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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors
The Day Worker

by Peter Lang
Translation by Brad Schwebler

   The poor citizens of Beschka had to go to work as day workers mainly for the farmers and to a small extent for the craftsmen. For them the main work time was during the harvest from July to September.  One man together with his wife earned in the harvest time in a 16 hour work day as Rie▀ar (Hungarian resz = part) about 100 kilograms of wheat or 100 kilograms of corn, then they received a twelfth part of the harvest.  Thanks to the wine cultivation from the time the snow melted until the first new snow work always existed.  Outside of the harvest time a day worker at a 12 hour work day earned the equivalent of about 20 kilograms of wheat.  This was certainly small but a capable housewife refined 20 kilograms of wheat into 20 kilograms of bread.  So the need did not occur so long as a day worker family was capable of working.  Those of little means may have sometimes been the chef, but there was never any famine as in the industrial lands.

   In Germany there was a hunger catastrophe before and after the migration of our ancestors every 20 to 30 years.  According to the Krtschedin homeland book the year 1864 was a needy year there.  In Beschka it may have been exactly the same.  For the day worker there was no health or old age insurance.  They had to work until their old age and they were assigned to be supported by their children.  Almost all already owned their own house.  The old women made themselves useful at the spinning wheel or cared for the grandchildren and great grandchildren so that the young could work.  No wonder that the sense of family was very high.  The situation of the day worker has actually not changed with the times since 150 years before the people fled.  Eimann reported that a day worker in the year 1784 earned 9 Kreuzer per day.  At the time 1 Pester Metzen (95 liters = about 72 kilograms of wheat) seldom cost over 1 Guilder, often only 45 Kreuzer, so that the day’s wage at the most favorable wheat price of 45 Kreuzer converted amounted to 14.5 kilograms of wheat.

[Published at by Jody McKim Pharr, 2005] 

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