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

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Chapter 9

The Slovakians, The Ruthenians & The Slovenians

By Josef Schramm
Translation by Brad Schwebler

   The Slovakians were mainly settled under Joseph II and came from the thickly settled upper Hungarian komitats (counties) at the time, where often in the surrounding are of the Lutherans German mining cities they were also often Lutheran.  In a biological respect this was very favorable, socially less.  Only 1/3 of the agricultural workers were employed by the Slovakian owners, and also of those “owners” almost half owned less than 5 katastral yokes (about 3 hectares).  The general judgment of the Slovakians was: “peaceful and diligent.”  After World War II many Slovakians conspicuously committed inhumane treatment which was hardly in harmony with their general character. 

The Slovakian girls and women loved garish colors in their traditional dress.  Light blue and light red occurred most frequently besides white.  The traditional dress of the Slovakian girl illustrated was made in the parent’s house.  The farmer sowed, roasted, chopped, and weaved linen.  The farmer’s wife bleached, colored, cut, and sewed it.  The stockings and shoes came from the wool of some sheep, which the people washed, spun, colored, and knitted. – The diligent and strong Slovakian girls were also often active as servants in the cities and treasured by their Hungarian, Serbian, or German employers.  For the male servant who married the servant girl, the new couple was often “equipped” for example with kitchen furnishings, furniture, or bedding.

     The Ruthenians immigrated 1780–1790 and 1851–1855 from the Zemplin Komitat from present day Karpato-Ukraine and settled in the Batschka in Kerestur and Kutzre in the Kula district.  They belong to the Greek-Catholic (United) religion.  They are gifted, frugal, and diligent.  After World War II they were cheered up when they returned to the old homeland in the Carpathians, yet it appeared that they have lived so much in the lowland and together with other people that they remain in the land.

     There were always only individual Slovenians, at the most a couple dozen, before 1918.  After that they came in greater numbers as officials of the post office, in the banks, of the police, or as specialists in the industry.

     They always understood to go with the stronger: once they were the great Hapsburgs, once the anti-Hapsburgs, if it was suitable they would pretend to be turncoats and the next day be the Slavic blood brothers of the Serbs.  But the sophisticated Slovenians were nevertheless generally treasured in the German communities.

   The first of these people coming from the west were in recent times soldiers of Prince Eugene of Savoy, who stayed after the Turkish war as officials and craftsmen of the land.  The nationalities played no roll, but religion probably did.  So under Karl VI and Maria Theresia only Catholic “members of the empire” came to the Batschka.  Under Joseph II Lutherans and Calvinists were also allowed. When the Holy Roman Empire was dissolved in 1806, it was also with the further settlement of the Germans.  The region of origin of the Germans was above all the overpopulated southwestern German regions: at first the Hapsburg lands of Lorraine, Alsace, Vorder-Austria, then Luxemburg, the Pfalz (Palatine), Hesse, Baden and Württemberg lands.  But in this great work the southeast settlements were also shared with all the other German speaking lands.

The Viennese court chamber decided to situate a large German settlement on the Danube on which to settle the populated land.  Rustic settlers, arriving on ships found here a blossoming city with jolly countrymen, so the homesickness was not all that bad.  Those settlers intended for the Banat drove further, those who had set out for the Batschka went here and stayed in Apatin to adapt to the climate.  After some time they went to the villages to which they were assigned. – The city hall pictured here symbolized the prosperity of the Apatin craftsmen and farmers.  It also shows that Apatin’s peaceful conscience as a “city” could be described.  Other ornaments of Apatin were: two Catholic churches, the brewery, the German grammar school, the avenues and the Danube shore.

[Published at 19 Sep 2005 by Jody McKim Pharr]

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The Slovakians, The Ruthenians & The Slovenians