The area in which Welimirowatz is
located in central southeast Europe has been home to various peoples over the
centuries for both short and long term occupations. The Ilyrians are the first
peoples we can identify and were a branch of the Celtic people and were resident
in the area by 400 BC and were followed by various other Celtic tribes such as the
controlled the area for 500 years up until approximately 500 AD. Their roads,
aqueducts, cleared acreage and vineyards changed the area into a flourishing
fertile province with the most important settlement at Sirmium (Mitrovica), which
also gave its name to the region of Syrmien and also known as Srem.
A whole system of Roman roads connected Požega, Našice, Koschka, and Esseg
(Osijek) (then called Mursa) to protect the Danubian frontier.
emperor Diocletian lived in Spalato (Split) in 308 AD. The Roman fortresses could
not prevent the westward migration of the Germanic and Slavic tribes that followed
after them. The Germanic Quaden (50-180 AD), Markommen, Gepiden and Allanen (378
AD), the Samartians and the Jazyzens all moved in and settled. Many of the
Vandals came and pillaged and plundered. Attila the Hun (441-453) also called
Etzel became master of Pannonia. The Longobards (Lombards) came in 566 AD and the
western and eastern Goths passed through Slavonia in 200-376 AD.
Franks defeated the Avars, Pannonia was incorporated into the Frankish Empire
(791-796). They established the Carolingian Ostmark (Eastern Mark = Austria),
which reached as far south as Lake Balaton and the Sava and Danube Rivers. The
cattle herding Croatians who had come into the region in 550 paid no attention to
the building efforts of the Franks.
Christianisation of the land, Mitrovica became the seat of a bishop and what later
became Slavonia and Syrmien were placed under the jurisdiction of a Frankish Count
the so-called Counts of Friaul.
the north was established as a borderland frontier area and built up with many “Burgen”:
forts and fortresses and settled by German peasants accompanied by monks to expand
Christianity and built churches and cloisters as cultural and religious centres in
settlement activities were a result of the missionary work of both the Eastern and
Western Churches. The Western Church sent missionary monks from the bishoprics of
Passau, Regensburg and Salzburg to the eastern and south-eastern lands while the
Eastern Church sent the apostles to the Slavs: Constantine and Methodius who
ministered in the south-east as far as the Great Moravian Empire. They translated
the liturgy into the Slavic language and developed an alphabet and written script
similar to the Greek of the Orthodox Churches that are still used in Serbia,
Bulgaria and Russia. The concept of “national” or “ethnic” churches is a legacy
of the Orthodox Church and its missionaries.
coming out of Asia first arrived in the lower Danube area in 838 and occupied what
had been Pannonia up to the Tisza River. In 896 under the leadership of Arpad
they invaded central Europe and campaigned in Upper Italy, Germany and France. In
955 Otto the Great defeated them at the battle of Lechfeld just outside of
Augsburg. From out of this nomadic tribal people a settled agrarian society was
formed and developed which also became Christian. Stephen I, the first Christian
king and saint was the founder of the Magyar state. He married Gisela, daughter
of the Duke of Bavaria in 995. She was also a sister of the Holy Roman Emperor
Henry II who was crowned apostolic King of Hungary in 1001 by Pope Silvester II.
The Hungarians still take great pride in the crown of St. Stephen a symbol of
Hungarian national identity. Because of his conversion to the Roman Church he
gained the recognition of the Pope for his support in the conversion of his people
to Christianity and was canonized in 1083.
Under Geza II
in 1150 German knights, artisans and craftsmen were invited into the land. This
was especially true in the Zips and Transylvania where settlers from the Rhine and
Mosel area as well as Luxemburg established themselves. During this time the
Slavic princes of the Moravian Empire also enticed Germans to settle in their
Duke Trpimir (840-855) recognized Lothar, the French king (843-855) as his liege
lord and in that enactment is the first reference to the name Croat to describe
him and has people. Prince Tomislav called himself King of the Croatians in 925.
But it cannot be determined whether or not he in fact was the first Croatian king,
nor do we know where or when he was crowned and who carried out the coronation.
He formed the Croatians into a “state” in 924 and had to be on constant guard
against invasion from the Venetians and the Magyars.
(1076-1088) is one of the last of the Croatian kings. His wife was Helen the
Fair, but they had no children. At an assembly that was held in 1089 he was
murdered. Quarrels to determine the succession broke out and they could only be
resolved by outside intervention. The Hungarian king, Ladislaus I was invited to
govern the land. He accepted but found himself constantly involved in many wars.
His nephew Kolomar I who succeeded him to the Hungarian throne made an agreement
with the twelve Croatian noble families in 1102 and at Biograd he was elected and
crowned king of Croatia.
historical development would have serious consequences and placed a heavy burden
on both Hungary and Croatia. This personal union of the crowns was only meant to
bind the two nations during his lifetime but would in effect last for 816 years
from 1102 to 1918.
The king gave
the Croatians their own administration by appointing a Banus (governor) as
the Hungarian spokesman and the representative deputy of the Hungarian king. The
Croatian nobles formed a parliament: Sabor.
Hungarians looked upon this “union” as permanent and claimed the right of
possession of the whole land, then the Kingdom of Croatia-Dalmatia and the
Adriatic providing Hungary with a port and direct access to the sea. The Croats
saw this agreement as a temporary one hoping for the possibility of freely
electing their own king when the Hungarian dynasty was without an heir.
Confessionally (religiously) both Hungary and Croatia had united with the Church
of Rome and were bound to the Pope. The whole process was one in which the Croats
gave up both their independence and autonomy.
Slavic people in the region were the Serbs under the leadership of Great Prince
Stefan Nemanja (1114-1200) and under king Stefan Dušan (1331-1355) they
experienced a “golden age.” The Grand Prince united the two Serbian states:
Raszien and Zeta and later freed himself from the lordship of Byzantium. The king
later conquered neighbouring regions and raised the Archbishopric to a
Patriarchite. The Serbs had chosen to enter the Orthodox Church in 850. Their
Orthodoxy is the major difference between the Serbs and Croats to this day and as
a result there have been constant blood feuds between these two Slavic “brothers.”
Crusades Belgrade was used as a jumping off point and staging area for the
crusader armies. This was in response to the Moslem Turks who had moved westward
out of Turkestan and who by 1243 were firmly established in Asia Minor. There in
1301 Osman I founded the Ottoman Empire and began its westward expansion.
At the battle
of Kosovo Polje the Turks defeated Prince Lazar of Raszien on June 28, 1389 and
destroyed the Serbian nobility and ended their lordship of the whole area up to
the Danube and Sava Rivers. Serbia and Bosnia would remain in Turkish hands for
the next 400 to 500 years. In the Orthodox monasteries and their folk songs the
Serbs would long remember this as the blackest day in their history as a people.
It was only
in 1453 when the Turks were able to take Constantinople and made it their capital
and renamed it: Istanbul. The Turks conquered many other peoples and states in
the Mediterranean area and all of them became tribute-paying provinces. But most
of the conquered peoples were not forcibly converted to Islam but as unbelievers
they had to pay huge taxes, which became a major incentive to convert and that
occurred most successfully in Bosnia and Albania.
power and an alliance with the French led to more Turkish incursions into central
Europe. France sought hegemony in Europe but felt threatened by the Habsburgs in
Spain and Germany and welcomed the Turkish threat to the south eastern portions of
the Habsburg holdings to enable the French to more easily move into the German
border lands with France.
Sulieman II, the Turks captured Belgrade in 1521, which had been in Hungarian
hands since 1433. The Turks now took on Hungary at the Battle of Mohács in 1526
against the forces of Louis II of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia after the Turks had
already occupied Transylvania. The young king lost his life in this courageous
stand against a vast horde that greatly outnumbered his meagre forces. There was
no heir to the throne of Hungary and conflict broke out between the elected
Habsburg candidate Ferdinand (1527-1564) and a noble from Transylvania, Janos
Zapolya who had the support of the Turks.
Ferdinand drove out his rival for the throne who had established his reign in Buda
and entered the city where he was crowned king on November 3, 1527. Ever since
that time, Austria and Hungary were bound to one another as Croatia was bound in
the personal union of the past with Hungary and now also Austria.
victory at Mohács the Turks carried out a disastrous pillaging of the land,
robbing, burning, murdering and carrying off 30,000 people as slaves. In 1529
they laid siege to Vienna for the first time but were unsuccessful in taking the
city. As the lords of Hungary they established a Pashaluk (domain of a
Pasha) from the Sava River to Pest and from Lake Balaton to the Tisza River. The
Hungarian nobility could escape subjugation by the Turks only by flight.
Thousands of Croats fled to the Burgenland and were settled in five “Croatian”
villages that exist to this day and lived a separate existence among the local
population. From the occupied parts of Hungary the Turks launched raids into
Austria at the rate of 188 times in the space of five years.
wore green as the symbol of their faith and red the symbol of joy. Christians had
to wear black as symbols of their vassalage and defeat. It was not only at the
times of raids or general warfare when local populations were carried off into
slavery. It was simply a regular occurrence leading to the decimation of the
approximately 150 years Slavonia and Syrmien were under the lordship of the Turks
and the economy and the life of the area changed. The number of homesteads and
villages both declined; fields were infested with weeds and underbrush and
wilderness encroached the land on all sides. The Turks simply let the land go to
the dogs. The Ottomans who had first sought to war against the infidels were now
only interested in winning land and gaining riches through killing and plundering.
Vizer Kara Mustapha approached Vienna with an army of 150,000 in 1683
accompanied by the young Hungarian noble Emmerich Tököly with a force of 15,000.
He sought the support of the Turks to take over Upper Hungary (Slovakia) and be
free of the Habsburg yoke.
Court had fled and only a force of some 15,000 remained in the city. But a
combined German and Polish army of 85,000 arrived under John Sobieksi and Duke
Karl of Lorraine. On September 12, 1683 the Turks were badly mauled in battle in
what would become the Vienna Woods and left the field in full flight. Others
involved in the rout of the Turks were Max Emmanuel of Bavaria and Louis of Baden
the future “Türkenlouis”. In addition young Eugene of Savoy also saw action.
This led to the rapid withdrawal of the Turks from southeast Europe and the
liberation of the captive nations. Eugene of Savoy would drive them from Belgrade
in Serbia, and Sarajevo in Bosnia. If he had not been occupied in the wars
against France in the west he would have freed Serbia and Bosnia from the Turks
much sooner. One after another the following cities were liberated: Ofen,
Mohács, Belgrade, Niš, Slankamen, Zenta, Sarajevo, Temesvár, Peterwardein. As a
further result of his victories the following were in the hands of the Habsburgs:
Hungary 1697, Slavonia 1687, Syrmien 1687, Batschka 1691, Banat 1691 and
But most of
the land had no surviving local population nor did it have any landlords any
longer. The land was given as a fee or reward to soldiers who fought for the
Habsburgs or was simply sold to the highest bidder if there was no claimant for
the new frontiers against the still threatening Turks, the Austrians planned and
established a Military Frontier District. It was a long stretch of land some 20
to at times 50 kilometres wide from the Adriatic along the Sava and Danube to the
Carpathian Mountains. In all it was 2,000 kilometres long and was guarded and
controlled by the Austrian military.
But it was
not enough that it guarded the borders it also had to provide the support and
supplies necessary to maintain the frontier sentries and soldiers. The best
alternative was settling the Military Frontier District with former soldiers who
were called: Grenzers (Border Guards). They and their families lived in
the District, carried out agricultural pursuits, the rearing of livestock and also
served as soldiers to defend the frontier and protect their homes and families.
Many of these
settlers were refugees from the Turks in danger of extermination if they remained
in their former homes. Others were retired soldiers and as veterans they were
ready to settle down. The third group were Serbs under their Patriarch who had
fled from the Turks and were settled in Syrmien and southern Hungary. Another
group were the Croats who had survived the Turkish occupation and massacres. The
last group to arrive were Germans invited to settle in the Military Frontier
Districts of the Banat and Syrmien. The only Grenzer village in Slavonia
was in Neudorf by Vinkovci settled in 1819 by the Border Regiment. In 1881 the
Military Frontier District had a population of 520,000 Roman Catholic Croats,
650,000 Orthodox Serbs and some 34,000 others of various nationalities and
regiments consisting of some 100,000 men under arms patrolled the Military
Frontier District. The Regimental Commander was also the administrator of the
District under his command. He had responsibility for all aspects of life, all
military matters, including training and all aspects of the lives of men from
18-60 years of age in his District, the spiritual care of the population, the
educational system for the children, the material and economic welfare of the
District and the upholding of law and order and the functioning of jurisprudence
and the courts.
population by and large was extensive, extended families lived in quarters called
Zadruga in which three or four families lived together with up to seventy
persons. Work was shared, while the sick and the old were cared for. The oldest
organized the work to be done, and the oldest woman was in charge of the house and
the able bodied men did their duty on the frontier. The women did most of the
fieldwork and they had 18-24 Joch of acreage, 4-5 Joch of meadows
with forests included. Later the acreage was increased to 30-36 Joch.
They needed many industrious hands.
in worship was regulated and controlled and following the service all men also
participated in a military parade. Schools were conducted for the children.
Women sewed the uniforms and provided supplies. The largest village on the Sava
border had twenty-five houses. At each watch tower there were thirty-eight men
under one officer who were stationed there. One third of the men went on patrol,
one third were on standby and one third had free time. Every Grenzer had
to provide 150 days of service patrolling the border annually. In times of war
they were withdrawn from the borders and sent to the battlefront.
1849-1866 the Military Frontier District was administered as a Crown land.
As well as
serving military and defensive purposes the District also served as a “sanitation
corridor” to protect the Empire from plague and other epidemics. During times of
peace with the Turks, travellers and merchants had to pass through sanitation
checkpoints. There were many flooded areas and swamps in the Sava and Drava area
and malaria was common. There were cholera epidemics in 1745 and 1831 that took
began to become the “sick man of Europe” by 1851 the Transylvanian section of the
Military Frontier District was dismantled and the Banat in 1873 and the Croatian
and Slavonia section was reunited with Croatia/Slavonia in 1881-1882. The
families living there did not like or appreciate the change because they liked
things just as they were.
Frontier District had been set up to provide protection and also assure would be
settlers that they would be safe as they engaged in rebuilding and resettling the
depopulated wilderness the Turks had left behind.
various phases of the Great Swabian Migration (Schwabenzuege) there were
always small groups and families on the move outside of the official government
sponsored programmes. Along with the State the private landlords, nobles and
estate owners also coaxed settlers to their lands but only settled them as Kleinhäuslers (cotters) and let them work on their estates. The colonization
was not in response to “national interests” or some kind of German scheme to take
over the territory. This settlement was an Umzug…a change of residence
within the same Empire. The Emperor wanted to give this possibility to all of the
nationalities to settle in the Danube lands: Czechs, Slovaks, Romanians, Magyars,
Croats, Serbs, Italians, French, Spaniards and Germans.
ruled a Catholic Empire and did not want to settle Protestants within it. The
Habsburgs wanted to maintain Catholic unity for all of their subjects and
citizens. For Maria Theresia it was far more important that the new settlers were
Catholics than Germans.
left rather undisturbed following the Liberation from the Turks in 1687 for almost
a century. The area north of the Sava was part of the Military Frontier District
and under the control of Vienna and the land south of the Drava was
Croatia/Slavonia and administered by the Banus in Agram. (Zagreb).
The reconquered territories were returned to their hereditary owners if they could
prove their claims. Because so many of the noble families had died out or fled
the area in the time of the Turk, the Crown either sold the land or used it as
payment to men for their services to the House of Habsburg. The new landowners
seldom lived on their holdings and cared very little about them. The aristocrats
were more interested in assuming high office in the government instead.
French Revolution in 1789 and the War of Liberation against Napoleon in 1813 a
“national” consciousness awoke among many nationalities. This rebirth was very
strong among the South Slavs. This consciousness focussed on the “mother tongue”
to build up its use and preserve it in the life of the people and the possibility
and idea of being a “nation” within the Habsburg Monarchy became their goal.
Slavism and Pan Slavism were born as their historians tried to find the
common roots of the Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Bulgarians and Russians.
Unfortunately this had little effect on how they dealt with one another in terms
of their future “national” history that was to unfold.
In 1848 the
Croats saw their opportunity to become equal partners with the Magyars with only a
common king to bind them. They wanted to use their own language even in the
Hungarian parliament. Because the Magyars refused to cede these issues to them
the Croats declared war on the Hungarians. General Jelacic, the Commander of the
Military Frontier District hurried to Vienna with his troops and assisted the
Austrians in putting down the Hungarian uprising. He then called upon the Emperor
to grant Croatia independence from Hungary. The young eighteen-year-old Emperor,
Francis Joseph did not want to take Croatia away from Hungary. As a result he
worsened the relationship with his loyal Croats and in effect created an
anti-German feeling among them.
year of the Hungarian War of Independence, Josip Juraj Strossmajer (1815-1905)
first came upon the political scene. He saw the possibility of uniting the South
Slavs by “bringing back” the Orthodox Serbs into the fold of the Church of Rome
under his leadership and establishing a “national” Church. He was actually by
culture an ethnic German who become a 200% Croat and discovered early that the
Serbs were not interested in his kind of partnership and as result he moved more
and more in directions toward promoting narrow Croat national interests.
Croats he became known as the “Father” of the “Fatherland”. He was the founder of
the Yugoslavian Academy of Science and Art, the Croatian University at Agram and
the Art Gallery. He was hated and loved like Bismarck in Prussia as the awakener
of Croat nationalism. He was a perfect example of how great his concept of
Croatianism was in that an “ethnic German boy” like himself could be transformed
into a patriotic Croat.
Strossmayer was the son of a horse trader and his Croatian wife and grew up in
German speaking Esseg learning both languages but always thought of himself and
felt like a ethnic German. After completing his schooling in Djakovar, Budapest
and Vienna he became the Court Chaplain and Confessor at Schönbrunn and rector of
the Imperial Augustinium. He desperately wanted to become the Prince Archbishop
of Salzburg. Emperor Francis Joseph who had the power to appoint the successor to
the See did not set much store by him and failed to support him in his ambitions.
Far away in Djakovo he could have seen this as a put down. But not Strossmayer!
He knew how to put himself back on top of the heap.
In 1849 at
the recommendation of the Banus Jelacic he was put forward as his nominee for the
position of Bishop of Djakovo. On taking office this very intelligent and
straight thinking man became the “awakener” of the fledgling freedom movements of
the Croats. He must be seen as an opponent of the German language because he
insisted on the use of the Croatian language as the language of instruction in all
of the schools in the land because he wanted to make everyone Croatian. He must
also be recognized for his other achievements in many areas of the life of the
Croats: in church and cathedral building, intensification of the economy and
industry on his Episcopal land holdings and estates, a patron of Croatian culture,
a theologian and philosopher who also had the courage to oppose the dogma of Papal
Infallibility at the Vatican Council in 1869/1870.
held that the purpose of educating Catholic priests and teachers was so they would
become patriots…lovers of the homeland. Through the hindrances he put into effect
against the use of German language in worship through the appointment of Croatian
priests in mixed language parishes and even where ethnic Germans were the majority
he achieved “total integration” which was his long-term goal. The fact that the
ethnic German population was losing their mother tongue did not bother him a bit.
decline of any future threat from the Turks, the Croats clambered for the
unification of the Military Frontier District with Croatia/Slavonia. When it
finally took place because of a lack of development and economic resources to
build roads and railways to open up the territory for settlement, the Croatian
parliament realized the answer was higher taxes and better forms of agricultural
development. Even though as Croatian nationalists they opposed settlement of
other nationalities in their “homeland” they believed it was necessary to allow
ethnic Germans to come in as “teachers” and “models” for the local population.
owners made their fortune by selling lumber. Slavonian oak became a world-
renowned export. The question was: what to do with the deforested and cleared
land. There were also numerous swamps that needed to be regulated by dams in
order to cultivate the land and produce various crops. There were also Croatian
settlers who worked the land during the tax-free period but left rather than
remain and pay taxes and went on to other tax-free land somewhere else. A
Croatian official remarked:
have a bad work habit. They see work as slavery not as a necessity. In 1848 they
were to a great extent shepherds and not even herders of cattle. As a result of
their laziness it has become a national shame.” This basic lifestyle and attitude
would clash with the industriousness of the Danube Swabians and lead to envy and
later “race hatred”. As the Danube Swabian settlers gained economically the
Croats fell farther and farther behind.
Compromise between Austria and Hungary in 1867 resulted when Francis Joseph saw
that he could never attain hegemony in Germany as a result of the disastrous war
with Prussia in 1866. The Danube Monarchy, the Imperial Austrian Empire became
the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary.
Hungarians achieved a change in their former relationship through the
self-government of their half of the Empire in a partnership with Austria, a
symbol of what the Slavic populations in the Monarchy desired and wished for
themselves. Financial affairs, the military and defence as well foreign policy
remained in the hands of Vienna although the Hungarians had some influence in
jurisdiction within the State set up their own national army. In Hungary this was
the Honvéd. Domestic policies, economic issues, church and school as well
as administration were in accord with the national law and existing statutes acted
upon by Austria and Hungary. For the citizens of the Dual Monarchy there were two
constitutions and both Vienna and Budapest were government centres. Following the
Compromise the Hungarians offered Francis Joseph the Crown of St. Stephen and he
became King of Hungary in 1867. As a result all of the neighbouring territories
were incorporated into the Kingdom of Hungary: the Batschka, Syrmien, Banat and
Donauschwaben living in the Hungarian portion of the Empire had been pressured
by Magyarisation efforts ever since 1830. Now the pressure was exerted by the
State itself. On the other hand the Bohemians, Moravians and Slovaks as well as
the South Slavs: Serbs, Slovenes and Croats felt betrayed by Vienna. They had
been loyal citizens and held back from making demands previously. It was small
thanks for their support against the Magyars in the War of Independence.
were bound under the Compromise since they belonged to the Kingdom of St.
Stephen’s Crown. But now they wanted to be “equal” as a nation, with their own
territory within the Empire of the Habsburgs and not be placed under the
jurisdiction of the Hungarians. At this time it is conjectured that Strossmayer
was dealing secretly with the leadership of Serbia. The concept of a South Slav
state was born that would include Serbia and Dalmatia/Croatia/Slavonia independent
of both Austria and Turkey.
deliberations and many revisions in which the Emperor also participated an
agreement was reached in June of 1868. Hungary promised that in the future
discussions with Austria, representatives from Croatia would also participate.
The treaty guaranteed Croatia sovereignty in matters of its laws and the governing
of its territory. The Banus would deal with the Hungarian Prime Minister
directly and be responsible to him. Croatia would deal with matters related to
the churches, schools and jurisprudence. The flag of the new triune state of the
Kingdom of Dalmatia/Croatia/Slavonia would have the Crown of St. Stephen imposed
upon it. They would have twenty-nine deputies in the Hungarian Lower House of
parliament and two representatives in the Upper House. The city of Fiume would
remain independent but united with the Crown of Hungary. The Croats failed to
achieve all they had set out to do but they did make major gains. Yet the Croats
were still unsatisfied.
In 1871 a
three-day uprising occurred in Croatia under the leadership of Dr. Eugene
Kwaternik for the liberation of Croatia from the Hungarians and Dalmatia from the
Italians. He and two of his confederates where shot. On the heels of that in
1878 Austria occupied Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The South and
North Slavs now agitated and pressed for an extension of the Dual Monarchy into
Tripartate Monarchy including them alongside Austria and Hungary. It is an
historical irony that Francis Ferdinand the heir of the Habsburg Monarchy who was
assassinated in Sarajevo was in favour of the inclusion of the “third” partner in
It was only
in the mid 1850s that Protestants were allowed to settle in Croatia/Slavonia on
the initiative of the Hungarian parliament. A law came into effect on September
1, 1859 that Protestants could apply for house and land purchases and the Croatian
parliament immediately protested as the Bishop of Djakovo had done earlier in a
personal letter to the Emperor Francis Joseph. The Emperor’s response was that in
the Compromise of 1868 equal status was granted to Catholics and Protestants.
The news had
a profound impact upon the original settlements of the Swabian Protestants
(Lutheran and Reformed) in the Batschka, Banat, Syrmien and the estates in
southern Hungary, so-called Swabian Turkey. The reasons behind the large-scale
response are difficult to identify precisely. We do know that it was a time of
economic stagnation and need. It was hard to earn enough bread for the many
“children rich” families. Land was jealously guarded and maintained by the
families that owned any. Little land was available or for sale and when it was it
was very expensive. The second sons of farmers who had learned a trade and the
sons of craftsmen who could not take over the family trade all found it hard to
set up and start a family. All of them hoped that by selling what land they had
they could buy more land with the money in Slavonia. They did not seem to think
of the difficulties they would face in settling and living together initially.
Families made their way by horse and wagon and obtained information on the way
while other groups sent out spies and emissaries on ahead.
villages there were empty houses of predecessors who had moved on to other areas
or began new life in a neighbouring town or city. This resulted in small
patchwork of scattered German communities throughout the region. These German
minorities became assimilated in some areas while others managed to preserve their
heritage and language living among other nationalities while a few became the
majority in some communities and flourished with their own distinctive ethnic
German village character.
spiritual and secular landlords set their eyes on the possibility of recruiting
settlers. From among the church held lands were those of the very rich bishops of
Djakovo, the Serbian Patriarch in Karlowitz and the Jesuits in Požega. Secular
lords were: Count Eltz, Schönbrunn, Baron Trenck, Prandau Ehrenfels, Count Palffy
and Caraffa, Baron Turkovicz and Count Pejatschwitz.
Pejatschwitz nobles were active in the settlement endeavour on their large estates
in the Ruma area (Ruma, India, Putinzi) and Esseg (Deutsch Retfala and Kravitz)
and Našice (Deutsch Bresnitz and Selište/Welimirowatz). They paid agents like
Ivan Burkowatz five Kreuzer for every person who settled on their land and
occupied empty villages and cleared the forest and wilderness. The Serb cattle
herders simply left at their coming. The landlords required seasonal workers to
bring in their harvests and to engage in planting. There were also workers needed
in the town industries. As a result the Pejatschwitz nobles offered settlement
agreements to Czechs and Slovak settlers at Našice. Swamp fever and contaminated
water led to sickness and death on a grand scale. In one year a large number of
these settlers died. The Count decided to try it just one more time. He had four
deep wells dug in Markovac in 1880 and settled Czechs and Slovaks there and
supported them in various ways up to 1890. The settlers erected houses and along
with the settlement in the forest known as Selište (Welimirowatz) became part of
the political district of Našice.
and Slovaks came in search of jobs and came from Slovakia and Moravia and came
south annually on foot while a few had wagons for the 350 kilometre trek. With
the savings from their earnings and working as lumbermen they managed to survive
over the winter. They accepted the invitation to settle and struggled to survive
through the difficult first decade of settlement.