EXCITING NEW DISCOVERY!
Stasa Cvetkovic has discovered the land records for Zichydorf and the surrounding villages. These include listings of all the landowners and fabulously detailed maps that show where each parcel of land was. He is still in the process of gathering and digitizing the records, so I don’t know how large they will be and what we will have to charge to cover costs, but I will let you all know soon. At this point, I doubt that there is any genealogical information, but they are incredibly interesting! Stay tuned for more information.
ZICHYDORFERS IN ST. PAUL
There were two main concentrations of Zichydorfers in North America early in the twentieth century. Our web site has pretty extensive coverage of the group around Regina, but we are pretty weak on the St. Paul group. I would really like to improve that situation. If anyone can tell any part of that story, please send me something. Does anyone know who the first Zichydorfers to settle there were? How did the community grow? Apparently there were two or three different settlement neighbourhoods – can anyone tell me about those? And apparently many of the people were employed by the railroads and in meatpacking – can anyone elaborate on this? Did some people move on to create other new clusters? What other stories are there to tell? I will compile the submissions into a much better picture of our ancestors in St. Paul.
2011 MEMBERSHIP DUES
2011 membership fees are now due. I will be culling unpaid members from the members only pages of the web site at the end of April. To check your status, log in to zichydorfonline.org and go to Your Profile. You will find your dues expiry date on the bottom right side of your profile. If you think there is an error, by all means drop me a line and we will straighten it out. You may pay with PayPal by using the donation box on the left side of this page. Mailing address and other details are on the Membership page.
GROSS GAJ FAMILIENBUCH
Helmut Kaiser has completed a Gross Gaj Familienbuch that includes the village of Malenitzfalva. This work is based on the church books from Alt-Letz, Ernsthausen, Heideschütz, Malenitzfalva, Setschanfeld, Topolya and Ujfalu, as well as a number of other sources such as family books and copies of church records from other villages.
Many Setschanfeld events were also recorded in the Gross Gaj church books. Although Helmut has done his usual excellent job, it is unfortunate that some of the records needed to complete the book are missing. An HTML version is available online at www.zichydorf.h-kaiser.de. If you find HTML unwieldy, I have placed a downloadable PDF version on our web site along with more information about the records. Look under Banat/Genealogy. If you wish to place both versions on your own computer, you can order a CD from ZVA. Details are on the web site.
“THE FORGOTTEN GENOCIDE” CONFERENCE
The Forgotten Genocide Conference is being held on April 28 and 29 in St. Louis, Missouri. You will find all the information on the registration, the speakers, and much more at www.annsfilms.com. Two speakers are particularly high profile. Zoran Janjetovic is among the leaders of the movement in Serbia to recognize the injustice done to the Donauschwaben people. Alfred de Zayas is a lawyer who was one of the first people to publicize and question the dislocation of fifteen million Germans at the end of World War II. He has written several books and is a leading authority on the subject.
ZICHYDORF IN THE 1860S
For several years I have had a copy of a document created in the 1860s about Zichydorf. With the recent decision to devote some of our resources to translation, we have had this document translated and placed on our web site. Go to Banat/Geography. My copy is a typed version of the original. It bears the stamp of Anton Petri a noted Banat historian and author. You can learn more about him here.
We have also translated and posted to the web site an article about the settlement of Boglar by Dr. Anton Tafferner. This article appears in the Boglar Familienbuch by Stefan Stader. Boglar was one of several villages west of Budapest where many German immigrants settled. Many of them later moved on to Banat.
A new group has formed to publish a history of the Rural Municipality of Sherwood, which surrounds Regina and includes the old Zichydorf Colony. They have asked me to contribute an article on the Colony. If you have anything that you can add to this effort, please drop me a line. They are also interested in erecting monuments at the old school sites and the Colony. You may recall that we have been considering this for some time, but we were holding off for political reasons that I cannot discuss in a public forum. This new effort by the history book committee should overcome those obstacles. These two initiatives are two more ways of keeping the name of our ancestral home alive.
ENCYCLOPEDIA OF SASKATCHEWAN
Several years ago, when this volume was being compiled, I tried to include an article on Zichydorf and the Zichydorf Colony. The editors thought that focus was too narrow to include in their limited space, but did consent to include an article about Danube Swabians. I managed to sneak a paragraph about the Colony into that article. A few months ago, in conversation with the editor, I suggested that, now that the Encyclopedia is online, there really are no space limitations and I asked if he would consider adding a Zichydorf article. He agreed that it was possible and I recently sent him one. I have not heard back yet, but I am hopeful that it will appear soon.
NEW LIBRARY INDEX
The Arbeitskreis donauschwäbischer Familienforscher (AKdFF) is the premier Donauschwaben research group in Germany. It has published many of the village Familienbuchs and has in its library copies of virtually all such books published. It is located in the Haus der Donauschwaben in Sindelfingen, Germany. The Haus der Donauschwaben has its own library focused more on culture and history. The two organizations have indexed both libraries on a new web site at http://my-bibliotheca.net/opac-108506/App/Pages/webopac/index.aspx. You may wish to insert the URL into Google translator to obtain an English translation of the front page.
STEFAN STADER SAMMELWERK SERIES
If you don’t know, this is a series of books built on the card files of migrants to Hungary kept in the Vienna archives. This is also the basis for the Wilhelm and Kallbrunner book of which you may have heard. However, Stader has carried this work much farther, including all available information on each migrant rather than just the name, and linking it with data from other records. Stader died a couple of years ago before he could complete his work. However, volunteers in Sindelfingen have been carrying on using his files. The seventh volume in this series (Sche-Sz) is almost ready for publication. We have pre-ordered a copy for our library. If you would like to have your own copy, email firstname.lastname@example.org and ask to be put their list.
We acquired the book Sheltered in the Shadow of Your Wings by Magdalena Gärtner a few months ago for our library, but I did not have time to read it then, so I did not review it. I did, however, print a review by Arlene Prunkl. I have since read it and can recommend it highly, especially if you are interested in Setschanfeld. Lena came from that town and her husband, Michael, came from Zichydorf/Mariolana. The first half of the book is about her childhood in Setschanfeld and the events during and after WW II. Fortunately for Lena, she was placed in a work camp with her mother and, although life was not easy, she avoided both the transport to Russia and the death camps in Yugoslavia. She paints an interesting picture of life in the village, the coming of the Partisans, and her escape to the west. Michael was fortunate enough to be evacuated by train before the Red Army arrived in Werschetz, where his family was living at the time. The second half of the book is much more personal and may not appeal to everyone, but, be sure to read about her trip back to Setschanfeld in 1974. The book includes a few short first-person accounts of the brutality of the coming of the Partisans, but it is not the horror story that many tell of their time in the death camps. It is a good and interesting read and not too long.
The story of this next book’s publication is almost as fascinating as the book itself. The book is The Rest Is Peace: Biography of Max Mathias Borschowa-Beaton by Garnet Williamson. A few months ago a member alerted me to this book and I asked if it belonged in our library. He was concerned that some things did not make historical sense. Recently, I also discussed it with another member, who also wondered about the historical correctness. I read her copy and have to agree with the two of them. This is quite an interesting and even exciting book, but I am afraid that it fits into the category of historical fiction. I do not doubt the events, but I believe that some of the context and background around them are incorrect.
I corresponded with Max’s daughter. She told me that Max had been asked to allow his story to be published in Readers’ Digest soon after his release from a Russian prison in 1950. He declined because he wanted to write his own book, but did not find the time and the right collaborator until just before his death in 1976. The author befriended Max in his last couple of years and compiled notes on the stories from his life. With the help of an editor, who helped her with “editing and organizing” her original notes, the author fleshed the stories out into a typed book manuscript in the early 1980s. She tried to have it published, but was told that, even though it was a good book, the time and market were not right for such a project. She put the manuscript away, forgotten until after her death in 2009. An associate of her husband discovered it in her papers, asked to read it, and encouraged him to submit it for publication. With his agreement, the associate re-typed the manuscript word for word into a word processor and submitted it to Amazon for publication. It was published in 2010.
Unfortunately, with the passage of time and after passing through many hands, it seems that some of the context was lost, and Max was not around to make the necessary corrections. The author frequently mentions the hatred of the Germans when they came to Yugoslavia in World War II. While that was certainly true in some places, Max’s village was 95% German and, although all were not enthusiastic, most of them thought that their lives would be better under the Reich. Although Max may have been less enthusiastic than many, having been raised in Canada until his mid-teens, it is doubtful that he strongly opposed the German presence. The author reports that Max’s grandfather, Mathias Nieszner, spoke to him in Serbo-Croatian and was forced to dig his own grave before being shot by the Germans in the War. While neither of these is impossible, they are both improbable to anyone who has studied genealogy or history in the region. These are just two of very many occasions where the context just does not seem right. It seems that the creators editorialized Max’s story to fit their own understanding of the situation, not necessarily Max’s. It appears that they sometimes filled gaps by assuming the details needed to knit the stories together. Max’s daughter did not even know it was being published until she received an email telling her to check it out on Amazon. While she recognizes some shortcomings, “For me, for obvious reasons, I don’t focus too much on the historical accuracy but more on the life my Dad endured and ocame.” And rightly so. Like so many people who lived through that time in Europe, he endured and overcame events that we cannot even imagine.
I will not be adding this book to our library because I am concerned that newcomers might read it without context and be misled. On the other hand, if you know the context and can read this book critically, I would recommend it as a good read. It is very well written, although not well edited. Many words are spell-checked properly, but do not fit the context of the sentence because they are the wrong words. It reads like a novel with detailed descriptions of people and places the author never saw, reconstructed conversations, and analysis of the thoughts and feelings of people the author never knew. It is a real adventure story as Max, born in Mariolana (Zichydorf), raised in Saskatchewan, and transplanted back to Mariolana just in time for the War, lurches from one crisis to another. All of these adventures are believable for this time, but, often, the context just does not seem right.
A few of our members and friends have lost loved ones since our last newsletter. Larry Loos lost his sister; Paul Wingert lost his mother; Liz Hugel lost her Mom; and Stasa Cvetkovic lost his half-sister.
DONAUSCHWABEN CULTURAL FESTIVAL
A notice regarding the Second World Meeting of Donauschwaben Cultural Groups is attached to this newsletter on our web site at zichydorfonline.org. The meeting is at Harkany, Hungary from June 16-28, 2011. The deadline was January 31, 2011, but there is still space available and they are still accepting registrations. The notice is in German, but you can put it through an online translator if you are interested.
ZVA REGINA BRANCH MEETING
Regina Branch will meet at 2 p.m. on Sunday, April 17, at Access Communications, 2250 Park St. (north door by the ball diamonds). The main agenda item is election of officers for the coming year. Glenn will also give a talk on the Zichydorf Colony, south of Regina. Please mark your calendar and bring along a Zichydorf friend.
Zichydorf Village Association News
edited by: Glenn Schwartz
2274 Baldwin Bay, Regina, SK, S4V 1H2