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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Die Deutschen der Gemeinde Feketic-Feketitsch


by Dr. Viktor Pratscher, 1936
Translated by Brad Schwebler

     The end of the great struggle brought about an assimilation, which could never have  been foreseen.  The public awareness of the minorities was aroused in the whole world. Also, after a long slumber, at this moment the public awareness of the Germans in the Batschka in the kingdom of Yugoslavia was newly aroused.  The work of the 'Erzschwaben', our great local author Adam Muller-Guttenbrunn, whose works included "The Bells of the Homeland", "The Great Swabian Migration", and "Gotzdammerung" have fulfilled their task.  Before this these books were secretly read, found by us in every German library.

   It was a miracle.  As if the whole wide world before the relieved eyes in shining clarity are opened again, so awoke our deeply sunken public awareness with a bang from its long sleep.  A whole world is contemplating and before the eyes of the late descendants reflects that already they forget the old German world of the ancestors again; so beautiful, so pure, so loved.

   The hitherto neglected research concerning the history of the immediate area, the birthplaces, the family trees, would have been recorded in old German regions with enthusiasm, to preserve the memory of the parents, cultivate the German ways, to save the German culture and history of the past, and this is the danger, that it will be snatched away, lost forever into oblivion.  Then a people whose past it had neither known nor honored also has no future, same as its children that did not keep the fourth commandment.

   The Swabian, as we have become known in this land, right or wrong, are no longer ashamed to be a Swabian.  On the contrary, one is proud of it.  And rightly so!  He is publicly aware.  With it the sting of the earlier injury has been taken away, the mocker has been silenced.

  Only to the ignorant, not to the doctor, does it seem to be a miracle.  They are relieved that the once completely blinded eyes can see again, completely and exactly.  The doctor knows that the sight of the background exists and only the cloudy lens at the entrance of the eyes prevents the light rays. So it was with the public awareness of our Swabians, it slumbered only under an anesthetic.  When the Swabians had the opportunity to become acquainted with the history of their ancestors, the long sleep was over.

   In our Swabian German cultural union, our German presses lose no opportunity to spur on the research of the history of the homeland, so that today already in each one of the communities of the Batschka where Germans live, a historian of the village can be found, mostly teachers and pastors.

   The occasion of the 150 year centennial of the "josefinischen" settlement, two years before the 150 year centennial of the founding of the proud community of Torscha.  In the past year Crvenka, our greatest Protestant community, and Neu-Werbass, the most progressive and cultural center at the first place where a German community existed in Central Batschka, celebrated their founding.  In the course of these years would pure German-Protestant communities exist today?  Before all others Sekitsch and Buljkes, then Neu-Schowe and Neu-Sivac, and finally Batschko-Dobropolje (formerly Kischker) remember the ancestors who came from Germany 150 years before, or rather the emperor of the time had the aforementioned Villages established this way.  In the next years the German-Protestant communities would have the opportunity to celebrate the founding of the last established community of Jarek (Batschki Jarek).

   Also the forefathers of the Germans of Feketitsch came from Germany with the great Swabian migration (Schwabenzug) under the glorious rule of Emperor Joseph II and settled in the above-mentioned German-Protestant communities.

   150 years are a period of which half, 75 years nowadays it is not unusual for many a man to reach this great age, and quietly we all hope to reach it.  Yet in the span of 150 years there are not two, but six generations.  Of them, five generations are about ready to go into the grave.

   Our memories reaching to the time of our grandparents are still rather lively.  Yet the eldest of us recall several from great-grandfather's time but these memories are already very sparse and are not experienced for oneself.  Others knew for example the local farm family Weber whose Great-grandfather Hann-Nikl Weber with his wife Maria-Elizabetha nee Gebelin and six children came from Sekitsch in 1848 to reside in Feketisch at house number 270, in the outside row.  While the women tended the home; the male members rode out on horses.  But this Hann-Nikl Weber is the first of the fourth generation before us and the first whose grandfather was a settler from the "Empire."  Of him the family knows almost nothing.  Only one of the ancestors of the Weber    the Sekitsch church register can explain that the settler Philipp family who lived four generations Heinrich Weber immigrated to Sekitsch from the village of before us. Born on 11 August 1799.  Ruppertshofen in Hessen-Darmstadt as a 61 year old man and Illustration was made from the and died in 1812 on the 27th of December.  He reached the age original photograph with egg yolk of "87 years and 7 months."   

     One of the ancestors of the Weber family who lived four generations before us.  
Born on August 11, 1799.   Illustration was made from the original photograph, stuck on glass.  

     It is not easy to find out such dates from so long ago.  It was an omission that the 50 year and 100 year anniversaries of the settlers, of the founding of the church communities would observe much too little and holds on to little of the history of each time. 

     How many individuals celebrate the 10, 25, 40, 50 year anniversaries of their marriage, entrance in an occupation, and so forth.  These are individuals who for the most part have no interest in finding out the history of their family circle.  But we should not be indifferent to a date, which has so enormously affected the fate of Germans of all of Yugoslavia.  Quite a few of us moved to the heart of the memorial days of Torscha, Crvenka, and Vrbas.  Although we find no so-called German-settler communities, we feel with all our daily customs and dress.  Nevertheless, we should remember our ancestors when another 150 years passes from the old homeland and we create for ourselves a new homeland here in the Batschka, far from the populace.

   Bear in mind that we want to celebrate a joint celebration with our beloved neighboring community of Sekitsch.  And indeed Sekitsch will celebrate the 150 year anniversary of its founding, but we Feketischer want to remember our ancestors who left Germany 150 years ago and established a new homeland for us in the Batschka.  The celebration will take place with participants from the senior church and public officials.  Also guests from the Empire will appear. 

   There is anticipation from our esteemed government, as was the case also in Torschau, Crvenka, and Vrbas, where in the year 1935 besides the esteemed representative of his majesty the King Peter II, also Hitler's authorized agent of the Saar.  Regional leader Josef Burkel was against it.  It is planned that especially the farmers and workers among us will honor their visits. indeed, one of the guests in Vrbas was also introduced as a factory worker which led to the amazement of us all that he worked in such a factory where he will be stuck in at the end with shaggy farm boys and at the other end there was the new 'school teacher'.  Even with consideration for the guests from the Empire the celebration should rapidly follow from one event to another.  Throughout the celebration the guests will want to have the opportunity to be able to participate at each community.  They will deliver to us greetings from the old homeland.  On the Saturday the 1st and Sunday the 2nd of August the celebration will take place in Sekitsch-Feketitsch and in Buljkes.  The main celebration will be on the first in Sekitsch-Feketitsch and on the second it will be conducted in Buljkes.  One the following Saturday and Sunday, the 8th and 9th of August, are the jubilees in Schowe and Sivac, and on the 15th and 16th of August in V. Dobropolje-Kischker.  Meanwhile our guests will observe our activities in the village and out in the field.  The guests will be met in the Batschka on the 31st of July and some will be picked up by lovely companions.  On the 1st of August a memorial service and rally will take place.  In the afternoon there will be traditional costumes and a wedding procession will move from Feketitsch to Sekitsch.  That evening there will be the performance of a local stage play.  For Sunday there is planned a commemorative ceremony of the cemeteries, viewing objects on display from the time of the ancestors, sporting events, etc.

   But the most beautiful and uplifting celebration will in the course of time be forgotten.  Without a record of the development of a community, our history will only reach back two or three generations.  Already an old quote says: A word expressed is fleeting, but a word written down is lasting.  It therefore seems necessary to record the history of the Germans of Feketitsch in a book.
   So just as our settler-ancestors of 150 years ago came from many different regions of the Empire and found themselves together in the German-Protestant communities of the Batschka, so they may have migrated again from these German communities later to Feketisch.  From one community more, from another less.  So the namesake of the family, who resides in Feketisch today may have come from a settler of Crvenka, while the mother's side of the family came from Sekitsch, yet the grandmother's side came from Torscha or Vrbas.  Such cases in the so-called settler-communities don't happen so frequently, as in Feketitsch.

   Another reason which justifies this long existing need is that the Germans of Feketitsch get their own unique history book, instead of the many homeland books of the different communities.  This is also the reason that the writer must collect from the histories of all the settled German-Protestant communities, especially the forefathers who lived in Feketitsch from the years of the settlement, 1784-1787, at least to 1818.  For these reasons almost all of the works which contain the histories of these communities will serve as the source.

   It is still noticed that many families in Feketisch do not even know from which community of the Batschka their forefathers came from, not to mention knowing anything about the villages in the Empire they descended from.  This way the complete link will be lost, which makes the research of the villages in the Empire that they descended from absolutely necessary.

   Each publicly aware German must revere the history of his ancestors, like his religion, where his heart lies.  Then a people that neither knows its past nor honors it, will be uprooted and will lose its national character.  Christians, as well as Jews, know all about the migration of the Israelites as told by Moses.  Yet we have less information about the "Grossen Schwabenzug" or about Emperor Josef II.  That's why we also take this opportunity in responsible circles of research to have the history of the Grossen Schwabenzug, of which our own ancestors participated, taught in schools.
It would be devoted to teaching:
   1. that our ancestors with their firm beliefs would not be ashamed.
   2. that the love of God has done us much good for which we must be thankful.
   3. that we should hope from Him that He wants to make us well. 

[Published at 2003 by Jody McKim Pharr]

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