Eps 1655: Danube Swabians in Hungary

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Beth Cunningham

Beth Cunningham

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The Danube River basin, which is home to Hungary, was under occupation for more than 150 years by the Ottomans . After the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire following the first world war, the settlement areas of Danube Swabians were divided in three parts by the Allied powers.
After the Second World War, present-day Hungary became a satellite state of the USSR, and the ethnic Germans were forcibly displaced, losing all their property and rights in their former homeland. The Habsburg Monarchy Austria repopulated the lands of the valleys with peoples from the various ethnicities from the Austro-Hungarian Empire of the Habsburgs, including the Magyars, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Serbs, Romanians, Ukrainians, and Germanic settlers from Swabia, Hesse, Franconia, Bavaria, Bavaria, Austria, and Alsace-Lorraine.
The Habsburg Monarchy Austria resettled the lands of the valley with people of various ethnicities from the Austro-Hungarian Empire of the Habsburgs including Magyars, Czechs, Slovaks, Croats, Serbs, Romanians, Ukrainians, and Germanic settlers from Swabia, Hesse, Franconia, Bavaria, Austria, and Alsace-Lorraine. Later, Hessians, Bavarians, Franks, and Lorraines recruited from Austria were recruited to repopulate and restore agriculture in areas that had been expelled by Ottoman rule. The first stage began during the 18th- and 19th-century, as Swabian settlers from the different German Principalities traveled up the Danube and settled on Habsburg land as Imperial subjects.
Beginning in the seventeenth century, the migration of German farmers into Hungary down the Danube saw a distinct identity develop. The waved lines symbolise the Danube river, over which, or alongside, German settlers traveled to Hungary. The term Swabian has roots in the early waves of German-speaking immigrants from Swabia who resettled in southern Hungary following the expulsion of the Ottoman Turks in 1689.
In fact, the Swabian language on the Danube contains elements of, or numerous dialects from, the original German colonists, mostly in the Swabian, Frankish, Bavarian, Pfalzisch, Alsatian, and Alemannic languages, and also the Austro-Hungarian administrative and military vernacular. The Danube Swabians, as they would later be known, had ethnocultural, not national, affiliation, and the historian John Swenson describes them not as German nor Hungarian, but embracing a mixture. Over time, ties with their former homelands gradually diminished altogether, with Danube Swabians becoming an acknowledged minority within the empire that would become known as Austro-Hungary.
After the Austro-Hungarian Empire had driven Ottoman Turks from the Danube River Basin during the years just before and just after the 1700s, they repopulated depopulated areas with ethnic Germans from southern and western parts of Germany, one of the provinces being known as Swabia. The Empire of Austro-Hungary lost a war , and Austro-Hungary was divided into eight separate parts in the Treaty of Trianon . The Danube basin was liberated from German, Polish, Magyar, Serbian, Croat, and other multinational forces, which had been entrusted to the Austrian emperoras mantle during wars 1683-1699 and 1716-1718.
Following the Treaties of St. Germain and Trianon following World War I, the Banat was divided among Romania, Yugoslavia, and Hungary; the Backa was divided between Yugoslavia and Hungary; and the Satu Mare went to Romania. After World War I ended, German colonists territories were divided among Romania, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. The German Settlers were forced out of Hungary for either Germany or Austria by the Potsdam Agreement.
Whatever the reasons, or combinations of reasons, the agreement led to a shocking deportation of 10 million ethnic Germans across Germanys newly configured borders. Between 1941 and 1943, in all, 2,150 ethnic German Bulgarian citizens were transferred to Germany under Adolf Hitlers Reichsheim policy.
After the First World War, the Serbian government responded by denying property and citizenship to ethnic Germans from Yugoslavia, interning the population into camps, where a high proportion died from hunger, illness, and exposure to elements. The orderly, humanitarian approach was little more than an illegal land-grab and the dehumanizing treatment of an estimated fifteen million ethnic Germans, of whom five million were Swabians from the Danube. It is true that a few of the approximately 1.5 million Danube Swabians and other ethnic Germans did volunteer to serve in German units, but this quickly became forced conscription into the Waffen-SS of all the physically fit men.
About half a million were Danube Swabians, and Hungarian statistics say that in 1941, 533,045 ethnic Germans were present, while by 1949, only 22,455. Before the Second World War, the largest population of Germans in the Vojvodina were at Hodschag, Verbass, and Apatin. In the main six settlement areas, Germans made up around a third of the population, mixed with Hungarians, Serbs, Romanians, and other ethnic groups.
In 1941, most of Yugoslavia was invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in the Second World War, and in Banat Nazi Germany granted a higher status to the Swabian minority than to the other ethnic groups within Yugoslavias population. When their descendants first arrived in Germany, they identified themselves as ethnically Yugoslav, Hungarian, and Romanian-German, according to the ethnic states formed under the Treaty of Trianon in 1920, which governed the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian empire. After Austria-Hungary was created in 1867, the Kingdom of Hungary established the Magyarization Policy, in which minorities, including Swabians from the Danube, were encouraged through political and economic means to adopt the Magyar language and culture.
The famous thriftiness and labor habits of ethnic German settlers allowed the Danube basin, also known as the Pannonian plain, to become Europes breadbasket by the third generation. Despite such difficulties, a renaissance in Danubian Swabian culture took place, with German-language radio programs, cultural festivals, theatrical productions, and German-language newspapers being enjoyed increasingly by the populace.