"History is the memory of things said and done."
 - Carl L. Becker

Danube Swabian History
  1800's   1900's   2000's
DS History 101 Ethnic Cleansing 1944-48 Displaced Persons' Camps Atrocity Books Maps

Contact Registry

Subscribe to DVHH-L email list.


The First German Settlers in the Banat Community of Bogarosch
A Contribution to the History of Migration of the German People
© copyright 1942 by Revised by Dr. Berta List
Translated by Diana Lambing

The massive colonization of South Eastern Europe during the 18th century, the center of which was the settlement of the Banat (the area between the Danube, Theiss, Marosch and Siebenbürgen) by Germans is also part of the history of migration of the German people, the entire portrayal of which historical research has yet to finalize.

It is a  result of the victorious conclusion of the defensive actions of the German empire against the Turks, whereby large areas in South Eastern Hungary were recaptured. But the areas became desolated over the decades by constant battles and had to first be developed both agriculturally and commercially after the victory of arms. Because of this, a deliberate state-linked colonization policy, which reached its high-point during Maria Theresia’s reign, was set up in these areas, whose advanced frontiers were of major importance to the German empire. At that time, thousands of German craftsmen and farmers flocked to the Banat. They came mainly from the small western states of the empire or from the areas either side of the Rhine, which had been splintered by the disastrous French wars. Heavy enslavement by the landowners in their own country, or the famine of 1770, persuaded those keen on emigration to follow the call of Queen Maria Theresia. Through advertisements in the newspapers or canvassers who traveled throughout the land, they had heard the news that the Queen wanted them to settle in the Banat as Crown tenant farmers and that she would guarantee their journeys be made possible and broad support  given for the founding of their new existence.

However, strict emigration bans by the individual landowners, who didn’t want to lose their work and tax force, stood in the way of this imperial offer. If the German farmers had already become French subjects, then they were threatened with banishment to the Galeere, should their emigration attempt fail, for France itself was working on expanding emigration to its overseas colonies and wanted, similar to Prussia, Spain and Russia, to win over those wanting to emigrate by offering wonderful conditions in the areas to be settled. Despite this, to the countless German farmers living in states either side of the Rhine the offer by the Queen was more tempting than the favorable offers made by foreign countries. They trusted the state to protect them more than the foreign powers would, and would rather remain German subjects than face an uncertain future in a foreign European country or in overseas colonies. So thousands took their lives in their hands and fled in the small hours of the night, leaving their homes and all their worldly goods behind and taking with them only those possessions that could be carried on the journey and thus strived to reach the imperial migration points.

The main gathering point for emigrants before beginning the journey to Hungary was the city of Vienna. Here, all the colonists had to register at the Imperial Court Chamber in order to claim their passes, money for the journey and further transportation to the Banat at the cost of the State. The Court Chamber, which was entrusted with the colonization of the Banat, acted thereby as the official emigration point and it is this which historical research has to thank for the emigration statistics for the South Eastern colonization of the 18th century. Already in 1723 the Court Chamber had set up registers of emigrants to the Banat but unfortunately these were not kept for the first part of the German settlement of the Banat under Karl VI. The emigration lists are only available from 1749 to 1776, which since 1st May 1768 contain not only the names and origins of the emigrants but also details of their age, occupation and status as well as the number of fellow travelers, whereby the number of children is especially revealing, and the fellow travelers are listed as bride, wife, relative or servant. This broadening of details in the emigration lists was by order of Queen Maria Theresia, who always showed the greatest attentiveness and personal sympathy to the settlers of the Banat. She represented the ground rule that ‘the prorogation of the people is to be seen as one of the most valuable things’.

These emigration lists of the Viennese Court Chamber for the Banat, which are printed in the ‘Quellen zur deutschen Siedlungsgeschichte in Südost Europa’ (Sources of the German Emigration History in South East Europe), revised by Dr. Fr. Wilhelm and Dr. J. Kallbrunner, although without details of ages and without breaking down the head count, are guilty of two errors from the history of migration point of view, neither of which could be avoided in modern emigration statistics. Firstly, they only contain the names of those emigrants who registered themselves at the Court Chamber in Vienna and do not take into account all those who did not make a claim for the support of the Court Chamber and therefore could not be included statistically. Furthermore, the names and origins of those traveling with the heads of families, i.e. women and children, are missing. From this we see, for example, that of the 1,381 settlers in the Banat village of Bogarosch, which have been ascertained in the church registers as German immigrants, only 11 per cent are named in the ‘Quellen’. Secondly, the lists of the Viennese Court Chamber, with a few exceptions for the years 1749-1752, leave open the question of whether these emigrants actually reached their stated country of destination and in which Banat villages they settled. With these emigrants we are talking about a seriously large number of imperial colonists for the South East who had left difficult conditions in their homeland and of the best German farming community and most knowledgeable craftsmen being transplanted to the South East. They kept their customs and traditions up until the present day and have also been given State recognition through the German ethnic groups of the South Eastern states. That is why the answer to the question of knowing the destination of these first culture pioneers of the 18th century is not only worth knowing as an historical way of looking at a problem but it is also a register of kinship groups of ethnic German people from both sides of the border of the German empire.

The sources for the registers of emigrants to their destination are the church registers of each individual village in the Banat. These registers are fore-runners of the personal status register (census?) with details of their origins in the death, marriage and birth registers (details of the parental couple) and supply infallible proof of the settlement of German people in relation to the great South Eastern colonization of the 18th century. The reason why the church registers have up until now been so little utilized in this way is because they are kept in a foreign country and are therefore not easily accessible. Today, however, there is a unique possibility of systematically working through them in a sense of genealogical stock-taking of the German people across the state borders. The Deutsche Ausland Institut (German Foreign Institute) in Stuttgart allowed the church registers to be photographed and photocopied at the suggestion of the co-publisher of the ‘Quellen’, Dr. Josef Kallbrunner, Director of the Viennese Court Chamber Archives. And so this priceless material was not only collected and secured but above all also reconstructed for academic research in the widest capacity. This generous calculated move further made possible a record of German immigrants with their places of origin, respectively areas, whereby for the exploration of the German South Eastern colonization of the 18th century a second, solid foundation can be achieved which will continue, i.e. complete the ‘Quellen’ in the most beautiful way.

To differentiate, however, from the ‘Quellen’, which is an emigration list according to the Viennese Court Chamber and set up in chronological order, the immigration list for the Banat can only be worked on by settlements. Apart from the three-tier settlement system practiced in the Banat (the migration to, the transfer to and the founding of the new settlement), three different groups of settlement places should be taken into consideration:

1.  Places in which the German colonists were settled;

2.  Places which were made available for the German colonists by the migration, which was usually for military or political reasons, of the Serbs and Romanians previously living there;

3.  Newly founded settlements on previously uninhabited pastureland.

Bogarosch, which was planned by the Impopulations Director, Johann Wilhelm Hildebrand, as a settlement for 200 colonial families in 1768, belongs to the latter group of villages founded in the wilderness. When he was dismissed a short time later, the continuation of the building of the settlement was left in the hands of the administrator, Johann Georg Plasch, and the Lippaer, Neumann von Bucholt. In 1769, the first colonists designated for Bogarosch arrived. But as the completion of the village had been delayed by the change of building site supervisors some of the colonists had to be put up in nearby Lenauheim, where they were members of the parish until the beginning of 1770, until their own houses were finished. That is why there are entries of Bogarosch settlers in the church registers of Lenauheim in 1769, as well as a few in 1770 and 1771. Bogarosch got its own church at the end of 1769.

This publication is an attempt to reconstruct an immigration list for Bogarosch taken from the details of origin found in the church registers of Bogarosch and Lenauheim. The marriage, birth and death registers of Lenauheim had to be scrutinized from 1769 to 1771. The church registers of Bogarosch begin in January 1770 and were used from then onwards up until 1839. Just as the ‘Quellen’ adhere strictly to the emigration lists of the Court Chamber and reproduce these in their shortest form so, too, is this publication a pure reworking of the entries in the church registers in order to show clearly the results of using church registers. The publication is in alphabetical order of the immigrants’ names and the columns of the church register headings ‘Patria’, ‘locus originis’ or ‘locus nativitas’ show details of their origins. All details found in the church registers are also shown, i.e. occupation, status, origin, date of marriage or death, age and house number. The names of children and youths, who could not really be called colonists themselves, are also included because their details of origin often point to the origin of one or other of their parents which is not shown in other entries in the church registers, be it because the details of origin are missing or because further details of the parents are not to be found in the church registers of Bogarosch.

The details of country and place of origin are given exactly as they appear in the church registers. However, as these entries are described by place names or areas which do not correspond with today’s names, be it because of antiquated forms of names used or mistakes made when writing the place names, we have tried to identify them as far as possible by using the current descriptions of the places or areas. We also used the following publications as an aid: For the German empire, ’Müllers Grosses deutsches Ortsbuch’; for Alsace-Lorraine, ‘Das Reichsland Elsass-Lothringen’ published by the Statistischen Bureau des Ministeriums für Elsass-Lothringen, also the ‘Gemeindeverzeichnis für die Westmark nach dem Gebietsstand vom 1. April 1941; for Luxembourg the ‘Ortschaftverzeichnis für Luxembourg' revised by the Chief of Civil Administration in Luxembourg; for Austria, the ‘Allgemeine Verzeichnis der Ortsgemeinden und Ortschaften Oesterreichs’ published by the k. k. Statistischen Zentralkommission in Vienna,  and ‘Müllers Ortsbuch für die Ostmark, ‘Müllers Ortsbuch für die Sudetengebiete’ and ‘Müllers Ortsbuch für das Protektorat Böhmen und Mähren’. The breakdowns are shown in the column headed ‘Country’ or ‘Place / Town’ under the details which were found in the church registers. For Westmark the incorporation of the old description is added to the new name according to the details in the parish records of Westmark.

Where geographical aids have failed we have tried (as far as was possible during the War years) to solve the place names in question with the help of individual researchers in the empire and it is to the following people that we give thanks for their willingness to provide clues and information: The leader of the research unit 'Landsleute drinnen und draussen' (Countrymen inside and outside) Herrn Dr. Fritz Braun of Kaiserslauten; the leader of the research unit in Luxembourg, Herrn Oberstudienrat (adviser of further studies) Dr. P. J. Müller of Luxembourg; Herrn Professor Roemer of the Swabian research unit in Stuttgart; Herrn Professor Dr. Metz of the Alemannischen Institut in Freiburg i. Br.; Frau Dr. Ennen of the Institut für geschichtliche Landeskunde der Rheinlande (Study of historical countries of the Rhineland) at the University of Bonn; Herrn Dr. Hallier of the Lothringischen Institut für Landes- und Volksforschung (Lorraine Institute for the research of countries and their peoples) in Metz; the Landesbibliothek in Luxembourg, as well as the archives of the areas in question.

In difficult cases we have also tried to get details of individual families from the parishes on the basis of the entries in their church registers, although in all probability the origins would have been questionable. Unfortunately, they all came to nothing. For example, for the school teacher Andreas Abendschein, whose place of origin was given as ‘Zeilen’ in Bavaria in the Bogarosch church registers, we gave up trying to identify ‘Zeilen’ as ‘Zeiler’, Zeilern’ or Zielheim’ in Bavaria as the name ‘Abendschein’ does not appear in any of the 18th century church registers of these places anyway. And so in this case, as in many others, the solution to the names given in the church registers of Bogarosch must remain omitted until such time it may be possible to correct these questionable details of individual families through further kinship clues at a later date.

Under the column ‘Anmerkungen’ (comments) all the details were gathered from the church registers of Bogarosch and Lenauheim with regard to origin and marriages, whereby the comparatively few details in the Lenauheim church registers were especially noted. With young people it goes by the names of their parents; with married or widowed people it goes by the names of their spouses as well as the dates of the marriage ceremony. There are many second and third marriages for the original settlers in Bogarosch where the new marriage often occurs within a noticeably short time after the death of the previous marriage partner and the second or third choice of partner usually falls to another inhabitant of Bogarosch. With these clues, important kinship connections could be made through the marriages of the original settlers between individual families. All the names mentioned in the ‘comments’ column are in alphabetical order in an index at the end of the immigration list.

The comments under the line are references to the ‘Quellen zur deutschen Siedlungsgeschichte in Südosteuropa’. The consultation of the ‘Quellen’ as a single publication is justified in as much as the ‘Quellen’ views the colonization of the Banat from the viewpoint of the emigration gathering place in Vienna; the immigration list examines the same questions from the viewpoint of the destination in the Banat. Both have in their lists many of the same names. Where these could be connected, a broader result was reached, i.e. amendments to the details in the church registers as well as details in the ‘Quellen’. So the references to the ‘Quellen’ include the observation whether the colonists listed in the immigrants list of Bogarosch in consecutive order, as well as those names found in the church registers, appear in the ‘Quellen’. This applies to 154 cases of the 1,381 names (891 in this published list and 490 of them differ in the comments), whereby however an approximate definite identification is only possible if one compares the age given in the church registers to the age given in the original emigration lists of the Court Chamber Archives. This shows that often tempting comparisons of identifications of immigrants to the emigrants in the ‘Quellen’ do not pass scrutiny. Therefore they cannot be equated until more information, such as the exact birth date in the homeland, again the age given in the emigration lists of the Court Chamber Archives or the church registers of Bogarosch, is corrected. In those cases where an identification can most probably be made, there are three variants:

1.  The details in the ‘Quellen’ correspond completely with the details in the church registers. Then only the date on which the emigrant appears in the ‘Quellen’; is given in the ‘comments’.

2.  The ‘Quellen’ deviates with regard to the writing of the name or the area or place description. Then, the details in the ‘Quellen’ are given again in full. When it is about differences in descriptions of areas or places then the entries in the church registers have more claim to correctness because they are statements made on occasions of marriages or funerals by the persons involved, whereas the details in the lists of the Viennese Court Chamber Archives must be called into question as these were often taken from statements made by the leader of an emigrating group and could have contained errors, i.e. the place of origin of the leader, e.g. the area of Lorraine, could have been falsely applied to the whole group, or the leader may himself not have known the origins of the individual members of his group.

3.  The ‘Quellen’ give only the description of the area, but the church registers also give the place or town, or vica versa, then the details in the church registers are incorporated into the ‘Quellen’ and were for kept in for this reason.

The result of the examination of the church registers of Bogarosch shows the gain of 891 colonists names with more certainty of their origins. Of these, 353 fall into Lorraine, or the area of the present Westmark; 181 into Luxembourg; 53 into the Austrian ancestral countries; the remainder are divided into the western and southern areas of Germany. On checking the marriages in the church registers with details of origin of the recorded colonists a further 490 names were ascertained which point to German descent, even if their details of origin are missing in the church registers, so that they do not appear in the immigration lists in consecutive numbers. Here, the church registers once again fail as the source for our aim and it will probably only be possible with the help of the German village clan books (family books) to ascertain the origins of these colonists beyond question. On the other hand we believe we have found various clues regarding the sudden disappearance of several families for the village’s family research through the immigrant lists of Bogarosch. It appears, therefore, that a complete stock-taking of the German people on both sides of the border of the German empire will only be possible through lengthy cooperation to the contribution of the aim of this work. We are well aware that we have not had the final say in even this small part of the immigration to Bogarosch, but instead have only touched on the edges of the possible after procuring the revised material. Despite this, we have decided to publish, as this way we can make the revised material available to a wider audience through the services of the German Foreign Institute of Stuttgart and so hope to stimulate further work  on the German people in the South Eastern sphere, similar to the publication of the emigration lists of the Viennese Court Chamber Archives.

Vienna, in the war-time winter of 1942,
Dr. Berta List

(translated by Diana Lambing, 2002)

[Published at DVHH.org 2002 by Jody McKim Pharr]

 Last Updated: 19 Sep 2017

Last Updated: 04 Feb 2020

DVHH.org ©2003 Donauschwaben Villages Helping Hands, a Nonprofit Corporation.
Webmaster: Jody McKim Pharr
Keeping the Danube Swabian legacy alive!