Welimirowatz in Slavonia


Summarized and Translated


Henry A. Fischer



Menschen zwischen Welten

Heimatbuch Welimirowatz



Leopold Karl Barwich



  The area in which Welimirowatz is located in central southeast Europe has been home to various peoples over the centuries for both short and long term occupations.  The Ilyrians are the first peoples we can identify and were a branch of the Celtic people and were resident in the area by 400 BC and were followed by various other Celtic tribes such as the Dacians.


  The Romans controlled the area for 500 years up until approximately 500 AD.  Their roads, aqueducts, cleared acreage and vineyards changed the area into a flourishing fertile province with the most important settlement at Sirmium (Mitrowitz), which also gave its name to the region of Syrmien and also known as Srem.  A whole system of Roman roads connected Poschegg, Naschitz, Koschka, and Essegg (then called Mursa) to protect the Danubian frontier. 


  The Roman emperor Diocletian lived in Spalato (Split) in 308 AD.  The Roman fortresses could not prevent the westward migration of the Germanic and Slavic tribes that followed after them.  The Germanic Quaden (50-180 AD), Markommen, Gepiden and Allanen (378 AD), the Samartians and the Jazyzens all moved in and settled.  Many of the Vandals came and pillaged and plundered.  Atila the Hun (441-453) also called Etzel became master of Pannonia.  The Longobards (Lombards) came in 566 AD and the western and eastern Goths passed through Slavonia in 200-376 AD.


  After the Franks defeated the Avars, Pannonia was incorporated into the Frankish Empire (791-796).  They established the Carolingian Ostmark (Eastern Mark = Austria), which reached as far south as Lake Balaton and the Sava and Danube Rivers.  The cattle herding Croatians who had come into the region in 550 paid no attention to the building efforts of the Franks.


  With the Christianisation of the land, Mitrowitz became the seat of a bishop and what later became Slavonia and Syrmien were placed under the jurisdiction of a Frankish Count the so-called Counts of Friaul.


  Burgenland to the north was established as a borderland frontier area and built up with many “Burgen”:  forts and fortresses and settled by German peasants accompanied by monks to expand Christianity and built churches and cloisters as cultural and religious centres in the land.


  The settlement activities were a result of the missionary work of both the Eastern and Western Churches.  The Western Church sent missionary monks from the bishoprics of Passau, Regensburg and Salzburg to the eastern and south eastern lands while the Eastern Church sent the apostles to the Slavs:  Constantine and Methodius who ministered in the south east as far as the Great Moravian Empire.  They translated the liturgy into the Slavic language and developed an alphabet and written script similar to the Greek of the Orthodox Churches that are still used in Serbia, Bulgaria and Russia.  The concept of “national” or “ethnic” churches is a legacy of the Orthodox Church and its missionaries.


  The Magyars, coming out of Asia first arrived in the lower Danube area in 838 and occupied what had been Pannonia up to the Tisza River.  In 896 under the leadership of Arpad they invaded central Europe and campaigned in Upper Italy, Germany and France.  By 1091 the Magyars controlled Slavonia and Syrmien.  In 955 Otto the Great defeated them at the battle of Lechfeld just outside of Augsburg.  From out of this nomadic tribal people a settled agrarian society was formed and developed which also became Christian.  Stephen I, the first Christian king and saint was the founder of the Magyar state.  He married Gesila, daughter of the Duke of Bavaria in 995.  She was also a sister of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry II who was crowned apostolic King of Hungary in 1001 by Pope Silvester II.  The Hungarians still take great pride in the crown of St. Stephen a symbol of Hungarian national identity.  Because of his conversion to the Roman Church he gained the recognition of the Pope for his support in the conversion of his people to Christianity and was canonized in 1083.


  Under Geza II in 1150 German knights, artisans and craftsmen were invited into the land.  This was especially true in the Zips and Transylvania where settlers from the Rhine and Mosel area as well as Luxemburg established themselves.  During this time the Slavic princes of the Moravian Empire also enticed Germans to settle in their lands.


  The Croatian Duke Trpimir (840-855) recognized Lothar, the French king (843-855) as his liege lord and in that enactment is the first reference to the name Croat to describe him and has people.  Prince Tomislav called himself King of the Croatians in 925.  But it cannot be determined whether or not he in fact was the first Croatian king, nor do we know where or when he was crowned and who carried out the coronation.  He formed the Croatians into a “state” in 924 and had to be on constant guard against invasion from the Venetians and the Magyars.


  Zvonimir (1076-1088) is one of the last of the Croatian kings.  His wife was Helen the Fair, but they had no children.  At an assembly that was held in 1089 he was murdered.  Quarrels to determine the succession broke out and they could only be resolved by outside intervention.  The Hungarian king, Ladislaus I was invited to govern the land.  He accepted but found himself constantly involved in many wars.  His nephew Kolomar I who succeeded him to the Hungarian throne made an agreement with the twelve Croatian noble families in 1102 and at Biograd he was elected and crowned king of Croatia.


  This historical development would have serious consequences and placed a heavy burden on both Hungary and Croatia.  This personal union of the crowns was only meant to bind the two nations during his lifetime but would in effect last for 816 years from 1102 to 1918.


  The king gave the Croatians their own administration by appointing a Banus (governor) as the Hungarian spokesman and the representative deputy of the Hungarian king.  The Croatian nobles formed a parliament:  Sabor.


  The Hungarians looked upon this “union” as permanent and claimed the right of possession of the whole land, then the Kingdom of Croatia-Dalmatia and the Adriatic providing Hungary with a port and direct access to the sea.  The Croats saw this agreement as a temporary one hoping for the possibility of freely electing their own king when the Hungarian dynasty was without an heir.


  Confessionally (religiously) both Hungary and Croatia had united with the Church of Rome and were bound to the Pope.  The whole process was one in which the Croats gave up both their independence and autonomy.  


  The other Slavic people in the region were the Serbs under the leadership of Great Prince Stefan Nemanja (1114-1200) and under king Stefan Duschan (1331-1355) they experienced a “golden age.”  The Grand Prince united the two Serbian states:  Raszien and Zeta and later freed himself from the lordship of Byzantium.  The king later conquered neighbouring regions and raised the Archbishopric to a Patriarchite.  The Serbs had chosen to enter the Orthodox Church in 850.  Their Orthodoxy is the major difference between the Serbs and Croats to this day and as a result there have been constant blood feuds between these two Slavic “brothers.”


  During the Crusades Belgrade was used as a jumping off point and staging area for the crusader armies.  This was in response to the Moslem Turks who had moved westward out of Turkestan and who by 1243 were firmly established in Asia Minor.  There in 1301 Osman I founded the Ottoman Empire and began its westward expansion.


  At the battle of Kosovo Polje the Turks defeated Prince Lazar of Raszien on June 28, 1389 and destroyed the Serbian nobility and ended their lordship of the whole area up to the Danube and Sava Rivers.  Serbia and Bosnia would remain in Turkish hands for the next 400 to 500 years.  In the Orthodox monasteries and their folk songs the Serbs would long remember this as the blackest day in their history as a people.


  It was only in 1453 when the Turks were able to take Constantinople and made it their capital and renamed it:  Istanbul.  The Turks conquered many other peoples and states in the Mediterranean area and all of them became tribute-paying provinces.  But most of the conquered peoples were not forcibly converted to Islam but as unbelievers they had to pay huge taxes, which became a major incentive to convert and that occurred most successfully in Bosnia and Albania.


  Hungry for power and an alliance with the French led to more Turkish incursions into central Europe.  France sought hegemony in Europe but felt threatened by the Habsburgs in Spain and Germany and welcomed the Turkish threat to the south eastern portions of the Habsburg holdings to enable the French to more easily move into the German border lands with France.


  Under Sulieman II, the Turks captured Belgrade in 1521, which had been in Hungarian hands since 1433.  The Turks now took on Hungary at the Battle of Mohács in 1526 against the forces of Louis II of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia after the Turks had already occupied Transylvania.  The young king lost his life in this courageous stand against a vast horde that greatly outnumbered his meagre forces.  There was no heir to the throne of Hungary and conflict broke out between the elected Habsburg candidate Ferdinand (1527-1564) and a noble from Transylvania, Janos Zapolya who had the support of the Turks.


  In 1527 Ferdinand drove out his rival for the throne who had established his reign in Buda and entered the city where he was crowned king on November 3, 1527.  Ever since that time, Austria and Hungary were bound to one another as Croatia was bound in the personal union of the past with Hungary and now also Austria.


  After their victory at Mohács the Turks carried out a disastrous pillaging of the land, robbing, burning, murdering and carrying off 30,000 people as slaves.  In 1529 they laid siege to Vienna for the first time but were unsuccessful in taking the city.  As the lords of Hungary they established a Pashaluk (domain of a Pasha) from the Sava River to Pest and from Lake Balaton to the Tisza River.  The Hungarian nobility could escape subjugation by the Turks only by flight.  Thousands of Croats fled to the Burgenland and were settled in five “Croatian” villages that exist to this day and lived a separate existence among the local population.  From the occupied parts of Hungary the Turks launched raids into Austria at the rate of 188 times in the space of five years.


  The Turks wore green as the symbol of their faith and red the symbol of joy.  Christians had to wear black as symbols of their vassalage and defeat.  It was not only at the times of raids or general warfare when local populations were carried off into slavery.  It was simply a regular occurrence leading to the decimation of the Hungarian population.


  For approximately 150 years Slavonia and Syrmien were under the lordship of the Turks and the economy and the life of the area changed.  The number of homesteads and villages both declined; fields were infested with weeds and underbrush and wilderness encroached the land on all sides.  The Turks simply let the land go to the dogs.  The Ottomans who had first sought to war against the infidels were now only interested in winning land and gaining riches through killing and plundering.


  The Grand Vizer Kara Mustapha approached Vienna with an army of 150,000 in 1683   accompanied by the young Hungarian noble Emmerich Tököly with a force of 15,000.  He sought the support of the Turks to take over Upper Hungary (Slovakia) and be free of the Habsburg yoke.


  The Royal Court had fled and only a force of some 15,000 remained in the city.  But a combined German and Polish army of 85,000 arrived under John Sobieksi and Duke Karl of Lorraine.   On September 12, 1683 the Turks were badly mauled in battle in what would become the Vienna Woods and left the field in full flight.  Others involved in the rout of the Turks were Max Emmanuel of Bavaria and Louis of Baden the future “Türkenlouis”.  In addition young Eugene of Savoy also saw action.  This led to the rapid withdrawal of the Turks from southeast Europe and the liberation of the captive nations.  Eugene of Savoy would drive them from Belgrade in Serbia, and Sarajevo in Bosnia.  If he had not been occupied in the wars against France in the west he would have freed Serbia and Bosnia from the Turks much sooner.  One after another the following cities were liberated:  Ofen, Mohács, Belgrade, Nisch, Slankamen, Zenta, Sarajevo, Temesvár, Peterwardein.  As a further result of his victories the following were in the hands of the Habsburgs:  Hungary 1697, Slavonia 1687, Syrmien 1687, Batschka 1691, Banat 1691 and Transylvania 1691.


  But most of the land had no surviving local population nor did it having any landlords any longer.  The land was given as a fee or reward to soldiers who fought for the Habsburgs or was simply sold to the highest bidder if there was no claimant for the land.


  To protect the new frontiers against the still threatening Turks, the Austrians planned and established a Military Frontier District.  It was a long stretch of land some 20 to at times 50 kilometres wide from the Adriatic along the Sava and Danube to the Carpathian Mountains.  In all it was 2,000 kilometres long and was guarded and controlled by the Austrian military.


  But it was not enough that it guarded the borders it also had to provide the support and supplies necessary to maintain the frontier sentries and soldiers.  The best alternative was settling the Military Frontier District with former soldiers who were called:  Grenzers (Border Guards).  They and their families lived in the District, carried out agricultural pursuits, the rearing of livestock and also served as soldiers to defend the frontier and protect their homes and families.


  Many of these settlers were refugees from the Turks in danger of extermination if they remained in their former homes.  Others were retired soldiers and as veterans they were ready to settle down.  The third group were Serbs under their Patriarch who had fled from the Turks and were settled in Syrmien and southern Hungary.  Another group were the Croats who had survived the Turkish occupation and massacres.  The last group to arrive were Germans invited to settle in the Military Frontier Districts of the Banat and Syrmien.  The only Grenzer village in Slavonia was in Neudorf by Winkowci settled in 1819 by the Broder Regiment.  In 1881 the Military Frontier District had a population of 520,000 Roman Catholic Croats, 650,000 Orthodox Serbs and some 34,000 others of various nationalities and religious faiths.


  Seventeen regiments consisting of some 100,000 men under arms patrolled the Military Frontier District.  The Regimental Commander was also the administrator of the District under his command.  He had responsibility for all aspects of life, all military matters, including training and all aspects of the lives of men from 18-60 years of age in his District, the spiritual care of the population, the educational system for the children, the material and economic welfare of the District and the upholding of law and order and the functioning of jurisprudence and the courts.


  The Slavic population by and large was extensive, extended families lived in quarters called Zadruga in which three or four families lived together with up to seventy persons.  Work was shared, while the sick and the old were cared for.  The oldest organized the work to be done, and the oldest woman was in charge of the house and the able bodied men did their duty on the frontier.  Most of the field work was done by the women and they had 18-24 Joch of acreage, 4-5 Joch of meadows with forests included.  Later the acreage was increased to 30-36 Joch.  They needed many industrious hands.


  Participation in worship was regulated and controlled and following the service all men also participated in a military parade.  Schools were conducted for the children.  Women sewed the uniforms and provided supplies.  The largest village on the Sava border had twenty-five houses.  At each watch tower there were thirty-eight men under one officer who were stationed there.  One third of the men went on patrol, one third were on standby and one third had free time.  Every Grenzer had to provide 150 days of service patrolling the border annually.  In times of war they were withdrawn from the borders and sent to the battlefront.


  Between 1849-1866 the Military Frontier District was administered as a Crownland.


  But as well as serving military and defensive purposes the District also served as a “sanitation corridor” to protect the Empire from plague and other epidemics.  During times of peace with the Turks, travellers and merchants had to pass through sanitation checkpoints.  There were many flooded areas and swamps in the Sava and Drava area and malaria was common.  There were cholera epidemics in 1745 and 1831 that took countless lives.


  As Turkey began to become the “sick man of Europe” by 1851 the Transylvanian section of the Military Frontier District was dismantled and the Banat in 1873 and the Croatian and Slavonian section was reunited with Croatia/Slavonia in 1881-1882.  The families living there did not like or appreciate the change because they liked things just as they were.


  The Military Frontier District had been set up to provide protection and also assure would be settlers that they would be safe as they engaged in rebuilding and resettling the depopulated wilderness the Turks had left behind.


  During the various phases of the Great Swabian Migration (Schwabenzug) there were always small groups and families on the move outside of the official government sponsored programmes.  Along with the State the private landlords, nobles and estate owners also coaxed settlers to their lands but only settled them as Kleinhauslers (cotters) and let them work on their estates.  The colonization was not in response to “national interests” or some kind of German scheme to take over the territory.  This settlement was an umzug…a change of residence within the same Empire.  The Emperor wanted to give this possibility to all of the nationalities to settle in the Danube lands:  Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians, Magyars, Croats, Serbs, Italians, French, Spaniards and Germans.


  The Emperor ruled a Catholic Empire and did not want to settle Protestants within it.  The Habsburgs wanted to maintain Catholic unity for all of their subjects and citizens.  For Maria Theresia it was far more important that the new settlers were Catholics than Germans.


  Slavonia was left rather undisturbed following the Liberation from the Turks in 1687 for almost a century.  The area north of the Sava was part of the Military Frontier District and under the control of Vienna and the land south of the Drava was Croatia/Slavonia and administered by the Banus in Agram. (Zagreb).  The reconquered territories were returned to their hereditary owners if they could prove their claims.  Because so many of the noble families had died out or fled the area in the time of the Turk, the Crown either sold the land or used it as payment to men for their services to the House of Habsburg.  The new landowners seldom lived on their holdings and cared very little about them.  The aristocrats were more interested in assuming high office in the government instead.


  After the French Revolution in 1789 and the War of Liberation against Napoleon in 1813 a “national” consciousness awoke among many nationalities.  This rebirth was very strong among the South Slavs.  This consciousness focussed on the “mother tongue” to build up its use and preserve it in the life of the people and the possibility and idea of being a “nation” within the Habsburg Monarchy became their goal.  Slavism and Panslavism were born as their historians tried to find the common roots of the Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Bulgars and Russians.  Unfortunately this had little effect on how they dealt with one another in terms of their future “national” history that was to unfold.


  In 1848 the Croats saw their opportunity to become equal partners with the Magyars with only a common king to bind them.  They wanted to use their own language even in the Hungarian parliament.  Because the Magyars refused to cede these issues to them the Croats declared war on the Hungarians.  General Jelacic, the Commander of the Military Frontier District hurried to Vienna with his troops and assisted the Austrians in putting down the Hungarian uprising.  He then called upon the Emperor to grant Croatia independence from Hungary.  The young eighteen-year-old Emperor, Francis Joseph did not want to take Croatia away from Hungary.  As a result he worsened the relationship with his loyal Croats and in effect created an anti-German feeling among them.


  During the year of the Hungarian War of Independence, Josip Juraj Strossmajer (1815-1905) first came upon the political scene.  He saw the possibility of uniting the South Slavs by “bringing back” the Orthodox Serbs into the fold of the Church of Rome under his leadership and establishing a “national” Church.  He was actually by culture a German who become a 200% Croat and discovered early that the Serbs were not interested in his kind of partnership and as result he moved more and more in directions toward promoting narrow Croat national interests.


  Among the Croats he became known as the “Father” of the “Fatherland”.  He was the founder of the Yugoslavian Academy of Science and Art, the Croatian University at Agram and the Art Gallery.  He was hated and loved like Bismark in Prussia as the awakener of Croat nationalism.  He was a perfect example of how great his concept of Croatianism was in that a “German boy” like himself could be transformed into a patriotic Croat.


  Joseph George Strossmayer was the son of a horse trader and his Croatian wife and grew up in German speaking Essegg learning both languages but always thought of himself and felt like a German.  After completing his schooling in Djakovar, Budapest and Vienna he became the Court Chaplain and Confessor at Schönbrunn and rector of the Imperial Augustinium.  He desperately wanted to become the Prince Archbishop of Salzburg.  Emperor Francis Joseph who had the power to appoint the successor to the See did not set much store by him and failed to support him in his ambitions.  Far away in Djakovar he could have seen this as a put down.  But not Strassmayer!  He knew how to put himself back on top of the heap.


  In 1849 at the recommendation of the Banus Jelacic he was put forward as his nominee for the position of Bishop of Djakovar.  On taking office this very intelligent and straight thinking man became the “awakener” of the fledgling freedom movements of the Croats.  He must be seen as an opponent of the German language because he insisted on the use of the Croatian language as the language of instruction in all of the schools in the land because he wanted to make everyone Croatian.  He must also be recognized for his other achievements in many areas of the life of the Croats:  in church and cathedral building, intensification of the economy and industry on his Episcopal land holdings and estates, a patron of Croatian culture, a theologian and philosopher who also had the courage to oppose the dogma of Papal Infallibility at the Vatican Council in 1869/1870.


  Strassmayer held that the purpose of educating Catholic priests and teachers was they would become patriots…lovers of the homeland.  Through the hindrances he put into effect against the use of German in worship through the appointment of Croatian priests in mixed language parishes and even where Germans were the majority he achieved “total integration” which was his long term goal.  The fact that the German population was losing their mother tongue did not bother him a bit.


  With the decline of any future threat from the Turks, the Croats clambered for the unification of the Military Frontier District with Croatia/Slavonia.  When it finally took place because of a lack of development and economic resources to build roads and railways to open up the territory for settlement, the Croatian parliament realized the answer was higher taxes and better forms of agricultural development.  Even though as Croatian nationalists they opposed settlement of other nationalities in their “homeland” they believed it was necessary to allow Germans to come in as “teachers” and “models” for the local population.


  The estate owners made their fortune by selling lumber.  Slavonian oak became a world- renowned export.  The question was:  what to do with the deforested and cleared land.  There were also numerous swamps that needed to be regulated by dams in order to cultivate the land and produce various crops.  There were also Croatian settlers who worked the land during the tax free period but left rather than remain and pay taxes and went on to other tax free land somewhere else.  A Croatian official remarked:


  “Our people have a bad work habit.  They see work as slavery not as a necessity.  In 1848 they were to a great extent shepherds and not even herders of cattle.  As a result of their laziness it has become a national shame.”  This basic lifestyle and attitude would clash with the industriousness of the Swabians and lead to envy and later “race hatred”.  As the Swabian settlers gained economically the Croats fell farther and farther behind.


  The Compromise between Austria and Hungary in 1867 resulted when Francis Joseph saw that he could never attain hegemony in Germany as a result of the disastrous war with Prussia in 1866.  The Danube Monarchy, the Imperial Austrian Empire became the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.


  The Hungarians achieved a change in their former relationship through the self-government of their half of the Empire in a partnership with Austria, a symbol of what the Slavic populations in the Monarchy desired and wished for themselves.  Financial affairs, the military and defence as well foreign policy remained in the hands of Vienna although the Hungarians had some influence in foreign affairs.


  Each jurisdiction within the State set up their own national army.  In Hungary this was the Honvéd.  Domestic policies, economic issues, church and school as well as administration were in accord with the national law and existing statutes acted upon by Austria and Hungary.  For the citizens of the Dual Monarchy there were two constitutions and both Vienna and Budapest were government centres.  Following the Compromise the Hungarians offered Francis Joseph the Crown of St. Stephen and he became King of Hungary in 1867.  As a result all of the neighbouring territories were incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary:  the Batschka, Syrmien, Banat and Croatia/Slavonia.


  Those Germans living in the Hungarian portion of the Empire had been pressured by   Magyarisation efforts ever since 1830.  Now the pressure was exerted by the State itself.  On the other hand the Bohemians, Moravians and Slovaks as well as the South Slavs:  Serbs, Slovenes and Croats felt betrayed by Vienna.  They had been loyal citizens and held back from making demands previously.  It was small thanks for their support against the Magyars in the War of Independence.


  The Croats were bound under the Compromise since they belonged to the Kingdom of St. Stephen’s Crown.  But now they wanted to be “equal” as a nation, with their own territory within the Empire of the Habsburgs and not be placed under the jurisdiction of the Hungarians.  At this time it is conjectured that Strossmayer was dealing secretly with the leadership of Serbia.  The concept of a South Slav state was born that would include Serbia and Dalmatia/Croatia/Slavonia independent of both Austria and Turkey.


  After long deliberations and many revisions in which the Emperor also participated an agreement was reached in June of 1868.  Hungary promised that in the future discussions with Austria, representatives from Croatia would also participate.  The treaty guaranteed Croatia sovereignty in matters of its laws and the governing of its territory.  The Banus would deal with the Hungarian Prime Minister directly and be responsible to him.  Croatia would deal with matters related to the churches, schools and jurisprudence.  The flag of the new triune state of the Kingdom of Dalmatia/Croatia/Slavonia would have the Crown of St. Stephen imposed upon it.  They would have twenty-nine deputies in the Hungarian Lower House of parliament and two representatives in the Upper House.  The city of Fiume would remain independent but united with the Crown of Hungary.  The Croats failed to achieve all they had set out to do but they did make major gains.  Yet the Croats were still unsatisfied.


  In 1871 a three-day uprising occurred in Croatia under the leadership of Dr. Eugene Kwaternik for the liberation of Croatia from the Hungarians and Dalmatia from the Italians.  He and two of his confederates where shot.  On the heels of that in 1878 Austria occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina.


  The South and North Slavs now agitated and pressed for an extension of the Dual Monarchy into Tripartate Monarchy including them alongside Austria and Hungary.  It is an historical irony that Francis Ferdinand the heir of the Habsburg Monarchy who was assassinated in Sarejevo was in favour of the inclusion of the “third” partner in the Monarchy.


  It was only in the mid 1850s that Protestants were allowed to settle in Croatia/Slavonia on the initiative of the Hungarian parliament.  A law came into effect on September 1, 1859 that Protestants could apply for house and land purchases and the Croatian parliament immediately protested as the Bishop of Djakovar had done earlier in a personal letter to the Emperor Francis Joseph.  The Emperor’s response was that in the Compromise of 1868 equal status was granted to Catholics and Protestants.


  The news had a profound impact upon the original settlements of the Swabian Protestants (Lutheran and Reformed) in the Batschka, Banat, Syrmien and the estates in southern Hungary, so-called Swabian Turkey.  The reasons behind the large-scale response are difficult to identify precisely.  We do know that it was a time of economic stagnation and need.  It was hard to earn enough bread for the many “children rich” families.  Land was jealously guarded and maintained by the families that owned any.  Little land was available or for sale and when it was it was very expensive.  The second sons of farmers who had learned a trade and the sons of craftsmen who could not take over the family trade all found it hard to set up and start a family.  All of them hoped that by selling what land they had they could buy more land with the money in Slavonia.  They did not seem to think of the difficulties they would face in settling and living together initially.  Families made their way by horse and wagon and obtained information on the way while other groups sent out spies and emissaries on ahead.


  In many villages there were empty houses of predecessors who had moved on to other areas or began new life in a neighbouring town or city.  This resulted in small patchwork of scattered German communities throughout the region.  These German minorities became assimilated in some areas while others managed to preserve their heritage and language living among other nationalities while a few became the majority in some communities and flourished with their own distinctive German village character.


  Both the spiritual and secular landlords set their eyes on the possibility of recruiting settlers.  From among the church held lands were those of the very rich bishops of Djakovar, the Serbian Patriarch in Karlowitz and the Jesuits in Poschegg.  Secular lords were:  Count Eltz, Schönbrunn, Baron Trenck, Prandau Ehrenfels, Count Palffy and Caraffa, Baron Turkovics and Count Pejatschwitz.


  The Pejatschwitz nobles were active in the settlement endeavour on their large estates in the Ruma area (Ruma, India, Putinzi) and Essegg (Deutsch Retfala and Kravitz) and Naschitz (Deutsch Bresnitz and Seliste/Welimirowatz).  They paid agents like Ivan Burkowatz five Kreuzer for every person who settled on their land and occupied empty villages and cleared the forest and wilderness.  The Serb cattle herders simply left at their coming.  The landlords required seasonal workers to bring in their harvests and to engage in planting.  There were also workers needed in the town industries.  As a result the Pejatschwitz nobles offered settlement agreements to Czechs and Slovak settlers at Naschitz.  Swamp fever and contaminated water led to sickness and death on a grand scale.  In one year a large number of these settlers died.  The Count decided to try it just one more time.  He had four deep wells dug in Markowatz in 1880 and settled Czechs and Slovaks there and supported them in various ways up to 1890.  The settlers erected houses and along with the settlement in the forest known as Seliste (Welimirowatz) became part of the political district of Naschitz.


  The Czechs and Slovaks came in search of jobs and came from Slovakia and Moravia and came south annually on foot while a few had wagons for the 350 kilometre trek.  With the savings from their earnings and working as lumbermen they managed to survive over the winter.  They accepted the invitation to settle and struggled to survive through the difficult first decade of settlement.


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