A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Possibilities & Difficulties for the Free Choice of Career -
From the time of Emperor Josef II until the people fled

by Peter Lang
Translation by Brad Schwebler

    In the of Josef the II, most Germans in the mother communities were farmers and craftsmen.  They had all their good income and were contented.  The need for German intellectuals was not covered.  Most Protestant pastors were provided by the Evangelical Slovakians and by the Reformed Hungarians.  It may have been similar for the doctors.  Starting in the 19th century a private grammar school, was established in Werbaß, but only a few attended in the beginning.  Gradually more students attended but the need for German intellectuals was never completely met.  There were different reasons for this. 

   The wealthy person had a certain livelihood for his son, and the poor could not study, because he had to go out to work as well as soon as possible.  Until 1918 all occupations were open to the Donauschwaben, especially when he was “magyarised” (assimilated into the Hungarian culture) (They did not always get opportunities because they were “magyarised” but because they mastered the Hungarian language better.)  It was otherwise after 1918 as our homeland in Yugoslavia fell.  In the occupations paid for by the state only the teacher was certain to get a job, but only seldom was a school principal or school counselor able to get a job.  I know only one German school counselor in Yugoslavia, and he had a Serb for a wife … there was only one official judge? who was already in service before 1918.

The others opted to go to Hungary.  The Germans were only employed in the lower ranks in the postal service, railroad, and administration.  In leading positions were at best those who already had the higher ranks in Hungarian times.

   The nepotism of the Serbian ruler also applied to the detriment of the Croatians.  For the German intellectuals the only occupations that remained besides the teacher and pastor professions were the “free” occupations such as  doctor, pharmacist, and administrator.  Because of the shortage of enough industries the engineers were also not certain of getting a job.

   All of this was the reason why so few attended a continuing education school.  This discrimination was bitter, and one gradually had to live with it.  One accepted all the discrimination and even gave the Serbs the voters voice in 1929 without a grumble.  But the worst allowed the government about 1936 to 1938 to forbid the purchase, lease, and inheritance of properties along 50 kilometers of the border by law for the national minorities.  Beschka lay nevertheless farther from the border, but the mother communities were almost all in this belt.  Some people of Beschka had expected an inheritance in this belt through marriage, which they now had to lose to the Serbs or Croatians.  With luck this law was soon no longer enforced.  When one thinks that all the properties of the owners changed in about 30 years, so did all the Germans and Hungarians within 30 years have to leave the Batschka and had to search for a new livelihood in the interior of Yugoslavia.  They could not have remained as craftsmen because a rented house is in the end also leased.  With this unwise law the government wanted to prevent any border regions to Hungary, Bulgaria, or Italy from being ceded through the people’s vote.  Despite all of this the Germans were not the first “Treulosen” (unloyal), but the Croatians and Slovenians detached themselves already from Yugoslavia on the 4th day of World War II.

   The following paragraph nevertheless does not belong to the economy, but still not one reference to the abuses, the same is said that in 1941 Yugoslavia may not have expected any loyalty from the Germans.  The Germans, Croatians, as well as the Serbs did the official oath and the oath of allegiance without exception to the new Croatian government chief.  When someone should think that this change of conviction is not legally permitted because he came to be through power, so the same is said that the change came about also through the power of the winner.  Besides loyalty to the state we also valued loyalty to our own people.  The friendly reader can think about it, as he wants, but I am personally of the opinion that loyalty to the people has priority.  So thought all of my German countrymen and battled shoulder to shoulder with the Germans from the Empire without consideration of the type of German government at the time.  The Serbs could not be foreign to this understanding because they behaved just the same from 1914 to 1918.

[Published at by Jody McKim Pharr, 2005]