The four towns where Danube Swabians from Austria-Hungary resettled:
Bardarski Geran | Gostilya | Assenovo | Endsche/Zarev Brod
Bulgaria, a country little-known and mysterious to many, is situated in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, bordered by Romania to the north, Greece and Turkey to the south, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, and the Black Sea to the east. Its diverse landscape is dominated by the vast, fertile Danube basin in the north, as well as rocky high plateaus and lushly treed mountains in the central and southwest regions. Many cultures have shaped this beautiful country – the Thracians, Macedonians, Greeks, Romans, Byzantines and Turks; the numerous ancient ruins, art treasures and artifacts bear witness to a grand past. Bulgaria was founded in the year 681 and is one Europe’s oldest states, but it has had a turbulent history, having been conquered and ruled for centuries by the Byzantine and Turkish Empires.
After Bulgaria finally regained its independence in 1878 and re-established its monarchy, it was successively ruled by four tsars of German descent until the monarchy was abolished by the Communists in 1946. It was Tsar Ferdinand I, of the House of Saxe Coburg-Gotha, the second of these tsars, who invited colonists in Austria Hungary and Russia to settle in Bulgaria. In 1893, the first Danube Swabians, mainly from the Banat, began their migration to Bulgaria, joining their ethnic Banat Bulgarian neighbors, whose ancestors had fled from the atrocities of the Turkish occupation in Bulgaria.
This migration was evidently set in motion by the critical economic and political circumstances of the time. To the large, land-deprived Danube Swabian families, one of the compelling factors in their decision to resettle was undoubtedly the availability of cheap land; after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, Turks moving back east to their ancestral regions sold off tracts of land in Bulgaria at low prices. Another reason was evidently the Magyarization process, which was in full force at the time. These settlers founded the village of Bardarski Geran, from where some eventually moved on to the villages of Endsche (later renamed Tsarev Brod), Gostilya and Asenovo. Between 1941 and 1943, a total of 2,150 ethnic Germans were deported to Germany as part of Adolf Hitler’s “Heim ins Reich” initiative. These included 164 Banat Danube Swabians from Bardarski Geran and 33 from Gostilya. Among the small number of Danube Swabians who were allowed to remain in the country were those who had intermarried with native Bulgarians.
There is no consistent documentation about the migration and settlement of Germans in Bulgaria, and much less so about the Danube Swabians. This is probably due to the fact that the Danube Swabians who settled in that country took part in a secondary migration, that is, they came from Austria Hungary and not directly from former German-speaking ancestral regions. As well, their numbers were relatively small and their settlements only lasted about 40-45 years.
Rose Vetter, Richmond, BC - Canada
Ethnic Bulgarians who lived in Banat or Batschka
should not be confused with the Danube Swabians. Many ethnic Bulgarians returned to Bulgaria after
its liberation from the Turks, and many
Danube Swabian went with them.
Anton Laigep, Sofia, Bulgaria
April 2013 marks a 120 years of the settlement
of the the first Danube Swabians in Bulgaria.
This group is not numerous, but is a part of the
history of the Danube Swabians.
Sources Used For This Work
- Njagulov, Blagovest (1999). "Banatskite bǎlgari v Bǎlgarija". Banatskite bǎlgari: istorijata na edna malcinstvena obštnost vǎv vremeto na nacionalnite dǎržavi (in Bulgarian). Sofia: Paradigma. ISBN 954-9536-13-0.
- Von Valentin, Louis (4 January 2003). "Bulgarien: Das etwas andere Dorf. Schwäbische Kultur zwischen Donau und Balkan" (in German). Preußische Allgemeine Zeitung / Das Ostpreußenblatt. Retrieved 2007-03-26.
- Cenkova, Iskra. "Germanija, bǎlgarska prikazka" (in Bulgarian). TEMA. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
- Contributions by Rose Vetter, Anton Laigep and Jody McKim Pharr.
- Nörr. (1929). Deutsches Leben und Wirken in Bulgarien (in German). Darmstadt: Rhönring 36: Landesverband Hessen d. Vereins f. d. Deutschtum im Ausland. OCLC 72852722.
- Petersen, Carl (1933–1938). Handwörterbuch des Grenz- und Auslanddeutschtums (in German). Breslau: Ferdinand Hirt. OCLC 64304187.
- Ценкова, Искра. "Германия, българска приказка" (in Bulgarian). ТЕМА. Retrieved 2008-08-09.
- Dr Veit Sorge. "Die einstige deutsche Kolonie in Zarev Brod bei Schumen" (in German). Archived from the original on 2009-10-25. Retrieved 2008-08-21. Version in Bulgarian.
- Bärliner. "Bardarski Geran: Deutsche in Bulgarien" (in German). Retrieved 2008-08-21.
[Published at DVHH.org by Jody McKim Pharr 26 May 2013]