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In der Mitte Deutschlands schrumpft ein Landkreis vor sich hin, der von sich behauptet, über Jahrhunderte ,,mit Weitsicht" gewachsen zu sein.

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That's a weird sentence. I'd recommend to not adapt this style of formulating. –  Raphael Jun 2 at 19:16

2 Answers 2

"der von sich behauptet" = "who claims to be", "who makes claims about himself"

If you move the nested clause, it may be clearer: In der Mitte Deutschlands schrumpft ein Landkreis, der von sich behauptet, über Jahrhunderte "mit Weitsicht" gewachsen zu sein, vor sich hin.

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They're telling about theirselves how the have grown up.

While "Sie behaupten von den Amerikanern, sehr nett zu sein." would mean that they're talking about the Americans.

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They are talking about themselves, not theirselves. It may not be obvious why a Landkreis is "them". –  Robert May 30 at 23:22

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