Rise and Fall of the Mining Industry

The Settlement of German Population Groups in Bukovina

Dr. Claus Stephani
Neuer Weg (Bucharest), Vol. 30, Nr. 9094, 12 Aug. 1978, S. 3
Sophie A. Welisch PhD, Trans.

Posted with permission of the author
3 September 2002


In 1797 Karl Manz, Knight of Mariensee, activated the silver and lead works on the upper course of the Golden Bistritz near Cirlibaba Nouă (Ludwigsdorf) and Cirlibaba Veche (Mariensee); again it was Zipser miners and craftsmen who were brought into the territory and settled in Bîrjaba (Byrschawa), Ciocănesti (Tschkaneschty), Ţibău (Zibau), Şesure (Schessu), Rotunda, Iedu (Jedt) and Valea Stînei la Cirlibaba (Hüttenthal).

When in 1792 the salt refinery in Pleschberg near Jakobeny was shut down and relocated to Katschika, the Austrian administration in 1803 aroused interest – [among the villagers of] Gura Putnei (Karlsberg), Glăjăria Veche (Althütte), Glăjăria Noua (Neuhütte) – in the establishment of a fourth glass installation in the Wojwodeassa Valley, in the area of Marginea (Mardschina); this new German-Bohemian settlement was called Voivodeasa (Fürstenthal). At about the same time further north on the right bank of the Small Sereth (River) another German-Bohemian community, Augusta (Augustendorf) was founded.

Already as 1802 Bohemian glazier apprentices had registered with the Bukovina Inspector of State Lands in Rădăuti (Radautz) and in the summer of 1803 were settled in newly-established Fürstenthal. According to extant documents their names were: Wenzel Feldigel, Anton Fuchs, Joseph Gaschler, Matthias Gaschler both (concave glaziers), Franz Keller, Martin Stoiber (mason), Franz Weber, and Johann Weber. Sebastian Schuster, a master glazier from Rehberg (Bohemia), who in about 1800 was already in Radautz, recruited lumberers from his homeland in 1802 for the installation in Fürstenthal. In the fall of 1803 Schuster along with twenty other woodcutter families arrived in Mardschina. Here they were received by administrator Quirsfeld and treasurer Hohenauer and temporarily accommodated on state-owned log cabins. These were the families of Anton Aschenbenner, Johann Augustin, Adam Bähr, Sebastian Baumgartner, Georg Beitl, Josef Druck, Martin Eichinger, Franz Geschwendner, Martin Gnad, Karl Haiden, Wenzel Hoffmann, Georg Klostermann, Kaspar Kohlruss, Georg Kufner, Wenzel Kufner, Martin Schulhauser, Andreas Schuster, Franz Schuster, Johann Schweigl and Peter Wilhelm. The German-Bohemians by far did not receive the state support which had been extended to the Swabians and Franconians some twenty years earlier. Above all they did not receive fields and meadows but only forest land, which first had to be cleared and made arable.

In 1805 a copper mine was opened in the upper Moldova Valley and further north, on state-owned land between Pojorita (Poschoritta) and Breaza (Braass), the mining village of Fundu Moldovei ( Luisental) and the hamlet of Piriul Cailor (Pferdgraben) were settled by miners primarily from Gründler Land (Zips). At that time Zipsers also took up residence in nearby Poschoritta in the vicinity of Braass and in the valleys abutting the Moldova River, e.g., in Izvoru (Quellenthal).

After two years, in 1807, an iron forge was built, where thirty-eight Zipser miners had earlier settled in the forested meadows of Hurgisch above Wama. Thus, after one year, 1808, there arose the community of Prisaca Dornei (Eisenau). In 1809 thirty-five Zipser families established the colony of Valea Stînei (Freudenthal) in the nearby Moldova Valley; from here German woodworkers and craftsmen also moved on to the already extant Romanian villages of Paltin (Ochsenthal), Moldoviţa (Moldowitza), Deia, Frumoasa, Pleta (Pletta), Rusaia (Russaja).

The first wave of immigration by German-Bohemians waned by 1817 — in that year the last foresters settled in Frasin (Deutsch-Oberfrassin) and Paltinosasa (Paltinossa) — to be followed by an even greater immigration wave between 1830 and 1840.

In 1835 some thirty-seven families registered with the Imperial and Royal Economic Department in Solka for settlement on state lands. These immigrants for the most part came from the Bohemian Forest, from Langendorf, Rehberg, Sattelberg, Seewiesen, Unterreichenstein and other villages, and were settled on the Humora Stream; thus arose the village of Bori.

In that same year, 1835 a second German-Bohemian colony, Dealu Iederii (Lichtenberg), was established between Mardschina and Glitt; these villages were founded by settlers for whom there had been no available land in Bori. With further immigration of German-Bohemian farmers there arose the communities of Poiana Micului (Buchenhain) in 1841 – where German-speaking Slovaks from the Zips also settled – and Negrileasa (Schwarzthal). In 1843 an additional 200 German Bohemians arrived in Bukovina and settled in already-established communities and in Putna and Putnathal.

The first Zipser miners received neither land nor the possibility of acquiring it. In addition, they could be evicted without notice. Fields and meadows for their farm animals were leased by the Religious Foundation on whose lands they had settled.

The economic status of the “Swabian” farmers was more favorable; they received homes and farm buildings, cattle – usually two oxen, one cow and one calf in addition to essential farm equipment and household utensils. They owned the property outright for which, but after two “free years,” they had to render certain services to the state. In addition, each community got land for the construction of a church and a school building.

The German inhabitants in the cities of Bukovina, in contrast to the rural population, did not immigrate within the framework of a planned settlement. For the most part they came to the city motivated by the greater economic opportunity and earning potential it provided. Moreover, numerous Austrian military and civilian officials, after their tour of duty, remained in the new homeland. Nor did this migration from the western provinces of the Monarchy ever end.

By the close of the 19th century the economic status of the settlers east of the Golden Bistritz in the German mining colonies of Cirlibaba Veche (Mariensee), Cirlibaba Nouă (Ludwigsdorf), Iacobeni (Jakobeny), Fundu Moldovei ( Luisental), Prisaca (Eisenau) and Valea Stînei la Moldovţa (Freudenthal), had continually deteriorated. Mismanagement of the Bukovina mining industry, obvious since 1848, led to a rapid deterioration of the once prosperous Zipser mining settlements. With the closing of most of the mines after 1870 the majority of the German miners were reduced to chronic economic distress. At that time the Zipser miners and foundry workers began to retrain. They became foresters, rafters, and lumberers – occupations at which they work in our time.