The fate of the Bukovinian Magyars from Andrasfalva

Norbert Gaschler, Rev.

Der Südostdeutsche , March 15, 1974 p. 2
Rebecca Hageman, Trans. & Ed.
Published with permission in German, April 1, 2004
Reposted in English, February 7, 2021

“Life and history of the (Hungarian) Szekler from Andrasfalva in the Bukovina by Adam Sebestyen” A bukovinai andrasfalvi szekelyok elete es killing Madefalvatol napjainkig. Szekszard 1972

The author of the article in the SOD (Der Südostdeutsche) No. 13/1972, asked this question: “What happened to the Bukovinian Magyars?” To our knowledge, from the above mentioned homeland book about one of the five former Hungarian villages in Bukovina, they also resettled and live today in Southern Hungary.

Dr. Koloman Nemeth, the Catholic Pastor of Joseffalva (Vorniceni) near Suczawa initiated the resettlement. In 1939, on Ascension Day (Lelden Remembrance Day in Romania), a great conflagration was caused by children playing; his parish village was nearly completely burned down, except for the church, the rectory, and a few houses. Pastor Nemeth made trips to his Transylvania homeland to beg for funds to help his parishioners who had lost their homes in the fire. What meager help he got was like a drop in the ocean. His parishioners’ poverty and hardship increased in 1939/1940 due to the drafting and mobilization of men, including fathers, in Romania. State support for the families of the draftees was very meager. By then, in the second Vienna arbitration from August 30, 1940, northern Transylvania ceded to Hungary, and in the autumn of the same year, the Germans were resettled from southern Bukovina. The plan to relocate all Bukovinian Szeklers (a Hungarian subgroup) had matured.

From the spring of 1941 to June 21, 1942, 2,828 Hungarian families with around 13,500 persons emigrated to Hungary and settled in 28 smaller or larger villages in the Serbian Batschka region.

It is well known that the Batschka, the rich lowland between the Danube and the lower Tisza, was awarded to the newly formed state of Yugoslavia by the Treaty of Trianon on June 4, 1920. After the German-Yugoslav campaign in the spring of 1941 (from April 6 to 17), the whole area was returned to Hungary. The Hungarians from Bukovina were now settled in the farms of the Serbs who had fled or were expelled.

Five Roman Catholic clergymen, and the one Reformed clergymen resisted the resettlement in vain. In particular, Dechant Anton Sebesteny, former priest of Hadikfalva (Dornesti), wrote a letter to the Hungarian government in Budapest imploring them to refrain from using the Batschka as a settlement area, since it bore all signs of (political) insecurity. This was a disputed part of the country, located between two hostile states, in the middle of a war that had not yet been decided.

Then as had been feared, on October 8, 1944, when most of the people were attending a jointly celebrated church festival in Andrasfalva, there was a sudden announcement to prepare to flee within three hours. After a 10 to 15 day trek, the refugees found temporary accommodation it the area of Lake Balaton. After the war, they were assigned the houses and farms of the expelled Germans in the so-called Swabian Turkey in southern Hungary. They found their new homes in 32 smaller or larger villages. The book, which was censored, approved, and published by a communist authority, ends its historical account with these words: “God grant that our children who are living now, and those who will come after them, will never have to go through such terrible times as our ancestors had to experience and endure!”

Besides a list of names of all former residents of Andrasfalva (Maneutzi) near Radautz, with the number of family members, it contains on 279 pages many contributions about life and activities of the Hungarians in the old homeland, to which they had come as the first colonists, after fleeing from Madefalva (East Transylvania) and surroundings in 1764 that is, even before the Swabians came from the Vltava (Moldau) in 1775-1776 (In 1764, more than 200 men, women, and children were massacred by the Habsburg Army at Madefalva).

In the appendix, we find 51 pictures from the old and new homeland, which unfortunately did not turn out very well, and a list of words that were common in Bukovina, but cannot be understood by all Hungarians.

Whoever researches the former peoples of the Bukovina and their customs, origins, and peculiarities will have to have individual chapters translated from this book as well. I credit the essential information to Pastor Mersdorf von Regensburg-Schwabelweis. I cannot state the price of the book because it was sent to me by a friend. It is known that the Catholics from my home village Deutsch-Altfratautz belonged to the Hungarian parish in Andrasfalva, which incidentally also had a Reformed parish, the only Protestant parish HB (Helvetian Denomination) in Bukovina.