Danube Swabian Community
“Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world.
In fact, it is the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

Villages Helping Hands

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Celebrating 10 years of extraordinary impact in
the Danube Swabian Community Worldwide
I was here - Wall of Descendants
DVHH Members, Volunteers, and Mail Listers,
share what the DVHH has meant to them.
~ In their own words . . .

I 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. 

Best regards,
Annette O'Shea


About 12 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.

About a 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.

Every 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. 

Alex Leeb.


I also have read all these wonderful postings and stories and Jody encouraged me to post a comment, too. 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 strange.

My Donauschwaben ancestors are all gone, many of them in a "young" age, my father was 62 when he died.
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 birth dates.

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 together.
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,
Barb Hilderson


DVHH 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 heart! 

Barb 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 wonderful show.    

Thank you for all you've done to keep my ancestral heritage alive in my heart.

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 DVHH.

It 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.   

The 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 received.

Beth Tolfree, Bakersfield, CA


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 "Hungary".   

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 get. 

Again, thank you everyone, for all that you do! 

Brian Phail, Los Angeles, CA


A 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.

Unfortunately, I have mastered the English language only slightly. Warm regards and all good wishes for 2013 for all.

Brigitte Wolf (Berlin/Germany) Ortsgeschichte und Familien von Sekitsch / Village history and families from Sekitsch


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.

 Dan Larson, Walden, NY


Jody, where to start and what to say, as the DVHH is dear to my heart:

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, Levittown, PA


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 at www.uihei.com. 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 years!

Diana Lambing, Horsham, England


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 out more. 

Take care,
Eric Hausen


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


Mara 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. 

Fran Matkovich


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 years!

Glenn 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 the DVHH. 

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, Wyandotte, MI


DVHH...Ten years and still going strong! The old saying is that "Time flies when 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 maternal side.

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?
Answer...it's priceless! 

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 live!

...now into the fourth generation of my family in Canada. 

Henry Fischer, Swabian Turkey Coordinator, Ontario, Canada


Donauschwaben 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 project alive.

In honor of all our ancestors 

Jakob Götz, 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


My 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. 

The 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. 

From 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. 

A 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.

We 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 cousin. 

To me, 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 Donauschwaben.   

For 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 years.

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. 

DVHH 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 is. 

And 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.

Joseph Psotka, Rockville, Md.


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 grateful.

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 question. 

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 express. 

Judy Brassinger Ottinger, St Clair Shores, Michigan USA 


It was 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 distance. 

The wagon 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. 

Fast forward 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 our family. 

I have 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 long time. 

Thank you DVHH for being a lifeline to my family history. 

Karl Steinmetz


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 in 1907.

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 area.

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 Gakowa. 

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 Yugoslavia. 

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.  

Katherine Flotz, Crown Point, In


My first 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".

So, 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.

Katharine Samuelson, 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 you. 

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! 

Warmest regards,
Kathy (Zollner) Meany, Ossining, NY (suburb north of NYC)


Two 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 ways.   

When I 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. 

The 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! 

Kristin Motyka, 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.

Linda Jaspersen, New York, New York


DVHH means 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? 

Happy DVHH subscriber,
Linda Bautz McKenna, Kowatschi Village Coordinator, Mansfield, OH
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 ten. 

Jump 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). 

I've 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. 

Congratulations, 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,
Margaret Buza


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.

Marlene Norton (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 names.

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!

Mary Regan, Hamburg, NY


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 community. 

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 DVHH List.

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 www.dvhh.org/alexanderhausen

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) http://www.dvhh.org/banat_biographies/tullius-nick.htm I 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, Ontario, Canada


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: www.dvhh.org/torschau/index.html#familybook.

I 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.

Peter Haas, Carabelligasse 5/184, A-1210 Wien, Austria  http://members.chello.at/familie.haas/       


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 were. 

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 did. 

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 is long 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. 

Rhonda (Friedl) 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.

Rita Schiwanowitsch


I grew 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 granted. 

It's 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. 

Rita Tomkins


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!" 

Thanks to the many who made this possible.
Robert Evensen, Cambridge, MA


Just wanted 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 do!

Robin Grube, 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 hands.

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.

Thank you,
Rose Vetter, 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.
Roy Engel, Ontario, Canada


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.
Sophie Souza


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 my database.

Searching Schultz, Schulz, Wüst, Weist, Stadtfeld, Bauhof and Hergatt. in the Banat villages of Zichydorf, Georgehausen, Gros Gaj, Hatzfeld and Deutsch Zerne.

A big 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.  

Susan Sander


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 cousins.

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. Kind Regards,
Tamara Duft Chapin
, Gambrills, MD


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. 

Jody 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 Schilzonyi. 

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. 

Happy holidays,
Vicky Shilzony


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 imagined.   

Our 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 other.   

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.]


Last Updated: 26 Oct 2020

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