by Josef Talsky
translated by Dr. Sophie A. Welisch
Posted April 3, 2004
Until December 1940 there was a German colonial community of Neu-Itzkany in southern Bukovina located on the left bank of the Suczawa River some four kilometers north of the old Moldavian ducal city of Suczawa on the Reichstrasse Czernowitz-Bucharest. Being close to the railroad, it served as a gateway to Romania in its 1918 boundaries. Until that time the community also had a main toll office and a police station.
Neu-Itzkany got its name after its settlement by the Germans because this colony developed next to the old community of Alt-Itzkany. According to tradition the name Itzkany derives from the hermit, “Jacko,” [pronounced Jatzko] of Sniatyn,” who presumably lived in this region at the time of Gragosch-Vodas. According to German sources Neu-Itzkany was called “Jackani” and “Jetzkani” from 1808 to 1814. Documents further reveal that there was a convent in the village of “Jackani” near Suczawa between 1597 -1776 and that the nuns were evicted by Meftodie, who had power of attorney from the bishop of Jassy.
In order to settle German colonists after the annexation of Bukovina, the Austrian government confiscated monastery lands for the benefit of the Greek-Orthodox Religious Foundation, which also included the forested meadows around Alt-Itzkany and the convent properties of Dragomirna. On July 4, 1788 first eight, then another ten farmsteads were established. According to the house numbers of the time, these ten German families, for the most part from the Palatinate, included: Adam Sauer; Christian-Friedrich Kornelson with two sons; Peter Hermann with wife Elisabeth and two children (from Heidersheim, District of Frankenthal); Valentin Rau, carpenter, with wife Margaretha from Zeilhard (District of Dieburg); a certain Glomann; Georg Nähr; Michael Arend, farmer, with wife Margaretha and three children (Warbaden in the Palatinate); Michael Hodel, farmer, with wife Ursula and six children (Obermehlingen, District of Kaiserslautern); and Wilhelm Germann with wife Margaretha; and Schultheiss (Rinzenberg, District of Birkenfeld, Rhineland-Palatinate).
They were so-called leaseholders, who were free of feudal obligations. The leaseholder agreement came into effect on September 4, 1795. On August 11, 1811 the additional families of Adam Hermann, Grün, Nagel, and Mohr as well as Heinrich Arndt also settled here.
These cultural pioneers from western Germany traveled to a region about 2,000 kilometers from their original home to take up new roots. The first harvest was so bad that their provisions did not even last through the winter. But with dogged determination the Neu-Iztkaners sustained themselves and conditions improved from year to year until finally a model community of prosperous and contented people arose in Bukovina from these small farmsteads. While their total number in the year of their settlement was thirty- three persons, by 1880 there were already 273, in 1890: 321, in 1900: 407, and by 1910 we find 596 inhabitants. By 1930 Neu-Itzkany counted 492 people while in 1937 the population dropped to 443 of whom 365 Protestants, seventy Catholics and eight of other denominations.
Through population increase and as a result the hereditary division of land the family lands continually dwindled. Acquisition of new lands in the neighboring areas was not always possible; therefore, many were forced to look elsewhere for a livelihood. They turned to horse, cattle and hog breeding, horse trading, and cultivation of sugar beets for the refinery in the area. In addition, many farmers’ sons learned other trades, becoming toll officials, policemen, railroad employees, administrators and teachers. Some villagers settled in other communities, others went overseas, as for example to Canada, the destination in the spring of 1889 of Martin Wilhelm Kornelson. He was followed in 1890 by Franz and Adam Hodel and Johann Hodel, and later by Heinrich and Friedrich Kornelson. Their farmsteads were taken over by the remaining Germans.
In 1823 we find Adam Rau as Neu-Itzkany’s “school director” and after him the teacher Johann Proll from Czepan in Transylvania. As far as can be determined, the teacher Johann Novak was entrusted with the education and training of the children in 1871. His successors included Jakob Serfass, Bernhard Köhler, Heinrich Kaufmann, Karl Völpel, Friedrich Schneikart Sr., Franz Serfass, and lastly Wilhelm Schwarzmann from Bessarabia. Despite material sacrifices the school continued in operation as an accredited German Protestant private school until the transfer of the Bukovina Germans in 1940.
Religious services for the community posed great difficulties. From 1791 Neu-Itzkany was served by Pastor Stefan Daniel Wilhelm Hübel from Alt-Fratautz. In 1792 Pastor Hübel transferred to Milleschoutz, where in 1795 he replaced Pastor Andreas Schwarz from Waltersford in Transylvania. When in 1859 the parsonage of Illischestie was established, its pastor Franz Samuel Traugott Gorgon also served Neu-Itzkany until his death in 1900. His successor from October 1901 to the end of June 1907 was Pastor Josef Folwartschny, followed by Pastor Immanuel Gorgon, the son of Illischestie’s first pastor. From 1903 Neu-Itzkany had its own pastor, August Hargesheimer from Ugartsthal in Galicia, who was succeeded two decades later by Pastor Graef from Transylvania.
Despite the fact that Neu-Itzkany was one of the smaller German communities in Bukovina, its inhabitants managed to achieve a noteworthy prosperity, since trade and even industry found fruitful ground in the village and its environs. In 1908 Itzkany was the first rural community in Bukovina to install electricity. Aside from the well-known large sugar refinery, Neu-Itzkany also had an oil refinery and a factory for the production of wooden nails. A natural outcome of the community’s economic success was its many cultural and civic associations, superseding that of many other communities in our vicinity. As early as 1899 an agricultural association was founded. In 1911 Heinrich Kaufmann served as its director and Jakob Germann its deputy director. In the same year the “Savings and Loan Association” was established with some 100 members, and in 1911 Jakob, son of Wilhelm Germann, became director with Ludwig Hodel the deputy director. The year 1908 witnessed the establishment of the regional branch of the Association of Christian Germans in Bukovina. In 1925 August Hargesheimer served as its director with Johann Mohr, son of Wilhelm, its deputy director.
Regarding the job-related activities of the inhabitants of Neu-Itzkany, we have some statistics from 1937 on the village’s 150 families with a male head-of-household. The data shows that forty-four (26.8 per cent) were in agriculture, thirty (18.3 per cent) in crafts with a side profession, five (3.3 percent) in trade and commerce, eleven (6.7 percent) were workers and day-wage laborers, and seventy-four (45.2 percent) were employees and in the liberal professions. Those in the last category found outside employment with the nearby railroad and its offices, in the sugar factory, and in the slaughterhouse of the large smoked products plant in nearby Burdujeni.
The possibility of outside employment worked favorably for the agricultural sector since the hereditary division of land did not have to come into play as often as in other communities. With an average of 4.1 hectares per family the colony was in this respect the best situated in the region.
In conclusion, the heads of families living in Neu-Itzkany in the last decade before the resettlement were in the occupational categories cited below:
AGRICULTURAL FARMSTEADS. Franz Bessai, Samuel Bessai, Jakob and Peter Blomann, Gustav Gauer, Adam Germann II, Jakob Germann II, Johann Germann and his father Ludwig, Johann Germann (son of Karl), Josef and Wilhelm Germann (sons of Josef), Karl Germann, Philipp Germann and his son Jakob, Johann Hermann II, Johann Hodel (son of Adam), Johann Hodel II, Wilhelm Hodel, Josef Keller, Jakob Kornelson, Johann Kornelson, Wilhelm Kornelson, Ernst Massier, Franz Mohr, Karl Mohr, Peter Mohr, Wilhelm Mohr (son of Peter), Franz Nähr, Jakob Nähr, Johann Nähr, Ernst Rau, Jakob Rau, Wilhelm Rau, Johann Wagner.
TRADES AND BUSINESSES. Demeter Bogatu, Erwin Frank, Wilhelm Germann, Jakob Hodel, Ludwig Mohr, Ludwig Praglowski, Friedrich Reim and Karl Reim.
EMPLOYEES AND OFFICIALS. Adam Bessai, Nicolaus Cerski, Adolf Czmiel, Jakob Czurau, Johann and Philipp Dudutza, Eugen Dufek, Amalie Engel, Friedrich and Otto Engel, Ludwig Germann, Adam Haidu, Gustav Hartmann, Johann and Amalie Hektor, Arnold and Eduard Hodel, Johann and Rudolf Hodel, Theresia Hodel, Wilhelmine Hodel, ? Hrudei, Otto Hube, Franz Keller, Johann Keller, Katharina Kerth, Wilhelm Kerth, Ludwig Klimkowski, Adam Kornelson, Erwin and Adele Kornelson, Jakob and Otto Kornelson (sons of Johann), Josef Kornelson, Wilhelm Kornelson, Wilhelm Kornelson (son of Johann), Christine Kuba, Jakoband Adolf Kubinski, Karl Kubik, Ferdinand Kuschera, ? Kwasko, Karl Mathe, Fanz Marko, Friedrich Mock, Adam Mohr, Jakob and Johann Mohr (sons of Peter), Johann Mohr II, Johann Mohr (son of Wilhelm), ? Pelweski, Otto Pertisch, Franz Praglowski, Adam Radmacher, Karl Rakoczy, Georg Salhorniak, ? Sauer, Karl Schäfer, Friedrich Schneikart, Wilhelm Schwarzmann, ? Seile, Jakob Silzer, Wilhelm Smolak, Johann Smutne, Theodor Schneikart, Johann Specht, Arthur Strobel, Otto Turkowski, Franz Weber, Heinrich Wegemann, Johann Werbetz, Hans Werskla, Hans Wilk, Amalie Zimmermann and Adolf Zybaczinski.