Archiver > BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER > 2001-05 > 0991311947

Subject: [BURGENLAND-NEWSLETTER-L] BB News No. 96B dtd May 31,2001
Date: Thu, 31 May 2001 08:25:47 EDT

(now issued monthly by )
May 31, 2001
(all rights reserved)

This third section of the 4 section newsletter contains:

* Correspondence With A New Member-An Introduction To The Study of Burgenland
* Rules For The Hungarian Card Game Zsírozás
* Ellis Island Records- Additional Comment

New member Mary Anne Siderits writes (edited):

I haven't yet explored the Web addresses you furnished, but I can't resist
commenting on the information included in the e-note to me. Perhaps similar
responses are already noted elsewhere in the wealth of e-material I have yet
to visit, and what I have to say may be hopelessly redundant... Anyhow, my
first peek into the Croatian component of my past came a couple of decades
ago when my relatives in Stegersbach introduced me briefly to a local
historian, living in their community but teaching in the gymnasium in
Güssing. The historian's name was, I believe, Walter Dujmovits... He
explained that the "-its" suffix is a transliteration of the Croatian "-ic"
and that I am probably the descendent of 16th century Croatian serfs. I
didn't hear the Batthyany name mentioned until my last trip to Austria, when,
during a one-day excursion to various parts of Stegersbach, my cousin drove
me past the site of the Batthyany estate. She indicated that they had some
special title, but the first time I've encountered the term "Ban" is in your
note, and I'll be looking forward to finding out exactly what was the status
of the "Ban of Croatia."

It is of great interest to me that my Croatian roots are deeply planted. The
members of the Stegersbach Landsleute whom I encountered from the time of my
childhood knew that Croatian was a second language in their village, and some
of them remembered fragments of Croatian, but, curiously enough, they didn't
seem to consider themselves, individually, as having Croatian ancestry,
despite the fact that many of them bore names that I now recognize as
distinctively Croatian.

Equally curious to me is the fact that even though the people of Burgenland
have been described in scholarly works (including those of Prof. D., whom I
mentioned above) as "German Hungarians," they would have characterized that
term as an inaccurate description of their identity. If pressed, they would,
I believe, have seen "German" as more descriptive than "Hungarian," but they
had the tendency that I have often found among "Austrians" to stress the fact
of difference between the German and the Austrian... All of the people of
whom I speak were in the turn-of-the-century Auswanderung and had been born
between one and four decades prior to the 1921 plebiscite... Their primary
identification was with their village and their province, but those who came
to the U. S. were able very readily to assume the identity of emigrants from
"Austria" after the plebiscite--despite the fact that many of them emigrated
before it occurred.

My reply (edited):

Your comments are redundant yes, but not hopelessly. We must all start
somewhere and you'll find much of interest, much new and perhaps some myths
dispelled. I believe the Burgenland Bunch Website contains more English
language Burgenland (Transdanubian) material than you'll find anywhere. It is
probably the only such source. Composed of many village, member and family
surname lists, it also contains 96 newsletters, approximating 2M pages
todate. A "Ban" by the way is Slavic for "Duke" or the Latin "Dux." One
stumbling block to a study of this area is the need to interpret both
obsolete and current German, Hungarian, Croatian (Serbo-Croatian), Latin and
even Moslem terms. You'll find such in our archives.

While we bemoan the current state of national education, we ignore the fact
that even earlier curricula were hopelessly self serving. History and
geography, when taught, focused on western European culture and were based
almost exclusively on that which was published in English. Given the fact
that most high school graduates today know little American history-the
history of a small province in Austria is so esoteric as to be ludicrous! We
work to change all of that, at least as it pertains to the descendants of
Burgenland immigrants.

German and eastern European publications have been rarely translated.
Hungarian and Slavic (until recently) almost never. The history, much less
the historical geography, of Transdanubia has been virtually ignored in the
US. The only complete Burgenland volume in English is Dr. Andrew F.
Burghardt's "Borderland, A Historical And Geographical Study Of Burgenland",
Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1962. Long out of print, I have a "Books on
Demand" copy. Prof. Burghardt (retired from McMasters Univ.) happens to be
one of our members. I urge you to read his book if you can find a copy.

Alfred Schmeller's epic "Das Burgenland" (Salzburg, 1965), which condenses
the early histories of major Burgenland villages (taken from aristocratic
Urbars and extant medieval documents), has not been translated, nor has Dr.
Walter Dujmovits' definitive coverage of the American migration "Die Amerika
Wanderung der Burgenländer." I hope to convince Dr. Dujmovits to consider
this during my visit to Burgenland in July. We have corresponded since 1993
and are now jointly partners in publication-he in the "Burgenländische
Gemeinschaft Newsletter" (a German language periodical mailed to BG members
world wide) and I in the internet "Burgenland Bunch Newsletter." The BG also
has a web site in German with some English supplied by our BB editors and

There are other works including Dr. Robert Hajszan's "Die Kroaten der
Herrschaft Güssing" which should be of major interest to you if you read
German. He pinpoints the Croatian origin of the Burgenland Croats. Likewise
don't miss the translation of Johann Dobrovich's "People On The Border"
serialized in eleven issues of the Burgenland Bunch News (issues 55A-65A).
These were translated (with permission) through the efforts of our Croatian
Editor Frank Teklits, Burgenland Editor Albert Schuch (Vienna) and translator
Inge Schuch (Vienna). This will tell you all you wish to know about Croatian
migration to the Burgenland in the 16th century.

In the last few decades we have seen additional studies, mostly in German or
Hungarian. The "new archeology" and "ethnic" as well as "national ethnic"
interests have resulted in more translation and reinterpretation of medieval
texts and other source material. Just recently, the "Gesta Hungarorum"
(Hungarian history)-Latin & English-was published by Central European
University Press. Sugar, Hanak and Frank have written a new "A History of
Hungary", Ind. Univ. Press, 1994 and the great 10 volume "History of East
Central Europe" has been published by the Univ. of Washington Press. The
series includes an historical atlas. Rebecca Gates-Coon has furnished a fine
glimpse of northern Burgenland in her "The Landed Estates of the Esterhazy
Princes" (Hungary during the reigns of Maria Theresia and Joseph II), Johns
Hopkins, 1994. I have just received Charles Bowlus's "Franks, Moravians And
Magyars"-Struggle for the Middle Danube 788-907. Univ. of Penna. Press, 1995.
(reviewed in this issue)

There is scholarly research, of the "thesis" or "dissertation" variety, which
adds considerable data to early Burgenland family history. These often
involve German translations of aristocratic "Urbars" (inventories) found in
Esterhazy (northern Burgenland from the 1600's ) and Batthyany (southern
Burgenland from 1524) family archives. We also see reports of Canonical
Visitations to local parishes. Albert Schuch has been extracting and
translating portions into English (with emphasis on family surnames) and they
may be found in our lists and articles. I hope to review what is in print and
currently available from the Burgenland Provincial Archives and Library in
Eisenstadt this summer. Our Austrian editor, Fritz Königshofer, has furnished
translations of contemporary (emigration period) newspaper articles available
from the Budapest Library as well as local unpublished material. Of utmost
importance, is the trend among the villages to publish village histories on
the occasion of specific anniversaries. These are treasures of greatest value.

You may wonder why a family history web site would be so concerned with the
historical aspects of the development of Burgenland-I believe that for true
understanding, family history must be viewed within the context of historical
geography. Many of our 700+ members have no interest in this-their interest
involves compiling a "genealogy"-a bare bones list of names, places and
dates-but more and more are coming to the realization that true family
history must grow fat around the middle with some facts. Early on I decided
that this site would embrace all aspects of Burgenland history and culture
with strong emphasis on origin.

I must comment on the ethnic diversity of the Burgenland. Like America, the
Burgenland has been a melting pot in which ethnic divergence has not
completely liquified (not that it ever should). The Burgenland Germanic
element was earliest (Gesta Hungarorum says 11th century, but Carolingian
excursions against the Avars point to the 8th century). It is the most
voluminous element (84%) today and has been such for centuries. Croatians are
next (14%) arriving from 1524 after many centuries in the nearby Balkans.
Their migration is a fascinating one. Hungarians (Magyars) are now last with
less than 2% of the Burgenland population, but are almost 100% directly
across the border. Prior to the 16th century, their percentage was much
greater. They came as Magyar tribes early in the 10th century. It would have
been better if the 1921 Plebescite had added all of the Sopron area to
Burgenland. There would have been less ethnic cleansing of Germanic
descendants following WWII. These three ethnic groups in turn also split on a
regional basis between north and south-the "Heanzen" in the south -the
"Hiedebauern" in the north. There is little ethnic unrest (if any)-most
groups lean to preserving their ethnic heritage in a peaceful way and I see
more and more involvement with their Hungarian neighbors to the east.

To call the largest group Germanic as opposed to German is all important. The
migration of the many Germanic tribes from the 4th century onwards portrays
their diversity. Early Roman historians dwell on their differences. We later
see their descendants consolidated in over 400 dukedoms, principalities,
bishoprics and free cities which comprised the Holy Roman empire and the
establishment of the first German Reich (1867). To say all German speakers
are German is no more correct than to say all English speakers are English.
Even within present day Germany, there are still considerable regional
differences. A multi-generational Viennese is not your typical German nor is
he anything like a Burgenländer. That at particular points in time their
political views were the same is begging the issue. There are still many
German dialects in use. Pan-German and National Socialist interests in the
last two centuries have done a diservice by trying to convince us that these
people are all the same. That Pan-Germanism failed proves my point.
Pan-Slavic and Pan-Arab groups have likewise failed. People like their ethnic
differences as much as they like borrowing the best from others. Smooth the
edges but don't change the core.

answers to previous questions raised by Gus Gyaki and your editor in last

I can supply some 'solution' to both of your questions. Gerry, the deck of
cards you picked up, was, what we call in Hungary the Magyar deck, or in
Germany the German deck!:-) It consist of four 'colors' and eight cards per
color, for a total of 32. All sorts of games exist for this set and I had to
inquire from my Hungarian friends to find out how we played the 'zsiros'!
(Have to be close to 50 years I haven't played it!!:-))

Basically the zsiros is a kids' game, but most adults remember it very well
... since on cold winter afternoons everybody played it for hours! Four
players can play it and after shuffling the cards four will be distributed to
each. The rest goes - face down - in the middle of the table. The ace and the
ten (Roman numerals represent the seven, eight, nine and ten. Then comes alsó
[lower], felsõ [upper], király [king] and ász [ace].), are the only cards
worth ten points each (zsiros [i.e. fat]), but the seven will take any card.
So total point win for the winner will be 80 - if he/she gets all the

One person starts by playing a card from his/her hand, face up. Everybody in
turn must play a card. Only a matching card will take the deck - or a seven
of course - and the cards go down in front of the winner on the table (if
everybody has an eight, and the starter played an eight the last eight played
will take it). If one does not have a matching card anything can be
discarded, but you can't take that round. And of course you hold on to your
zsiros cards to try to save them for yourself - or if there is a partnership
established (opposing player) - than for the partner.

After each round everybody draws a card from the middle deck, and plays
another round - until all the cards have been played. Each person counts up
the points won from the rounds and the winner will be the one with the most

As I said: does not take a rocket scientist to play this game; not much
strategy involved, but provides a lot of fun. You can put money on the points
or play it for 'bunkó', i.e. just plain fun by putting a big black circle by
the loser's name. Joe, Equinunk, PA - USA

(Ed. Note: Anna Kresh found a web site which covers card games. She also
forwarded the rules for he Hungarian game Zsírozás. Contact her if you wish
to receive a copy.)


The Ellis Island immigration & naturalization ship records available from <
ellisislandrecords.com> are becoming easier to access, but difficult during
peak hours. I started at 2:00 PM one morning with much success. Fritz
Königshofer says "that is not a "Christian" hour to be working!" and he plans
to wait until the traffic dies down. I couldn't wait and I've found all but
one immigrant ancestor and this is probably due to a phonetic spelling. My
previous suggestion to try all possible spellings is a must. My umlauted
names (Mühl) were entered as Muhl. Other members tell me of erroneous
spellings under which they found records.

Most village names are spelled phonetically-don't be misled. I found second
class passengers listed in the ship's manifest. Last issue I said they
weren't included. Now I must track those other people with family names who I
don't recognize. Just who were all these other Bergholds and Sorgers?

Newsletter continues as no. 96C.

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