Danube Swabians of Veszprém County

Synopsis of "The German Immigrants from Veszprém County, Hungary"

By Ernest Chrisbacher, 2005

From 1890 to World War One, approximately 20,000 to 23,000 poor German peasants emigrated from Veszprém County, Hungary to the United States of America to escape the dire economic conditions prevailing there during those years.  Some of them returned to their homes in Hungary after a few years, having earned enough money to pay off their debts and buy some land.  But many stayed here, married, and started new lives and new families.

Reduced immigration quotas enacted by Congress after World War One acted to curtail the number of foreigners traveling to America in the period up to World War Two.  The estimated number of Veszprémer Germans coming here during that period is only 2,000 to 4,000.

Another 5,000 German farmers fled Veszprém County at the end of World War Two to escape the reputed brutality of the advancing Russian Army.  Then, as a result of the Allied determinations at the Potsdam Conference, 10,000 to 15,000 devastated German villagers from Veszprém County were deported in the period from 1946 to 1948 by the Hungarian Communists.  They were forced from their homes overnight with little notice, herded into railroad boxcars with only the clothes on their backs and whatever food and possessions they could carry; and shipped unceremoniously in the cold of winter to Austria or East Germany, where they lived in concentration camps until they could find jobs.  Some of them managed to cross the border to West Germany and eventually found their way to the USA or Canada.  A few more Veszprémer Germans escaped their Hungarian homeland during the 1956 revolution.

All told, during the period from 1890 to 1960, the author has estimated that between 25,000 and 30,000 German people from Veszprém County found better lives in America.  The descendants of these immigrants now number about 250,000 to 300,000, most of whom know little or nothing of their ancestry or the tribulations, struggles and hardships faced by them over the past three-hundred years. 

This book has been written to fill a void in that knowledge, and to preserve the history of the relatively small ethnic group of mostly poor German peasants variously known as the Bakony Germans, the Veszprémer Ungarn Deutschen (Hungarian Germans), and the Danube Swabians of Veszprém County.

To complete this book the author has conducted extensive research into the background of the Veszprémer Germans, and presents herein the early history of the Bakony Forest area in Hungary where they colonized and settled, a region almost completely destroyed during the Turkish wars of the 17th Century, and further devastated immediately thereafter by the Hungarian rebels seeking to free Hungary from German Habsburg rule.  The German resettlement of the wasted areas following those periods of destruction is thoroughly covered together with the occupations of the new colonists, their agriculture, industry, architecture, village culture, socio-political and economic aspects of their lives, and abbreviated histories of the approximately ninety villages in which they lived.  Approximately 4,000 known Veszprémer German immigrants who left their poverty-stricken villages to come to the USA have been identified and listed alphabetically by surname in a computer database with pertinent information including names, birth dates, parents, home villages and other attributes.  Locations in the USA where the immigrants congregated are discussed together with churches they attended, organizations and societies they formed and the types of work they performed.

Finally, in an effort to determine specific European places of origin of the early Germanic colonists in Hungary during the late 17th century and the early 18th century, research has been conducted in the literature and in early marriage registers maintained by the Roman Catholic Churches of the villages that they colonized. A list of these recorded findings is presented alphabetized by surname.

 It is hoped that this work will provide sufficient information to enable the researcher to easily locate the birth villages of his Veszprémer German ancestors and learn about their lives and the places they occupied in the historical context of the region.  References to the lists of origins herein should enable the family researcher to determine in general terms from where in the German-speaking lands his Veszprém County ancestors came, and with further research, specific places of origin might be found.

© 2005 Ernest Chrisbacher, all rights reserved
[Published at DVHH.org Sep 2006]

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