A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler
Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors
The Jews and
By Josef Schramm
Translation by Brad Schwebler
In the time
of Turkish rule there were some so-called
“spaniolische” Jews, most of whom had small
stores. With the end of the Turkish rule
they moved to Bosnia and Macedonia. In
their place came the eastern Jews from
Galicia, especially after Josef II issued
his religious tolerance act. The numerical
development of the Jews appeared as
tongue of the Jews in Hungary in 1890
without Croatia amounted to around 2/3
Hungarian speaking and 1/3 German speaking.
At the national census they were asked:
“Which language do you prefer to speak the
most?” Of the Jews somewhat over 1/5 gave
German as their mother tongue and almost 4/5
belonging predominantly to the Eschkenazim
sect formed their rather closed community
and because of it they had little contact
and also hardly any friction with the other
nations. In the German villages they were
predominantly grain dealers. The Swabians
brought their produce to them and received
their money for it. So it went somewhat
frictionless and there was hardly any enmity
as in the Hungarian or Serbian communities,
where the Jews were landlords and where
alcohol and guilt produced hate. The
chroniclers of the Batschka German
communities referred to the Jews positively
so that there was no hate between the
Germans and the Jews. When the Batschka
Jews were pursued, abducted, and robbed in
1943 and 1944, the Germans did not take part
in it. The “Swabians” also had hardly
anything to say because they were either the
state power or were German tops in the
Batschka. For the wrong reasons the
Swabians of the Batschka were charged after
the war with complete guilt for all the
wrongdoings, which were begun by people of
other nations sometime, somewhere. The
Swabians may not have raised their voiced
over it, but with luck they heard of the
competent Jewish personalities that the
Swabians have much to thank them for.
1918 when the Serbians cam to the largest
part of the Batschka, many Jews from
Theresiopel and Sombor went to Budapest.
Then as the clouds of the thunderstorm of
World War II appeared, many emigrated to
North America and South Africa. After the
abductions at the end of World War II many
went to Israel, there in states with the
new social orders hardly any place remained
for private economic initiatives.
of the Batschka were not exactly numerically
recorded and therefore only a more or less
rough estimation could be given.
1800: 1000 1900: 1200 1942: 1600 1957: 2000
numbers all gypsies are included, although
one must strictly differentiate between the
white and the black gypsies. The white
gypsies called themselves “úri czigány”,
that is gentlemen gypsies. They are those
people whose music sticks in the blood and
created their own sentimental romanticism.
Our Banat poet Nikolaus Lenau said in his
found three gypsies
in a meadow
cart with tired torment
through the sandy heath.
the one for himself alone
fiddle in his hands,
played, gleaming by the evening
fiery little song.
the second the fife in his mouth.
at his smoke.
as if he by the world
nothing more than luck.
the third comfortably leaned
his cymbal hung on the tree,
the strings the breeze ran,
his heart a dream went.
clothing bore the three
and colored spots,
they stubbornly offered free
mockery of the earth’s layers.
Threefold they have shown me
our life comes to an end,
one smoked, looked sleepy and lost
is threefold despised.
the gypsies still looked long
to continue on,
the faces dark brown,
black curly hairs.
gypsies who played in the planned locales,
wearing proper tailcoats and patent leather
shoes, are gladly seen by all nations. In
the Batschka they mostly speak Hungarian and
contrast to them stand the black gypsies.
They have nevertheless remained nomads by
any measure and they are suspected of being
thieves and most communities forbid them to
stay. Some attempts were made to make them
settle, like somewhat in Gombosch-Bogojewa
which brought only partial success. Among
them one finds the wandering wood and metal
workers. Serbs doing livestock breeding
probably brought gypsies to make appliances
and weapons but they were so despised that
they were taken over by the Serbs as well as
other people because there were not many
wandering gypsies remaining. Their religion
is orthodox Catholic, or Muslim, and they
speak Serbian or Romanian. Here and there
in a German village one also finds a gypsy
who belongs to the village where he
maintains: “Ich bin a deiitscher Zigeiner!”
(I am a German gypsy).
came either from Armenia or from Egypt or
perhaps the musicians came from Armenia and
the wanderers came from Egypt. During
Turkish times migrated in larger numbers.
The English traveler Ed Brown described the
gypsies of the Ottoman Empire about 1685 in
the following manner: “A characteristic
ethnographic picture offered by many
gypsies, those in Hungary, Serbia, and
Macedonia very frequently occurred and
advanced to the northeast up into the
Wallachia. They live by all kinds of means
and are crafty thieves. It is even
therefore recommended to dismount in private
homes and not in the caravan, which have
large rooms in which the gypsies steal from
the overnighters with great skillfulness.
DVHH.org 19 Sep 2005 by Jody McKim