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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

The Political Community

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

   The present day community house was built in 1883.  Before that the old community house stood on the same site in just the same direction and at the time it was already very dilapidated.  It was as low as the homes of the day in 1848 and had a thatched roof.  It was probably the first community house in the settlement.  It is a wonder how it was spared from fire damage in the war of '48.  Nevertheless all of the writings and minutes from before 1852 are missing.

The Feketic Town Hall

   From 1852 on the minutes exist in which the complaints, interrogations, and judgments are registered.  The judge gave the sentence in the presence of two jurors which was detained up to two days until up to 12 cane lashings or a fine of up to 10 Guilders could be read.  The cane lashings were done in front of the community house on the torture bench called Deresch, meted out by the minor court judge and dictated by the jurors.  The offenses consisted mostly of thievery.  So it is noticed, for example, that in 1861 a gang had broken into more wheat pits which are found in front of homes on the street.  Over the plank of the torture bench four paupers towered and the backs and legs of the delinquents were subjected to two canes which were on display and they could not stir.  Women received their punishment with a short whip on the back.  Mainly it was neighbor women who had broken the "Häbche" and then the loose tongues and the coarsest of expressions by the (Staxel?) were written down in the minutes unadulterated.  Nobility, businessmen, and officials could not be convicted by the judge.  The fines, for the most part, went into the treasury of the congregation.  Especially often the landlords, such as Martin Bolz, the "interested landlord" in 1853 and the musicians such as Jakob Hauser and Friedrich Hauser in 1853 and Jakob Bechtler in 1857 were occupied with fines because the jurors had not accomplished the "Hujjegebott" as a consequence.  For 80 years the fines were already imposed when someone emptied ashes or wash water on the driveway.  This strict order is still necessary in Feketitsch today because all the rubble will be emptied on the street, and not on the periphery, especially not far from the community homes.

   The first man in the village, or at least in the community house is the judge.  Before 1850 three people ran for the office of "Ispan" for the judge and the one who he wanted and still two impossible "straw men" (front men).  From 1872 up to the end of the world war candidates of the community committee ran under the chairman for the district committee.  Now the community committee elected from its midst the village board of directors. 

   As far as it establishes itself, the following Germans have so far belonged to the community board of directors:



   Before long it was the custom that the chairman always went with the "Stäckelche" in their office and the meetings ended day after day in the government hall.  In the old days the bill went to community costs, (good times, where have they disappeared?), later on to their own account.  Besides the chairman there was also a community committee which consisted of 20 members at the time.  All these men served free of charge and were exclusively farmers, our present judge is the first businessman.  Up to the year 1933 the chairman received a small honorary fee which was hardly enough for the purchase of one pair of shoes.  In more recent times the judge received 500 Dinar a month, the instructor and each treasurer were paid 200 Dinar each.

   There was only one, later two, today three minor judges (Hartnack).

   Until 1850 security service was provided by the night watchman alone.  He had to sound the hours from 10 to 2 o'clock at night in the summer and from 9 to 3 o'clock at night in the winter.  There was still a night watchman later but the importance of this has often been completely lost.  Since the World War there is no longer a night watchman.  Besides this there was a mounted perimeter guard.  Since the 60's the perimeter guards have replaced all that was stolen and therefore were in good standing.  However robbery did not spread much less until in the years 1870 to 1872  when Count Radai brought an end to the nuisance of robbery.  He had the robbers and their accomplices hunted with such fear by the (Panduren?) and perimeter guards that a degree of security was achieved as never before.  As a result of it the community received half of the money from the perimeter guards.

   The community (Vorspann) service was performed by the farmers themselves until the 60's.  Every day two other farmers took their turn to deal with the burdens in the community house.  Also the Komitate made the (Vorspann) wagons available at the time for 2 to 4 weeks in the year.  In 1855 the community worked to finish the Danube causeway the length of 224 fathoms to Bezdan.  For this purpose 460 workers and 1,162 migratory cattle were demanded by the community.  The community handed this work over to a contractor.  The (Vorspann) service was felt to be especially troublesome because so much nonsense took place with it.  Jauß wrote, "Each nobleman, each rich Jew, and other riff-raff," knew to provide a remittance to travel with the (Vorspann).

   The task of the chairman is still always the acceptance of the shephard who has to look after his flock.  So in 1854 there were: cow keepers, oxen keepers, pig keepers,  and horse keepers, the last were the notorious "Csikoich."  The payment for each cow: 1 bread, 25-30 Kreuzer (crowns), 1 portion of wheat, ¼ pound of bacon, 1 measure of vegetables, 1/8 of salt, but for the pigs only half was paid.

   The community already found themselves in need of money in earlier times.  So for example from the national loan of 56,880 Guilders drawn in 1855 it gave only 100 for 86.

   In 1873 the inhabitants of the great famine were affected.  The community offered a loan of 30,000 Guilders which gave the following guarantees: under land register number 277 listed a community position worth 6000 Guilders and under number 646 was entered 1,546 yokes of Hutweide (pasture), of which 1/6th belonged to the rulers but the community was charged for the remaining 1,332 yokes; the yoke was calculated to be only 100 Guilders and produced a total 133.200Guilders. - In the same year a support association for the poor was established and the German members of this association were: Ferdinand Hamel (Evangelical pastor), Adam Schwebler, Adam Müller, Jakob Schmidt, Johann Will, and Christian Gerber.

   The following belong to our community's fortunes today: 1. the 4 house sites on which the buildings of the community house and 2. the doctor's apartment stood.  Some locales which are found on the main street had been furnished and leased out as businesses for years. 3. The building of the kindergarten (nursery school) under house number 4. 4. The large notary's apartment, which could be found nowhere else in the whole Batschka region. 5. The post office building which served until 1922 as the constable barracks.  (Today our constable's post is in Sekitsch.)  Besides that our community had some yokes of Hutweide (border pasture), which also served as the fairgrounds.  Here also stood the stables for the bulls and the boar as well as the apartments for the community shepherds  and the (Wasenmeisters?).  Here one can also still find the slaughterhouse, an ice cellar, the hemp toaster, and the community brick oven.  Here the communal cemetery bordered the epidemic hospital, and the tree nursery bordered the gardener's apartment and 26 yokes of notary's field. - The remaining field of 50 yokes and the notary field towards Vrbas mentioned earlier were expropriated before long for the purpose of agrarian reform with the reason that the community had an additional 100 yokes.  These fields existed for the most part only on paper.

The outlying area of the community consisted of the following parts:

agricultural land:  7,765 yokes, 1,434 sq. fathoms

(Jogh?):  132 yokes, 1,432 sq. fathoms

vineyards:  309 yokes, 1,520 sq. fathoms

state roads:  77 yokes,     82  sq. fathoms

community surface:  322 yokes,    877  sq. fathoms

community gov't surface:  1,694 yokes,    309  sq. fathoms

(Gewannwege?):  56 yokes, 1,483  sq. fathoms

market square:  5 yokes,     380 sq. fathoms

community brickworks:   22 yokes,     480 sq. fathoms

tree nursery:  3 yokes,     ---  sq. fathoms

cemeteries:  13 yokes,.1,200 sq. fathoms


Total:  10,403 yokes, 1,217 sq. fathoms

   Besides the two judges and the German jurors  the community committee had eight other German members at the time.  In the community house 9 officials were employed at the time.  The notary was Sergej Todorovic. - We have 3 lower court judges and 5 police.  The lower court judges and the police have worn uniforms since 1886 which the community pays for.  Of the staff the Germans at the time were: Johann Zuschlag, officers' assistant; Jakob Wolf, policeman; Friedrich Hauser, lower court judge.  In earlier times the community often only had a staff one third the size of today's staff.

   The representatives elected for the state in the early days was always a lively affair.  The mood maker "Kortesche" already had organized weeks before election day to have a free drink festival in the guest house as a favor to the candidates.  On the day of the election the wagon carried that carried the voters from Vrbas under fluttering flags, where first they drank, then they voted.  The right to vote was only for those who had paid a certain total of taxes, could read and write, were 24 years old, etc.  Today a general right to vote has been introduced and is practiced here in the community where each 21 year old man has a right to vote.  During the election alcohol is forbidden for three days.  So the vote therefore no longer ends in such a heated debate as earlier.  Still the election was always public, except in the years 1920 to 1930.

   On the occasion of the election in 1925 the Germans had at one of the election places 287 small balls in the ballot box.  But at another election place there were conspicuously less (70).  The number of Germans eligible to vote was 570.

   Taxes.  Before the year 1850 tax payment consisted of (Robot?), tenths, and portions.  Noblemen paid no taxes.  The tenths consisted of the 9th and 7th parts of the gross yield.  Besides that there were the "chimney Guilders" and the so-called "portions".  The last burden consisted of the following payments: for each cow 40 Kreuzer had to be paid, for 1 horse 20 Kreuzer, for a sheep 15 Kreuzer, for a vineyard 50 Kreuzer, for a ¼ field 1 Guilder,  20 Kreuzer (crowns).  The general tax duty was first introduced in 1852 which at first only included head-, house-, and field tax.  Then came the stamp fees, inheritance tax, assessor's tax, traffic tax, and Komitat's taxes.  Soon followed monopoly taxes rent taxes, income taxes, business taxes, and cultural taxes, etc. - After the World War the wealth taxes were initiated which still affects so many today.

   Today in the "tax book" of the taxpayer are the following columns: 1.) Arrears or overpayments from the past year; 2.) The field tax will be calculated from pure income and divided into classes.  The principle of the former pure income remained, only this was multiplied with the number "34", of which 10% of it goes to base tax (also called direct tax).  For example payment on a yoke:

1st fathom of field 26 × 34 = 884 Dinar pure income; of it 10% = 88.40 Dinar in direct tax.

2nd fathom of field 23 × 34 = 782 Dinar pure income; of it 10% = 78.20 D. in direct tax.

3rd fathom of field 20 × 34 = 680 Dinar pure income; of it 10% = 68.00 D. in direct tax.  etc.

Of these taxes there was a 20% decrease in 1935. 
The additional tax comes from the following table:

from 1000-2000 D. pure income: 2% 

from 10000-12000 D. pure income: 5%

from 2000-4000 D. pure income: 3% 

from 12000-15000 D. pure income: 5½ %

from 4000-6000 D. pure income: 3.5%

from 15000-20000 D. pure income: 6%

from 6000-8000 D. pure income: 4% 

from 20000-30000 D. pure income: 6½ %

from 8000-10000 D. pure income: 4.5% 

from 30000-40000 D. pure income: 7%

from 50000-100000 D. pure income: 7½ %  etc. 

   Of all the additional taxes there were no autonomous taxes (community taxes, banal taxes, church share of costs, etc.)  It should be mentioned that through the mixing of these direct and additional taxes hardly anyone in the place could make out what's what in their tax books.  It hinged only on the community board of directors that the tax offices concerned act to separate the figures of the direct and additional taxes entered in the booklets.  Then most of our Germans could make out their tax booklets. 3.) House tax.  In Feketitsch there is a tax duty on each house because the town has over 5000 inhabitants.

   For this reason rent could be taken by renting out the house.  In the settlement of the accounts 30% goes to the maintenance of the buildings.  From the remaining 70%, a direct tax of 12% is to be paid; added to it is still the additional tax of 2% which is to be calculated for rent up to 10,000 Dinar.   For example, if the rent taken in each year is 3,000 Dinar, so at first 30% will be taken off; 2,100 Dinar remains; direct tax of 12% = 252 Dinar, 2% additional tax added to it = 42 Dinar.  Together it equals 294 Dinar.  Well noticed is that one is often persuaded to want to take this tax from 3,000 Dinar and not 2,100.  4.) In the fourth column the sales tax 3rd class is entered which was collected all year.  In the first group belong: sales people, businessmen, among others and pay 10% of the pure income.  In the second group belong spiritual workers and they pay 8%.  Added to it is the additional tax.  This amounts to 2% for up to 10,000 Dinar, 2½ Dinar for 10,000-20,000 Dinar, 3% for 20,000-30,000 Dinar, 4% for 30,000-40,000 Dinar, etc.  5.) The pension tax from borrowed money is rather meaningless to us; 6.) Room fees; 7.) Commercial tax, amounts to 2% of the gross intake. 8.) Military pay. 9.) Other. 10.) Total of the above mentioned taxes.

   On autonomous taxes we paid banal, community, and church share of costs which were paid every year at established percentage rates was calculated.  So for years we paid 10% of the direct tax as banal share of costs.  Then the community share of costs was calculated in the year: 1930.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]

Last Updated: 18 Aug 2020 ©2003 Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands, a Nonprofit Corporation.
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