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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Consequences of the World War I

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
(The Germans of the Community of Feketitsch)
Translated by Brad Schwebler

     The war claimed most of our farmers under the flag, so that the farmer's wives were left to  the management of the fields alone with their underage children or their old parents.  The best migratory cattle were "einassentiert", so that not only the farmer but also a part of the necessary "Bespannung" (coverings) were missing.  It was a difficult time because already it soon became clear the sad consequences of war.  There was the news of wounds, seriously injured, missing, and what was the worst was the dead.  Not infrequently the name of one of our brave farmers was also read from the list of those lost.  The support of the parents, the bread provider of the whole family, always had the eyes closed on the distant future.  Where such a sad case happened, the economy also had an extremely difficult blow "erlitten" (came to light?), because it was not only the farmer's wife's man, the parent's child, the children's father, the whole family's provider, for they were eternally distinguished by them, but also it was for the sons of the farmers, the teachers, and the tutors who died.  What a difficult blow was that for such a family which was affected by such a harsh grievous message and unfortunately their number was always greater.  With the absence of the tutors in later years the grown up youth attracted attention through disobedience during and shortly after the war and unfortunately it is still noticed in many cases today.  The economy was further driven by which fields were possible for the poor farmers which were scantily cultivated , only they could not achieve the same yield as before.  In the years 1915-16 to 1918 war prisoners were also provided to help. - For us in Feketitsch for the most part Russians were used to help as farm-hands, carriage drivers, reapers, etc.

The last wooden handle plow  


     There the war had always placed greater demands on bread grain, had the whole "Fechsung", minus the meager measured domestic requirements, had to be delivered right after the threshing. - As the war in the year 1917 still saw no end in sight, the grain supply was always picked up, the acquisition of all of the grain was arranged.  What fear and anxiety overwhelmed those of us who stayed at home, that there would be neither bread nor feed grain for the cattle and the sparsely calculated rations were really not or could not be enough. - People helped themselves as many times the required amounts of bread for the requisition commission were hidden.  Mostly the straw "Schober" or the corn husk box were used as the hiding place, but not infrequently the fireplace, wardrobe, or bed were also used.  With how much fear and sweat those who stayed at home, mostly women, moved the grain-filled sacks from one unsafe place to another, I don't need to emphasize, but with all the misery it was still a funny case I want to mention: the requisition commission was at work and went from house to house and looked for hidden grains and to control the left over supplies for their own need.  A woman, her name should not be mentioned here, who is completely indifferent to the next generation, has learned that the requisition commission was ready to find it in the neighborhood and would also soon be coming to her home.  There she had also just hidden grain, she climbed, aware of the approaching danger, blood running high and did not know in the sudden excitement what to start.  She mulled things over and finally came to the conclusion to hide the grain in the husk box which was in the rear of the work yard but the entrance door from the street opposite her was drawn and she found herself not in the best safety.  Although she had hardly carried the grain in a few hours before, she wanted to carry the grain on her shoulder to one other place just as the requisition commission opened the door from the street.  What a sight the requisition commission found there?!  The housewife, with a full sack on her shoulder, standing on the husk box (corn husk barn), called to the commission: "Thank God you are finally here.  I would still be crazy in this uncertainty with my hidden grain."  Because this was such a funny scene the grain was merely confiscated and the woman was left unpunished.

     Because of the many losses in spoiled grain and because of the losses in the straw and corn husk sheds, from the mice eating and making the sacks unusable, the grain in the last years of the war were hidden in neither sacks nor in straw or corn husk sheds, but a new hiding place was invented, and the grain was usually poured into a large dry wine barrel and buried deep in the earth at night.  In this barrel the grain was neither "Schimplig", nor did it get somewhat of an unpleasant smell.

     After the end of the war it was a favorable time for our farmers.  All of the supplies were used during the war.  The demands for the farmers' produce was rather active and as a result a partial devaluation of the currency gradually raised the price of bread and feed grain so that the price for wheat in the years 1923-24 even reached 2000+ Kronen (resp?) 500+ Dinar per metric hundred weight (50 kg.).  Not only could the farmer not sell his grain well but all of his products, as well as paying too high prices for his cattle.  Under such circumstances and during this time it is easy to understand why it went well for our farmers.  However because still no trees have grown up to the sky this rosy time did not last long for our farmers.  The reaction was already slowly noticeable in the years 1928-30.  The prices of the farmers' products started to sink more and more and the industrial articles and everything that the farmer needed for himself, the prices suddenly hit the roof, so the possibility of the farmers' existence continued to get worse.  In the years 1930-36 there was a complete economic crisis and it still exists.  The kinds of grain used hardly still exist but very often only more under the "Gestehungs" cost to use.  The wheat is hardly higher in price on the average, up to 100-110 Dinar per Metzen, and similar to the wheat is the relationship of the other products to the farmer.  

Source: The Germans of the Community of Feketitsch by Dr. Viktor Pratscher. Herausgegeben vom Festausschusz der Gedenkfeier.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]