Hodon, Billed &
by Alex Leeb
DVHH.org by Jody
On our recent trip to Europe we
covered many kilometers and also met
relatives and friends whom I’ve never
met. We landed in Hamburg; our
destination was a three hour drive east
of Hamburg and two hours north of
Berlin. Which took us into the "Müritz
See" district, formally DDR. We stayed
with my fathers cousin, whom I met on
the Internet. Our stay with them was
excellent. After enjoying the scenery
around "Müritz" for five days, our
relatives drove us to Ingolstadt. The
trip was an eight-hour drive, the
scenery was beautiful. We spent a week
in Ingolstadt and district, meeting
relatives and friends, also attended
three funerals during our stay.
On the third week we traveled to the
Bodensee, enjoyed the beautiful scenery
for a few days. We also drove to
Switzerland and covered the top portion
of Switzerland. On our return trip to
Ingolstadt we stopped at several places
and visited relatives in Ulm and
For the next three days we spent our
time shopping in Ingolstadt and visiting
with relatives and colleagues. I was
informed, people working in the Audi
factory, consume up to 3-4 bottles of
beer while on duty. Such a statement was
hard to believe. Apparently the
employees requested they should be allowed to have their
beer while on duty. If the request were
not granted, they would refuse to work.
The management agreed and the request
would be on a trial bases for a month
and permission was granted. After six
months the productions was up and
everybody was happy.
met my cousin,
Martin Roos, a priest in Temeswar
at his fathers' funeral. After the
funeral, we had a family gathering and
told us that it is very significant that
we should be in Temeswar on June 24th.
On June 23rd, at 17:00 (5 PM) six of us
left Ingolstadt for Temeswar. At 19:00
(7PM) we entered Austria. It was
getting dusk when we approached the
beautiful lights of Vienna, although we
didn’t see much of the city account
darkness, it still was a beautiful site.
We crossed the Hungarian boarder with no
complication. The road was excellent; we
drove on the Autobahn beyond Szeged.
Clear sky, the moon was shining bright
at 2:00 o’clock we approached Buda-Pest,
(Budapest). As we were getting closer,
you could see the city lights glaring
off the Danube. What a beautiful site.
At 4:00 o’clock we arrived at the
Romanian boarder. It took us an hour
before we could enter Romania. They
claimed that there were minor defects
with our vehicle. After exchanging a few
inharmonious words with each other for
an hour, I could see we wouldn’t get no
where by doing this. Finally my cousin
got out of the Van, went to the boarder
quart and inquired what the problem was
and shook hand with the quart with a 100
DM in his hand. With a smile on his
face, the quart said that there was
nothing wrong with the vehicle and we
are free to go –Thank you very much- -
At 5 o’clock we entered Romania. As we
drove through Arad, the sun was rising
in the east. People were going to work;
we saw the odd car on the street. As we
got closer to Temeswar, it seemed if our
vehicle had a magnet in it. It was
running faster and faster towards
Temeswar. Driving through Segenthausen was my first look
at Banat. I remembered the Churches in
Vinga when I was in my younger age. But
they sure changed. Orzydorf in site, I
sat up more with interest, because one
of my cousins lived there and spent some
time in Orzydorf. As we were cruising
southward, we passed Mercydorf on our
right. Then St. Andreas on the right.
When we arrived Temeswar, I was not
impressed what I’ve seen from the
Boarder up to Temeswar. At 6 o’clock
we arrived at our destination, at the
bishop’s place. Our cousin (the priest)
greeted us, told us to lie down, have a
five-hour sleep and at 12 o’clock sharp
dinner will be served.
When we reported for dinner at 12:00
sharp, we were informed that dinner
would be delayed until 14:00. A press
conference was to be held at 13:00 and
therefore dinner was scheduled for
14:00. Our cousin (the priest, Martin) introduced us to a lady Professor and to
escort us to the boardroom for the press
conference. Entering the boardroom, we
were shocked with the amount of people
being present. Persons like the bishop,
priest, professors, and people from the
media and televisions. Oh yes, our
cousin Martin informed us before we went
to bed at 6:00 o'clock, to wear a jacket
and ties and the ladies should wear a
dress. “Surely, this reception isn't for
us,” said my other cousin.
At 13:00 sharp, our cousin (the priest,
Martin) entered the room. Everybody
rose from their seats, the secretary
went to the bishop handed him a letter.
The bishop announced his resignation
commencing August 28th, 1999. After his
speech, he started to read the letter,
which was handed to him the secretary.
--- “This letter is from the Pope—and in
this letter states, after my retirement
on August 28th, 1999, I appoint “Martin
Roos” as the new bishop of Banat with
headquarters in Temeswar.” At that
moment, the secretary opened the window
in the boardroom; we could hear all the
church bells ringing in Temeswar. The
secretary informed us later, that all
the bells in the catholic churches in
Banat were instructed to ring at 13:00
After the announcement was made, the
elect new bishop returned his gratitude
with a brief speech, in German,
Hungarian and in Romanian. After
the speech presentation, he had to cope
with the media, TV cameras, and peopled
congratulating him. Finally he found a
few moments, came over to us and spent
some time with us. Congratulations were
in order from us, we toasted to his
success in the future. He insisted that
some photos have to be taken with his
photograph was taken just from the three
cousins first. Peter, Martin and myself.
At that moment I was proud of my cousin.
Not very often a person from your own
village, or not very often a person from
your own family becomes a bishop. Ones
in million. Another photo was taken
with all the rest of the relatives
included our wives.
The celebration continued for about an
hour. At 15:00 we ate dinner, after
eating the snacks and drinking schnapps
and beer during the celebration, our
appetite was reduced in half.
His father was buried a week prior to
his appointment as a bishop, especially
he would've been proud of his son.
After dinner we took a rest for a couple
of hours. The new elect Bishop took us
out for supper. They recommended a
Chinese restaurant, which we all agreed.
The food and service were excellent. We
had alcohol beverages and for nine
persons, the bill came to 1,200,000.00
That's correct, one million and two
hundred thousand lei. That might sound
much, but it is not. E.g.
100 DM = 800,000.00 lei
100 Can$ = 850,000.00 lei
100 USA$ = 1,500,000.00 lei.
So for nine persons, $80 is not bad for
us, but them it is.
It had rained all week, but it
stopped raining on Friday June 25. This
is the day we scheduled to drive to some
of the villages. We had a good breakfast
at 8.00, we knew we would not be back
for dinner, there are no restaurants in
the villages. We left Temeswar at
9:30, hoping we should be back by 6:00.
As we approached St. Andreas, we saw a
caravan of "Flackerzigeuner," just
outside the village. Entering from the
south side, we saw some new house under
construction. I was informed by my
cousin, the houses have been under
construction for three years. We saw ten
persons leaning on shovels and smoking.
Perhaps it was coffee break, or waiting
for material or might have been a union
meeting. Entering the main street, the
houses looked old, We saw few people
walking on the street, the only noise we
heard, was the dogs and geese. No horses
or cows in sight. I am sorry, I
apologize, there were horses, just
outside the village belonging to the "Flackerzigeuner."
/ Mercydorf" We saw no
construction in Mercydorf. The church
looked in good condition on the outside,
the inside we did not see. We saw few
cows outside the village. The houses
like in St. Andreas looked liked
the houses in Kosovo. We saw more
people and fewer weeds on the street.
Is a resort (spa, vacation spot) and is
still in operation. It has been kept
clean, about 3-4 buildings in all.
"Hodon." Account heavy rainfall,
the road into Hodon was closed. We were
only about 5 Km from it when we drove
by. From a distance, the church still
looked in good condition.
"Billed." One of the better conditioned
villages, it looked clean, more people
walking on the street. It is one of the
villages, which has more German
population than other villages. You
could tell by the way the land was
"Knees" My own stomping ground. Account
heavy rainfall we were limited to the
main street, park the Van and go on foot
wherever we went. Arriving into
the village, the first building we
passed belonged to my grandparents. It
is 49 years since I left, my
grandparents raised us there during our
younger days. My father was a prisoner
of war and my mother was forced to
Siberia to work in the coal mines. Tears
came to my eyes when I saw the
house. When we left, the barn was in
better condition than the house looks
now. Weeds in front of the house.
Driving further into the village, I did
not recognize a single house
anymore. We went to the City Hall to
obtain my birth certificate. When we
left the country, they refused to
produce my birth certificate, so I
cannot return anymore. No complication
receiving my birth certificate this
time. We visited German people, I did
not recognize them, but they recognized
me after 49 years. Apparently only 60
German people still live in the village.
The people looked skinny and tired. No
electricity, no running water and no
land. They raise chickens, geese,
turkeys, and rabbits; they cannot effort
to feed hogs. They have a few fruit
trees in the garden, so they have fruit
for the winter. They have to buy the
flour, salt and sugar. The lady
receives a pension cheque (check)
of 100-DM, $80 Can, $60-US, per month.
She stressed to me, they have to raise
their animals as if they were their own
children, so they will not die because
it is their only means of food they
went to another lady and the shock was
more painful than the first one. When we
entered her place and saw what was in
it, I got ill and had to leave the room.
I told myself, how can this happen They
are Donauschwaben just like we are. She
told to me; "Once we were Donauschwaben
and we were proud of it. Remember when
you were still home, how we always said,
"der arme Zigeuner. Now look who the
armer Zigeuner is, it is us. We are the
Zigeuner and the Zigeuner sure is heck
are no Donauschwaben. I go to church
every Sunday and pray to God to give me
a good place when die, because there's
nothing left for me here." When we left
her place she hugged me and thanked me
for visiting her. She said to me,
"things have changed since you left,
remember we too were Donauschwaben once
open a time."
Our next stop, the cemetery. The walk
was four blocks away. The buildings on
the way to the cemetery looked ancient.
Not many people on the street and the
only people we are going to visit are
all dead. Walking through the cemetery
gate, I saw the chapel through the
trees. The view was a disgrace; it
looked like a pasture. The tombstones
were not in sight, the weeds went over
my head and here we are walking in mud,
wet weed looking for our ancestors. The
chapel was our guide to locate our
grandparent’s grave. With the cursing
and swearing, (oops, can’t swear in a
cemetery, somebody might hear me.) we
finally located the tombstone of our
grandparents. All other relatives who
died were next to the grandparents. A
few prayers were said and a few tears
were shed. I went to the cemetery every
time there was a funeral; I was an
alter-boy in my younger days.
Leaving the cemetery, I knew this would
be my last visit. Walking back to the
Van, people noticed us walking towards
the main street. Children were
approaching us with their hands
stretched out and hoping we would give
them something. Chocolates or chewing
gum. It seemed they never saw water
before except when it rains. I gave a
little girl about five years old, a
package of chewing gum. Her mother came
to me and kissed me hand and thanked me
about ten times. Everybody stared at
us, as we where creatures from outer
Finally we reached our Van, on the main
street and ready to return to Temeswar. It was great for me to see
the village again, brought back memories, good ones and bad ones. The
trip back to Temeswar was sad for me, so
I decided to write a poem between Knees
and Temeswar. I hope you like it...
My lovely Banaterland,
My native town so dear!
I gaze at you this final dawn,
Today I must depart from here.
I’ll never see you again, I know,
That’s why I find it hard to go.
I bid you my last farewell,
My lovely Banater vale.
I have loved you a many a year,
My fair Knees, where I was born;
Now you stand so sad and drear,
Just as I stand all alone,
You do not want to stay alone,
But yearn with me to go along.
Come, go with me where’re I roam,
My beautiful, beloved home.
When we returned we decided to go
and have pizza for supper. Only
six of us that evening, so the bill
should be less than from the night
before, Pizza tasted good, the beer and
Schnapps gave us a better appetite. The
cost was only 995,000.00 lei, 110DM,
85Can$ and 65US$. My cousin Peter from
Germany volunteered to do the honors
tonight and paid. Being tired from
traveling all day, we went to bed early.
shopping in Temeswar....
“Get up, we’re going shopping today!”
Does this sound familiar to us men?
Saturday June 26th, one of the hottest
days of the week and the wife wants to
go shopping. After breakfast we took
the electric streetcar and went into the
“Josef Stadt.” My cousin pointed out to
me, the place, the 1989 Revolution
started, it’s called “Maria Platz,”
(Maria place). We went into the Orthodox
Cathedral and it is a beautiful
saw just about everything you want to
buy. Washer = 34 million lei,
dryer=33.5 million, washer and dryer
together for=68 million. Wedding
dress3=million lei. Pair shoes (men)
700,000 lei, Ladies=650,00 lei. The grocery stores
are set up like in the west. The meat
department is set up just like ours and
they have everything except the quantity
might be lesser. Some of the clerks
spoke German and English.
You could say, they have everything –
except the money. Some people
would approach you to exchange money;
they would follow you for half a block
but wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Young children follow you for handouts.
They might be poor, but I noticed they
dressed well for their standard of
living. I strongly recommend their
beer, it's called “Timisoara” beer.
After walking for five hours in the
heat, I was tired, so we went back and
rested before supper. Seven of us went
for supper and it was my turn to buy.
Pork chops was the special, so everybody
had the special. Schnapps, beer and a
bottle of wine on the side. It was a
nice restaurant, band was playing, but
we were the only people in the
restaurant. It cost me 850,000 lei,
which was reasonable for us. 100DM,
$80CAN and $65US.
Our departure time next morning was
7:00; our cousin Martin (Bishop) had
breakfast on the table for. We thanked
him for inviting us for the special
occasion and for the good time we had.
At 7:15 we left his place, we took the
same route back as we came.
problems crossing the Hungarian boarder,
it was a beautiful day for traveling.
We noticed the difference after we
crossed the boarder. In Hungary
there were more people walking on the
street. The buildings were in better
conditions than in Romania. There was
more action on the streets.
This time we were able to see Bud-Pest
during the day. At the Austria boarder
we stopped for a few minutes then drove
for three more hours before we stopped
to eat. Again, Vienna was beautiful.
The traffic wasn’t that heavy, so we
were crawling at about 160-170Km, got
back to Ingolstadt at 19:00.
For the next week we visit relatives
again. Our cousin Martin Roos came to
Germany, so we visited him at his
mother’s place (who is my godmother).
Now I can see why they drive so fast in
Germany. Account the traffic volume and
the LKW’s (semi trucks). Somebody has to
drive faster to make room. I have to
admit the Germans are good drivers and
they have good roads.
Finally the time came, where we had to
pack and come home. Six weeks
might’ve been long and tiring, but we
traveled a few miles and met lots of
people. We enjoyed ourselves and met
wonderful people. Now we have to go
home and unpack and in a month’s time
repack again and maybe go back for the
ordination on August 28th. Note: I
would’ve loved to attach some photos,
but to download them, for some of you
who are on limited time, it would’ve
The land presently known as Banat, was
occupied by the Turks for 150 years.
More damage was done to the land than
good during that period of time. Riding
their horses and killing people was
enough damage for 150 years. When our
ancestors travelled on the Danube River
seeking the place to settle down, their
expectation was unknown. They knew the
significance of LIFE is survival. The
first generation encountered death, the
second generation experienced the need
for survival. Finally, the third
generations developed the land into the
best bread basked In Europe. They
produced more over half a century than
what the Turks did in 150 years. After a
century, Banat was more developed and
became more populated.
the early 1900, some of the
Donauschwaben left the Banat to all
different parts of the world. Looking
for different work, some went to South
America, North America and Australia.
The once who stayed behind, established
themselves to a comfortable style of
living. Some of the local Romanian
farmers learned from Schwaben how to
farm. Have you ever heard the
expression “work like a horse,” that’s
exactly what the Schwaben's did. They
never were scared of any work. They
were religious people and put their
trust in God.
a child, I remember when you walked by a
farmer’s place, you could Tell if he was
a good farmer – by the smell of the
“Mischthaufe” (manure pile) and the
smell of the Strudel from the kitchen.
People were happy and took part in
our recent trip to Banat last month, I
was in shock what we saw. The
difference from then until now. When I
mentioned in my Part 5 story, they have
virtually everything. The way the
inflation is going, I can imagine, what
future lies ahead? They have well
educated people, but only a minority.
Something is missing there. It seems as
if they came to a “stop” sign.
Nobody is moving until somebody comes
along and takes the “stop” sign away. A
person lying in bed breathing and
breathing, but he’ll never get nowhere
unless he gets out of bed. Or could it
be, they are waiting for our ancestors
to rise from their Graves and pick up
the pieces since 1945 and rebuild the
country. The history of our ancestors
will never repeat itself in a million
The same goes for our ancestor’s cousins
who went to Russia and Bessarabia. The
only difference there was, they didn’t
have to deal with the swamp lands like
1. For those of us, who experienced the
torture of the Donauschwaben in 1945, our memory is painful.
2. For those of you, who visited the
Banat after 1945, you only witnessed the ruins of your ancestors.
3. For those of you, who never had the
opportunity meeting your ancestors, for you it’s only a dream,
because in your eyes, they are legends of Banat.
is gratifying to see people doing
research and show interest in their
ancestors. After all, if it wasn’t for
them, we wouldn’t be here, or would we?
The End .... Alex Leeb
06 Aug 2019