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Geography of the Region

Schwäbische Türkei is almost entirely in southern Hungary, bounded by the Danube and Drava Rivers and Lake Balaton, plus a small part of southern Baranya [Croatian Baranja], the Danube-Drava triangle, is now in Croatia. Present-day Hungarian counties are Baranya, Somogy and Tolna megye [German Komitat Branau, Schomodei, Tolnau]. The region is nearly identical with the Roman Catholic diocese of Pécs [German Fünfkirchen]. Capitals are, in Baranya: Pécs [Latin: Sopianae, Quinque-Ecclesiae], in Somogy: Kaposvár, in Tolna: Szekszárd. Schwäbische Türkei is a 3700 square kilometer area, with about 200,000 German-speaking inhabitants in the period between the world wars. It is the largest German-speaking area in modern Hungary.


History of the Region

by Günter Junkers

The term "Schwäbische Türkei" (Swabian Turkey) was coined by Hungarians in the 18th century based on an earlier term which referred only to a part of lower Baranya County (megye). After World War I, the German colonists themselves adopted the term for this island of German language in southern Hungary. Its meaning stems from the fact that after the expulsion of Turkish occupiers, the landscape was exhausted and everything was destroyed. Villages were empty and only very few people lived in the towns. The land was resettled with Germans, not only Swabians, from from all parts of southern Germany.

Germans had already settled here in the Middle Ages. The cathedral of Pécs was built with help of German builders during the reign of the first Hungarian King Stephen (997-1038).

Following over a century of Turkish occupation, resettlement began immediately after 1689. It is important to know that only 4 villages which still exist today in Hungary were state colonies, two of them in Schwäbische Türkei: Dunakömlöd [German Kimling] and Németkér [German Deutsch-Ker) -- all other villages were in private ownership. The first known landlord was abbot Jány of Pécsvárad. In 1689, his agent, Dionysos of Rehlingen, in Guggenberg wrote that he had 30 to 40 families who were willing to settle in the area of Baranya. Already in 1700, 101 families lived in one of the 5 villages owned by the abbey. About 1690 the first Germans came to Pécs. They received full civil rights in the town and a German mayor every second year. Mohács had a German priest in 1703.

During the Rákóczi Rebellion (1704-1711) all settled villages were destroyed and Ladislaus Döry de Jóbaháza became the general agent for the resettlement in 1712. His agent in Germany was Franz Felbinger in Biberach. More than 14,000 came down on Danube ships. Disorganization and epidemics ("Hungarian disease") were reasons for escape from their landlords and death. In the Döry area around Tevel (in Tolna county), 130 families arrived in 1712 -- three years later only 43 were to be counted. When the settlers arrived with their boats ("Ulmer Schachtel") in the harbor of Tolna, agents of other lords attracted them to other villages, promising better settlement conditions. According to the conscriptions of 1720, Germans are found in Majos (1715), Závod (1718), Kismányok (1719), Varsád (1718-9), Nagyszékely (1720), Németmárok (1720), Dunaföldvár and Szulok. They were Swabians, Hessians (often Protestant), and from the bishopric "Stift" Fulda. Even Earl Mercy, the famous colonizer of Temesvár, became a private owner of a domain in Tolna County in 1722 and proceeded to reduce the number of state settler groups to the Banat by leading them via his agents in Vienna to his Högész area in Tolna County. New wars against the Turks destroyed the new villages in the Banat area in 1736.

Up to 1752 private settlement was organized by whomever owned the land, various landlords, families and the Church. The Germans went as farmers into existing villages which were sometimes already settled by Serbian, Croatian and Hungarian families. The first three years were free of taxes. Valuable sources for early settlement research are tax lists ("conscriptiones") especially in the county archives of Baranya (Pécs) and Tolna (Szekszárd). The Baranya lists were published by F. Hengl. Only very few parish books give information about the origin of the settlers. So it is very difficult to find the original birth place in Germany. In many cases the families escaped to another village in order to avoid tax payment and to start under a new land lord and better conditions. Several settlers in the Batschka area have their origin in the Baranya and Tolna area which makes family history research very difficult.

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Associations and Societies

AKdFF Research Help: Heimatortsgemeinschaften:
Please note that except where otherwise noted, all the contacts are located in Germany; this should be taken into account when addressing letters. [Top of document]

Colonies List

The Donauschwaben colonies in Schwäbische Türkei are listed in Villages in Schwäbische Türkei/Baranya

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Other Internet Resources

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Last update: 12-oct-06 (mf/gj)

Thanks to Günter Junkers who contributed the original version of most of the information on this web page. Thanks also to Monika (Kleer) Ferrier.
Created by: Rick Heli
Please forward any comments and additions to this WWW-page (include the name of this web page) to Günter Junkers, or to: WebMaster