Swabian, Hungarian, Magyar
by Gerhardt Hochstrasser
Translated by Nick Tullius

In the media of the Federal Republic of Germany we continue to read and hear about persons from east Europe being called “of German extraction”. This is actually a discriminating designation, because all these people “of German extraction” are actually considered Germans in those east-European countries (even when they are called nemec, német, neamt, which translates as dumb, or without language). At the same time, Germans from Russia are called German-Russians1 over and over, but Albanians from Yugoslavia are never called Albanian-Yugoslavs or “of Albanian extraction”.

The media never refer to the Jewish refugees as anything else but Jews, knowing very well that the designation Jewish-Russians would create outcries of indignation. In the case of Magyars from Romania or Slovakia there is never any talk about Romanians or Slovaks “of Magyar descent”, but always of Hungarians. But it is easy in Germany to discriminate against people “of German extraction”2 and nobody outside Germany will get irritated! It is nevertheless quite disturbing when not only in Germany in general, but even in “Zeitschrift für Siebenbürgische Landeskunde” and Munich’s “Südostdeutsche Vierteljahresblätter” the historic difference between Hungarian and Magyar is disregarded.

The Germans of Greater Hungary, who lost more than a million members between 1880 and 1910 due to Magyarisation (elmagyarositni) 3 could differentiate very well between “Magyar” and “Hungarian”. The Magyarized Germans were never called anything else but “Magyarones”; there were no “Hungarones”.

The Magyar-speaking Szeklers in Transylvania (called “Zekel” in older German) are “Magyarized Onogur-Bulgarians” and not “Hungarized Onogur-Bulgarians”, and the Polowzen (as “palócok” a Magyar tribe to which the Magyars from the Petschka/Arad region belong) are only Magyarized Kumanen and not Hungarized Kumanen (called Polowzen by the Slavs). And if there are no Hungarized Hungarones and no Hungarized Szekler and Polowzen, but only Magyarized Magyarones, Magyarized Szekler and Polowzen, then the language they are all speaking cannot be called Hungarian, but only Magyar.

In the seventeenth, eighteenth, and most of the nineteenth century little attention was paid to the difference between the Hungarian and Magyar languages, since the national concept was subordinated to the class distinction. In 1778, on the occasion of the incorporation of the Temesch Banat into Hungary, speaking as Hungarian queen, Maria Theresia could very well say “I am a good Hungarian”, because she did not say “I am a good Magyar”.

After 1867, with the start of brutal Magyarization of the Germans in Hungary (with the exception of the Transylvania Saxons, who were well protected by their national church) quite a few Hungary-Germans came to the (late) realization that they were not German-Hungarians but rather Hungary-Germans. For many, this realization came too late. Many Zips Saxons, a large part of the urban middle class all over Hungary, and many sons of rich farmers had already been Magyarized – they used Magyar as their mother tongue.

We take pride in recalling EDMUND STEINACKER, who in an article entitled “Ungarisch – madjarisch, böhmisch – tschechisch” [“Hungarian – Magyar, Bohemian – Czech”] published in the “Groß-Kikindaer Zeitung” on November 3, 1901, demonstrated that there was no Hungarian language, but only a Magyar language, as there was no American, Swiss, or Austrian language4. He was subsequently persecuted by the justice system as a “Pan-German”, as were many “Pan-Germans” after him, when they denounced Magyarization.

In the competent southeast-German literature, Hungary (Magyarország) is the country and Hungarians are its citizens (regardless of their nationality), but Magyars (magyarok) are the people of the Magyar race. The mother tongue of the latter can only be Magyar, not Hungarian. And in Romania and Slovakia there are only Magyars with Romanian or Slovakian citizenship, but no Hungarians with Romanian or Slovakian citizenship.

It is important to mention here the “Decree of Interior Minister J. Wlassics regarding the obligatory teaching of the Magyar language in primary schools” published in the “Pester Lloyd” on July 7, 1902, in which the “Magyar language (of instruction)” and “speaking Magyar” are mentioned about twenty times, but the term “Hungarian language” appears only once (probably an oversight).

As Dr. HANS WERESCH6 wrote with such clarity: “You cannot deny the Magyars the recognition that they used great skill in the Magyarization of the non-Magyar ethnic groups living in the country … The Magyarized intelligentsia felt that they … owed great thanks … to the Magyars. The tree of German ethnicity was surprised that it was sprouting Magyar blossoms”. One such blossom showed up in spring 1919 in the Temeswar newspaper “Der Morgen” [“The Morning”] (edited by GÉZA RECH, a priest): “The Swabian is a Swabian and not a German, as well as the Saxon is not a Wallach”.7

With all these explanations it should now be clear that one has to be careful with these terms.

From: “Der Donauschwabe“ dated August 30, 1998. Page 4. Original title: "Ein Schwabe ist ein Schwabe".

1 See „Brandstifter von Rheine zu sieben Jahren verurteilt“ in „Süddeutsche Zeitung“, Munich, May 30/31 1998, page 16, upper right: „In the death by fire of eight German-Russians in Rheine (Westphalia) the district court of Münster on Friday sentenced an 18-year old Kosovo-Albanian to seven years in jail.“

2 During the Romanian revolution in December 1989 radio station “Deutsche Welle”/Köln repeatedly mentioned “Romanians of German extraction” (from Romania), but always “Hungarians” in Romania, never “Romanians of Magyar or Hungarian extraction” (in Romania). In an article entitled “Sind wir ‘Deutschstämmig’?” [“Are we ‘of German extraction’?”] Dr. Carl Göllner protested against this usage in the January 12, 1990 issue of the newspaper “Neuer Weg” then published in Bucharest.

3 According to “Ungarn in der Doppelmonarchie” [“Hungary in the Dual Monarchy”] by Péter Hanák, page 284. This figure was clearly underestimated by Ingomar Senz in “Die nationale Bewegung der ungarländischen Deutschen vor dem Ersten Weltkrieg...“ [“The national movement of Germans in Hungary before WWI…”] (Munich 1977) in which he indicated that between 1880 and 1910 German losses to Magyarization amounted to 450,000 to 500,000 persons.

4 See Viktor Orendi-Hommenau “Madjarisches – Allzumadjarisches. Ein Beitrag zur Minderheitenfrage in Ungarn“ [“Magyar – All-too-Magyar. A contribution to the question of minorities in Hungary“] 2nd edition, Bucharest 1941, page 14. Also “Die katholischen Donauschwaben in der Doppelmonarchie 1867-1918” [“The Catholic Danube Swabians in the dual monarchy 1867-1918”]. Stuttgart 1977, page 243.

5 See “Die katholischen Donauschwaben….” [The Catholic Danube Swabians…] pages 552-554.

6 Hans Weresch “Banatia – Erlebnisse und Erinnerungen” [„Banatia – Experiences and Remembrances“] Commemorative speech at Freiburg/Brsg. 1976 pp.17.

7 Michael Kausch: „Schicksalswende im Leben des Banater deutschen Volkes...“ [A twist of fate in the life of the Banat German people...] Temeschburg 1939, page 97.

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