Celebrating 10 years of extraordinary impact in
Swabian Community Worldwide
I was here - Wall of
DVHH Members, Volunteers, and Mail Listers,
share what the
DVHH has meant to them.
~ In their own
words . . .
am very grateful to have the DVHH website. Not only has it
connected me with friends from "the old country," but it is
helping me to connect with the rich heritage. I love reading
the stories and accounts, and I love reading the Schwowische
dialect. Even though I was born and raised in College Point,
NY, I spoke Schwowisch at home. It is music to my ears, and
warms my heart. The DVHH has also provided me with a wealth of
knowledge about our heritage and history and links to videos,
DVDs and books. Marie introduced me to the book "Bread on my
mother's table" and the DVHH also introduced me to "A Pebble in
my Shoe." Both books were excellent and gave me a deeper
insight and appreciation for our family's experience.
Thank you DVHH and
everyone who has contributed their stories. May the legacy of
our Donauschwaben live on and never be forgotten.
years ago, I joined a Banater genealogy group, which
I followed for awhile. The list members were
discussing researching in Banat. Being born in
Banat, I followed the discussions more closely.
year later, I received an e-mail from a lady I never
met before: "My name is Jody
McKim," I'm researching relatives in Mercydorf,
Banat. Can you help me?" -Mercydorf is
only about 12 Km. from my own village where I was
born (Knees). With the amount of e-mails we
exchanged, I was able to assist her with her
research. A few months later, Jody asked, if I'd be
interested in joining the DVHH. -What is the DVHH? "Donauschwaben
Villages Helping Hands"; volunteers who help people
with their family research and ancestral villages.
Besides myself, there are two
other ladies involved. -It was a pleasure
working with beautiful smart ladies.
month the DVHH, was getting bigger and bigger.
I enjoyed helping members with their research.
Because I was born in (Knees) Banat, I was able to
help members with their research in Banat. It always
pleased me if I could help a person.
Account of the determination of Jody McKim, and her
assistants, is why the DVHH- exists today.
I also have read all these wonderful postings and
stories and Jody encouraged me to post a comment,
Although I think my English is not too bad, it is
difficult for me to find the right words for such a
post in a foreign language.
So please forgive me if my post will sound a bit
My Donauschwaben ancestors are all gone, many of
them in a "young" age, my father was 62 when he
So there is nobody left to ask about family history
and I have missed that for a long time.
Then Mr. Herbert Hoffmann encouraged me to subscribe
to this list years ago. I have learned that there
are so many of you
with the same background, the same thoughts and
feelings....you really became like a big family for
me and I am glad and proud to belong to this family.
I want to say "Thank you" to all of you, who are
always there and are willing to help!
Andrea Ballreich, Hockenheim, BW / Germany
I was ‘introduced’ To DVHH by John
Feldenzer, THANK YOU JOHN.’ He found my ancestors for me back to the 1700’s from
the Saarland to Bukin. He even had my grandfather’s and his siblings names and
DVHH has made me realize and value our DS heritage. The fragile memories are
getting more faint as we survivors age. Most of our older generation, like our
parents are dead. I was only six years old when we became homeless. After a very
brief happy childhood, it was fear, hunger and and travel on a tarp-covered
wagon in rainy October and November weather. We slept on straw in stranger’s
barns if we were lucky, otherwise it was on the crowded, damp, cold wagon. My
younger brother was one year old. There were five children on my grandfather’s
wagon, the oldest was eight.
DVHH has made me realize how precious these memories are. After reading stories
of the fate of other DS refugee, we were fortunate in spite of the hardship and
deprivation we suffered.
While looking for ancestry information I got an email from Kathy S. who came
from the came Lovas, the same village as my grandfather. From 1944 to 1950 we
lived in Austria. It turned out Kathy lived there, too. We also had the same
strict teacher, who used to beat us for for every questions we couldn’t answer.
Since I knew all the refugee children in our school, I finally asked Kathy what
her maiden name was. When she told me, I got goose bumps down my back. She was
the little girl who had been in my classroom. She had just come from a
concentration camp, frail skinny and scared. She was afraid to say anything and
the teacher just whipped her with a stick. We reminisced about Austria and
coming to Canada. Kathy grew up in a foster home because her mother had died
shortly after arriving in Canada. She told me she had no relatives in Canada. I
had good news for her. There were a lot of cousins and they only lived an hour’s
drive from where I live. I gave her their addresses and phone numbers. Within a
short time Kathy and her husband came from British Columbia to visit me in
Ontario and we went to see her ‘long-lost relatives. It was a very tearful and
emotional reunion. Kathy and I kept in touch, visited each other and even went
to the Treffen in Kitchener on Labour Day weekend together.
Through a helpful ‘lister’ on DVHH, THANK YOU SUSAN , I was able to connect with
a ‘cousin’ in the US whose grandfather and my Kolbrich grandfather’s grandfather
were brothers. That family came to the US in 1906. I thank the executive and all the List members for keeping this DS clan
Merry Christmas to All and God Bless,
Anne Dreer, Guelph, Ontario, Canada
All we knew was that
our Great Grandfather came to America with his second wife, and daughters. He
then returned with his wife and daughter Elizabeth to Austria-Hungary. Our
grandmother Julianna 15; and sister Anna were left in America with a quarter in
their pockets and told to find jobs. Fast forward to DVHH, the years melted away
showing the family members from whom we inherited the genes predicting who were
today. The knowledge our mentors who survived the horrific times also had
memories of happy years showing us evil can be overcome. Reuniting thousands of
Donauschwaben descendents was the dream of our founder. Those of you who gave of
your time, talent and money to make this dream come true are Heroes.
I salute you,
means so much to me. I have been on a "journey"
the last few years researching my ancestors.
Until I found this group I was unable to go back
more than two generations on my maternal
Grandfathers side since not much information was
passed down from my Grandfather who immigrated
from St. Hubert to Chicago in the early 1900's.
A big thank you to Peggy, Karen, Bill and of
course, Jody for their help and interest,
research and commitment. I was also happy to
pass on the information to new-found cousins on
Ancestry.com. Thank you from the bottom of my
Cummins, Granddaughter of Ludwig Laflü
Like many others, I knew
little about my Swabian heritage. My mother and
her parents were from Backa Palanka. They
attempted to leave approximately 1923 but were
told the quotas to US had been met. My
grandfather sent his parents, wife and child
back to the village and he went on to Uruguay.
Seven years later after he made his way to NY,
and he sent for them.
My grandmothers parents
did not join them and I learned they perished in
a camp along with some of grandmas siblings. I'm
still not sure what camp or where. John
Feldenzer and a cousin provide me names and
dates from town records. And he told me about
the the DVHH mail list. The culture I've become
aware of from this list has been such a gift.
I've passed my wonderful
thought on this to my nephew who works for CNN
in New York. Sharing what a wonderful group this
is for helping to keep the memories of this very
special culture alive. I'm not sure he has any
influence but thought this would make such a
Thank you for all you've
done to keep my ancestral heritage alive in my
Barbara Schlafer, Byron, Georgia
Finding the DVHH was finding my family as well
as the beginning of my education about the
Donauschwaben, their history and traditions. My
Donauschwaben grandparents died before I was
really old enough to know them. Even my mother
didn't seem to have much information to share
about her parents' background. But after her
older sister shared a few brief memories of
their life in Apatin I belatedly began my search
with the LDS FHL microfilms. Eventually I took
my search to the Internet and stumbled upon the
was DVHH Volunteer Ron Gretz who gave me my DS
grandparents' ancestry back to the beginning of
the DS colonization of Apatin. Then Jody McKim
'persuaded' me to become the DVHH volunteer for
Apatin. That has allowed me to help others
searching for their Apatin ancestors, which is
something I truly enjoy.
DVHH has been a richly rewarding association for
me as I've come to learn about my DS ancestors'
lives and customs, met online so many open and
generously helpful people all over the world,
found new cousins, and actually met some of you
in person - especially Jody, Boris Masic and my
cousin Vesna Ibrahimovic and been given the
opportunity to give back some of what I've
DVHH has meant a lot to me in searching for my wife's family in
the Banat. We haven't found them yet, but we have had a wealth
of experience in the search. As Administrators of the Guest
Book, we are pleased to see how much our website, and
organization, means to other researchers.
Bob and Marie Nelson
I am one of the quiet
ones in the group. I don't post often, but I never miss a daily digest of the
great topics you all discuss. I'm 41 and have two children in Elementary
school, so I don't have too much time these days to get research done unless
it's after 9 pm, stopping when my eyes start burning from the late hour. I grew
up in Southern California, away from my German side of the family, and I really
wanted to find out more about them. So, I started researching about 9 years ago
and was off to a slow start. No one in my Dad's family knew anything about
where either my grandpa's or grandma's family came from, other than "Germany" or
In December 2005, I
was able to find the Ellis Island manifest for my grandma's family (Ruttinger).
It said they were from some place called Mitrowitz, a place I had never heard of
a that time. A few Google searches later, I found myself at dvhh.org. I found
Mitrowitz amongst the village listings a knew I was in the right place. I
quickly signed up for the email list and browsed the stories and links. Over
the next few months, I was absolutely floored by all of the information you all
had collected. All of the stories about our culture and the devastation and
horrific treatment during the war were both wonderful and sad at the same time -
I couldn't read them fast enough. The recipe's you all discussed (especially
the Christmas cookies) set off bells of recognition as things my grandma cooked
on the rare times we were able to go back to Detroit for a visit. After a few
months, I was able to piece together a bunch of information about my grandma's
family and their life in what is now Serbia and present it to my her. We had
several conversations over the phone where she was reminiscing about her
grandmother and the little things she used to do that were now evidently very
Donauschwaben. She passed away in July 2006, about a month after I first was
able to tell her where her family came from. She was so pleased to finally know
her family heritage, and it made her last days a lot more enjoyable. It meant
the world to me to be able to do that for her, and I couldn't have done it
without the DVHH.
Since then, I have
received help from several people who provided lookups for me, and I now have
almost the whole Ruttinger family laid-out in my family tree going back to the
original settler in Gajdobra in the 1760s. All I had to do was ask, and at
least one person, if not more, responded quickly with the information I was
looking for. That help and kindness is a common trait amongst everyone in the
DVHH, and I am eternally grateful for all of you. I finally had a chance to
help out another member in Jun 2011 while I was in Sharon, PA, by getting some
burial information, headstone pictures, and pictures of the now empty lot where
their family home was located. It was very rewarding to be able to start paying
back the kindness shown to me by the group. I will do it again, any chance I
Again, thank you
everyone, for all that you do!
Brian Phail, Los Angeles, CA
wonderful community with dedication and heart. There is hardly a
day in the year in which you can feel the community. Of
particular interest to me are the many reports of eyewitnesses
of our past. They are a great source for future generations and
preserve the past. Thanks to Jody, Eve, Nick, Hans and all the
many many others.
have mastered the English language only slightly. Warm regards
and all good wishes for 2013 for all.
(Berlin/Germany) Ortsgeschichte und Familien von Sekitsch /
Village history and families from
I am thankful for my
6+ years with DVHH. I have found ancestry from Werbass, and because of Roy's
generous help, found a treasure cove of ancestors through a shirt-tail relative
that married an Engle from Kischker. I bought the Kischker family book that Roy
was using and this book Has opened literally thousands of family from that
shirt-tail. Thanks again Roy.
Dan Walter, NE, OH
Where to start? This question might best be answered if I
thought about what it would be like if the DVHH never existed.
If that were the case I would not have befriended Robin Grube,
who would not have introduced me to Zeljko Leksic, who not
knowing me would not have been able to help me with so many
family records. If the DVHH did not exist I would not have this
feeling of belonging to a community who knows where I'm coming
from and while I still have so many unanswered questions, I am
one among many in the same boat asking similar questions. When I
first came across the DVHH.org web site I felt that nobody knew
what I was talking about and I didn't know enough to be able to
explain the cryptic comments of my 90+ year old DS Oma to my
family. I just knew that what she was telling me was important
and I tried my best to listen. Through DVHH I quickly learned
that I was not alone and there were members of the DVHH
community who could help answer my questions or at least point
me in the right direction. I have since become online friends
with some of you and in 2010 I was able to visit Zeljko Leksic
in Croatia who graciously welcomed my wife and I, taking us on a
tour of Đakovo and Satnitz. These connections, friendships, and
sense of community are precious to me and I am thankful to Jody
and all the DVHH volunteers who bring us all together.
Jody, where to start and what to say, as the DVHH is dear to my
first real introduction to the DVHH was when I met Jody in
person at a Donauschwaben Treffen in 2007 after many email
correspondences before that. The DVHH was in it's infancy. As an
avid Donauschwaben researcher for years and as the
VP/genealogist for the Trenton Donauschwaben, we hit it off from
the start. Jody twisted my arm and convinced me to get involved
with the DVHH, first as a contributor, then on the Publicity
committee, then as Coordinator of the Batschka web page with
Nancy Wyman and then as the Obituary section coordinator. In
addition, the Trenton Donauschwaben is proud to have been the
first club affiliate of the DVHH; myself, Hans Martini, Adam and
Eva Martini, Ray Martini and Jim Lieblang gave support and also
became DVHH associate members.
Jody can be proud of her great accomplishment in organizing and
running this valued web resource for those doing Donauschwaben
research. I do not know where she gets the time and energy to do
all that she does. Not an easy task in deed. I have found many
new friends through the DVHH web site and now a Facebook site!
When I am contacted by any Donauschwaben researcher from around
the world, the first place I recommend they visit is >DVHH.org<.
The DVHH.org can be found in the "References Cited" section of
several recently published books about the Donauschwaben, their
history, culture and genocide. A great honor in itself.
So, on this the 10th Anniversary of the DVHH, on behalf of the
Trenton Donauschwaben and myself we want to thank Jody, all the
volunteers, list members and associate members for their
contributions and support. We are proud to be a member of this
great organization. Happy Anniversary and many more!
Dennis J. Bauer,
When Jody contacted me way back in 2003, the DVHH website was
just in its infancy. Who could have guessed that that little
spark of an idea of Jody's has now grown into this fully
fledged, world famous mine of information on the Donauschwaben
people and their history! I suppose the main impact it had on
me, apart from re-learning German and translating various books
and articles, was to travel to Romania with that first little
group of ours in May 2004 (see
http://www.uihei.com/DiaryTrip2004.html), a trip I hadn't
made since 1970 when I visited my grandparents in Uihei with a
friend and my family. I'd previously been there in 1967 with my
family. It was the first time my Dad had been back to his home
village since before the war (he'd been a PoW in England).
Although my grandparents had both died by 1981, the trip with
Jody and four other Donauschwaben Americans in 2004 spurred me
on to delve more deeply into our own family's village history. I
also looked into the history of three other neighbouring
villages, which are included in the DVHH website, but eventually
concentrated solely on Uihei and built a separate website for it
Through the DVHH, I've also managed to connect with several of
my Dad's cousins in America (he'd lived there as a child for six
years before returning to the Banat with his parents in 1928).
I've been able to give them their ancestral lineage by using the
Family Books available, and have also done the same for several
other people on the DVHH List, which thrills me as much as it
does the recipients! Well done, Jody, and all the other DVHH
contributors on such a fantastic website. No doubt there will be
more DVHH projects in the coming years - here's to another 10
I just joined the DVHH
a week ago, but I've learned so much already! This is the first time I've
explored this part of my family tree. I had been so focused on the "von Hausen"
branch that I didn't pay much attention to the Settler/Schmidt branch, even
though it's much closer to me in time.
I can remember my
grandma making food that her mother taught her how to make, including
palatschinken, paprikash, and goulash. So glad to see the recipes on the DVHH
website, and I'm going to try them myself.
Zeljko Leksic in
Djakovo has been an immense help, looking up records and sending pictures,
especially since I cannot get my Family Search account to work. Thanks also to
Robin Grube, another coordinator for the Slavonia region. I know so much of the
story than I did just a few short weeks ago, and I'm looking forward to finding
All I can say is Wow
and Thank you! I have to echo the sentiments of so many others.
Although I was very
keenly aware of the history of the Donauschwaben in the greater sense, I was not
at all aware of the most recent past of my own story. Although I knew my parents
were born in the former Yugoslavia (In Schidski Banovci, Srem and Hetin, Banat)
that was about it. It's not something that was at all discussed that much.
When I started this journey about 2.5 years ago, I thought I would find perhaps
100 - 200 relatives and be finished ... now thanks to DVHH my family tree has
over 10,000 people on it, and I connect to new cousins every week .... Who knew
that was possible! It gives great comfort to know that you are connected ...
connected to so many other people, connected to a rich history,
connected to a foundation. There is no way I would have known this without
DVHH. The resources that "we" bring to the table are phenomenal. Family Books,
Church Records, Online Links ... and Personal History and Knowledge! Again,
Thanks to Jody and all of the others who started the site, and God
Bless all of us as
Stewards of this information as we move forward!
Eric Schwarz, Cincinnati, OH
Finding cousins I never dreamed I had
and so much about my parents heritage that helped me understand so many things
they tried to express for years.
This for me has been a long journey for the most part
more than words can say but for me the fellowship it has
brought to me......knowing I'm actually not the only one
with this "unusual" heritage - what a Godsend.
Eve Brown, Durand, MI
The "What DVHH means to me" e-mails have
been great. I am an old man but fortunately I was able to re-visit Steierdorf
and Anina in the Banat region of Romania in 2005. That is where my grandparents
and great grandparents came from in the 1901-03 time frame. There is a very
active German Culture Organization that has an annual re-union in the May-June
period of the German people who were forced to leave during the past many years.
PLEASE also do not lose any opportunities to have conversations with your
parents, aunts, uncles, etc. on tape! Although my parents and grandparents are
long gone, I cherish audio tapes and movie film that I "forced them" to participate in many years ago. Their common response was "No one wants to hear
of our experiences!"
Frank Embon, Allentown, PA USA
Henderson, who was also researching Deutsch Zerne ancestors and
offered to create a Deutsch Zerne website, where we could publish
information to share. It was around that time that Mara found out
that Jody was building a website focusing on Donauschwaben village
information. It was so timely -- the perfect match. We contacted
Jody. She added our Deutsch Zerne website to the Village List
and with Mara’s encouragement, I became the Deutsch Zerne
administrator. It was amazing how fast the DVHH village site grew.
Every time I logged onto DVHH the list of villages expanded
and there was even more new Donauschwaben information.
Today it blows my mind
to see how much information and how many villages are presented on
the DVHH site. Jody did a fantastic job of putting this all together
in a most timely manner. I am very proud to have had a small part in
this wonderful undertaking.
This DVHH community is a most pleasant way
of keeping deep cultural memories alive despite the ever-present subliminal
desire to forget the horrors of war and the unthinkable multiple tragedies of
family and homeland losses. The true value of the many DVHH posts is the steady
reinforcement of our heritage, our strengths, our work ethics and our basic
values. DVHH posts are a constant reminder to me of that one great gift that all
of us have..that all of us should be thankful for......our Donauschwaben DNA !
Franz Bohn, St. Louis, MO
Although I am a bit of a lurker, I
too must express my gratitude for the DVHH site and list. First of
all, we are all so indebted to Jody, who began this enterprise and
who has compiled such a phenomenal collection of material on the web
site. Secondly, thanks to all those who support her by helping with
administration and technical matters and by producing the material
on the site. Finally, thanks to all the members of the mail list for
sharing your knowledge, experiences, and resources.
I wish I
could contribute more, but, every time I think I might have
something to say, two or three people with far more knowledge and
experience than me cover the subject thoroughly. Thanks to everyone
for making this such a valuable community over the last several
Schwartz, Regina SK Canada
Like Mary Regan said,
the DVHH is like having a living descendant to talk. I have discovered many distant
cousins, in both the USA and Germany, through the DVHH. The DVHH is
one great organization !
Many thanks to one and
all, especially Jody for starting it.
Harold Bratsko, Commerce City, CO
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with my Grandparents. I was the
first grandchild, so I was my Gramma’s favorite. I was always told
they were German. My favorite things were her cookies – especially
Kipfels. When I started college, I took German so I could write to
her and talk to her. She was very proud of me, but then she started
telling me stories of growing up in Sigmundfeld, which was not in
Germany. She told me how the “government in charge” kept changing,
and how she had to learn a different language in school so that she
didn’t learn to spell very well. Her village was German, but she was
actually from Austria-Hungary, which became Yugoslavia before she
left. She kept mentioning “Schwabischer” which didn’t mean anything
to me at that time.
Years later, when I
became interested in family genealogy, my mother gave me my Baby
Book which had a family tree of names she got from each side of my
family. It proved to be a wonderful treasure trove. My father always
told me we were the only “Rauch’s” from his father’s side because my
Grampa was the only son of an only son, so it was hard to find
anything. One day I did a “Search” for “schwabischer” and found
DVHH. It opened up the world of my grandparents’ youth. I found
David Dreyer’s list that showed when my Grampa’s sister & husband
arrived. I found and purchased the Familienbuchs for their villages.
I have received help from others, even though the connection wasn’t
family. I have found my family’s heritage through the stories of
others on the list. I haven’t found any “cousins” among the list
members yet, but I have discovered new relationships with people in
Wyandotte (our home).
While learning all this,
we were contacted be a young German girl looking for her “cousins”
in America that she had heard about from relatives. At first we were
doubtful, then it became real when the daughter of my Gramma’s
youngest sister, “Nanci”, arrived for a visit. She was born a few
years before she & her mother were put in a camp in 1944. Her
husband said she wouldn’t talk about it, but he shared what he knew
about her experience. It matches much of what I have read about on
I don’t post very often,
but I read daily, and I continue to learn about my grandparent’s
history. From my Gramma’s stories and what I have learned here, I
have an amazing family history.
Helen (Rauch) Tyrybon,
DVHH...Ten years and still going strong! The old saying is that
you're having fun", and being part of DVHH has not only been fun,
but educational, and its members have become extended family, for
sure. I sat and observed for a long time before I had the nerve to
jump in and list my family names. During that time of observation, I
learned about the existence of what was called the "Familienbuch".
What a revelation! My first
purchase was the Bogarosch book which helped me establish my
Through help from list
member, Diana Lambing, and various member postings, I was able to
connect with a cousin, Betty Mauro, who lived in Philadelphia.
Shortly thereafter, we actually met in person and have shared time
together over the years. What a blessing.
My paternal side of the
family came from Gross Jetscha. I had a brick wall with regard to my
paternal great grandparents. Again, a list member helped me break
that brick wall with the suggestion of a specific, variant spelling
of the name I was searching. Eventually, I was fortunate enough to
be able to secure the Gross Jetscha Familienbuch. Sure enough, the
mystery was solved. Had that list member not stepped forward, I am
convinced I'd still be searching.
One good turn deserves
another, so over the years, I have continued to do lookups for
Bogarosch and Gross Jetscha. Eventually, Destination America came on
board as a DVHH resource. I was humbled when asked to be the
representative for Philadelphia. It gave me the opportunity to write
something about the "City of Brotherly Love" where so many of our
ancestors chose to live.
In closing, the question
posed remains...What has the DVHH done for me?
Regards to all,
Helen Remich Dubas
The DVHH is my window into the wider
world of the Danube Swabians and
their descendants throughout the
world. It provides all of us with a
personal network to assist us in
sharing information and resources;
exploring related topics with regard
to culture, language, heritage,
faith and traditions. We can call
upon the expertise of others and
offer our own special interests,
abilities, areas of study and
research to benefit others. Most
importantly it provides a forum for
the like- minded. Some of us do our
research and study in isolation and
to have the opportunity to interact
with others who are on the same
quest as we ourselves is both
enlightening and affirming. The
DVHH is all of these as each of us
makes our own contribution to
preserving a culture and heritage
that once thrived in the Danubian
lands and has left its mark on each
of us through those individuals in
our families who helped shape and
form who we are and who we are
becoming regardless of where we
into the fourth generation of my
family in Canada.
Henry Fischer, Swabian Turkey
Coordinator, Ontario, Canada
Villages Helping Hands for me is a community in which I felt
comfortable, from the beginning. All members of the
community are helping everyone and they are respectful and
friendly to each other. That feels good and it encourage me
to do the same. Hearty thanks to Jody McKim, the founder of
this community. Her inspiration still works and keeps the
In honor of all
D-88212 Ravensburg, Germany
Some one is always there to help answer my
questions. Only this week one of my brick walls was knocked down. I met my
distant cousin (Ann Dreer) and she has answered many questions for me. I love
volunteering for the Parabutsch Village, here I have met many of the descendants
of my Grandfathers neighbors. A big thank you to Jody Pharr. DVHH has also
opened my eyes to my relatives life.
Jean Helbrecht, Alberta, Canada
Although I have only been a member of the
DVHH for a few months, I am truly amazed and the friendship that has been
extended to me by the members that I have been in contact with. I have been
fortunate enough to discover a distant cousin who I never knew existed and
discover information about my ancestors from the past two centuries. The
friendship that has been extended to me has been truly heartwarming.
In my short time as a member I have received a history lesson on the heritage of
my people and been taught valuable lessons that were never taught to me in
school. It has brought new meaning to me on who my ancestors were, what they
accomplished and the hardships that they endured.
Now that I am older, I look back with regret and wish that I had asked more
questions of my grandparents and their siblings of what life was like for them
before they emigrated to the United States. Although I no longer have that
opportunity, it is good to know that I have so many DVHH friends and family who
are willing to share their information and stories with me now.
Jeff Rau, Chesapeake, Virginia
grand parents ADAM (1875-1939) & VERONICA (1881-1959) (FAHR)
REGER“ came from Austria Hungary. They were married there in
1896. - That was my starting point. In 1972, I wrote to the USA
Embassy in Yugoslavia for birth & marriage records. About a year
later, the record was sent back with his birth data in Deronje &
noted that the marriage records in Erdewikof 1896 were destroyed
“during the war.” That was one of my Brick Wall until 2011, when
I discovered “The German Research Companion” by Shirley J.
Riemer, Roger P. Minert, & Jennifer Anderson that mentioned the
Danube Swabians emigration to eastern Europe. Googling
Danube Swabians took me to DVHH.org and I was amazed at the
breadth and depth of the DVHH site.
DVHH maps, the history & changing history, the geography, the
countries, the ethnic divides, the Habsburg Emperor/Empress
family, other royalty, the confusions, complexities, languages,
foods, drinks, songs, clothing, timelines, celebrations, and of
course; the Mail Listers who keep sparking new interests; all
provide a never ending, life long passion of learning,
wonderment and an urge to share as much as possible.
my newer outside look at DVHH, this seems like it would not have
been possible without Jody McKim Pharr and her ten year task of
obvious love for the legacy. A special thanks also to Hans Kopp
for his many outstanding historical contributions and personal
insights. I wish I could meet & greet them all, as well as the
many volunteers who are so familiar online. The "stories" of
family genealogy are its attraction and the DVHH, as a treasure
house of the Donauschwaben, is an absolute necessity for this
relatively unknown “German" history.
special thanks to Vesna Ibrahimovic, Sombor Coordinator, for her
professionalism, language skills, legal skills, and overall
knowledge and assisted us during our trip to Serbia, May, 2012,
when Babe (Kathryn) (GALLENSTEIN) and I did our "Bucket List"
trip to Germany, Austria, Hungary and Serbia.
would not have been able to do all of this (particularly in our
old age) without the help of DVHH and all its supporters.
Babe (Gallenstein) &
Jim Reger, Lakewood Ranch, Florida
I've been very blessed reading all the wonderful
postings of what the DVHH means to so many. I hope you all remain
steadfast as a part of this group; and I promise you -your brick
walls will come down in time. Because this mail list is
constantly drawing new subscribers, of which one of them can be
the very one to answer your questions or be your distant
the DVHH is my extended family, a genealogical home base to tap
into, and a source of reference of information for anything
regarding the Donauschwaben. With every inquiry about a village,
I researched it and attempted to find everything I could about
that village to help develop the regional village lists. This
certainly increased my knowledge of the various Donauschwaben
regions, its geographies, and individual village personalities.
With each inquiry about a family (to which I tried to assist
with), I learned new avenues of research myself. My knowledge
also increased with every new item added to the various sections
of the DVHH, including the many wonderful stories about the
every inquiry I made about my family, I received a positive
response. Our mail list has been blessed with insightful folks
who are ready to give their own time to help others. I certainly
love to read about the many cousin connections made on this mail
list; not to mention I've some of my own. I must say that Alex
Leeb has been instrumental in connecting me with cousins I
would've probably never met otherwise.
The DVHH certainly means more to me than I can express. The last
10 years has been an amazing adventure, which would not have
been possible without each and every one of you being a part of
it. Thank you all for your contributions to the DVHH: website
content, lookups, village websites, recipes, stories, your
inquiries, and mostly for your participation through the years.
Jody McKim Pharr, DVHH Founder & Publisher, Woodstock, GA
Good day all
associated with the DVHH,
Personally, I have
invested more than 1/2 my present life in my genealogical ventures. I am age 61
as I write this and I am now 32 years invested in this "Labor of Love" as some
have referred to my endeavor. My original intent was to find out more about our
family ancestry and the genetic diseases of Ankylosing Spondylitis and the
genetically related disease Crohn's Disease which has afflicted a number of my
brothers and myself. This in part, I have done, but the real challenge came with
my father's mother and her ancestry. This is where the DVHH and all of its
wonderful people and came into play. For this I will be forever grateful to
Jody McKim Pharr, Alex Leeb, Jane Moore, Mike Polsineli, Nick Tulius and all of
you for your thoughts, writings, cultural insights, DVHH conversations, sharing
your experiences. My grandmother Maria Hockl of Keglewichhausen was not known
to us of my/our generation for she passed at the age of 32 in 1920.
Begrudgingly, her history revealed itself to me over the years. It was not
until the experience of the DVHH that I would finally begin to add real progress
to this quest.
John J. Kornfeind, Glendale, AZ
Thank you so, much to
all the DVHH members that have helped in my HUTFLUS family tree. :) I would
like to thank Gabriele Steger, Helga Kiely, Jane Gilbert, Alex Leeb, Hans Kopp,
Katherine Flotz, Anne Dreer and also Michael Hutflus my distant relative.
I am now working on
getting as many pictures of Kruschiwel as I can....I am also trying to get
information on the Russian work camps where my Grandmother Sabina Hutflus was
interred. I am also reading on the Extermination Camp where my Great Great
Grandmother Magdalena Hutflus died . . .
Joseph Hutflus, Ocean Gate, NJ
When I retired a few years ago I knew I wanted to delve more
deeply into all the issues that had been floating around
unanswered about my heritage. It was as much about
self-reflection and understanding myself as it was anything
else. I had no memories about my grandparents or Kernei where I
was born. None about Gakowa where we were starved for two
When I started
reading the available source material, all in German, I was
astonished at the bile and venom against Serbians in them.
There was almost nothing about why life in Kernei or the other
Shwovish villages was worth living in, only mountains of
killings, torture, starvation and destruction; and nothing
concrete about why this happened to us at the end of the war
except more accusations of misplaced hatred and revenge. And,
we were always called Germans. None of this fit my
understanding derived from my own life. And the internet web
sites were more of the same. I explored both the English and
the German ones, and if anything the English ones were more
German than the German ones. I was very dissatisfied until I
ran across DVHH who had stories about life before the
decimation, tales of fishing and farming and hemp making,
pictures of sewing circles and best of all many recipes of all
the dishes I loved to prepare for my own family.
serves me well in so many obvious and many implicit ways that I
am not even aware of. I never tire of reading the emails
requesting assistance for finding names and places throughout
that wide expanse of the old Heimat. I guess I’m waiting for a
name I recognize, but even the ones I don’t have a familiar
sequence of sounds that builds a connection. I like the
personal stories of the old times that are fast disappearing;
and I like the personal stories of the second and third
generations finding their heritage and accepting it for what it
so for future generations to have a more complete but fairer
record DVHH offers a last fleeting hope. As Serbia, Hungary,
and Rumania (and Croatia and Slavonia) become more civil
democratic societies honoring their diverse past, they need a
counterpart to welcome their changing aspirations, and I am
hoping that DVHH will also serve that purpose and offer a
balanced and transparent history that the Serbians,
particularly, too can accept as their own.
I am SO grateful for
DVHH! I knew virtually nothing about my grandfather's (George Becker's) family,
just a few names (his parents and siblings) and the name of the village he had
lived in (Tscherwenka), before I began searching. Actually, the name I had been
given of my great-grandmother was Elisabeth Knipple but the Familien book shows
her last name as Klippel. He and my grandmother shared very little of the lives
they had lived before coming to America and my father did not know much about
the family either. It was puzzling to me as a child--and as an adult--why, if my
grandfather was German, had he lived in Hungary? DVHH opened up a whole new
understanding of the history of my grandfather's family and the way they lived
since moving to Hungary in the late 1700s. I had no idea! Angela Hefer's
"Tscherwenka Familien" provided me with several generations of family and was
recommended by DVHH 'family'. From recipes and customs to the reality
of post war history, I have been humbled and cried when reading the truth of
what happened to DVHH members and their families. Was the Elizabeth Fritz who
died in a camp my grandfather's sister, Elizabeth (who married Peter Fritz)? I
don't know, but it is a possibility.
So much more to learn and absorb. It is all a part of who I am and again, I am
Judy Offen, Caledonia, NY
What does the DVHH mean to me? It has
meant the answer to so many questions I've had since childhood.
It has meant meeting cousins. It has meant meeting people who
are so giving of their time and knowledge. It has meant
learning history that was never taught in our U.S. school
system. It has meant learning about the customs and traditions,
foods, language and so much more about my ancestors from
Csatalja, Backi Breg & Kolut in the Batschka.
I am 2nd generation
born in the U.S. My Dad's parents arrived at Ellis Island Sept.
17, 1907 with their first born son first going to Chicago where
a daughter was born and then to Michigan where my Dad was born.
My fascination about where my Grandparents were from and why
they talked different started when I was young. I wanted to
know where they came from, was there more family, what
nationality they were. (I now know the difference between
nationality and ethnicity) All I ever got out of them was they
didn't know where they were from because the boarders had
changed so many times and all the family was dead. When they
died, where they died, how they died - never an answer. Since
they arrived in the U.S. prior to WWI I had always assumed it
was because of that war. How wrong I was. My Dad would say
they were from Hungary - well in my mind, if they came from
Hungary we are Hungarian. Dad would insist - NO, we are German,
but with no explanation. Now I know the answer to that
Jody, I thank you
for this wonderful website as well as all the help you have
given me. Alice Spande, my cousin, I thank you for that 1st
"Care Package" you sent me with copies from numerous
Ortsfamilienbuchs as well as all the help since then.
Ortsfamilienbuchs - what is that? I've learned what a treasure
they are. Bill Hermann has been invaluable to me searching
family in Wisconsin. Thank you so much. Gabrielle, another
cousin in Germany. Thank you for all of your help. Thomas
Willand, another cousin in Germany. Thank you. Lori Straus and
Helga Kiely, two more Wagner cousins from Canada. Yvonne in St.
Louis spent time looking for family records there. Thank you.
Stasa Cvetkovic in Serbia who located a great Uncle and his
family and who sent pictures from Kolut and Backi Breg I never
get tired looking at. Vesna Ibrahimovic who also has done much
research for me - Thank you. Beth Tolfree, Robin Grube and so
many others who I have failed to mention, Thank You. Like
others have said, the DVHH means more to me than I can ever
Judy Brassinger Ottinger, St
Clair Shores, Michigan USA
through DVHH that I made contact with Vesna Ibrahimovic
who greatly assisted me in researching and locating
various family historical documents and relatives.
On, or about
1 October 1944, word was received to prepare to evacuate
our village. The family's major concerns were food,
clothing and transportation. Food and clothing was
available but an additional horse was required to pull
the wagon. Horses were hard to find. The family bought
the last available horse from a local Gypsy. Personal
documents were not on the priority gathering list and
were left in place. Canon fire could be heard in the
train left about 7 October 1944 and we were on the long,
multi-year journey, including travel in open train
cattle cars through Hungary, a short stop in Austria,
several years in Germany and eventually by troop ship to
America. Temporary personal documentation papers
(identity, birth, marriage, etc) were prepared along the
way by a variety of means.
60+ years and I have time (too late) to research our
family history and I find DVHH and Vesna. Vesna,
through her extensive knowledge and meticulous research,
was able to provide copies of maternal and fraternal
birth, marriage, and death certificates. She also
provided current pictures of the village houses and city
hall. Additionally, she tracked down cousins living in
Germany. These cousins visited us this summer and
brought a lot of pictures of the old/new generations of
enjoyed reading the many postings, learned much, am very
glad to have made personal contact with some of the
other members, and will enjoy reading the postings for a
DVHH for being a lifeline to my family history.
Three short years ago, I had no idea that there was
a group of people known as Danube Swabians. I am appalled
that I knew so little about my own ancestry. And I knew nothing
of the rich, overall history of these amazing people.
What I did know was that I loved my
grandmother’s cooking and baking, and that she was one of the
most resourceful human beings I could ever imagine. She always
said she was Austrian and I knew that the name of her village
was Karavukovo. (I loved saying the word). She came to America
Armed with this meager information and
having the time in my retirement to pursue some personal
history, I started my search. It didn’t take me long to discover
I was not even looking for her village in the right country! I
was hopelessly lost and making almost no progress, when the DVHH
was suggested to me at the Family History Library in Salt Lake
City as a way of getting information about the geography of the
When I entered the web site, a whole new
world was opened to me. I think I read just about everything.
All of a sudden, I realized where so many of my family
traditions originated! Even though I was a young child when my
grandmother died (my DS grandfather had died before I was born),
I realized what a profound impact this ancestry has had on all
our subsequent generations. After I had this background
information, I was even more determined to discover the people
in my own line. I timidly made my first posting. Wow! Within a
matter of days, the generosity of the Helping Hands had located
my grandmother’s maternal line back to 1635. I had responses
from several places in Germany, Romania, Canada, and more US
states than I can remember. And now I know that my middle name
comes from my great grandmother.
So many people associated with the DVHH
have given so generously of their time and talent. Each clue
that is offered is like a beam of light shot up into the
darkness. I look closely at that beam of light and it opens into
an entire fireworks display of people whose genes I carry. Thank
you. This history is too amazing to be buried.
Kathleen 'Kathy' Kennedy, Cedar City, Utah
In 2003 I was approached by DVHH for
permission to print my account of my grandfather's
vineyard and the traditions of harvesting the grapes,
etc. I approved this request and became a member of
DVHH thereafter. A short version of my experiences as
an orphan in my hometown of Gakowa during the
concentration camp 1944-1947 called "Memories of Gakowa"
is published on the DVHH.org. Many emails came my way
from people who read it and had the same experiences in
My book "A Pebble in my Shoe" was
published in 2004 and has been a successful mission of
telling the world about our ethnic cleansing in
During the Labor Day festivities in
various cities, I met many other Donauschwaben and also
helped at the DVHH table that displayed pictures and
maps of our area.
Each morning I turn on my computer and
love to see the messages of people who are looking for
help finding their old world relatives. I try to help,
if I can. I recently had an email from a Serbian
teacher living in Belgrade, who was born in Sombor. He
has been investigating and learning about our history
and the terrible injustice that was done to the
Donauschwaben in 1944. He apologized for it and asked
me to forgive those that had done the terrible deeds. I
can forgive but I cannot forget.
Hope the DVHH will keep on working toward
the reuniting the many young people who are looking for
information about their relatives now long gone.
Crown Point, In
introduction to the DVHH was through Dennis Bauer some years
back. I signed up to read all the wonderful threads that
encourage me, as I was a little shy to post. When I did post, I
came in contact with Ewald Schneider who not only helped me
immensely, but was also related to me six generations back and
introduced me to Maxine Jones also a distant cousin. There was
also Lianne Falzboden, Gabriel Schmitutz-Kraus, Andrés Bermüller,
Paul Stagl, Paul Walter, Alex Leeb, whom I had the pleasure of
meeting and others. And of course, there was my dear friend
Anne Dreer, who was able to recall some of those years that
became faint in my memory. She was able to introduce me to
family that I did not know that I had on this side of the
world. As an orphan since the age of 12, I made a new life
trying to forget the horrors of the war and loss of all family,
until my daughter indicated that we have no history. So you can
see why I can only praise the DVHH for getting us together to
share and research our families that we desperately want to
know. As one of the list members stated a while ago. "How do
we know where we are going, if we don' know where we have been".
this on the 10th Anniversary of the DVHH, I want to thank Jody
and all the list members for contributing, so each and everyone
that needs a helping hand can learn and prosper.
from sunny Delta
I would also like to
take a moment to thank all those who have assisted me with my genealogy search:
Hans, Jody, Susan, Fran, Nick, etc. -- I'm sure that I'm missing other names -
but a huge Thank You to all!
Because of all of you,
the journey has taken me into avenues well beyond just researching names and
dates. The historical facts that you informed me of and led me to have enhanced
the story that I will leave with my family. As I made the trip to Hatzfeld and
Glogowatz a few months ago, I felt that I was literally walking in my ancestors'
shoes - in those villages, in those churches, in the cemeteries, and on the
paths. Because of the stories and experiences that you have all shared and the
historical accounts, this knowledge added to the couple of journals that my
father documented as a beginning. Much of what he wrote had not made sense to
me as he was only skimming the historical surface, but I bet knew as an educated
man. My immediate ancestors may have left their villages in the early years of
the twentieth century to immigrate to the U.S., and were not subjected to the
atrocities that followed in later years, but that does not diminish the
importance of telling the "story" on behalf of all those who survived. I had
ancestors from extended families that did remain behind, and can only imagine
what they experienced based upon your accountings. My heart goes out to all of
I am journaling all
for my family so that the both current and future generations are well versed as
to our family history, and continue the research as time permits (as I am not
retired from working yet). For this, I thank you all again!
Kathy (Zollner) Meany, Ossining, NY (suburb north of NYC)
years ago, I had only a few 'tidbits' of family history for
my great grandmother, Rose (Becker) Kaiser. I had the funny
sounding name of a town called Glogovatz, the verbal family
story that my Nana's family was from Alsace Lorraine, the memory
of her apple strudel and her love of open air vegetable stands,
because it reminded her 'of the old country.' I was fortunate
to have known her as a child and adored her gentle, loving
began my search to know more about her, I typed Glogovatz into
Google. With the click of a button, I discovered the DVHH
website and after two years, have met many new cousins connected
to this little town in the Banat. My family tree now stretches
its branches as far back as the 1700s on the Becker, Kaiser and
Dumelle lines. When I wrote my first 'post' I was touched by
the ready help that many members, including Erwin Kilzheimer,
Susan Williams, Charles Amann, and all the Dumelle 'cousins'
gave me. I felt like I had found a new 'family' of friends -
friends who were generous with their time and their knowledge.
Following their example, I always try to lend a hand to others
now when I see posts that overlap with my family research.
DVHH Means...that even if all you have left of your family's
heritage is the name of a town and the memory of apple strudel,
all things are possible. Thank you!
Santa Clara, CA - Families from the Banat
(mostly Glogowatz) who settled in Chicago, IL, USA.
Many DVHH members have
touched my heart with the wealth of their knowledge and willingness to help
others understand their Donauschwaben ancestors. It has been the best gift that
keeps on giving as more people share and learn
from one another. A heartfelt thank you from a new member to all the helping
hands who make the DVHH accessible, friendly and meaningful.
New York, New York
the source of the heartfelt connections I feel toward my
ancestors, the sense that I truly know them personally through
all the help in not only discovering names and dates, but
learning of their daily life. Hearing the stories of
traditions, trials and tribulations along with celebrations and
joy brings meaning into my life; as I find myself definitely
leaning toward their values in my own life.
Secondly, I found extended family
through this list, cousins that I am in contact with often and
who I loved at first meetings..
Thirdly, the 'family' I have found
within the realm of being descended from DS. The sharing,
kindness, encouragement the members offer is phenomenal. I am
part of a bigger entity and enjoy doing my part.
I wrote this poem in 1989 and I can
answer the question with a resounding Yes.
I am an amalgamation
of those who lived before me
because they lived. I live.
The physical and mental qualities
of my forebearers trickle down
and some find expression again
in my talents, temperament, appearance.
Who were these people?
What were they like?
What did they do? feel? hope? dream?
Did destiny decide who's me?
Am I not an entity unto myself?
Can I only proceed into the future
based on living in a present
already determined by the past?
Because they lived before
Do they rule who's me?
Am I an amalgamation?
Linda Bautz McKenna, Kowatschi
Villages of interest: Kowatschi,
Jahrmarkt, Grossjetscha, Eichental, Saderlach
Names: Bautz, Pautz, Kirschner, Rausch, Reck, Horvath, Franzwa:
Kowatschi and Jahrmarkt, Eichental: Mayer, Reiter
I began inquiring about my family history as a child, simply out
of pure interest. I bought one of those brown family tree books
and asking my grandparents to help me fill in the details.
That's when I learned that my great great grandmother died when
I was 4! I have no memory of her (I believe she was in a home by
the time I was born), but to be that closely connected with a
generation so far away really hit me. I must have been nine or
ahead some 20-25 years later, and I found the DVHH. I research
my genealogy for spiritual reasons, and the DVHH has helped me
make that spiritual connection: Everyone in this world is
connected somehow, whether it's via the now-clichéd six degrees
to an acquaintance, or a war that pitted your forefathers
against their forefathers, or because of really bizarre, funny
relationships (e.g., sixth-degree step-cousins twice removed).
found a lot of hints that broke down my brick walls for me, and
I hope I've been able to do the same to others. Members meet
when it's feasible, so it's terrific putting faces to emails.
DVHH, on 10 years!
Lori (Wolf-Heffner) Straus, Ontario, Canada
Because of the DVHH, I
have found missing family members and the last name and family of my great
grandmother that my mom and family never knew. I feel like I have made many
friends besides finding distant family members. I dream of going to the Apatin
area after having Beth send me maps of where my grandfather lived. The addresses
may be gone, but just walking the streets and being on the shore of the Danube
where he fished, would be a grand experience. Someday???
Thank you to all the members,
I grew up with
grandparents from the Batcshka region. Loved them. Learned from them ( to
knit, crochet, make noodles, identify many plants, etc.) but knew very little
about them. Through DVHH emails I learned what their life was like before they
came to America. I saw pictures of the towns they left. I even discovered
cousins 3-4 times removed living all over the world.
(Toth and Jurik)
When I started
researching this branch of my family history, all I hoped for was finding
exactly where in Europe my grandparents had lived before settling in Elizabeth,
NJ. I found the village names in the Ellis Island records, and the search might
have ended there, but I thought I’d try one more step – Googling the village
Ah, there really were
references online to these obscure village names! I found the term
“Donauschwaben” and references to the Banat. The internet has been a wonderful
resource. There were maps available, and lists of villages with their German,
Hungarian and Romanian names. There were David Dreyer’s databases. And there
was the DVHH, with its multitude of stories, histories, and cultural
information. The recipes I find there bring back my grandmother and the
delicious meals she often prepared for us. The email list brings back children’s
rhymes and stories, as well as holiday customs, etc.
Next year will mark
the 100th anniversary of my grandmother’s emigration. My grandfather came here
114 years ago. They were not in Europe for WWII and its sad aftermath. Because
they were part of a close German-Hungarian community here, I’m sure they knew
what was going on. But I had never heard anything of the post-war Donauschwaben
tragedies. I asked my mother what she knew about it and was surprised to learn
that she had never heard of this either. It seems that my grandparents had
decided to protect their only child from knowing how her European cousins were
suffering. (I have learned that Mom had a second cousin in Kleinbetschkerek who
was two years younger than she and had the exact same name. In 1946, Mom was
married and starting a young family. Her cousin died that year in Russia at the
age of 22.) So the DVHH, to me, is like having some of my grandparents’
family left (and it does include some actual cousins), now that they are gone,
and having the chance to ask some of the questions that I never thought to ask
them, or never knew to ask them, and having a chance of finding the answers.
What a treasure!
I was three when we were forced out of Kernei by
Tito's decrees to wander Europe as refugees. We were finally
re-united as a family in Vienna and came to Canada in 1948.
Over the years from time to time I would accompany my parents to Kerneier gatherings in Kitchener, Toronto, Montreal & Chicago.
Although I had few memories of my own, it was interesting to
hear people reminiscing about their lives of long ago, and talk
of neighboring places called Tshonopl, Sivaz and Apatin. It
seemed to me that even though surviving Kerneiers were scattered
around the world, they still retained a strong sense of
Coming back home for visits over the
years I discovered copies of the Donau-Schwaben Kalender that my
parents had subscribed to and found it fascinating reading.
However as time went by and my parents passed away it seemed as
if all my links to my Donau-Schwaben heritage were gone.
As I think happens to many of us, I only
became deeply interested in genealogy when I reached retirement
age and regretted not having spoken more to my parents about
Kernei and the Batschka. Then by luck I found out about the
Familienbuch Kernei in der Batschka by Johann Schmidt and got my
own copy. This led me to a wonderful start on my family tree.
When trying to find connections to the
family tree from links before or outside of Kernei I found my
way by chance to the Donauschwaben-Villages site. Suddenly I
was 'back home', though that home was much larger than I had
thought! I have discovered that the whole Donauschwaben
community including Batschka, Banat and beyond share that
indefinable extra that I had thought was unique to Kernei. It
is wonderful to see the willingness to help one another
where-ever possible in the daily threads, and to keep on
learning about my ancestral home.
A final thought concerning some of the
recent exchanges about people now living in our former houses
who would like to express their feelings for what had happened
to those forced out of their homes in the 1940's. I believe by far the majority of the people in the world do not endorse
the atrocities committed for political or religious reasons,
regardless of which side of a border they live on. I would like
to hope that with technology now making possible communications
across the world, that the feeling of community exemplified by
the Donauschwaben can gradually expand to a whole earth view.
Wishing all a happy New Year,
Mike Abt, Ottawa, Ontario
I appreciate everyone
here at the DVHH for your help, support and kindness.
The one thing that stands out for me is: The DVHH community helping me get*past
a major road block *with the Schirmang family.
DVHH has helped me to trace my Schirmang roots back to the Germann family. I
would have NEVER guessed this!
Peggy Miller, Spooner, WI
When I retired from a 40-year career as a
professional engineer, I finally found the time to dedicate some
time to research the history of my family.
That history is obviously intertwined
with the history of the Danube Swabians (Donauschwaben, in
German). It was a fortuitous coincidence that the Internet
became available as a very useful instrument for genealogical
research. It was another lucky coincidence that I found the
Besides their general
helpfulness, I was very pleasantly surprised by the degree of
interest shown by list members in all things Danube-Swabian: not only genealogy, but
also history and culture, village life, customs and
celebrations, even eating and drinking.
A chapter largely
ignored by history books is their sufferings after WWII. Ever
since my arrival in Canada, some fifty years ago, I had found
out how difficult it was to explain what happened to Danube
Swabians living in Communist countries during and after WWII.
Having lived through those years and events, I was able to
answer some of the questions asked by list members.
Through the list, I got
to know many of them, first and foremost Jody and Alex Leeb.
Setting up the DVHH websites followed in a kind of natural
progression. Eventually I volunteered as one of the coordinators
for www.dvhh.org/banat and
as coordinator for my native village
I am grateful for the
help in matters of genealogy, and for the friendship of so many
Danube Swabians and DS descendants. Over the years, I found
great satisfaction when I was able to answer some questions,
either from personal experience or from ongoing study of DS
issues, and also to contribute a few stories, as well as some
translations of prose and poetry.
When I look at the summary of these
(prepared by Jody, of course)
consider myself lucky to have met you all and that, together, we
are honouring the memory of our DS ancestors.
May the DVHH and its
websites live on in the Internet for a long time in the future!
Nick Tullius, Banat Coordinator,
The DVHH provides me with a great place to show my research
results of Torschau, my mother's birth town. I met quite a lot
of people through the contact form. It is really exciting how
many people are still interested in their family history. I
think it is our generation who must collect all the data about
our Donauschwaben ancestors. My sons grew up here in Austria and
aren't that much interested. I'm still working on a family book
of Torschau and have gathered almost 10,000 people now. But it
is still much work to do! If you are interested you can look at
a current version here:
hope the DVHH will be present for a long time to tell all the
stories of our Donauschwaben ancestors. The first ten years have
been a good time but the next ten year could even be better.
Carabelligasse 5/184, A-1210 Wien, Austria
For me it's still
unbelievable that almost every day I get a much better view of my DS-ancestors -
via a community founded in North-America. Living in Germany, close to the place
where the Danube is formed by its two source rivers, the internet had to take me
over the Atlantic-Ocean to "meet" so many people who share the same interest:
"Finding out more, were we come from". Thanks to Jody McKim Pharr for the
wonderful idea to start DVHH and Peter Haas in Vienna and all of you, whom I had
the honor to "meet" on the web.
Let me explain my
personal experiences which made me join this community:
When after WWII many
of my relatives ended up in Austria and Germany our lives were not very funny.
The "natives" did not really like the refugees with whom they had to share what
this horrible war had left them. Most of us "lived" in refugee camps or lived in
homes nobody had invited us to. But all the time they told us children about at
home ("drham") and how wonderful it was there and how happy and wealthy they
Today I believe to
know which traumatic experiences they had undergone, and that they still could
not accept that their wonderful world had fallen apart. Nevertheless they
desperately tried to keep the hope alive for us. But they were not too good in
explaining, so we children did not understand and only saw our poverty and that
the others where so much happier. They spoke a dialect different to ours, which
alone made us feel to be intruders. The result were fights with these other
children - like in generations before and like in generations ahead of us, the
"new kids on the block" have to fight for their new place of living. But the
years went by, our parents rolled up their sleeves and all worked together to
rebuild our destroyed world and slowly we all got integrated - at least more or
less. The differences between the old and the new inhabitants disappeared and so
did our childish attitude of feeling to be different. We forgot about our
DS-past, because it was no longer important, the more it became clear, that
there would be no way of "returning home".
Now, as I am
approaching the 70's, since 10 years I am still trying to find out more of where
I come from. The first phase was to take a closer look at the old photos and
documents - whatever had not been lost on the big escape. The deeper I got into
the details the more questions arose and for the answers the contact to the
elder relatives was intensified - sometimes to their big surprise. Not only that
they had to answer questions over questions, there was this new thing, called
the world-wide-web, which offered so much information, nobody really could think
of before. Founding DVHH was a giant step for the awareness of our DS heritage,
but the other big step was the enthusiastic cooperation which really is
unbelievable. Thanks to everyone for every contribution, because their results
increase the identification with our ancestors and help us to understand them
better than ever before.
What I have learned,
is that our families had a pioneer spirit which never disappeared. They never
gave up and may the circumstances have been worse and more hopeless than ever
before. As far as I found out, my family started their journey from Switzerland
(Zwingli reformation, about 1500+) to the Palatinate and from there 1784 down
the Danube to the Batschka, to help restoring the land there after the
Turk-wars. From there 1945 they fled to Germany and again they shouldered their
part in rebuilding a country after another stupid war. Others went on further
westwards and contributed their share in the rise of their new home-countries.
A lot of the
information I found on the website of DVHH or the website was the starting point
for many more enquiries. Without all of you and your information my life would
be a lot poorer. Thanks to all of the active people who are helping to make the
world (and the knowledge about our ancestors) a little brighter.
Rainer Herrmann, Germany
What DVHH means to
mean is a better understanding of my great grandparents and their family in
Hungary and what their travel to America was. I see them as strong people who
left all they had and knew in Mercydorf to come to this country. Their decision
was to give them all a better life. Though all through his life my grandfather
seemed to be an average working person. This view would be because I and others
were blind as to why he saw his life rich with rewards. His parents worked
menial jobs in factories in College Point, but oh what their sons lives held
because their parents made this decision. They OWNED homes, RETIRED from
employment and their children and grandchildren lived lives better than they
What the members of
dvhh means to me is that they are a kind and sharing community. I have heard
personal accounts of people lives that should never be forgotten.....hopefully
so some never happen again. People who share their recipes and crafts so it may
live on. I’ve had people who supplied me with information on ancestors and
those who translated papers that were mistakenly believed to be passports but
instead were birth certificates that told me the exact house and time my
grandparents were born. Most of all it’s the connections that we are all able
to make.....lost friends and relatives now found and often they give us more
clues to the puzzle we all try to complete and new found friendships. So many
of my family
gone but I have reunited with those who I never knew of or had vague memories
from my childhood. For all this I thank each and everyone of you.
Staudt, Sayville, New York
What the DVHH means to me: As a young girl growing
up in Los Angeles, I was exposed to many Donauschwaben people,
traditions, culture, and language. At the time, I did not have
the appreciation of the importance of our heritage. My
grandmother would tell me stories of the "old country" and of
close family I will never know. I did not understand the
gravity of my mother's and grandmother's experiences in the time
after WWII. My journey to enlightenment began about
three-and-a-half years ago after a brief trip to my mothers
hometown: Jabuka, Banat. In trying to put together photographs
to record our experience there, I started on a family tree.
This lead to more research and, eventually, to the DVHH. I read
in horror the experiences of our people after WWII. Thrilled in
the stories of life before the wars. Smiled at the recipes and
traditional costumes. The chronicles of Donauschwaben life in
the online library are priceless. A reference for future
generations to discover a people and a way of life that no
longer exists, but is the essence of who we are. When I visit
Jabuka, I feel at home . . . as if memories could be passed down
thru DNA. My mother says that when the older generation is no
longer with us, there will be no more Donauschwaben. I
disagree. We may no longer live in Banat, Batschka, Syrmia and
other original settlements, but Donauschwaben still exist. The
DVHH is proof of that . . . that Donauschwaben people and
culture is still alive.
up on my mother's stories of Banat, and on my
grandmothers' wonderful baking. Twice a year I was
even dressed up in traditional Donauschwaben
Tracht. But at the time I took all that for
been my observation that many (not all) children
born in America to DS immigrants within the decade
following the 1945 expulsion tended to reject their
heritage, found it "un-cool." Maybe they were too
close, their parents sill too distraught. I was
born a little later, in 1958, and I didn't have that
reaction, but I didn't really pay attention,
either. I didn't understand the importance of
heritage until I had my own children. Then I
started to write down my mother's stories.
So I am
delighted now to have found the DVHH-- a whole group
of people who are actually eager to share, learn
about, and preserve the history, language,
recipes---the culture of our ancestors. Let's keep
doing it. Happy New Year.
I became a member
of the Donauschwaben list on Sept 25, 2003. My first message to
the DVHH was on Oct 13, 2003. It was the annual list of names
we were tracing. Within days, I received messages from people
who were also interested in the same names. From that moment,
learning more about my mother's family became a wonderful
obsession. My most vivid recall was when Diana Lambing told me
I should look for my grandparent's emigration record under Pettendorf instead of Bettendorf. How was I to know that
Germans often exchanged B for P! There they were entering Ellis
Island in 1911. The rest, as the say, is history. Now after 9
years, I have traced almost 20,000 ancestors and relatives from
the Banat. I can visualize my grandmother saying "why do you
want to know all this?" "Have another kalachki!"
to the many who made this possible.
Robert Evensen, Cambridge, MA
to also tell my story about DVHH help. I didn't grow up near my grandmother who
called herself "Austrian". I was so surprised when I found out that she not
only spoke German but Croatian as well. When I learned this, her area was "Jugoslavia".
She never spoke about growing up in Djakovo, not because it was bad, but just
because no one else she knew talked about their past. I've been researching for
about 4 or 5 years, and I cannot think of a better group than DVHH to be
affiliated with. I love the stories, recipes, and finding out what resources
others know about.
I've made several
trips back now, and have made friends with a cousin there. My new info is only
slowly being found, but I get just as much excitement from helping someone else
find a new ancestor, as I do when I find someone from my own family. So, if
anyone needs parish records or other info from the area around Djakovo, Croatia,
please contact me. I'm also interested in Jarmina, and little Josephdorf/Kravitz/Retfala
near Osijek ( Esseg). Thanks to all you great folk who write more often than I
Redlands, CA -
researching Zimmer, Spiegel, Bering, Wagner, and Schmidt
Being a member of the DVHH has been a wonderful experience . . .
I have met a wonderful group of people who are always willing to
step up and help others. Looking up info requested, sharing
wonderful memories, and having a mutual interest in the things I
hold so dear are qualities that make the list so very special.
Thank you to those who may not be blood relations but are
cousins of the heart.
Thank you, Jody,
for you and others who quickly step forward to help those seeking their
Donauschwaben heritage—you are what DVHH means to me! You have been the helping
Rose Mary Keller Hughes,
W Henrietta, NY, USA
Before I started surfing
the Internet in the spring of 2006, I never dwelt much on my ancestors, nor did
I know much about them, except that they hailed from Alsace Lorraine and the
Black Forest Region. I treasured my childhood memories of my grandparents in
the Batschka, and while my parents and aunts and uncles were still alive, I
would listen to random family stories from the past, but it never entered my
mind to ask them about what they knew of our ancestors, for surely they must
have been told stories of them by their parents and grandparents.
When I unwittingly stumbled upon the DVHH website, I decided to subscribe to the
Mailing List. From then on my life took on a new meaning. I've explored many
Donauschwaben and genealogy websites (English and German) and have yet to find
one that can top the DVHH, not just for the wealth of information on its
website, but more importantly, for its people--the members and mailing list
subscribers. The warm welcome and the generous and enthusiastic help I was
given in researching my ancestors encouraged me to want to become involved and
contribute what I can. Through your help I have found ancestors I never knew I
had and learnt much about their lives. I have found living cousins in America,
Brazil, Hungary and Germany; two of these cousins I visited last year in Germany
and one of them plans to visit us next year.
You are indeed "Donauschwaben Helping Hands". Someone once said, "When you
search for ancestors, you find great friends!" So true, for although I haven't
met most of you in person, I have been blessed to make so many good friends.
British Columbia, Canada
The message that Eve has already posted
contains the main things that are also most important to me about the DVHH.
This is not surprising, since Eve and I are cousins that connected via the
internet only 5 years ago. Through the DVHH, I have discovered at least 5 other
distant cousins. As wonderful as this has been for me, it is of no lesser value
the numerous new friends that I have made since joining the DVHH. This includes
those of you that I have had the good fortune and pleasure of meeting, as well
as those of you that I have connected with only through this forum or by
telephone. We truly are one large Donauschwaben family.
Additionally, I have
learned so much about our history that I never knew before joining the DVHH. I
have all of you to thank for that, especially some of the more senior members of
this group, some of whom were born and lived in the lands that we hold in such
high esteem. This has allowed me to place the cherished memories of my
grandparents and great-grandmother in a much more complete perspective.
Many people believe
that it is not important to know one's ancestry, that living for the present and
the future is all that matters. I beg to differ with this viewpoint. Although
the present and future certainly do matter and we cannot change the past, I
think it is important to know oneself, and having some knowledge of one's
ancestry is a part of this.
If nothing else, this
sure is a fun hobby.
What the DVHH means to
means to me.... Many of us here have been disconnected from our families, our
culture, traditions and more . . . not for a lack of effort or desire to have
these things or more than likely we would not be here.
For many there was not
much choice of being scattered and disconnected. Much loss and sorrow.
Here these things to a
degree are restored. Here I have learned not only our history but the character
and joyous spirit of our Donauschwaben people, I have gained wonderful
relationships with lovely good hearted friends and family that I am now aware of
and have come to love and feel a part of and look forward to a future of
memories and joy.. Here I have found understanding I am thankful to everyone who
puts their time, effort, and postings that share with and reunite us.
This site I see as a
beautiful restoration......... beauty for ashes.
Love and Peace to all.
DVHH has been great. The willingness of all to offer their own
research and info is what impressed me. There is always someone,
and often many, who freely give of their time to offer data,
hints and even just advise.
Like others have said I have discovered many "cousins" to add to
Searching Schultz, Schulz, Wüst, Weist,
Stadtfeld, Bauhof and Hergatt. in the Banat villages of
Zichydorf, Georgehausen, Gros Gaj, Hatzfeld and Deutsch Zerne.
thank you to all !
Stephen Schultz, Sask. Canada
I have read all of these posting backwards ....
from last back to Eve's first. So many have said so
much that I feel. When I began my study of genealogy I never dreamed how
far that would come.And the friends that I have made over these "at least" ten
years .... I will never forget them. We share an interest ... a hobby ....
and I for one am learning things that "school overlooked". Perhaps schools
simply cannot teach that anyway. I have read of others first-hand experiences
- the horrors and atrocities of what we heard a few words whispered. I have
read of the courage of so many who have come before us -- some who died while
fighting for their freedom. I will never forget any of these stories. It
reminds me the price many paid for our freedom and choices. Some of the
stories I have read were about the simplest part of lives .... reminding us that
we share that simplicity no matter what generation we are part of. The basics
never change. I've learned about the good food, tasty recipes, the holiday
customs and the hard work of our ancestors. I believe we have been placed on
this earth by our Creator to learn about one another, to love another, to help
one another ... and through these things to learn about what it means to be
human. Thanks to all those connected with the DVHH.
DVHH provided answers to childhood questions (still
researching the Czechoslovakian side of the family) - that were answered by my
Grandmother Barbara Schwab Duft that her and my Grandfather Paul Francis Duft
were from areas that were near the German - Hungarian boarders. My Grandmother
only said that my Grandfather was from Germany and she was from
Bácsalmás Hungary. DVHH
had a list with the Surname Duft as a GOOGLE search finally had revealed a
start. I did a risk posting to DVHH and Eve Brown responded! Eve started with
providing family information & then connected me with Cousin Ewald Schneider.
Ewald provided the Duft, Nyari/Sommer and Schwab genealogy information.
The Hungary side of Ferencz Paré
aka Frank Pare and Rózália Juránovics Paré - never ever thought would figure out
the emigration village, plus Great Grandma Rose’s maiden name. (Thanks
to DVHH -Rose Mary Keller Hughes for the (LDS) Hungary Catholic Church Records,
1636-1895, Csór, Fejér, Hungary. Grandmother's maiden name, Rózália Juránovics -
the bonus was the Hungarian information and was able to share with American
The Nyari/Sommer leads to the
Fleckenstein’s in Alsace, France. The reading and learning does not end with
finding out about Europe, Geography, Culture, Origins which leads back to
America and what this country meant to those that first stepped ashore! One way
that the honor can be expressed is through knowing and sharing the names and
stories. Thank You to the DVHH list member’s that shared their personal
knowledge and experiences, and the continuation of DVHH!
Thank You For DVHH!
Viele liebe Grüße.
Tamara Duft Chapin,
Although I don't often address the DVHH list, my
family and I are deeply indebted to the research
and support this community provides every day,
especially Jody and Noelle.
called me at work out of the blue one day
several years ago to find out whether I was a
relative of a man she had been researching. Of
course I was in shock and total amazement
because we really had no information about the
'Hungarian' side of the family since it
disappeared with my great-grandfather Niklas
Since that phone call we have had some really
exciting breakthroughs on the search to find
him, from patents to additional wives to living
extended family. I hope that someday we find
him, and the amazing stories of connections
through the DVHH is such inspiration and keeps
that hope going.
Thank you, all of you, for keeping the memories
of our past alive, sharing your experiences and
knowledge, and for bringing together such an
incredible group of people.
The DVHH has provided me with much information
that I couldn't obtain from other sites. In
part, due to the wonderful people that belong to
DVHH making themselves available to answer
questions and share information. Those members
who gave of their time and money to travel
to our ancestral homelands to gather so much
information and records, photos and personal
stories, giving fellow researchers areas to
research that weren't available any other
way. Through the members, I've been able to
break down brick walls to prove vital
information I had, and also take my surname
ancestral searches back through village records
and family books much farther than I had ever
DVHH website is by far the best devoted to our
Donauschwaben family providing us with such an
extensive collection of different types of
genealogical resources and research mediums.
Also, DVHH has provided a site to encourage a
wonderful group of people to interact with each
Wendy Phillips, Ocean City, NJ and LWR, Florida
New friends, new relatives, new
information, new opportunity to help others.
All this has happened
since I joined this mailing list. I was able
(accidently) to find distant cousins and finally
met one of them in Germany when we were there a
few years ago. I have been able to help others,
and others have helped me to extend the
knowledge about my Donauschwaben family and the
customs and traditions that they created. What
a blessing. And as other have said about their
relatives, I now wish that I had asked my
grandfather about his life in Apatin before he
came to America.
Merry Christmas to all
and hopes for a great DVHH new year in 2013.
Yvonne Juhl, St. Louis, MO
Postings are listed by first name. [Some postings were edited due to
off topic or lengthy family histories that may be more appropriately published
elsewhere on the DVHH website.]