Somogy County

The Families of Somogydöröcske Somogy County, Hungary 1730-1948

by Henry A. Fischer

In the past, the steep, majestic, heavily forested, and somewhat impregnable Josefsberg was the lair of robber bands and brigands following the expulsion of the Turks from the area and all of Hungary. In future it would become known as the Jószefhegy. It is one of the highest elevations in northeastern Somogy County. In its lengthening shadow, the village of Dörnberg would emerge in the early decades of the eighteenth century named as such by its German settlers in reference to the abundance of thorns in its lower regions. These first settlers were in large part of Hessian origin, having joined the Schwabenzug (the Great Swabian migration) of the eighteenth century into Hungary at the invitation of the Habsburg emperor Charles VI. The fact that they were Lutherans would lead to decades in which they were forced to exist as an underground congregation until the Edict of Toleration was promulgated by the emperor Joseph II in 1782, which led to the naming of the local heights as the Josefsberg in his honor. It was sometime later that the county administration renamed the village, and it became Somogydöröcske. The village would maintain its German character throughout its history until the end of the Second World War when Protocol XIII of the Potsdam Declaration was carried out on April 6, 1948, and the vast majority of the village population was expelled along with the German families in its affiliates in Bonnya and Gadács and sent by cattle car to the then Russian zone of occupation of Germany. Those from Szil followed a week later. This publication is addressed to the English-speaking descendants of those families that immigrated to Canada, Australia, and the United States prior to the Second World War, as well as the families who were successful in escaping from the Russian zone of Germany to the West and were able to find a new home in English-speaking countries. It provides them with genealogical information about their forebears and additional information regarding their life and history.

Henry1 Henry2

After several years of research and writing “From Toleration to Expulsion” has just been published. It is a two volume set by Henry A. Fischer that provides all of the genealogical information that exists with regard to the families that lived in Ecseny, Somogy County in Hungary and its affiliated congregations in Hacs, Polany, Vamos, Somodor, Raksi and Toponar covering most of the period from 1784-1948.

It also contains information on the families that were expelled in 1948, those taken to forced labour in the Soviet Union, those who died in the First and Second World War, the families that migrated to Slavonia, the United States, Canada and Australia and biographical information and stories about individuals and families that played a special part in the life of the village.

There is an introductory portion of the book devoted to the history and life of the village and resources to further family searches. The book is being published on the 260th anniversary of the founding of the village. The set of books are available through and (the publisher). They are also available directly from the author.

For more information please email Henry A. Fischer.

Electronic (ePub) $3.99 ea.
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Hardcover $36.99 ea., plus shipping

The Nordschomodei in Swabian Turkey


  The source of the information in this article is taken from the “Heimatbuch der Nordschomodei” published in Münich in 1973.  And the subtitle is “The History of a  German Linguistic Island in Swabian Turkey in Hungary.”



  The term, Nordschomodei, refers to a government district covering the northeast portion of Somogy County.  This area was also known by other designations during the 18th and 19th Centuries:  Schümeger Komitat or Gespanschaft that are based on the medieval Latin Comitatus Simig(h)iensis. 


  One third of the area was heavily forested, the rest of the land was cultivated fields on steep rolling hills and deep valleys were there were numerous creeks, streams and rivers.  There was black earth in the lower lying land and red earth predominated in the hill country.  The highest elevation in the area was the Josephberg Mountain in the vicinity of Dӧrӧcske.  The hill country proved to be excellent for the cultivation of vineyards and the best wines were produced in Somogyszil, Dӧrӧcske, Tab and Lulla.


  The region suffered great devastation during the Turkish occupation and was virtually depopulated except for a few isolated hamlets that managed to survive.  By 1690 the area was liberated from the Turks as was true of most of Swabian Turkey.  The area in question would become a “linguist island” of German-speaking people in the districts of Tab and Igal in the north eastern-corner of the County.  As was true in other areas of Hungary the call for German settlers for the private colonization and re-development of the ruined estates of the Hungarian nobles was answered by them beginning early in the 18th Century.  The settlement that took place was closely related to the settlement of Swabian Turkey as a whole but particularly with that of Tolna County which took place earlier but had some special dynamics of its own.


  This settlement initially involved twelve communities in close proximity to one another where the inhabitants were entirely or almost entirely German.   In that sense they formed a linguistic island in an otherwise Hungarian County with a smattering of Slovak settlers and villages in their midst as well.  What distinguished them from one another was their religious confession.  There were Roman Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed villages.


  The Roman Catholic villages included Nágócs, Pusztaszemes, Zics, Miklósi, Kara and Szorosad (which had a Lutheran minority).  The Lutheran villages were Dӧrӧcske, Gadács, Ecsény, Somogyszil, Bonnya and Kӧtcse.  The Reformed settled in Felsô Mocsolád and later in Bonnya.


  The place of origin of the settlers was from the various principalities in south-western Germany that were part of the Holy Roman Empire.  The major portion of them came from Württemberg, Hesse and the Palatinate (Pfalz).  The vast majority of the settlers had first settled in Tolna County before migrating to Somogy County.  Many of the families in Dӧrӧscke and Bonnya knew that their family origins were in Tolna County in Udvári, Szarázd, Gyӧnk and Nagyszékely (Grossäckel).  On the whole, the local dialects take on the basic characteristics of the one designated as Main/Franconian.  Later arriving settlers abandoned their own Swabian and Bavarian dialects for that spoken by their neighbours.  In the late 19th century as land grew more and more scarce young families moved into new mixed-nationality and mixed-confessional villages while others sought their fortune in Slavonia that had been opened to Protestant immigration while still others went off to America and later Canada.


  Living in their isolated enclave and linguist island, the so-called Swabians were always in danger of being swamped due to efforts to Magyarize them by government authorities.  The Lutheran communities proved to be more resistant and successful in retaining their German identity because the constitution of the Lutheran Church of Hungary guaranteed them the freedom to choose the language of worship and school instruction unlike the Roman Catholic communities that were deliberately assigned Hungarian-speaking priests and teachers.  This linguistic island numbered in the neighbourhood of 8,000 persons.


  With the expulsion of the Turks in 1690 as mentioned previously lawlessness reigned in future Swabian Turkey.  Robber bands, gypsies, marauders, army deserters and the Imperial troops struck terror in the hearts of the surviving population.  The boundaries of Counties and administrative districts were redefined or re-established.  In many places the County administration ended up in the hands of Germans that led to hostility on the part of the Hungarian nobility that had survived.  In 1701, one of the first tasks put to the new County administrators by Archbishop Kollonics who was in charge of the so-called repopulation of Hungary, was the immediate expulsion of any Protestants.  All of the Counties refused to comply because of the pressure applied by the Hungarian nobles.  In response to their defiance the Archbishop charged the Protestant nobles were allies of the Kurucz rebels who were carrying on guerrilla attacks and raids against the Habsburgs all across the country in an attempt to gain Hungarian independence from Austria.


  Up until the Kurucz rebellion ended in 1711, German settlement in Somogy County had been confined to garrison towns like Kaposvár and Szigetvár.  There had been no planned German settlement in the County prior to 1711.  The Nordschomodei had been the scene of plundering especially in the area around Igal which had been in the hands of the rebels who the Archbishop identified as the “Evangelical League” who were driven farther north from there in 1709 so that the redevelopment of the area could begin after 1711.


  The actual resettlement of the Nordschomodei had begun in 1690 consisting mostly of Hungarians brought from Western Hungary and Upper Hungary (Slovakia).  From 1709-1711 all of Hungary fell victim to the plague.  It was the plague rather than military might that led to the surrender of Kurucz rebels to the Imperial forces.  The resettlement of the County that had begun twenty years before was back to where it had started.


  A German settlement of the Nordschomodei began in 1712.  Other authorities claim the earliest settlement cannot be dated and that by 1720 only Szigetvár had a German majority.  By contrast only a  few households could be found scattered in the area.  There is another source that claims that by 1720 the interior of the Nordschomodei had been settled by Swabians from Württemberg who raised tobacco on the sandy hills and that a recruitment of German settlers in adjoining Tolna and Baranya Counties was underway.  The latter statement more accurately describes what actually took place.


  A County list of settlements covering 1715-1720 include Somogyszil and Német (German) Egres in the Nordschomodei which are both adjacent to the border with Tolna County.  Quite early both developed a Magyar character even though they would be in the neighbourhood of six German villages.  The inhabitants in both communities were all Roman Catholics and Hungarians.


  The second oldest German settlements in Somogy County were established in 1723 at Felsӧ Mocsolád and Nágócs.  Felsӧ Mocsolád was settled by Lutherans and Reformed from Hessen and the village could have existed as early as 1721 or 1722.  Nágócs was established by German Roman Catholics by Baron Adam Zichy.  On the basis of the records of the Lutheran Church District (Seniorat) that included all of Somogy County there were two German Lutheran congregations and settlements in the Nordschomodei in 1725.  One to the north in Kӧtcse and the other in Fiad.  The congregations were formally organized in 1725 but had been existence for some time before.  Other sources indicate that the various Protestant nobles who shared in the ownership of Kӧtcse settled Hessians and some families from the Palatinate (Pfalz) on their estate having recruited some of them in Tolna County shortly after their arrival there.  This settlement  could have taken place as early as 1723.  The Roman Catholic village of Miklósi was established in 1736 although there are other sources that indicate it was in 1726.


  The town of Tab should also belong to the resettlement that was initiated in 1720 in the Nordschomodei.  At that time, according to church records that are available to us it was a Slovak Lutheran settlement with a Magyar Reformed minority that had survived the Turkish occupation.  A Hungarian Roman Catholic parish was established there in 1759.  A German Lutheran congregation was established in Tab on April 11, 1730 according to the Patent granted by the Emperor Charles (Karl) VI for forty-seven German Lutherans living there.  There are other sources that suggest a date of 1712-1713.


  Bonnya needs to be included among these early settlements.  The basis for that are the Becht Family Chronicles.  Jakob Becht arrived in Bonyhád in Tolna County from Württemberg some time prior to 1730 to serve as the “underground” Levite Lehrer (schoolmaster and lay worship leader) to the Lutherans in the settlement.  At some point he was apprehended by the authorities and he and his young family were driven out of the settlement and sent into exile back to Germany but he and his family escaped and made their way to the hill country of Somogy County to serve a small band of Lutheran settlers who had established a congregation in Bonnya.  He arrived there on April 11, 1730 and posing as a farmer he served the congregation until his death and was succeeded by his son Peter who in turn was succeeded by his own son which would be the pattern followed for the next seven generations until October 1949 when the last of the Bechts was forced to leave when the Lutheran school was confiscated by the Hungarian State.  


  We have specific information on the establishment of Dӧrӧcske (Dӧrnberg) in the second half of the 18th Century.  The Lutheran Church records report:  “In the year 1758 in the month of May the fathers of the present inhabitants settled on the Puszta of Dӧrӧcske and on September 18, 1787 the nobleman, Josef Horvath was called as their pastor.”  This entry was written by Horvath himself, the first pastor of Dӧrӧcske.  Prior to the Edict of Toleration, the German Lutheran inhabitants in Dӧrӧcske were placed under the spiritual jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic priest in nearby Tӧrӧkkoppany.  Those church records indicate they were already there as early as 1738.


  In a letter written on behalf of the congregations in Dӧrӧcske and Lapafӧ to the Royal Hungarian Chancellery in 1786 they presented a petition to allow for the free expression and practice of their faith and the right to build a church and call a pastor.  It was granted.  This must be seen in light of Emperor Joseph II’s Edict of Toleration of 1781 which took years of struggle to realize in the two villages who both lacked the necessary one hundred families in order to qualify.


  Szorosad was settled in the 1750s; Ecsény 1776-1783; Kara 1757-1767; Pusztaszemes 1778; Zics in the 1780.  During the 19th Century new German communities emerged in Vámos, Polány, Somogyszil, Gadács, Ráksi, Somodor, Torvaj, Hács and Bize.


  The conditions faced by the peasant farmers and settlers in the years 1730-1740 got worse and worse with the nobles and landlords making more and more demands of them even in excess of the original contracts they had signed.  Peasants who rebelled were executed or simply run off of their land and German settlers were among them.  The German inhabitants of Kӧtcse lodged an official complaint against their nobleman landlord in 1757.  It was addressed not only to the County officials but they appealed directly to Vienna.  Over the objections of her advisers the Empress Maria Theresia responded positively to the charges of the peasants.


  Her Edict, entitled, Urbarium. was decreed on July 10, 1766 and went into effect on January 23, 1767.  The Hungarian nobility was enraged and the County officials led the opposition against its implementation and it took until 1770 before it began to take effect everywhere.  It was set in motion in Somogy County on October 30, 1767.  A questionnaire was circulated from district to district to ascertain present contractual conditions.  Many peasants were mistrustful and refused to participate.  The royal commissioners were often unsuccessful at properly assessing the situation.  If the peasants decided their present contracts provided more security than the new proposals of the Empress, the commissioners did not have a leg to stand on.  Many villages were under so many obligations to their landlords and their own needs were not considered nor were there any regulations to protect their rights.


  The significance of Maria Theresia’s Urbarium was that the position and status of the peasants was now to be regulated.  The new terms were not an easing of the tax burden for the peasants in Somogy County except in a few places on some private estates.  The peasants in Somogy County were troubled by the implementation of the Urbarium and openly opposed it.  But the number of peasants in the Empire who were happy with the changes vastly outnumbered those who were dissatisfied with it.


  The local County officials could make or break the Urbarium to their own advantage.  In Baranya where the largest settlement had taken place the Urbarium meant a great relaxation of demands on the peasants.  In Somogy County it was sort of half and half as the estate owners gained more rights and privileges than the peasants.  The nobles even reclaimed title to the free meadow land from their peasants.  Regardless of the initial response to the Urbarium and the resulting situation of the peasants the real significance was that in the future the Royal State Office had strengthened its right to be involved in determining the social and economic position of the peasants overriding the nobles exclusive control and hold over them.  The regulations within the Urbarium agreed upon in the Nordschomodei in 1767 were the same for the German and Hungarian peasants except that the Germans were allowed the freedom to migrate if they so chose.


  The Urbarium agreements for the various villages not only include the duties and rights of the peasants and nobles but also the names of peasants and provide a wealth of information for family researchers.  Names are often corrupted by the Hungarian official who was involved.




  Folting Tilk                                                    Johan Lantman (Landmann)

  Gerg Jung                                                       Johan Stifli (Stickl)

  Konrad Stilk (Stickl)                                      Johan Peter

  Heinrich Hokk (Hogk)                                   Gerg Adam

  Delhelm Defler (Valentin Tefner)                 Johan Ledig

  Sebastian Landek                                           Michl Pruder (Bruder)

  Henric Raidli (Reidel)                                   Philiphus Kalpin (Kelpin)

  Rupertus Konrad                                            Khonrad Miler (Mueller)

  Gerg Kausz                                                     Khonrad Peter

  Johan Jung                                                      Velheim Stelen

  Johan Ferber                                                   Just Pecher (Becker)

  Herinch Krild (Grill)                                      Vilhelm Feiber (Ferber)

  David Felda (Felder)                                      Nichlaus Masner (Meissner)

  Frantz Schmid                                                Johan Simon

  Leonard Landek                                             Johan Richl

  Andreas Landek                                             Heinrich Remer

  Johan Ferber                                                  Ulrich Fuser (Fischer)

  Khonrad Stilk (Stickl)                                    Johan Stochmon (Stockmann)

  Martin Miler (Mueller)                                  Gerg Mercz (März)

  Daniel Felber (Ferber)                                   Jakob Gross

  Balthasar Reinperg                                         Alexander Ksort (Zart)

  Andreas Verpak (Werbach)                           Michael Trost





  Johan Pruder (Bruder)                                    Jakor Lanthmann (Landmann)

  Villan Felldan (Wilhelm Felder)                     Adam Francz

  Johan Wiganth (Wiegand)                             Georg Till

  Hartman Rajcher (Reichert)                           Johan Fridrich (Friedrich)

  Stefan Helfenpan (Helfenbein)                      Heinrich Lux

  Georg May                                                      Paul Ugrik (Ulrich)

  Konrad Teffner                                               Jakob Viganth (Wiegand)

  Adam Felden (Felder)                                     Georg Lux

  Josef Teckmann (Deckmann)                         Georg Pruder (Bruder)

  Adam Teckmann (Deckmann)                       Andreas Hepner

  Kaspar Fridrich (Friedrich)                            Killian Ferber

  Peter Starck (Stark)                                         Johann Vegmann (Wegmann)

  Johan Ferber                                                   Johan Loor (Lohr)

  Josef Stekkel (Stickl)                                      Martin Loor (Lohr)

  Johan Gutman (Guthmann)                            Georg Gebell (Giebel or Goebel)

  Johan Harich (Heinrich)                                 Friedrich Zsub (Schub)

  Stefan Rajcher (Reichert)                               Johan Pumer

  Stefan Lanthmann (Landmann)                     Matthias Trummel

  Filip Pekker (Becker)                                     Konrad Fridrich (Friedrich)

  Stefan Landek


  In addition to these landowning peasant farmers there were the following cotters:


  Michael Hedrich                                             Stefan Czokli (Zӧckl)

  Josef Pruder (Bruder)                                     Georg Jererperger

  Martin Gebell (Goebel)                                   Johan Rajser (Reiser)

  Nikolaus Krische                                             Martin Gebell (Goebel)

  Stefan Korcz (Kurz)                                        Stefan Nefzer

  Andreas Perser                                                Franz Simon

  Martin Ferber                                                  Jakob Lerch

  Josef Bek (Beck)                                             Georg Herner

  The old Kurcz (Kurz)                                     Wife of Filip Rajser (Reiser)




  Michael Pem                                                   Joachim Santner (Szantner)

  Johan Nisselberger                                          Sebastian Tzink (Czink)

  Martin Steinbacher                                          Johann Nittner

  Josef Titz (Ticz)                                              Jakob Witz (Viszt)

  Ferdinand Gertowisch (Gerbovich)                Andreas Spandl

  Sebastian Bastl                                                Adam Schipl (Sipl)

  Stefan Geiger (Gaiger)                                    Adam Feder (Pheder)

  Sebastian Wist (Viszt)                                    Wilhelm Petri

  Adam Pem (Boehm)                                       Melchior Melicher (Melcher)

  Josef Baum (Baumann)                                  Franz Zertwegner

  Josef Spendl                                                   Georg Schipl

  Friedrich Erber (Erper)                                   Christoph Welf (Velf)

  Franz Strauss (Stross)                                     Nikolaus Grinn (Grün)


  In addition to the landowning peasants there were other residents:


  Johann Hammer (Hommer)                           Kaspar Zinck (Czink)

  Martin Zerwat (Horvath)                               Thomas Gloser (Gloczer)

  Johann Schneider (Snaider)                           Nikolaus Bastler (Bostler)

  Johann Furtner (Turmer)                                Basilius Schwab (Svob)

  Johann Mussperger (Muschberger)               Nikolaus Eckert (Ekkert)

  Sebastian Welsch (Vels)                                Kaspar Caspar (Gaspar)

  Johann Ritz (Risz)                                          Jakob Burger




  Johann Boldizsár                                             Stefan Fábián

  Johann Garabont Sr.                                        Sebastian Foltner (Faltner)

  Valentin Hahn (Hon)                                       Johann Hornung

  Johann Schicketanz                                          Elias Pergmann (Bergmann)

  Adam Balassa                                                  Michael Plech

  Peter Zsiros                                                      Nikolaus Schwab (Svob)

  Johann Gulás                                                    Franz Fazekas

  Johann Balassa                                                 Samuel Csapó

  Stefan Paál                                                        Johann Pintermann

  Michael Borza                                                  Thomas Schicketanz

  Michael Fábián                                                 Georg Kiss Takács

  Michael Varga                                                  Michael Seifert (Szajfert)

  Balthasar Pergmann (Bergmann)                     Melchior Rosenperger

  Georg Takács                                                   Georg Purchold (Burchold)

  Johann Ritz                                                       Joachim Pirck

  Christoph Frispold                                            Peter Kasoki

  Matthias Pantner                                              Michael Bonyai

  Elias Miller                                                       Georg Borza

  Johann Fábián                                                   Leopold Pem

  Stefan Gyӧrei                                                    Leonhard Weiner (Vajner)

  Andreas Bonyai                                                 Stefan Fábián

  Anton Rovás                                                      Adam Bonyai

  Stefan Balassa                                                   Johann Garabont, Jr.


  Cotters and residents:


  Johann Szabó                                                     Franz Kasolin

  Heinrich Rosenperger                                        Johann Tóth

  Johann Purchold                                                 Johann Balassa

  Andreas Róka                                                     Georg Frispold

  Sebastian Seifert (Szajfert)                         


  Baldwin was a small backward town situated in the neighbourhood of the Susquehanna River some three miles south of Harrisburg, when shortly after the Civil War the Pennsylvania Steel Company chose it as the site of the first American steel plant in 1866.  It was an ideal location with both the Pennsylvania Canal and Pennsylvania Railroad running parallel to the river nearby and in close proximity to the ore and coal fields in nearby Cornwall.  The small rural hamlet was transformed and eventually lost its identity and character with the construction of the large steel plant complex on the flatlands adjoining the river.  It was inevitable that the company officials and their labour force would dominate the life of the community so that it became known as “Steel Works” until 1880 when its name officially became Steelton.


  Before 1890 it was a homogenous community of some 10,000 inhabitants made up of mostly of white Anglo Saxons Protestants with a smattering of Germans, both those native to Pennsylvania and recent immigrants many of whom were skilled workers in the steel industry.  The original unskilled workforce that was later brought in were primarily Irish immigrants and blacks moving in from the rural South living in row houses built and owned by the steel works and served by the company store where they spent the greater part of their income.


  A strike in 1891 by the skilled workers challenged the power of the company but was quickly put down.  In the aftermath of the strike the company encouraged massive immigration from southern and eastern Europe including the Austro-Hungarian Empire and did so through recruiting agents.  These men were often local freelance operators living among their own people and who were also working for the steamship companies receiving their fees from both on the basis of the numbers of immigrants they enlisted.  The arrival of thousands of these Croats, Serbs, Italians, Bulgarians, Slovaks, Hungarians and the so-called Banaters (as the first arriving Danube Swabians were known locally) forever changed the character and composition of the population of Steelton.


  There was a segregation policy in effect within the company in the face of this social diversity so that the skilled high paying jobs and leadership positions in all departments remained in the hands of Anglo Saxons, primarily the Irish and the blast furnace jobs were assigned to the new south east European immigrants with little opportunity for them to advance into any kind of leadership role or train for a skilled position.  It was a given that the new work force recognized and simply accepted which was also true of the community at large.  As a consequence, the immigrants gathered together in ethnic enclaves, neighbourhoods and residential areas both due to external pressures and by personal intent.  The reasons for this were associated with the resentment they experienced from the “old stock” residents as well as their need for social contact with individuals who shared a similar background, language, life style, customs, traditions and religious faith.  In effect they became locked into their ethnic community both due to prejudice on the outside and their inner need to find and build a sense of community.


  The ethnic diversity of the community had its beginnings in 1885 and would last for a quarter of a century with the south eastern Europeans arriving en masse in the 1890s.  Most of the immigrants in the 1880s and 1890s returned back to their homes in Europe within two or three years of coming to the United States.  It was never their intention to make it a permanent move.  Those who remained were those who brought their families with them.  Very often these families established boarding houses to serve their relatives, friends and countrymen and provided extra income and allowed the women to assist with the family income.  All of the immigrants had a similar background; they were agricultural workers, landless and unskilled.  There were basically three types of immigrants who arrived in Steelton.  First, there were men with their families seeking a new life and a permanent home.  Secondly, there were highly transient young single men in search of good wages.  Thirdly, there were middle-aged men seeking a temporary source of income and were usually also supporting a family back home in Europe.  It was the third group in particular that was most representative of the men from the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  In most cases they became what the community referred to as “the boarders” because they congregated in the numerous ethnic boarding houses.  They probably counted for nine out of every ten of the men in the steel mill.  Most of them had been married for less than ten years.  They were not dreamers or romantics in search of adventure.  They were men on a mission and serious about it in order to establish themselves economically for their future life back home.  Few of them planned to stay.  Very few of them did.


  What attracted the immigrants to Steelton was the “high wages” the steel industry paid.  An unskilled worker was paid up to twelve cents an hour.  He could work for twelve hours a day and earn $1.44!  An added incentive when it came to families was a large cigar factory that also employed 800 women at seven cents an hour!  Agricultural work back home could never match that.  The worker’s own expenses seemed minimal in comparison.  The single and married men living in boarding houses paid $2.50 a month for their room that they usually shared with up to four other men.  Their meals were extra.  They could provide their own or eat with the family.  Most chose the latter option.


  Most of the boarding houses were owned by the company and were row houses with up to five bedrooms for a rental of $8.50 a month and were located on the west side of town close to the river and were often flooded and damaged as a result.  It was a filthy and unhealthy environment compounded by its proximity to the steel works and the pollution it produced and with which they had to deal in their workday world as well.


  To give an indication of the growth and expansion of the steel works and its work force in the period from 1886 to 1906 it increased from 2,500 to over 9,000 men.


  In addition to the recruiters overseas the company also paid fees to boarding house operators, saloon owners and store owners who were immigrants themselves to write to friends, relatives and countrymen back home to encourage them to come to Steelton and offered their addresses as the place of their destination on arriving at Ellis Island.  They received a fee for everyone who did.  They also did the same with the patrons of their businesses and became the major source of recruitment in the years ahead.  There was a steady stream of immigrants coming and going.  In many ways Steelton had a floating population.  They were always in search of jobs and jobs paying more money.


  There was a major depression in 1908 which saw large numbers of the immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire either returning home when the work was slack in 1909 or migrating elsewhere.  For many of the Danube Swabians that would mean Milwaukee, Wisconsin in particular.


  The men and family groups in the various ethnic groups sought social contact with one another and did so in various ways but primarily through their churches, grocery stores and butcher shops operated by their own and saloons whose proprietors catered to them.


  Danube Swabian immigrants from the Banat are mentioned officially for the first time in 1900 when they began to hold mass in a rented hall after previously worshipping at St. James Roman Catholic Church which was an overwhelmingly Irish parish.  The reason behind their action was because of the social distinctions inherent in the total life of the community and they felt out of place or were made to feel so.   Many of these original families came from Weisskirchen and its environs and had arrived during the previous decade.  There were also families from Karlsdorf and Deutsch Pereg in Arad County.


  The published church history of Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church indicates that in 1900 three families from “Western Hungary” had become members of the parish.  The heads of households that were listed in the publication included:  Georg Frey, Johann Schultheiss and Tobias Bitz.  The three families came from Swabian Turkey which is a region that covers the Counties of Tolna, Somogy and Baranya in Hungary.  In the annual report in 1910 the pastor indicates that sixty-seven families from Western Hungary were now part of the parish and in fact had become the majority leading to the exodus of some of “the more German families.”  In addition to these families from Hungary there were also several families from Semlak and Liebling in the Banat with whom they shared common origins.


  Congregational life and church activities became the focal point of the social life of this portion of the Danube Swabian population in addition to the Bitz grocery store operated by Henry Bitz the son of Tobias who had been a youngster when the family arrived in Steelton from Döröschke in the hill country of Somogy County in Hungary.  The store was located on Mohn Street named after a German family who had lived there in the past and where many of the Danube Swabian families resided.  His store and butcher shop became a meeting place where the language was familiar, the products were designed to meet their needs, where news from “home” was shared and marriages were often hatched and the sausages he made were reputed to be just like back home.


  These original Lutheran families came from the following villages located in Baranya County:  Csikostöttös, Bikal, Mekenyes and Nagy Hajmas.   From Tolna County there were families from:  Varsád, Udvári, Gyönk, Szárázd and Izmény.  The following villages were represented among the numerous families from Somogy County:  Miklosi, Szil, Hacs, Szabadi, Döröschke, Bonnya and Ecsény.  In addition there were families from the colonies established in Slavonia by families from Swabian Turkey:  Hrastovac, Klein Bastei, Pasjan, Antunovac, Sartovac and Kaptanovpolje.


  The major social problem in Steelton was drunkenness and the immigrant population bore the brunt of the blame and in many instances were guilty as charged.  With such a large number of “unattached” men in the community the saloons and houses run by bootleggers became the venue for social intercourse and its consequences.  The local newspapers constantly inveighed against the immigrant’s propensity to fall victim to the wiles of alcohol and its attendant results.  One incident in particular sheds some light on the issue.  Two men, one named John Gittinger and the other John Fisher were arrested for assaulting a woman in a saloon and were identified as ‘drunk German immigrants’ in the newspaper headline.  The name of John Fisher has obviously been Anglicized from the correct spelling:  Fischer.  The next week the same newspaper reported that Trinity German Evangelical Lutheran Church had held a special meeting with regard to the incident and issued a protest to the newspaper to the effect that the two individuals were not Germans at all but Hungarians!  Even then the Danube Swains were prone to vacillate   about their identity or perhaps the more German element in the congregation needed to have their say to protect their reputation.


  In July of 1917 the Pennsylvania Steel Company announced that it had sold the steel mills in Steelton to Bethlehem Steel.  In the 1920s the population sank to about 13,000 and remained at that level during the Great Depression.


  The Danube Swabian population also appears to have gone into decline primarily due to migration to other communities in search of employment, while other families moved out of Steelton into the surrounding communities to escape from the industrial pollution and grime created by the steel mills.  The 100th Anniversary 1888-1988 booklet of Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church in Steelton provides an overview of its history but it is notable that only a few familiar Danube Swabian family names appear among the current membership that is listed.  That could either be a result of intermarriage or the “Americanization” of family names, i.e. the März family is now apparently Marts.  Only a few family names are recognizable such as Faul, Marts, Koller, Weiss, Shenfelt (Schönfeldt), Stark, Enders, Arndt, Krahling, Schneicker, Scheib and Dorman (Dürrmann)   But during the 1930s especially large numbers of the original families  resided in nearby Enhaut and Sharon or moved into Harrisburg where a large Danube Swabian community flourished at that  time.


  In many ways, the majority of the Danube Swabians who arrived in Steelton as their destination on coming to the United States were simply passing through and left few traces behind of their sojourn there, except for the descendents of those who remained, many of whom in the future would have no knowledge or recollection of their Danube Swabian heritage beyond knowing their families were of German origin.


  The source of the following documents and correspondence appear in the publication:  German Village Life in Hungary by Rudolph Hartmann.  I provide my own personal translation.


  Count von Dory’s recruiting agent in Bieberach, Franz Felbinger had the following handbill published and distributed throughout the area.  There is no date attached to it.  It gives us a glimpse into why the first phase of the Schwabenzug was very much like a land rush down the Danube.


  “Everyone who comes to Hungary will feast his eyes on a fruitful land with forests and wells:  30 Joch of land, meadows and vineyards.  You will receive a lot to build a house and a large garden plot, 18 Klafter (arm span) wide and 45 Klafter long.  There will be wood and timber to build a house and your outbuildings at no cost and wood for burning at a reasonable rate.  For the first three years you will not be required to provide any kind of Robot (free labour).  Wine will be available from Michaelmass to Christmas.  Meadow and pasture enough for twenty to twenty-five head of cattle, not including sheep and swine.


  For all of this each settler will give 50 Florins, half at the time of settlement and the remainder at the end of two years.  In place of three years of freedom from paying taxes, each settler will pay 5 Florins twice a year, provide nine days of labour by hand, wagon and plough.  For every twenty pigs he will give one to the landlord.


  An individual can also take only a half or quarter session of land as above and the rates will be adjusted in the same manner…”



  Because of the overwhelming response on the part of countless families to opportunities in Hungary the local officials and nobles in Hesse attempted to stop the flow of would-be settlers and established rules and regulations which included an emigration fee.  The    would-be settler had to be interviewed in order to obtain permission to leave.  The following is the interrogation record of one of them who also happens to be one of my ancestors.  It helps us understand why there were others who left illegally.


  The Interrogation Report on Johann Georg Frischkorn prepared by Anton Schlemmer an official of the Princely Government in Hanau given this 8th day of February, 1749 in Steinau-an-der-Strasse.


  Johann Georg Frischkorn a day labourer from Bellings reported and applied for emigration to Hungary with his wife and children as they desired to leave and were   willing to pay their release fee of 10 Pfennigs.  The following is the report on the examination that took place.


  What is your name and age?


  His name is Johann Georg Frischkorn and he is 47 years old.


  Was he married and did he have any children?


  He has a wife and four children:  Eva Catharina, Anna Margareta, Catharina and Leonhardt.


  Where were he and his wife born?


  Both he and his wife were born and raised in Bellings.


  What religion did he and his wife profess?


  Both were Reformed.


  How had he made a living?


  As a farm labourer.


  Why did he want to leave his native land and emigrate to Hungary?


  He was unable to provide adequately for his wife and children and the feudal Robot was too much and took too much of his labour and left little time to provide bread for the family.


  Did he not have other options besides emigrating?


  Not really, if he could have earned his bread here he would not leave his homeland where he desired to live.


  What goods and property did he possess?


  He had a house and shire and a garden and rights to two wagons of hay and one acre of land in three sections in and around Bellings, which along with a cow he sold to his brother-in-law Leonhardt Homman for 536 Reichstaler.  He possessed nothing else and could only take along some linen, clothes and bedding for which he had paid the appropriate taxes for taking them out of the country.


  What debts did he have?


  He owed about 20 Reichstaler.


  He was informed that his emigration would have to be reported to the government.


  (He left that spring and first settled in Nagyszekely in Tolna County.)

  This next document is the transcript of an interview with the son of Anton Ernst who left for Hungary illegally or secretly whichever you prefer.


  This interview was conducted and is being reported by Johann Fleischhut an official at Friedewald in Oberhessen on April 24, 1772.


  Question:  Did your father and stepmother ever discuss or inform you of their plans to leave?


  Answer:  Not really.  Only three days before his father left he had added the yard and some land of his mother’s inheritance to his son’s estate as his debtors wanted their share of what he owed them.  The debts had been incurred in the second marriage.


  Question:  When did they actually leave?


  Answer:  At night around 11:00 in the evening his father hitched up the wagon and his stepmother and the children were seated on the bedding loaded on it and then drove off.


  Question:  Why did he not report this to the authorities or call the neighbours to have prevented their leaving?


  Answer:  He claimed he was not aware that emigrating was forbidden.  To all intents and purposes it was done openly as far as the neighbourhood was concerned.  And all of the neighbours saw them leave.  As a single young man he was all upset about their leaving so suddenly and leaving him without a family.


  Question:  Did your father not indicate in some way as to where he planned to head?


  Answer:  Yes.  In response to my question he said they wanted to go to Hungary and seek a better future.


  Question:  What kind of reasons did he give for leaving?


  Answer:  He said his many debts and the bad times they had lived through formed his decision to leave.


  Question:  Did your father not give any prior indication of his planning or thinking?


  Answer:  He was not aware of anything until the hour of their departure.  The stepmother and stepbrothers and sisters had always harboured animosity towards him in the past and for that reason kept everything secret from him.


  The authorities ordered the apprehension and arrest of the émigrés.



  The following letter was written in 1771 by a settler, Georg Adolf Schäffer to his brother and sister-in-law back home in Hesse. 


  “Greetings in God’s Name:  A friendly greeting to my dear brother and sister-in-law and your dear children.


  It is our hope and joy that my short letter arrives as you are all enjoying good health.  At present, we are all healthy and well.  Thank God we arrived in Hungary in the best of health.  But for myself personally I was only well for the first ten days before I came down with the Hungarian sickness (Translator:  he is referring to swamp fever) and was bedridden for eight weeks.  But thank God I am well and in the best of health.


  We are all very happy here and like it very much.  And we thank our dear God thousands of times for leading us to this land and we wonder why we had waited so long to leave home and the starvation we endured there.  My wife and children are quite happy and content that we immigrated to this land.  Whoever works in this land will have ample and abundant meat and bread.  It suits us quite well.  As soon as I’ve done a piece of work the wage is already there.  When my wife and daughter go out to work as daily wage earners they both receive six Groschen.  In the harvest they each earn nine measures of produce that they reap.  One says that money is scarce in Hungary but there is plenty of money in our pockets here in this area.  The crops bring in good prices as well and people prosper.


  And so now I ask you dear brother and sister-in-law to be so kind as to send your oldest daughter to us to marry our friend’s youngest son.  I am writing you the honest truth about his good qualities.  But if that doesn’t suit you for some reason then send the daughter of your choice.  People say that the land is already settled and occupied but that is not true.  The land is available to anyone.  We live only 60 miles below Vienna.  One can travel on water as far as Fadd which is four miles from us on the Danube.


  One more time I ask you, dear brother and sister-in-law to be so good as to share my greetings with all friends and neighbours.  Whoever has the desire and would love to come and join us can come if he wants to.  I remain your faithful brother until death.”



  The following letter is dated May 18, 1787 and is written by Johann Conrad Weber and addresses a domestic issue that sounds even vaguely familiar to contemporary ears.



  “…herewith I send you this letter for forwarding because I have sent three letters to my wife and received no reply from her.  I don’t know what the problem is.  Is she no longer alive or is she no longer living in Lützelhausen?  Or do I have no friend or acquaintance that is willing to answer my inquiries?  One letter was written on December 20, 1786, the second on January 16, 1787 and the third on February 20, 1787 all addressed to my dear wife, Anna Margareta Weber.  I want to know what the situation is whether things are bad or good for her.  If things are well with her she should stay where she is.  But things must be better for her than they were when I was with her.  But she is welcome to come and join me if she wants to.  I am not farther away than 140 miles.


  I send next to hundreds of thousands of greetings to all my friends and even my enemies.  I will be faithful unto death.”



  This last letter is from Maria Fröhlich writing home from Hungary in the hope that her mother can come and join them.  It is only dated 1787.


  “My mother should leave for here as soon as she can.  She should only take enough money from my brother that she will need to get here.  I will repay him.  She can get her pass on the way and should travel via Würzburg, Nürnberg, Regensburg, Vienna, Pressburg and follow instructions of my friends who will accompany her.”

The following are excerpts from Gott Ist Getreu, by Henry A. Fischer in a limited edition and self published work in June of 1988.

                                             GADÁCS AND SZIL:  The Two Sisters

The village of Döröschke’s foundations were firmly rooted in the clay soil, to maintain a foothold on the descending hills upon which it was perched somewhat precariously.  The hills themselves emanated from the steep slopes of the picturesque and imposing Josephsberg Mountain.  Its three hundred meter height towered over the rest of Somogy County.  This deeply forested mass was a natural barrier to any penetration and expansion to the south.  Simply because the Josephsberg was there, it was also an open invitation and challenge to the wandering and land hungry Swabians to take a look at the other side of the mountain.

This inevitability occurred at the beginning of the 19th century and two sister Lutheran Swabian communities came to birth: Gadács and Somogyszil.

There was a close family resemblance between them, but yet, they were as unalike, as most sisters usually are.  They were only a kilometre apart but their life style and character were vastly different.  Gadács was the older sister, very much tied to mother’s apron strings, heritage and traditions.  She was soon to be surpassed in size, status and style by Somogyszil, the younger sister, better known in the family simply as Szil.  What follows is our Tale of Two Sisters.

Gadács has always been a very small and compact community, somewhat narrow in its outlook and rather insular.  It is, and was, a meandering country lane with houses on both sides.  Nostalgic writers would compare it with a string of pearls.  Which does more than justice to the reality.  The street appears to be a winding lane, through the puszta, that lost its way looking for Somogyszil.  The lowlands of Mount Josephsberg seem to roll right past, and make a detour around the rows of squat little houses that shimmer in a haze of dust, and turn into hues of golden yellows, smoky greys and earth browns.

It lies just east of Igal and Somogyszil, and close to the border of Tolna County.  The area, we discover, was once the domain of the diocese of Estergom, the first episcopal see of Hungary.  After the conquest and devastation of the area by the Turks it reverted back to a sparsely settled wilderness.  The Turkish tax lists of 1542 indicate that a local population still existed here up to 1580.  In 1563, the Turks listed the existence of nine households.  In the following years of 1573, 1578 and 1580, there were ten.  At that time it was listed as being part of the estates of the Bakacs family.  Then it simply sank into oblivion, as most of the area we call Swabian Turkey did after 1580.

Gadács re-emerges in the Conscription Lists of 1701 and 1703, and is listed as simply a puszta (open prairie) belonging to the Komaromy family.  It came into the possession of Johann Fekete later in 1726.  Some time after 1733, it was purchased by the Hunjady family like most of the land holdings in the area.

How and when the settlement of Oreg Gadats took place is chronicled in the church records of Döröschke, by the pastor, Joseph Horvath.  He writes:

“This ancient possession, Alt Gadatsch, was settled in the

Spring of 1816 by landless homeowners from Döröschke,

who subscribed to the Augsburg Confession.  As a result

the Gadatsch Evangelicals united as a filial congregation

with the mother church in Döröschke.  This took place

during the twenty-eighth year of the ministry of Joseph Horvath,

the Evangelical pastor at Döröschke.

These Evangelicals in Gadatsch were served by Gabriel Linder

who acted as school teacher and also performed the role of worship


Our gracious and worthy landlord Count Joseph Hunjady provided a

site for the school and prayer assembly area.  Within two years

the schoolhouse was built, and it also served as the prayer


This Evangelical Lutheran Church thrives under the protection

of the local noble landlord.

May God grant that the congregation continue to grow and serve

here for many years to come.”

This entry in the parish records most likely describes an organized settlement of Gadács during the period from 1816-1820 under the leadership and direction of Count Hunjady.  There is evidence to indicate that a sporadic settlement had already taken place a few years earlier, possibly in 1799-1800.  It is interesting to note that the pastor refers to “Alt” or “old” Gadács in his church chronicle.  That terminology suggests that there had been a “Neu” or “new” Gadács as well.  This very likely would have been the original attempt at settlement on the puszta, obviously by other Swabians from Döröschke.  This tradition seems to be supported by the records of the Seniorat (Church District) of Tolna, Baranya and Somogy, which lists the founding of Gadács in 1800.

The village life that emerged was again centred around church, school and Wirtshaus…the local pub.  It maintained the traditions of the settlers from Döröschke, and contact with the extended families of which they were a part.  Intermarriage continued between the new settlement and “mother” Döröschke.  By 1851 there were two hundred and thirty-five Lutheran Swabians living here, which constituted the entire population of the village.  By 1888 it had expanded to sixty-six houses and almost four hundred inhabitants.

In 1900 they dedicated their simple cream coloured church with its narrow miniature tower, and the new school was finished in 1910.  The rest of Gadács was a long winding street, with look-a-like houses and busy and active yards.  By 1910 there were sixty-seven houses, which expanded to ninety houses by 1930, and then reached one hundred and three in 1940, when it was at its height both in population and prosperity.  But it never lost its rustic and unsophisticated character.

At its inception, Gadács had attracted the landless Swabians.  Their hunger for land soon resulted in carving up all that was available, into a crazy patchwork quilt of small family plots and holdings.  Swabian families with large land holdings simply did not exist in Gadács.  There was no additional land on the puszta to buy or “marry into”.  “Marrying into land” was one of the favourite economic devises for advancing the family fortunes of the more wealthy families among the Swabians.

And to speak of wealth among them, was a relative term.  Modest, perhaps better covers the Swabian conception of Reichtum.  It simply meant you worked longer and harder for the sake of the inheritance you would leave to your children.  The children would be expected to make marriages to enhance the families’ holdings, status and position in the community, all of which was tied to the ownership of land.  The Swabian’s love of the soil was inseparable from his love of family.  In order to satisfy their need for more land, they began to buy up the land holdings of the Hungarians in Szil.  Because of that, Gadács was able to grow and sustain its population, with a degree of prosperity.

Gadács was off the beaten track.  Isolated.  A ghetto.  To a great degree it was out of touch with the currents of history and the forces that were shaping the nation in which they lived.  Both the Lutheran and Swabian character of the village were never threatened or appeared to be in danger.  They had a sense of security living in the shadow of Döröschke, the mother, the Swabian capital of Somogy.  Their traditions, customs, faith and identity as Swabians had built-in safeguards.  All of those would be essential to withstand the encroachments and pressures of the oncoming efforts of Magyar nationalists to solve Hungary’s minority problem after the First World War.  The Swabians were the only minority left in what remained of Hungary.  They proposed a final solution.  It was assimilation.  Whether that would be voluntary, or otherwise was never indicated.  Other suggestions were also being made:  expulsion and deportation for example.

But then, there was Szil, or more correctly, Somogyszil.  She was the youngest sister of the Swabian Lutherans in Somogy County.  In her own eyes, she was the most progressive.  Szil would not be hampered by fears of the loss of her identity that plagued the other Swabians around them, among whom this new group of Swabians came to live.  The Swabians of Szil were much more at home in Hungary, and much more adaptable.  Much more open.  They dared to cross the gulf of separation that divided most Magyars and Swabians.  But in reality, it was only by degrees.  What follows is the Szil experiment.

This large and sprawling community of three thousand inhabitants in this northeast corner of Somogy County was a colourful mosaic.  It was more like a town, than a village.  But a village mindset and ethos were at work and in place.  The whole character of the village was an expression of the diversity and inter-relatedness of its people.  The majority of the villagers were Magyars and Roman Catholic.  The minority, on the other side of town, consisting of 40% of the population, were Swabians, all of whom were Lutheran.  These dynamics were the basic ingredients for the experiment.

Szil is mentioned for the first time in 1138, when King Bela II granted the land to the diocese of Gran (Estergom).  Ecclesiastical reports for the years 1332 to 1337 note that a parish had been established here in the neighbourhood, engaged in cultivation and cattle herding.  During the Turkish occupation, only ten households were still listed in 1563.  By 1580 this number had increased to seventeen households.  This increase declined around 1600, during the fierce battles of the “Fifteen year War” between the Turks and the Imperial Austrian Army throughout the entire area.  After 1600, a community no longer existed here.

In 1660 the whole area is simply designated as a puszta belonging to Nikolaus Zanko.  In other words, it was an uninhabited wasteland.  County records in 1703, identify the puszta as the possession of Nikolaus and Baltasar Zanko.  In the fifth official government summary, identifying the local conditions after the expulsion of the Turks, it was noted that the area had been uninhabited for some time.  Resettlement began to be undertaken only after 1712 or 1713 and some thirty-nine new households had been established.  It is obvious that these new settlers were Magyars.

Szil, belonged in equal part to Count Harrach and Count Johann Esterhazy who were the absentee landlords from 1726-1733.  The Hunjady family purchased the estates after 1733, and carried out a planned settlement by bringing in Magyar colonists from Neutra County.  When these settlers arrived they faced a veritable wilderness.  Clearing land, draining swamps, fighting disease and robber bands was a way of life for the first generation.  And yet, a Roman Catholic Church was built as early as 1726, as community life was established, and villages and communities grew up all around it.  Among those communities would be several Swabian villages, both Lutheran and Roman Catholic.  The Swabians would come to Szil much later.

This was the last of the incoming Schwabenzug into Somogy County that took place in 1830.  It all began with the arrival of two families from nearby Döröschke who were followed by another settler from the Tolna in 1833 who laid the foundation for the Swabian community in Szil.  Adam Taubert came from Bonyhad in Tolna County and settled here.  The Taubert family had come to Hungary in 1721 and had resided in Felsönana and Izmeny, originally coming from Kreis Nidda in Upper Hesse.  (The family name indicates their ancestors lived in proximity to the Tauber River.)  Numerous other families from Tolna and Baranya Counties would join the others over the following years. And here in Szil, they met the footloose, extended, Hessian families from Kötcse that were on the move again.

It is not clear whether the Lutheran settlers who came, did so, in terms of a contract or an invitation issued by Count Hunjady, or if they simply came on their own, and made their personal arrangements with him upon their arrival.  The vast majority of these original settlers were farmers.  They came from various linguistic and regional backgrounds but were overwhelmingly from Tolna County.

Szil would become a melting pot of several distinct Swabian dialects, traditions and customs.  Settlers came from Bikács in Tolna County, and from Lajos Komaron in Veszprem.  Their ancestral origins were not Hessian.  In fact they were not even part of the Schwabenzug into Hungary.  We again meet the Heidebaurn.  They had settled in the area around the Neusiedler See in Western Hungary during the tenth and eleventh century.  Their origins had been in Upper Bavaria and Franconia, and they retained their own traditions and dialect intact.

With the introduction of the Reformation in the 16th century, the Heidebaurn, along with their Hungarian and Slovak neighbours turned en masse to Lutheranism.  In spite of centuries of intense persecution, large numbers of them still clung tenaciously to their hard won Lutheran faith.  Baron Jeszenak, a Lutheran, invited some of them who lived in Ragendorf and Nickelsdorf to come and settle on his lands at Bikács in Tolna County in 1725.  Here they would be free to practice their Lutheran faith.  Some of the families who responded were the Pentallers, while others included the Grünwalds and the Oppermanns.

There were also families in Szil from Bonyhad, whose origins had been in Württemberg.  And to all of this we add the Hessians of Somogy County itself.  The result was that the Swabians of Szil were a colourful blend and mix of all of these.  They spoke variations of a common language.  Their common Lutheran faith led to the establishment of a congregation of the Augsburg Confession early in 1833.

After a few years, Count Hunjady made one of his smaller manor houses available to the Lutherans as a place of worship.  This manor house stood on the site of the present day Lutheran church.  The manor house was soon too small for the congregation for use as a Bethaus.  The congregation had to commit itself to the building of a church.  It was built from 1834-1839 and dedicated in 1839.  Three bells were hung in the tower; rows of benches and an organ harmonium were installed in the simple house of worship.  Penny offerings provided all of the furnishings.  They did not live in a money economy.  Money was always in short supply in farming communities whose method of exchange was often the barter system.  The penny offerings were a personal sacrifice on the part of the hardworking and frugal Swabians.  Fortunately, the construction material for the church was a gift from Count Hunjady.

We cannot determine the date of the church’s dedication.  But because we know that the Lutherans celebrated Kirchweih (Kerp) on the same day as the Hungarian Roman Catholics on the 20th of August, it is the probable date.  This was also the national holiday in honour of St. Stephen of Hungary.  This joint festival by both groups is an example of the good will between them, which gradually emerged over the years that they shared together in this thriving community.

The Swabians had originally come in search of land.  But the next generation would turn to trades, businesses, shops, and household industries.  Within a generation, the vast majority of the Swabians were no longer working on the land, but were involved in the village economy.  They were adjusting to a somewhat urban life.  Szil was gradually becoming a trade centre, a forerunner of the modern shopping centre.  Fairs were held four times a year, and they were renowned for their cattle auctions.  Two markets were held every week, attracting sellers and buyers from Kazsok, Büssü, Golle, Nak, Varong, Lapafö, Gadács, Acsa and Döröschke.

When marketing was done, shoppers visited the many shops, stores and workshops.  They saw the harness maker, dropped in on the watchmaker, or the hat maker, put in an order at the weavers.  Most of these artisans and craftsmen were Swabians.  But they were Swabians who were conversant with the Magyar language, their tastes and preferences.  All carried out through the media of clever and sharp bargaining practices, that had special rules all of their own.

The village itself consisted of many long, straight, tree-lined streets.  They were broad, and most had boulevards.  And there were numerous side streets.  All the streets of course had Hungarian names.  But among themselves, the Swabians had names of their own.  The Nemet Utca was the Deutsche Gasse the street where the Svabok lived, as well as the Igal Strasse the road leading up to Igal, and down to their sister village of Gadács just off the road a kilometre away.  The Taubert Wirtshaus stood on the corner of the Deutsche Gasse and the Igal Strasse.  It was at the centre of Schwabendom, the Swabian Kingdom in Szil.

Szil always gave the impression of being rather cosmopolitan.  There was constant interaction between the Hungarian and Swabian populations in all areas of life … except two.  The Church and the Pub.  They did not worship or prayer together, and they did not drink together.

The Lutheran Church on Nemet Utca kept vigilance over her Swabian brood, and symbolized the barrier that still existed.  And to all intents and purposes, the Taubert’s Wirtshaus was off-limits to non-Swabians.  It was a little piece of “home” for the Swabian.  Home.  Home was always that special and yet elusive place, close to the heart of the Swabians.  They somehow sought it in both places.  It was a place where you felt you belonged; a place where you could simply be yourself, to talk, to laugh, to joke, to sing, and yes, to cry.  To freely express your identify, your hopes, your struggles and your dreams.  The Wirtshaus was very much the domain of the man, just as the Church to a great degree, became the domain of the Swabian woman.

The Wirt, or Vat as the Hessians called him, who ran the Wirtshaus had to be a gracious host.  Hospitality had to be his gift.  But, above all he had to be lustig and jolly.  If he were a musician, that too would be an asset.  They made the best kind.

Across the street from the Wirtshaus were the numerous workshops of the various Swabian tradesmen.  These tradesmen and artisans began to develop an ethos and lifestyle of their own, no longer based on the ownership and accumulation of land.  This placed them more firmly in the world of their Hungarian neighbours.  By and large, they became fluent in speaking Magyar, without a hint or trace of an accent.  With no distinctive garb and attire they no longer looked Swabian.  They were anxious that their children should succeed in the world and be totally at home in Hungary.  Education would enable them to prepare their children for that world, and to take their place in the life of the nation at every level, as fellow citizens with the Hungarians.

But education would eventually lead to Magyarization.  There was no higher education available within Hungary in any other language than Hungarian.  Study outside the country was beyond their means.  Besides, Hungarian would not hurt them a bit.  It was only a language issue, not a question of their identity as Swabians.  So the young Swabian boys went off to school with the blessings and encouragement of their parents.  The Schäfer boy left Szil, and he came home as Sandorfy.  The educational process swamped and overwhelmed the young Swabians.  They were made to feel ashamed and embarrassed about their Swabian origins.  They could “pass” as Magyars simply by changing their names.  Magyar indoctrination was successful as an instrument for assimilation.  And the Swabians themselves had freely paid the price.

But by now, it was almost too late.  Anxious for their children to succeed, the Swabians in Szil had pushed for the use of the Magyar language, as the language of instruction in the Lutheran school.  By 1930 there was no longer any German language instruction at all.  The Lutheran teachers themselves were thoroughly Magyarized.  Once a month now, Hungarian services were held at the Lutheran Church.  These services were not for Hungarian Lutherans, but for the young Swabians who had no grasp of the German language any longer, especially as it was used in public worship.

A Hungarian-speaking Swabian intelligentsia was in the process of formation, but it was out of touch with their people and did not address the issues that confronted the Swabian’s desire to retain their own cultural and ethnic identity.  The “educated” Swabian was the major vehicle the Hungarian State would use in the process of assimilation.

The Swabian farmer, living in his isolated village society, was seen as crude, backward, ignorant and almost illiterate.  He was out of place in contemporary society, and out of touch with the realities and issues the nation faced.  Those who continued to be educated in the German language, in effect, were condemned to live life at a grade six level.  Unprepared for higher education in another language, they had nowhere to go.  They were effectively verdummt … kept ignorant.  The Magyar State would not allow higher education in any language other than Hungarian.  Only non-Swabians could study the German language at the University level.

Swabian students were taught the Great Magyar Myth.  The myth that the Swabians who came to Hungary were the riff-raff of Europe, beggars and ne’er do wells, who had forced themselves on the Magyar nation.  Because the Swabians did not know their own history, they in effect had no history.  The young Swabians simply accepted what they were taught.  The official line was that the Swabians had been given the best and the most fertile land by the generous Hungarians, to their own detriment.  That accounted for the prosperity of the Swabians.  It had nothing to do with hard work at all.  It had all been handed to them on a silver platter.  With no conscious history of their own who was to refute the Magyar Myth?

His name was Jacob Bleyer, and he began the struggle to bring about a factual history of the Schwabenzug into Hungary.  He carried out research to give substance to the real nature of the place and identity of the Swabian people in Hungary.  He gathered young Swabian historians around himself and began the work that resulted in the discovery of their history and identity.  His cultural and educational societies were established locally among the Swabians for them to discover and celebrate their identity.

Dr. Bleyer became one of the most hated men in Hungarian history.  Vilified in the press.  Ridiculed in parliament.  Constantly threatened by the Magyar nationalists, who in fact were simply racists.  But with so much publicity, the Swabians finally awoke to the nature of the struggle they were all in and not just Jacob Bleyer.  That happened in Szil, as in other places, in the early 1920’s.  The focus of the movement was on the young … the school issue.  But in Szil, all they could ever accomplish was the introduction of two hours of instruction in German each week in the Lutheran school.  Things had just gone too far.  There was no way to turn back the clock.

Although the vast majority of the Swabians in Szil were no longer engaged in working the land, those who were, owned a very large portion of the cultivated acres.  This was out of proportion to their size.  Gadács too was encroaching on the Hungarian land holdings.  In the 1930’s, while Magyar nationalist pressure and resentment mounted against the Swabians, the Hunjady family found it necessary to sell off a lot of small parcels of land, which were mostly purchased by the local Swabians.

This was above and beyond “their fair share”, as far as the nationalist agitators were concerned.  The Hungarians critics resented the fact that the major portion of the economy was in the hands of the industrious Swabians, and their admiring and somewhat envious Hungarian neighbours would also have grudgingly admitted it.  The seeds of discontent and envy were effectively sown, as more fuel for the Great Magyar Myth.

The only way the Swabians could express their loyalty to the Hungarian state was to Magyarize their names.  The Gross’ became the Nagys.  The Schneiders became the Szabos.  The Schmidts became Kovacs.  If they were not prepared to do that, they at least used the Hungarian form of the first names of their children, or began using Hungarian names for them:  Tibor, Ilanka.

Meanwhile, their children were totally unable to speak their mother tongue.  They were discouraged to do so in school and above all in public.  Slowly, but surely they were being alienated from their heritage and traditions, their culture as well as their language.  This frightened the Swabian community.  That would be the open door, through which the Volksbund would make its entry … but they brought along the excess baggage of National Socialism with them.

They issued a call for a new loyalty … not to their Swabian identity, their heritage or traditions but to a Fatherland.  A concept that would have been totally foreign to their forefathers and one they had never known themselves.  Adolph Hitler could prattle on about his personal invention:  the Volksdeutsche…the so-called Folk Germans…ethnic Germans. They simply did not exist in Hungary.  They were Schwove.  But the Volksbund was organized in Szil on February 9, 1941.  The last chapter in the Szil experiment had begun.

But life would go on.  The Swabians would salvage what they could but they saw that they were losing their children.  Was the Volksbund an alternative?

It was for some, as it was everywhere.  Gadács in many ways provided a strong following for the movement.  The Volksbund knew only too well, that the lower the level of the people’s education the more likely they could be led to respond to the “ideals” of Nazism.  Pastor Wölfel, who served the mother church in Döröschke, and its filials was diametrically opposed to the Bund, as it was commonly called.  While the school teacher in Döröschke was an enthusiastic disciple of Nazism.  The stress and constant strife caused in the village and congregation led to the early death of the pastor in 1943.  Throughout the coming times of trial, there would be no resident pastor of the sprawling parish.  They were simply left on their own without the leadership they needed to head off the disaster the Volksbund set in motion for them and all the Swabians in Hungary.

In September 1944 as the Red Army advanced towards Hungary, the able-bodied men among the Swabians in the Two Sisters were forcibly recruited into the Waffen SS, as all Swabians in Hungary were compelled to do.  They had no other option.  There was no choice in the matter.  The Regent of Hungary, Admiral Nicolas Horthy had made a deal with Adolph Hitler and sold out his “beloved” Swabians.

As the refugee treks from the Banat, the Batschka and eastern Hungary began to pass through Szil, the Bund leaders saw the handwriting on the wall.  A planned evacuation was underway, and the leading Bund families realizing that Szil was on a main highway, were not prepared to await the arrival of the Russian Army.  They were evacuated.  But they were just a mere handful among the eight hundred Swabian inhabitants.  That was also true in Gadacs.

Women were prepared to wait for their husbands to come home from the war.  Old people were not prepared to leave.  And how can you possibly consider leaving home?  “Our Hungarian neighbours have always been our friends.  They will protect us.  We have done nothing wrong. We were not members of the Volksbund.”  What they failed to remember, or did not know, was what Magyar nationalists had been saying for years, “The German menace must be rooted out once and for all!”

It was before Christmas in 1944, when the victory-drunk rampaging Red Army passed through Szil.  The village cowered in fear.  In Gadács the women sought refuge on the Josefsberg in the bitter cold and drifting snow.  For days, there was only terror and plundering everywhere.  Women of all ages and young girls were raped in front of their families.  Men were beaten and humiliated and some were killed.  The Hungarians did not protect their Swabian neighbours.  They could not even protect themselves.  No one asked if you were Hungarian or Germansky now.  The two people were finally equal in someone’s eyes.  They were both the enemy who had devastated Mother Russia.  And now they would pay!

The Swabians, alone, however, got the bill.  The Russians settled their accounts in January of 1945.  The young people and young women of Gadács were the price tag.  Szil would have to offer far more, both men and young women.  Now a new word became part of the vocabulary of all of the Children of the Danube:  Verschlept.  Which meant to be dragged away against your will and be enslaved.  Their destination was the Soviet Union.  The Donets Basin, and its vast network of slave labour camps.  Here they would work and starve and die, or somehow manage to survive and come home.  But who would protest?  Who cared?  And in the camps the most fearful and haunting question of all, was also on the lips and in the hearts of the despairing Swabians:  “Has God forgotten us?  Doesn’t God care?”  There was no answer.  Each person would have to struggle with the silence of His answer.

Countless men were in prisoner of war camps in the Soviet Union.  Others were in what was called the “western” zones of conquered Germany.  And many were simply missing.  Not heard from.  Long, painful years would separate them from their waiting families …

The Two Sisters now shared an uncertain future together.  Their future was being decided for them that summer of 1945.  The Two Sisters and all the Swabians in Hungary would now find themselves on the centre stage of world history.  They were on the world’s agenda.

Berlin was a dead and shattered city in the summer of 1945.  Devastated.  In shambles.  Its population burrowed below the earth in the ruins, seeking shelter, seeking community.  Blackened freestanding walls riddled with pockmarks from artillery shells, looked like massive grave markers.  Roofless and gutted churches, broken statuary, the trunks of dead linden trees … all of these were the final offering of the nation to the megalomania of a demented leadership that had almost brought all of Western Civilization to the utter brink of destruction.

Just down the road, Berlin had a sister community.  It too bore all of the marks of battle and street fighting.  Now the slow moving process of cleaning up the rubble began.

The town was much smaller.  Historians, however, tell us, that it was probably much older than Berlin itself.  This sister community along the Spree, had a distinctive character very much all her own, even though she lived in the shadow of the capital.  She maintained her individuality and her stern but regal character.

The Prussian Kings established their military garrison here.  Ever since it has been an “army town”.  But it was here, that the aristocracy and the royal family built their palaces, residences and summerhouses.  Sans Souci (Without a Care), Frederick the Great’s architectural masterpiece, overlooks much of Potsdam down below.  With its vast gardens and fountains, Sans Souci forms the centrepiece of life, as it was lived by the Prussian aristocracy at another time, in another day.

Among so many ornate buildings, it is easy to overlook Potsdam’s most unique royal residence.  Surprisingly, it is built in the style of an English manor house, with the accompanying surrounding spacious English garden in all its greenery.  One of the daughters of Queen Victoria lived here, and it is named after her, Cecilienhof.

Three men came to Cecilienhof, in the summer of 1945, to gather around a table in the spacious panelled library overlooking the gardens to decide the fate of the Two Sisters.  History knows them as The Big Three.  Joseph Stalin, Harry S. Truman and Winston Churchill.  They were the three men who came to Potsdam to redraw the map of Europe.

The Big Three set out to establish borders that would forever prevent the re-emergence of Germany as a political and military power.  But Stalin had his own agenda.  The countries on his borders, that he had absorbed, should be separated from Germany and its influence for all time.  The way he manoevered to accomplish his objective, was in fact, simply a land grab on his part.  The central issue was Poland.

Stalin refused to give up eastern Poland that he had annexed with the assistance of Adolph Hitler.  The Poles, as allies of the victorious powers, therefore needed to be compensated for their losses.  The answer, Stalin pointed out, was to go west.  Poland would absorb the German provinces of Pommerania, Silesia, and whatever else lay between what was left of Poland and the Oder River.  But Stalin was gracious enough to take East Prussia off of Poland’s hands.

Redrawing boundaries in the Cecilienhof palace was easy.  The problem was the need to transfer Polish populations living under Soviet occupation in the east to the “new lands” awarded to the new Polish State.  It was not a transportation problem.  The native German populations who lived in Pommerania and Silesia simply stood in the way because they were there.  Where they always had been for centuries.  This had always been Germany.

That was Act One of the Potsdam scenario.  The focus of Act Two would be on Czechoslovakia.  The Czechs presented a two-pronged thrust.  As former allies they too wanted a piece of the pie.  All the Sudeuten Germans who betrayed the Czech nation were to be expelled for their connivance in the rape of Czechoslovakia.  It was the price for their treason.  This would apply to every man, woman and child.  It was a matter of collective guilt of which no German was innocent.

The Czechs had another grievance.  It was against the defeated Hungarians who had taken advantage of them.  The Magyars had joined the Axis alliance and taken territory from Slovakia.  All Magyars living in Czechoslovakia were to be repatriated and sent “home”.  But the Hungarians responded by saying, “But where on earth shall we put them.”

The Czechs and Stalin assured the Hungarians there was an answer to their question.

And this is where the Two Sisters and all of the Danube Swabians of Hungary put in their first official appearance on the stage of world history.  For their role as a “fifth column” and their betrayal of the Magyar nation they were to be expelled.  Somewhere, someone seems to have lost sight of the fact that Hungary had been one of the enemy powers.  Hungary, and not the Swabian population of Hungary had joined the Axis powers.  The Russians demanded the expulsion of 500,000 Swabians in Hungary to “punish” them, and to provide living space for the Hungarians being expelled by Czechoslovakia and Yugoslavia.

All of this resulted in Protocol XIII of the Potsdam Declaration on August 2, 1945.  Protocol XIII is subtitled, “Orderly Transfer of German Populations” and states:

The three governments, having considered the question in all its aspects, recognize that the transfer to Germany of German populations, or elements thereof remaining in Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary will have to be undertaken.  They agree that any transfer that takes place should be effected in an orderly and humane manner … “

Potsdam unleashed a population transfer that involved between twelve to fifteen million people.  This “orderly” and “humane” transfer of German populations cost the lives of some two million of them in the process.  The Western allies really had no idea of the chaos they were setting in motion.  If they had any concern about the numbers involved, it was in terms of having to look after them upon their arrival in their zones.  They gave a mantle of legality to what occurred.  It was really beyond their control, and they were totally misinformed.  That of course is the official explanation.

Even as they were meeting in Potsdam, the expulsions were already underway.  But that not only took place in Poland and Czechoslovakia, but also in Yugoslavia.  Tito and his Partisans were already applying their “final solution” to Yugoslavia’s “Danube Swabian problem”.  Extermination camps were already in operation in Gakowa and Jarek in the Batschka.  Soon the starvation camp in Rudolfsgnad in the Banat would be receiving its first victims … the aged, the children, the women … but only the women not taken as forced labour to the Soviet Union.  Yugoslavia did not wait for approval or ask for approval at Potsdam.  Thousands upon thousands of Swabians were already perishing in the new holocaust.  They paid the unpaid bills of the Nazi regime.

The question of course is, why did the Western Allies betray the ideals of the Atlantic Charter, and complied with the concept of the “collective guilt” of civilian populations on the basis of their ethnic origins.  In the Parliamentary debates in the House of Commons on December 15, 1944 Sir Winston Churchill had already stated,

” … expulsion is the method which so far as we have been able to see, will be the most satisfactory and lasting.  There will be no mixture of populations to cause endless troubles.  A clean sweep will be made.  I am not alarmed by these large transfers which are more possible in modern conditions then they ever were before.”

The Western Powers believed that lasting peace could only be secured in Europe by eliminating the problem of German minorities.  And in their naivety they actually believed that the transfers would be carried out in a “humane” and “orderly” manner.  While Sir Winston Churchill spoke, he was well aware of the effectiveness of modern population transfers.  Both Hitler and Stalin had demonstrated that.  And Stalin was a master at transferring German populations in particular.  The Volga Germans, the Black Sea Germans, were even now lost in the vast network of his labour camps, since their deportations in 1941.  And they were the first cousins of the Danube Swabians.  They would share a common fate.

But Hungary played its own role, in the expulsion of its Swabian population.  Latter day apologists for Hungary are quick to point out that the expulsion was at the personal insistence of Joseph Stalin.  Hungary itself opposed it.  Upon receipt of the order to expel the Swabians from the Soviet military officials, Hungarian participants claim that they asked only for the removal of those Germans who had been disloyal to Hungary.  Clothing themselves in the garb of defenders of the innocent, they claim that Hungary alone took a stand against “collective guilt”.  But as a defeated nation, Hungary found it impossible to maintain its position.  Pressure from the Hungarian Communist Party, the military power of the occupying Red Army, and the Potsdam Agreement itself prevented any freedom of action on Hungary’s part.

Joseph Stalin’s solution to the Swabian problem in Hungary was not new.  He merely echoed the strident invective of Magyar nationalists, who for over a century had called for the destruction of all minorities in Hungary.  Immediately following the end of the war, the Hungarian press, representing every political party, and not just the infant Communist Party, demanded the immediate deportation and expulsion of the Swabian population and the confiscation of all of their property for their betrayal of the Magyar nation.

As early as the 1920’s, and more so in the 1930’s, Magyar nationalists and extremists began to call for an expulsion and the destruction of the Swabian enclaves, especially those surrounding Budapest, which were a “deadly ring around the capital”, as one put it.  While in Transdanubia, the region we have referred to as Swabian Turkey, the invective became especially vitriolic about the dangers of the “German menace”, there.  Kovacs one of the leading Magyar racists, wrote an expulsion article in 1945, entitled, “Just with a Knapsack”.  This was an allusion to the original Swabian immigrants being poor and penniless carpetbaggers, who stole the best and most of the land from the Magyars.

There had also been the hate literature of Istvan Denes, who published an article in 1936, entitled, “Will We Save Transdanubia?”  “Hungary is for the Hungarians … the others should get out.”  Szabo, another nationalist propagandist wrote, “Whoever has not assimilated, has no reason to be or remain in Hungary.  Every citizen must identify with the nation and adopt its Hungarian language, our Magyar culture and the goal and destiny of the Magyar people.  Only for such citizens shall there be bread and work, and the possibility of making a living under the protection of Hungary.  Those who do not participate in this unity of the Magyars, are an alien nation and place themselves under the leadership of an alien nation, and for such there is no land, no economic possibilities, and no bread in Hungary.”  He wrote all of this on April 17, 1938.

On May 10, 1938 the official Hungarian High School Youth organization adopted a policy, which included:  “… after the solution of the Jewish problem, the Swabians are next in line.”

As late as January in 1944, the Hungarian press was informed by government officials, “… we will re-settle the Swabians if the Germans lose the war, and also if they should win it.”

For Szabo the leader of the Magyar nationalists before the war, all Swabians “by being German were the enemy of the Magyar nation.”

This was the “climate” in Hungary, when the Potsdam Agreement was announced, and Stalin demanded the expulsion of half a million Swabians from Hungary.  The Hungarian government simply informed the Generalissimo that there were not that many Swabians to go around, but they would do their best.

In documents released for review by contemporary historians, the reason given for American and British co-operation and compliance in the expulsion of the Swabians in Hungary was based on intelligence reports.  If the Western powers did not agree to include the Swabians in Hungary in the population transfer agreement, they would be deported to the Soviet Union.  Interestingly enough, that was also the fear of the Swabians in Hungary themselves and we cannot simply dismiss that possibility.

The deportations in Hungary began in 1946 in the Western regions, the homeland of the Heidebauern who had been in Hungary as long as the Magyars or even perhaps before.  There did not seem to be any rhyme or reason for who was expelled and who was allowed to remain.  Families were divided.  Often the most active Bund members were allowed to remain.  Landowners in particular always seemed to make it on the deportation lists.  The first 180,000 deportees from Hungary were received in the American Zone in Germany.  When the American officials became aware of how the expulsion was being carried out, they protested through their military mission in Budapest.

Getting no response from the Hungarian officials, they refused to accept any more deportees from Hungary and closed their borders to them.  As a result, the next 50,000 deportees out of Swabian Turkey ended up in the Russian zone of Germany.  This would be the destination of the Swabians from Somogy County, including the vast majority of the residents of the Two Sisters.

By then, the Hungarian expellees from the neighbouring states had been accommodated in the Swabian communities.  Some 200,000 Swabians still remained in Hungary.  They were not wanted in the Russian Zone of Germany, they had enough problems of their own.  They now no longer were a threat at home.  The major Swabian settlements had been depopulated.  It was only a matter of time and the remaining Swabians would be assimilated.

And that is what it began to look like in the Two Sisters, Gadacs and Szil.  One hundred and eighty of Szil’s Swabians remained, while Gadács only had about one hunred.  On April 6, 1948 the Gadacs Swabians left the railway depot in Bonnya crammed in cattle cars.  Those from Szil, some seven hundred and fifty persons were taken on April 13th.  They all ended up in a transit camp at Pirna, on the border of the Russian Zone of Germany and Czechoslovakia.  From there they were distributed throughout Saxony in the area surrounding Grossenhain.

They had been brought “home”.  And here they were called “Paprika Pioneers”, or the most horrendous word in the German language when addressed to them:  Flichtling.  Refugee.  In their mouths it sounded like a swear word.  They were aliens.  They dressed outlandishly.  They spoke a crude dialect.  They were the cause of the war, these Volksdeutsche.  They came to eat their bread when they themselves did not have enough.  Welcome home Swabians!  But they were not at home.  They longed for the Heimat.  Their Heimat was no more …not anywhere.  They were homeless, and stateless, without citizenship, and no nation had any claim over them, or wanted them.

Who in the world cared?  Who raised their voice in protest?  Just, the weeping grandmothers holding infants in their arms.  The desolate fathers helpless to save their families.  The friends and neighbours who were back home and had been forced to watch in silence.  And none heard the cries of the frightened, hungry and thirsty children in the cattle cars streaming out of Hungary.

Only two men in Hungary dared to speak out.  Cardinal Joseph Mindszenty, the primate of the Roman Catholic Church in Hungary, and Bishop Lajos Ordas of the Evangelical Church of the Augsburg Confession, as the Lutheran Church is known in Hungary.  But most of their priests and pastors turned a deaf ear to their pleas.  After all, both of them were Swabians themselves.  And it was pointed out that they were among the fortunate who could remain behind in beloved Hungary.  Both men would shortly be in prison, and the world would be silent about that too.

Was there really no one in the world who knew?  Who cared?

There was one man.  He was the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.  In his speech, when receiving his prize at Oslo on November 4, 1954 this Alsatian Lutheran pastor, known to the world as Dr. Albert Schweitzer spoke on, “The Problem of Peace in To-day’s World”.  Albert Schweitzer, a first-cousin of the Danube Swabians startled the world when he said,

“The most grievous violation of the right, based on historical evolution of any human right in general, is to deprive populations of the right to occupy the country where they live, by compelling them to live elsewhere.  The fact that the victorious Powers decided, at the end of the Second World War to impose this fate on hundreds of thousands of human beings and in a most cruel manner, shows how little they were aware of the challenge facing them, namely, to re-establish prosperity and as far as possible, the rule of law in our world.”


  Bonnya, Somogy County


  Although there were both Lutheran and Reformed congregations in Bonnya, they were both filials (daughter congregations) of a Mother Church in the vicinity.  If you are tracing your family members who were Reformed, they would be included in the records of the Reformed Church in Flesö Mocsolád.  The vast majority of the Reformed families migrated to Bonnya from Nagyszekély (Gross Säckel) in Tolna County at the beginning of the 19th century and information on those families previous to that time would be found in the Nagyszekély Reformed Records.  Some Reformed families also migrated to Bonnya from Gyönk and are included in the Gyönk Reformed Church Records.


  The Lutheran families settled in Bonnya shortly after 1730 and some early references can be found the Roman Catholic Church Records in Kisbarápati.  Some references to the Lutheran families in Bonnya can be found in the Roman Catholic Church Records in Törokkoppany.  The vast majority of the entries associated with the Lutherans in Bonnya are in the church records of the Lutheran Church in Somogydörörcske (usually referred to as Döröschke) after 1787, which later officially became Bonnya’s Mother Church in 1806 after a large influx of settlers from Somogydöröcske.


  While visiting in Bonnya a number of years ago I discovered an old journal that had been kept by the Becht Lehrer (teacher) in a wooden box in the Reformed church.  The journal records births and deaths of the Reformed congregation from 1900-1941 and the Lutheran records from 1893-1941.


  When there was intermarriage between Lutherans and Reformed, the marriage is usually registered in the church records of the bride.  When searching for the children of a family in a mixed marriage, the girls were usually raised in the religion of their mother, and the boys followed the religion of their fathers and as a result you will have to look in both sets of records to get a picture of the whole family.


Ecsény, Somogy County


  The origins and beginnings of the settlement of the village by German Lutherans from the Tolna and Baranya County cannot be determined but it is estimated between 1750-1760.  The Lutheran Church Records begin in 1784, which followed a massive influx of new setters as part of the final phase of the Schwabenzug (Swabian Migration) under the direction of Joseph II.  Few if any of these settlers came directly from Germany but rather from the Tolna and Baranya.  In addition to the village itself the Mother Church here also served numerous filial congregations in the area, including Ráksi, Somogyvámos, Polány, Hács, Somodor, Toponár and German Lutheran families living in Felsö Mocsolád.


Felsö Mocsolád, Somogy County


  The first settlers were Reformed Hessians who arrived in 1723 and a congregation was established during that year.  Later, Hessian Lutherans joined them, most of them coming from Tolna County.  Among their numbers were also Heidebauern from Moson County.  Hungarian Reformed settlers from Zala County followed and gradually became the majority.  The congregation became a Mother Church and served a filial congregation in Bonnya that consisted of the German settlers from Nagyszékely and Gyönk in Tolna County in the early 19th century.  The local German population eventually either moved elsewhere or assimilated with their Hungarian neighbours and often changing their family names in doing so.


Gadács, Somogy County


  The inhabitants of the village referred to their community as Gadatsch in their local Hessian dialect.  Settlers from Somogydöröscke established the village prior to 1814.  Like the families in their former community they were Lutherans and became a filial of the Mother Church in Somogydöröscke.  Later, settlers from the Tolna also moved into the community.

 Hács, Somogy Gounty 

  The community was mixed in terms of the religious confessions of the families but all of them were of German origin.  The first settlers were Roman Catholics who were soon joined by Lutherans from Tolna County and other communities from within Somogy County around 1828.  The Lutherans were numerous enough by 1855 to build their own church but remained a filial of Ecsény.

 Karád, Somogy County 

  This Hungarian Roman Catholic parish included the German Lutherans in Kötcse in its jurisdiction after 1745 when the congregation there that was organized in 1725 was declared outlawed and the original church records were lost.  The Lutherans in Kötcse formed their own congregation after the Edict of the Toleration in 1784 but up until then all baptisms, marriages and burials were recorded in Karád.

 Kisbarápati, Somogy County 

  The records of this Hungarian Roman Catholic parish include entries related to German Lutherans living in Fiad, Bonnya and Felsö Mocsolád beginning in 1741 and up to 1784.

 Kötcse, Somogy County 

  This German Lutheran and Hungarian Reformed community was founded in the mid 1720s.  The original records of the Lutheran congregation have not been located but existed up to 1745 at which time the Lutheran church was burned down by a mob and the congregation was outlawed and placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic parish of Karád up until the Edict of Toleration.  The congregation was legally established in 1784 and the church records were begun again.

 Magyarod, Somogy County 

  This small community was established on a puszta east of Somogyszil in the late 18th century and attracted German Lutheran settlers, primarily from Somogydöröcske and Kötcse.  All references to it are to be found in the Lutheran church records in Somogydöröcske.  When Gadács was established in its near vicinity the German Lutherans left Magyarod and resettled there.

 Polány, Somogy County 

  The village had a mixed population of Hungarian Roman Catholics and German Lutherans.  The first Lutheran settlers came from Tolna County and Somogydöröcske in around 1780 and a second wave of settlers arrived around 1860 with most of the new families coming from Somogyszil, Somogyvámos and Lajos Komarom in Veszprem County.  The Lutherans formed a filial congregation connected to the Mother Church in Ecsény where all of the information with regard to the families can be found.

 Ráksi, Somogy County 

  The village was mixed in terms of nationality and religious confession.  There was a Hungarian Roman Catholic majority and a German Lutheran minority most whom settled there after 1850 and originally came from Ecsény where all entries about these families can be found.

 Somodor, Somogy County 

  This puszta was first settled in 1834 when the first German Lutheran family arrived and in the next few years one or two other families joined them.  In 1847 a larger group arrived from various other communities, including Keszö Hidekgút and Gyönk from Tolna County and Ecsény and Somogydöröcske in Somogy County.  Within five years there were over fifty families that had settled there and became a filial of Ecsény.  This German Lutheran community vanished within one generation because of the limited opportunities to buy land and the need to provide for large families led to another migration primarily to Slavonia.    

 Somogydöröcske, Somogy County 

  Although many official histories of the village indicate it was first settled in the 1750’s the Roman Catholic Church Records in nearby Törökkoppany include entries for German Lutheran settlers living in the newly emerging village as early as 1738.  The Lutherans were placed under the jurisdiction of the Roman Catholic priest in Törökkoppany until the time of the Edict of Toleration when in 1787 the Lutherans were allowed to form an official congregation and call a pastor.  All of the early information on the families can be found in the Roman Catholic Church Records as indicated.


  Somogydöröcske would become a Mother Church and included the following communities as part of its parish:  Magyarod, Bonnya, Gadacs and Somogyszil.


  Very few of the families who settled here came directly from Germany, the vast majority came from various communities in Tolna County, while a significant number came from Kötcse to the north in Somogy County, the first German Lutheran settlement in Somogy County.

 Somogyszil, Somogy County 

  This was a large Hungarian market town prior to the arrival of the German Lutheran settlers. The first known German Lutheran settlers who arrived in Somogyszil were Nikolaus Stickl and Johannes Wolf, both of Somogydöröcske in 1830.  The Taubert family from Felsö Naná followed who publicized the availability of land and positions in Somogyszil, which led to a massive influx of German speaking settlers from Tolna County, especially from Izmeny.  In addition to these settlers there were also numerous Hiedebauern families who settled here from Lajos Komarom in Veszprem County.  The vast majority of those families had previously lived in Pusztavám in Fejer County.


  Somogyszil was a filial of Somogydöröcske and contains the entries for the Lutherans in that community.

 Somogyvámos, Somogy County 

  It was often simply referred to as Vámos by the German population.  The Hungarian Roman Catholics formed a majority in the village.  The first German settler was Philip Bruder from Ecsény in 1814 and he was soon followed by many more from the same community and they formed a filial congregation of the Mother Church in Ecsény where all of the information for these families can be found.

 Tab, Somogy County   

  A Slovak Lutheran Church existed here early in the 18th century and became an Artikular Church, which meant it was one of the two legal Lutheran congregations in Somogy County at the time.  Throughout its history there were German Lutherans who also lived in the town and were members of the congregation.  In addition there were others who lived in nearby Kápoly, Nagócs, Torváy, Totker, Kötcse, Somogydöröcske and Zics who were served by the pastor.

 Toponár, Somogy County 

  There were Lutheran settlers living in the village, Hungarians, Heidebauern and Hessian families.  They formed a small filial of the Mother Church in Ecsény where the family information can be found.

 Törokkoppany, Somogy County 

  This Roman Catholic parish from its inception following the expulsion of the Turks had the German Lutheran settlers in Somogydöröcske and Szarazd under its jurisdiction up until after the Edict of Toleration in 1781 and the two communities later were successful in establishing legal congregations of their own.  These early records begin in 1738.  There are also entries for Egres, Bonnya, Felsö Mocsolád, Karád, Andócs and Ecsény.  

 “Swabian Turkey: the Counties of Tolna, Baranya and Somogy.” 

Church Record Transcriptions


Alsonána, Tolna County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1789-1866


Bataápati, Tolna County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1770-1895

(Also includes:  Zsibrik)


Bataszék, Tolna County (Roman Catholic) 1722-1783

(Also includes: Alsonána, Morágy)


Bikács, Tolna County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1661-1867


Bikál, Tolna County (Roman Catholic) 1729-1792

(Also includes:  Nagy Hajmas, Rackozár, Mekényes, Morágy, Tófü)


Bonnya, Somogy County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1893-1941


Bonnya, Somogy County (Reformed) 1900-1941


Bonyhád, Tolna County (Roman Catholic) 1729-1816

(Also includes:  Cikó, Majos, Tabod, Morágy, Hidas, Izmény, Bataápati)


Bonyhád, Tolna County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1816-1867

(Also includes: Borszony)


Csikostöttös, Baranya County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1795-1895

(Also includes: Gerenyes, Kapposzekscsö)


Döröshcke, Somogy County (also known as Somogydöröcske) (Evangelical Lutheran) 1787-1895

(Also includes: Bonnya, Gadács, Somogyszil)


Ecsény, Somogy County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1784-1895

(Also includes:  Felsö Mocsolád, Somodor, Vamos, Palony, Raksi, Toponar)


Felsö Mocsolád, Somogy County (Reformed) 1785-1864

(Also includes:  Ecsény, Bonnya)


Felsö Nána, Tolna County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1733-1895


Gerenyes, Baranya County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1815-1895


Gyönk, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1731-1895

(Also includes: Keszöhidegkút, Szarázd, Udvári, Belecska)


Gyönk, Tolna County, (Reformed) 1739-1867


Györköny, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1720-1801)

(Also includes:  Paks, Bikács)


Hidas, Baranya County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1787-1867


Hidas, Baranya County, (Reformed) 1802-1895


Izmény, Tolna Conty, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1773-1895

(Also includes: Maza, Györe)


Kalaznó, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1724-1867


Kapposzekcsö, Baranya County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1796-1895

(Also includes:  Bikal, deaths 1827-1834)


Karád, Somogy County, (Roman Catholic) 1741-1786

(Also includes:  Kötcse)


Kisbarápati, Somogy County, (Roman Catholic) 1741-1798

(Also includes:  Bonnya)


Keszöhidegkút, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1789-1895

(Also includes:  Belecska)


Kéty, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1787-1895

(Also includes: Tabod, Murga)


Kismányok, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1728-1895

(Also includes:  Majos, Hidas, Izmény, Mucsfa, Bataápati, Bonyhád, Tófü, Mekényes, Morágy, Varálja)


Kistormás, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1724-1895

(Also includes: Felsö Nána, Kolesd)


Kötcse, Somogy County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1783-1895


Lajos Komarom, Veszprem County (Evangelical Lutheran) 1806-1880


Lengyél, Tolna County, (Roman Catholic) 1768-1783

(Includes only Lutherans living in Mekényes)


Majos, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1720-1895

(Also includes:  Bonyhád, Borszony)


Mekényes, Baranya County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1787-1895

(Also includes: Nagy Hajmas, Csurgo, Dalmand, Gyirgye, Bettelmann)


Moráagy, Tolna County, (Reformed) 1783-1886

(Also includes:  Alsonána, Bataápati)


Mucsfa, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1742-1895

(Also includes: Mekényes, Izmény, Kis Vejke, Apar, Dalmand)


Murga, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1778-1895

(Baptisms only)


Nagyszekély, Tolna County, (Reformed) 1722-1895

(Also includes:  Kisszekély, Udvári)


Paks, Tolna County, (Roman Catholic) 1721-1797

(Also includes: Bikács)


Paks,  Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1786-1819


Rackozár, Tolna County (also known as Egyhazakozár), (Evangelical Lutheran) 1783-1867

(Also includes: Tofu, Bikal, Kapposszekcsö, Csikotöttös, Gerenyes, Tékes, Nagyág)


Szakadát, Tolna County, (Roman Catholic) 1737-1799

(Also includes:  Szarázd, Bereny, Udvári)


Szárszentlörinc, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1725-1895

(Also includes: Kisszekély, Nemédi, Borjad, Udz)


Tab, Somogy County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1775-1895

(Also includes: Kötcse, Döröschke, Kapoly, Totker, Toponar, Torvay)


Törrökkopany, Somogy County, (Roman Catholic) 1738-1778

(Also includes:  Döröschke, Karád, Bonnya)


Udvari, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1789-1867

(Also includes:  Bikács)


Varsád, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1722-1895

(Also includes:  Kalaznó, Keszöhidegkút, Udvári)


Zomba, Tolna County, (Roman Catholic) 1746-1800

(Also includes: Kéty, Murga, Felsö Nána)


Zsibrik, Tolna County, (Evangelical Lutheran) 1793-1867

(Marriages only)


  (This information was found in a photocopy of a German summary of a Hungarian book that became available to me through contacts in Hungary.)


  A large-scale emigration broke out during this period and drew the interest and concern of the press, the County officials, economists and historians.  The emigration to the United States must be seen as part of the general migration within Hungary since the 18th century.  There was a close correlation between the emigration to the United States and the emigration into Croatian Slavonia from the 1860s onward.  The same economic, social and sociological reasons motivated both population movements.


  The issues around the sale and availability of land and the pauperization that resulted played a significant role.  Social conflicts among the various classes in different regions resulted in unrest.  The slow development of industry and commerce also was a root cause of emigration.


  From 1867 to 1914, during the Dual Monarchy economic development was on the rise as was construction and technology.  These, however, made no essential difference in the standard of living of agricultural day labourers, owners of small plots of land and other workers.  These accounted for the large-scale inner migration to Slavonia but after 1880 more and more of them left for the United States.  There were few in Somogy County who shared in the emerging prosperity.  They set out for Slavonia and the United States in pursuit of happiness and a better living.  This regional study of Somogy provides an analysis of what transpired across Hungary.


  It was not the poorest of the people who emigrated but those living in misery that tried to better their lot somehow and did not simply surrender to what fate handed them.  The emigrants to Slavonia sold their meagre acreage and moved across the Drava River to acquire larger land holdings that they carved out of the wilderness only to run smack into Serb and Croatian nationalism.  The Hungarians “who had always lived there,” and the new immigrants were regarded as third-rate citizens.  Hungarian and Serbo-Croatian nationalism met head on.  In 1904 the crisis was centred on education.  Nationalism played a major role in all of life:  church, economy and administration.  The government and the local officials were anti-Hungarian.


  The Croats, Serbs, Slovenes and Bosnians were influenced and affected by the productiveness and agricultural know-how introduced by the Germans and Hungarians who migrated to Slavonia from Hungary.  But both groups were influenced by one another in terms of how they dressed, customs, eating habits and social conduct.  They learned interdependence and mutual respect for one another.  They lived in peace and became a craw in the throat of the nationalist rabble-rousers. 


  At the beginning of the 1900s, Hungarians who had settled in Slavonia set out for the United States.  In 1907 the chief of police in Sopron reported on reasons for the emigration of these Hungarians.  It was due to harassment by Croat officials, the deep hatred of the uneducated Croats toward them and their inability to maintain their own Hungarian identity and educate their children in Hungarian and were being turned into Croats.


  The German farming element in the population of Hungary usually referred to as the Swabians, were very much involved in the emigration from Hungary.  The eldest son usually inherited all of the land the family owned and the younger sons laboured at a trade.  They were the pioneers of this emigration and were hardworking and skilled in agriculture.  In proportion to their numbers more of them took part in the emigration than Hungarians both in Somogy County and the country at large.


  The emigrants who went to Slavonia were not in search of a job on a short-term basis but sought to establish a permanent home.  Nearly all of them took their families with them.  The motivation was simply land!  Land of their own.  They prospered and did reasonably well.  They lived better lives and provided a more secure future for their children.  They ignored the foreboding clouds of political upheaval all around them.  They would not give up the economic gains they had made through hard work and accepted their lot as a disparaged minority in a foreign environment.


  The North American emigration differed in this respect.  People went overseas to find work, earn money and return home and establish themselves.  Some of them planned to stay and make a fortune.  They sold land, borrowed money or went to loan sharks or in many cases the family raised the money to send the young men and women off to America.  Some them were actually well-to-do and simply went to increase their fortunes and estates.  The poor could only raise the money if someone vouched for them or were their close relatives.  This often led to a “community loan business,” the precursor of the future Credit Unions.  This collective cooperation made emigration possible for many.  The loans were interest bearing and the family members who remained behind were responsible for them.  It was the biggest local enterprise undertaken by the peasants of Hungary.  Everyone gained by it.  European steamship companies, industrial and financial interests in the United States sent agents into the villages to recruit would-be emigrants.  Many of the “American” Hungarians returned with considerable sums of money.


  With the money that the emigrants sent home the family bought land, houses, horses, livestock and machinery.  But on returning home it was obvious that they had been influenced by the “American way of Life,” and gave voice to “democratic” rights.  Younger men were often not allowed to emigrate until they had done their required three year military service and for that reason many of them left secretly and left Europe from German, French, Dutch and Belgian ports.


  (The following are some statistics and information that I noted from the schedules that appeared in the Hungarian text that dealt with Swabian emigrants from Somogy County.)

  Those who emigrated from Ecsény:


  Ellenberger, Janos (the younger)


  Wiandt, Heinrich

  Abel, Johann

  Stickl, Janos

  Anspach, Johann

  Klein, Heinrich

  Reinhardt, Heinrich

  Stark, Peter

  Becker, Johann

  Ellenberger, Heinrich

  Stickl, Filip

  Stark, Janosné (Mrs. Janos Stark)

  Flick, Konradnée (Mrs. Konrad Flick)

  Müller, Heinrich

  May, Jakob

   Those who emigrated from Gadács:


   Veing, Heinrich


   May, Peter

   Veing, Heinrich

   Those emigrating from Kötcse: 


  Aumann, Adam

  Gutmann, Friedrich

  Meinhardt, Andreas


  Buchenauer, Adam

  Barabas, Wilhelm

  Landek, Andreas (the younger)

  Guthmann, Heinrich

  May, Friedrich

  Reichert, Imre

  Landek, Andreas

  May, Leonhard

  Meinhardt, Jakob

  Franz, Heinrich

  Those emigrating from Somogyszil:

  Holler, Janosné (Mrs. Janos Holler)

  Pentaller, Heinrich

  Becker, Jakob

  Stickl, Adam

  Meil, Heinrich

  Reissinger, Johann


  During 1906 there were 129 emigrants from Somogy County who left for the United States of whom 28 were Swabians.  Six of them were from Lutheran villages.


  In 1907 there were 425 emigrants from Somogy County leaving for the United States of whom 101 were Swabians.  Of these 49 were from the Lutheran villages.


  These figures need to be seen in light of the fact that the Swabians accounted for less than 7% of the population of the County.


  Additional emigrants in 1907 that came from other Lutheran villages in Somogy County included the following:


  Benedek, Janosné (Mrs. Janos Benedek)


  Wenhardt, Philip

  Ferber, Jakob

  Rofritsch, Johann

  Kring, Josef


  Adam, Johann

  Dechert, Heinrich

  Adam, Sebastian

  Strott, Sebastian

  Felder, Sebastian

  Magyari, Johann

  Reinhardt, Kristof

  Schaefer, Imrené (Mrs. Henry Schaefer)

  Jung, Johann


  Majer, Georgné (Mrs. Georg Majer)


  Schaefer, Heinrich


  During 1908 the following emigrants left Somogy County from the Lutheran Swabian villages:


  Ferber, Sandor


  Pfeiffer, Michael


  Ferber, Sebastian

  Hild, Josef


  Simon, Louis

  Frey, Adam

  Schultheiss, Peterné (Mrs. Peter Schultheiss)

  Schenk, Georg


  Ferber. Johann


  Landek, Konrad


  Weibel, Adam

  Hildt, Michael

  Rall, Heinrich

  Felder, Adam

  May, Jakob

  Gyorgy, Heinrich

  Barabas, Wilhelm

  Brandtner, Adam

  Trimmel, Andreas


  Hartenstern, Heinrich

  Jahn, Johann

  Müller, Heinrich

  Frischkorn, Illes (Elias)*

  Göbel, Johann

  Groth, Jakob

  Tefner, Jakob

  Lehr, Andreas


  In 1908 there were a total of 149 emigrants from Somogy County to the United States of whom 50 were Swabians and of their number 27 were from the Lutheran villages.


  During this period of the emigration from Somogy County included in the study there is no mention made of any single women leaving for overseas unless they were part of a family.  In 1903 the Hungarian parliament passed a law allowing Counties to issue passports to would-be emigrants that made it more convenient and possible to obtain them.  On leaving the emigrant had to indicate their destination, the harbour from which they planned to exit Europe and how long they proposed to stay away.  The cost for a passport was one Krona.  The passport did not indicate the ethnic identity of the holder nor what language or languages he spoke.  Passports were seldom issued for anyone over 50 years of age because the American Immigration officials would send them back.  There were only a few passports issued for Canada during this period.  Wives who wanted to join their husbands were often refused passports to get the husband to return home to Hungary.  The peak of emigration from Somogy County prior to the First World War was 1907.


  Of further interest are some of these statistics.  The numbers of passports issued to the following villages between 1900 and 1910:


  Bonnya                            156

  Ecsény                               71

  Gadács                             113

  Döröschke                        245

  Somogyszil                      335


  The individual stories behind the statistics in many cases remain untold.  The reader will note an * following the name of Frischkorn Illes who was my grandfather.  Four years later his wife Elisabeth Tefner left to join him in Milwaukee.  While they were there a daughter Caroline was born, in January of 1914.  She was my mother.  The young family hurriedly returned to Hungary as war clouds gathered in July of that year and Elias returned home just in time to be conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian Army and was rushed to the Serbian front.

 (The following information is taken from an article published by Johann Müller of Bissingen-an-der-Enz and formerly of Bonnya, Somogy County, Hungary.) 

  The village of Kötcse was founded early in the 18th century and was one of the two earliest German settlements in the northern area of Somogy County along with Felsömocsolád following the expulsion of the Turks from the area.  A list of the heads of the earliest settler families was compiled on April 11, 1730 including fifty-four German households whose origins were in Hesse and the Pfalz.  According to the church documents that they carried they had come by ship from Regensburg as far as Paks-on-the-Danube.  From there they were brought by wagon train to the site of what would become Kötcse.  At that time, in 1723, it was nothing more than a prairie surrounded by wilderness.


  These fifty-four families were Protestants of which forty-seven were Lutheran and the other seven were Calvinists.  These Calvinists came from the vicinity of Hanau.  Their names were Adam Felde, Heinrich Felde, Wilhelm Felde, Johann Ferber, Kilian Ferber, Martin Ferber and Johann Weghmann, it can be assumed that we are dealing with brothers in terms of the Feldes (later Felders) and the Ferbers.


  The list of Lutherans includes: Kaspar Aumann, Johann Aumann, Balthasar Becker, Andreas Berner, Johann Georg Bender, Johann Fleisch, Friedrich Gaspari, Heinrich Göbel, Johann Heinrich Gebel, Johann Gutmann senior, Hieronymus Haas, Johann Haas, Heinrich Hertling, Friedrich Hozner, Heinrich Juke, Johann Kerber, Jakob Knoch, Johann Kruts, Nikolaus Kurtz, Stefan Landek, Jakob Löser, Geroge Heinrich Lux, Johann Georg Müller, Jakob Rummer, Hartmann Reichert, Adam Reichert, Jakob Roos, Adam Raab, Jakob Raab, Friedrich Schunck, Konrad Starck, Peter Starck, Josef Tekmann, Konrad Tefner, Johann Friedrich, Konrad Friedrich, Johann Nepomuk Friedrich, Georg Till, Matthias Trimmel, Paul Ulrich, Josef Weiss, Stefan Werbach, Georg Wiandt, Jakob Wiandt, Johann Wiandt.


  In the book, Heimatbuch der Norschomodei there is only small mention made of the village’s history.  That is also true in Gustav Schmidt-Tomka’s history of the development of the Lutheran Church District (Seniorat) in Swabian Turkey.  He makes reference to the origins of these first settlers that are substantiated by the list of names that are provided in the Church Chronicle.  In what follows the information comes from the entries in the church records after 1783/1784 when Kötcse had become fully Hungarian speaking.  By 1800 only the older residents of the village spoke German.  Later during the next century the congregation was only served by Hungarian pastors that accounts for the obvious corruption of many of the family names in terms of their spelling and pronunciation.  But when a visitor comes to Kötcse and wanders about the old cemetery and reads the tombstones he comes across many of the following names:  Aumann, Bloch, Hedrich, Hartmann, Knoch, Kurtz, Kerber, Fleisch, Ferber, Bruder, Landek, Tilk, Tekkmann, May, Lohr, Reichert, Tefner, Lamman, Schilling, etc.


  The village also had a pastor Wilhelm Schilling who had been born there 01.2.1883 but he was fully assimilated and had no interest in the German origins of his home parish even though it was well known it had been established by Germans.  Their descendants   can be easily traced and found in many of the outlying communities that were established later in Bonnya, Raksi, Gadács, Vámos, Ecsény and Döröschke.  Many families remained in touch with their extended families in Döröschke and Felsömocsolád.


  The population of the village maintained a consistent level.  At the present time the congregation and several small filials in the area form a parish of eight hundred persons.  Their pastor is Alexander Szende.  The long-term notary Heinrich Trimmel has worked on the history of both the congregation and village.  I hope that the results of his research will lead to the publication of a book that will shed some light on some of the yet unknown history of the community.  He is a descendant of Matthias Trimmel who was among those listed on April 11, 1730 and belongs among the founders of the village whose origins were in the Pfalz.


  The first Levite Lehrer was Dominic Haas from Kaltenbrunn in the Tolna now known as Keszöhidgekút.  He was the schoolmaster and the lay worship leader of the congregation.  In 1740, he was succeeded by Michael Harmonides and was secretly ordained by Georg Barany the Dean of the Church District shortly afterwards.  Gustav Schmidt-Tomka also mentions this in his history of the Church District.  On the night of December 15, 1745 the bishop of Veszprem, Martin Biró Padány gave the order to the Superior Court Judge to tear down the wooden Lutheran church that stood in the centre of the village along the road that led to Karád and Latrány and set it on fire.  The pastor was taken away in chains to the episcopal dungeons in Veszprem where under torture he converted to Roman Catholicism.  The Lutherans in the village were placed under the spiritual jurisdiction of the priest in Karád who had led a mob into the village to carry out the orders of the bishop along with the support of County troops.  They also ransacked and pillaged the homes of the Lutherans and confiscated any literature they found and added it to the flames.


  Officially the congregation went out of existence but it continued as an underground movement in the village with various “emergency teachers” leading the congregation until the time of the Edict of Toleration.  Their baptisms, marriages and deaths were entered the Roman Catholic parish records in Karád until the Edict of Toleration but there are many gaps and no records prior to 1745.


  (Heinrich Trimmel never published the results of his research but Zoltan Tefner a descendant of Konrad Tefner produced a monograph in 1990 in Hungarian that was later translated into German.  The results of his research played an important role in the development of the scene associated with the events of December 15, 1745 in Children of the Danube as well as some other additional archival information from other sources that became available.  Henry A. Fischer is also a direct descendant of Konrad Tefner.)

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