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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors


by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

     Superstitions were widely spread by our ancestors.  The appearance of illnesses were attributed to the angry spirits.  Driving them out was the responsibility of the "Brauchweiber?" (customs woman).  They carried on this practice for an especially long time with skin and eye illnesses.  All eye catarrh including "Trachom" were attributed to the "Schußploder."  The most suited place for the custom was in the doorway between the double doors of the sick place where it had been spread with the hand or spit on, or at least had strongly blown on them.  By these doors the suitable incantations were murmured around from which only the "three hechsten Nome?" were to understand.  An especially well-known incantation went: "He'le, he'le Katzedreck, bis marje Frih is' alles weck."  As an especially effective medicine the "Krawelche" was valued, which was planted on the wall and had to be squeezed out of the sick spot of skin (Derre) with a thimble.  Narrow-minded people still make occasional attempts today with the urine of the sick, alone or mixed with yellow earth, cow dung, spider webs, etc.  Animals were also used against the illnesses.  If a deceased calls from the cemetery, then a rind a bacon must be buried under the "Dachtrapp" (roof trap?) to heal the warts.

     The days of the "Brauchweiber" are over.  Today there are much more crafty magicians such as the "Neusatz woman" of the miracle man from Gallersbach (Zeileis)  who still have the attraction, and the gullible are placed completely under their spell.  Eggs are given on Sunday when the Lord's Prayer is read with joy because the "Kücken" chicks will hatch out at once as the people come out of the church at once.

   It is the custom that strongly smelling leaves of various plants would be laid in the songbooks: such as "Krottebalser" "Pannekuchekraut" (pancake herb?), "Spick", etc. 

     Our grandparents generally still greeted with a "Helf Gott" (help God) and replied with "Groß Dank" (great thanks).  Unfortunately the beautiful genuine German greeting is only heard in Sekitsch anymore.  By us it is generally "Gu'n Tach" and the French "Adje" (adieu).  Attempts were made by the school ten years ago to introduce "Grüß Gott." (greetings to God).  It was hoped that the foreign word "Adje" could be completely replaced by it.  There are almost no nicknames in Feketitsch.  Through the little epithets which occur the baptismal names of our ancestors are immortalized.  So for example: B. Bernhard; Bastian (=Sebastian); Schulhaus (=Sculdiener Johann); Jerfriedl (=Georg Friedrich) etc.  These could not be accepted as nicknames anyway.

     Before the World War it was believed that the dialect and pronunciation of the people of Sekitsch could be made fun of.  Today however we are coming to the realization that it was a shame that in the whole Batschka region the people of Sekitsch had the only true Swabian dialect.  The Pfalz dialect was abandoned.  Also some foreign words of Hungarian and Slavic origin have found their way into the Feketitsch vocabulary.  An example of it is put together in the following sentence: 
"Nar e bitanger, pametloser Betyar legt sich mit Batschkre und Tschisme an de Noge 'uf die Paplan, oder 'uf de Divan, wann er 'uf dem Sallasch, oder 'uf der Pusta aus seim Tschupe Kokosch, Ketschke- oder Katschepaprikasch eßt." - De' Ischpan hat 'uf dem Piaz am Koplalo sei' Wike und de' Scharke samt dem Kukuruz der Kofa mit dem Tschurock verprotascht un' jetzt puscht er sei' Lula, akar sei pischricher Kume und Komschi: der Kupez; - na teschek! jetzt leere se' de' Tschuter zum Aldemarsch un losse sich tudle un' gewe dem Harfasch noch Bago far Radasch." (In English translated from German: Only a homeless, foolish, good-for-nothing (robber) sets himself down with his dirty shoes and boots on the edge of a quilt, or on the bed, when he is at the manor, or eat chicken (cocks, goats, or duck flesh prepared with red pepper in his earthenware container at the dairy yard.  At the square by the "Hutweide" (border meadow) the steward sold his bull and chestnut horse together with the corn to the market dealer with the fur coat and now he smokes his pipe, just he needs to urinate with his bosom buddy and neighbor.  The buyer says, "Oh please! Now empty the wooden bottle so your brother can drink and lets make music and give the harp and chewing tobacco as gifts for it.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]