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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Volunteer Firemen

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

"Everyone ran, saved, escaped."  -  "The night is lit like daylight."  - Schiller

     "Charity is the power of fire, when it controls the people and guards", yet, "alas, when it lets go" it spreads itself, then "the elements hate the structure of the human hand." 

     Yet since the times of our grandfathers, the bells rang high in the tower frequently, because of the rage of the fire.  On the occasion of the national census in 1857 there were 30 homes in our community laying in rubble and ashes.  Fire damage by the opening of the chimney and the thatched roof was almost a daily occurrence.  As roof tiled homes replaced thatched roofs, the number of burned up homes decreased.

image -  Volunteer Firemen's Association in 1928 with commandant teacher Jakob Dietrich.

     At the alarm call of the bells everyone who has legs rushes to the fire still today, everyone is prepared to jump in to lend a hand.  After the invention of the fire hose it could be seen that so much more was achieved than with so many pails.  These large hoses needed a strong shouldered team to operate them.

     After the largest fire- which stands in our memory- at which the Schladt's steam mill fell victim up to its foundation in 1900, some men decided to establish the Volunteer Firemen's Association.  The association numbered 32 men.  The founding members included Michael Gutwein as "Zugskommandant", later he was also 2nd Kommandant; Martin Göttel and Peter Burger were non-commissioned officers.  The largest fire which the association took part in extinguishing was the large "Tristen" fire on the "Salasch" (field) of Georg Bittlingmayer, where all of his wheat and that of Ludwig Häuser, as well as the threshing appliances went up in flames.  This association also took part in the large fire "Brunste" in B. Topola where 10 to 15 homes fell victim the year before the war.  At the competition in St. Kanjiza in 1914 the association won first prize: a mug.  At another opportunity they won a beautiful smoking service.  Both objects still exist.  The association existed up until the year 1922 and was under the leadership of former pharmacists and postmasters.

     An enormous mill fire was the impetus for the association to be newly established again.  In 1925 the Savossi Mill ,which stood on the east side of the main street not far from the marketplace, burned down completely. - The newly founded Firemen's Association existed in 1926 under the competent leadership of Commandant Jakob Dietrich who was a teacher.  Today the association has 20 men and 6 officers, of which the "Zugs"commandants are Philipp Hauser and Joh. Körper.  The association has two fire hoses which already existed 35 years ago, of which one is already more of a museum piece.  The competent team won first prize at a competition in 1935 in Topola: a mug.  Besides that they had won a touring prize twice.

     It is necessary for this association to measure its importance, the necessary attention and support should be devoted to it.

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]