During the XVIII
century, Austrian settlement policy brought
Upper-Swabians and Alemans to several
communities of Swabian Turkey and the Batschka,
but primarily to the Sathmar Comitat.
Upper-Swabian dialects are spoken here,
exceptions being zipserisch (bairisch) and
alemannisch (in Kriegsdorf / Hodod). The Sathmar
Swabians lacked spiritual leadership, and
through the efforts of their schools and the
Catholic Church they were almost completely
magyarized in the XIX century.
After the turning point of 1989 the rights of
the nationalities in Romania were restored. At
the 1992 census, 14 350 more inhabitants claimed
German nationality than at the 1977 census. A
large majority joined the Democratic Forum of
the Germans, in the hope of gaining an
advantage. German classes were also reintroduced
in primary schools and middle schools
(Gymnasiums) in Sathmar and Großkarol, although
standard German replaced the lost Swabian
dialect. The large wave of emigration of
Romania-Germans to Germany in 1990 also
decimated the remaining Sathmar Swabians. Small
groups remained in a few villages, but Swabian
is hardly spoken.
The extensive assimilation into Hungarian is
today counteracted in the Sathmar region by the
Romanian official language, and partially by
standard German. Within the group of Sathmar
Swabians that emigrated to Germany, an
integration of the older people and an
assimilation of the younger generation can be
anticipated, especially in Southern Germany.
Great difficulties are experienced by the
magyarized Swabians, who have to learn German as
a foreign language. An advantage in this effort
is their knowledge of the dialect and their
relationship with German culture, which
facilitate linguistic integration.
The promotion of the German language and culture
in the south-east European areas of settlement
could support the incipient process of
dissimilation in the linguistic usage of the
Sathmar Swabians, but it is nevertheless likely
that in the long run the Swabian dialect will
not be used, but will rather be replaced by
Noteworthy are the international events and
numerous future-oriented activities in the
region, especially with regard to Romania
joining the European Union, in January 2007.
Such events could – despite the massive
emigration of Sathmar Swabians to Germany –
increase confidence in the fate of the Sathmar
Swabians and the continuing existence of the
German language and culture in north-west
Romania – and even in the other adjacent
countries on the upper reaches of the Theiss
(Hungary, Slovakia, und Ukraine).
[Permission to translate and
publish was granted by
Dr. Hans Gehl.
Translated by Nick Tullius.
Published at www.dvhh.org,