Archiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 2001-04 > 0988635012

Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 95C dtd April 30, 2001
Date: Mon, 30 Apr 2001 08:50:12 EDT

(now issued monthly by )
April 30, 2001
(all rights reserved)


This fourth section of the 4 section newsletter contains:

* A MOST IMPORTANT PROJECT -Preview of Possible Publication (from Bob Unger)
* Would You Like To See This Book Published?
* Ellis Island Records Available
* Riedlingsdorf Site & Video Tape
* Eisenstadt Diocesan Archives
* Burgenländische Gemeinschaft Gleanings-More Reasons To Join

A BURGENLAND FAMILY HISTORY OF THE 1890's-1920's (from Bob Unger)

Burgenland Family History Book: Throughout years of genealogical research I
have often heard of the joy and satisfaction in finding a family history. I
have not found one for my family, but I have found the next best thing, a
book entitled "Twenty-five Years of My Life In My Homeland." It was written
by Robert Unger (no relation to me as far as I know) who, in 1980 - at the
age of 83, wrote about the first 25 years of his life in Burgenland. I
mentioned this book in the 93C issue of the Burgenland Bunch newsletter -
stating that the book was out of print, but that I would try to have it
republished and keep the members of the Burgenland Bunch informed. Through
correspondence and telephone calls with Robert Unger's son, Rudolph - who
currently resides in the Chicago area, I learned that the book was written
initially in German and about 25 copies were published. Subsequently the
book was translated and 200 copies were published in English. Robert lent me
a copy. I started reading the 235 pages and found it so fascinating that I
couldn't put it down. I called Robert - telling him how thrilled I was with
the book. To make a long story short, Robert gave me permission to copy the
book for the sole purpose of allowing Gerry Berghold to read it, and if he
was as excited about the book as I was, to report on the book in the
Burgenland Bunch news letter for the purpose of determining if there is
sufficient interest to have the book republished. An overview follows:

Overview of Twenty-five Years of My Life on My Homeland, by Robert Unger,
1980, covering the period of 1897-1922 in Burgenland.

The stimulus for writing this book came from the author's son, who, after
hearing his father tell tales of his early days, said, "Pa, what if you would
write your experiences? You're retired now, you have ample time." The
author apparently pondered those remarks and concluded: "The younger
generation lacks knowledge and understanding of the lives of the older people
- particularly true when their homeland was other than their own"

The books' author, Robert Unger, was born in Neumarkt, in the Tauchental
(Tauchen Valley) of Burgenland on January 12, 1897, at that time part of
Hungary. His ancestors possibly came from Transylvania. He tells about his
father working for the Esterhàzy family. He provides detail about their
house with limited space, but sufficient for family quarters, space for his
father's tailoring business, and space for a small grocery store which his
mother managed. He tells about the various farming and trade options
available for supporting a family in that area; often involving more than one
in order to make ends meet.

His family subsequently relocates to Kohfidisch, north of Güssing, where they
continue their tailor shop and grocery store. He tells about his early years
and the interactions between the children of the area, including childhood
chores, schooling, and how some children often lived with relatives. During
this period Hungary requires six years of elementary schooling, followed by
three years of Sunday School. Hungary also makes an effort to stop the use of
the German language in schools, replacing it with Hungarian.

Under this environment the author tells of his entrance into apprenticeship
training at the age of 14. He tells how his father helped in the selection
of his apprenticeship, his experiences, and how after 21 months his father
had to rescue him. He subsequently switches his training from that of metal
worker to tailor and storekeeper. He reaches age 18, completes his
apprenticeship and leaves home. After four months as a shipping clerk,
Hungary's involvement in WW1 results in the draft age being lowered from 19
to 18, and Robert becomes a member of the Austria/Hungarian army.

He discusses his military experiences, his assignment laying telephone lines
for military purposes at the Russian front during heavy fighting. At wars
end in 1918, Robert finds himself on the Italian front as a corporal, with
orders to return home as best he can. He details his effort to get home. He
tells of the aftermath of the war, the shortages, the struggles, inflation
and smuggling. He explains how barter replaces money. Political struggles
evolve as the allies break-up the Austrian-Hungarian empire, and western
Hungary is essentially up for grabs. Hungary wants to keep the area within
its borders, but because of so many German inhabitants, there is strong
desire to become part of Austria. Austria does not feel the same way. One
Austrian parliament member remarks,"Burgenland is not worth the bones of one
Austrian soldier."

The author tells of meeting his wife and his decision to leave Austria and
emigrate to the USA in search of a better life. He settles in the Chicago
area, stays with relatives, finds work, sends money back to his parents and
ultimately has his wife join him. He relates how he made his way in his new
adopted country. Through hard work and diligence, he is never out of work
even during the Depression. During the darkest days of the Depression in
1932, he acquires a bankrupt grocery and meat market - his first day's
receipts total $14.00 - the start of a successful business.

He closes his book by telling more about his father. He highlights his
father's contribution to his community, Kohfidisch, his election as its
mayor, president of the school board, president of the local trade and
businessmen's association, and chief of the fire department. Closing with:
"There were days in which we looked longingly for the legendary silver lining
among the black beclouded days of life."

I would very much like to have this book republished in both the English and
German versions. Before this can happen, there has to be a sufficient number
who would buy it. If you want to join with me in this effort, please email me
at <> and tell me how many copies you would like to purchase
and in what language. At this juncture it is very difficult to put a price
on the book - it will depend on the number of copies printed. I estimate
that the book may cost in the neighborhood of $30.00/copy - perhaps less if
enough copies are requested. Bob Unger-BB Contibuting Editor.


Bob sent me a copy of the book. My reaction is reflected in my email reply to

" Received the book copy yesterday. Many thanks for the pleasure of reading
it. What a story! I've looked for one like this for years. It tells the story
of the Burgenland in English from the period just before WWI into the 1920's.
What incredible detail and for me it has the added pleasure of south
Burgenland vignettes. I doubt if we' ll ever see anything to duplicate it.
The story of Unger's experiences as a child, as an apprentice, his WWI army
service, his involvement with post war politics, the emigration to Chicago,
each in turn could be a story in itself.

Yes this book must be republished! It is a Burgenland treasure. I want at
least 12 English copies and also let me know if we don't get many orders. If
we need another 20 or even 50 to make this viable, please let me know. I can
see where we can provide these to future members. Only "Borderland" and a few
of our newsletter stories provide Burgenland descendants with so much detail
in English. Bob-it's all there! It covers most of the important "Auswanderer"

Robert Unger (b 1897) is one of those Burgenland unknown men, whose story
should not be forgotten. He was undoubtedly educated a cut above your average
"Auswanderer" and a step up from your land worker, which is why he was
capable of writing it. Some of his story may be a trifle suspect-a figment of
twists in memory in later years-is certainly a possibility, but I found no
problems with any part of what he relates. It all hangs together. I doubt if
there is any fiction here, it all has the ring of truth. The comments of
local officials during his 1965 return trip adds validity.

In translating from the original German, his son has done a great job. I
found very little in the way of mistakes, a few alternate spellings of local
place names perhaps. Really I see almost nothing requiring change.

I read this in one sitting-a six hour marathon-I am a speed reader and I may
have glossed over some of the political material, but I was fascinated. I
will be reading it again. The notes are also fine. This book could well be
the premier Burgenland story-concerning pre emigration-war years
(WWI)-aftermath-emigration to Chicago.

I' d like Burgenland Editor Albert Schuch to also read the book. I'd like
his critique. Count on me to help promote it in any way I can. Bob, you've
really pulled one out of the hat this time! I'm excited about the
possibilities of such a book. Regards, Gerry"

If you think you would be interested, please contact Bob as explained above.
You'll be glad you did!

ELLIS ISLAND RECORDS AVAILABLE (www.ellisislandrecords.org)

* Bill Rudy sends the following:

Just in case you haven't heard about this, the Ellis Island database is out
this week. I've copied part of the LDS church press release on this below.
It was announced here in Utah Monday, and I just heard it on National Public
Radio this afternoon (Wednesday). I've tried to get on a couple of times,
but of course no luck. (Ed. Note-this was copied by most news sources. I too
tried to access the site. Recently I tried in the early morning hours, had no
problems and found many of my immigrants. )

A Labor-Intensive Gift From The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
(partial extract)

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - ,,, thousands of volunteers from The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints .... helped produce the computerized Ellis Island
passenger records database recently contributed by the Church to the National
Park Service, for use by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.
The Ellis Island database provides easy access to the passenger arrival
records of approximately 22 million individuals whose names appear in the
original ships' passenger manifests for the Port of New York from 1892 to

"It represents the culmination of a cooperative project of The Church of
Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the National Park Service, and The Statue
of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, intended to preserve the cultural
heritage of the American people."

"This was a fairly sizeable project," Metcalfe continues, "accounting for
approximately 71 percent of all United States immigration records."

Sizeable is right. If stacked flat, the 3,678 boxes of microfilms examined by
Latter-day Saint volunteers would exceed three times the height of the Statue
of Liberty...

The database will also be available free to the public on the Ellis Island
web site at www.ellisislandrecords.org. Web site visitors can locate an
ancestor, then order a printed copy of the passenger manifest and a picture
of the ship...

Latter-day Saint volunteers in 2,700 congregations throughout the United
States and Canada donated approximately 5.6 million hours to the work of
carefully examining the original records on microfilm and photocopies, then
"extracting" only pertinent information onto data-entry forms or typing it
directly into computers. (end of extract)

* Bob Loerzel sends me some extracts and writes:

"Gerry, hope these e-mails are not annoying you. I thought you might be
interested, in case you're going to put anything in the newsletter about the
Ellis Island site. "

* My reply:
Bob-No annoyance at all, I appreciate being copied. I can well understand
your excitement over the Ellis Island records. I've also been pursuing them.
The site is still being developed and I don't know the capabilities of their
search engine or even if they have one other than the name search.

A word of caution. I've worked with the original Ellis Island microfilm as
well as ships manifests. As you may know, copies are only as good as the
capability of the copier-the Burgenland church records are a case in
point-the originals can be considerably different. Many of the Ellis Island
originals are in horrible shape-mildewed-bled through-stained-torn-etc. The
writing can be atrocious-the spelling even more so-ergo the copiers'
interpretation (no matter how hard they try) may be just that-an
interpretation. As an example, I pulled all of the 35 Berghold records
available. There are many spellings of the village name "Poppendorf"-some
you'd not recognize unless you knew what you were looking for, like
Poffendorf and Ottendors. Likewise some of the data is garbled. Use them by
all means-they're a wonderful source-but link them with other known
data-assume nothing.

Computer searches must be exact or at least follow some basic characters or
wild cards, or you won't get a match. You may never match on a phonetic
spelling-I've seen Berghold spelled Bergholt-Burkhalt-Berkalt etc. I can't
locate two immigrants who I know came through Ellis Island in 1902-I feel
this is the problem. Use the "close" search mechanism.

A problem involves passengers who were fortunate enough to travel first or
second class-they were processed aboard ship and I don't know where their
records may be. They don't appear to be in these records.

There's a lot to gain from this tremendous achievement but be cautious-you
may well be misled and build your family history on an incorrect base.


A number of Burgenland villages are creating web sites. These are a great
place to get local pictures, data and other items of value. Many sites use
both English and German. One that impressed me recently was Riedlingsdorf. I
enjoyed reviewing this site. Heinz Bundschuh () writes:

There are some new pictures from the "blochziehen" 1994 (an interesting folk
custom) on our Riedlingsdorf homepage. Perhaps the pictures are interesting
for you.


There is also a new video tape from Riedlingsdorf. On the tape you can see
many people from Riedlingsdorf. You can get information about the history,
the economy and the societies. The price of the tape is 300 ATS plus postage.
If the tape is of interest, the address of mayor Erwin Kaipel is:

Kind regards from Austria, Heinz

DIOCESAN ARCHIVES (from Albert Schuch)

Ed. Note: We must ask BB members not to contact the Diocesan Archives in
Eisenstadt. They are not equipped to process queries. It is possible to visit
them however. Following are guidelines as furnished Burgenland Editor Albert
Schuch. We strongly urge our members to exhaust the LDS microfilm records
before even considering a search of the archives. Albert writes:

I was at the Diocesan Archives in Eisenstadt today (with John Lavendoski, who
digitally photographed parts of the St. Kathrein records) and asked Dr.
Zelfel (Diocesan Administrator) for general guidelines for our members,
especially as regards sending inquiries. What follows is a synopsis of his

* The Diocesan Archives does not conduct specific genealogical research.
Don't send inquiries asking for research, as they will not be answered.

* They do however answer general inquiries about the whereabouts of certain
records. These inquiries should become obsolete in the near future, as an
inventory of the church records stored at the Diocesan archives (curre

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