Then they proceeded on from place to place, directly through the territory of today’s Czechoslovakia, to Budweis, Iglau, Brünn, Olmütz, and Teschen. At these locations they had to register with the authorities where they had their travel permits stamped and then continued to Galicia. To the north lay Cracow, the city which the Nuremberg master craftsman Stoss Veit so elegantly graced with the cathedral and which as early as 1257 was governed according to German municipal law. Since the Middle Ages much German blood has been spilled in Polonia, which was the sole beneficiary of the [German] eastward movement. Our German Bohemians traveled along Galicia’s roads, now dusty, now muddied by the rain, where far into the distance a small hill or a tract of forest only occasionally gladdens the traveler’s eye; for the Germans, and especially for the foresters, the sight was a bleak one. Eight bitter weeks passed until the wanderers arrived in Bukovina. In Rădăuţi, Clit and Solca they waited until the imperial administrator allotted them land. Unfortunately they had to endure for many months, eking out a living by working as day wage laborers. Much had been promised but little delivered. To the settlers’ frequent pleadings and exhortations that the state administrator finally assign them the promised land, he would only reply: “Heaven is high, the Emperor is far away, and here I am the master.”
The German-Bohemians were then finally assigned the remote virgin forest area in the hither Humora Valley. Our settlers had to begin and the beginning.
How much better were conditions for the settlers in Galicia eighty years earlier under Emperor Joseph! Here everything had been prepared in advance. The settlers had merely to arrive and occupy houses, which had been constructed for them. Even the interior was furnished, farm equipment stood at their disposal, cattle were provided, and there was arable land everywhere. No wonder these people today still say: “The Emperor even gave us spoons.” No state-sponsored colony was ever again provisioned and subsidized as in the mid-18th century. The German Bohemians only got the land—and this was virgin forest at that. Not one iota of arable land was to be seen. First the slopes had to be cleared of trees, necessitating a gargantuan effort. Another ethnic group would not have endured these hardships. The authorities clearly knew why they had solicited immigration from among the German Bohemians. The Swabians would not have settled there. They came from an already cultivated area of Germany and therefore demanded more from life.
DEEP IN THE BOHEMIAN FOREST.
For this reason the German Bohemians were the right people for the colonization of Bukovina. They came from the forest and returned to the forest. It suited them as appropriately as night following day.
According to their own oral accounts the immigrants came from the following places in Bohemia: Aussergefild, Grünberger Hütte, Rehberg, Roteisenburg, Sass, Schinhofen, Seewiesen, Welischbürgen, and Zotenberg. One family surnamed Fiber came from Bavaria. But this family could not cope with the rough wilderness and traveled further on. The first to settle in the area of today’s community was Jokl Kisslinger. When he arrived he constructed a makeshift cabin in a small forest clearing. Even today the place is called “Joklhütten” (Jokl’s Cabin). Here are the names of the settlers according to the account of 86-year-old Wenzel Hackl: Sebastian Baumgartner, Anton Beer, Johann Beutel, Georg Binder, Josef Buganiuc (Slovak), Mathias Eigner, David Fiber, Josef Flachs, Adalbert Fuchs, Johann Fuchs, Mathias Fuchs, Johann Hable, Wenzel Hackl (father of the above 86-year old W.H.), Andreas Hartinger, Josef Heiden, Georg Hellinger, Adam Herzer, Georg Hofmann, Stefan Honers, Wenzel Kisslinger, Andreas Klostermann, Jakob Kufner, Anton Landauer, Andreas Lang (2), Josef Lang (3), Georg Neuburger, Wenzel Rach, Ignaz Rankl, Karl Reitmajer, Martin Reitmajer, Wenzel Reitmajer, Franz Schelbauer, Leopold Schuster, Stefan Schuster, Günther Stör, Anton Tischler, Andreas Winzinger, Andreas Weber, Josef Weber. Altogether there were forty-two families in the German section of the village.
The virgin forest concealed an abundant animal life. Foxes and deer were plentiful. And the bellowing of the deer disturbed the loneliness of the new settlement. In the forest the lumbermen encountered lynxes and occasionally a bear. In the winter the wolves wreaked their havoc. The old people still recall that in one night very near the village fourteen deer were ripped apart by wolves. And the wolves, for whom the people’s homes were something new, often visited the homesteads by night and even looked into their windows. “They often howled so that one thought an orchestra were playing outside.” Trout abounded in the Humora Stream. The old people related that they did not catch them but rather clubbed them to death.
From Moldavia the administration provided the colonists with cattle for their use, later to be replaced with a valued breed from the Austrian provinces. The fields yielded potatoes, grain and flax, while the essential vegetables came from the garden. But corn, to which the German Bohemians were introduced in Bukovina, did not do well in the cool wooded valley. In speaking with the oldest people of the village, one repeatedly hears: the first years were a terrible time of need. Petitions to the Emperor in 1847 and 1848 attest to the pitiful condition of the settlers. The year 1846 brought poor harvests. Because of prolonged rainfall the potatoes rotted in the fields in addition to which the settlers still had to pay taxes. In contrast to other communities, they were not tax-exempt during their first years. The maintenance of a military patrol caused the colonists great concern. In concluding their extraordinarily fervent petition the German Bohemians begged for the dispatch of a non-partisan commission to examine the need of the village for aid.
The German Bohemians did not have to learn much to adapt to their new environment. After the construction of their homes, all was similar to conditions in Bohemia. Almost every settler also had a side-trade. He understood the building of houses, made his own shoes out of oak wood, whittled wooden keys and spoons; the housewife spun the home-grown flax with her daughters, and the husband could handle the homemade loom. During the long winter nights individual groups would get together for “cycling and plucking” (Radeln und Rupfen). While at work the mouth and hands were always busy. Light was provided by beech twigs, which had earlier been well dried out in the oven. Later tallow lamps provided light until finally oil made its triumphal entrance. Still today there is no electricity in Poiana Micului although with the assistance of the Humora Stream it would not be too difficult to construct a small electrical generator, which could at least provide light for the early evening hours. In the spinning rooms the children of the settlers learned of their German Bohemian homeland, of the great misery in the early years, and many still today can relate the smallest details which were topics of discussion at such gatherings.
An incident which took place shortly after the arrival of the German Bohemians in Rădăuţi is noted here: one of the colonists had a dog, which had been trained to pick up tobacco. When still in Bohemia the dog had regularly served as his master’s messenger to the tobacco shop. In Rădăuţi the dog was familiarized with the location of the traffic shop and after a time the master sent his dog alone to the shop to bring the tobacco. But the dog returned after eight days, harried to death: he had bought the tobacco in Bohemia, as he had done for so many years. Inside the package lay a letter from the Bohemian merchant replete with greetings and the concerned question of why he did not send a few lines along with the dog.
He who could not work could not possibly long have endured in that type of primitive environment. And he who could not do without, likewise could also not last long. The earnings of the people were so meager that one wonders how they managed. The sale of potash, shingles, and wood exported to Austria brought in very little. The main meals consisted of corn meal mush (mamaliga) and potatoes. Grain, which had to be transported 24 kilometers to the mill in Arbora to be ground, was not sufficient to enable the housewife to provide bread on a daily basis. In the summer a jug of sour milk substituted for wine and beer. This simplicity has been maintained to this day and the people are happy and healthy.
The newly established community was incorporated into the parish of Gurahumorului. As soon as the community had emerged from its worst times, they thought of constructing their own church. The people were not satisfied having the priests from Gurahumorului visit them every 1-2 months; they wanted a priest to be among them. Soon a wooden church was completed. Already in 1850 the German Bohemians petitioned to have their community raised to a parish. The priest, Josef Szabo, who appears to have been a deeply religious and selfless man, had already been working for an independent parish among the German Bohemians and Slovaks. The Emperor, responding to a petition, donated 500 florins for the construction of the church. In 1896 today’s stone church, one of the loveliest village churches in our Bukovina, was completed. In the next issue of the Kalender, we will print a complete history of the parish of Poiana Micului written by an expert hand.
LACK OF SPACE.
It has been hardly ten years since the German Bohemians from Poiana Micului established a new colony in Dumbrava in the Old Kingdom [of Romania], whose founding was discussed in Kalender 1936.
In 1887/88 about twelve families along with other Bukovina Germans, traveled across the ocean. After an endless voyage they reached the coast of South America. Fifty years have passed since then and last year the original settlers and their descendants had a jubilee celebration to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the German colony of Passa Tres.
We read the following account about it in the German newspaper, published in Curitiba (Brazil), No. 78/1937:
In moving reverence the German Bohemians cling to their faith and to their old customs. Still today the old tools and implements they brought over from Bukovina are preserved by the families and held in esteem; still today they repeat their old prayers and sing the old church songs which they learned in Bukovina, and still today the tasty Bukovina meals on the family table and on their feast tables earn well-deserving praise. They are a solid German farming type and one can only wonder if in the future they will remain so loyal to their unpretentious manner, faith, language, and well beloved ancestral customs.”
The spinning rooms and the gatherings on Sunday afternoons constitute a type of literary bureau from where all sorts of information travels to the furthest house. The German Bohemian loves to sing. He copied this from the birds in the forest. Folk songs are assiduously fostered. And down in the Humora Valley they can really yodel. Assuredly the Lord enjoyed the Christmas carol, which the German Bohemians sang in the church for the first time during the last Christmas celebration. Whosoever comes to Poiana Micului should by all means look up Wenzel Hackl and asking him for a demonstration of his yodeling. The visitor will conclude, just as did the German students who recorded the yodeling and folklore of this elderly gentleman, that age has not diminished his mental capacities.
Visitors since March 23, 2004 Last Revised: 09/25/13 09:09:39 PM