As a reward for entering the First World War on the side of the victorious Allies in 1916, Roman was awarded Transylvania, Bucovina and the Dobrudscha and later in 1918 also occupied
It was, however, another matter when it came to domestic politics in
Nor was there a desire on the part of the German population to be free of
They entered the area in response to the invitation of King Geza II of Hungary (1141-1162) and came from central Germany, especially the region of Aachen and the Mosel River Valley. They were granted special privileges including their autonomy as the Saxon nation. This was further strengthened under King Andreas II in 1224. This stood them in good stead during the lordship of the Turks over
At the Saxon Day Assembly at Mediasch (November 6, 1919) the foundation was laid for the organization of the German Saxon National Council for
In the second half of the 19th century and especially at the beginning of the 20th, a business and industrial class emerged among the Saxons. There were four classes: Grossbürgher the so-called chief citizens; Mittelbürgher who were middle class; and the farmers and the industrial workers who were at the bottom of the scale. Living in a very closed society these class distinctions became rigid. To a great degree, this stratified society remained in place until the October Saxon Day in 1933.
With the agrarian reform laws in 1922 the Saxon “nation” lost its communal holdings; huge forests and large tracts of undeveloped land. In a real sense they found themselves robbed of their financial resources. For the first time in the centuries’ old history they had no resources to maintain their social and cultural heritage. Their senators and other representatives in parliament struggled with these issues but found little support.
The leading personalities among the Saxons after 1918 came out academic circles and were from the Grossbürgher class. The Lutheran bishop and the president of the National Council were the chief representatives of the Saxon people. The Romanian government recognized the importance of the bishop and appointed him as an ex-officio senator. The clergy of the
The German settlers in the
The Swabians were unable to withstand the onslaught of Magyarization primarily due to the fact that the vast majority of them were Roman Catholics and were under the jurisdiction of Hungarian bishops and part of Hungarian dioceses which in the last half of the 19th century were occupied by Hungarian nationalists. Their social structure consisted of massive numbers of farmers with both large and small landholdings and a very small group of Bürghers consisting of clergy and some academics. Most of them were employed by the Hungarian government in the field of administration. It was only at the close of the 19th century that any attempt was made to organize the Swabians in any way and it would take until after 1918 for it to emerge once again. Any would-be-leader of a movement to further the language and culture of the Swabians had to face the fierce opposition of their assimilated Roman Catholic clergy. The small upper class among them had already assimilated and there was no support or any resources available from that quarter either.
After 1918 two groups emerged. The first was the Swabian Autonomy Party which had the support of the vast majority of the Swabian population and was led by a Roman Catholic prelate named Blascovics along with Dr. Muth and Dr. Kräuter. They sought to form an independent Banat and were opposed to their annexation to
But as the Romanian government began to pressure the minorities at the beginning of 1921 the Danube Swabians closed ranks and formed a united front. A national organization was to be formed with no official connection to the German Party. Such an organization was founded in Temesvar on March 13, 1921: the Swabian National Society. They elected Dr. Kaspar Muth as its first leader a former representative of the now defunct Swabian Autonomy Party. He would remain in office until 1936. The new National Society was no longer in close contact or relationship with the Roman Catholic clergy and hierarchy. This was done so that in dealing with the state of
Despite of his extensive efforts, Dr. Muth, was not able to unite the various Swabian political groups. As a result the Swabian National Society splintered into various new groupings in 1932. In the election of parliamentary representatives the final break came late in 1932.
The Szatmar region was resettled in 1712 following the expulsion of the Turks. This colonization period would end by 1815. The most zealous colonizer in addition to the Habsburg Emperor at this time was Count Alexander Karoly to whom most of
Like the Swabians in the
The tensions in
A special Anglo-American Commission investigated the religious rights of the minorities in
The upkeep of their German schools was maintained by the Romanian government through doubling the taxes of the Transylvania Saxons who along with the Banat Swabians and the Szatmar Swabians were already paying the highest taxes. In addition to the taxes the Saxons paid to the state they also had to pay a church tax to the government equal to 100-150% of that amount. This caused great difficulties for the
In the school term of 1927-1928 a new series of regulations by the Ministry of Education were set in motion. This new rules were designed to target the closure of the middle schools operated by the churches of the various minorities. It affected all of the German schools in Temesvar operated by the Roman Catholic Church and in numerous other places: Orawitza, Perjamosch and Gross Sankt Nikolaus in which Romanian was immediately to be the language of instruction and the language to be used in the writing of all final examinations. The same regulations were put into effect in the boy’s schools and high schools that were operated by the Lutherans in Hermanstadt and Bistritz. But the better organized Saxons were able to intervene with the government in
In Szatmar it was a totally different situation. Dr. Winterhofen’s intervention on behalf of the Swabian population with the Minister of Education, Angelescu, the Romanian government ordered the compulsory use of German in all of the Roman Catholic schools and the elimination of the use of Hungarian. This action led to an angry response on the part of the Hungarian People’s Party. Their leader, George Bethlen, approached Dr. Hans Otto Roth, one of the leaders of the German Party in parliament to negotiate the matter between the two parties. At an assembly of the German parliamentary party on May 11, 1928 in which Bethlen participated, it was decided that the German Party was to direct all phases of German education in the Szatmar region but they failed to get the full support of the Swabian population in the Szatmar in their endeavours.
The school question continued to create a great deal of unrest in the German areas of settlement up to 1933. But it was not the only issue that angered or upset the German minority. Germans who had held positions of authority up to 1918 all lost their jobs or failed to achieve any future promotions. Businessmen and tradesmen as well as industrial workers also felt hemmed in due to restrictions and government regulations imposed upon them in particular. It is no wonder that the young intellectuals led took the initiative to speak out against the discrimination they experienced. There were already National Socialist tendencies in evidence in the German communities early in the 1920s as a result of Fritz Fabritius’ work begun in 1922 as the “Self Help” movement. They were opposed to the tactics and programme of the German Party in parliament that they believed led to the impoverishment of the German minority and the conservative status quo position of the National German Council that stood in the way of progress.
Fabritius and his fellows sought to form a “new National Folk body” in
The first public manifestation of Nazism in
There was a similar story and situation in the
All of the opposition forces gathered together and called themselves: The Young Swabian Movement. In mid January 1930 they made a public declaration that outlined their programme. They sought to formulate a new minority politics for the Banat Swabians but also declared that they were not out to destroy the existing National Folk Organization. This was the opposite of the tack taken by their confreres among the Saxons. Alongside of them were the so-called: Hollinger Party. The man after whom the group was named was chiefly supported by the businessmen and merchants whose major concern was the economic situation. He allied himself with the Hungarians and the Social Democrats in the County elections in February 1930. But he proved unsuccessful in establishing a base for his party. The major difficulty he faced was the opposition of the Roman Catholic clergy who were hard to win over to the German “cause” in the 1920s. At the beginning of the 1930s there was notable change of mind among many of the clergy who formed a united front with the leadership of the National Folk Organization. This change was due to the fact that the German youth were now educated and raised as Germans and had teachers who raised the consciousness level of their German identity.
In Szatmar the struggle was different. Even though the Roman Catholic clergy held rigidly to their Magyarization policies an ethnic consciousness on the part of the Swabian population was awakened in the early 1920s. Dr. Winterhofen working along with the Banat Swabian National Folk Organization was able to organize those who had been politically awakened in 1925. The call for German schools and German parish priests was raised by this movement. At the second assembly of their Swabian movement in 1926 they faced open conflict with the well organized Hungary Party that was spread throughout Szatmar. The Bishop of Szatmar sent out an Episcopal letter to all of the parishes warning the people against the leaders and members of the Swabian Movement which he declared to be non-Christian. It was only Father Ettinger in the parish of Scheindorf who supported the Swabian Movement and as a result he was shunned by the other Roman Catholic clergy. A battle ensued in every parish led by local priest. In many parishes greeting one another in German was forbidden and children were forced to speak only in Hungarian. Attempts by the Dean in the cathedral in Temesvar and a prelate in
When Fiedler was named bishop of Szatmar, the leaders of the Swabian Movement believed he would support them. The Swabian bishop was too much a German in the best sense of the word to allow another nationality to deal so unjustly with his own people. Until 1933 nothing much would change except that the Swabian movement had some success in the matter of German parish schools.
The relationship of the German minorities and the Romanian government were constantly strained. Due to the clever diplomacy of the representatives of the German Party under the leadership of Dr. Hans Otto Roth, the attacks against the German minority by the Romanian government were held in check and hindered to a great degree.
After 1918 the Roman government had the goal and objective to bring about a decline in the political power of the German minority and weaken their economy and eradicate their culture. It was hardly any wonder that the German minority would seek help and assistance from the Motherland in their unequal struggle. The financial and moral support that the German government provided to the German minority awakened in them a trust in the German state and its leadership. That is why it was so easy to win them over to the politics of the Third Reich after 1933.