In the Valley of the Golden Bistritz

The First Settlement: Eisenthal on the Eisenbach

Glassblowers from Bohemia / Proverbial Ambition of the Swabians

Neuer Weg (Bucharest), Vol. 33, No. 9934, 30 April 1981, p. 6
  Dr. Claus Stephani
Sophie A. Welisch PhD, Trans.

Posted with permission of the author on 3 April 2004

Of the three German-speaking population groups of Bukovina in today’s district of Suceava, the Zipser Saxons are numerically the most significant. Their forebears, known as diligent miners, craftsmen and lumberers, entered the region in 1780/81, since in the vicinity of Jakobeny, abundant veins of manganese, copper and iron ore were discovered. After the construction of the first foundry by Austrian skilled workers in 1784 there arose the community of Eisenthal on the Eisenbach (Fundu Fieru); and with the help of the Zipsers, the Manz ironworks, the first installation of its kind in Bukovina, was opened.

This marked the beginning of the capitalistic industrialization of a territory in which up to this point there had lived primarily shepherds and small farmers. One might also say that the settlement of the Zipser Saxons on the eastern slopes of the Romanian Carpathians between 1780 and 1809 by far characterized the economic structure of this region. In the valley of the Golden Bistritz as well as in the Moldava and Moldawitz valleys they founded a series of communities: Mariensee (Cîrlibaba Veche), Ludwigsdorf (Cîrlibaba Nouă), Luisental (Fundu Moldovei), Eisenau (Prisaca Dornei), Freudenthal (Valea Stînei) and others, which still today differ in house construction from that of other settlements.

In 1783 the Imperial and Royal Mining Commission and the Salt Assay Office in Solka established salt refineries, one in the foothills of Solka and another on Pleschberg (Plesch Mountain) near Jakobeny. The refinery on Pleschberg was dismantled in 1802 and reconstructed in Katschika (Cacica). The salt installations employed primarily German-Bohemian miners and specialists, who had immigrated between 1790 and 1795. Later the German-Bohemians were known for their glass blowing skills. In about 1800 the Imperial and Royal administrative authorities initiated the construction of three glass huts: Karlsberg (Gura Putnei), Alt- and Neuhütte ((Glăjăria Veche, Glăjăria Nouă); in 1803, in the municipality of Mardschina, the fourth and most significant German-Bohemian glass production community of Fürstenthal (Voivodeasa) was founded. At the beginning of the last century the Fürstenthal glass plant primarily served the cities of Radautz (Rădăuţi) and Suceava, although its artistic mugs, glasses and bottles could be seen in many southern Bukovina communities.

The farmers and artisans from Franconia and Swabia as well as from Austria who settled settled in the area around Cimpulung and Suceava between 1782 and 1786 were followed to Bukovina in 1787 by eighty families from the Rhineland, Franconia and Baden-Württemberg. There then arose, next to the already-existing Romanian communities, a series of secondary settlements including Deutsch-Altfratautz (Frătăuţii Vechi), Neufratautz (Frătăuţii Noi), Deutsch Millischoutz (Milişăuţi), Badeutz (Bădăuţi), Deutsch-Illischescht (Ilişeşti), Waschkautz (Văşcăuţi), Kriegsdorf (in Bukovina, Dorneşti), Gotthilf (Ţibeni) and others.

It is difficulty today to determine exactly from which districts and communities and Swabians and Franconians initially immigrated, since a number of them entered Bukovina via Galicia. Nonetheless, it must be reiterated that the great population group which was later called “Swabian“ and whose ambition was proverbial, consisted of immigrants whose forebears came from Baden-Württemberg with some originating in other parts of Germany and Austria.

The last great wave of German settlers came from Bohemia between 1830 and 1840 and some presumably also from the Zips, settling in already existing villages of Lichtenberg (Dealu Ederii), Bori (Boureni near Gura Humorului), and Schwarzthal (Vadul Negrilesei); at that time the German-Bohemian community of Buchenhain (Poiana Micului) was founded. Immigation of German officials, artisans, workers and farmers continued until the end of the nineteenth century. It should be recalled that a large number of the German-speaking intelligentsia were Jews; they produced a series of well-known authors, painters, and musicians: Rosa Ausländer, Paul Celan, Alfred Margul-Sperber, to mention only three significant names, were born in Bukovina.

After their settlement the Zipser miners received neither land nor the possibility of acquiring it. They were subjected to the exploitation and whims of management and could be discharged without notice at any time. The Greek-Orthodox Religious Foundation leased them fields and meadows for their livestock but not always on favorable terms.

The Swabian farmers had a better deal. They got houses and farm buildings, livestock (usually two oxen, one cow and one calf) in addition to tools, farm equipment and household utensils. Their property could be passed on their descendants. After an initial two-year grace period, they had to render certain services to the state. For this reason they were able to achieve a certain standard of well-being in a short time, thus distinguishing themselves not only through language, customs and tradition from the other population groups but also through their fine homes and yards, which gave the impression of prosperity.