Board of Directors:
Raymond Haneke, Vice President
Joe Erbert, Secretary
Bernie Zerfas, Treasurer
Martha Louise McClelland
Aura Lee Furgason
Dr. Ortfried Kotzian
Edward Al Lang
Prof. Dr. Kurt Rein
P.O. Box 81, Ellis, KS
Editorial response to
P. O. Box 1083
Hays, KS 67601-1083
Bukovina Society convention in Regina in
conjunction with the Federation of East European Family History Societies and the
Saskatchewan Genealogical Society
Irmgard Hein Ellingson,
Society international board member and 2002 program chair
Plan now to participate in a
unique, exciting Bukovina conference in Regina, Saskatchewan, on July 17-20,
Federation of East
European Family History Societies (FEEFHS) and the Saskatchewan Genealogical
Society (SGS) will co‑host a family history conference in Regina on those
dates. Within this event and in the same setting, the Bukovina Society of
the Americas and the Society of German Genealogy in Eastern Europe (SGGEE)
will hold their annual conventions. These four organizations are working
together to provide an exceptional learning experience for everyone
First, let me introduce
FEEFHS in the event that you have not heard about it. FEEFHS was organized
in 1992 as an umbrella organization that promotes family research in eastern
and central Europe without any ethnic, religious, or social distinctions.
More than 170 organizations, including the Bukovina Society of the Americas,
are part of it. Within this bi-national (U.S. and Canadian) not-for-profit
genealogy corporation, individuals and organizations can share information
and research developments. Its resources include accredited genealogists,
librarians, archivists, and linguists. FEEFHS publishes an annual FEEFHS
Journal, maintains a large web site at
http://www.feefhs.org, assists in
developing databases, and sponsors an annual convention in either the United
States or Canada. Last year’s event was held in Salt Lake City near the
Family History Library (FHL) and its microfilmed collection of original
sources from east and central Europe. Salt Lake City was also the site of
annual conferences in 1994 and 1997. Other conferences have been held in
Calgary, Cleveland, Minneapolis and Los Angeles. This year’s event will be
held at the Ramada Inn South Airport in Milwaukee on October 5-7, 2001.
The topics at FEEFHS
conferences always include genealogical resources, research techniques,
databases, and projects in all European countries east of and including
Germany and Austria. Within this general format, specific lectures and
workshops address U.S. immigration records, European emigration records,
Germanic and Slavic genealogy, internet resources for eastern European
genealogy, eastern European databases, and Polish, Belarus, Ukrainian,
Moldavian, Russian, Baltic, and Balkan research. For example, my lectures at
four past FEEFHS conferences have included “Bukovina Networking,” “The
Multi-Ethnic Eastern Austro-Hungarian Empire from 1785 to 1918,” and
historical overviews of Galicia and Volhynia.
As the Bukovina program
chair for the 2002 event, I am working with conference coordinator Laura
Hanowski, who is the FEEFHS 1st vice president as well as former
SGS director, and with the Bukovina Society board. We plan to offer two
morning and two afternoon lecture blocks on each of the three main
convention days, Friday through Sunday. Four lectures, workshops, or panel
discussions will be presented during each block, in different meeting rooms
but at the same time. One Bukovina or Bukovina-related presentation will
take place in each block. Some additional features may possibly include a
dinner with music and dancing, an outing in Regina, and excursions to
Regina-area settlements of Bukovina Germans and Hungarians, Galician
Germans, Germans from Russia, and Hutterites.
Invitations will be extended to our friends at the
Bukowina-Institut, the Landsmannschaft der Buchenlanddeutschen
(Bukowina) in Germany and the Associação Alemã-Bucovina de Cultura
(Association for Bukovina Culture) in Brazil. At this time, it appears that
representatives from each group will participate in the Regina event. We will
invite resource persons within our own organization to make presentations as
All interested individuals and
parties are invited to submit a lecture proposal by mid-January 2002. Watch
for the 2002 Call for Papers and Submission Forms to be posted online at the
FEEFHS web site and in upcoming newsletters. With the submission form, you can
identify yourself, write a short description for your hour-long presentation,
and request audio-visual aids.
Various registration models,
including full conference rates with meals as well as daily rates, are being
considered. Based on past FEEFHS events, we anticipate that a registrant might
pay one $75 registration fee with which he/she will receive a syllabus with
all lecture outlines and notes, two lunches, and the opportunity to attend all
sessions which interest them. Please remember, however, that this is only an
estimate. More information about this and the conference hotel will be made
available as soon as possible.
If you have questions about
FEEFHS, the Regina 2002 event, or this October’s conference in Milwaukee,
please e-mail me at
or write to me at Box 101, Grafton, IA 50440/USA.
WITH THE LANDSLEUTE
Dr. Sophie A.
At the Bukovinafest 2000 in Hays,
Al Lang gave a
presentation on his trip to southern Brazil and his encounters with
descendants of Bukovinians who had immigrated to that country 114 years ago.
At that time Al passed on to the audience an invitation from Professor Ayrton
Goncalves Celestino to attend the 11th annual Bucovina Fest of the
Associacao Alema-Bucovina de Cultura (ABC, Bukovina-German Cultural
Association) scheduled for July 2001. Activities of this group have been
reported in earlier editions of the Newsletter and have appeared in
several English and German publications.
A final tally of visitors from Germany and the United
States included Dr. Ortfried and Maria Luise Kotzian and Michael Augustin from
Germany as well as Steve Parke, Werner Zoglauer, Maria and Ed Becker and
Sophie Welisch from the United States. A minor catastrophe was averted when
Werner brought to Sophie’s attention the fact that one needed a visa to enter
Brazil, a fact not mentioned to her or to the Beckers by their respective
travel agents. Fortunately, there was still time to correct this oversight.
Since the seasons are the reverse of those in the
northern hemisphere, we were about to experience winter in Brazil. Having been
advised that temperatures never reach the freezing point, we packed
accordingly. The flora and fauna in this semi-tropical region were in their
full splendor, as they are the year-round. The firmament, too, is unfamiliar,
with the constellation, the Southern Cross, a stellar landmark.
Our host, Professor Celestino, met us all at the airport
in Curitiba, the city in which he also resides. Flying in from Colorado,
Illinois, Missouri, New Jersey and Germany, it stands to reason that we did
not all arrive on the same plane. Some came in at various times on July 4,
others on July 5. Nonetheless, Prof. Celestino was there to greet us, placing
at our disposal a van plus chauffeur through the courtesy of Senhor Ary
Siqueira, the mayor of Rio Negro in Parana. Our special thanks to Senhor
Siqueira and the Prefecture of Rio Negro for van and chauffeur, who continued
to serve our transportation needs for most of the duration of our trip.
Our accommodations were at the
Blumenpark Hotel in Rio
Negro at a daily rate of ten American dollars. This also included a
continental breakfast of cheese, cold cuts, fruits, and beverages. Since
Brazil has been experiencing inflationary trends, the rate of exchange was
favorable for currency conversions from U. S. dollars and German marks. A word
of caution to would-be travelers: not all places accept credit cards or
The Bucovina Fest opened on July 6 with
presentations at the University of Contestado in Mafra, Santa Catarina.
Attending the lectures, aside from members of the ABC, were Professor Sandro
Moreira, chairman of the history faculty as well as some students. Most of the
foreign guests had prepared a formal talk, but time did not permit all to be
heard. According to Prof. Celestino the speeches will be included in his book,
The Bukovinians of Brazil to be published in November of this year.
For July 7, the anniversary of the landing of the
Bukovinian immigrants in Brazil, Mafra’s Minister for Cultural Affairs, Senhora
Regina Paluch, organized a motorized parade with people on family vehicles
dressed in traditional Bukovinian attire. These vehicles were sponsored by
individual families, whose names were visible on placards; coming to mind were
Fuchs, Maidl, Rankel, Reichhardt, and Schelbauer. Trophies for the most
outstanding vehicles went to (1) Maidl, (2) Reichhardt, and (3) Schelbauer. The
parade lasted about l-l/2 hours, traversing the various towns in the federal
states of Santa Catarina and Parana where Bukovinians live. We had a warm
reception along the way, as people waved to us from the street and their homes.
Scheduled for the evening of July 7 was a dinner-dance,
crowning of the queen, Francieli Wolf, and the performance of a
“Brazilian-Bukovinian” dance group called Boarischer Wind under its
coordinators, Senhor Jose Adalberto Semmer and his wife, Waldette. The large
hall virtually held hundreds of people, all of whom seemed to be enjoying the
occasion. This gathering also afforded us the opportunity of meeting some of the
individuals whose families had been the subject of various genealogical searches
by Werner, Michael, Maria and Sophie. Regrettably, no one in our group spoke
Portuguese and very few of the Bukovinian descendants spoke English or German.
The herculean task of serving as translator, interpreter of culture and customs,
tour escort, and planner of varied and miscellaneous activities fell to our
host, Professor Celestino. Words cannot describe his tireless efforts on our
behalf. We are all indebted to his patience, time, and planning in making our
trip a huge success and wish at this point to express our appreciation to him.
On Sunday, July 8 we attended mass at the Igreja Nossa
Senhora Aparecida in Rio Negro. The priest, Padre Nilso Jose, made special
reference to our group, gesturing in our direction and mentioning some of us by
name. His homily focused on the gratitude owed our forebears. On a pedestal in
front of the altar there stood a carved wooden statuette of the Madonna, dating
from 1777, which, Padre Jose pointed out, had sojourned in the backpack of its
owners from Bohemia to Bukovina in the early 1800s and then to Brazil later in
the century. The choir, under the direction of Senhora Marcia Schelbauer Valerio,
provided musical renditions during the religious services.
After church services we joined members of the congregation
for an outdoor lunch, where again we were introduced to fellow Bukovinians. Here
we met the family of Senhora Ivete Basso (nee Schaffhauser), whose grandfather,
Rudolf Schaffhauser, built the first gristmill in Rio Negro. We later had
occasion to visit the Basso home, where I shared with Senhora Basso some
information about her Schaffhauser relatives in the New York area. Other
Bukovinian families whom we met during our visit include Ahrant, Fuchs,
Hartinger, Hellinger, Herzer, Kolb, Koller, Rankel, Schafaschek, Schelbauer,
Seidl, Sewchuk, Teodorowitsch, and Wolf.
Thanks to the efforts and activities of the
ABC, its first
president Professor Celestino, its current president Joao Jacob Fuchs, and the
many Bukovinian descendants interested in maintaining their cultural heritage,
the Bukovina name is alive and well in southern Brazil. Our American and
European Landsleute might wish seriously to consider journeying to Rio
Negro to see for themselves the lifestyle of their erstwhile compatriots and
experience their warmth and generosity. Indeed, through the medium of the
Newsletter Professor Celestino, in the name of ABC, hereby expressly extends
an invitation to Bukovinians abroad to join in the celebration of the 115th
anniversary of the Bukovinian immigration to Brazil scheduled for the first week
of July 2002.
Lacking space for a full description of our other
activities, mention will be made of only some of them: a choir concert in the
restored Chapel of St. Aloysius de Tolosa; a visit to the botanical garden in
Curitiba and an archeological museum in Paranagua; some original Bukovinian
colonial homes including the Bukovina colonists’ first school; at the entrance
to Rio Negro the “Bucovina cross” at the base of which a placard mentions the
south Bukovinian villages of Pojana Mikuli and Bori; a choral concert in the
Seminario Serafico (formerly a Franciscan seminary); dinner at the mayor’s
office; visits with local artists; a visit to the city of Rio Negrinho and to
the City of Music in Sao Bento do Sul, where we also dined at a restaurant
called Alpenbier and later visited the workshop of Walter Malewshick, a
noted restorer and maker of violins and violas; and a weekend south of Paranagua
at the ocean-side home of my relative, Carlos Kolb, professor of mathematics at
the Federal University of the State of Parana in Curitiba.
High in the priority of memorable experiences is the
hospitality and friendship shown to us by one and all whom we met on our trip to
Brazil. We will long remember the two weeks in July, which we spent south of the
Tropic of Capricorn.
BUKOVINA PEOPLE AND EVENTS
We welcome our newest family lifetime membership, that of
Renate and Johann Geschwendtner family of Dingolfing, Germany. Renate has been
a contributor to the Newsletter with stories of her grandmother in
Van Massirer, who chaired the committee which organized the
Texas German Society and German-Texan Heritage Society joint convention in Waco
this past April, sent us a copy of the program, affectionately called “his
baby.” The 352 registrants enjoyed two days of professional presentations
interspersed by bus tours through “Bush Country.” In 1995 Van had included the
Bukovina Society in the joint meeting of the above groups. The Society’s
earlier commitment to participate in the annual meeting of the Associacao Alema-Bucovina
de Cultura in Rio Negro precluded its regularly scheduled convention in Kansas
as well as attendance at the Waco gathering. Although Van and Mary missed
their annual trip to Kansas, they look forward to the Bukovinafest in Regina,
Canada next year.
Dr. Sophie Welisch, contributor to numerous publications on
Bukovina related stories, was featured in the Spring 2001 issue of the Journal
of the American Historical Society of Germans from Russia. Her article, “What’s
in a Name? Names and Naming Practices Among the Bukovina Germans,” contains
maps and tables supporting her data.
Elections held at the annual meeting of the Board on July 17th
resulted in a unanimous decision to have Martha Louise McClelland complete the
term of Mary Agnes Lang-Wagner and Michael Augustin to serve as a new member of
the International Board. Board vacancies were filled by
election. On behalf of the Bukovina Society, Steve
Parke, who attended the Bukovina convention in Brazil presented Professor Ayrton
Celestino with a Western Bolo Tie and the Association with a miniature Kansas
Fay Jordaens writes again of her family, “My father loved
to talk about and remember his life in Czernowitz, Bukovina and its extraordinary diversity. For instance, he said,
"when we kids went outside to play, it was nothing for us to romp with a group
of Russians, Bulgarians, Romanians, Germans, etc. and whatever
language our friends spoke, we spoke." Two of my friends were Jews,
[the Narvan family], and they spoke Yiddish so we spoke Yiddish."
Later on in his life, when my father came to America and settled in the
Bronx, New York, that knowledge of Yiddish came in very handy. He attended
a fiftieth anniversary celebration for two friends in Florida, and
toasted them in Yiddish, singing a song he had learned in his Bukovina
childhood! My father had to have surgery in 1906, when he was 5.
"Since the hospital was on the other side of town, we traveled there by trolley
in 1911, when we left Czernowitz, it was a cosmopolitan city that had at least
one university, a beautiful town hall, many magnificent
churches as well market places, beer halls, etc."
When the family came to Elbourne, Canada they were stunned
at the starkness of the environment, the flatness of the unbroken land and
the fierce cold. There were no trolleys, market places, town halls, no paved
roads, and no hills [just mud!] etc. When my dad lost his father, it was too
cold to bury him! Fortunately, there were family members already
homesteading, ready to help out this family of nine. Every child went to work [my dad
was worth $50 for the year]. His sister made $12 a month...... the youngest
boy was farmed out at the age of 7 for a pittance.
They had no way of knowing that their courage to move to
another continent would spare them the experience of 2 world wars, worsening
political and economic conditions in Bukovina and an overall steady
decline in every way imaginable. In time all of the family prospered.
Certainly the early years of life in Canada were daunting, but those who survived
were our family Heroes!”
May 19, 2001 witnessed the ordination in St. Patrick's
Cathedral of James Pilsner by New York Cardinal Edward Egan. Grandson
of the Bukovina immigrant, Joseph Pilsner (born 1905 in
Gurahumora) and Anna Schmidt, son of Arnold Pilsner and Marcia Rowan, James was
preceded in his calling to the priesthood by two elder brothers, Peter
Father Peter Pilsner is a high school religion teacher in
the New York area and Basilian Father Joseph Pilsner serves as formation
director with the Basilians in Toronto. Another brother, John, teaches
comparative literature in Queens College, NY. Their only sister, Mary
succumbed to bone cancer at age twenty-five. Aside from the nurturing
environment the parents provided for their family; Marcia feels that Mary's
suffering through the years worked as an example of selfless love and
a source of Grace for her brothers' vocations.
NEW BOOK REPRINT
Helmut Kusdat (Austria) has informed us of a reprint of
Hermann Mittelmann’s 1907 book entitled Illustierter Führer durch die
Bukowina (Illustrated Guide through Bukovina). It appears the original was
extremely rare and only by coincidence did he discover it. Consisting of 156
pages, about 100 illustrations including two maps, and a foreword by Kusdat, the
book is available at Verlag Mandelbaum, Ferdinandstrasse 25/2/605, A-1020
Vienna, Austria, Tel. & Fax 01-213- 68 2605, e-mail:
email@example.com for a
price of 205 schillings.
In his foreword to Illustrierter Führer durch die
Bukowina Kusdat tells us that the book offers a multifaceted view of the
crown land’s ethnic population, including their cultural distinctions and
architectural preferences; in addition, through word and illustration the reader
is introduced to Bukovina’s geographical landscape; the tourist attractions of
its larger cities, including Czernowitz and Suczawa; and the spas of southern
Bukovina. An insight into everyday life in 1907 can be gleaned through numerous
announcements by artisans, merchants and service personnel. Still used as
welcomed guides by Western tourists are the detailed road map of the Bukowina
and the city map of Czernowitz by Leon Kreiner .
The following essay
describes the circumstances leading to the 1940 transfer of the German
population from their ancestral homeland of Bukovina to an uncertain
resettlement in Germany. In June of 1940 the Soviet Union annexed northern
Bukovina, a move unanticipated by the Third Reich. Negotiations first between
Germany and the USSR and then between Germany the Romania secured the peaceful
evacuation of Bukovina's ethnic Germans. While 75,533 inhabitants of Bukovina
had declared themselves as German in the Romanian census of 1930, 95,044 opted
for transfer to Germany when given the opportunity to do so a decade later.
THE 1940 RESETTLEMENT OF THE
Erwin Massier, Josef Talsky, and B. C. Grigorowicz, eds., "Die Umsiedlung der
Buchenlanddeutschen im Jahre 1940," in Bukowina: Heimat von Gestern,
Sophie A. Welisch (Karlsruhe: Selbstverlag "Arbeitskreis
Bukowina Heimatbuch," 1956), pp. 276-282.
Due to its length, the
entire essay could not be printed in this edition.
The conclusion, “Farewell
from Home,” will be published in the next issue.
BUKOVINA. As legal basis for the official resettlement of the German
population, an accord had to be reached between Germany and the Soviet Union.
For this purpose a German delegation proceeded to Moscow in July 1940, which,
after many weeks of intense negotiations with a possibly unreliable partner,
finally succeeded in reaching an agreement to resettle the ethnic German
population of Bessarabia and northern Bukovina to the Reich. Acting as
plenipotentiaries for their respective countries were Dr. W. Nöldeke, the Consul
General of the German Foreign Office, and Anastasi Vasiukov, Secretary General
of the People's Commissariat of the Foreign Office of the Soviet Union.
concerning the resettlement of the Germans of Galicia and Volhynia in the winter
of 1939-40 served as a guideline for the negotiations. Here it should be noted
that a similar plan for the evacuation of the ethnic Germans to the Reich's
sphere of influence in Poland had already taken place in the fall of 1939 with
the Soviets simultaneously removing the White Russians and Ukrainians from these
Resettlement Commission arrived in [Soviet] occupied Czernowitz on September 9
and by September 27 the first thousand transferees had left by rail to the West
via Galicia. By November 17 about 45,000 people from northern Bukovina had
departed for Germany in about 1000 railroad cars, thus concluding the transfer.
Bessarabia served as the headquarters of the Soviet-German Resettlement
Commission. One German and one Soviet territorial adviser were designated for
northern Bukovina and stationed in Czernowitz in the "City" (Fiala), a boarding
house on University Street. Since at this time Germany enjoyed friendly
relations with the Soviet Union, the Soviets respected the improvised bi-lingual
signs marked "German Community" [placed on German homes and businesses] and
desisted from molesting the life, property and possessions of the German
In view of the
newly-established occupation policies and the overall political situation, hardly a German declined the opportunity for resettlement, since none had the
slightest desire to live under Soviet rule. Indeed, thousands of members of
other ethnic groups: Romanians, Ruthenians (i.e., Ukrainians), Poles and many
relatives of German families attempted to register [for resettlement]. Wishing
to offer them the way to freedom, many were accepted but not always without
negative repercussions since the Soviets showed great mistrust. Because of these
exceptions a much higher number of individuals applied for evacuation than had
previously registered as German in the 1930 census.
of the Germans from northern Bukovina represented for them not only the painful
forfeiture of their beloved homeland but for very many also a great material
loss in that they had to abandon house and farmstead, farm animals and
businesses. It is true that the Resettlement Commission had promised them
compensation in Germany for all their relinquished material goods. Although with
heavy heart, all were nonetheless imbued with the hope that the call of "home to
the Reich" would lead to a better future.
While a much more
favorable agreement for the transferees from southern Bukovina could be
negotiated with the Romanian government, the northern Bukovinians could only
take personal goods in relatively limited quantity: 50 kilograms of movable
property and another 35 kilograms of hand luggage per person!
the district leader Professor Franz Lohmer worked with Father Goebel, Dr. Erich Prokopowitsch, and Dr. Franz Jelinek until the conclusion of the registration,
rendering valuable services. Under the territorial plenipotentiaries, there was
one district representative each for Czernowitz-West and East and for the
suburbs Rosch, Klokuczka and Manasteriska as well as for the villages of
Tereblestie, Althütte, Czudin, Storozynetz, Augustendorf and Katharinendorf. The
Soviets remained distrustful of the German resettlement staff. No representative
of the German staff could leave the office buildings without a Soviet
"protective escort." One must assume they feared espionage. On the other hand
the Germans estimated the number of agents smuggled into Germany with the
resettlement at about 300.
The Czernowitzers, and with them the remainder of the northern Bukovinians, were for
the most part accommodated in the German East (Silesia, Warthegau). The farmers
had to take over farmsteads confiscated from the Poles, many of them in a
dilapidated condition. Refusal to accept ownership under these terms, although
detrimental to both parties, was deemed sabotage against the German wartime
economy. Artisans and craftsmen found work in factories, while able-bodied men
were inducted into the army and the youth for the most part into the Waffen-SS
(Armed SS). Few intellectuals found suitable employment in the beginning;
retirees and pensioners had to live in the camps for many years along with the
families of compatriots drafted into military or labor service, where they
eventually shared the lot of the hundreds of thousands of refugees paralleling
the great retreat of the German armies in the east. At the same time the Germans
expelled by the Poles and Czechs [after the war] also had to reestablish
themselves in the south and west. Thousands of stalwart Bukovinians succumbed in
the great chaos of the flight while others could not be accounted for. Many who
remained in the Soviet zone or reached Czechoslovakia were [forcibly]
repatriated to southern Bukovina or deported to the Soviet Union.
BUKOVINA. None of the many Bukovinian nationalities was so affected by the
partition of the province, as were the Germans. For them, the rending asunder of
their homeland threatened their ethnic identity in both areas--those under
Soviet administration as well as those remaining free in the south--with their
viability as an ethnic group at stake.
From the very
first day of the [Soviet] occupation a resettlement of the northern Bukovinians
seemed a strong possibility; however, the fate of the southern Bukovinians was
not yet clear. Czernowitz, the nerve center of the Germans, was lost, and with
their leading spokesmen located in the Soviet-occupied north, their national
organizations were disrupted.
As soon as the
dust had settled, attempts to organize the rump population in the south began.
Certified engineer (Dipl.-Ing. = Diplomenginieur) Johann Krotky of
Gurahumora was elected as the new national group leader aided by his two
sons-in-law, Hans Bender and Albert Heilinger, two effective assistants. At this
time the comprehensive concerns of the Germans of southern Bukovina were
articulated, and Gurahumora, the charming mountain town, became the new center
of ethnic activity.
Although it at
first appeared that a closer orientation of the southern Bukovinians to the
Germans of Transylvania, their nearest neighbors, might take place, the
dissolution of Greater Romania by the Vienna Accord of August 30, 1940 dashed
these hopes: Hungary annexed Transylvania. As a result the totally isolated
German splinter groups on the eastern slopes of the Carpathians had only the
option of resettlement to Germany, if indeed they did not wish to remain weak,
exposed, and in headlong decline. In full recognition of this situation Berlin
decided to evacuate these German enclaves and began negotiations with Romania
for their resettlement.
like wildfire throughout the province. The people in the towns and villages had
time to consider their options and reach a preliminary decision. Nearly 100
percent of the Germans chose resettlement, although they did not face the
hopeless situation of the northern Bukovinians and the Romanians did not look
favorably upon a transfer. One can only speculate on the compelling reasons
supporting and justifying their decision.
In order to
understand their circumstances, one should lay to rest the idea that the
southern Bukovinians at that time supported the philosophy of National Socialism
and its propaganda, blindly accepting the slogan, "the Führer commands, we
obey." Anyone familiar with the situation in Bukovina knows that precisely its
Germans in their trinity of Swabians, Zipsers and German-Bohemians with their
clerical differences and varied historic traditions were little inclined to
succumb to the "Führer-leadership principle." Their individualism was too strong
to permit this.
issue facing the rank and file of the population was far more the psychological
impact of the partition of Bukovina. The chaos of the last days of June, the
horrific reports by the countless refugees about conditions in the north, the
persistent rumors that the Soviet Union also intended to annex southern
Bukovina, the blow below the belt from Vienna, the impotence of the Romanian
government, all kept the people (and not only the Germans!) in constant panic.
In taking up resettlement negotiations with Romania they wanted confirmation of
Soviet intentions and demands. Had it been possible to escape from the Soviet
shadow at that time, there would have been many thousands among the other
nationalities embarking with the Germans on the way to an apparently safe West.
In view of
these circumstances, it stands to reason that individual concerns also took on
weight, reinforcing the decision to emigrate: the many requisitions by the army
and the quartering of troops, the steady deterioration of the economy and of
economic opportunity, the severance of familial and social relations with the
Germans in northern Bukovina. In short, the homeland had become increasingly
alien to its children.
did not mean that the negative side of resettlement had not been considered.
Germany was at war. Would it be able fully to fulfill its promises to the
newcomers? Was not the East, the envisioned area of settlement, not long ago
overfilled? Would it be possible to settle the stem groups [i.e., Swabians,
Zipsers, and German-Bohemians] or at least the village communities together?
Such and similar questions constantly arose; but the die had already been cast.
conclusion of the agreement between the German government and the Kingdom of
Romania about the resettlement to the German Reich of the ethnic Germans of
southern Bukovina and the Dobruja1 reached
on October 22, 1940, matters began to unfold rapidly. For the German side, the
Consul General Wilhelm Rodde, for the Romanian, the Ambassador Ioan Brosu signed
the document. The particulars of the treaty were largely based on the
German-Soviet model on the transfer of the Bessarabian and northern Bukovinia-Germans,
except that Romania made far-reaching concessions regarding the removal of
assets by the émigrés. A central point: the parties agreed that legal aspects of
the German properties would be handled by the signatory treaty parties.
Accordingly, the émigrés relinquished to the German government any claims for
properties abandoned in Romania, with Germany agreeing at the same time to
compensate them for their losses.2
conclusion of the negotiations the Resettlement Commission arrived in southern
Bukovina. SS Major General Siekmeier set up headquarters in Gurahumora with
individual commissions established in the villages. With appropriate secretarial
help and staff from among the ranks of local Germans, the work of registering
those desiring to emigrate could begin.
the exception of the ill and infirm) who wished to avail themselves of the right
to resettle, had personally to appear before the Commission. After confirming
the German ethnicity of the applicant and his family, a list of his immovable
property was prepared.3 As proof of
registration, every single-family member received a resettlement pass on which,
besides name and place of origin, a number identified his listing in the
records. Upon registration and receipt of the pass, the emigre placed himself
under the protection of Germany and simultaneously under the terms of the
treaty. Thus he lost the right to control his own fate and became a pawn of
accompanying on-the-spot seizure of his property brought the first foretaste of
his new status. A German assessor and his Romanian counterpart appraised the
individual properties, assigning a value to them. This was an extraordinary
opportunity for the assessors, and they attempted in the main to reach a common
accord. The property owner retained the right to specify the properties and
items he wished or was required to relinquish. He infrequently got a glimpse
into the results of the assessment, obtaining only a receipt. Only in the camps
in Germany did the perplexed individual, upon request, see excerpts of the
assessment. It then become apparent that the agricultural population had been
very ill advised; in order to buy transportable goods of all sorts, they had
sold a good portion of their livestock, yet livestock, in comparison to acreage,
was highly assessed.4
the packing of the hand baggage. In practical terms no limitations were set on
the amount of furniture and crated movable goods that could be included for
shipment. All freighted and hand luggage was toll-free. Crates and boxes were
identified with the name and number of the transferee and every owner received a
receipt for the number and type of luggage he had surrendered.
When that had
been settled, there began the final preparations to leave the homeland. The
elderly and the ill were dispatched earlier via special trains while the
remainder had to wait patiently until their names appeared on the transport
lists. In the meantime much remained to be done. The last dispensable household
items and miscellaneous other articles were sold for cash and exchanged for
items which seemed worthwhile taking along. Naturally these transactions were
not without considerable loss. While goods offered for sale went for a pittance,
the price of fabrics, clothing, leather, etc. rose from week to week.
mid-November until shortly before Christmas the transports rolled across Hungary
to Germany. Almost 48,000 Germans had opted for resettlement with a few hundred
remaining in southern Bukovina. A 155-year saga had come to an end.
.....Continued in the
December 2001 Newsletter at
THE 1940 RESETTLEMENT OF THE BUKOVINA GERMANS
1The circumstances leading to the resettlement of
the Dobruja Germans were similar to those in southern Bukovina.
2Romania made many deliveries of goods [to
Germany] in compensation for properties relinquished by the émigrés.
3Who was a German was quite liberally
determined. [Proof of one German grandparent usually sufficed.]
4Two head of cattle were assessed for more
than the yield of one hectare. Yet according to local standards, the yield of
one hectare could buy seven to ten head of cattle.
style the author personalizes a Bukovinian family's last hours before they
abandoned hearth and home for an uncertain destiny in Germany.
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