DSFoundation - Katharina  Nysten
The Danube Swabian Foundation of the U.S.A., Inc.
Die Donauschwaebische Stiftung der USA, Inc.
Thursday September 1, 2005
On the Anniversary of the Donauschwaben
A German People on The Danube: Denied Their Rights,
Persecuted, and Betrayed
By Katharina Nysten
The Donauschwaben are a
people of German descent from
the former Yugoslavia,  Romania,
and Hungary, who were settled in
the central Danube basin. A
people  whose service as much as
their suffering is immeasurable.
After the Turks were ousted from the Danube environs in 1717, the
inhabitants  of the Habsburg Empire needed a work force, to make the
war torn country  productive again. They sought settlers from all over
Germany, with promises of  freedom, land, and assistance. Most came
from Württemburg, from the Pfalz, and  Alsace-Lorraine. The
establishment occurred in three stages, from 1683 to 1780,  chiefly
during the forty year reign of the Empress Maria-Theresia. The settling  
of the country with farmers and craftsmen was painstakingly planned out.
The Germans with their pioneer spirit came on the "Little Ulmer Boxes",
a  sort of barge, down the Danube from Ulm, and were set down in a
landscape that  was still mostly wilderness. The greatest benefit they
brought with them was  their skills, their work ethic, their stamina, and
their strength of will. These  settlers were the forefathers of the
They needed every bit of their strength
and staying power to to able to  cultivate
this country again. After years of the
hardest work, deprivation, and  death,
there were finally signs of success. The
work ethic and modesty of this  people
had made them prosperous and
However, in 1914 the Austrian crown prince fell victim to an assassinÂ’s  
bullet in Sarajevo and the First World War begins. In 1918 the Austro-
Hungarian  Empire is one of the warÂ’s losers. The kingdom of the
Serbs, the Croats, and the  Slovenians, inclusive of some half-million
German inhabitants, is proclaimed,  and in 1929 arises the new kingdom
of Yugoslavia, a dictatorship. There are many  disputes, revolts, and
assassinations between the Croats and Serbs, which puts  the
Donauschwaben in a very delicate situation.
heritage, as all ethnic groups of southeastern Europe  have done in
every conflict in history. Those of draft age among the  
Donauschwaben, depending on whose rule they fell under, were
required to perform  military service, whether to the Hungarian
Honveds, the Croatian army, the  Serbian National Defense, or the
German Defense forces. This war service cost  the Donauschwaben
their Yugoslavian citizenship, all their human rights, and  everything
they owned. Thousands starved. They were denied their rights by the  
Avnoj (Antifaschist Council of The Yugoslavian National Liberation),
whose  president was Josip Tito, who seized power under communist
leadership at the end  of 1944. They were Germans, and were allowed
to be persecuted and annihilated.
In 1944, of the 550,000 Donauschwaben, some were in the military, but
the  greatest number fled. 200,000 stayed in their homes, of which
170,000 were  interned in concentrations camp. 60,000 died there of
hunger. 30,000 able-bodied  were taken to the Soviet Union as
conscript labor, of which 2000 died. 11,000  died in partisan attacks,
9500 by being shot. There were also 28,000 dead  soldiers.
After more than sixty years, there is never any mention of this
attempted  annihilation of an ethnic people, the world has no idea.
Communist Hungary expelled 100,000
Germans by 1948. By 1980 the
Romanian  Dictator Ceausecscu had
sold the remaining Germans then living
in Romania to the Bonn  government for
8,000 to 14,000 marks per person, thus
freeing them.
Today the Donauschwaben are a free people! They are to be found
on every  continent. They are good citizens of their new countries.
They came with nothing, but they never let their capacity for work and
their virtue be taken from  them. It is estimated that 400,000 live in
America, the majority of which were born here. Many of them make an
attempt to adhere to the traditions of their  forefathers.
Return to HOME
Return to HOME
On Thursday September 1, 2005 this article by Katharina Nysten was published in the
German World Magazine
On the sixth of April 1941 the Second
World War begins in Yugoslavia with  
German air raids on Belgrade. The
kingdom was dissolved and occupied by
Germany,  Hungary, Italy, and Bulgaria.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia the
Germans rely  on the people of their own
Return to ARCHIVES