Henry Fischer

Swabian Turkey
Home of the Danube Swabian for over 200 years.


Villages Helping Hands
Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

Závod in the Tolna

An informational summary and partial translation of sections of the Heimatbuch:
in der Tolna by Anton Mayer. 
Translated and contributed by Henry Fischer, 2008.
Published 14 July 2008, at DVHH.org by Jody McKim Pharr 

  Nestled in the deep valleys of Tolna County, the village of Závod is located 18 kilometres north of Bonyhád near Mucsfa.  Mucsi is slightly northwest of Závod, while Tevel is northeast. The name Tolna was derived from Tolonus, an army commander during the Avar occupation of Hungary. 

  A community existed here as early as 1330 but was completely destroyed during the Turkish occupation and the Kuruz Rebellion (1703-1711).  Only twenty-one of the five hundred and forty inhabited places in the Tolna survived after the Rebellion.  During the Roman occupation the area was known as Lower Pannonia.  Vineyards were planted here in the 6th century AD.  Around 890 the Magyars migrated to this area.  From 1690 to 1709 the “Pest”, or plague, hit the area five times, claiming countless lives.  When the Swabians arrived, Závod and Mucsi were uninhabited except for a few Serbs and Croats in the surrounding area.  The last of these left in 1720. 

  Until 1722, Závod along with Kisszékely, Nagyszékely, Mucsi, Apar, Högyesz and thirty open pusztas (prairies) belonged to Count Wigand Michael Wenzelaus Sinzendorf, who along with Prince Esterházy, Döry, Johann Monasterly, as well as the Magyari-Kossa family, carried out the first attempts to settle the County. Their initial efforts were frustrated by the nobility of northern Hungary who prevented the peasants from leaving their estates.  

  Between 1687 and 1700, after the Turks were driven out, the vast majority of the surviving population in Tolna were Serbs.  They and the Magyars engaged in constant feuds, robbing and plundering each other.  The Serbs left soon after the retreat of the Turks.  After the Kuruz Rebellion was put down in 1711 there were only a few Magyar villages left.  Prince Esterházy, whose Ozora Domain constituted half of the County, began to enlist new settlers on his lands, along with other nobles: Döry-Jobahaza, Count Styrum Limburg and Sinzendorf, the Calvinist Magyari-Kossa, as well as Abbot Mérey in Szekszárd and Franz Jany in Bata (he was of Swiss origin).  Mérey settled Germans in Szekszárd early in 1703 because he thought they were more docile than the Serbs and the Reformed Magyars in the area.  Döry and his brother-in-law Monasterly arranged to send three groups of immigrants from Württemberg to Tevel in May 1712.  They were to arrive from Vienna by way of the Danube.  The third group, however, never arrived, having settled elsewhere.  Within one year Tevel was well on the way to prosperity. 

  The large-scale immigration into Tolna County occurred after 1718.  This settlement was planned and systematic.  Count Mercy, for instance, settled his Magyars on the basis of their religious persuasions: The Roman Catholics at Kis Vejke, the Reformed at Kölesd and the Lutherans at Szarszentlörinc.  In Diosbereny, German and Hungarian Roman Catholics were settled together.  When the Germans arrived in Nagymányok, the Hungarians moved on to Váralja.  Döry expelled the Reformed Magyars living in Zomba, as well as the Hessian Lutherans, and replaced them with Roman Catholics from the Black Forest region (Schwarzwald). 

  The Serbs living in Szekszárd murdered the Abbot of Báta in 1726 and were later re-settled in Alsó Nána by Abbot Mérey, the head of the local Orthodox monastery, in the hope that the monks would civilize them.  

  Part of the strategy of the re-settlement programme was to bring Roman Catholics into the area regardless of their nationality.  The concept of the landowner determining the faith of his subject tenants was very strong.  Reformed Magyars were not tolerated and wherever they managed to settle they were allowed only a prayer house; their children could only be baptized and married by Roman Catholic priests.  Only after 1780 and the Edict of Toleration were they allowed to add bell towers to their prayer houses and have pastors of their own.  The intolerance of the Bishop of Pécs, Franz Nesselrode II, is best exemplified by his arrest and imprisonment in 1718 of Jeremias Schwarzwalder, a Lutheran pastor.  Having just returned to Varsád following his ordination in Kremnitz, Slovakia, he was severely beaten and forced to sign a document promising never to return to Hungary.  Later, with the help of Count Mercy, a man of great toleration, the Varsád Lutherans got a new pastor, Johann Karl Reichard, a fugitive from Langenfeld in the Banat, who came with numerous Lutheran families seeking sanctuary. 

  In 1710 there were no Germans living in the Tolna, but by 1720 they made up 12% of the population.  In 1718 the first immigrants from Stift Fulda, the so-called Stiffoler, came to Závod.  A great tide of immigration followed. 

  The first requirement for all emigrants leaving for Hungary was a manumission certificate indicating  they  had  been emancipated  from serfdom by  their noble.  A 10% tax on the value of their property and possessions had to be paid at that time as their emigration fee.  Married couples had to present a valid marriage certificate.  All of this was required before signing up with a recruiting agent. 

  In the spring of 1718 the first settlers, accompanied by armed escorts, left the area north of Fulda and headed for ports on the Danube with wagons  loaded with basic household goods.  Whether they received money towards travel expenses from the Emperor is still an open question.  In Vienna they received their passes to enter Hungary and boarded ships to take them to their destinations. 

  At the time of the arrival of the settlers, Závod was part of the Apar Domains of Count Sinzendorf.  The Patent to approve the re-settlement of Hungary was only passed in 1723, although the nobles had instituted it prior to that.  Between 1718 and 1770 some 1,300 persons emigrated from Fulda to Závod and Mucsi from fifty different communities in the Bishopric.  Those who left illegally are not included in these figures. 

  The ruins of Serbian churches and huts still existed in the area at the time.  The whole area was densely forested.  At Vejk there were some twenty-two Magyar families who had survived the Turkish occupation and the Kuruz Rebellion due to their isolation in the forested wilderness.  Johannes Jahn was one of the three Germans living in Mucsi along with eight Magyar families.  The settlers dug out earth huts or took shelter in  huts abandoned by the Serbs.  A former Orthodox monastery and its wine cellars were still there, although abandoned by the monks.  The task of clearing the forest and cultivating the land became the first priority of the settlers. 

  There were about one hundred individuals in the first group of settlers in Závod, some twenty-two families in all.  The heads of the households were: 

  Thomas Jordan, Nicolaus Schneyder, Adam Minker, Johann Firster, Paulus Jáger, Perigius Krep, Johann Kresmit, Sebastian Papert, Antonius Angeli, Johann Maul, Johann Korneli, Johann Maul, Conradus Staab, Thomas Miller, Nicolaus Merck, Nicolaus Till, Henricus Fink, Johann Huck, Valentinus Ress (Resch), Johann Seybert, Cornadus Ser, Stephan Miller, Johann Reith, Thomas Papert and Henricus Simon. 

  Twenty-five new families joined them in 1722 and sixty families went on to Mucsi, accompanied by their priest from Fulda.  Later settlers arrived from the Würzburg area, Hanau and Mainz.  Most of them came by ship from Regensburg.  Many married along the way to be eligible for settlement and land.  These later settlers included: 

  Bernhardus Korneli, Georg Kress, Johann Georg Titzl, Conradus Schön, Andreas Klih, Cornadus Kremer, Andreas Hahner, Antonius Ponert, Henricus Fink, Nikolaus Reder, Johann Michael Kress, Johann Georg Kremer, Johann Miller, Johann Altmüller, Johann Georg Kornfect, Nikolaus Merz, Henricus Hartung, Johann Breitenbach, Franciscus Papert, Nicolaus Schrimpf, Martinus Weigand, Mattheus Perger, Adamus Weber, Baltasar Titz, Johann Ponner, Stephan Staab, Paulus Pitner, Nicolaus Meierhof, Leopold Till, Sebastianus Klüber, Gasparus Michel, Martini Cornelli, Thomas Sipl, Johann Georg Faust, Sebastianus Merz, Valentinus Enk, Johann Adam Lochhaus, Johann Orff, Gasparus Vingefeld, Johann Rieger and Johann Georg Reith. 

  In 1722 the son of Count Sinzendorf sold the Apar Domains to Count and General Claudius Florimundus von Mercy for 15,000 Gulden.  Mercy later purchased Varsád for 4,500 Gulden and signed his first contracts with his subjects.  The settlers were not obliged to pay taxes for the first three years.  Mucsi and Závod were the only Fulda settlements in Tolna County.  There were others who moved to the south and to Temesvar and the Banat.  Although all of the German settlers were called  Swabians, only those who settled in Tevel, Apar, Hegyhatmarocz, Kisdorog, Kolbeny and Nagyarpad actually were.  In the rest of the Tolna, the German dialects spoken were mainly those of Hessia and the Pfalz (Palatinate). 

  The Count named his adopted nephew, Count Anton Ignac Karl August Mercy d’Argenteau, as his heir and successor.  His son, who was to succeed him, chose a diplomatic career and sold the Domains to Count Georg Apponyi in 1773 for 700,000 Gulden.  The Apponyi’s built their castle in Lengyel. 

  Because the nobles demanded more and more Robot (free labour) of their subjects, who  were not permitted to work on the 48 religious holidays and Sundays, peasant uprisings took place throughout Hungary and broke out in Tolna County in 1765.  From Diosbereny to Kakasd the Magyar peasants called for a work stoppage, threatening to burn down the homes of the German settlers if they did not follow suit.  Only through the intercession of one of the priests, named Winkler, was Bishop Klimó persuaded to prevent the massacre of the local population. However, some two hundred peasants lost their lives and hundreds of others suffered corporal punishment. Maria Theresia set her urbarial regulations into effect in 1767 to address these injustices and brought about an end to the unrest.  But the nobles soon found ways around these regulations to take advantage of their subjects. 

  The census of 1787 reported a population of 133,000 persons in Tolna County.  By now the immigration had ended and only small groups joined the existing communities.  Many of these came to join relatives who had settled here earlier. 

  Upon his succession to the throne in 1780, Joseph II declined to be crowned King of Hungary.  Instead he had the crown of St. Stephen brought to Vienna and treated it like an artefact, causing irritation among the Hungarian nobility.  In 1783 he also declared German as the official language of government and administration, at the time the Hungarians were attempting to elevate their own language to that status.  By 1790 there was a groundswell of anti-German feeling among the Magyars and by 1798 the first official Magyarization tactics were put into effect, striving to assimilate into the   “family” the other nationalities which outnumbered them in their own kingdom. The Magyars sought to assimilate the Swabians by teaching the Hungarian language in their schools and promoting the Hungarian way of dressing.  

  On May 1, 1832 the courts ordered the enforcement of a new law forbidding all Swabian males below the age of 30 years to wear knee-length trousers, belts and long knitted stockings; the stockings had to be shortened to ankle length. This law proved ineffective due to the passive resistance of the Swabians.  In 1836 the law was reissued on the basis that the long stockings created a health hazard.  These were merely the preliminaries introduced, with the encouragement of the Roman Catholic Church, leading to the systematic Magyarization of the minorities in Hungary.  By 1844 Hungarian was the official language of government, even though only 4,800,000 Magyars lived among the 13,000,000 inhabitants of the Kingdom of Hungary.  Only teachers who spoke perfect Hungarian were allowed to teach.  The Roman Catholic bishops did not allow German-speaking priests to serve in the Swabian communities. 

  On March 15, 1848 the new Hungarian government under Louis Kossuth emancipated the serfs, ending the Robot and urbarial contracts.  The peasants could buy the land they had been working for generations, while the nobles received compensation from the state.  In Kasask the Swabians bought the land collectively. 

  With the outbreak of the War of Independence, the County administration, at the order of the Minister of the Interior, called for setting up a National Guard unit of 2,000 men on June 16, 1848.  They were to break through the Drava River line and drive off the Croatians who had allied themselves with the Habsburgs.  Quotas in the larger villages amounted to about thirty men from the ages of 14 to 40 years.  Later the age was raised to 50 years and 1,200 more men were recruited.   

  On July 5, 1848 these volunteers, dressed in their own civilian clothes and bearing primitive weapons - pitchforks and scythes - marched from Bonyhád to face the Croatian forces.  Their courage led to the utter defeat of the Croatians.  The Swabians were welcomed in their villages as heroes.  They would be marching off again, but this time the rebellion was crushed when Russian troops came to Austria’s aid and the leaders of the independence movement fled for their lives.  The repercussions were severe and the populace paid a terrible price.  Finally the Compromise of 1867 brought about stability in the relations between Austria and Hungary in the Dual Monarchy. 

  The First World War resulted in the dismemberment of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.  Závod in the Tolna was rocked by the Red Revolution of Bela Kun in 1919 and then faced the “counter revolution” of Admiral Horthy.  His fierce anti-Semitism was experienced throughout Swabian Turkey with the death of countless Jewish inhabitants:  In Siofók 74, Pápa 23, Gyönk 24, Orgovany 200, Marcali 17, Szekszárd 36, Szolcok 19,  to name just a few of the centres of the extermination programme.  Anti-Semitism in Hungary was rampant long before the rise of Nazism. 

  With the fall of the Dual Monarchy and the division of the Empire among the successor states, the unity of the German-speaking populations was also destroyed.  After the Burgenland was ceded to Austria,  the Germans, in what was left of Hungary, numbered 551,211.  The census indicated:  Western Hungary (Heideboden) 64,064; Szatmar 3,753; the Highlands and Bakony Forest 244,146; Southern Hungary 44,771; Swabian Turkey 183,754 and a Diaspora of 10,732. 

  Dr. Jakob Bleyer, who had been born in the Batschka, was elected to the Hungarian parliament in 1919 as a spokesman for the German population.  He became the Minister of Nationalities, but was forced to resign later in 1920 due to the chauvinistic backlash of the Magyar nationalists.  In 1921 he published a weekly German newspaper, “Sonntagsblatt,” and continued to serve in parliament, offering his support to the needs and aspirations of the German population.  Along with some others he founded an organization on August 3, 1924 known as the Ungarnländischer Deutscher Volksbildungsverein, which was later simply called the UDV.  Dr. Gustav Gratz was its first president and Bleyer was his executive officer and deputy.  The motto of the UDV was:  Faithful (loyal) to the Fatherland, Faithful to our national identity. 

  The organization sought to create local groups in German communities in order to establish libraries, publish song books and organize cultural activities such as Trachtenfeste and musical events, all in an effort to create a sense of unity among the German-speaking people.  The UDV had more than 15,000 members who were charged with “Pan Germanism” by their enemies.  They were called traitors against Hungary.  Any recognition of their activities by the Churches was frowned upon, and any priests who showed support were disciplined.  Issues became more strident during the 1930's.  Bleyer died in 1933. 

  On July 27, 1933 the Magyarization of family names was set in motion across Hungary.  Teachers and those in public office had to change their names if they wanted to remain in their positions.  Men who had served in the army during the First World War would lose their pensions if they did not change their names.  Contemporary novels and popular movies always featured a character who represented the “stinking Swabians” who were portrayed as carpetbaggers and land grabbers.  The public campaign in 1934 resulted in 100,000 family name changes. 

  After Bleyer’s death his successors in the UDV quarrelled over its future orientation, resulting in a split in 1936 between Dr. Gratz and the “younger” group led by Franz Basch.  The new group sought government sanction to organize under the name, Volksdeutsche Kameradschaft.  As a result, on November 26, 1938 the Volksbund der Deutschen in Ungarn was founded.  The group would become known as the Bund in the local village parlance.  Within a few years it had 50,000 members.  A loyalist  group was established in Bonyhád, opposed to the directions and objectives of the Bund which were highly influenced by National Socialism (Nazism).  This resulted in conflict in the Swabian villages between the two rival groups, continuing until 1944, when all Swabian men from 17 to 50 years of age who had not been called up to serve in the Honvéd (the Hungarian National Army) in 1942, were conscripted into the German Waffen-SS, including the men of the loyalist movement.  After the war it was learned that during the Hungarian Second Army’s participation in the war in Russia from 1941 to 1942, the number of ethnic German men drafted into the army and serving on the battlefields, where countless men lost their lives, was nine times greater than that of the Magyars.    

  When Hungary attempted to withdraw from the war in 1944, the German Army occupied the country on March 19th.  The Regent, Admiral Nicolas Horthy, was deposed  by the Germans in October of 1944.  After Romania surrendered and joined forces with the Russians, the Germans. along with some Hungarian units, faced the task of defending Hungary from the oncoming Russian Red Army.  The morale of the German troops left a lot to be desired, as their major concern was food and wine supplies which the Swabians were expected to provide at no cost.  At the beginning of August, the time the harvest had to be brought in, all German men not serving in the Hungarian Army were conscripted and ordered into the Waffen-SS, including all men born between 1922 and 1928. 

  Late in the summer of 1944 the first evacuation treks of Transylvania Saxons and Szatmar Swabians passed through the area on their way to Germany.  The discouraging  reports coming from the front and the warnings of the retreating German troops alarmed the people who wanted to remain at home, in spite of their fears about the possible revenge of the Red Army.  There were still those who spoke of victory and a counter offensive about to be mounted in which “wonder weapons” would be used, but most of the local population had no idea of what they might expect. 

  Hungary capitulated to the Russians on January 21, 1945 but the destiny and fate of the Swabians in Swabian Turkey was already in the hands of the Russians.  In Závod it all began on December 30th with the beating of the Kleinrichter's drum and the announcement that all women born between 1914-1926 and all remaining men born between 1900-1927 were to report to the school to do two weeks of labour.  Each person was ordered to bring 20 kilograms of food and clothing with them.  Some saw this as a ruse, sneaked away and hid in neighbouring Hungarian villages.  In all, at least 35,000 Swabians from Swabian Turkey were involved and were taken to the Soviet Union where 15% of them perished.  The vast majority of the slave labourers were women.  Seventy-one persons were taken from Závod, fifty of whom were women. 

  After Christmas 1944 the Russians in the vicinity operated out of the castle in Lengyel and terrorized the people.  The raping of women, young and old, was a daily occurrence and they sought safety at night in the cellars, haylofts and wine cellars in the vineyards.  The drunken marauders entered Závod on a drinking spree one night and raped an 80- year old woman and her daughter-in-law.  In their fear and terror, the people blamed the Bund members for the punishment they were receiving.  The Bund had become a front for the Nazis and many villagers denounced them in their bitterness and outrage.  They hoped to gain favours from the Hungarian officials by showing that they were loyal citizens of Hungary.  Unfortunately it did not work. 

  On May 6th,1945 at 4:00 in the morning, the Kleinrichter beat his drum in the village streets and announced that all Bund members were to assemble in the village centre at 8:00 in the morning.  Whoever did not report would be severely punished.  They were ordered to leave a bundle of food on their kitchen tables.  At the request of police officials, the village loyalists came to the assembly area to observe what would happen, however,  they too were expelled from the village.  Their claims of loyalty to Hungary had not helped them and they were forced to join the hated Bund members in the long and difficult  march to the castle at Lengyel where they were interned.  Old people and invalids were also dragged from their homes and taken to Lengyel. 

  They were brutalized by the police during the march and then driven into the empty rooms of the castle complex where they had to camp out on the straw-littered floors.  Thousands of others from the vicinity were interned with them, later estimates spoke of 20,000 persons in all.  A terrible smell hung in the air due to lack of sanitation facilities.  Those who had not been expelled attempted to bring food to the camp for their families and friends.  Because there were not enough Hungarian guards, local men had to take on the jobs. As these men were easily bribed or helpful in letting people escape, new orders were issued regarding any unsuccessful escape attempts.  A "Nazi room” was set up to torture and punish escapees who would be put on display to discourage others who might attempt to flee. 

  While the population of Závod was interned, the Csangos, who had arrived in Mucsi from eastern Hungary, moved into their homes.  Any loyalists still remaining in their homes also had to take them in.  These expulsions were part of the Land Reform Act of March 15, 1945 and were headed by György Bodor, a Chango.  In his daily report on April 29th he wrote that two thirds of the Swabians in the district had been interned at Lengyel castle because they had been members of the Bund, a statement that was blatantly false.  He also reported that by that time he had settled about 1,500 Szekler families, numbering 6,000 persons, in the properties and homes of the Swabians.  On May 27th Bodor was recalled to Budapest, after having settled his own countrymen in the Swabian villages of the Tolna.  They had originally been moved to the Batschka from their homes in Bukovina in 1941 and now sought to escape the Serbs.  Among these new settlers were several German families from the Bukovina who had recently been Magyarized and sent to Yugoslavia with the Szeklers.  It was only months later that they would acknowledge being Germans. 

  The camp at Lengyel castle simply got too big to handle and a way had to be found to disperse the population.  As the authorities were afraid that the Swabians would attempt to go back home and demand the return of their properties, a programme had to be devised to scatter the internees.  The Závod group were taken out of Lengyel a week later and were forced to march to the train depot at Kurd, from where they were to be taken to Pincehely on open flat cars.  However, when they could go no further because the tracks beyond had been destroyed, they were unloaded and kept overnight in the meadow next to the station.  The next day the guards marched them off to Simontornya where they spent the night in the courtyard of the fortress.  On the third day they were taken to Jurczek Puszta near Simontornya, from where everyone attempted to return home on their own.  A large number had already escaped along the way and the guards had no interest in keeping an eye on the few people still in their custody. 

  Upon their arrival in Závod, the people had no homes to go to.  They stayed with friends or neighbours or in wine cellars. Many of them hired out as labourers to the Hungarians at Kurd and other nearby places.  Once the war was officially over in 1945, the spies in the village reported the men who had returned home from the prisoner of war camps.  They were arrested and sent to do slave labour in the coal mines at Szasvar or interned in camps elsewhere in Tolna County.  The new settlers feared that the returning men would one day try to reclaim their homes and properties by force.  Some Swabians had in fact gone into their old homes, beaten the interlopers and sent them packing. 

  In the summer of 1946 the Swabians in Kurd, Mucsi and Zsibrik were deported to the American Zone of Germany.  They were part of the initial expulsion of the Danube Swabians of Hungary which had been ordered at Potsdam.  The people of Závod who lived in nearby villages were the first to be rounded up during the last deportations in 1948.  50,000 more Swabians, including 150 families from Závod, were expelled and sent to the Russian Zone in Germany.  About 20 families were allowed to remain, but  moved away gradually, seeking a better future somewhere else, as did their ancestors almost 250 years before them.


Urbarial means concerning Urbarium; the Urbarium was the book of land tax.


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