That day, January 19, 1946, began the organized expulsion from Hungary of Hungarian Germans, whose culture had become part of Hungarian culture through assimilation over the centuries. The German population became the stigmatized victim of collective guilt after World War II by being expelled from their new homeland and forcibly deported to the West. In 2012, the Hungarian Parliament decided that every year on this day the tragic events after World War II should be commemorated.
This article originally appeared on our sister site, Ungarn Heute. Translated by Julia Tar.
Although today serves to commemorate the sad events, let’s look further and see where the history of the Hungarian Germans began.
The beginning of a flourishing relationship…
After the end of the Ottoman occupation and the recapture of Buda Castle (1686), the Hungarian lands were in a very bad state. During their retreat, the Turks took many people with them and burned the earth. It was the so-called scorched earth policy. After these events, the country’s population fell by half. In this situation of plunder, Hungary was forced and depended on the arrival of settlers from outside the country. The big question was, from where?
Deportation of Swabians caused ‘irreparable loss’ – Commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the deportation of ethnic Germans
On this day, 75 years ago, Hungary began the deportation of its ethnic German residents. The anniversary of the expulsion was marked by the national autonomy of the Germans during an online event, with politicians also commemorating this sad episode in history. Allied Deportations to Germany to the Last Day of the War, Hungary […]continue reading
At first it is not very clear why exactly the German hermits came to Hungary, but if we think further this fact is clear. One of the reasons is that during the War of Succession, French soldiers invaded Hesse and the Rhineland, among other places, and devastated everything. Another reason was the increase in maritime trade, which landowners in the interior could only keep up with by raising taxes. It was the so-called tax press. Last but not least, it should not be forgotten that due to the marriage of the Hungarian King Stephen with Giselle (of Bavaria) at the time of the founding of the state, the country opened up to the Germans. At that time, many German monks came to Hungary, thus creating the cultural conditions for future immigration.
Hungarian Germans are the second largest ethnic group in present-day Hungary. Their number is about 200,000-220,000, or 2.5% of the total population of the country. The name “Swabians” is known not only in Hungary but in neighboring countries, although it is not entirely correct, since Swabian Germans live almost exclusively in the county of Szatmár. The first hermits were probably Swabians but there are several ethnic groups, such as the Ponzichter, Stiffoller, Zipser, etc., living in different parts of the country.
It was only after the fall of communism in 1993 that a law on the rights of national and ethnic minorities was adopted, providing for the creation of minority autonomies in Hungary. After the elections of the minority self-governments in December 1994, the electoral assembly of the German minority elected on March 11, 1995 the provincial self-government of the Hungarian Germans. By November 1995, 164 German minority self-governments had been established, the umbrella organization of which is the Self-Government of Germans in Hungary (LdU) on the basis of the 1993 Minorities Act or the Nationalities Act which replaced it in 2011. In the 2018 parliamentary elections in Hungary, the LdU list received enough votes for a parliamentary mandate and Emmerich Ritter entered the new parliament as a representative of the Hungarian Germans.
The settlement took place in three phases. Important roles were played by King Charles III in the first phase, Maria Theresa in the second and her son King Joseph II (Holy Roman Emperor) in the third.
At the beginning of the 20th century…
At the beginning of the 20th century, the demographic figures improved noticeably, clearly due to the assimilation of the German inhabitants. The Hungarian German People’s Party was founded in 1906. And in 1911, the German-Hungarian Cultural Council was founded in Vienna, which awarded scholarships to young German-Hungarians through the Pan-German Association. In the 1920s there were 500,000 Germans in Hungary. In 1924 the Folk Education Association of Hungarian Germans (Volksbildungsverein der Ungarndeutschen) was founded.
The escalation of the conflict…
Until 1938, cooperation between Hungarians and the Association was virtually conflict-free. In 1938, growing Nazi influence reached the Hungarian Germans and Ferenc Basch’s movement and his efforts for ethnic autonomy came to the fore. Basch demanded control of German education and schools in Hungary. In April 1938 the People’s Federation (Volksbund) was founded, replacing the Volksbildungsverein for the education of Hungarian Germans.
The Volksbund represented the interests of Nazi Germany in Hungary and played an important role in the recruitment of the Waffen-SS in the country, which later led to the collective stigmatization of the German minority and eventually to expulsions.
The Waffen-SS (Armed SS) was the combat arm of the Military and Defense Organization (SS) of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party.
After the loss of World War II, the Hungarian Germans found themselves in a completely vulnerable position. Of course, it wasn’t just about stigma. The land reform proclaimed in March 1945 was achieved in part by confiscating the land, real estate and movable property of Hungarian Germans in the country in order to give land to the poor peasant-agrarian-proletarian class and resettle them. In return, however, the Hungarian Germans were to be expelled.
There was a 9-year-old orphan who had lost his parents and siblings to the miserable health conditions of the war and whose remaining relatives were forcibly deported because they identified themselves as Germans, while the orphan – although he did not speak Hungarian – identified himself as Hungarian. Thus, his cousins, uncle and relatives were deported, while the child had to stay with his sick grandmother in Hungary.
We want to build a popular and democratic country, […] purged of German traitors, who belittled all things Hungarian, haughtily put themselves at the service of Hitler’s thieves and betrayed the Hungary that had given them a homeland when they arrived in the rich Hungarian land, a cane in their hand and a club in fist. return.”
(Speech by Miklós Béla Dálnoki to the Provisional National Assembly, December 21, 1944. Source: library.hungaricana.hu)
The most radical ideas were represented by the National Peasant Party and the Hungarian Communist Party. The Communists favored the persecution and deportation of the entire German population to Hungary.
The Swabians came here with a backpack, they should leave with a backpack too!
wrote Imre Kovács, a Communist Party politician, in his infamous article published in Szabad Szo (“Free Speech”) magazine.
On December 22, the Council of Ministers adopted Government Decree No. 12. 330/1945 ME on the expulsion of Hungarian Germans to Germany. According to this decree, all immovable and movable property of German persons was confiscated without compensation.
The eviction included…
The one who had to leave the country and declared himself German in the 1941 census
Who re-Germanized the name which had previously become Hungarian
Was a member of the Volksbund or the Waffen-SS.
The first phase of the expulsion affected the ethnic German inhabitants of the villages around Budapest, followed by the Danube-Tisza region and other areas. Each village was evacuated within days. The expulsion of Germans was lifted by a government decree of October 11, 1949, which granted citizenship to German residents and lifted restrictions on residency and employment.
Sources: ogyk.hu, library.hungaricana.hu, Wikipedia