Véménd in Baranya County

and the Fulda Emigration


  The content of this article is based on material translated from the Véménd Heimatbuch and provides a summary of some details that might be of interest to a researcher or general reader.


  Véménd is located near the north-eastern border of Baranya with Tolna County.  The first German settlers came here from Silesia and Moravia but soon moved on to the Banat.  There was a slow down in immigration into Baranya County from 1722-1727.  It was later in 1745 when some settlers came from the Upper Rhine, Franconia and the Bishopric of Fulda.  Those that came from Fulda had their origins in Wyhers, Schmalnau, Rasdorf and Eichenzell.  They were followed by families from Bavaria, Cologne and Württemberg.  There were still others who arrived in the 1780s during the reign of Emperor Joseph II.


  The Bishopric of Fulda provided the vast majority of the settlers in Véménd and other communities to be found in both Baranya and Tolna Counties.  Fulda belonged to the region where Christianity had its beginnings in Germany.  Its monastery was erected in the time of Charlemagne.  In the Middle Ages the Bishopric gained power and influence in terms of the politics and domestic affairs of the Holy Roman Empire.  Its territory stretched across the Vogelsburg, Landrücken and a large portion of the Rhӧn valley up to Bavaria and then on to the Hammelberg and the Main River.  There were numerous nobles and their vassals who lived within the principality.  The Rhӧn district had poor agricultural land and its population lived in poverty.  The area would produce large numbers of peasants in search of improving their economic situation.  They could not be held back once they heard about the “fool’s Paradise” in Hungary.


  According to the Minutes of the Town Council in Ulm in 1712 many left for Hungary and scores of them ended up in disastrous situations.  It was much like a mass flight out of the country and the various rulers had to use vigorous methods to contain and dissuade the would-be emigrants.  The following warning was issued in the Bishopric of Fulda on March 28, 1718:  “Subjects of ours who have returned from Hungary have informed Us that even though feudal bondage does not exist there, it was not possible for a German to survive there.  Before their return home the recent arrivals sold their small huts but now have nothing and begged to be taken back as our subjects again.  Therefore everyone is warned to think twice about this before ending up in the same manner.  Whoever leaves his home and returns in future will be dealt with as a foreigner and will need to have 200 Gulden in his possession to be received back in this land.”


  Monks, Jesuits and village priests were instructed to read this decree after their Sunday sermon in the following places:  Johannisberg, Petersberg, Florenberg, Margarethenhaun, Heimbach, Kämmerzell, Flieden, Hofaschenbach, Rosenfeld, Rossbach, Neuhof, Motten, Dietershausen, Lütter, Eiterfeld, Schleid, Borsch, Herlestein, Bimbach, Salzschlirf, Zella, Bremen, Geismar, Hammelburg, Dippach, Hinsfeld, Tulba, Lautenfeldbach, Untertal, Grossenlüder, Brüchenau, Herolz, Ulmbach, Hattenhof, Schwarzbach, Hofbieber, Burghaun, Poppenhausen, Hünefeld and Marbach.  Despite the decree some families left from Grossenlüder and Hinsfeld (Hosenfeld) and received official permission to do so.  The bishop of Würzburg and Bamberg, Friedrich Karl von Schӧnborn whose territory belonged to the southern part of the Rhӧn district issued a sharp and stern law to put a stop to the emigration fever of his subjects.  In his regulation of April 14, 1724 he warned that anyone who left his territory on their own would be treated like vagabonds if they returned and would not be tolerated in the land.


  The mass flight and emigration from the area can be attributed to the efforts of German soldiers who had been engaged in the War of Liberation against the Turks in Hungary and had been paid in land grants by the Habsburgs.  They also recruited German brides and the news of favourable settlement possibilities in Hungary was spread far and wide.


  Some of the groups of settlers that participated in the catastrophe of 1712 also managed to entice teachers to go with them.  Very often they were under the spiritual guidance of a priest who accompanied them.  The Roman Catholic priest, Peter Willenscheid of Fulda came to Hӧgyész in Tolna County in 1723 and Father Nikolaus Termus arrived with the colonists at Nagyarpad in 1725.  The first mass wave of emigration occurred from 1712-1730 and the participants are virtually unidentifiable in terms of their home locales.  Only a few of those in the next wave can be traced back home but the third and final wave of emigrants during the time of Joseph II can be easily identified and located.


  There is mention made of Véménd in a document from 1356 when it is called Emen.  In 1557 the estate belonged to Michael Kesses.  The Turks appeared on the scene in 1569 and found some Serbs living there who had previously fled from the Turks in 1521.  In 1688, Pécs and its vicinity were liberated from the Turks and shortly afterwards Serb cattle herders took up residence in the abandoned community.  In the tax conscription lists of 1715 there were 34 Slavic (Croat and Serb) households in Véménd.  In 1720 there were still 21 Slavic households along with 4 Magyar (Hungarian) households.  In 1732 the community was abandoned.  The area was resettled by German-speaking colonists by the estate owner, the Abbot of Pécsvarad between 1739-1750.  In 1752 there were 43 tax paying households.  The next phase of settlement began in 1780 under the leadership of the Emperor Joseph II.  Most of the settlers as indicated previously came from the Fulda region and were known as the Stifuller (Stift Fulda) along with Swabians and Alsatians.


  Very few Hungarians had survived the Turkish occupation of the area.  Those who were not killed fled to other areas.  Croat families came from the south and settled in Baranya County but it was the later arriving Swabians, as the German settlers would be called, that would develop and restore the economic viability of the land.  It would be called Swabian Turkey as an honorary title.  In its heyday, when Baranya blossomed, it was the most densely populated region in Hungary.  That had all changed with the coming of the Turks who would destroy and depopulate the region.  Baranya became the “route of passage” for the Turkish hordes on their way north and west as the conquered the rest of Hungary.  They simply lived off of the land and the loot and booty they took in possessions and slaves.


  In reality there was no indigenous population when the Swabians arrived only a few Slavic refugees.  The Minutes of the Town Council of Ulm in 1712 shed some light on the first large scale emigration down the Danube River to Hungary.


  In May and June of 1712 the ship companies in Ulm saw vast new sources of income as emigrants flocked to go to Hungary.  On June 27th the first report of would-be-settlers to Hungary had arrived in Vienna and were totally impoverished and were attempting to return home.  On July 20th Ulm officials were informed that those who were able bodied were returning on foot while the sick were returning on two ships.  The Town Council attempted to dock the ships prior to reaching Ulm at either Donauwürth or Offingen because they feared that the returnees would spread their sickness and the city of Ulm could possibly face an epidemic.  The “Hungarian sickness” was feared to be like the plague that had decimated all of Western Europe in the past.


  The fear of the Ulm Councillors was not unfounded.  On September 22nd the two ships finally arrived at Leipheim with its cargo of sick returning settlers.  About three months later another ship with discouraged returnees from Hungary came to Donauwürth who were cared for by the district coffers while the first boatloads had been brought to Ulm and their care had been provided by the city.  There was only one settlement in the Pécs highlands that was established in 1712 that took root and survived.  In later years settlers  were sent back to Germany by their feudal master to recruit others to come to Hungary.  It was only after 1736 that a much more effective colonization organization was set in place.  It came too late for Baranya County but it would be to the great advantage of those who now went on to the Banat and the Batschka.


  In reality, Hungary could only be called liberated after the Turks were defeated at the Battles of Peterwardein and Temesvár in 1716.  On the orders of the Emperor Charles VI numerous Imperial agents were sent into the various German lands to recruit farmers and tradesmen for settlement in Hungary.  The strongest force behind the recruitment were the nobles of Hungary who hoped to increase their income from their destroyed and wasted estates.  Heavy recruitment drives took place in the region of Regensburg, Ulm, Frankfurt-an-Main and Cologne.  Most of those who responded were the brothers of first born sons and their families who had no land or hope of land.  As a result they were poor  and were eager for a better life somewhere else and would risk what little they had in possessions to raise their travel expenses.


  Many were leaving because of the suffering and poverty in Germany.  Numbers of them chose an unknown destiny in Hungary rather than the greater danger of a sea crossing to America.  But going to Hungary was also dangerous.  It was a virtual wilderness.  The nobles had to offer the kind of incentives that would entice them to come to Hungary.  They were given free transport for the whole family, land, heating material, exemption from all taxes for six years, no crop tithes to pay to the landlord, no robot (free labour) to be performed for the landowner and seeds for planting.  It was the promise of land that lured them on.  A large portion of the emigrants left illegally.  If they knew their landlord was opposed to the emigration and they were bonded serfs they simply walked away.  Left unannounced.  Hope drove them to Hungary regardless of the consequences.  Most of them would leave by ship, boat, barge or on rafts and head down the Danube starting out from one of the major river-ports.  The Fulda settlers started out from Regensburg.


  At the time of settlement the nobles made contracts with their subjects but they would not live up to their part of the bargain.  They oppressed their people at will.  Many of the settlers simply left and went elsewhere in hopes of finding a better landlord.  The demands made of them by the nobles became more burdensome each year.  In the 1760s the ruling classes sought to make agreements even more onerous and at the expense of their subjects in terms of providing robot (free labour) and an increase in the tithe the peasants provided from their crops, livestock and fowl.


  This increased oppression and the great dissatisfaction of all the peasants resulted in an uprising.  They appealed to the Bible in which the tithe was one tenth and not one ninth as the nobles took from them.  They refused to provide robot labour and left the grain crops standing in their master’s fields refusing to harvest them.  It was passive resistance and the nobles had no idea of how to deal with them and therefore as usual they called upon the military to use force.  Countless numbers of men were imprisoned in Pécs.  As the uprising continued bands of peasants moved on Pécs and surrounded the prison and government buildings.  The rebels only began to leave the city once each of the prisoners was freed and no punishment would be meted out to them.  The result of the uprising was Empress Maria Theresia’s Urbariumn of 1767 which regulated the terms of the nobles’ contracts with their peasants and were equally binding on both of them and gave the peasants recourse to law if the nobles failed to live up to their responsibilities.


  During the Revolution of 1848 the Swabian population sided with the Hungarians in their battle for independence.  They were the only minority to do so.  The emancipation of the serfs had been declared by the Hungarian parliament during the revolution and after Austria was back in control it remained in effect.  Although they did not own the land they and their families had worked for generations they could now buy it from their landlord at the rate of 20 to 40 Forint per Joch (1.4 acres).


  After the First World War the County of Baranya was occupied by Serbian troops from the south to the Mecsek Mountains until 1921.  This was a terrible time in Véménd and the populace thought that things could not get worse.  There was total chaos and a lack of law and order.  Horses and cows were simply taken away on a whim.  Some who protested were beaten to death, others were stripped naked and lashed with whips.  After the Treaty of Trianon was in force Véménd was returned to what remained of Hungary.


  The inter-war years saw the emergence of Horthy’s nationalist government, the rise of anti-Semitism, the growing hostility of the Hungarian nationalists towards the minorities and the stirrings of a sense of German identity among the Swabians fostered by two movements that led to the demise of one, the UDV and the rise of the other under Franz Basch and his Volksbund der Deutschen in Ungarn (VDU).  The latter becoming a Nazi front organization with local chapters in almost every village.  Their activities in turn gave birth to a loyalty movement among the Swabians who honoured their Hungarian citizenship.  Villages and communities were split.  This was also true in Véménd.


  In 1942 Horthy and Hitler signed an Accord that allowed the Volksbund to recruit volunteers among the Swabians to serve in the German Armed Forces, mainly the SS.  This was to be done on a voluntary basis but soon it became the duty of all Germans in Hungary after the German occupation in March 1944 as the Russian armies doggedly advanced towards the borders of Hungary.  Only a few families joined the evacuation in the Fall of 1944.  Troopers from the Red Army entered Véménd on November 28, 1944.  A few families managed to escape in the next few days.  The deportation of young people to slave labour in the Soviet Union took place between Christmas 1944 and New Years 1945.  Confiscation of Swabian property and homes throughout Véménd followed in May 1945.  On September 15, 1947 a convoy made up of more than 1,900 inhabitants of Véménd were expelled to the Russian Zone of occupation in Germany.  The convoy arrived in Pirna, Saxony on September 18th and the families were dispersed throughout Saxony the vast majority of whom would across the border to the Western Zones.

No Responses to “ Véménd in Baranya County ”

Leave a Comment