5 Things You Need To Know About The Swabians


Have you heard of the Swabians? Most people think the Germans are the ones with Dirndls, Lederhosen and the Oktoberfest. No. These are the Bavarians. But forget about the Bavarians: The Swabians are the cool gang in Germany. (Yes, I’m Swabian.) Huh? The Swabians? Here goes:

swabians swabian

5 Things You Need To Know About The Swabians

1.       There are 8 million Swabians living in Germany. Most of them in the federal state of Baden-Württemberg in the South, some even in Bavaria. We call the area we’re living in “Ländle” (dialect form for small land). The capital of the “Ländle” is Stuttgart.

2.       We speak Swabian, a German dialect mostly not understood by other Germans. Example? Jam in standard German is “Marmelade”, in Swabian we call it “Gsälz”. And we love that no one understands us. We even have an advertising campaign with the slogan “Wir können alles. Außer Hochdeutsch” which means: “We can do anything. Except (speak) High German.”

3.       We can do anything! We invented the car, the newspaper, bras. Albert Einstein was Swabian, we have Mercedes, Porsche and we have the Swabian “Kehrwoche”, a house cleaning tradition which ruins every Saturday. But our houses and sidewalks are really pretty clean.

4.       They say the Swabians are the ‘German Scots’. Well, we’re not stingy but one of our leading life mottos is “schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue” which means: “work, work, build a house”. So yes, we are the thrifty and hardworking Germans.

5.       But we also know how to party. Twice a year there’s a big funfair at Cannstatter Wasen in Stuttgart and the one in autumn is the second largest beer festival in the world after the Oktoberfest in Munich.

And I haven’t even started talking about the tasty food, the “Spätzle”, the “Maultaschen” or the “Butterbrezeln”…

One last thing you have to know about the Swabians: “Net bruddelt ischt gnug globt” which means: Not complaining it’s the biggest compliment you’ll ever likely to get.

And yes, I do also speak standard German. And yes, I’m happy living in Berlin without the Swabian “Kehrwoche”.

What do you know about the Swabians?

Hi, I'm Yvonne. Travel addict. Guilty as charged. Right now I'm probably falling off a camel somewhere in a desert, getting a new tattoo from a monk in Thailand or am carrying my luggage through a river in the jungle. But just as well I could be sitting on my sofa in Berlin, in my pyjamas. Good girls to to heaven, bad girls go everywhere. Everywhere sounds much more promising. So be travelous and follow me!

Discussion24 Comments

  1. Did not know Einstein was a Schwab, but not surprised as a displaced Ostpreusse or grudgingly tolerated foreigner living in pre and postwar Schwabenland near Ludwigsburg for about 7 years before emigrating. They are a truly unique and earthy German breed not only in dialect but in character and ingenuity….even to this day. A younger cousin whom I babysitted made it to CEO of Dresdner Bank. You must be a Schwab to fully grasp the nuances of their dialect and the content of this post.

  2. Question: What is the origin of the Scots.
    Answer: They were Swabians who were kicked out of the tribe for being frivolous spendthrifts.

    • Well said, Jurgen. They are the original pfennigpinschers reflected in their life long motto: Save, save…to build a house, and when completed to die, except the Swabian term for die would be rather vulgar to other Germans.

  3. Linnea Schlaich Bradbury

    Herman Schlaich was my great-grandfather who was a well known Swabian. Let me tell you that there isn’t anything to be proud of. He abandoned his American wife and children in the dust bowl of the 30’s so that he coud make his millions. He was a true scoundrel. Let me tell you something about his theiving German wife Lottie….

    • Hi Linnea,
      I am doing research on the Boyce Motometer and wonder if your great-grandfather was the Herman Schlaich who started that company. Could you reply to me please.
      Kevin Casey

      • Herman Schlaich did not start or ever own the Motometer Co., Inc (of Long Island City, NY. He only worked for the company and spent his time there, virtually pillaging their patent files, and later claiming that he not George Henry Townsend II was the founder, owner and inventor of a device that was not named after him, but rather its true inventor Harrison Hurlbert Boyce. All detailed and exhaustive research on this individual lead to the conclusion that he was an immense fraud. His assertions about founding and owning the Motometer Company became more pronounced and propagated once the principles left the company and/or passed away and could not or did not challenge his false assertions. Even his own granddaughter (Linnea Schlaich Bradbury) knows and speaks of the man as being a scoundrel. Again, my research validates her accounts and statements.

  4. swabians are second gen pesants. no manners inward looking and nieve. iv been all over the world, no im not army! just never met sutch a bunch of repressed autistic wa!!ers..

    • Souls? Gingers don’t have souls. Everyone knows that. And that’s what Celts are — poor, carrot-topped freaks, only fit to lick the boots of Anglo-Saxons. They are the forebears of the American hillbilly — i.e. Deliverance — and country music. A cursed, wretched people.

      “The problem with Scotland is that it’s full of Scots”.

      And that’s assuming the Scots are still Celtic after all those Viking invasions and Prima Nocta. Most likely, they’re the sons of Celtic mothers and Germanic fathers. Only the Gaels are still Celts, and they’re the lowliest of the low, not even fit to lick the boots of Anglo-Saxons. The Vikings probably captured at least a quarter of their population, and a good majority of them more than likely ended up in the Balkans or Turkey. Which, for some odd reason, is where you seem to think Swabians originated.

      Odds are you confused the Balkans with the Baltic, because that’s actually where Swabians — i.e. the Suebi and Alemannic tribes who defeated Roman legions on numerous occasions — originated. Not the Balkans (I’ll ascribe that one to your exalted Celtic intellect). And the Baltic Sea region is where Norse/Germanic people come from, FYI. So get your facts straight, oh glorious Celt. And God Save your Queen.

  5. and one more thing! had a scotish wife for 7 years.to draw a parallel with the celts is absurd we are a people with a warm welcome and a soul plus thousands of years of history. swabians are peasant migrants with origans in the balkans.

  6. Hi- nice site!
    My mother was from Augsburg. Would that still be considered Swabia? She did use terms like “Gruss Gott”, but If I’m not mistaken, more than Swabians say that…
    Her mother’s side, if you go back a couple generations last name is Schaffer and at least some lived in Mosbach, maybe around the middle of the 1800s. Would that have been considered “Swabian” at the time?
    Thanks for any info and Gruss Gott!

  7. Hi Yvonne,

    You also forgot to mention the Donauschwaben who moved from Baden-Württemberg. We number around 2 to 3 million in mainly what was Kingdom of Hungary. Unfortunately in Germany they don’t seem to teach this to the new generation.

    A bit of Info for you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donauschwaben

    This is our coat of arms: http://www.donauschwaben.net/images/wappen.gif

    I am always asked by Germans, Swiss etc. how come I have a German name and speak fluent German if I am from Hungary. Well, I always have to enlighten them about the Donauschwaben and they seem to look at me in confusion and amasement that so many Schwabs can’t have possibly moved to a country like Hungary.

    My family are from Herzogendorf (Hercegfalva in Hungarian) which is one of hundreds of German towns in Hungary and old Hungary.

    You may just want to add that as a point, about millions of Schwabs also live in other Central and Eastern European countries.

    • Yes there were millions of Germans living in Hungary called Donauschwaben. My family was from
      Glogowatz which was a German town in Hungary now part of Romania. They were part of an ethnic German region. Johnny Weissmuller was from a town in those areas.

  8. Craig Scott Aberle

    My family is swabian in origin.

    IHR Introduction

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    Born: 20 April 1927 (Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States of America)

    Died: 4 July 2007 (Harris, Minnesota, United States of America)

    Country of Citizenship: United State of America

    •Major in Marketing, Minor in Political Science (University of Minnesota)

    Blazon: Or, a lion passant Sable in the dexter forepaw Luthers symbol proper, on a chief Gules between two bezants an oak spring with six leaves Or. Crest: On a wreath Or and Sable a sinister arm embowed vested Murray cuff Or holding a staff Or flying a banner of the arms. Motto: “Buy Truth and Sell It Not.”
    This blazon is an original design made in memoriam.

    IHR Registration Number: US2011A1927

    Registered by: Craig Scott Aberle

    Design Rationale: The arms were designed by Dr. David Pittman Johnson and Artist Dr. Robert Bray Wingate of the American College of Heraldry. The single black lion on the field of gold is meant to say that the family is descended from those from the Swabian tribal, or stem Duchy. According to the book, the Black Forest Its People and Legends (1885) By Lisbeth Gooch Seguin, on page 37, the Swabian dwelt in the western portion of the Black Forest, having their own special dialect. The lion’s second role is in the form of a canting charge for the family name, Aberle. The Aberle surname is explained in the Dictionary of German Names by Hans Bahlow translated by Edda Gentry (for the Max Kade Institute for German American studies University of Wisconsin-Madison 1993). The Aberle surname on page 2 is as follows: “Aberle, Aberlin is the Swab.-Alem. Short form for Abrecht or Albrecht e.g, Aberlin.” The book, A Dictionary of Surnames, by Patrick Hanks and Flavia Hodges mentions on page seven that the ABERLE name is derived from the first name, (Albrecht-Albert) meaning “noble,” “bright,” and “famous” (Adal being the root meaning “noble”). Spelling variations are ABERLIN, ABERLEN, and ABERLEE. -Lin, -len, -le, and -lee act as a diminutive meaning “little” or “small.” 3 The lion is a traditional noble device. The book, Heraldry Sources and Meanings by Ottfried Neubecker, mentions on page 110 that the lion is a symbol of strength, agility, and in fables, he is described as being noble, and king of beasts. The Luther Rose, being held by the lion is in reference to the fact that the family was, by tradition, Lutheran in Faith. (Johann Georg Aberle was a judge of the Ecclesiastical Court at Schwanenbach, Hornberg, Baden until his death on the 14th day of January, 1787. The prior information was provided by Trudy Schenk, an Accredited Genealogist specializing in Germanic research. The upper portion of the shield reflects the color from the sleeve on the crest, which brightens the design. The two golden coins allude to Kenneth Eugene Aberle’s profession as a buyer and his work in purchasing. The sprig of six leaves symbolically says “I am the stem and I have six fine children who are living extensions of the family.” Also, the sprig is of an oak tree, symbolizing his marriage which took place in Sherman Oaks, CA. The crest shows his arm raising the family banner as the originator of the family coat of arms. The arm is vested in Murray and gold, which represent the colors of his alma mater, The University of Minnesota, which his father, Erwin Bassett Aberle, had attended prior to Kenneth. Coincidentally, Johann Adam Aberle served as a soldier in the Badische Infantry Regiment von Neuenstein stationed at Frieburg,in 1825; the arms of the Grand Duchy of Baden consisted of gold/yellow and red as well. The motto is taken from Proverbs 23:23, “Buy Truth and Sell It Not,” which means to seek knowledge or truth, and not to forsake it. The arms began as a petition to the College as a Father’s Day gift in the spring of 1985.

    Evidence of Prior Use:
    •The American College of Heraldry, 1985 (vol. III p. 57)
    •The United State Heraldic Registry # 20081012C

    8GGFather: Christian Aberlin (1605 – 1689), Baden – Wohnenbach/
    Wonnenbach-Hornberg, Baden
    7GGFather: Hans Aberlin (1637 – 1690), Hornberg, Baden –
    Reichenbach/Rothenbach-Hornberg, Baden
    6GGFather: Michael Aberlin (1665 – 1746), Hornberg, Baden –
    Reichenbach/Rothenbach-Hornberg, Baden
    5GGFather: Christian Aberlin (1696 – 1753), Reichenbach/Rothenbach-
    Hornberg, Baden – Reichenbach-Hornberg, Baden
    4GGFather: Johann Georg Aberle (1738 – 1787), Reichenbach/
    Rothenbach-Hornberg, Baden – Schwanenbach
    3GGFather: Johannes Aberle (1766 – 1842), Reichenbach/Rothenbach-
    Hornberg, Baden – Reichenbach/Rothenbach-Hornberg,
    2GGFather: Johann Adam Aberle (1796 – 1870), Reichenbach/Rothenbach-
    Hornberg, Baden
    GGFather: Mat(t)hias Aberlee/Aberlen (1829 – 1915), Tennenbronn
    Villingen, Baden – Minneapolis, MN
    GFather: Jesse Herbert Aberle (1872 – 1937), Eau Claire Co., WI –
    Minneapolis, MN
    Father: Erwin Bassett Aberle (1903 – 1950), Hopkins, MN –
    Inglewood, CA
    Mother: Lillian Linnea Carlson (1900 – 1994), Worthington, MN –
    Anoka, MN
    Spouse: Melba Ellen Anderson (1926 – 1993), Todd Co, MN –
    Minneapolis, MN
    i. Marlene Rae Aberle (1957 – ), Orange Co, CA –
    a. Megan Lynn Cady (1997 – ), Chisago City, MN –
    ii. Linda Kay Aberle (1958 – ), Orange Co, CA –
    a. Heidi Lynn Purdy (1979 – ), Fridley, MN –
    I. Bionca Elise Purdy (2006 – ), Edina, MN –
    b. Joshua James Tousignant (1985 – ), Brainerd, MN –
    c. Matthew Phillip Tousignant (1987 – ), Brainerd, MN –
    iii. Kenneth Eugene Aberle II (1962 – ), Orange Co, CA –
    iv. Craig Scott Aberle (1963 – ), twin, Orange Co, CA –
    Spouse: Katherine Mary Boner (1965 – ), Minneapolis, MN –
    a. Allett Katherine Mary Aberle (1986 – ), Minneapolis, MN –
    I. Lillian Louise Lykins (2011 – ), Bismarck, ND –
    b. Kaitlyn Ellen Louise Aberle (1992 – ), St. Louis Park, MN –
    Spouse: Benjamim Joachim Burdine (1987 – ) Norfolk, VA –
    (The son of Edward Francis Burdine)
    c. Seth David Craig Aberle (2007 – ), St. Louis Park, MN –
    v. Carol Renee Aberle (1963 – ), twin, Orange Co, CA –
    a. Ashley L. Voss (1991 – ), Omaha, NE –
    b. Jeremy Ryan Voss (1996 – ), San Antonio, TX –
    vi. Debra Lynn Aberle (1967 – ), Orange Co, CA –
    a. Joseph Jeffrey Avery Matzke (1999 – ), Coon Rapids, MN –
    b. Taylor Lynn Matzke (2002 – ), Monticello, MN –

  9. actuallykindaclueless

    “4. They say the Swabians are the ‘German Scots’. Well, we’re not stingy but one of our leading life mottos is “schaffe, schaffe, Häusle baue” which means: “work, work, build a house”. So yes, we are the thrifty and hardworking Germans.”
    Well, the accents certainly do sound similar :)

    And Hessians are the German Glaswegians, then 😉

  10. Why so much hate to Scotsman …great Grandmother was Motz…her husband was a McKinney. They loved each other very much.

  11. Was stationed in Göppingen in the 80s. Loved that area. Americans had a saying “bigger than Stuttgart” which meant completely awesome. The beer was incredibly good and the local Germans were very nice to us. Fond memories.

  12. Hi there! Came across your blog while attempting to learn more about what my hair stylist told me (I am visiting my twin sister in Germany for a few months and we just got our hair done for our birthday) – my stylist told me that, “In the Swabian way of life, we do not move from our birthplace. We travel a lot, but we find we are most comfortable staying in our hometown”. Or something like that – my question is – why do they not move? I am highly curious, as I am posting a story about it in the blog I write for our yoga studio back home in VA. I would LOVE this information so that I may complete my post (I would also like to reference your post about the 5 Things in mine) Thanks for your help :)

    Thanks so much – I plan to follow your blog it is refreshingly honest and full of personality.

    • Hi Mary,

      I think one of the reasons is that Baden-Württemberg (the federal state in which Swabia is located) has the second lowest rate of unemployment in Germany (after Bavaria), so there is no real reason to move away.

      It might also have something to do with the fact that Germany as a country only exists since 1871 and the people of the various kingdoms (the biggest of them being Prussia, Bavaria, and Württemberg) still don’t like each other very much. (Some Bavarians actually want their federal state to be a sovereign state.)

      Also, there are no Spätzle in other regions and in northern Germany they don’t even have Brezeln (as far as I know), so what are we supposed to eat there :) ?
      I also feel that the Swabian mentality differs from that of other Germans; we tend to be a little bit reticent when we meet strangers and “unbend” only when we get to know people better.
      I think I would also miss the landscape if I had to move away (especially the beautiful Schwäbische Alb); it’s so strange to go to northern Germany and see no hills and mountains.
      Aaaand I would really miss our football club VfB Stuttgart, of course :)

      I hope I could help you :)


  13. Many Donauswabin lived in former Yugoslavia – many died in Titos concentration camps after WW2 including my maternal great grand parents & uncle…… My fathers family lived in a Donauswab town in Hungary.

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