycle path

I want to ride my bicycle; I want to ride my bike! ... which you can do marvelously in Lower Saxony. Like on the Weser cycle path. It follows the river coving some 500 kilometers all the way to the North Sea Weser estuary. The route takes you past many old castles, like the one pictured. It also involves repeatedly crossing the river, sometimes by hand-operated ferry to reach the other shore.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

Hamelin, home of the pied piper

Anyone visiting the Weser Uplands should definitely go to Hamelin. Many buildings in the old town center are built in the Weser renaissance style, a northern German version of the Italian architecture. Yet the town is best known the world over for the folk tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin describing the disappearance of city's children. A tale translated into more than 30 different languages.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

World Heritage in Goslar

The Rammelsberg mine in Goslar is one of the world's oldest ore extraction sites. Here at the foot of the Harz mountains, ore was mined for over 1000 years. The power for the mining work was won from a complex system of water ditches and reservoirs, including one of the oldest dams in Europe. The Rammelsberg mine and the old town center of Goslar are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

St Mary's Cathedral in Hildesheim

St. Mary's Cathedral and St. Michael's Church in Hildesheim are also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hildesheim was first mentioned in official records 1,200 years ago. According to legend, Emperor Louis the Pious is said to have experienced a divine miracle here and founded St. Mary's Cathedral on the site as a way of giving thanks.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

Bückeburg riding school

Lower Saxony is horse country. The noble animal has adorned the northern German state's coat of arms since 1946. It is little surprise then that this is where you find Germany's only princely school of dressage at Bückeburg Castle. The stables in this 17th century building are home to horses of the still existing baroque breeds for dressage.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

Car city Wolfsburg

If its horsepower under the bonnet you are after then head to the VW factory in Wolfsburg, one of Germany's newest towns. It was created for the VW car factory workers in 1938. Vehicles are still produced here. A walk through the town also gives you an insight into the history and the future of car making.

10 reasons to love Lower Saxony

Roman battles relived

In the year 9 AD Germanic leader Arminius lured Roman forces led by Varus into an ambush resulting in the death of 20,000 Roman soldiers. To this day it is still unknown where exactly this famous battle of the Teutoburg Forest took place. One possible site is Kalkriese village north of Osnabrück. Reason enough to open an archaeological museum there, where battles are re-enacted.

amp/tj (epd, KNA)