(Summarized from the Heimatbuch by Johann Eppel)
The Tolna has been inhabited by various peoples as far back as 4,000 B.C. the early Stone Age. Celtic people settled in the area of Tevel by 600 B.C. and were in contact with Macedonia in the time of Alexander the Great. It became part of Roman Pannonia in the time of Caesar Augustus but no Roman settlement was undertaken in the area except for several fortresses and military camps.
Tevel existed as a community as early as 950 A.D. following the Magyar conquest. The name Tevel is recorded in documents in 1193 and the land was granted to the Knights of St. John of the Cross, by the Hungarian king. The Order had its headquarters in Szekesfehevar. There was a section of cleared land in the dense forest and meadows. The clearing of the forests was difficult work and the population concentrated on livestock herding. By the time of the coming of the Turks, four communities including Tevel were existence. All of them belonged to the same landlord and shared a common destiny and fate.
In 1397 Tevel was listed as part of the Royal Estate and in 1427 it was a “Royal” village belonging to the Arpad dynasty. After a string of vassals who owned it, it reverted back to King Sigismund after 1406.
In 1660 the Habsburg Emperor Leopold I designated Tevel and 44 other communities and estates in Baranya, Somogy and Tolna which were all occupied by the Turks as the landholdings of three retired soldiers from the lower nobility for their service to the Hungarian Crown. Count Zinzendorf and the Kéthlelyi families were the later owners. But in effect the whole area was in Turkish hands. All of the names on the Turkish Tax Lists during the 16th and 17th centuries are Magyar. The serfs were doubly taxed, first by the Turks and secondly by the exiled landlords and as a result many of the serfs also fled to other areas to escape the tax collectors. By the end of the `16th century Tevel and its vicinity was not inhabited as a result of Turkish atrocities against the local population. The whole area became the preserve of wandering Serbian and Croatian herdsmen but the old names and local designations remained. They lived a nomadic life in order to hide from both the military and the tax collectors. Ten Serb households existed in Tevel.
At the beginning of the 18th century the total population of the Tolna was from 3,000 to 4,000 persons. During the census in the reign of Joseph II in 1787 a population of 133,000 was reported. The land was transformed from wilderness to cultivated acres, vineyards, cattle rearing and a developing distinctive culture. A new beginning was underway. Tevel was the first community in the Tolna to be developed in the new phase of settlement and it was a German community that would emerge.
The First Stream of Emigration (1701-1720)
On August 18, 1701 Leopold I granted the lands that include Tevel as well as Zomba, Szarazd, Kisdorog (twelve in all) to the Johann Monasterly family for their war services rendered to the Crown, valued at 6,800 Gulden. Of course the Kethelyi heirs opposed it and took legal action. But on October 11, 1701 the courts awarded the estate to Monasterly. He was a military leader and known as “the Serbian Captain” and was also the secular ruler of the local Serbian populations. He was Serbian Orthodox but he was not allowed to place any impediments in the way of his Roman Catholic subjects on his acquired estates. If he died without a male heir, all of his holdings would revert to the Crown. That would also true of his heirs. Monasterly notified the Paladin, Paul Esterhazy that he had gone into partnership with a Hungarian Count Ladislaus Döry from Jobanaza without dividing the holdings between them per se. Döry would have the task of developing the estate and was also the Hungarian agent at the Royal Chamber in Vienna. He had all the connections to do the job. Their plans were frustrated both by the Kurutz Rebellion of Rakoczi, which broke out in 1703 and Monasterly’s death in 1709 before the rebellion was over and his widow was destitute and appealed to Döry for support. The heirs and Döry divided the Domain and Zomba and Tevel went to Döry as well as others and the Monasterlys got most of the rest, while Ladomy and Szarazd remained jointly owned. The family in need of fund sold three estates to Döry. In 1719 Döry bought additional estates from Count Zichy only to die shortly afterwards.
Monasterly began the settlement of Tevel between 1701-1703 and did so with German-speaking settlers. But this settlement along with countless others were destroyed by the rebels who sought the Serbs, Croats and Germans in particular and killed many of them. In the space of two weeks the rebels executed 800 Serbian and German settlers in Pécs. Tevel was deserted.
Döry now took over. He originally came from Odenburg (Sopron) County and was of the lower nobility. As the youngest of five he sought a career as a priest, soldier and lawyer in that order. He sought his fortunes in Vienna and found his own clients instead of seeking a government position and in this way made contact with powerful people. He sought 1,200 settlers for his Tevel estate. He tried Serbs and Magyars and got nowhere. The only alternative was Germans from the Holy Roman Empire and Austria itself and at the personal cost of the settlers themselves. The rebellion ended in 1711 and settlement could again proceed.
The largest colonizer of the time was Count Alexander Karolyi in Szatmar County who brought Swabian settlers from southwest Germany. As early as 1712 Döry sent his agent, Franz Felbinger to Biberach with the assignment to recruit Swabian settlers for his landholdings at Tevel.
The settlers would travel on the Danube from Ulm to Vienna in seven days and from Vienna to Buda and Pest would take another six days but that excluded any rests along the way. The whole journey was badly planned. The settlers arrived too late to plant a crop and there were three groups of settlers who arrived during that summer. The second and third groups were Swabians in all likelihood so was the first.
In May 1712 the surge of emigrants down the Danube resulted in the Viennese government issuing passports for the purpose of regulating the traffic flow, and usually these were group “visas”. Only 14% of the 108 families listed on passes to Tevel ever arrived there. Next they would require health certificates in order to enter Hungary as well as manumission papers from their former feudal lord. The health certificate had to be presented, stamped and signed at Ulm, Donauwörth, Ingolstadt. From 1712-1713 some 50,000 emigrants left for Hungary and settled in Pest, Borog, Zemplyn, Szatmar and Tolna Counties.
In Tevel that meant there were 188 families and some 945 persons who arrived there up to 1714. Conditions were very primitive and the settlers dug out earth huts and worked in clearing the forests, draining the swamps, fighting insects and disease. The settlers were unhappy and dissatisfied and many left for other parts while others headed back home. Of particular difficulty was the drinking water that the settlers could not tolerate causing dysentery and swamp fever often resulting in death. They also died due to poor nourishment and a general lack of food. The Döry’s agent simply did not supply what had been promised and often they did not have the funds or the supplies to do so and livestock were just simply not available. Even two and one half years later the survivors were still asking for the livestock that had been promised.
In 1715 the first Roman Catholic church was erected for up until then the children were baptized in Szekszard between 1712-1714. The County Administration allowed the following concessions to Tevel:
“Since all of the settlers had come from foreign lands they would be tax free
for three years and would not have to billet troops during that period.”
From the very earliest period of settlement the office of Richter and Klein Richter were in effect. Usually the position of Richter was established first and there were a whole series of successors in Tevel from 1713-1720. There eight different men. In terms of the Klein Richter this office was usually established later and the incumbent was in office much longer. In Tevel there were only two different office holders from 1716-1720.
It appears that the first Swabian settlers were Roman Catholics and were accompanied by their own priest to Tevel in 1713 and his name was Johann Heinrich Mack. His successor came from Raab and there many complaints about his greed and avarice and his handling of people, especially the poor.
After 1718 his un-named successor became the Vice Deacon of Tolna and Mucsi became a filial congregation of Tevel, only to proceed with installing a non-Roman Catholic “preacher” who apparently was a Lutheran. The Bishop who also served as the Sheriff of the County called an assembly of the County to deal with this affront against the will of his Catholic Majesty the Emperor. The Lutheran preacher and several Lutheran families left Mucsi as a result. Worship was still held in the priest’s house or in the out of doors until 1715 when the church was completed. There is also the strong suggestion that the immigrants also brought their own schoolmaster with them. One of the group “visas” in 1714 lists a schoolmaster but he is not named.
The major emigration now took place, chiefly from 1720-1767. The year 1767 marks the year of Maria Theresia’s Urbarial Agreement in Hungary which to a great extent ended the flow of settlers to the private estates as conditions in the Banat and Batschka were more favourable as they were Crownlands that were being developed by the Empress herself. The Tevel Domain consisted of Tevel and countless undeveloped villages including Zomba at the time of Döry’s death. His widow operated the estates through agents until she remarried. Her husband was Döry’s nephew, Josef Andar von Deaki. When he died, the two sons of Döry , Ignace and Adam inherited the Domain. Along with their economic power the two sons added political power and even achieved election as County Sheriff even though the position had been the private preserve of the Bishop of Pécs, Adam Klimo.
By 1724 there were 103 Swabian families who had settled in Tevel. From 1725-1731 an additional 30 families arrived. But many other families had arrived in Tevel but had migrated to other settlements in the area. This was a result of the Emperor’s guarantee of freedom of movement for the settlers that the Hungarian nobles resented and often attempted to prevent because their own Hungarian serfs had no such right.
In 1721, Kisdorog was first settled by Slovaks who came from Upper Hungary (Slovakia). In 1723 the first Germans arrived, identified as Franconians. The Slovaks left in 1730 and resettled in Kurd. Zomba was first settled by Magyars in 1725 but they would later leave for Oroshazá. In the 1730s settlers coming to Tevel found many empty houses. (No mention is made by the author that the Slovaks and Magyars were Lutherans as well as the Germans in Zomba which accounts for their migration.)
Pope Clement XIII gave Maria Theresia the title of “Apostolic King” in 1758 in recognition of her assistance in spreading the “catholic religion” in her Domains.
The conflict between the nobles and landlords and their tenant subjects was in full swing as the decade of the 1730s began and the people of Tevel issued letters of complaint to the Governor of the County, Count Wilehlem Nesselrode, who as of German origin and also the Bishop of Pécs. Their complaint was written in German even though the official language of Hungary was still Latin. The villagers of Tevel accused the landlord of not abiding by the terms of the contract they had mutually signed. The major issue was the landlord’s demands for more Robot (free labour) and the fact that his swine were damaging their crops and gardens. All of this would lead to confrontations and individual punishments. There was soon a second submission on the part of the people of Tevel after receiving no satisfaction of their request in their first petition.
But it did have an effect as the Minutes of the County Assembly of 15.11.1730 note that action was postponed for the next Assembly to deal with the issues raised by the peasants in Nagyszékely and Tevel. But the next two Assemblies deal only with the Nagyszékely complaint that was forwarded to the next level of authority.
The issue in Tevel became a crisis in 1732. The village of Tevel appealed to the Emperor Charles directly. They sent two men, Johann Weber and Jacob Federle to Vienna to argue their case in the winter of 1732. The end result was a denial of their charges against the Dörys and the two representatives were placed in the dungeons of Simontornya at year’s end. The struggle would continue on a County level. In 1735 they sent another submission to the County Administration asking for the release of the delegates and representatives of Tevel who had been imprisoned now for years. Their petition was accepted and the men in question were released. The conflict dragged on and on with no real resolution to the satisfaction of the settlers. It was in the courts for over ten years and concluded on July 24, 1743. Since the courts backed the nobles and landlords as usual (all of them were nobles themselves) the people of Tevel planned to leave en mass and re-settle somewhere else. The Hungarian Lutherans in Zomba had already done so for economic and confessional reasons and moved to the Great Plains area at Oroshaza. The people of Tevel planned to leave for the Banat, only to be stopped dead in their tracks when the Turks re-entered the Banat. No collective move took place, but some individuals did so as was their right of freedom of movement. This included three of the eight leaders of the resistance.
Tevel was not alone. Petitions and complaints were coming from many different directions: Paks, Ireg, Tolna, Kakasd, Belac, Györköny, all in 1740 alone.
The Early Settlers
The following are the heads of households who arrived in Tevel in 1712 all of whom were identified as Swabians:
Martin Zolk, Melchior Kratzer, Georg Mayer, Menrad Kissling, Franz Schwabtaler, Martin Glick, Stephen Rak, Jacob Still, Josef Sonthauser, Josef Ross, Johannes Wamszler, Jacob Rumel, Andreas Himpel, Konrad Sennig, Joseph Locher, Martin Leber, Jacob Still, Mattheus Schutzbach, Joseph Ketterer, Johannes Lang, Andreas Pfaff, Petrus Pfaff, Christoph Baumgartner, Georgy Haure, Andreas Stattler, Jacob Schwanter, Johanes Higeli, Joseph Tresser, Martin Aiglsinger, Martin Schwab, Johannes Werlli, Adam Zimmermann, Marx Riek, Mattheus Turi, Ferd Argl (Orgel), Sebasian Hetti, Ludwig Wirth, Thomas Schweitzer, Michael Gemmer, Leonhard Sonnert, Vallentin Schutzbach, Johannes Setteli, Thomas Paier, Joseph Csiczer, Philip Hertterer, Michael Schilling, Isak Eppi, Joseph Spiegel.
The following information on the 48 heads of households as above demonstrates how fluid the situation was during the early years of settlement. Those who are not specifically mentioned were still in Tevel and working their lands in 1720, the situation of the others had changed as follows:
Georg Mayer left in 1716 and headed elsewhere.
Josef Ross died in 1719.
Josef Locher died in 1717
Mattheus Schutzbach left in 1717 and migrated elsewhere.
Josef Lang died in 1716.
Peter Pfaff died in 1719.
Jacob Schwanter died in 1716.
Josef Tresser died in 1717.
Martin Aiglsinger left for Högyesz in 1719.
Johann Werlli left for Högyesz in 1719.
Adam Zimmermann left for Högyesz in 1719.
Mattheus Turi left in 1717 but his destination is unknown.
Michael Gemmer went back to Germany in 1719.
Thomas Paier died in 1716.
Joseph Csitzer died in 1716.
Philip Herterer left in 1719 to settle elsewhere.
Isak Eppi left in 1716 with his destination unknown.
The Places of Origin of the Settlers in Tevel
Almost all of the settlers who arrived in Tevel during the 18th century were Swabians whose origins were in the Schwarzwald and the area known as the Schwäbische-Alb north of the Bodensee or Lake Constance.
Those from the Schwarzwald came from the villages of:
Whyl, Buchheim, Kirchofen, Frelburg, St. Peter, Altenweg, Neustadt, Göschweiler, Löffingen, Riedböhringen, Donaueschigen, Sunthausen, Aasen, Durchausen, Velle-Spaichigen, Denkingen, Wehingen, Renquishausen, Mahlstetten, Kolbingen, Tuttlingen, Zimmern, Hintschingen, Singen, Worndorf and Messkirch.
Those from the Schwäbische-Alb came from the villages of:
Bolstern, Deggenhausen, Oberhöfen, Hopferbach, Winterstetten, Memmingen, Eberhardzell, Hochdorf, Biberach, Warthausen, Maselheim, Schönebürg, Alberweiler, Unterwachingen, Äpfingen, Ingerkingen, Dorndorf, Reutlingendorf, Kirchbierlingen, Ehingen and Sulmetingen.
Some Reflecltions on Tevel’s Last Days as a Swabian Community
The population of Tevel reached 2,500 by 1941. Jacob Bleyer’s Christian conservative cultural association known as the UDV (Ungarn Deutsche Verein) was organized in the village on March 7, 1926 with a local chapter consisting of thirty members. It would become the centre of the movement throughout the region. But with Bleyer’s death, the struggle for leadership of the organization began. Gustav Gratz represented the older leadership while Franz Basch led the radicals within the organization. Basch’s followers formed the VDK (Volks Deutsche Komeradschaft) which was declared illegal up until the signing of the Vienna Accords between the Third Reich and the Regent Horthy of Hungary whereby Hungary annexed portions of Slovakia and received the northern part of Transylvania from Romania for Hungary’s support of the Nazis. On November 26, 1938 Basch founded the Volksbund der Deutschen in Ungarn, which became known simply as the Bund and he became its Führer. The local Bund was formed in Tevel on July 7, 1940. This created a virtual war between the two groups in Tevel after two hundred years of unity. “The Bund was a child of National Socialism,” the author laments.
The first recruitment for the Waffen-SS was in 1942 at which time twenty-two young men from Tevel enlisted. The next recruitment took place in 1943 but things had changed drastically and there was only one volunteer. The third recruitment took place in 1944 and was obligatory for all Swabian men between the ages of 17 to 62 years, even if the men had claimed Hungarian as their nationality. There were 230 men conscripted in this manner. All of this was done with the complicity of the Hungarian government. In effect, the Swabians were sold as mercenaries and would wear a foreign uniform.
Near the end of 1942 a loyalist movement known as “Faithful to the Homeland” was inaugurated by leading intellectuals and church leaders in Bonyhád with the support of the Hungarian government. It was a political organization whose objective was to eliminate the power of the Bund among the Swabian population. Their credo was, “Loyal to God; loyal to our Hungarian Fatherland; loyal to our folk heritage.” About sixty families who had claimed Hungarian citizenship in the census of 1940 joined the movement in Tevel. The men were registered as such and it was assumed that they would not be involved in this third recruitment into the Waffen-SS. The assumption was proved to be wrong. It was not even taken into consideration by the Hungarian officials and they too were forced into the German Army. The occupation of Hungary by the German Army in March of 1944 led to the deportation of the thirteen Jews living in Tevel. By the end of November the Red Army entered Tolna County. Some twenty families numbering about eighty persons responded to the hurried call for evacuation. They left Högyesz on November 29th and headed towards Germany. The schoolmaster placed white flags on posts at the perimeters of the village as a sign of peace.
Three kilometres north of the village at Csurgo Puszta a battle took place between a battalion of Germans and the advance guard of the Soviet troops resulting in 32 Russian and 8 German casualties. No other fighting took place in the vicinity. On December 2nd the Red Army moved north. The village endured the occupation and the billeting of Russian troops in the homes of the villagers for several days. The populace was harassed especially the young women but little physical damage was done to the village except for the burning of the manor house.
Unlike other villages in the area Tevel did not send its able bodied population out to dig trenches on the front lines. On December 30th the village was taken by surprise by the beating of the drums on the street corners as the Klein Richter announced that all women born between 1915-1926 and all men born between 1900-1927 were to report for a fourteen day work detail at the community centre. Only pregnant women and nursing mothers were exempted. Next day they were taken by ox cart to Szekszard with each person allowed 200 kilos of good and clothing for two weeks. In effect they were being taken to a transit camp the County had set up to assemble and the Swabians that had been rounded up in the area. On January 9, 1945 they arrived in Baja on the Danube and loaded into boxcars and sent to Ukraine and the labour camps. There they were assigned to Aryum to work in factories, coalmines, collective farms and construction. There were over 200 persons from Tevel the vast majority of them were women. Some report that there were 205, while others suggest 212 and another 220-230. The last of the survivors came home in 1949.
On April 25, 1945 the drumbeats were heard in the streets again. All residents of Tevel were to proceed to the village meadow leaving no one at home and their houses unlocked. They had to report to a Government Commission in the meadow under the direction of the director of their school. The Commission identified all Bund members and took them to Lengyel in ox carts and imprisoned them in the abandoned castle of Count Apponyi. There were six hundred residents of Tevel interned there along with people from all of the other villages in the area. Due to organizational confusion the internees were released and told to go wherever they wanted but they could not return home unless the new occupants of their houses took pity on them. Szeklers from eastern Hungary were already in their homes. Many Bund members found shelter with family or neighbours or they moved on to Hungarian villages nearby.
The expulsions and deportation ordered at Potsdam for the Danube Swabian population of Hungary began in Tevel in 1946. About 1,300 persons were assigned for expulsion. On July 3rd, a transport with 950 people from Tevel left the train station at Högyesz heading for Sopron, Vienna and Linz. On their arrival in Linz they were not allowed to continue on to Germany by American officials who refused to accept any more destitute deportees from Hungary. They were forced to return to Hungary and taken to the southeast in the Great Plains in the vicinity of Bacsalmas and Csaszartöltes ending up in Hájos and Nemesnadudvar where they were detrained and their presence was most unwelcome to the local population. Whoever got a chance to escape did so and made their way out into the unknown or went into hiding. Those who had family in Tevel sent word where they were and they came and brought them home. Only a few of the families remained in the area and shortly after they were rounded up to form another transport that was eventually accepted into the US Zone of West Germany.
There was no mention of an expulsion after that in Tevel until 1947 when Hungarians living in Czechoslovakia were exchanged for Slovaks living in Hungary. The Slovaks who “returned” to Slovakia were landless. To solve the dilemma of what to do with the Hungarian repatriates the Hungarians were distributed in the Swabian villages. The homes and property they received in compensation were those of the Swabians who had not belonged to the Bund and those who had been members of the Loyalist movement were also dispossessed of all of their property. The criterion used was a matter of ethnic origin.
A new destination for the Danube Swabians of Hungary had been found. It was the Russian Zone of Germany. On March 16, 1948 some 700 persons, mostly landowners and only a few Bund members were hauled by wagon to the train station and left in sealed cattle cars and moved across Hungary and Czechoslovakia to the Russian Zone of Germany. Only 75 Swabian families remained in Tevel and from that moment on Tevel was no longer a Swabian village and even those who were left behind sought a better future elsewhere much like their ancestors had over two centuries before.