Saturmare, the German Big Village

by Christian Armbrüster

printed in Bukowina: Heimat von Gestern,” eds. Erwin Massier, Josef Talsky, B.C. Grigorowicz
(Karlsruhe: Selbstverlag “Arbeitskreis Bukowina Heimatbuch,” 1956), pp. 137-140
Sophie A. Welisch, PhD, Trans.

Posted June, 2000


There, where the Suczawa River meets the tributaries of the Saha and the Posina at its right bank and then continues its course along the railroad track in the direction of Itzkany, lies the village of Satulmare, in German: Big Village. The name Satulmare is mentioned for the first time in a document from the year 1570 in the bishropic of Radautz, to which it, as well as other villages in the Radautz basin, belonged. The village area encompasses twenty-one square kilometers and borders on the communities of Radautz, Maneutz, Dornesti, Tibeni, Milleschoutz, Badeutz and Vadul Vladichei. A secondary road connects the community with the large district city of Radautz and with the Imperial Highway to Suczawa. It is four kilometers to the railroad station of Dornesti and only two kilometers to the station of Tzibeni. Along the waterways in the environs there are several [saw and flour] mills and cloth fulling mills [where cloth is cleansed and thickened to become compacted].

The autochthonous population is Romanian with the following surnames: Andrisan, Balan, Bandas, Bodnarescu, Bordeianu, Cazac, Donisan, Colibaba, Dumitrescu, Giurgiu, Husdup, Jacoban, Lavric, Lubancu, Martincu, Popescu, Prelipcean, Sucevan, Prutean, Papuc, Teleaga, Tzibu and Vlad. For centuries the population of the village, enserfed to the monasteries of Sucewitza and Putna the requested contingent of workers for the expansive fields. The remaining uncultivated land was only to a limited extent cultivated by the inhabitants, and the people were concerned only with their barest of necessities of food and clothing. Turkish domination, wars and famines as well as epidemics carried off the people. The land experienced an improvement in their lot of the people only after the 1775 takeover of Bukovina by Austria. In 1788 there followed the settlement of the first eight German colonists on the monastery lands of Satulmare. They included: Sebastian Hubich, Heinrich Mang, Adam Nunweiler, Christof Schmidt, Peter Schmidt, Ludwig Schneider, Johann Staudt, and Karl Weber. Their houses and farmsteads were constructed in rows. Each colonist received from the state 82 Ar [1 Ar = 120 sq. yds, or 0.025 acres] for buildings and garden and 13-l/2 hectares [l Hektar = 2.5 acres] for farmland and pasturage as well as cattle, farming and household implements, right of access to salt water, and a portion of the common pasturage of the village. Good farmland was also set aside for church and school.

The settlers haled from the Rhine-Palatinate and the Saar area and were Lutherans for the most part. The fields of Ciotaria and Plop, assigned them in the marches, soon got German names such as Langgewann, Hirschgewann, (long land, deer land), etc.

At this time there was still much uncultivated land in Satulmare available for the Romanian owners which was cheap and attractive enough to entice relatives and acquaintances, who indeed came, no longer at state expense but simply as “subjects” albeit as free farmers. In addition from Germany as also from the Austrian provinces there came craftsmen of all types who until about 1850 settled in this developing village.

As a result of the established practice of dividing the inheritance, a significant emigration, particularly to Canada, set in by about 1890. Many from Satulmare settled there as farmers, as, for example Hofmann, Frombach, Galenczowski, Gattinger, Jäckle, Mang, Sauer, Schmidt, Silzer, Wagner, Walter, Weber, and Wolf, who achieved a respectable prosperity [in their new homeland].

In the first years of their settlement the Germans of Satulmare provided privately for the education of their children. A school building with living quarters for a teacher for both confessions was not constructed until 1799 and got state recognition in 1874.

A Lutheran church built in 1862 and a Catholic Church in 1867 were consecrated together on the first Sunday after Martini (Martin’s Feast Day).

Until 1874 the German village of Satulmare was administratively linked with the earlier existing Romanian community. Then, with the simultaneous division of land, the community was separated into a Romanian and a German-Satulmare (Deutsch-Satulmare) village. The first mayor of German-Satulmare was Karl Neher the Elder and the last in 1940 was Ferdinand Armbrüster.

Therewith a brilliant period both culturally and economically began for the newly created German community. For this progress the Lutheran pastor, provincial diet representative Martin Decker, the teachers Mayer and Bretz, Mayor Karl Neher the Elder, deputies Johann Armbrüster and Fritz Wagner deserve much credit. To mention only a few of the achievements of this period: drainage of the wet lands, regulation of the course of the streams, bridge construction, road construction, founding of the Reiffeisenkasse (bank), and the agricultural clubrooms, introduction of agricultural machines, improvement of breeds of horses and cattle, the founding of a modern fire department, etc.

In the midst of this economic progress, World War I broke out. The community of Satulmare became a war zone and greatly devastated by artillery fire and arson, was greatly devastated during the withdrawal of the Russians in 1917. The German and Romanian populations had been evacuated and upon returning to their villages, found gardens and fields dug up for trenches and traversed with barbed wire obstacles. The Monarchy had collapsed and the Romanian State could not offer immediate aid. Those who had sustained destruction had to absorb the losses themselves without ever being compensated for them.

According to statistics of 1937 the Satulmare Germans owned a total of 952 hectars, averaging 3-1/2 hectares per family. According to this same source these included 255 families totaling 1,018 souls, of whom 225 were farming families. Of these, 590 people were Lutherans and 408 Catholics. An occupational breakdown shows: 72.2 percent in agriculture, 11.7 percent in crafts plus an additional means of livelihood, 8.6 percent in trade and commerce, 3.6 employees and in liberal professions, and only 3 percent as workers and day wage laborers.

Between 1788 and 1940 one finds the following surnames in Satulmare: Armbrüster, Bäcker, Baumung, Bayer, Bessai, Bilawski, Blechner, Blechinger, Brodner, Brodt, Bundus, Brunner, Citron, Deinhardt, Engel, Feigl, Flamann, Frenger, Frombach, Galenczowski, Gattinger, Gärtel, Göbel, Göttel, Gräb, Gross, Günther, Haman, Hodel, Hoffmann, Hennig, Heuchert, Hubich, Jäckle, Kattler, Keller, Kekel, Kesch, Klich, Knoblauch, Koch, Kohlruss, Mang, Manz, Massier, Mathias, Mayer, Melcher, Mohr, Neher, Neu, Nemega, Nunweiler, Pick, Pilsner, Presser, Probst, Radetz, Reh, Reif, Roth, Ruban, Ruppenthal, Sager, Sauer, Selzer, Silzer, Schach, Schäfer, Schandor, Schmidt, Schweitzer, Schulz, Stahl, Staudt, Türmayer, Vorreiter, Wagner, Walter, Weber, Wild, Wirth, Wössner, Wolf, Zerfass and Zurowski.

In 1940 the Germans of Satulmare were evacuated to Germany in two transport trains via Hungary. They were at first housed in so-called transition camps in Füssen/Allgäu, Ursberg and Niederraunau in the district of Krumbach (Swabia). Not until 1942 were they resettled in Lorraine only after it was ascertained that the Upper Silesian area had no room for them. All males of military age were inducted into the SS or the German army. With the approach of the Western invasion armies in 1944 the Satulmarers fled from Lorraine into the inner Palatinate, to Rhine-Hesse and to other areas, wherever they could find a new homeland. Only a very few among them would again have their own farmland. Yielding to necessity, their posthumous sons became craftsmen or pursued a higher education.

As the generational successors of a people [from Bukovina] they will integrate the past with the present which will lead to a new future for the coming generations in the new homeland.

For a monograph on the above village see:
Armbrüster, Christian. Deutsch-Satulmare: Geschichte eines buchenländischen Pfälzerdorfes. Karlsruhe/Baden: by the author, 1961. 226 pp. plus pictures and maps.