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The Petition of Bogarosch of 1849

Translated by Diana Lambing  

The so-called Petition of Bogarosch was addressed to the Austrian Emperor Franz Josef on 2nd October 1849
and was the first political step made by the East Swabians. 

          The Banat was imperial property from its conquest by Prince Eugen of Savoy in 1716 up until 1778. On 6th June 1778, the Imperial Province of Temeswar Banat ceased to exist; the old Empress-Queen Maria Theresia had handed the Banat over to Hungary politically, but it continued to be administered by the Temeswar exchequer. The effects of the Magyarization attempts by the administration were thereby substantially weakened and there existed no organizations necessary for national protection. Up until 1848, the year of the Revolution, The Banat farmers were socage (tenant) farmers. Then serfdom was abolished by the Hungarian freedom fighter, Ludwig Kossuth, and the Banat farmers were freed. Vienna took advantage of the Serbs living in the Banat by getting them to fight the uprising Hungarian Honvéd army. As the Hungarian fight for freedom near Bilagosch and Temeswar ended unfavorably for the Honvéd army, and because of the growing influence of the Serbs in the Banat, the Banat Swabians felt forced to produce this petition. It was handed over to the Emperor in the name of all East Swabians and, loosely translated, read:

Your Majesty! Most benevolent Emperor and Lord! 

In glorious memory of the great beneficent acts of Her Majesty, the immortal Empress Maria Theresia, who called for settlers from across the German empire nearly a century ago to colonize the almost depopulated Temeswar Banat and adjoining Bacser and Arad areas, then a barren wasteland made most unhealthy from the many swamps and floods, and who supported the Germans’ industriousness and diligence in their new country with true imperial liberty. The enterprise begun for the welfare of the people was crowned with the most glorious success; the German desire to work, coupled with perseverance, soon eliminated even the seemingly insurmountable difficulties and cultural obstacles. They dug channels in order to drain the swamps of their putrid waters which caused fevers and epidemics, built dams to prevent new floods, turned barren wasteland into bright, colorful landscapes and dried-out swamps into lush and fertile fields. Thousands of our ancestors succumbed to the fight from the polluted air breathed in from the swamps as they sacrificed their health, and often their lives, whilst measuring out their pieces of land, but the imperial grace received in the past always gave more courage to the tasks, which would spur new activity until even the influence of the hostile climate was overcome, agriculture soared to perfection - Banat, the bread basket of the country, became the pearl of the Hungarian realm and one of the blessed regions of the Austrian monarchy. 

The fact that the material progress made by the German inhabitants of the Banat did not lag behind that of other nations, as nor did their spiritual shaping, can be proven by their well set-up and richly endowed schools; furthermore that the taxes of the country were never paid more promptly, public duties never carried out more willingly and nowhere fewer crimes committed than in the German communities of the Banat. These facts, which we mention with the deepest subservience, are not to be seen as a credit, but merely the result of a loyal fulfillment of obligations, and they can never tempt us to ask for preference over other ethnic peoples living around us, rather they obligate us to respect and honor all other nationalities; only in the name of the small glory that the money awarded to our ancestors by the Arars was not spent frivolously, and that we are not totally useless links in the great chain of people of the Austrian monarchy, dare we most humbly claim. 

We live in peace and harmony with all ethnic groups, untroubled by world events and government systems, completely content with our situation, almost a seculum. Work was our only element; the fields we cultivated, our world. The only goal we strived for as a community was to be hard-working farmers and faithful, obedient subjects.  And so came the fateful year of 1848 when the loud call for equal rights for all nationalities awoke us, too, from our slumber of political subservience. Only now did we realize that for us, as ethnic members of the great German nation, it was very oppressive and distressing to have to see how the ethnic German folk, which number millions scattered throughout the whole of Hungary but in this region account for only 'dritthalb Hunderttausend ' (17,000? 150,000? 250,000?) of close-knit people, are regarded not as an equal nation like the others, but merely as a defenseless, unprotected part of another national faction. In the beginning we felt we had to conceal our urge for equal rights with other nations, for we did not wish to increase the disastrous turmoil's of the time - later, however, the one great and indivisible Austrian monarchy, most benevolent imperial constitution, granted us, all loyal subjects, far more rights than we could have wished for in our wildest dreams - and only when the crowning glory of Your Majesty's troops extinguished the blazing torches of the most dire civil war and we recovered under the protective wings of the Angel of Peace did we begin to enjoy the requested grace and rights, as the warmest feelings of thanks arose from the depths of all our hearts to the throne of your holy Majesty as our most merciful savior and benefactor, then we realized that the Serbs living in Hungary (Banat) still wished most fervently for the establishment of their own assembly, whereby commercial language, religion and all civil establishments should be administered according to their customs, and are doing everything they can to see their wish come true. Such desires would not trouble us greatly if we, the German inhabitants of the Torontal, Bacser and part of Temesch Komitat did not form an integral part of this assembly. Having only recently been freed from the oppression of another nationality, having barely tasted the sweetness of being allowed to use our mother tongue in public places, we, the majority who are part of the illustrious house of the Emperor in language and origin, should now become an appendage to the minority? This, your Majesty, is what troubles us and what has induced us to submit this, our most subservient plea, to your sacred Majesty, beseeching you on our bended knees. We wish for nothing more fervently than to be a member of the great Austrian monarchy under the direct protection of your Majesty; but if it pleases your Majesty to grant the Serbs an assembly as a preservation of their nationality, the Romanians a Captain, the Slavs of Upper Hungary their own Leader, then dare we also humbly beseech you, in the name of all German communities, on our bended knees: At the most, we would also like to appoint a direct Leader, for instance a Count, based on the model of the Saxony Counts in Siebenbürgen (Transylvania). It is not the desire for national independence, nor separist tendencies, which urges our subservient plea; again we repeat: we wish to be the subjects of a large State, where there are neither Hungarians nor Bohemians, Poles or Serbs, but where there are only happy Austrians, proud of their common nationality, and only if the nationality of each individual ethnic group is to be recognized do we also ask for ours to be taken into account, too. We, too, would like to enjoy the privilege of having our own direct Leader under whose protection our matters, judicial and administrative, can be carried out in our German language and after German customs. 

The document is signed by judges and jurors of the following communities: Gross Jetscha, Klein Jetscha, Gertianosch, Hatzfeld, Grabatz, Lowrin, Billed, Nakofalva, Csatad, Bogarosch, Gottlob, Sandorhaza (Alexanderhausen) and Ostern. The procedure was initiated by Father Johann Nowak of Bogarosch, whom Adam Müller-Guttenbrunn called 'a highly educated German disposed priest'. The k.k. Home Minister, Baron von Bach (who had to withdraw after the Piedmont campaign of 1859) prevented the establishment of the Serbian assembly, as well as that of a 'Swabian Count', but let the Banat be administered in German. After the unsuccessful Austrian campaign of 1866 in Italy, Hungary was offered 'reconciliation' with Austria: The Banat went completely to Hungary, except for the military border.             


[Published at DVHH.org by Jody McKim Pharr]


 

 

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