BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L ArchivesArchiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 1999-07 > 0931347601
Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 48A dtd 15 dec 1998 (edited)
Date: Wed, 7 Jul 1999 07:40:01 EDT
THE BURGENLAND BUNCH NEWS -No. 48A
DEDICATED TO AUSTRIAN-HUNGARIAN BURGENLAND FAMILY HISTORY
(issued biweekly by )
December 15, 1998
(all rights reserved)
This second section of the 3 section newsletter features an article
concerning Hungarian Folklore, a Dialect Question, a Book on Austria,
Croatian Burgenland Origins, Comments on the Wallern History by Father
Graisy, and Border Villages-Ethnic Twins.
HUNGARIAN FOLKLORE- (suggested by Gloria Martinson)
Gloria writes: "Hi and Happy Holidays! I haven't written very often but I saw
an interesting documentary the other night on Hungary and vampires. Has
anyone ever commented on the vampirism in Hungary from the early1200s until
now. Yes as late as 10 years ago in certain villages in Hungary ... they
still believed in vampires ... after a person died they would only bury the
body a foot deep during the religious ceremony and then late at night ...
come to the cemetery and either cut the head off, bind the legs or drive a
stake through the heart and sometimes take the heart out and burn it. It
never did say what part of Hungary this took place in ... so I was just
curious since I know now that my ancestors came from the St. John's area in
Hungary. If you have any more info .... I would like to know....I know this
is strange but am very curious especially about the Queen of Hungary in the
late 1600s who was penned up in a wall for eating some of her ladies in
waiting. I don't know her name... but they thought she was a vampire."
Editor's response: In this enlightened (?) age, it's hard to imagine that
people once believed (still believe?) in such things as vampires, werewolves,
spirits and other forms of the undead. Bram Stoker with his Dracula tale,
Shelley with Frankenstein and Hollywood script producers have let their
imaginations run riot, producing a number of horror stories to titillate and
amuse us. Never the less, many of these stories have some basis of fact
having been taken from history, folklore and mythology. I am no expert in
this area and merely share some things I've found.
Most of the vampire tales take place in the Carpathians of Transylvania
(Moldavia and Wallachia), that mountainous region in what was the easternmost
part of Hungary, now mainly Romania, which includes parts of the
Transylvanian and Carpathian Alps. It was settled by German Saxons in the
12th Century. They maintained their culture, language and traditions until
present times (some have since been forcibly expatriated by the Romanians).
The region is one of deep valleys and towering crags with ruins of mountain
fortresses, yet there are fertile farms and ancient medieval cities, now
suffering the effects of decades of Romanian communism. Transylvania was
never fully conquered by the Turks and some of its leaders had a reputation
for unbridled ferocity, substituting visible cruelty for military strength.
A favorite ploy was to behead enemies and place their heads on spikes along
the road. Impalement on stakes and roasting on spits and in baskets was also
practiced. Another was to blind prisoners in groups; link them with ropes and
have a half blinded leader take them home to show what would happen to
others. There were countless variations. The Turks, the peasants who saw
these sights and even the aristocracy soon spread horror stories about the
perpetrators of these terrible acts, undoubtedly embellishing them as they
were repeated. Among the the worst was Vlad Drac(k)ul, Voivode of Wallachia
(15th century) a contemporary of Hungarian hero Janos Hunyadi, hence the
Dracula story. Nothing was done to discourage the tales, really a form of
early military propaganda and they became part of folk lore and legend,
becoming ever grimmer in the telling. Turks (Moslems) were firm believers in
immortal "jinns" (devils) and they considered Vlad Dracul a "jinn" of the
worst sort. I guess along with coffee, strudle and kipfels, the Turks of the
16th Century also gave us Dracula!
But vampire legends can probably be traced to pre Roman times in all lands,
as an explanation for any unexplainable occurrence involving loss of blood.
Sheep with torn throats pointed to werewolves or vampires when in reality the
acts could have been committed by any number of animals (including a neighbor
who coveted pasture). People would find old legends the simplest and most
entertaining explanation for anything mysterious.
I have found no tales of vampirism in the Burgenland, which is clear across
the plains of Hungary from Transylvania, but these tales were intoduced by
others and added to the stories about evil found in every land. My
grandmother believed half-heartedly in the evil eye and the curses of
Gypsies. Gypsies were considered sorcerors and at one time were persecuted
for canibalism (later refuted). She always said it didn't hurt to take
precautions. She spoke of wolves in the village streets in the depths of
winter and strange tales told by adults by fire light. Her gamekeeper uncle
told stories of wolf shapes and spirits in the woods (perhaps to keep
children from straying?). She and her contemporaries were deeply religious
and I feel they would have rebelled against despoiling a grave. I doubt if
the Burgenland RC clergy (generally of an educated class) would have
countenanced such behavior.
Along the borders of western Hungary there are tales of spirits in the woods.
Probably remnants of early Magyar fears. They were steppe nomads,
unaccustomed to the darkness of forest. It probably terrified them. Hungarian
fairy tales often take place in forests. During migration of the Avar and
Gothic tribes and the Hun, Mongol, Magyar and Turk invasions, many people
fled to the mountains and woods to survive. How long before they became half
animal, committing deeds we can only imagine. Huns are known to have
practiced ritual canabilism. Another fertile field for later tales, surviving
in collective memories. Then there are Burgenland tales like the "Wasser
Teufel", the water devil of the reeds of the Neusiedler See. Reminds one of
our own "Jersey Devil" of the New Jersey Pine Barrens. Straw dolls are still
made to protect Burgenland houses from evil and it's said a wheel buried in
a doorstep will prevent deviltry and don't fall asleep in a road or furrow at
noon or midnight or a spirit will get you, but people now smile when they
talk of such things. Do you still throw a pich of salt over your shoulder if
you spill some? I still do, makes my wife smile. The pagan Germans, Slavs and
Hungarians practiced a religion which saw natural spirits everywhere. After
accepting Christianity, some of these earlier beliefs and customs were
duplicated in the new religion (i.e. Xmas tree and wreaths, Harvest
festival, All-Saints and other religious holidays etc.) or were remembered as
folk lore and myth.
Recently I read that some medieval madness and delusion could have been
caused by eating flour milled from rye that had been attacked by specific
natural mold spores. Hallucination resulted, repeated endlessly until the
store of grain was exhausted. A failed harvest meant hunger so moldy grain
would not have been destroyed. The great cat massacre of the middle ages and
the burning of witches may be explained in this manner. Some plants and fungi
can also cause hallucinations. Many wild green plants and mushrooms were
eaten to supplement bland diets.
I believe the so-called vampire queen in question was not a queen but the
Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a most beautiful, educated, powerful and
despicable member of the Hungarian aristocracy. She lived from 1560-1613,
held court at Sarvar Castle and may have been the most dreadful murderess in
recorded history. Her beauty was the subject of poems and paintings but she
indulged in all sorts of bizarre pleasures and debauchery involving the blood
of innocent victims. Six hundred and fifty young women are said to have died
in her castles, many dying from beatings and bites! She was afraid of losing
her beauty and believed the blood of the young would preserve it. She was
finally walled inside a room in her castle at Cahtice (Slovak Republic) for
five years until she died, unrepentant. No vampire, just a mad person with
unlimited power. A fictional account of her life has recently been written.
"The Blood Countess", by Andrei Codrescu, Simon & Schuster, 1995. Not for the
Power can certainly corrupt and the aristocracy enjoyed centuries of power.
The Magyar Hungarian more so than others. They were virtually untouchable.
They also interbred and madness sometimes resulted. Some from the Habsburg
court committed especially memorable crimes, but I find few stories of this
sort among the major Burgenland aristocracy, the Esterhazy in the north and
the Batthyany-Draskovitch in the south. Whether this results from supressed
records, the strength of their peasantry, the influence of religion or
superior morality, I don't know. The later Habsburg court was ultra
conservative; I've heard of a case of Esterhazy banishment resulting from
sexual abuse of children, but on his own estate, in absolute control, an
aristocrat could still do almost as he wished. Always fascinated by the
goings on of their "betters", the peasantry explained unnatural actions as
best they could. None the less, I think we can leave Hungarian vampire tales
in Transylvania where they originated unless someone knows of a documented
case from the Burgenland or the western Hungarian border.
Some sources consulted include Folktales of Hungary, Linda Degh; The Spirit
of Hungary, Stephen Sisa; and Southeastern Europe under Ottoman Rule, Peter
Sugar. G. Berghold
DIALECT QUESTION (from Margaret Kaiser)
Margaret writes:... "would you please read the material (below), which I
wrote some years ago, and advise if you think any of the dialects mentioned
are Hianzisch or maybe another 2 dialects."
Margit "Gretti" Baumgartner Schreiner reports that prior to World War II,
schoolchildren learned the "Schriftsprache," which is the written or literary
German language. Regions developed their own "Volkssprache," or peoples'
language, which we translate as dialect. Persons speaking a local dialect do
not generally understand persons speaking another dialect. Gretti says that
in Hungary this is still true. There are Hungarian regional dialects, but
not as many Hungarian dialects as there are German dialects in
The people of Radling (Ronok) spoke a German dialect called, Hintsiesch.
Gretti says that near the Spirk-Gyoeri farm was an Austrian region that spoke
a dialect called, Hittisch. The Spirks may have spoken both of these
dialects as well as the German Shriftsprache, and Hungarian.
The above was written based on information contained in a letter from Gretti
(Szentgotthard) who is a very distant cousin.
Answer: Schriftsprache is "written language" or maybe translates better as
"formal literary language". Hintsiesch is probably Hianzisch or the dialect
named after the noble called Heinz who led the first Germans into the
Burgenland -vis Henz, son of Lord Volvern of Viltonia (Styria). This is the
same dialect referred to in previous newsletters (see no. 45). It is found
all around the Gssing (southern) area and extends somewhat into Hungary
until it reaches the Bakony hills and forests where I understand there is
another dialect whose name I don't know. I haven't heard of Hittisch. I'll
mention it in the next newsletter and maybe someone else will have the
answer. I wouldn't be surprised if your people spoke two languages as well as
two dialects. I was told even the animals responded to more than one
language! In talking to a German tutor I understand that there are hundreds
of German dialects.
A BOOK ON AUSTRIA (from Albert Schuch)
I am currently reading a book by Richard Berczeller: "A Trip into the Blue &
Other Stories from The New Yorker" (A & W Publishers, New York 1980; I found
it in an Antiquariat, signed by the author). R.B. was born in 1902, and he
was the Jewish doctor of Mattersburg until 1938, when he was driven out by
the Nazis. Via Italy and France he arrived in New York in 1941, where he died
a few years ago. Dr. Berczeller's other books include "Time Was" and
"Displaced Doctor". "A Trip into the Blue ..." contains stories about his
life in Austria and Burgenland, especially in Mattersburg in the 1930's, also
about his emigration years. Very interesting reading.
CROATIAN BURGENLAND ORIGINS (from John Lavendoski)
(Ed. Note: John is also putting together a data base of Szt. Peterfa, Hungary
family names. If you're researching this area, you may wish to contact him.)
I am writing with some information I found today concerning the possible
Croatian local origin of our people from Szentpeterfa. As you recall, we had
discussed 3 separate possibilities in the past. These are: 1) Moslavina, 2)
Lika-Krbva. 3) and "Petrovo Selo". Here is what I found.
1) I have located Moslavina on a map. It is on the border of modern day
Hungary and Croatia bout 80 miles East of Zagreb. It is no where even
remotely close to Lika.
2) In a Croatian history book, I read about the history of the Lika-Krbva
area. The most prominent noble family of this region were the "Subic" family
who held power from the 1200s -1400s. As you know, this is a name which
later shows up in Szentpeterfa. Also, I clearly determined that Lika and
Krbva were 2 areas MOST heavily affected by the Turkish raids in both the
late 1400s and immediately after Mohacs in 1526. This all points to the
possibility that it was from here where our ancestors first came.
3) I found the "other" 2 Petrovo Selos in Croatia. Both are East of Zagreb,
not near Lika at all.
Ed. Note: The Batthyany Herrschaft Gssing in 1648 was composed of 71
communities, villages, and castles which included 15 in the Orseg (Wart) of
Hungary and three in Yugoslavia (Croatia). Those three were located directly
across the boder from Hungary and were O"rihodos, Kapornak and Domonkosfa
(Bk Alia). I haven't pinpointed these places on a map. They could also have
been places of origin. The family Draskovich supplanted the Batthyanys when
Graf Karl Draskovich von Trakostyan (1807-1855) married Elisabeth, daughter
of Graf Johann Baptist von Batthyany. Draskovich is one of the oldest
Croatian families, whose first known ancestor was Andreas Drask who was given
the Croat county (Komitat) of Tinin by Hungarian king Andreas III
(1290-1301). Their seat was Burg Trakostyan (today Trakoscan just a few kms
se of Maribor, north of Zagreb and west of Varazdin) in Croatia.
(The following exchange is between Yvonne Lockwood and John Lavendoski)
John writes: Dr. Lockwood, I checked on the Croatian Ministry of Science and
Technology's website for any research into this area done over the past few
years. I was very pleased to discover that at least one book and several
papers have been written concerning topics associated with the Burgenland
Croats (including your own specialty of oral tradition). One item in
particular caught my eye. It is a book by Jelena Radaus-Ribarie concerning
Burgenland Croat costumes and what this may tell us about the origins of the
Burgenland Croats within Croatia. The ISBN number is listed as
953-167-051-X. The book itself was probably not written entirely by this
woman; I believe that she contributed. The editor may have been named Ivan
I was thinking that you could get a copy of this book and maybe be able to
decipher the Croatian enough to see what this authors theory of origin might
be...That is if you are still interested in this topic. Also, you might want
to check out the four websites where I found the info. They are:
Do a search on the word "Burgenland" when you are inside these sites, and you
will scroll down to the relevant information. Play around a bit and you will
find the info to which I am referring.
Yvonne writes: John, thanks for cc'ing me on this note. As for Lika as an
origin of Burgenland Croats, scholars have been hypothesizing this for
sometime. It has been substantiated by language primarily, but also family
names. Some of my Croatian friends from Burgenland have traveled extensively
through the Lika region looking, for example, for family names just to
validate the hypothesis in their own minds. It is my memory that family names
and villages were found. All this for whatever it is worth--anecdotal but
though I don't have the scholars' names on the tip of my tongue I would swear
Lika also to be a scholarly hypothesis for origin.
WALLERN HISTORY BY FATHER GRAISY (from Dale M. Knebel)
(Ed. note: In newsletter 45, we mentioned subject book. Dale adds a few
comments which are shown here in order that any recent members interested in
Wallern can contact book holders.)
Regarding the book by Father Graisy, I want to add a few comments. Father
Graisy's nephew in Vienna presently has a daughter in Chicago. Dean Wagner
and Cathy Lauren- Schmidt, cousins in St. Paul, and also cousins of the
Graisys, received the book, who in turn passed it on to their Steichen cousin
on the east coast. As a result of using the book, the Graisys are now also in
my lines. I completed one line, and some of the people are listed 3 times!
>From a heredity and gene standpoint, I guess I'm lucky I can feed myself! I
saw the book when I was in Wallern but not until the night before I was to
leave. I was told that the original printing did not meet the demand, so
getting an original copy was out of the picture; so my cousins made copies of
select pages. Yes, there are two versions, since the pages that I have seem
more recent than the copy obtained by Dean and Cathy. The original was a
mimeographed copy printed on single sides.
Father Graisy was born in 1911, so it is likely that he may not be among us.
I not sure that the book was published recently (depending on the
interpretation of recently) because the latest marriages are from the 60s. I
found a notation on one page where Father Graisy says he quit listing the
baptisms (actually listing the children of a couple) in the late 20s.
The book documents each house and details the original owner and all the
successive owners. It also lists who was born in the house and the marriages
of the people. It is cross-referenced in that a spouse is noted with his\her
father's name and house where the family can be found. If a family moved, it
tells in which house to look. There, you may find more children were born.
If a spouse came from another village, the village is listed. It sometimes
also tells if the original inhabitant came from another village. From this, I
found that my Heil line originated in Lackendorf.
It is a genealogical gold mine! It moved the lines of my six
great-great-grandparents from 1828 to around 1700. I have enough work for
the winter. If we are concerned with making copies of the book (several have
already been done), I think the one to contact would be the nephew in Vienna,
since he made the first copy we had. He is also going to send a copy of the
later version. The German text that accompanies each line is easily
translated on the Alta Vista site.
BORDER VILLAGES-ETHNIC TWINS
One of my pleasures in responding to queries is to try to identify and locate
villages for Burgenland Bunch members. I have a number of books and lists
which I use for this purpose and have developed a research pattern which
usually works. One of the ways my own knowledge of things Burgenlndisch
develops. On some occasions; however, I get caught up in my own foot work.
The following story is a case in point: New member Barrie Geosits tells me
that some of his people came from Kroatisch-Schutzen. I couldn't find it
(although I suggested it was probably part of Deutsch Schutzen since there
are numerous twin Deutsch-Kroatisch villages).
He reponds with: << Thanks for all, it is much appreciated. In my research
today I have found Kroatisch-Schutzen in Hungary and the name there is
Reply: Help is frequently a two edged sword. I spent some time looking for
Kroatisch-Schutzen. I was fairly certain it was allied with Deutsch Schutzen.
It was developed as such but I didn't tumble to the fact that they were
separated by the 1921 border and that Kroatisch-Schutzen was now in Hungary
with the Hungarian name Horvatlovo. Something for me to remember as I try to
identify villages. There are a whole series of such villages along the
convoluted border as well as combinations like Pornoapatai-Hll,
Szentpeterrfa-Eberau and Pinka Mindszent-Moschendorf which, while part of
pre 1921 area communities and neighbor villages, were predominantly Hungarian
as opposed to German or Croatian and thus stayed in Hungary.
(newsletter continued as no. 48B)