Entries tagged with “Fischer”.

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.

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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 amazon.com and authorhouse.com (the publisher). They are also available directly from the author.

For more information please email Henry A. Fischer.

Electronic (ePub) $3.99 ea.
Paperback $29.95 ea., plus shipping
Hardcover $36.99 ea., plus shipping


  The isolation the Children of the Danube experienced from the upheavals of history in the rest of Europe would no longer hold true in the second half of the 19th Century and  beyond.  At the outset, Emperor Francis Joseph’s attempts to preserve the position of the House of Habsburg in the face of the rising power of Prussia among the German states would inevitably lead to a disastrous war.  Austria’s defeat set the stage for the rise of the German Empire and the struggle for supremacy in Europe among the major powers resulting in the catastrophic wars of the next century which would destroy the only life the Children of the Danube had ever known.

  The agricultural sector was in a shambles in Hungary during the last decades of the century which had repercussions for the Children of the Danube among whom the landless were the fastest growing part of the population and among whom poverty had become a way of life.  Land was expensive and simply unavailable.  As in the past, the only remedy was emigration.  The first wave of emigrants from Swabian Turkey sought their future in Slavonia recently opened for colonization.  It was just the prelude for the massive emigration movement soon to take place to the New World.

  Some of the surviving emigrants and exiles will meet in a railway station in a small town in Canada as the final phase of the Schwabenzug takes place and the Children of the Danube transplant their roots in their new Heimat.    

   Children of the Danube


Numerous histories and studies of the Great Swabian Migration of the 18th century have been written and published, and the tragic fate of many of their descendants in our own time has also been chronicled.  Most of these are available in languages other than English. Much of that research forms the backdrop of “Children of the Danube”, which is the author’s attempt at telling the stories behind the history.  Personal stories that weave the tapestry of the lives of his extended family with those of the other families and individuals who joined them after venturing down the majestic, sometimes turbulent, Danube River, taking them on a quest that is common to all people: the search for the Promised Land.


  That is what they sought in the devastated Kingdom of Hungary, recently liberated after an oppressive one hundred and fifty year occupation by the Turks. Leaving the Danube River behind them, they would be confronted by a wilderness, disease ridden swamps, dense forests, isolation, primitive living conditions, marauders and brigands.  They would find themselves at the mercy of greedy landowners and rapacious nobles, and would have to endure the final onslaught of the Counter Reformation in their pursuit of religious freedom.  This is what awaited them, in responding to the invitation of the Hapsburg Emperor Charles VI.  It was hardly what the handbills circulating throughout south western Germany had promised.

   How they would respond, who they would become as a result of it, and what sustained and formed them into the “Children of the Danube”, as a distinctive and unique people among the Danube Swabians will unfold, in the telling of their tragic and yet heroic story.

Remember to tell the Children  The Pioneers

The Children of the Danube were on the move again.  They were the descendants of the settlers who had joined the trek down the Danube River in the Great Swabian Migration from Germany to the Kingdom of Hungary in the early 18th century.  Perhaps like their forebears, adventure may have been the driving force for some of them, while desperation drove others as they sought to make a life for themselves and their families.  They were faced with limited options if they remained in their original settlements: where   land was running out, restrictions against the Lutherans and Reformed were becoming more intolerable and the increasing and often unjust demands of the nobles made it more and more difficult to provide for their families.  For those reasons and others, the Children of the Danube were on the move everywhere but wherever they went they planted their roots deeply into the soil of Hungary and their faith, customs, traditions and language thrived and flourished among them in this new emerging environment for the succeeding generations.  The Pioneers tells this story through the lives and loves of three generations of the Tefner family in the unfolding story of Dörnberg where their lives intersected with the families who would eventually become part of the author’s extended family and which they shared with all the others who were part of their life together.

They found themselves isolated, confronted by a wilderness and created an economic miracle.  Destructive fires and raging floods, famine and drought, bandit raids and epidemics tested them but did not overcome their indomitable will, which was sustained by their faith.  A faith that was outlawed but continued underground unabated until the Edict of Toleration granted them freedom of conscience.  Nor would they simply cower before the injustices inflicted upon them by the nobles and authorities without protest.  Their lives were lived within the broader scope of the history of their times that played a vital role in their development, destiny and character.  Emperor Joseph II, the Bishop of Veszprém, Martin Biró von Padány, Anton von Kaunitz, Count Styrum Limberg, the Empress Maria Theresia, the three Counts von Mercy and countless other notable personages all make their appearance and leave their mark on The Pioneers in shaping The Strangers and Sojourners who would follow them in the next century

  Strangers and Sojourners

  Finding one’s place in society and discovering one’s identity has been the task of every individual and generation and the Children of the Danube have been no exception.  Many of my readers can identify with that because they have experienced the same in exploring their own family heritage.  The first volume of this trilogy, The Pioneers dealt with the lives and experiences of the first three generations of my family in Hungary, which was a reflection on the shared history of all of the Children of the Danube.  They took the same risks, faced similar tragedies, overcame countless obstacles, laughed and loved, mourned and cried; toiled in a wilderness daring to dream of a better future for their children, yet always remaining true to their traditions and who they were, following the dictates of their conscience and clinging to the faith that sustained them.

  This current work explores the lives of the next generations during the first half of the 19th century as they developed their own self-understanding, giving birth to a distinct identity that was uniquely their own in Hungary.  We will see how they preserved their heritage, yet invariably established new traditions in their interactions with a changing, sometimes threatening environment around them.  There was adaptation when necessary but no capitulation to those outside pressures.  They lived their lives within the context of a wider society in which they were often Strangers and Sojourners.  Yet, these generations took the first hesitant steps that would recognize Hungary was not only their Heimat but also their Homeland and all that implied.

  As an author I have tried to take my cue from readers kind enough to share their   thoughts and observations about this trilogy:  Remember To Tell The Children.  It was my son Stephen who challenged me to risk writing it in the format of historical fiction as I indicated previously.  But at the same time I have attempted to be as factual as possible.  Because of my lifelong fascination with history, I also wanted to enable my readers to have a grasp of the historical context in which the Children of the Danube lived and introduced the readers of The Pioneers to a taste of that wider history.  I take the liberty of sharing the comments of one of them, Robert Weink of Green Lake, Wisconsin:

  “I especially enjoyed your weaving of historical and political events together with those simple joys and sorrows of everyday life of our ancestors.  The pattern that created brought a new depth and appreciation of those flesh and blood people who until now have only existed in lists of names and dates.  Children of the Danube was a fine entrée, but this was definitely the start of the main course.”
Once again I wish to express my appreciation to my son Stephen for his painstaking editing of the manuscript, and his helpful comments and insights.  Above all, I need to acknowledge that without my wife Jean’s support, patience and understanding this next volume would not have seen the light of day and for that reason it is dedicated to her.