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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

The Cultural Life

by Peter Lang
Translated by Brad Schwebler

          About the cultural life something has already been written under the chapter “Associations” and indeed from the time after 1900.  About the cultural life from Emperor Josef’s time one can certainly say that the folksongs as well as the fairy tales and sagas were passed on to the younger generation.  The cultural connection to the motherland is never broken off, because there were also such songs known which were first written and composed after Emperor Josef’s time (“Auf der Lüneburger Heide” (On the Lüneburg Heath), “In Mantua in Banden, der Treue Hofer saß” (In Mantua in bonds, the loyal courtiers sat), “Am Brunnen vor dem Tore” (At the fountains in front of the gates), and so forth.

          It cannot be my task to write about all of our own poets from the whole settlement region.  Here it can only be said that we also had poets in our settlement region who went into literature history.  We also had painters, musicians, and other artists who became world famous; often they would be known as Hungarians.  Pioneering scientists were not missing either.  I only want to say so much here, that we are proud of these people and that strengthened our success and self consciousness.  Whoever wants to know more about it will already find the way to receive the relevant literature about it.  One tip I would like to give: In the “House of the Donauschwaben” in Sindelfingen one can find an advisor for each time period.

          Now back to the cultural life in the village.  What the old read about 1800 cannot be completely listed.  Certainly each house at least had a Bible, songbook, and a calendar.  Eimann gave his newspaper, which he had subscribed to his acquaintances as well. (from Eimann’s letter from the 15th of April 1832, collected by Friedrich Lotz: “He visited me each week … I gave him a sheet full from the newspaper … it was a joy to give something of such caliber.”)

          Books were also read because Eimann could press and set up a book.  Naturally still more books and newspapers were read by some farmers, only I am missing the papers.  There were also printing presses in several villages, only I do not know from what year.  Eimann’s books were printed in Budapest in 1822 and bound in Apatin.  With certainty I can say that after 1900 there were printing presses in Apatin, Tscherwenka, Neuwerbaß, Zsablya, India, and there were two rotating machines in Neusatz.

          The number of printing presses is not exhausted with this.  It is only from the narrow surroundings which established the mainly German printing reports.  One can picture from this that there were enough readers.  The homeland books which recently appeared in some at each jubilee went in many homes because usually it was not worth it for them to print it themselves.  In the last period in some homes in Beschka there was a library filled with 500 volumes or more.   The “Deutsche Volksblatt” (German People’s Paper) (20,000 copies per edition) appeared in Neusatz seven times a week and was subscribed by 80 people in Beschka (source: Ewinger, Reg. No. 462), son-in-law of newspaper deliverer Sawitsch (Reg. No. 1607).  Besides that some subscribed to the “Werbaßer Zeitung” (Werbaß Newspaper), a weekly paper in definite numbers.  Ten to twenty beekeepers read the “Jugoslawischen Imker” (Yugoslavian Beekeeper) from Neuwerbaß.  Certainly there were still other printed pieces which were read in Beschka.

          Also to be mentioned is that books and newspapers were often passed on so the number of readers increased.  Also Serbian printed materials were read by the Germans.  I also remember that there was a humorous satire paper, “Die Wespe” (The Wasp).  This paper also found readers in Beschka.  Certainly there were still other printed materials which I did not name, but this listing is enough to form a picture of the people’s culture.

          The spoken word everyone heard from the linguistically highly trained pastors.  So Hochdeutsch (high German) was not foreign to any people of Beschka because he also spoke all day in his dialect.

          There were plenty of music lovers for a small community.  There were two professional bands.  For each period there were people who could play a keyboard instrument such as the organ, harmonium, or piano and accordion.  Besides the teachers there were at least 10 to 15 people who could play an organ or harmonium.  The violin was also played rather well by several people.

          Friedrich Beck concerned himself with painting and probably others as well.  Rev. Jung also wrote poetry on occasion and the salesman Andreas Thuro (Reg. No. 2050) had a large collection of poetry, of which I have some here.

          The first radio was introduced in the year 1926 by Johann Röder (Reg. No. 1567).  In 1927 four Saba apparatus came as well.  It was still battery operated.  Reception was very good.  Many homes already had radio when the people fled.  Before World War I there were playhouses only in the cities.  Movies came to the cities in 1929 and about 1939 also to Beschka.

[Published at by Jody McKim Pharr, 2005]