Archiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 2000-03 > 0953132113

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Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 76A dtd 15 Mar 2000
Date: Wed, 15 Mar 2000 09:55:13 EST

(issued biweekly by
March 15, 2000

This second section of the 3 section newsletter contains a "A Personal
Account of My Last Visit to Burgenland", Some Missfiled Jewish Death Records,
The Holocaust Museum & Hungary, Heanzen-A Question Of Identity and More From
The Volksfreund.

(Stadtschlaining, Jabing, Oberwart) From:
(Regina Espenshade)

Dear Mr. Berghold,

Thank you for your kind welcome to the Burgenland Bunch. I embarked on my
genealogical research in a serious way after my trip there last year. I had
been collecting information for years and my recent experience was the
catalyst to begin to assemble it in a systematic way. For most of my life I
believed that most of my relatives perished in the Holocaust. My research has
revealed that impression was not accurate--many survived and dispersed around
the globe. I am feeling great excitement as I make connections with former
friends and relatives of my family from Burgenland and learn more about what
happened to them.

In October 1999, my sister Hedy Löwy Aurecchia, my niece Lisa and I visited
the region of our family's origin in eastern Austria in the province of
Burgenland. Jews no longer live there although we learned that there
formerly was a substantial and integrated Jewish population. In the little
village called Stadtschlaining where my mother lived until she was 36 years
old, we witnessed something unusual happening. There is a special effort
underway to restore the memory of the former Jewish residents and the impact
they had on the community's life and culture. My sister who was born in
Vienna in January 1939 had never previously returned to
Austria. Eleven months after my sister's birth, my family emigrated to the
U.S. I was born several years later.

In the seventies, my mother Gizella Braun Löwy and I visited Stadtschlaining
twice. (She died in 1991) During those visits we saw the obliterated remnants
of the former community, the ruins of the synagogue and the destroyed Jewish
cemetery where my grandparents are buried. My parents were the last couple
to be married in that synagogue in 1937. The birthplace of my father Eduard
was in a nearby small village Jabing, Burgenland in 1898. His family's home
and shop still stand. We met the town historian there who identified it for
us and gave us a picture taken of it either in the last century or early in
this one. Recently he sent us the Jabing's Year 2000 millennial calendar with
that picture featured on the first cover page

Later my father's family moved to a larger town, the provincial capital
Oberwart. We visited the Jewish cemetery that has not been destroyed and the
graves of my grandfather Ignatz Löwy and some of my great uncles. After the
expulsion of the Jews, the Oberwart synagogue became a garage for fire
trucks. I learned that it is now restored as a music performance center. My
relatives who were unable to leave Oberwart, my grandmother Regina Bauer
Löwy, my aunt Frieda and my cousin Lilly died at Theresienstadt two months
before I was born in 1943.

This brief background relates to the significance in my life of what I
encountered in our recent visit to Austria. The principal landmark of
Stadtschlaining is a large castle dating back to the 13th century. My
mother's former home and business were outbuildings of the castle and stand
immediately adjacent to it. Upon our arrival in the village I noted that
something very special is going on there. The sign at the castle's entrance
announced that the castle is now the site of the European University Center
for Peace Studies.

This was a stunning development for me to witness. That students are coming
there from all over the world to study peace, conflict management and how to
be peacekeepers was something almost unbelievable for me. I would never have
imagined this in my wildest dreams. The formerly desecrated synagogue built
in 1715 has been restored. It retains its original identity as a Jewish
synagogue and is being used as a Peace Library in connection with the Center
for Peace Studies in the castle. The cemetery has been restored as well and
is marked with a beautiful granite gate identifying it as a Jewish burial
ground. Seeing this gave me an overwhelming sense of relief. I will never
forget the deep grief my mother experienced in 1973 and again in 1976 when
she saw that the graves of her parents had been desecrated. Although some of
the gravestones seem to be retrieved, my grandparents' markers are missing.

The waves of revelation continued. The woman who manages the museum at the
castle gave us a copy of a book published in 1988 by Gerhard Baumgartner that
tells about the history of the Jewish community in Stadtschlaining and
Burgenland that dates back before 15th century. The names of many of my
relatives and friends of my mother's are listed in the book. The book
concludes with the statement that little is known about what happened to the

I am learning a lot about what happened to them, because I began researching
the fate of my family after I returned. After compiling the information using
the Family Tree Maker software I found more information via the Internet and
through contacting various relatives. So far I have found second cousins in
Chicago and I hope to find more. I have tracked down the survivors of the
Holocaust and their descendants. My hope is to examine the records in
Burgenland to see if I can trace my relatives to before the early 19th
century when my great grandfather lived there.

We toured the former synagogue, now a Peace Library. I realize that I possess
copies of a Hebrew/German Bible and several prayer books that belonged to my
grandfather who prayed at the synagogue. The books were printed more than
100 years ago. In her few belongings that my mother packed when she fled her
home village, she carried her father's prayer books to America.

By chance, we reserved accommodations from Vienna at the pension of an
individual who is the director of tourism (Werner Glösl ). We explained why
we were visiting; and he brought out another book about the history of
Stadtschlaining. When he opened it, I was overcome with emotion to see my
mother pictured there with a group of her friends in 1933. She was apparently
in mourning for her father's death because she was wearing a black armband.
Subsequently, Mr. Glösl sent me other family memorabilia, including an
announcement of a sale at my grandfather
Ignatz Braun's store in 1930. The sale was to celebrate his 50th anniversary
of being in business there.

We talked to several people who remembered my mother and had attended her
wedding. At the home of the family Rusz who had helped my parents escape and
subsequently suffered because of their anti-Nazi activities, we saw more
pictures of happy times in my mother's youth. She was completely integrated
into the community so that when she was forced to leave it was a shock to her
and to her friends.

The reconnection with the past, the fact that my parents live on in memory of
the people there, their children and grandchildren was a powerful experience.
I am personally dedicated to working for peace and reconciliation in the
Middle East and have been concentrating on these issues for many years. This
connection of the Peace Center of Stadtschlaining with my passion for peace
was an overwhelming discovery. It feels like more than a coincidence.

I am planning to attend a training session there in June to participate in
their Peacekeeper Training program. I also want to find out more about how
and why the remembrance of Jews is happening here in this small Austrian
village that is now the site of an international study center. I have been
collecting additional materials about the history and background of these
developments through my recent communications with the Center's Director, Dr.
Gerald Mader. There is a web site that provides pictures and information
about the Peace Center. The address is

This is a summary of one of the most important experiences of my life. I know
that many in the Jewish community are unforgiving toward the Austrians for
their acts of anti- Semitism. Those include some of my own relatives. The
recent election of Haider and his anti-Semitic reputation soured things
further. Yet there is a current flowing in another direction that deserves
acknowledgement. I always remember my mother's response when she met her
girlhood friend in the village after 36 years. This woman was the widow of
the local Nazi party secretary who had turned her back on my mother during
those horrible times. My mother's first words to her when they encountered
one another on the street were, "I forgive you".

EDITOR'S ADDITION: Burg Schlaining (in Stadtschlaining-Hungarian name
Varoszalonak) was one of the most powerful castles in the province. It was
presented to the noble Andreas Baumkirchner by Emperor Frederick III in 1445.
It later passed to the Batthyany Herrschaft. Much destruction in WWII, but it
was saved by Dr. U. Illig who turned it into a museum, then an hotel and now
a conference center as stated in the article. I visited it in 1974 when Dr.
Illig was giving museum tours and again in 1993 after it had become a
conference center. Undergoing renovation at the present time, the museum art
work is being displayed at Castle Güssing. Well worth a visit.

The village of Stadtschlaining was unique in that it was a center for three
faiths. For the Catholics there is a fine Gothic Katholische Pfarrkirche
founded by Baumkirchner. The Evangelische (Lutheran) Pfarrkirche is the
oldest "tolerance" prayer house in the Burgenland, built in 1782, after the
issuance of Joseph II's "Edict of Tolerance". Early Jewish presence can be
traced to the 17th century when a synagogue was built. About 1848,
Stadtschlaining was one of the larger Jewish settlements with Jews accounting
for 40% of the population. Part of Bezirk Felso-Eor, Vas Megye pre 1921, in
1873 it had 435 Roman Catholics, 586 Lutherans, 312 Jews and 76 Reformed.
Altschlaining (now part of Stadtschlaining along with Drumling, Goberling and
Neumarkt) had an additional 422 Catholics, 116 Lutherans and 7 Jews, all of
whom worshipped in Stadtschlaining. Catholic and Lutheran records are
available from the LDS as are Jewish records from 1841-1895 (LDS 0700744).

The presence of such a strong castle as well as an "Antimony Works" (closed
in 1990) in Stadtschlaining probably accounted for the large mixed

Where they still exist or have been restored, Jewish cemeteries will often
portray much earlier burials than the Catholic or Protestant ones which lose
their headstones and grave markers in approximately 100 years, due to reuse
of the burial plots. While the Jewish headstones reflect much older burials,
their inscriptions are mostly (if not all) in Hebrew. Their destruction is a
serious loss to genealogists. Fortunately, in the Burgenland, many of the
19th century records have been microfilmed.


When I recently looked through the microfilm with the records of the
rom.-cath. parish of Güssing (Német Újvár) in pursuit of data on the family
of Josef Reichl for Albert Schuch, I unexpectedly found a section on this
film containing the Jewish death records of Güssing for 1842-44. It is only
two or three pages, but I wonder how these pages might have gotten intermixed
with the rom.-cath. records and whether these records might be missing from
the microfilm of the Jewish records.

Perhaps you can mention this fact for the BB readers. These errant
Jewish death records are on microfilm 0700700, and are inserted between the
rom.-cath. death records of 1843 and 1844.
(Ed. Note: See newsletters nos. 37, 40, 51A & 55B for more information
concerning records.)


The Holocaust Memorial Museum (Washington, DC) issues a bi-monthly newsletter
called "Update". The issue for Jan./Feb. 2000 features an article concerning
"The Holocaust In Hungary". It specifically mentions the "golden age" of
Hungarian Jews from the end of the 19th Century until WWI and its aftermath
through WWII. Budapest's Dohany Street Synagogue was the largest synagogue in
Europe. Services were even conducted in Hungarian. By 1930, Jews accounted
for 20% of Budapest's population. Burgenland descendants with Jewish
ancestors may find this article of interest. Information concerning
membership in the museum and its newsletter and publications may be found at

(Ed. Note: member Hank Dilcher and a relative are planning a trip to the
Burgenland. As a result they are doing the homework that all prospective
travellers should do. It will pay big dividends and make their trip much more
enjoyable. However, a question of Burgenland identity arose.)

Hank writes: Received the attached from a German relative of mine in Nova
Scotia (who may join us in our October Burgenland trip). Does this make

The relative writes:
<< Just yesterday I learned something new, when I looked up "Burgenland" in
my medium-sized German encyclopedia. The German-speaking population there
(which makes up about 85% of the Burgenland population, the rest being
Hungarians, Slovaks and Slovenes) is considered to be ethnically and
culturally different from the "proper" Austrians. In fact, they are called
"Heinzen" (alternatively spelled Hienzen or Heanzen), and came to the area
in the 11th-13th centuries from Bavaria. This was confirmed by the large
German encyclopedia which I just checked in our university library, while the
English-language encyclopedias (Britannica, Americana) made
no mention of the name of this population in their articles on the
Burgenland. The German encyclopedia article on the "Heinzen" gave as a
reference (among some German-language scholarly articles) the book
"Borderland" by A.F. Burghardt (Madison, 1962). This book is in none of the
Nova Scotia university libraries, and anyway I wouldn't have the time now to
read it if I got it through interlibrary loan. But perhaps
you can find it somewhere locally; in May I'll look for it when I'm in Urbana
again (I'll have a few days there after a conference). >>

My reply to "does this make sense?"

Hank, Not quite-"Heinzen" or "Hianzen" as it is now known is a dynastic term
which originated from one Wolfer and his brother Hedrich, sons of Count
Volvern of Wiltonia or Honnsburg (Styria-not Bavaria although parts of Styria
at one time belonged to the Dukes of Bavaria) who came to the Güssing area in
1142 AD and built the first (wooden) castle of Güssing. They brought forty
German speaking "reiters" or armed followers with them (from Gesta
Hungarorum-first history of Hungary dtd. 1282 AD.) This was the first
documented "German" presence in Burgenland if you ignore Charlemagne's
Frankish campaigns against the Avars in the 8th Century or tribal wanderings
during the even earlier Roman period.

>From Wolfer and followers descended the mighty Counts of Güssing (their line
lasted for over 200 years until the Herrschaft was taken over by the
Hungarian crown). One of the most well known Counts of Güssing was "Schwarzen
Heinz" (Black Henry) who had the title 1254-74 and was almost an independant
monarch. He brought and invited many other German speaking colonists to the
region. For some reason the name Heinzen -followers of Heinz- stuck over the
centuries, even though other aristocratic families ruled the area for even
longer periods (Batthyany from 1524-1918 for instance, wouldn't Batthyania
have a nice ring to it?).

Most descendants of these original settler families probably perished through
war and plague during the Turkish period (1500's-1700's) and were replaced by
new colonists from Croatia, Slovenia, Styria, Lower Austria-Bavaria-etc.
after the late 1600's. In the north some even came from around Lake Constance
and from Slovakia).

Heinzen (Hianzen) however, is strictly a southern Burgenland term used for
centuries to denote Burgenland peasants. The northern region peasants
referred to themselves as "Heidebauern" (heath or meadow farmers).

A southern dialect language developed which is now known as Hianzisch (Dr.
Walter Dujmovits prefers to call it Burgenländisch). There are even some
poets writing in the dialect. Chief among them was Josef Reichl, (1860-1924),
born in Güssing. In a previous newsletter we printed his poem "Mei Hoamat"
(Meine Heimat-My Home-although "home" does not connote the strong ties
associated with the word "Heimat"). Like most of his poems, it was written in
Hianzisch. There is a Hianzen Society in Güssing in which member Heinz Koller
and wife are very active. I have a book of Hianzisch poems by Mathilde Pani
of Gerersdorf bei Güssing published in 1995. There are other poets. There is
also a Josef Reichl-Bundes (club).

What differs from the Viennese and the inhabitants of the other Austrian
Provinces is that Burgenland was Hungarian until 1921 and not part of
Austria. As such, some older Austrians (born before 1921) tend to look upon
Burgenlanders as Hungarians, even though the majority speak basic German
today. See many articles concerning this in the archives nos. 31, 45, 55.
Also see Heinz Koller's Güssing web site (address from our URL list in
homepage). This site also has a Heanzen dictionary being compiled by Inge

I have the book "Borderland" and have corresponded with Prof. Andrew
Burghardt, he's one of our members. His book is out of print, but you'll find
it supports my answer.

As stated in the last newsletter, Burgenland is a modern term. It first
appeared in the newspaper "Ostdeutsche Rundschau" dtd 24 Dec. 1918. It
appeared in a poem by Professor Alfred Walheim which began:

Kehrst du wiederum zu uns zurück?
(Are you returning to us)

There was even some discussion at that time about calling the new province
Heinzenland, but the northerners objected to that name.

What are "proper Austrians"? There is no such thing. Austria has never had a
"national" geographic identity in the way most other European nations do,
although you can argue that those born within the borders of today's Austria
after 1918 (or better yet 1945 or1955) are Austrians. It's been a
conglomeration of races from the beginning in the same way that the US has.
Is there such a thing as a "proper" American? However, there is such a thing
as a "proper Englishman"- or a "proper Frenchman". Refer to any geographical
history. Freeman & Bury in "Historical Geography of Europe", Ares Publishers
reprint of the 1903 edition, spend many pages explaining why "Austria" can
not be considered a nation geographically in the same manner that England or
France can. I imagine the best you can say is that a "proper" anything is
something that has adhered to an original definition. I'd not want to try to
write the definition of an Austrian, other than to say the term refers
(today), to a person born (or naturalized) in Austria.

What your correspondent and the encyclopedia was trying to say (and doing a
bad job of it) is that "urban" Austrians (Vienna, Graz, Salzburg, Linz etc.)
differ from rural southern Burgenländers in the same way that Americans in
NYC or Boston differ from Virginians or Texans or Pennsylvaia Dutch, etc.
etc. A very important distinction. The major problem with most genealogists
who refer to German sources is that they lump all German speaking sources
together. That's like trying to find American or Canadian family history in
purely English (UK) publications. It's for this reason that we have a
Burgenland Bunch involved in micro-genealogy and I hope I've not belabored my
point. Regards, Gerry

MORE FROM THE VOLKSFREUND (by Fritz Königshofer)

When I completed my perusal of the issues of Der Volksfreund, there
were a few stories that extend on themes which were published in BB
newsletter 69.

VF of September 4, 1886, pp. 3-4 lists the highest-taxed individuals
of Vas county. Number one was Count Franz Erdödy who paid 27,207 florins and
76 Kreuzer in total taxes. Prince Edmund Batthyány was on the second
position with 26,370 fl. and 54 kr. The third place was held by (rom.-cath.)
Bishop Kornelius Hidassy with 11,785 fl. and 4 kr., while Alexander Nagy of
Alsó Paty was fourth with 10,176 fl. and 36 kr.

VF of October 30, 1886, p. 7. The Ministry of Interior approved
three Magyarizations of village names. Rettenbach became Mentse, Redlschlag
Vörösvágás, and Puszta Schmelz became Huta. [I believe all these new
Hungarian names got further modified later on, when village names were made
individually unique over the whole Kingdom of Hungary.]

VF of November 27, 1886, reported that the authorities did not
approve the Magyarization proposal of Szobár for the village of Stuben,
because, it is stated, the proposed name did not sound sufficiently Hungarian
and would also be too similar to the name of Szabar (Zuberbach). The people
of Stuben were advised to find another name.

A year later, in the VF of November 19, 1887 it is reported that the
people of Stuben decided to select the name Edeháza for their village. They
claimed they chose the name in honor of the Vizegespan (vice governor) of Vas
county, Eduard von Reiszig. [This looks to me like a case of sweet revenge
by the villagers for the forced Magyarization of their village name, as the
Vizegespan's family name looks quite Germanic.]

VF of January 8, 1887, p. 6, contained a statistic about newspapers
published at the time in county Vas. Accordingly, Szombathely had four
Hungarian and one German newspapers (the latter being Der Volksfreund); Güns
(Köszeg) one Hungarian and two German; Körmend one Hungarian; Muraszombat
one bilingual Hungarian/Wendisch (the latter meaning Slovenian); and
Oberwart one German (the Oberwarter Sonntagzeitung). In addition, an
agricultural newspaper was published in Szombathely, and newspapers about
school matters were published in Szombathely and in Oberschützen.

(Newsletter continues as no. 76B)

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