Life On Foreign Soil
Ever since our forefathers stepped off the barges in Hungary they assumed a life
on foreign soil. Their ancestral home Baden-Württemberg and the regions to the
west of the Rhine River, Elsass, Lorain, the Palatinate, Saarland, and other
free cities whose regions during Roman times were Germania Superior, Zehntland
and the northern region of the Celtic Kingdom of Raetia under Roman occupation.
We often wonder who our ancestors actually really were. Since the Roman times
many Germanic nations competed for the land the Romans occupied. Many were
rejected in battles like the Chatten while others were tolerated and settled by
the Romans like the Ubier. Among the others rejected were the Semnonen and
Hermunduren who combined with other Germanic nations among them the Sweben and
became known as the Alamannen meaning “All Men”.
The Chatten situated in Germania Inferior also unite with other Germanic nations
and become known as the Franken “Free Men” who were ruled by several Kings.
The Franken, Alamannen, Markomannen, Gepiden, and the Gothic nations from
northern Scandinavia and regions what are today’s Poland who migrated to
Romania and the Black see regions of Ukraine, began their movement almost the
same time into the territories of the Roman Empire which was on the decline.
The Franken began to occupy the territories of today’s France under the
Franken King, Clovis, from the house of the Merovingian (Chlodwig vom Haus der
Merowinger) who set up his capital in Soisons and is baptized along with 1,000
of his royal followers marking the beginning of Christianity among German
The Land in Hungary our forefathers ultimately settle is repeatedly occupied by
the Gothic, Gepiden, Huns, Vandal, Lombard, Avars, Franken and Magyar nations
during the years 250 to 1,000 when the Magyars established themselves a ruler of
Hungary under King Stephan I, which also included the Batschka and Banat.
In 475 the Ribuarier establish the independent State of “Francia Rhinensis”.
The Roman city of Trier loses on status but
maintains the status of a diocese under the Franken Catholic Arbogast.
The former Roman provinces now dominated by Germanic nations make only
relatively slow changes and when Clovis died in Paris he left a great
After the division into several Franken states and several in fights, it was
Hausmeier Karl Martel who united the Franken again which formed the bases for
Charlemagne’s (Karl der Grosse) empire. Karl was crowned by Pope Leo III in
Rome on Christmas Day of 800 as the first Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of
The empire of Charlemagne would not only include the ancestral grounds of our
forefather the Alamannen (Alsace and Baden-Württemberg) and Lorain in the west
of Franconia today’s France but also Pannonia part of the territories of
western Hungary which included the settlement regions of the Hungarian Central
Mountains, the Schwäbische Türkei and Slawonien-Syrmien. The settlement
regions of Sathmar, the Batschka and the Banat never were part of Pannonia under
the Celtics, the Romans nor the Franken.
During the reign of Charlemagne revolutionary important changes took place which
led to the development of organized settlements, fenced in for protection called
the Pfalz (not to confuse with fortresses), educational systems and intensive
Christian missionary work throughout the empire. From these organized
settlements Pfalz, we get the names for the Rhineland- and the Fränkische-Pfalz.
After the death of Karl his son “Ludwig der Fromme”, became the Emperor and
the empire was divided into three territories among Karl’s three grandsons
Lothar, Pipin and Ludwig. Pipin receives the Westfranken Empire, today’s
France, Lothar received the Kingdom of Italy which included Burgundy and
Lothringen which included the later Switzerland and the Netherlands, while
“Ludwig der Deutsche” received the Ostfranken Empire, today’s Germany. After
Lothar’s death his territories were disputed and divided. The Burgundy became
part of France and Lothringen, Switzerland and the Netherlands part of Germany.
Over the years Lothringen was drastically truncated after the declaration of
independence of Switzerland and The Netherlands. The homeland, the Kingdom
of the Alamannen, from where 2/3 or more of our forefather ultimately
originate became a constant politically disputed region between France and
It is very important for our history to keep a chronological order of the time
in view. The first date of the political development in Hungary is 1521 when Süleyman
II, of the Ottoman Empire, marches into Hungary. It is too late for Ludwig II,
of Hungary to militarize an army to resist. As a result the Hungarian army is
totally destroyed and Ludwig II dies accidentally without leaving a successor to
the Hungarian throne.
The Habsburger Ferdinand I,
Arch Duke of Austria and Emperor of the Holy Roman Empire of German
Nation is crowned legitimate King and
protector of Hungary after being empowered by a Hungarian committee of
The defeat is followed by a 150 year long occupation of Hungary by the Ottoman
Empire. Hungary only exists as narrow strip of land stretching along the Styrian
and Austrian border from the south to the north and from there to the northeast
including today’s Slovakia. Pressburg today’s Bratislava becomes the capital
When in 1683 Sultan Mehmed IV of the Ottoman Empire, recognized, what he thought
was an opportunity to conquer the Christian civilization, while in 1681 French
troops had invaded the German regions of Loraine and Alsace to the west of the
Rhine River and had taken Strasbourg; the imperial troops were unavailable to
defend the eastern borders against the Turks.
Sultan Mehmed IV began to move his forces of nearly 200,000 troops of a multi
national and multi racial character, to the cities of Györ (Raab) and Komaron
(Komorn) and sent a declaration of war to Emperor Leopold I and commissioned
Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa with the high command of 150,000 Turkish troops and
300 cannons to march on Vienna.
The valiant defensive struggle around Vienna lasted 62 days, until the arrival
of the allied “Entsatz” (rescue) troops of the “Holy Roman Empire of
German Nation” under Duke Karl V of Lothringen (Loraine) who laid out the
battle plans for the attack, while the overall command was given to Jan Sobieski
III, the King of Poland by pre-agreement and his rank as a king whose pay was
the booty of the Turks. The tent of the Grand Vizier Kara Mustafa can be seen in
the museum in Krakow, Poland.
The attack on the Turkish troops surrounding Vienna began at six o’clock in
the morning on September 12th 1683;
three “Wings” of the German and Polish troops began to move across Mount
Kahlenberg. Karl V led the left wing with Ludwig Wilhelm of Baden and the
19-year-old Prince Eugene of Savoy, nephew of Max Emanuel of Bavaria, on his
side. The center wing was led by Max Emanuel of Bavaria, Johann Georg of Saxony,
and George Friedrich of Waldeck. The wing was comprised of the Bavarian, Saxon,
Franks and Swabian troops while the right wing included the polish troops under
Jan Sobieski III and the Duke of Lauenburg with his troops.
1686-1687 combined imperial forces, under their commanders Karl V, Max Emanuel
von Bayern and Ludwig Wilhelm I von Baden, defeated the Turks at Harsany
(Harschan) near Mohács, thus ending the Islamic threat to the Christian
Civilization. These advances were supported by General Dünewald and Duke Leslie
who’s troops freed Essegg.
In 1689 the first “Impopulationpatent” is released for the re-settlement of
Hungary during the reign of Emperor Leopold I, as King of Hungary which took
several decades to become fully implemented. This “Impopulationpatent” was
followed by a demand of the Hungarian Lords to their king in a Hungarian
“Parliamentary Session” during 1722-1723.
The historical emigration of Germans during the time of 1686 to 1722 under
Leopold I was primarily initiated by Hungarian Landlords on individual bases to
provide labor forces for their land. From 1722 to 1789 the emigration to Hungary
from the “Holy Roman Empire of German Nation” who’s Emperors/Empress Karl
VI, Maria Theresia and Joseph II who also were the Kings/Queen of Hungary at the
same time became known as the “Three Great Swabian Migration”. The migration
of the single women became known as “Women Migration”.
They came from; Lorain (Lothringen) 24.6%,
The Palatinate (Rheinpfalz) 11.4%, Alsace (Elsaß) 7.7%, Trier (Independent
City) 6.7% Luxembourg (Luxemburg) 6.1%, Swabia (Schwaben) 4.3%, Mainz
(Independent City) 3.9%, Bavaria (Bayern) 3.7%, Baden (province) 3.1%,
Vorderösterreich a region including several southwestern German provinces (Württemberg,
Baden, Schwaben ect.) 2.9%. (Note: no strict records where kept at the
time by the emigration. registrars who took the names of the places of origin
given to them by the heads of the household, therefore we only tell you here
where Vorderösterreich was located.) Württemberg
(province) 2.9%, Zweibrücken (Independent City) 2.1%, Nassau (province) 2.1%,
Franken 1.7%, Empire of German Nation (remaining) 1.6%, Hessia
(Hessen) 1.6%, Austria (Österreich) 1.6%, Würzburg (Independent Church
State) 1.6%, Westphalia (Westfalen) 1.4%, Cologne (Köln Independent City) 0.9%,
Others (individually < 0,7 %).
1686-1718 the first German colonists immediately followed the victories over the
Turkish troops. They were summoned primarily from the so-called Habsburg
Erblanden (lands of succession). They came from Upper- and Lower-Austria,
Bohemia (Böhmen), Moravia (Mähren), Bavaria (Bayern), Styria (Steiermark),
Carinthia (Kärnten) and Silesia (Schlesien).
The first came in 1686 and settled the regions of the Southwest Hungarian
Central Mountains and regions near Budapest. These settlement followed
settlements to the south of Lake Balaton (Schwäbische Türkei) in 1687, in the
regions of Slavonia (Slawonien) in 1690, Southwest Hungarian Central Mountains
(Schildgebirge) in 1691, Buchenwald (Bakony) in 1702, Sathmar in 1712, Batschka
in 1715, Banat in 1716 and in Syrmia and Croatia in 1718. We know among those
others were Spaniards, Italians and French. Their religious orientations were
Catholics, Protestant, Lutherans and Calvinists.
After the arrival of the settlers in their new homeland they found nothing but
hard work. Cultivating the land demanded great personal sacrifices while
hardships and swamp fever took their toll. The majority of the newborn, men at
an early age, and women during childbirth took 75% of them to an early grave.
They were continually threatened by Turkish raids. The Turks, who crossed the
borders along the Danube, brought the bubonic plaque (Black Death) with them as
they selected men infested with the decease. It became known as a warfare with
disease which decimated the first settlers from which we get the phrase;
“death to the first”.
We also know during the French occupation of German Alsace-Lorain and the
regions to the west of the Rhine River, many of our forefathers left for Hungary
which became the home of our recent forefathers of 250 years. Others from the
region traveled to America, (Example; Pennsylvanian Dutch (Deutsch) among them
also Amish who share in part our dialect base besides that of German Swiss).
During the Prussian-Austrian war, Serbian gangs vandalized the villages of the
settlers. They robbed their grain, live stock and burned many of their villages
to the ground as the Heimatbuch Ernsthausen stated. “One had to run away if
one wanted to stay alive” it is written in the Heimatbuch Schowe. From this
time we get the phrase; “hardship for the second”.
Part of their settlement agreements included their rights and privileges, as
well as their obligations. Among the rights were the right to foster their
German heritage, customs and social mores. But most
important was the right to speak their German language and teach their children
in German schools for which they provided.
They received as much land as their family was able to cultivate for 10% of
their crop. They did not own the land till after the civil war (Bürgerkrieg) in
1848 at which time they could purchase the land they cultivated.
Further development of events among the German Nation at the turn of the 19th Century and the threat made
by Napoleon I, to cross the Rhine River border again, prompted Emperor Franz II
to lay down the crown of the “Holy Roman Empire of German Nation”. He no
longer saw that the empire was still functioning, since the Kingdom’s of
Prussia and Bavaria among others, were in a continued struggle to preserve their
own independence during the French wars, and signed individual treaties with
On August 6th 1806 Franz II abdicated his throne and the declared
that the “Holy Roman Empire of German Nation” no longer existed and assumed
the reign as Franz I, Emperor of a new Empire the “Austrian Empire”.
After the equalization treaty between Austria and Hungary in 1869 and the
formation of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, our ancestors lost many of their
inherited rights and the Hungarians began a systematic organized
Hungarianization process among the Germans.
Now under these constant pressures and the lack of equal opportunities of
administrative positions in politics and government, as well as other
professional fields, many of our people volunteered to be hungarianized
embracing Hungary. Many of them in the USA today find out only now that they are
not Hungarians but actually Ungarländische- Deutsche or Donauschwaben.
Our ancestors in the rural areas with their high spirits resisted strongly to
these pressures and were determined to preserve their heritage despite all odds
and by the turn of the 19th Century succeeded and were tolerated. The
reason, their highly advanced agricultural techniques through which they had
achieved prosperity became the backbone of Hungarian economy and thus enjoyed
one of the highest standards of living in Europe. From these time we get the
phrase; “bread for the third”
As we entered the 20th Century the Hungarians signed a contract with
the Cunnard Lines in Britain and since 1903 we see Germans from Hungary
immigrating to the USA. Many of them though came here to work hard, save their
money and return home. How many came may only be vaguely recognized in the
manifests of the ships, since they are mostly listed as originating from
Hungary. How many did actually return can not be determined. We know however,
that a lot of money left the USA, because the US Congress promulgated a law to
curtail the return flight of the people and the loss of funds leaving the
country by setting limitations.
For us, 80 years later, it is confusing and difficult to evaluate these records.
There are no US Immigration statistics breaking down the Hungarian immigrants
into Hungarian, German, Slovak, Romanian, and Hebrew etc. Of the 193,460
Hungarian citizens who came to the U.S.A. in 1907, we do not know how many of
them were “Ungarländische Deutsche”.
In 1914 the shots which were heard around the world were fired from the gun of
an assassin on June 28th in Sarajevo. It was Gavrilo Princip a member
of the Serbian radical group “The Black Hand” who fired them.
The victims were the Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his highly
pregnant wife duchess Sophie von Hohenberg. The whole world mourns on their
behalf in particular the people in Bosnia-Herzegovina, who welcomed the
annexation to the Austrian Empire as protectorate after the decay of the Turkish
This planed assassination by the Serbs, supported by the Russian which started
WWI can not be understood quite completely by the Austrian. They protected many
Serbians, who for several hundred years found sanctuary and protection along the
borders of Styria and Austria by the empire during the occupation of the Ottoman
Empire, now they had turned against them.
After the peace treaties in Trianon, the territories of the Austrian-Hungarian
Monarchy, with its population of 54 million people, were dismantled by the
allied nations. The settlement regions of our ancestors with a population of
1,500,000 are now divided among three countries. Approximately 500,000 are now
living in Hungary, 500,000 in Romania and 500,000 in newly crated independent
state of Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia which became known as Yugoslavia (South
Slavia). They now lose all their inherited rights in these countries.
Most German schools were closed and the rich farmers in Yugoslavia became
victims of the agrarian reform of Alexander Karadjordjevic who proclaimed the
Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians and their land was expropriated.
This affected the Donauschwaben, the Lower Styrian’s and the Gottscheer.
In Romania the churches were forced to sell their property which supported the
schools of the Transylvanian Saxons to the state for 1% of their market value.
All properties purchased after 1920 were expropriated without due compensation.
All these laws affected all the Germans in Sathmar, Banat, the Dobrudscha
In Hungary, although they respected the private properties the German schools
were closed. The German settlers ones summoned to cultivate the land of the
Hungarians now were no longer welcome. As a minority in all three countries lose
their agricultural and economic strength they had established as “one people,
as Hungarian Germans” prior to the war. It created many hardships and poverty
among the Germans and as a result we experience a flight of Donauschwaben to
foreign countries, among them the USA.
During the great depression a trade agreement with Germany was reached by the
countries were the Donauschwaben now resided. These agreements in which they
traded their agricultural products for modern agricultural machinery brought
prosperity not realized since the “two sheared plow” and since the threshing
machines (1880) were introduced. They were primarily responsible for bringing
the Donauschwaben out of the recession in Europe, first.
However, this prosperity did not last very long. The Second World War loomed on
the horizon and with it came the end of the lives of the Donauschwaben in the
country their ancestors had settled on foreign soil of more than 250 years ago.
More than 220,000 of our people would take the advice of the German Army and
flee under their protection from the Red Army. The strong roots to their soil,
the deep faith in God and the fact that they strongly believed having done
nothing wrong to justify leaving, would influence many to stay behind.
They were wrong and some 250,000 were subjected to the brunt of the hatred of
the Communist Tito Partisans, despite the fact that the minority of 4% of the
Donauschwaben produced enough food to feed the Yugoslavian nation.
At the treaty of Potsdam, Stalin received the permission from the Allied Nations
to obtain a labor force of 73,000 Donauschwaben, 30,000 from Hungary, 30,000
from Romania and 13,000 from Yugoslavia as slave laborers for a period of 5
years. At the Potsdam treaty the allied nations gave Hungary the permission to
expel 220,000 German to Austria and Germany. However Yugoslavia and Romania did
not and resorted to other measures.
The Russian also requested a certain grain quota from Romania. This resulted in
exiling most of the Banater Donauschwaben, about 40,000, to the desolate regions
of the Baragan for 5 years in the early 60’s and resettled them afterward on
inferior land, while Romanian were settled in the homes of the Banater.
Under the reign of Tito who excused his action taken against the Germans,
claiming the Prinz Eugen Division consisting of West Banater Donauschwaben from
Yugoslavia, betrayed their country while it was actually the opposite. Tito
betrayed his country as history has shown, when his tribunal decided on November
29th 1943, to secretly oust Peter, the reigning King of Yugoslavia
living in self exile in London.
The dramatic and tragic fate of the Donauschwaben was sealed on November 21st
1944 in Jajce, Bosnia when a
tribunal of “Tito’s Communist Partisan Rebels” which by now calls itself
„Antifasiticko Vece Narodnog Oslobodjenja Jugoslavije“ „Antifascist
Tribunal for the Liberation of Yugoslavia“ in
short AVNOJ, decided that all Germans in Yugoslavia must be eliminated. Their
document stated; “All persons of German descent living in Yugoslavia will
automatically lose their citizenship. They will lose all their rights and all
their possessions and property will become property of the State. As a result of
these laws the Donauschwaben in Yugoslavia lost all their property and 1/3 of
their population. Today there is only 1% of the Donauschwaben left from the
500,000 Donauschwaben who made their home in Yugoslavia prior to WWII.
In summarizing, our life on foreign soil by our ancestors became imbedded in
these words, “Dem ersten den Tod, dem zweiten die Not, dem dritten das
Brot”. Translated it means, “for the first settlers; death, for the second
settlers a meager existence and only for the third settlers the bread and
finally prosperity. We sadly have to add to this now; “expulsion from their
homes and Genocide for the generation living at the end of World War II” which
would end the lives of the Donauschwaben as they knew it since the time of the
settlement of their ancestors.