Feketitsch in der Batschka
A multilingual community in Yugoslavia with a German minority

Germans of the Community Feketitsch | Village Photos | Families | Batschka | Sekitsch | Donauschwaben History

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Family Tree of the Gutwein Girls
Katherine, Christina, Elizabeth, Theresa, & Dorothy 

"This is a letter written by one of the Gutwein girls who were related to Brad Schwebler by way of their papa was who was Brad's grandfather's brother-in-law." 

   The Hapsburg Empire covered the period from 1526 to 1918. Josef II, the eldest son of Emperor Josef I and Empress Maria Theresia, was born in 1741. He became emperor upon the death of his father in 1765. Upon the death of his mother in 1780 he succeeded her in the hereditary estates of the House of Austria. He encouraged farmers and craftsmen to emigrate to Hungary, particularly those from southern Germany. In a kind of Homestead Act they were granted tax exemption for 10 years and freedom from military service for their sons. They also received building materials, tools, and religious freedom when they settled in Hungary.

   Our ancestors were the so-called Danube Swabians (Donauschwaben). In the early 1780’s they settled in Feketehegy (Hungarian spelling), Feketitsch (German spelling) and in the neighboring town of Sekitsch. While the German emigration to Feketitsch began in the earky ‘80’s, it’s 150th anniversary was celebrated in 1935. Most of our ancestors were Evangelicals (Lutherans), but the Schweblers became members of the Reformed church (Presbyterian).

   The Hapsburg Empire ended at the close of World War I in 1918 and the land became Yugoslavia. The area in Hungary was called the Batschka, is now Vojvodina – one of two autonomous regions in Serbia.

   On a warm, sunny day in October of 1944 the people of German descent fled Yugoslavia – those who stayed were put in concentration camps by Tito’s Partisans.  Our relatives who stayed (young and old) were put in Gakavo. By the end of 1945 of the 17,000 interned in Gakavo 8,900 were dead.  Our aunt and cousins died there. All of our relatives, except two cousins who married Hungarians, fled Yugoslavia. After being in displaced person camps, they settled in Austria, and East and West Germany. In 1941, cousin Nikolaus Gutwein had an Ahnenpass (proof of ancestry) made. (Ahnen means ancestors and Pass is a passport or card.) The information he received stated that our family left Niederkirchen near Kaiserlautern to emigrate to Hungary. In 1958 he went to Klingenmünster, Rhineland-Pfalz. Everywhere he heard the Pfalz dialect spoken. When he spoke with our accent people asked, “Aren’t you from Kaiserlautern?” So in over 150 years our family still spoke with the same accent that our ancestors did.

   Immigration the Europe to the United States rose to 1,000,000 and more annually in the early 1900’s, up to three fourths of this clearing through Ellis Island. On October 8, 1907 Jakob Gutwein left by ship (Kaiser Wilhelm der Gorsse – Nord Deutsche Lloyd) from Bremen, Germany and landed in New York on October 16. That was the only time papa was in Germany.  He came over with his 16 year old brother-in-law, Philipp Schwebler٭. They came to George Speiss, 187 Floyd Street, Brooklyn – You had to have someone to come to in America.  Papa got a job as a doorman (uniform and all at the Willoughby Mansion, a private club in Brooklyn.  He saved his money and Christina (mama) and Katharine came to America in October 1908. Papa’s brother David came too. Jakob became a citizen of the U.S.A. on June 19th, 1925. He had tried earlier but World War I broke out and since he was a citizen of Austro-Hungary they said “No.”  Christina became a citizen on December 22, 1927. They took their citizenship seriously and voted at every election until they were too sick to go to the polls.

   Before moving to East Newport on October 1, 1927 we lived at 2060 Gates Avenue on the corner of Grandview Avenue in Ridgewood, New York. 

*Phillip Schwebler was Brad Schwebler’s grandfather.


Feketisch Village Coordinator: Brad Schwebler

© 2003 Brad Schwebler, unless otherwise noted. - Report broken links

Remembering Our Donauschwaben Ancestors