The golden Bistritz

The Settlement of German Population Groups in Bukovina

Dr. Claus Stephani
Sophie A. Welisch Phd, Trans.
Neuer Weg (Bucharest) Vol. 30, July 29,1978, p. 3
Posted with permission of the author, April 3, 2004

Bukovina, the easternmost province of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, was annexed by Austria on May 7, 1775 as “compensation“ for its negotiations at the peace conference following the Russo-Turkish War.

That same year, 1775, the Austrian authorities began to formulate an „immigration plan“ for this territory, inhabited from earliest times by Romanians and in isolated regions by Ukrainians (Little Russians, Huzules, Ruthenians). Within a century people of many nationalities from all parts of the Monarchy settled in the principal towns of Cernăuţi (Czernowitz), Vijniţa (Wisnitz), Siret (Sereth), Radăuţi (Radautz) and Suceava (Sutschawa), adding to the Romanian autochthonous population of north and south Bukovina. Aside from German-speaking officials, miners, craftsmen and farmers from Transylvania, Galicia, Bohemia, etc, there were immigrants from the Rhine-Main area and Baden-Württemberg in Germany, as well as Lippovanians, Poles, Armenians, Czechs, Slovaks, Serbo-Croatians, Italians, Tatars, Bulgarians and Gypsies.

Centuries earlier Germans from Transylvania, including craftsmen, merchants, doctors, pharmacists and others, had already migrated to Moldavia where they had taken up residence in Baia, (Moldenmarkt), Sasca (Klein-Saska), Cotnari (Kotnersberg), Tîrgu Neamt (Neamtz), Roman (Rommesmarkt), Iaşi (Jassy), Huşi (Husch), Saşa (Sassa), Bacău (Backau), Trotuş (Trotesch), Bîrlad (Berlad); others went to south Bukovina, settling in Suceava (Sutschawa), Sasovîi Rog (Sächsisch-Horn), Sasca (Saskaberg), Siret (Sereth), etc. Some settlements were unsuccessful as, for example, the south Bukovina village of Zabeşseic (Philippen), founded in 1760 but abandoned at the beginning of the Austrian era with the old German homes sold in 1790. The same fate befell the village of Sadagora (Gartenberg), founded in 1771 by German cloth manufacturers from Silesia but disbanded about fifteen years later.

The Bukovina Germans, therefore, immigrated to Bukovina only after the occupation of the province by Austria. Initially, under Empress Maria Theresa, there came primarily civilian and military personnel in an official capacity, who, in most cases, remained in the province. Soon thereafter craftsmen and merchants were called to the region and were guaranteed considerable incentives, as for example, exemption from tax and military service. After these German-speaking professional groups, who were for the most part settled in the cities, the Austrian military administration suggested to the central bureaus in Vienna that German workers and farmers also be brought to the province. These German immigrants came to Bukovina in stages: Zipser „Saxons“ from what was then called Zips and from the Gründler Land (Slovakia), so-called Swabians from Baden-Württemberg and the Rhine-Main region, and German-Bohemians from the Bohemian Forest.

Between 1780 and 1781 veins of manganese, copper and iron ore were discovered in the southern region of the province, ownership of which soon passed to Karl Manz, Knight of Mariensee; this triggered the recruitment of German miners in several Zipser communities.

In 1783 masons and carpenters from Transylvanian regiments started construction of a foundry in Iacobeni (Jakobeny); after completion of the project in 1784, the first Zipser miners were brought in, giving rise to the communities of Fundu Fieru (Eisenthal) on the Eisenbach, a tributary of the Golden Bistritz. With the aid of the Zipsers, the Manz iron works, the first installation of its type in south Bukovina, was made operational. These first Zipser settlers probably came to Bukovina from the region between Gelniće (Gollnitz), Smelniće (Schmöllnitz), Opáka (Altwasser), Stoi ((Stoss) and Iaco (Untermetzenseifen).

In 1782 the first two pioneer families arrived in Czernowitz from the Banat; they were accommodated in Roş (Rosch near Czernowitz). The same year an additional twelve families, likewise from the Banat, appeared in Czernowitz and were settled in half-collapsed wooden homes in Molodia (Jungheim), Ciucica (Zutschka), Mitoca (Lippowen) and in the villages of the Putna monasteries, Barnovschi (Barnowsky) and Dragomirna.

In 1783 the Austrian Mining Commission and the Salt Assay Office in Solca (Solka) had already established installations for the mining of salt in the foothills of Solka –as well as on Plesch Mountain northwest of Jakobeny; in the 9th decade of the last century they extended their operations southward to Cacica (Katschika), where German-Bohemian workers had already been settled between 1790 and 1795. The names of the first Zipser and Austrian craftsmen and officials who opened the salt mines in Solka are known to us through extant documents: Johann Wamser (master machinist and cabinetmaker), Leopold Eissert (“Controller”), Melchior Theiss (overseer), Golz and Krone (both official security guards), Josef Fleckhammer, Dominik Aystetten, Johann Boberitz, Barthel Brettner, Georg Sturm, Franz Steiger (all installation overseers) and Johann Wannsiedel (miner).

In 1786 a new wave of immigrants arrived in Jakobeny and Eisenthal, which included twenty-five men and five women from various communities in the Gründler Land (Zips). A year later, in 1787, there followed eighty families from the Rhineland, from Franconia and Baden-Württemberg and probably again from the Zips, who were settled in extant Romanian communities. Thus there arose the villages of Frătăuţii Vechi (Deutsch-Altfratautz), Frătăuţii Noi (Neufratautz), Satulmare (Deutsch-Satulmare), Milişeuţi (Deutsch-Millischoutz), Milişeuţii de Sus (Ober-Millischoutz), Bădauti (Deutsch-Badeutz), Mănăstioara (Sankt Onufry), Arbore (Deutsch-Arbora), Itcani-Gară (Neu-Itzkany), Ilişeşti (Deutsch-Illischescht), Terebleşti (Deusch-Terebleschti), Vascăuti (Waschkautz) besides Baineţ (Bainze), Falchen (Falken), Dorneşti (Kriegsdorf-Hadikfalva-Hadik) and Ţibeni (Helfgott-Istensegics), where Hungarian farmers had also previously settled, as well as Floceni (Ostrau), Horodnicu de Jos (Unterhorodnik), Horodnicu de Sus (Oberhorodnik), Vicovu de Jos (Unterwikow), Vicovu de Sus (Oberwikow) and the villages of Jungheim, Rosch, Seletin and Sereth, where aside from Romanians, there also lived Ukrainian-speaking Huzules .

In the period from 1782 –1787 farmers and craftsmen from Franconia and Swabia, and a few from Austria and from the communities of Cimpulung Moldovenesc (Kimpolung) and Sutschawa, were settled in Bălănceana (Balatschana ), Bosance (Bossantsche), Braşcea (Braschka), Bucşoi (Bukschoja), Dorna-Candreni, Dorna-Vatra, Gemine (Dschemine), Cliţ (Glitt), Gurahumora, Capucodru, Cîmpulung-Sat (Deutsch-Altkimpolung), Corlata (Korlaten), Masanaieşti, Putna, Valea Putnei (Putnathal), Stulpicani (Stulpikany) and Stupca (Stupka); in the last decade of the last century German farmers also took up residence in the northern Bukovina towns of Stăneştii de Jos (Unterstanescht), Zadowa, Cotman (Kotzmann), Vijniţa (Wisnitz) and Hliboaca (Hliboka).

Today one can with difficulty ascertain from which regions the Swabians or Franconians immigrated, since a number of them entered Bukovina via Banat; thus it must be concluded that the great population group, which would later be termed “Swabian,” consisted of immigrants whose forebears came from Baden-Württemberg or also from other parts of Germany and the [Habsburg] Monarchy.

Some of these Swabian families were part of the great “Swabian migration” which followed the downward course of the Danube through the Banat of that time; but there they found no free land. And when they heard that they could still settle in Bukovina, they traveled on. A similar situation developed with a number of the German immigrants who had been settled by Emperor Joseph II in Galicia, where they received too little land; they also continued on to Bukovina. There they got twelve hectares of farmland, a wooden house, farm equipments, seeds and cattle. In a short time they were able to become economically well-established in their new communities.

In the second half of the 18th century there were also some settlements founded on the initiative of various noblemen and landowners, as for example in northern Bukovina, in the vicinity of Vijniţa (Wisnitz) – Alecsandreni (Alexanderdorf), Catranieni (Katharinendorf), Nicolai (Nikolausdorf) and Dealul iederii (Eichenau) on the Little Sereth. The settlers, for the most part German-Bohemians, had to commit themselves to clearing the extensive forests and to cultivating the fields and meadows.