The News
Dedicated to Austrian-Hungarian Burgenland Family History

January 31, 2018, © 2018 by The Burgenland Bunch
All rights reserved. Permission to copy excerpts granted if credit is provided.

Editor: Thomas Steichen (email:

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Our 22st year. The Burgenland Bunch Newsletter is issued monthly online. It was founded by Gerald Berghold (who retired from the BB in the Summer of 2008 and died in August 2008).

Current Status Of The BB:
* Members: 2584 * Surname Entries: 8213 * Query Board Entries: 5715 * Staff Members: 13

This newsletter concerns:



3) THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN 1945 (by Hans Peter Zelfel)





1) THE PRESIDENT'S CORNER (by Tom Steichen)

Tom SteichenThis month's collection of bits and pieces in Article 1 is a bit longer than normal, mostly because I got a little long-winded for two of the pieces... but I'm hoping you will survive that breeze!

Article 2 is a member assistance article, though the person assisted is not yet a member! I choose to publish it because it was A Research Request Passed On From The BG and provided an educational opportunity... can't pass those up!

In Article 3, I provide what I think of as a companion piece to an article published in Newsletter 280 about the establishment of the precursor [the Apostolic Administration] to the Burgenland Catholic Diocese when Burgenland, as a whole, transitioned from Hungarian to Austrian rule. The current article looks at Burgenland's Catholic Church in 1945, as it and Burgenland try to cope with and transition from war and Nazi rule. While this article deals with the Catholic church, I would assume the Burgenland Lutheran church was dealing with similar issues, so it should be of general interest.

Article 4 is, admittedly, a fairly heavy article, being concerned with European Union Funding to the less affluent regions of the EU. Nonetheless, I hope it provides some insight into the changes such funding promoted in Burgenland and also into the stress that the funding has placed on the EU itself.

The remaining articles are our standard sections: Historical Newsletter Articles, and the Ethnic Events and Emigrant Obituaries sections.

Editorial Email Address Change: If you look closely at the Newsletter header section, you may note that I have changed my personal email address. That change occurred because the profile for it in my computer's email client software became damaged beyond repair, forcing a move to a new address (it could receive messages but not send them). Thus my new email address is If you saved my old address (, please replace it with this new one. The old address will remain for a while as I transition everything to the new one, then will be deleted.

More Transcribed Records: BB Member Margaret Roosdahl, of Golden, British Columbia, Canada, whose ancestors came from St. Michael bei Güssing, Tobaj and Punitz and settled in New York and Saskatchewan, has transcribed the available Catholic church records of Sankt Michael (1828-1895) and has kindly donated them to the Burgenland Bunch. Birth and Marriage records are completed and the death records are underway. The records, in sortable table format, can be found directly here: SanktMichaelRecords.htm or via the main Vital Records Transcriptions link found on the BB home page. We extend deepest thanks to Margaret for her gracious contribution!

By the way, Margaret says that "I was inspired to contact you about putting my index online by the ones that the BB website already has online. Hopefully more people will also come forward with their work." She also said, "There is an extra benefit in putting indices on line - if my computer crashes I won't be crying over lost work!" So, thanks again to those of you who previously contributed. For the rest of you, please be so inspired if you have records you can share! We'll be glad to be a "back up" for you.

Poetic Words For Thought on the Turning of the Years: I recently stumbled again across Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem Ulysses and meditated on how appropriate it seemed for me. The poem's text is spoken to his men by Ulysses, who has been an "idle King" for three years after returning to Ithaca from the Trojan Wars. He wishes to be more than just a useless "household name," famous only for what he has done rather than for what he is doing.

The poem is Tennyson's "call to arms" to continue to be useful in life. For me, it explains, in part, why I choose to work with the BB and I think it explains why so many of the BB staff do what they do. Given that, I'll quote selected lines from the poem ...and leave you to make of them what you will:
  Ulysses (excerpts)
Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1809-1892

How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnished, not to shine in use!

My mariners—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honor and his toil.
Death closes all; but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done...

Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are...

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

BB Replacing Our 'Newsletter Notice' Mailing Software: For almost the whole existence of the BB, we have used the "Mailman" software hosted by Rootsweb to send out our email-based newsletter and later, after we went to an online-only newsletter, the notice that the newsletter had been posted online. However, ever since took over support for Rootsweb, the quality of that service has slowly deteriorated, with outages becoming more frequent as the hardware aged and problem fixes taking longer as Rootsweb support staff was replaced by Ancestry's. This is not to knock Ancestry, as they rescued Rootsweb (nearly 10 years ago now) and have supported it the intervening years for free (the alternative was to shut it down). However, they are a for-profit business and Rootsweb generates no revenue, so it makes sense that support has been kept minimal.

Recently, Ancestry reported that there was a probable security breach on a Rootsweb server in December. As a result, they shut down much of the Rootsweb site and initiated a security audit. Initial results of that audit suggest little impact, though a small percentage of Ancestry users had user names and passwords in common between their Ancestry and Rootsweb accounts, which could be a problem (those users are being forced to set new passwords). From our BB viewpoint, any security breach is of minimal concern as we only have already-public email addresses in the Rootsweb databases... no names, no passwords. Nonetheless, the mailing software was shut down ...and that meant that our newsletter notice did not go out ...again had happened before for other reasons too.

In an update dated January 9, Ancestry's Rootsweb Team claimed that "Mailing Lists have been functioning as normal, but the archives have been unavailable." That simply was not true, however the mail-list was functional on the morning of the 10th, so the announcement of the end-of-December newsletter finally went out.

Given these problems and my expectation that the Rootsweb service may be terminated sometime in the future while continuing to be supported poorly until then, it seems prudent to remove ourselves from it while our email list could still be recovered (which it has). We initiated a search for a replacement service and found two potential free options, which I have been testing this past month.

The two options were TinyLetter (provided by the Rocket Science Group, makers of the MailChimp commercial emailing service) and FreeLists (provided by Avenir Technologies, a commercial hosting and consulting business). There were other free services available but they were too restrictive, in either the number of email addresses allowed in a mail-list or the number of emails allowed to be sent each month, to meet our needs.

TinyLetter is essentially a bare-bones adaptation of MailChimp, removing all of its marketing-related features. Even then, it offers slightly more than what we need, as we send only bare-bones, text-based notification messages.

Freelists is a stand-alone mail-list manager, much like Mailman, having no marketing-related features and being unrelated to the real business of the company providing it. Given that, they accept donations to help support it.

Both replacement options, as part of their spam-fighting approaches, make it difficult to transfer large email lists, such as ours, into their service. This is the primary reason you did not receive a message from one of these services before the Rootsweb service resumed on January 10 ...I tried, but could not get it done. In fact, Freelists is still not set up; they require that their staff import existing mailing lists and they simply are non-responsive. TinyLetter let me import the addresses myself but required that I explain the source of the addresses on our list, how they were gathered, etc., then they reviewed my responses before allowing the list to go active.

One thing that immediately became apparent when I tested the TinyLetter service was that the old service had more problems than I thought. In particular, some 20% of the email addresses on our old list proved to be bad, despite the fact that we had "bounce processing" turned on in the old service. Bounce processing is supposed to remove bad addresses (addresses that do not exist or that have some sort of problem causing them to not accept messages). In theory, our old service was supposed to retry a bad address twice and then delete it after the third failure, but it apparently stopped functioning ...when? I don't know. But a few bounces a month was our norm, not the multiple hundreds in less than a month that 20% bad implies.

As of now, I'm using TinyLetter. If Freelists ever imports the BB mailing list, I will test it... but I won't wait forever.

Spam Overkill: As I was testing potential new mail-list services by sending to the BB Newsletter Notice mailing list members, I received one reply that I felt was massive overkill... in fact, so far over that I could not agree to what was requested. The initial response was a form email:

(rest of email truncated by me)

Now I have no problem with providing reasonable "sender verification" so I clicked the link, presuming that I would just be acknowledging that I sent the message, and was greeted with this webpage:

(rest of email truncated by me)

Looks innocent, doesn't it? But it is not. Entering the verification code doesn't just confirm that I sent the message, it also says that I accept the "Sender Agreement," something I would not do!

Now I want to remind you that the sole purpose of my original message was to tell the recipient that the BB Newsletter was available. From my point of view, this is a service we offer to our members and, I presume, a service most of you appreciate or, at worst, tolerate, as you have always been able to unsubscribe from the service if it was not useful. Neither I nor the BB benefit from it, but we provide the service because we try to be useful to the membership.

Having said that, I want to walk you through the "Sender Agreement," which I'll reproduce below and comment on, line-by-line. I'll put the text of the agreement in indented italic, with my comments in normal text. So here we go:

SENDER AGREEMENT - By clicking the "VERIFY" button above, and in consideration for Spam Arrest, LLC forwarding your e-mail (and any e-mails you may send in the future) to the intended recipient (the "Recipient"), you agree to be bound by the following Sender Agreement:

Actually, since I didn't request "Spam Arrest" to forward my messages (in fact, I'd rather they stay out of the way), I find no value in this "consideration" they speak of. Thus I certainly do not wish to be bound by their agreement.

You represent and warrant to Spam Arrest and the Recipient that any e-mail you desire to send to the Recipient is not "unsolicited commercial e-mail" i.e., the e-mail does not primarily contain an advertisement or promotion of a commercial product, service or Web site; unless the Recipient expressly consented to receive the message, either in response to a clear and conspicuous request for such consent or at the Recipient's own initiative.

While the BB is not a "commercial" entity, we are a "Web site," so I can't warrant that we are not one (yes, I know the text can be read as implying it refers to a "commercial website" ...but reasonable people could argue that "commercial" only modifies the word "product" in this sentence) and, although we believe our members have consented to be on our Newsletter Notice List, I can't prove that fact for each and every address on our list, as some addresses have been on our list from near the start of the BB over 20 years ago. Regardless, reasonable people can disagree on whether a message is "unsolicited commercial e-mail" (i.e., spam) and whether "express consent" had been given. But why would I want to get in a potential legal debate over these things by "representing" or "warranting" anything?

Further, you represent and warrant that your transmission of any e-mail does not violate any local, state or federal law governing the transmission of unsolicited commercial e-mail, including, but not limited to, RCW § 19.190.020 or the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003.

Well, I'd hope that we are not in violation of any law but I have no idea of what is in these cited statutes and I certainly do not know what laws every single locality or state may have propagated. Again, why would I want to get in a potential legal debate over this by "representing" or "warranting" anything about our messages?

You understand and acknowledge that it is fair and reasonable that you agree to abide by the restrictions set forth in this agreement.

No, I neither understand nor acknowledge that it is fair and reasonable that I should agree to abide by this unrequested "service" or its arbitrary restrictions!

You acknowledge and agree that this agreement is central to Spam Arrest's decision to forward your e-mails to the Recipient.

Nope! And I don't care if you think so!

Accordingly, if you violate this agreement, Spam Arrest and the Recipient shall be entitled to
(1) temporary and/or permanent injunctive relief to restrain any further breaches or violations of this agreement; and
(2) damages in the amount of two thousand dollars ($2,000.00) for each violation of this agreement.

Now I wouldn't have a problem with the Recipient getting the relief specified in (1) had I really sent spam, but I see no reason why "Spam Arrest" should be entitled to anything.

As for (2), all I can say is "you got to be kidding!" This is the real online world folks... we get spam, we deal with it, and we don't expect to get reimbursed for our trouble. My view is: If you can't deal with it, the only recourse is to get off the net.

You acknowledge that such remedies are appropriate and reasonable in light of the costs and expenses Spam Arrest incurs as a result of eradicating and filtering unsolicited commercial e-mail.

Actually, I don't. This is pretty much like the bum on the side of the road who expects to get paid after so-called "cleaning" your windshield with a dirty rag.

You acknowledge that the $2000.00 remedy is a reasonable estimate of Spam Arrest's and the Recipient's actual damages.

Gee... no, again. but I think it is the bribe you want me to pay so you'll stay away from my windshield!

This agreement is governed by the laws of the State of Washington and the exclusive venue for any action related to this agreement shall be held in the state and federal courts located in Washington. You hereby waive any right to object to venue or jurisdiction based on inconvenient forum, lack of personal jurisdiction or for any other reason.

Nah, I don't wave any right to object! In fact, I object to the whole agreement! It is a threatened suit waiting to happen. Further, I think the insertion of Spam Arrest's message into my exchange with my intended recipient is a prime example of spam that should be punished by a $2000 payment, but a payment from them to me!

What I did after receiving and reviewing this nonsense was to send a nice, calm email to the member informing him that this agreement was unacceptable and, that unless he chooses to bypass this service, I'll have no choice but to remove him from our BB Newsletter announcement list. It's his loss, not mine, in my view.

I did look up "Spam Arrest." The so-called service is free for the first month and then has a monthly charge of $7.95, with a six-month minimum (pre-paid) and extra charges if you exceed the default message count or storage limits (all of your messages are stored on their servers). Having read through all the legalese of its subscription agreement, all I can say is that I feel sorry for this BB member, as the "benefits" are minimal, the cost excessive, and you have to jump through hoops to get even the free trial service cancelled (if you do it wrong, you are automatically enrolled for 6 months, which automatically renews itself thereafter). Sad.

Online Digital Death Index for the Deutschkreutz Jewish Community: Genealogist Traude Triebel reports that the Austrian Jewish Museum (Österreichischen Jüdischen Museum, OJM) has released an online digital death index for Deutschkreutz (Sopronkeresztúr, Németkeresztúr) for the period May 1833 to July 1895 (except years 1853, 1855-1859 and 1869, which do not exist).

The online index, at, documents 1,237 deaths and can be searched, sorted and filtered, not only by name, but by all column headers. Credit goes to OJM director Johannes Reiss and his staff.

Olives from Mörbisch [adapted from a translated Burgenland ORF story]: Fifty-nine olive trees are currently growing on a hill above Lake Neusiedl near Mörbisch. Franz Günther and Sabine Haider transported from Italy three different varieties to Burgenland and planted them in spring 2016 ...and already have recorded a harvest, albeit a very small one.

This year's harvest was the first, and the six-year-old trees yielded around a kilo of olives each, which is considered a success because it shows that the olive trees can withstand Burgenland's winter temperatures.

More trees are to follow in the coming spring if suitable plots of land are found. "There should be more trees for a press, otherwise it will not pay. It would be nice if there were a thousand," said Günther. The aim is to produce several thousand liters of oil, but that will take years. Until then, the olives from Burgenland, seasoned with herbs in olive oil, are to be marketed as aperitif olives.

The project is scientifically supported by the Karl Franzens University in Graz.

Blacksmith in Neudorf [adapted from a translated Burgenland ORF story]: In the past, almost every Burgenland village had a blacksmith shop, but now the classic blacksmithery is almost nowhere to be found. However, one survives In Neudorf (district Neusiedl am See), run by the same family for four generations. Almost every day, the forge fire is lit with coal, but the work changed over the decades: in the past, most items were forged for agricultural equipment; now it is specialty orders.

"You work a lot together with architects and make new, interesting things, modern designer things," says blacksmith Andreas Böck. The 38-year-old Böck always wanted to take over the father's workshop. Even as a child, the master blacksmith spent a lot of time in the smithy. And he hopes that one of his two sons will eventually be enthusiastic about the traditional family craft. The processing of iron both exerts a great fascination on him and requires a lot of knowledge by him. "If the iron is yellow, about 1,200 degrees Celsius, it is best for processing. If the iron goes red, it will be quite hard and brittle," says Böck.

While competition from countries to the east cause problems for blacksmiths, the business is appreciated in Neudorf and there remain many orders.


Civil Recording Locations for Burgenland Villages: I'm sure you are aware that Hungary, starting in 1828, required Churches to be the official recorder of vital events (births, marriages, deaths) and to annually provide a copy of these records to the Hungarian Archives (the source for the LDS microfilms and digital images). This continued until 1895, when official recording of vital events switched to civilian officials. At that time, the government established a network of civil recording locations and assigned each village to one of them. (As an aside, Austria also required the same of their Churches but did not switch to civil recording until 1938.)

When the BB created our LDS and Villages pages, we documented recording locations based on their status in 1921, presuming, incorrectly, that the assignments had remained static since 1895. In fact, there was a major reassignment of recording locations effective Jan 1, 1907 and another, smaller reassignment effective Jan 1, 1910, plus even a few singular changes after that (almost all of the changes were in southern Burgenland). We have learned this the hard way: i.e., by not finding the village records where we thought they were! Correspondingly, we have edited our pages to provide the corrections as we became aware that correction was needed. The most recent such correction was to note that Schreibersdorf (Buglóc) switched its civil recording location from Oberschützen (Felsö-Lövö) to Pinkafeld (Pinkafö) at the start of 1907.

I report this to help you understand why you may not find records where we claim they are (although I think we have found most of the reassignments now) ...and to ask you to tell us about it if you think we are still wrong. What I suggest, if you cannot find a specific record, is to observe whether the village name appears in those records (be sure to consider the Hungarian village name, as it is the most likely form to have been used). If you do not find the village name, we likely are reporting the wrong recording location. Without exception, if we are wrong, the correct location will be a nearby recording location, so check a map for nearby villages that are recording locations... you'll find your village records quickly, I'm sure. But do let us know about it so we can fix our pages. And "thanks" in advance!


Book coverUpdate for book "The Burgenländer Emigration to America": Here is this month's update on purchases of the English issue of the 3rd edition of Dr. Walter Dujmovits' book "Die Amerika-Wanderung Der Burgenländer."

Current total sales are 1254 copies, as interested people purchased 21 more books during this past month.

As always, the book remains available for online purchase at a list price of $7.41 (which is the production charge for the book, as we purposely choose not to make a profit so we can avoid dealing with the income tax consequences and so you can obtain the book at as low a cost as possible!), plus tax & shipping. See the BB homepage for a link to the information / ordering page and for any current discounts (and there is at least one discount on price or shipping available most of the time... if not, wait a few days and there will be one!).

Burgenland Recipes (now edited by Alan Varga): This recipe comes from BB member Ed Malesky, whose grandmother Angela (Poeltl) Malesky was born in Rosenberg bei Güssing. She was from the same family as BB founder Gerry Berghold, and lived in Allentown, PA. Ed compiled her recipes into his own cookbook, which he now shares with us.

(from Ed Malesky)

about 9-10 cups baking apples, sliced
butter or margarine

3 cups flour
1/2 lb. stick butter or margarine (8 oz)
3 eggs
3 Tbsp. sour cream
1/4 cup milk

For the filling, slice the apples. Blend with melted butter, add sugar to taste and dust very lightly with cinnamon.

For the dough, mix the flour and butter. Add the eggs and sour cream, then knead the dough. Add a little milk if it is still too dry.

Preheat the oven to 350°. Divide the dough, and roll out half of it for lining a 9-1/2 x 13 pan. Spread the apple mixture on top. Top with crumbs if desired. Roll out the other half of the dough and cover the apple filling, then bake until golden brown.

Reminder: We no longer have a "regular" source for Burgenland recipes. As evidenced above, a few readers have shared favorite family recipes, and we do have a reserve for a couple of months now, but if contributions stop coming in, we'll be begging again! So, please consider sharing your favorite Burgenland recipes or recipe books with us. Our older relatives sadly aren't with us forever, so don't allow your allow your favorite ethnic dishes to become lost to future generations. Send your suggestions to BB Recipes Editor, Alan Varga. Thanks!

Cartoon of the Month:

                                  - shared by Gary Gabrich


I have mentioned a number of times that the BG (Burgenländische Gemeinschaft) and BB (Burgenland Bunch) are sister organizations, being interested in the same area (Burgenland) but having different perspectives about it. The BG is an expatriate organization, looking outward from Burgenland towards those who emigrated away, and trying to maintain a link with them. The BB, however, is a genealogy and history organization, looking back to Burgenland for those with distant roots there, and trying to help them find their personal link to it. Both organizations are pretty good with what we do ...and not so good if we try to swap roles, so it is not surprising that the BG immediately forwarded the following message to me...

Sandra Patten emailed the BG, with subject line "Burgenland - Jennersdorf," saying:

Hi, I am researching my father’s family. My father was born in Jennersdorf, Austria, in 1926. He immigrated to Canada in about 1929. I found this website and email address and was wondering if I can share what I’ve found with your site and maybe get some ideas of where else I can find info on my father’s family. My father died in 2014 and he didn’t share a lot of family info with me. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago I found out his last name wasn’t really Miller, it was Muller. And then a few years after that I found out he was actually Alois and not Louis. It’s been fun searching, though. Thanks so much for listening.


I replied, saying:

Hi Sandra, I'm Tom Steichen from the Burgenland Bunch (BB), a volunteer internet-based genealogy and history group interested in Burgenland. The Burgenländische Gemeinschaft (BG) is a Burgenland-based expatriate organization, with whom the BB cooperates. They have forwarded your message to me, as the BB is likely the more appropriate organization to try to help you. You can find our website at

Your father's birth falls in a difficult time era... that is, post-1920 when Jennersdorf became part of Austria; before, it was part of Hungary. The older (pre-1921) vital records are available online via the LDS. Austria has not made the post-1920 records available and also has privacy laws that restrict access to "more-recent" records, and 1926 records would fall in that restricted period.

Nonetheless, we may be able to help you if we can make the leap back to his parents. Clearly, if he emigrated "about 1929" he came over with his parents (as he would have been about 3 then), so it seems possible we might be able to make that connection to your grandparents.

Please do share whatever information you have found and we'll see what we can do. By the way, you did not say whether your father was born in the TOWN of Jennersdorf or the DISTRICT of Jennersdorf; do you know? Both exist so it is helpful to make the distinction. Also, it might be useful to know what religion he comes from, as earlier records were church-based. Include all information you have about his siblings and parents, as well as where he lived in Canada (especially in his early years).

If you look at our website, you will see that there are no fees or requirements associated with receiving help from us or for being a member. We do this solely because of our personal interest in learning about where our ancestors came from. We currently have over 2500 members... you would be appropriate for membership so I invite you to consider joining and sharing with the group. Regardless, you are welcome to look at the info we provide, as I'm sure something therein would be helpful to you.

Yours, Tom, BB

Sandra replied back:

Hi Thomas, I appreciate your quick response. I will get the details together of everything I've located. According to my mom, my grandfather and grandmother, Emil Muller and Anna Mesits, owned the little white inn on the left lower corner of this photo [below]. My mother also said that the family lived within a half mile up the hill from this inn.

Thanks so much and I'll get my information that I've collected and put it in some order for you and if anyone from the Burgenland Bunch wants to take a look at it.

I apologize in advance for the oversized photos
[shrunk and shown to the right] of my grandfather, Emil Muller, born in 1893 and grandmother, Anna or Anne Mesits, born in 1901.

I am enjoying this research adventure!


And that led to a little research and another reply from me:

Hi Sandi, so then, here is the wedding record for Emil and Anna: record 

It gives their birth dates and locations, parents’ names, etc.. At that time, Emil is listed as a molnár segéd (miller’s assistant).

Here is the birth record for their daughter Anna: birth record 

Other children would have been born after the online records end, however you should be able to work back in time from Emil and Anna.

Emil’s birth record: birth record 

Anna’s birth record: not found! I do note that only a mother is listed on the wedding record. Looks like an interesting search problem!


And a while later, a second reply from me:

OK, the reason Anna Mesits is not in the Jennersdorf birth records is because she was not born there. Instead, she was born in Orfalu, Hungary, house 73, to Terézia Mesics, and her birth is recorded in the Apátisvanfalva (Istvánfalva) records. Her mother was 18 at the time. No mention is made of a father.

See: birth record for the record and this map excerpt:

It looks like Terézia was born 4 Nov 1883 to Georgius and Maria Messics at Orfalu (no house number given nor maiden name for mother).
See: birth record 


PS: I looked at GoogleMaps and Google Earth to see if the factory-like building near the inn still stands but it appears to be gone, as is the Inn. You can see the railroad tracks near the inn and the Raba River beyond in the picture, so this appears to be looking south from a position slightly to the west of the main town, along what is now Hohenbrugger Straße.

Sandi replied:

Tom!!! You are wonderful!

Thank you so much! You are a quick investigator and a genius!

According to my mom, who traveled to Jennersdorf with my dad in about 1995, she and my dad went to the Hungarian Church where Anna (my grandmother) was born and my dad was somewhat shocked to think that his mother was illegitimate but he and the priest they spoke with could not come up with another reason why there was no father listed.

I will start working back in time from the information you shared with me.

As for me, I have been a retired Investigations Police Sergeant of a police department in San Diego County, CA, since 2008. Attempting to locate history and information on my family brings me back to that line of work and it is so gratifying to have some of the dots connected in my family tree.

Thanks again and please keep in touch.


My final reply:

Quick, yes; genius, no... just experienced.

Mesits (in any form) is not a historical Jennersdorf name, so I looked nearby to where it was more frequent... didn’t take long after that since the date was in the marriage record (I am surprised that the place was listed wrong though; the Hungarian bureaucracy frowned on that!).

(Initial) illegitimacy was highly common in that area and era. However, also common was that the (often young) father married the mother as soon as his economic situation allowed it ...and thereby made his child (sometimes children) legitimate. The failure to do so in this case suggests that the father either left the area (say due to military service) and never returned or died young. Casual sex, etc., was not common. It is possible that the mother later married someone else (given her maiden name is what would normally be placed on her daughter’s marriage record, she even could have been married at that time).

Sounds like you had an interesting job... hopefully your investigation into your family will avoid some of the harder things you once had to investigate. Enjoy the process and do ask if you need a “clue”!

Merry Christmas, Tom

PS: The invite to join the group remains (use the new member form on the website).

That ended the exchange but, as it let me speak of differences between the BG and BB, held a number of interesting search strategies, spoke to the necessity of sharing adequate information, reminds us to pay attention to family lore, and points out that church records do have errors, I thought it worth sharing in the newsletter.

3) THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN 1945 (by Hans Peter Zelfel)

Notes: Translated from:; endnotes (remarks) are indicated thus: (1); and the following heading was shown:
Scientific work from The Burgenland Issue 74
Sigel WAB 74, 1986
Reflections on the year 1945 "Schlaininger Conversations in 1985" Eisenstadt 1986
ISBN 3-85405-100-7

Author Hans Peter Zelfel was head of the Eisenstadt Diocesan Archives for some years and still has an active role therein.


Although the present contribution will mainly deal with the history of the Catholic Church in Burgenland in 1945, it is nevertheless necessary to put the temporal framework a little further back in order to round off the picture. The article builds on the preliminary work for the "Burgenland in 1945" (1) national exhibition and can not be interpreted as a history of this period. In order to write a history of the Catholic Church in Burgenland during this last year of war and peace, and to present church life, further investigations will be necessary, especially at the regional and local level, since wide areas of ecclesiastical life are not the sources for the central administration.

The History of the Apostolic Administration Burgenland

The collapse of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918 and the peace treaties of the following years resulted in a change in territorial organization in this area. The annexation of today's Burgenland to Austria also necessitated a reorganization of the ecclesiastical administration, since the area had previously belonged to the dioceses Raab and Steinamanger. On May 18, 1922, Archbishop of Vienna, Friedrich Gustav Cardinal Piffl, was appointed Apostolic Administrator [Ed: the prelate assigned to lead an Apostolic Administration, a territory that is not a diocese] and thus the beginning of his own ecclesiastical administration. (2) The most urgent problems were the establishment of a uniform ecclesiastical administration, the regulation of the legal situation of the Burgenland clergy, and the overcoming of the priestly deficit prevailing in the province. In the area of schooling, the Burgenland took a special position, since the denominational school system [Ed: Church-run schools, rather than State-run] remained here and was legally anchored. The religious life in the years after 1922 experienced strong support through the work of the Catholic associations and organizations.

After the death of Cardinal Piffl on October 31, 1932, the new Archbishop of Vienna, Theodor Innitzer, was appointed as Apostolic Administrator of the Burgenland, who appointed the Dean priest of Kleinfrauenhaid, Dr. Josef Koller, as his Deputy. In the Concordat of 1933/34, among other things, the agreement on the elevation of the church area to a Praelatura nullius [Ed: a church territory headed by a titular bishop that is not a diocese] was expressed—that would have brought the separation from the mother dioceses Raab and Steinamanger—but the necessary agreements could no longer be made. The outer and inner development of the Burgenland church was continued. The Catholic Teaching Seminar, the Burgenland Preschool Seminar and the Teacher's Seminar were opened. The Chancellery of the Apostolic Administration moved from Vienna to Eisenstadt. Special support was given to Catholic Action and Catholic Press.

The Catholic Church During the Nazi Era

This reconstruction was suddenly interrupted by the events of March 1938 and the further development under the Nazi regime. A sharp struggle against all church institutions began. The measures of National Socialism against the Church were, above all, their repression from public life, the restriction of pastoral activity and its restriction to the church space, the elimination of the influence of religion on the Church youth and against the fortunes of the Church. (3) In Burgenland, some measures, particularly in the monitoring of persons, in part led to a tightening which, since this was a border area, was usually justified by 'political reasons'.

With effect from 15 October 1938, Burgenland disappeared from the map, but the name "Burgenland" still remained in the designation of the church area and the Priest Seminar. The Apostolic Administration of the Burgenland had to change its title to Apostolic Administration Burgenland, whereby "Burgenland" had only to be regarded as an area designation. (4) The church administration had to move from Eisenstadt to Mattersburg in 1938 and to Sauerbrunn the following year, which then remained the seat of the Apostolic Administration until 1951.

The first Nazi personnel measures affected the Catholic (confessional) school system. With regard to the current legal situation, the church authorities tried to preserve the Catholic schools and supported the rights of the church in the reform of school and education, which was to be expected as a result of the political circumstances. By order of the Governor of September 12, 1938, the so-called Portschy decree, the denominational school system in Burgenland was abolished. For the Catholic Church, this meant a loss of 268 primary schools and 5 secondary schools, which had to be provided to the State without compensation. (5)  Measures against religious settlements, ecclesiastical property and the different metal collections can only be mentioned here.

The dismantling and, finally, the total cessation in 1939 of the State salary and support of the priests under the Kongrua law, and the abolition of the obligations of public patronages, brought a great financial burden to the church, which is now governed by a State law to collect church contributions for the purpose of covering their staff and expenses. This must in no way be understood as a church-friendly measure, but that the faithful of the Church should be alienated. An exit propaganda [Ed: pressure to leave the church] and rumors of parents' performance for the religious hours—50 Pfennig per teaching hour—being terminated, and an expected but unacceptable amount of the church contribution were put into circulation. (6) There are, unfortunately, no complete figures for the number of church exits [Ed: people leaving the church] in the Apostolic Administration (see Table 1). (7)

Table 1: Exits and Entries, 1938-1944

Year Exits Crossings Resignations
1938 No data available for this year
1939 821 25 21
1940 403 10 32
1941 310 8 17
1942 160 11 23
1943 No data available for this year
1944 No data available for this year

According to the census of 1934, there were 279 persons without religious confession. After the ecclesiastical elevation of 1940 it was 259, with 633 persons still being categorized as God-believing.

In Burgenland, believers, unprecedented in sacrifice, made their contributions to the Church without regard for the political attitude, so that, to a certain extent, the opposition to the Nazi rule was expressed. Through the abolition of State support, the Church was free in the construction of new pastoral posts. Thus, in the area of the Apostolic Administration Burgenland from 1939 to 1945, a parish and ten independent local councilors were established.

The Catholic associations and societies and their interaction were the target of the "total" coverage in the way of all areas of life by the State. They were all dissolved, and their property was largely confiscated.

Pastoral care was severely hampered by the interference of the Nazi authorities with the prohibition of preaching, the aggravation of pilgrimages and processions, the monitoring of visits to the Church, and more and more restrictions to the Church area. Despite these many obstacles, the reconstruction of pastoral care began, which almost amounted to a complete reconstruction: direct and individual pastoral care gained in importance. As in all other dioceses, a pastoral office was set up in the Apostolic Administration Burgenland in 1938 that was to ensure the best possible care for the faithful by taking care of pastoral necessities and putting them into practice. Thus, new approaches were taken, which remain decisive for pastoral care in the post-war period. (8) Further education, retreats and folk missions for priests and laity served the spiritual deepening, and at the annual pastoral meetings and the deanery clerical conventions, urgent matters were dealt with. In 1943, Prayer Education Weeks were held in 62 parishes. In Bernstein there was a popular mission from 23 to 31 March 1941, and a prayer week from 16 to 18 April 1943, both of which were very successful. (9) The parishioners' work for children and young people gained great importance, given the restrictions and the complete attitude about religious instruction in Bernstein. In its place were the so-called "building hours," which had to be held in church-like rooms. (10) The Pastoral Care Office also provided the necessary resources for pastoral care in all areas, which were constantly made available to the priests.

No further information on other disabilities of pastoral care and the activities of the Nazi authorities against individual persons will be given. They have already been thoroughly discussed and published. (11)

With the worsening of the military position of the German armies in the East, the front was approaching ever closer, and from the State all forces were mobilized in order to bring about the change. The Burgenland theologians were gradually withdrawn—five of them were killed or missing, six priests were also convicted—one of them died. In order to raise the "balance of the war economy," all spiritual persons—priests and religious people—had to be comprehensively listed. Pilgrimages, candle consumption, paper, and heating material had to be severely restricted for reasons of war.

In 1944, the first bomb damage in the area of the Apostolic Administration was recorded. In spite of all events, the pastoral care continued unbroken. Since the connection with the Office of the Apostolic Administration was becoming more and more difficult by mail, special department powers were given to the Deans. For the year 1944, there were concrete pastoral plans—special emphasis was placed on child, youth and parental counseling—but the planned July pastoral weeks in Sauerbrunn had to be canceled. For the months up to and including September 1944, there were still regular instructions and supplies sent for the pastoral work; from October, all transmissions had to be severely restricted.

In the first months of 1945, more directives were issued for pastoral care and administration, which however increasingly reflected the approach of the front: the first communion, the possibility of completing the Easter service from the Sunday "Septuagesima," the rescue of the matrices [Ed: church books], etc. On 22 March 1945, the last circular of the Apostolic Administrator was given to all parishioners. As a result of the approaching of the front, the Office management had to be stopped. Sauerbrunn was taken by the Red Army on the evening of April 1. In the months of April and May, the Office was suspended, and because of the events of the war, the whole of the postal service was stopped. (12)

With the further advancement of the front, the burdens on the population also grew: the construction of the Reichswehr position, refugee flows, the threat of fighting. In this situation, Cardinal Innitzer expressed the expectation that, even in this difficult time, pastors will not leave their place at the side of their faithful. (13) Together they carried the lot of the war and the immediate post-war period.

1945: Continuity and a New Beginning (14)

On March 29, 1945, it was the Green-Thursday [Ed: Maundy Thursday], the Burgenland became an immediate combat area. (15) The population escaped to the cellars in order to protect themselves, on the one hand, from the effects of the armed forces, on the other hand also from the attacks of Soviet soldiers. Many people, especially children, girls, women and old people, sought shelter in the parsonage because they felt safer there. In Horitschon, pastor Josef Bauer was shot on 31 March 1945 while attempting to protect women who had taken refuge in the rectory. A Redemptorist Father, who was fluent in the Russian language, was able to prevent many riots. (16)

As a result of the heavy fighting, it was no longer possible to celebrate worship in the church on Easter Sunday in many places. In Markt Neuhodis, for example, worship was celebrated in the cellar, and the pastor of this congregation, Johann Schwarz, made his Easter preaching under the theme "All around death and destruction, in our soul but resurrection." (17)

The war not only demanded human life (18), but also brought huge material damage. Three churches—Kittsee, Horitschon and Königsdorf—were completely destroyed and six churches—Heiligenkreuz in Lafnitz, Oggau, Parndorf, Gattendorf, Leiden am See and Eisenberg on the Pinka—were severely damaged. (19) A list of the damage due to the war (20) reveals damage to the buildings and their interiors for 49 churches and 75 other ecclesiastical buildings, looting and burglary for 80 churches and chapels, as well as for 29 other ecclesiastical buildings (parsonages, schools, etc.). The total sum of damages, including personal injury and other damages, was estimated and claimed by the Apostolic Administration at 2,285,700 RM [Reichs Marks].

With the end of the war and the resurrection of Austria, Burgenland was restored as of October 1, 1945; a reconstruction period had also taken place for the Church. At the beginning of June, the Apostolic Administrator in Sauerbrunn joined the Chancellery. Around the turn of the month from June to July 1945, Cardinal Innitzer's first pastoral letter was sent to the priests after the war. He presented the tasks "in the new time." With the words "We have to bring God back to our people," he called on the intensification of pastoral care. In order to be able to employ all the forces for this work, he pointed to the decision of the Austrian bishops to separate politics from the Church, but this should not be a separation between State and Church. Other emphases of this pastoral letter were the teaching of religion, questions of marriage, charity, and priestly and consecrated monks. (21) On 21 September 1945, the Austrian bishops gathered in Salzburg addressed a pastoral word to the Catholics of Austria. (22) Taking a look back at the war, they devoted the second part to the outlook for the future. They called for rebuilding, which could be successful only in freedom of faith and conscience, to participate in religious life and to work in the church, especially in charity. An invitation to return to the church was given to the guests.

For worship and pastoral care, however, it also required the necessary premises, and the restoration work and the planning of new buildings, such as at Horitschon and Kittsee (23), very soon began. In many cases, the services were still to be celebrated in makeshift, adapted rooms, for example, in Horitschon in the kindergarten. Many of the bells seized for war purposes had not been melted and were returned to the owners. For lost bells, new ones were purchased over time.

In many ecclesiastical buildings, Soviet soldiers were quartered, which often hindered pastors in the exercise of their office. Here the Apostolic Administration attempted to remedy the situation by means of interventions. A victim of Soviet soldiers was Father Rupert Sauerzapf from Kleinfrauenhaid, who was shot on October 17, 1945, because he did not comply with the demand to fill a barrel with wine. The soldiers had previously been repeatedly in the parsonage, and had always been well received and entertained. (24)

In October 1945, the Dean's Office was again held to discuss the concerns of pastoral care, charity and the schools. With the school year 1945/46, the religious education was once again the object of the schools. The special powers for the pastors ended 31 October 1945.

Religious life strengthened once more, and the number of church attendants increased again, and many people returned to the church (see Table 2). (25)

Table 2: Exits and Entries, 1945-1950

Year Exits Crossings Resignations
1945 6 20 110
1946 7 37 170
1947 12 35 79
1948 15 61 81
1949 8 50 46
1950 23 44 37

Throughout the country, a thousand pilgrimages took place in 1945, and about 10,000 believers came to Loretto. For the first time in 7 years, the holiday of the patriarch St. Martin, was again celebrated in freedom. (26) The priests, who had had to give up their parishes returned, or returned from concentration camps, imprisonment or war. The spiritual sisters were also able to return to their branches and begin their work.

In the first post-war period there was a great need for food, especially in the working-class communities, and so the Church saw it as its task to provide for the relief of material need. Cardinal Innitzer, in his pastoral letter for the Harvest Thanks Festival in 1945, demanded the faithful to contribute to the alleviation, of the need for donations. (27) These funds were to be distributed in the parish, but the surplus was passed on to emergency areas. The Charity Council of the Apostolic Administration was established as the center for all activities. (28) Charity helpers and nuns were active in the parishes. A detailed report on the charitable activities of 1945 and 1946 (29) provides an overview of the relief activities (see Table 3). The distribution of the donations of the Catholics of North America and the Swiss Charity Association was also carried out through the Charity Office. Already in August 1945, Viennese children could be accommodated in the Burgenland for a few weeks with the help of the Apostolic Administration Burgenland. (30)

Table 3: Charity Activity in 1945 and 1946, Collection Result 1945

  Total Parish Charity Charity Office
Potato 86,664 kg 41,259 kg 45,405 kg
Flour 13.729 kg 8.043 kg 5.686 kg
Beans 12.906 kg 5.457 kg 7.449 kg
Cereals 8.012 kg 5.860 kg 2.152 kg
Fat 329 kg 198 kg 131 kg
Eggs 2,155 pcs 1,582 pcs 563 pcs
Wood 81 m3 50 m3 31 m3

The distribution was carried out through the Charity Office to the following parishes, Neufeld a. D. L., Neudörfl a. D. L., Sauerbrunn, Eisenstadt-St. Martin, Eisenstadt-Oberberg, Kittsee, Oberpullendorf, Stoob, Rattersdorf, Markt Neuhodis, Charity work of the Apostolic Administration, priestly seminar; Charity Vienna, Cathedral Building St. Stephan, St. Gabriel; Wiener Neustadt, Leobersdorf, and Ternitz.

Money Collection in 1945 and 1946

  Total Parish Distribution To Charity Office
1945 204,427 RM 124,186 RM 80,241 RM
(Elisabeth Sunday) 1946 63,123 S   63,123 S

Donation of the Catholics of North America

Canned Vegetables 1,143 crates
Canned Soup 198 crates
Baby food 330 cartons
Meat crates 32 crates
Canned Fish 10 crates
Canned Dairy 519 cartons
Flour 127 bags
Miscellaneous 48 boxes
Clothes 10 bales
Shoes 2 boxes
Total 60 tons

The distribution was made via the Charity Office to the following parishes: Neufeld a. D. L., Neudörfl a. D. L., Sauerbrunn, Eisenstadt-St. Martin, Eisenstadt-Oberberg, Eisenstadt-Spital, Bad Tatzmannsdorf, Hirm, Siegendorf, Neusiedl a. See, Kittsee, Mattersburg, Draßburg, Wimpassing ad L., Hornstein, Pinkafeld, Stadtschlaining, Rechnitz, Großpetersdorf, Oberwart, Markt St. Martin, Stoob, Lackenbach, Neutal, Oberpullendorf, Zillingtal, Steinbrunn, Stegersbach, Güssing; Priestly seminar, children's seminar, monasteries in Eisenstadt, Oberpullendorf and Rechnitz; Spiritual retirees.

Donation of the Swiss Charity Association

Dishes 16 boxes
Dresses 13 cases
Shoes 10 boxes
Books 30 boxes
Total weight 1.1733 kg

The distribution was carried out through the Charity Office to the following parishes: Mattersburg, Hirm, Siegendorf, Eisenstadt-St. Martin, Eisenstadt-Oberberg, Hornstein, Neufeld ad L., Neudörfl ad L., Sauerbrunn; Boy's Seminar

The reshaping of the Church's life after the war allowed some institutional revival: boys seminar (1946), teachers and teachers seminar, religious instruction. Others were newly built: student home Mattersburg (1947), high school home in Vienna, educational home Potzneusiedl (1947). (31)

The efforts to restore the confessional (Catholic) school system (32), ecclesiastical and extra-church circles, were unsuccessful. A parent survey conducted in 1950 revealed a majority of 83.3 percent for the Catholic schools that existed before 1938. The Church took account of the changed circumstances and supported the reopening and implementation of Catholic private schools in order to be present in the school and pedagogical field.

The work of Catholic Action (33) was placed on new foundations, the roots of which were in the period from 1938 to 1945, when the life of the community was broken, the houses were confiscated, and the activity was confined to the church space—the church or sacristy. It soon became clear that the new Catholic Action should no longer return to the form of a giant society, but that the parish, the Dean's Office, and the Diocese should form the basis. The Central Apostolate, under the direction of the bishops, was an obligation for them. On October 2, 1946, the Austrian bishops issued a pastoral word on the "unified organization of ecclesial youth work": in the future there should be only one youth organization for the young parishioners. On August 25, 1948, Cardinal Innitzer issued a decree on the "Reorganization of Catholic Action in the Apostolic Administration Burgenland."

There were also a number of initiatives in the field of education. (34) As early as March 10, 1946, the "Burgenland Branch of the Catholic Academy" was founded. Its religious and philosophical adult education was primarily for the circle of intellectuals. In 1952, the Catholic Educational Society was established, which was to carry out comprehensive educational tasks, that is, adult education in a Christian way without any thematic restriction.

There was a new beginning in the field of Catholic literature. (35) In December 1945, the first edition of the "St. Martin's Messenger" appeared as an addition to the Viennese Church Scroll, from September 1947 onwards and at Easter 1946 the "Glasnik" for the Croatian faithful. For the area of the Apostolic Administration Burgenland, there were official prayer and hymn books for the German-speaking and Croatian-speaking faithful, "Lob-singing" and "Kruh nebeski" from 8 September 1948 onwards.

The fruitful development of the years after 1945 led to a growing demand for the elevation of the Apostolic Administration Burgenland to a Diocese. A wish which was fulfilled in 1960, 25 years ago.


1) Hans Peter Zelfel, Where Burgenland remained Burgenland. On the history of the Catholic Church. In: Stefan Karner (eds.), The Burgenland in 1945. Contributions to the State Special Exhibition 1985, Eisenstadt 1986, pp. 255-268.

2) On the history of the following years, see Stefan Läszlo, The development and growth of the Apostolic Administration of Burgenland. In: Austrian Archives of Church Law 1 (1950), pp. 195-206; Josef Rittsteuer, Church in the Border Area, Eisenstadt 1968, pp. 335-357; Josef Rittsteuer, The Church Development of the Burgenland. In: Burgenland Research, Sdh. III, Eisenstadt, 1971, pp. 160-168.

3) See for this, Letsz, p. 203ff; Rittance, p. 353ff; Jakob Fried, National Socialism and the Catholic Church in Austria, Vienna 1947, pp. 86 and 102f; Hans Peter Zelfel, The Catholic Church. In: Resistance and Persecution in Burgenland 1934-1945, 2nd edition, Vienna 1983, pp. 108-119 and 119-151. A thorough citation of sources and literature only takes place in important cases. See the publications cited above.

4) Official notice of the Apostolic Administration Burgenland no. 265/1 v. 26.10.1939.

5) Order Form for the Office Area of the Burgenland Regional Leader, 1938, 2nd piece, 12.9.1938; Fried p. 47.

6) Fried, p. 187.

7) Church records of the Apostolic Administration of Burgenland and the Apostolic Administration Burgenland, edition VII (1936), p. 211; Ed. VIII (1940), p. 143; Diocesan Archives Eisenstadt (= DAE), statistics, Diocesan Archives Wien (= DAW), pastoral office, statistics. The entrants are broken down after passing (from another denomination) and resignation (exiled Catholics).

8) See generally Karl Rudolf, Construction in Resistance. A Pastoral Report from Austria 1938-1945, Salzburg 1947.

9) DAE, chronicle of the parish of Bernstein, pp. 10-11.

10) DAE, chronicle of the parish of Bernstein, p. 10, on the visit of the building hours "initially few, then more and more children."

11) Zelfel, Church, pp. 115-119 and 129-151 (documents); Zelfel, Burgenland, pp. 260-262.

12) DAE, minutes of the Apostolic Administration in 1945, according to Z-1231-45; for 1944/45, see Zelfel, Burgenland, p. 262-264.

13) Läszlo, p. 204.

14) For the depiction of the events of the years 1944 and 1945, the official notices of the Apostolic Administration Burgenland and the circular volumes in the Diocesan Archive Eisenstadt were used. In addition, individual files were also included. Sources were cited only in particularly important cases. An in-depth summary of the events does not exist. For this, see Läszlo, p. 204f; Rittance, p. 354ff; Zelfel, Burgenland, p. 264ff.

15) See Manfried Rauchensteiner, The War in Austria (Writings of the Military History Museum, Vienna 5), 2, eds., Vienna, 1984, pp. 126ff and 241ff.

16) Josef Buchinger, The End of the 1000-year-old Empire. Documentation on the War in the Homeland 1, Vienna 1972, p. 32, 104f. 127f; We introduce: Horitschon. In: Burgenland Year 1984, p. 61; DAE, chronicle of the parish of Bernstein, p. 12. Pastor Josef Weber of Nickelsdorf was shot dead on April 4 by Soviet soldiers.

17) Buchinger, p. 93.

18) Of the priests are still to be mentioned: P. Dagobert Wolferseder OFM, Güssing, fallen 1944; Alois Doelzal, Mariasdorf, 1945 in the last bomb attack on Graz, where he was imprisoned; Robert Drach, Wolfau, 1945 in injuries after grenades in Gaubitsch; P. DDDr. Johannes Capistran Pieller OFM, Eisenstadt, sentenced to death in 1944 for high treason and treason, shot dead in 1945 in Stein.

19) AM No. 313 / VI11, 4 v. 15. 12. 1945. See Fried, p. 135; Horitschon, p. 61; We introduce: Kittsee - Gijeca. In: Burgenland Year 1985, p. 86

20) DAE, Rundschreiben, 1945, pp. 123-139

21) DAE, Rundschreiben 1945, pp. 55f.

22) DAE, Rundschreiben, 1945, pp. 81-96

23) Horitschon, p. 63; Kittsee, p. 86

24) DAE, Z: 2101-45

25) DAE, statistics; DAW, pastoral office, statistics

26) AM No. 313 / VI11, 1 and 2 v. 15. 12. 1945

27) DAE, circular, 1945, p. 99

28) AM No. 313 / VI of 15. 12. 1945

29) DAE, Circular 1947, pp. 23-26

30) Ebd.

31) Diocese of Eisenstadt - Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, Eisenstadt 1976 p. 105f.

32) DAE, Rundschreiben 1945, p. 99; Eisenstadt, p. 47

33) Eisenstadt, pp. 21ff.

34) Eisenstadt, pp. 44f.

35) Eisenstadt, pp. 97f and 105ff.


Over a number of articles in past BB Newsletters, I have written about the European Union "Objective 1 status" funding that has allowed Burgenland to rebuild its economy and improve its employment situation during the time since Austria joined the EU.

Consistent with that improvement, ORF Burgenland News recently ran a year-end article reporting that employment was up again in Burgenland, with a record average of 102,740 workers being employed in 2017. Correspondingly, the number of unemployed (11,506) declined (by 5.7%) and job vacancies increased due to economic growth. They also ran an article reporting that, for the second year in a row, a record number of overnight stays in Burgenland is expected to be set, indicating that tourism remained strong in 2017.

Effectively, these records indicate that the EU funding has proven successful in improving Burgenland's situation... and in relieving the stress it might have placed on much more affluent regions in the EU (by migration of Burgenländers to those regions).

However, the Burgenland funding "story" was not always viewed as quite so successful. Below, I present a short book chapter in which the author, Albrecht Rothacher, who was involved with the EU Commission allocating the funds, uses Burgenland as his prime example of misused EU funding. As part of the chapter, he gives background on Burgenland's situation prior to and in the early days of funding and explains the wider goals of such EU funding. He also explains why he believed that the approach to allocating such funds had to be changed, and he speaks of the new approaches being implemented in the early 2000s that he approved of and that were approaches Burgenland continues to benefit from.

In particular, the current EU program titled "Interreg" (for "Inter-region"), is funding the Burgenland-Hungary road and railroad improvements under construction now that will allow Burgenland products greater access to Hungarian markets and will bring more Hungarian tourists to Burgenland spas and resorts previously financed by "Objective 1 status" monies.

The chapter and book titles are: "Chapter 9: The Beauty of Sustainable Poverty: Europe's Regions and Regional Funding," from book "Uniting Europe: Journey Between Gloom and Glory," by Albrecht Rothacher, Imperial College Press, London, 2005.

Do note that I have bolded the occasional sentence in the chapter text that follows in order to draw your attention to the areas involving Burgenland. Rothacher has a sharp, darkly humorous writing style (even in his chapter title!) but still becomes somewhat heavy when delving in the more technical aspects of EU policies. Nonetheless, I believe his text will give insight into the policies of the EU that have benefited Burgenland but have also put stress on the EU, the Greek situation of the past few years being one of those stressors.

Albrecht Rothacher writes in Chapter 9:

Normally host countries show their best sides and shiniest sites to visiting dignitaries. When Bruce Millan, then the EU Commissioner for Regional Development, visited the East Austrian province of Burgenland back in 1993, he was treated to a rare spectacle. His convoy traveled the bumpiest country road imaginable. He was invited to witness a folk dance performance of the local Croat minority in a creaky old barn. Later rustic lunch was served in a historic farmhouse which also served as a makeshift barracks for young soldiers patrolling Austria's Eastern border. This was followed with a briefing by the regional governor, Karl Stix, a former school teacher who explained to his patiently listening guest, a fellow socialist, the tales of historical woes which had befallen his home state: originally part of German-speaking West Hungary, the Hungarian military had occupied the area's larger towns in 1919 when the borders were to be redrawn. During a plebiscite, this prevented the German cities to vote in favor of accession to Austria, which was joined consequently only by their rural hinterland, renamed Burgenland.

Impoverished and crisis-ridden Austria could do little to help its poor new cousin in the inter-war years. Unemployment and migration—especially to the US—was high. During the last months of the war, Burgenland was conquered and plundered by the Red Army, which stayed until 1955. Then the small state remained cut off in the shadow of the Iron Curtain, which stretched from Slovakia along the Hungarian border down to the Slovene part of Yugoslavia. Now Burgenland faced new low-cost competitors in the liberated East and had to prepare for a borderless future in an enlarged EU.

Bruce Millan was a sober Scottish accountant. As a former occupation officer in South East Austria, he was no doubt familiar with local history and the natives' skills in negotiating drama. Whether the visit, Austria's generous global financial offers during the EU membership talks, or Governor Stix's carefully-engineered poverty status carried the day will never be known. In any event, when Austria joined the EU on January 1, 1995, Burgenland secured the coveted "Objective 1" status, which meant EU funds for development had to be matched by only 25% of regional or national funds. Two years later, Bruce Millan's successor, a German former trade union leader, Monika Wulf-Matthies, was flown into Burgenland as well. She was spared the jeep ride and the Croat barn, but rather flown by military helicopter to a series of cattle pastures where excited local officials unveiled visions of future industrial riches. Wulf-Matthies, in short speeches, replied that these would only materialize if they also built proper waste-water facilities, trained the local women and hired handicapped minority members. The locals inevitably looked slightly baffled as to why these no doubt worthy but rather peripheral factors would be so decisive, but nonetheless dutifully assured the Commissioner that they would do their utmost, while her entourage, including this author, helped themselves to the schnapps (which forms an integral part of Burgenland hospitality).

Burgenland had always been very close to crossing the 75% EU average-income level above which "Objective 1" status was no longer possible. Back in 1995, it expected to be sponsored only for the period ending 2000. However, they managed to spend their EU funds almost exclusively on largely unused industrial parks, subsequently bankrupted the state budget due to co-financing requirements in the process and drove the largest public Burgenland bank into insolvency. Properly-impoverished Burgenland was thus successful in retaining its "Objective l" status even after the "Agenda 2000" pruning exercise was able to earmark a large chunk of previous aid recipients (including such prominent areas like South and East Ireland, Corsica and Greater Lisbon) for the gradual withdrawal from the cozy world of regional funding. The Burgenland story, in a nutshell, hence raises a couple of interesting questions, starting with the role of the regions in an integrated Europe and ending with the sense and nonsense of regional subsidization.

As Europe is not meant to be a melting pot, regional structures and traditions remain strong and alive, economic and cultural globalization notwithstanding. This is not only true in federal EU states like Belgium, Germany and Austria, but also in famously staunch Centrist states like Spain (17 regions with varying degrees of autonomy, including Catalonia, Galicia, the Basque country, the Balearics, etc.), Italy (seven autonomous regions, including South Tyrol-Trient, Fiuli, the Aosta Valley, Sicily, Sardinia, etc.), France (which has set up 22 regions), and even the UK (which has permitted local self-government in London and a Scottish assembly in Edinburgh).

Regions predate the nation state, and strong opponents of the latter among postwar European federalists have even proposed a European federation of the 252 regions which can be identified in the EU 15. Yet the fate of contemporary Africa and a bit of historical research shows that societies organized along tribal lines are not by necessity more peaceful than those with effective nation states, which after all represent a higher level of political and cultural development. While the "Europe of Regions" deserves to remain a pipe dream, there is a fair case to be made for stronger regional competences in the name of subsidiary. As enshrined in Maastricht [which established the EU], this principle implies that, wherever possible and sensible, political decisions should be taken at the level closest to the people concerned, where expertise on local conditions and chances of participatory democracy are highest.

A high degree of self-determination—of taxation and spending decisions—is helpful at the regional level to encourage rational fund use and to prevent the usual "cultures of dependency" in which "foreign" funds are typically wasted: a stronger regional role is also beneficial for the protection of autochthonous minorities, which typically reside in peripheral regions or in formerly disputed border areas. Effective linguistic and cultural rights and political representation, which is usually more relevant at the regional than at the national level, has proven to diffuse potentially disruptive ethnic disputes which have bedeviled the relations of Europe's nation states for so long. This healthy lesson still needs to be learned in some parts of Eastern Europe and perhaps in Greece as well.

It is generally accepted that in the absence of any corrective redistribution, two large central areas would be the main beneficiaries of the EU's huge integrated internal market. Economic geographers have invented these regions. The first is the "trapeze of growth", the prosperous area between London, Paris, Stuttgart, Munich and Copenhagen, on the one hand, and a second even more exotic area termed "Golden Banana", a sort of Alpine sunbelt, stretching from Barcelona via the Cote d'Azur, Lombardy (generously including Switzerland) into Bavaria and Austria. These are the central regions where income and education levels are highest, cultural activities and the quality of life often considered most attractive and where public services and the physical infrastructure are best developed. While labor costs may be higher, costs for transportation and communication are less. In the absence of policy intervention, these privileged regions would attract a strong inflow of investment with concomitant job opportunities and a massive transfer of internal (and external) migrants, thus over-burdening public services, the environment and the infrastructure, leading to social strain, disorganization and housing shortages. Correspondingly, the European periphery, the countryside and certain declining urban areas within the larger growth regions would suffer from depopulation, the out-migration of their best educated, youngest and most dynamic people, witness the unraveling of the economic and social infrastructure and see social alienation and economic stagnation and decline. This disparate regional development hence is undesirable for both sides and sensible instruments of redistributive equity are called for. In a process of trial and error and of political arm twisting, the EU has developed such instruments.

After decades of policy-induced expansions of the support area—in 1999 some 50% of EU territory and population benefited from a warm, thin and ineffectual summer rain of EU regional subsidies—in the end, Monika Wulf-Matthies, the tough trade union lady turned Commissioner, managed to consolidate the unwieldy range of overlapping target areas ("objectives") into three, and cut the messy proliferation of alphabet-soup-type Community initiatives down to four. These reforms were part of the Commission's "Agenda 2000" proposals, which were accepted at the Berlin summit in July 1999.

The previous "Objective 1" remained in prioritizing support for regions which lagged behind in their economic development, as indicated by a GDP per capita of less than 75% of EU average. The importance of the reform was the recognition of the perceptible improvement of the incomes of formerly deprived regions. Large chunks of Ireland—the East, the North, the South—whose income after two decades of successfully catching up had reached 90% of the EU average in 1995 (1983: 64%), were finally allowed to "graduate", and so was the greater Lisbon area, Hainaut in Belgium, Flevoland in the Netherlands, Corsica, the Highlands and Isles, Asturias in Spain and the Abbruzi in Italy. Their departure from intensive subsidization was to be sweetened with a gradual "phasing out" support as a withdrawal programme to quit the regional subsidy addiction. Those who managed to continually mismanage their regional economy, like most parts of Spain, the remainder of Portugal, Southern Italy, Greece, East Germany, the Burgenland, and chunks of Wales and Cornwall remained, as did France's very European overseas territories of Guyana, Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion (for whatever sense it may make that these relaxed colonial leftovers reach any EU average). For good measure the "arctic lands" of Northern Sweden and Finland (formerly "Objective 6") were added, not because they are poor, but to compensate them for long distances and cold dark winters.

For the period 2000-2006, 136 billion Euros are earmarked for "Objective 1" territories, home to 22% of the EU's population. They represent 68% of all EU regional funds. If well managed, these funds, aimed foremost at infrastructure modernization, are bound to make a difference. National and regional co-funding requirements remain at 25% only.

The new "Objective 2" covers smaller regions, industrial areas in decline and pockets of rural and coastal stagnation. These are parts of North England, of the Midlands, Wales, of Brittany, Normandy, the Ardennes, Lorraine, the Massif Central, large parts of Southern France and North East Spain, Central Italy, of the Alps, the German and Austrian border areas to the Czech Republic, Friesland, Schleswig, some Danish islands, Gotland, parts of Central Sweden and Finland, and Western Karelia. Again the main achievement of the reform was re-focusing. Previously depressed urban and rural areas, which managed their transition successfully—like the East of Scotland, Northern Jutland, the Ruhr area, most parts of Bavaria, the Palatinate, Central Austria and Tuscany—were made to "graduate", once again benefiting from transitional aids to wean them off the subsidy habit. The remaining "Objective 2" regions in crisis are inhabited by 15% of the EU's population. They receive 22.5 billion Euros (or 11.5%) of total EU regional funding. For them the co-financing requirement stands at 50%, which should encourage more sensible projects.

Finally there is, as a horizontal theme, "Objective 3", covering all of the EU except for "Objective 1" regions: these are European Social Fund monies for education, training and employment promotion. With 24 billion Euros, "Objective 3" is funded with 12% of all structural funds available during 2000-2006.

Still there are the Community initiatives: there used to be a proliferation of a mouth-watering alphabet soup of up to 11 special-interest support schemes (each self-respecting Commission regional officer seemed to have designed his own pet scheme). They were called Konver (transforming armament and garrison towns), Retex (transforming textile towns), Resider (transforming steel towns). Recite (promoting inter-local cooperation). Regis (promoting socio-economic integration), Regen (creating diversified regional energy networks and sources), etc. These worthy, if somewhat confusingly administered and ultimately under-funded causes, were consolidated in four new Community initiatives.

The four surviving Community initiatives are: "Leader" for rural areas, "Urban" for run-down metropolitan areas, "Interreg" for regional cross-border cooperation, probably the Union's most effective and best run programme ever, and "Equal", which is to sponsor political and gender correctness wherever for whatever it is worth.

The programming and approval procedures are, in principle, relatively straightforward. Regions work out development schemes. These wish lists to Santa Claus are then pruned out by the national government, and coordinated multi-annual development plans with regional and national priorities are submitted to the European Commission. This procedure makes sense: let regional and national authorities weed out fashionable duplication and predictable failures. When I was Head of the Commission's Office in Vienna, there was a relentless stream of well-intentioned visitors who wished their ancestral castles, abandoned after they were looted and burned by the Red Army back in 1945/1946, could be turned into European convention centers once they were restored with the kind help of EU funds. If a village in the Waldviertel dreamt up a golf course as the key for its future development, within a fortnight all of its neighbors came up with the same idea. The same happened with thermal spas in Upper Styria or ski lifts in Tyrol. Early weeding out helps to reduce future inevitable frustration, be it the rejection by the Brussels Eurocrats, or worse, eventual business failure once the funds have been misspent.

In the second stage, Community funds are negotiated and agreed between the member state and the Commission in a framework agreement. In the third stage the multi-annual operative programmes are consecutively implemented and jointly funded.

As a simplification, development and financing plans comprising own funds, EIB credits and EU funds are jointly elaborated and submitted.

The prima facie evidence of regional schemes is not negative. Traveling across Europe you find EU-funded motorways on the arid Canary Islands and Andalusia where they could not have created much environmental damage except for flattening a few scorpions. In Germany and Austria, you witness plenty of possibly redundant niceties: like bicycle ferries across Friesian channels, educational trails in Thyringian mountain swamps. Nothing wrong with them, but should Germany need to pay 2 Euros into the EU budget to get 1 Euro back after a lot of paperwork for swamp hiking trails?

Unlikely though this seems, the EU regional development programmes with their requirement of sophisticated planning and cost/benefit assessments have led to a new professionalism in the field, in vivid contrast to old-style political lobbyism—a regional chieftain pushing his more or less unsound pet projects at the national level. When they have reached and survived the European level most, but surely not all, evident insanity will be weeded out (mostly by prescreening procedures).

The political importance of regional development is getting more pronounced, notably in the rural field as the CAP's classical product price-support schemes appear as increasingly more failed. The main purpose of rural development is to encourage non-agricultural employment in the countryside and to diversity the rural economy. It could well include thermal spas, golf courses and castle restorations, if they made sense in an integrated rural planning document (and hopefully in reality).

The following are favorites for rural development support. Thematic product marketing for regional wines, spirits, beer, cheese, meat, herbs, spices and bio-products. For urban renewal, village restoration, the renovation of local castles, churches, monasteries and other historical landmarks. In the context of soft tourism, the designation of national parks, vacations on farms, water sports, heritage trails, paths for bicycles and horse riding, long-distance skiing, walking and hiking are promoted. For investments in industry and services, high-tech parks with full infrastructural access and the set-up of new businesses is supported. In the rural economy, the processing of food, wood and fibers, rural tourism, electronics and environmental technologies are evergreens in EU promotional schemes, as are waste disposal and waste-water treatment as well as the old classics of irrigation and soil melioration (while paying other land to be put out of production), reforestation and rural roads.

In the EU's mountain areas such as the Alps, the Pyrenees, the Massif Central, the Apenines, the Sierra Nevada, the Highlands, etc., some 30 million people face often fairly isolating and tough climatic conditions. EU involvement is called for since most mountain areas are typically underdeveloped ("Objective 1"), otherwise stagnating ("Objective 2"), or disadvantaged ("Leader"). High mountain ranges, like big rivers, have often constituted ethnic and national frontiers in Europe in the past. Economic and infrastructural development then also stopped there.

EU intervention is to overcome these barriers and modernize the local economies (confounded by the natural conservatism of the montagnards). The challenge is hence to square the dilemma to try to preserve traditional lifestyles and the old countryside while attempting to modernize it with public money. In concrete terms this aims to stop the depopulation which threatens to unravel the social fabric, including the abandonment of valleys settled for centuries. But it also needs to take proper care of a fragile Alpine environment which should neither become a museum nor a Disneyland. In the mountains the Commission then supports schemes like lavender farming and marketing in France, hiking trails in the Highlands, drinking water on Madeira, local handicraft centers in Portugal and North Sweden, eco-house constructions in Carinthia, etc.

Ecological subsidies are given to compensate eco-farmers for their income losses. Thus the UK, France, Spain and German states pay premia for extensive grazing, especially in mountain areas, to maintain traditional crop rotation, to preserve rare-utility animal races, to keep hedges, waterways, natural habitats and to reduce the input of fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. In large measure these subsidies are reimbursed by EU funds.

The regional support story is similar for islands and remote coastal areas. They strongly depend on agriculture and fisheries, which are dead-end for most. The challenge is to develop tourism and shipping where people had not yet had this smart idea. The EU's heart seems to bleed with particular intensity for the French overseas departments (Guadeloupe, Martinique, Guyana, Reunion), which unfortunately forgot to declare independence in time, and now—like the equally-disfavored Canary Islands, Azores and Madeira—suffer from extensive sunshine and long distance from the EU mainland, and from high-cost production in their low-labor-cost Caribbean or Indian Ocean environment. The proud amount of 7 billion Euros has been spent on these territories during the decade 1989-1999 without, of course, being able to make much of a difference to their "natural" handicap.

For the European island and coastal economies, most of which enjoy either "Objective 1" or "Objective 2" status, EU support means to support port economies—the classical tasks of stevedoring, transport, distribution, storage and processing—, to promote seaside tourism, not only on the shores of the Mediterranean; and to preserve the fragile coastal ecosystems, which as vital links between land and sea are essential for bio-diversity.

In consequence, the EU-funded fishing and shipping museums in Bremerhafen, Urk (Netherlands), and St Nazaire, fleet and port modernization in Peniche (Portugal), riverside development in Belfast, aquaculture in Greece, a second road bridge between the two main islands of Guadeloupe, modernized ports in Italy, Portugal, Ireland and on Martinique, extended airports in Ajaccio (Corsica) and Lanzarote (Azores), a local train on Ruegen, a Russian transit-cargo port in Kokkola (Finland), etc.

Europe's civilization is inseparably connected with her urban culture, the freedom of the cities and their hard-fought self-governing rights. Well explained by Max Weber, this distinguishes European urban development from the Asian pattern, let alone from American or African agglomerations. Yet with poorly controlled immigration of low-skilled masses of people from non-European cultures, many of which are either unable or unwilling to integrate, depending on the state of town planning either parts of inner cities (in Brussels, Marseilles, Liverpool, Berlin) or entire previously working-class suburbs (London, Paris, Lyon, Hamburg) risk turning into lawless slums.

The EU's urban programme is poorly placed to combat the root causes of urban degradation, which lie in uncontrolled immigration lacking repatriation, poor urban education and industrial decline, but like in similarly-affected US cities it attempts to fight urban blight, stem the flight of the middle classes, the concomitant decline in the tax base and in public services with the usual well-intentioned and equally-ineffectual revitalization programmes.

The EU's probably most successful Community initiatives are the successive Interreg programmes. They benefit border regions which, in the past, suffered from truncated infrastructure and economic development that ended at national borders (some member states purposefully had discriminated against these foreign-influenced regions in their national development). Typically-affected border regions have set up spontaneous "Euro-regions" to overcome these externally-imposed barriers to development. Examples of such Euro-regions are the Maas/Lower Rhine between Maastricht, Aachen, Limburg and Liege, the Upper Rhine with Bale, Mulhouse and Freiburg, which even set up a joint airport, the reunited Tyrol area, other adjacent areas of the Alps and the Pyrenees. Along the Isonzo, where Austria and Italy fought 14 bloody battles during WW-I (which inspired a seriously-wounded Ernest Hemingway to write his Farewell to Arms there), a Euro-region now inspires neighboring Italy and Slovenia to a less-poetic joint river clear up scheme. Typical Euro-region activities are regional tourism promotion, cross-border public transport, environmental protection, energy supply and waste-water treatment (which in the past was usually sent downstream across the border untreated).

The EU's regional support programmes have grown from 60 billion Euros (1989/1993) to 140 billion Euros (1994/1999) and to 275 billion Euros (2000/2006), including 21 billion Euros of infrastructure bound cohesion funds, and 47 billion Euros of aid for the Eastern accession countries.

Quite naturally the beneficiaries have remained silent while critics were vocal. It is in particular German policy-research institutes which claimed the following regarding EU regional funds:

• they created cultures of dependency and destroyed incentives for self-help;
• for "Objective 1"  projects, EU contributions at 75% of costs were too high to optimize project selection;
• areas of EU regional support were too large (since 2000, reduced from 50% of the EU's population to 40%);
• support allocations were intransparent and inconsistent;
• administrative efforts with three levels of administration (regional, national, European) were too cumbersome;
• with the economic crisis and budgetary cut backs in the North, cofinancing requirement in the "rich" areas were too high;
• the EU's pilot and networking projects served mainly to exchange frustrations at Community procedures and about the Commission's administration.

Some of the criticism has been taken into account in the EU's "Agenda 2000" (i.e., by cutting down the irritatingly wild undergrowth of "Community initiatives").

An alternative idea is to distribute EU funds according to a preagreed key of regional solidarity, and to leave regions to use the funds allocated to them freely according to their own best knowledge and responsibility. This worked wonderfully (more or less) in the German West. It patently did not work in East Germany. It would have worked in Ireland, which since the 1970s seriously pursued consistently solid macro-economic policies and over decades pushed human resource development. It would have also worked wonders in Wales, Scotland and the Merseyside where the Regional Development Boards are exceptionally competent. In Greece, however, where on a per capita basis most EU aid is spent, the decade-long PASOK government of left-populist Premier Andreas Papandreou managed to expand the public service massively with his political retainers and left the financing of public infrastructure to the unloved EU. The only major constraint on fund disbursement in Greece was the incompetence of her administration to draft proper development plans and to fill out the proper claims form in time. With the advent of Costas Simitis as the Greek Prime Minister (1996-2004), administrative professionalism, macro-economic solidity and the effectiveness of regional aid have increased considerably.

The experience of EU pre-accession funds in Eastern European accession countries has shown that many of them appear all too similar to Papandreou-era managers, eager to "absorb" EU funds as quickly and maximally as possible, with everything else, including the rationale of development, treated as merely annoying formalities. It may well be that without proper macro-economic policies and professional administrative structures, structural funds won't work, but we will see more of them in the new member states regardless. It will remain important to resist politically-favored white elephants and the expansion of unproductive armies of civil servants.

Yet, in spite of all odds, the EU undeniably has its fair share of regional success stories—from Southern Ireland to Eastern Finland—which the new Eastern European members should follow in their own interest. As a temporary support for self-help, EU regional support has its legitimate place. As a permanent cash cow for Spanish, East German and Polish politicians, it will be doomed.


Editor: This is part of our series designed to recycle interesting articles from the BB Newsletters of 10 years ago. Below are two articles from 10 years ago, the first reporting that the EU borders were expanded then, thus 'moving' Burgenland into a more central location within the EU and restoring the historical business and social traffic between Burgenland and West Hungary. The second article harks back further and reports on a 1929 proposal to give farming land to the smallholder peasants of Burgenland at the expense of the large landholders, many of whom were Hungarian magnates, a proposal not well-received by Hungary.

January 31, 2008


Membership Editor Hannes Graf writes: From today (December 21), Europe (the European Union) has new borders. The so called Schengen-area gets new borders and all borders are falling at Burgenland. That means the checkpoints are taken off and everybody can cross the invisible border without stopping. Also some small and formerly closed roads, for instance between Bildein and Pornóapáti or Andau to St. Johann, are now open for traffic.

New open borders:
Chechia - Lower Austria, Upper Austria
Slovakia - Lower Austria, Burgenland
Hungary - Burgenland
Slovenia - Carinthia, Styria, Burgenland

All others were opened some time ago.

For us (BB) it is very important, because, if someone travels to Austria to search cemeteries or church records, with ancestors on both sides of the former borders, it is now much easier to drive there.

(ED Note [Gerry]: These open borders are causing some consternation among local business people. It appears they are concerned about lower prices from either side causing a loss of customers, a personal down side of control relaxation.)

January 31, 2008


Waterloo Evening Courier, Waterloo, Iowa, Monday, July 29, 1929


Vienna, July 29 (AP) - In an effort to make self-supporting some 30,000 poverty-stricken peasant farmers in Burgenland, an Austrian parliamentary committee is considering a scheme to distribute big estates in that border province among the small land holders.

The project is drawing fire in Hungary for, not only are the estates the property of Hungarians, but also Burgenland was assigned to Austria after a plebiscite in 1919 when Hungary unceasingly claimed that the province was wrongfully detached from that kingdom.

Would Redeem with Bonds

It has been suggested that all agricultural lands in excess of 14 acres held by a single owner be confiscated, compensation being based upon the productivity of the acres and made in Austrian government bonds redeemable in 50 years. Small farmers who possess less than 15 acres would be given sufficient of the confiscated land to make them self-supporting. There are 30,000 such peasant owners in the province.

There are 55,000 small owners all told in Burgenland but about 25,000 can get along with what they have. Fully 25 per cent of the land, however, is owned by less than 1,000 Hungarian magnates led by Prince Paul Esterházy, scion of one of the wealthiest Hungarian families. He owns 200,000 acres of the finest land in Burgenland and also practically the whole of the town of Eisenstadt.

Emigration is Excessive

The application of Austrian land laws to the Burgenland is not expected to improve relations between Hungary and Austria. In a province where the economic and cultural development of the ordinary people is so low, it is perhaps not surprising that, with the ownership of the land goes, directly or indirectly, control over the appointment of the clergy, teachers and local administrative officials. For Austria, this is of great significance, seeing that many of the landowners in Burgenland are pro-Magyar, and are thus in a position to impair Austrian influence and prepare the way for return of the province to Hungary.

Poverty-stricken Burgenland is sending her sons to the United States. More than 80 per cent of all Austria's emigrants are said to be drawn from Burgenland. Had it not been for relatives in the United States who sent money to their folks at home, many a peasant family would have experienced starvation.



Saturday, February 10: Lumpenball at the Lancaster Liederkranz. Music by Die Mädeljäger. Info:

Friday, February 16: Fasching at the Evergreen Heimatbund in Fleetwood. Music by the Walt Groller Orchestra. Info:

Saturday, February 24: Fasching at the Reading Liederkranz. Music by Maria & John. Info:

Sunday, February 25: Schneeball at the Lancaster Liederkranz. Music by Maria & John. Info:


Friday, February 2, 7 pm: Heimat Abend. Austrian Donau Club, 545 Arch Street, $3. Music by Frank Billowitz.

Friday, February 16, 7:30 pm: Heurigan Abend. Austrian Donau Club, 545 Arch Street, $3. Music by Schachtelgebirger Musikanten.


Anna Schweihofer (née Prinner)

Anna Rose Schweihofer, age 91, of St. Clair, Michigan, went to be with our Lord, Friday December 29, 2017.

Anna was born February 9, 1926 in Sopronbánfalva (Wandorf), Hungary to the late Matthias and Angela (Mesterhazy) Prinner.

Anna met the love of her life, Pete, in 1945 in Germany. She became an Air Force wife when she married Pete on November 4, 1946. In 1964 Anna bravely traveled alone with her ten children from the U.S. to live with Pete in Italy, while he was serving in the Air Force. They enjoyed 70 years of marriage before his passing on October 12, 2017. Anna was an active member of St. Mary's Catholic Church, St. Clair, where she was a member of the D of I, Rosary Alter Society and participated in many other ministries of the church. Anna was a devoted catholic, raising her ten children within the church. She was a very caring mother, grandmother, great grandmother and great-great grandmother.

She is survived by her children, Dorothy (Stephen) Gilliland, Angela (Mike) Young, Monica Myers, Roseanna (Ron) Roberts, Cindy (Gerry) Corbat, Tim (Alice) Schweihofer, Mary Boese, Theresa (Mark) Ranshaw, Pete (Cathy) Schweihofer and Paula (Bill) Mazzola; 39 grandchildren, 30 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren; brothers, John and Frank Prinner. She was predeceased by sisters Frida Koch and Katharina "Ida" Koch and her grandson.

A Funeral Mass will be Saturday January 6th at 11:00 a.m. at St. Mary's Catholic Church, St. Clair. Interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery. Visiting hours are Thursday 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. and Friday 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Young Funeral Home, China Twp. and Saturday 10 to 11 a.m. at church prior to mass. A rosary will be prayed Friday evening. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network) or the charity of the donor's choice. To leave a message of comfort visit

Published in The Times Herald from Jan. 1 to Jan. 2, 2018

Maria Huber (née Taker)

Maria "Mitzi" Huber, 82 years, of Coplay, passed away on Monday, January 1, 2018 at Lehigh Valley Hospital Muhlenberg.

She was the wife of Stefan Huber and they celebrated 61 years of marriage on April 11, 2017.

Born in Reinersdorf, Austria she was the daughter of the late Franz and Maria Taker.

Maria was a member of St. Peter's Catholic Church, Coplay. She worked for the former Cross-Country Clothes as an inspector for many years before retiring. She loved her family very passionately and enjoyed cooking and baking.

Survivors: Husband, Stefan; sons Steven and his wife Deb of Schnecksville and Anton and his wife Diane of Northampton, 10 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. She was predeceased by a son Gerhard and a brother Franz.

Services: A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 10:30am on Friday January 5, 2018 at St. Peter's Church 4 S. 5th St. Coplay, PA 18037. Her viewing will be private. Brubaker Funeral Home Inc. 327 Chestnut St. Coplay, PA 18037, formerly Robert A. Hauke Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Contributions: In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to St. Peter's Catholic Church, c/o the funeral home. Online condolences can be made to the family at

Published in Morning Call on Jan. 3, 2018

Robert S. Creamer

Robert S. "Bobby" Creamer, 91, formerly of Nazareth and Cherry Hill, passed away peacefully on Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017, at Gracedale.

Born in Gamischdorf, Austria on March 27, 1926, he was the son of the late Floyd and Marie (Fabsits) Creamer.

He was a graduate of Nazareth High School, Class of 1944. Bobby was a self-employed painter. A charter member of Grassy Island Creek Rod & Gun Club of Greeley, Pike County, Bobby enjoyed hunting and shared many fond memories of his stays at the hunting camp. All who had the pleasure of knowing him will miss his infectious laugh and inviting personality.

Bobby is survived by two sisters, Annetta Fehnel of Wind Gap, and Maggie Ramage and her husband, Robert, of Maryland, as well as nieces and nephews. Bobby was predeceased by a sister, Irene Stoudt.

Services will be private, at the convenience of the family. There will be no calling hours. Arrangements have been entrusted to the George G. Bensing Funeral Home, Inc., Village of Moorestown, Bath. George Bensing Funeral Home 2165 Community Drive Bath, PA 18014 (610) 759-3901

Published in The Express Times from Jan. 3 to Jan. 4, 2018

Margit Ertl (née Domyan)

Margit Ertl, 83, of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, died on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 at Easton Hospital.

She was the wife of the late John P. Ertl for 52 years.

Born in Rábatótfalu (Slovenska ves/Windischdorf), Hungary to the late Karoly and Ilona (Simenek) Domyan, Margit immigrated to the United States in 1958.

She worked in the garment industry as a presser for 37 years in many Lehigh Valley area factories, retiring in 1996. She was also a member of the I.L.G.W.U. Margit was previously a parishioner of St. John Capistrano Catholic Church and more recently of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church.

Survivors: Margit is survived by her sisters, Helen Pinter and Anna Kozo both of Bethlehem, Ibolya Domyan, Theresa Szakaly and her brother, Karl Domyan all of Austria, as well as her nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her brother Joseph Domyan.

Services: Arrangements have been entrusted to Connell Funeral Home. A visitation will be held at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, 3219 Santee Rd. Bethlehem, PA 18020 on Wednesday, January 10, 2018 from 9:00-9:45 a.m. with Mass of Christian Burial to follow at 10:00 a.m. Burial will be held at Holy Saviour Cemetery. Contributions: In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the church and/or American Heart Association, 968 Postal Rd #110, Allentown, PA 18109. Condolences may be offered at

Published in Morning Call on Jan. 7, 2018

Agnes A. Elli

The final entry in her journal has been written. Agnes A. Elli, 100, passed away on Tuesday, January 9, 2018 in Memorial Hospital.

Agnes was born on April 4, 1917 in Nikitsch Burgenland, Austria to Paul and Martha (Lakovits) Perneker. She was a member of St. Matthew Cathedral, its Altar & Rosary Society and the former St. Anthony Society Ladies Auxiliary. On June 28, 1941 she married John J. Elli. He died on June 26, 1993. Agnes was also preceded in death by a daughter Judy Chrapliwy, four sisters Mary Perneker, Anna Perneker, Kristina Kovall and Frances Hinkle and two brothers Frank Perneker and Victor Perneker.

Surviving are two sons Robert (Kathy) Elli of Mishawaka and John (Leora) Elli of Germantown, TN, 13 grandchildren Kerry (Jen) Chrapliwy, Keith (Megan) Chrapliwy, Allison (Justin) Russell, Andrea Chrapliwy, Erika Chrapliwy, Martha (Bill) Dorsch, Sarah Elli, Ted (Janis) Elli, Sam (Kim) Elli, Sean (Jane) Elli, Darci (Scott) Hook, Miriam (Wes) Clark, Aaron (Theresa) Prather, 23 great-grandchildren Ben, Julia, Olivia, Kate, Mason, Gabriel, Jackson, William, Gracen, Graham, Emily, Lauren, Braxton, Alicen, Cash, Alyssa, Aiden, Avery, Henry, Lillian, Sophia, Sydney, and Will and numerous nieces and nephews.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00am Monday, January 15, 2018 in St. Matthew Cathedral. Burial will follow in Cedar Grove Cemetery. Family and friends may call from 2-8 Sunday in the Zahoran Funeral Home, 1826 Kemble Avenue where a rosary will be recited at 3:00pm. Memorial contributions may be made to the Bishop Crowley Education Fund. To leave an online condolence, please visit

Published in South Bend Tribune on Jan. 11, 2018

Theresia Merkli (née Schmidt)

Theresia Merkli, 94, of Mansfield, Ohio, passed away January 19, 2018 at Winchester Terrace.

She was the wife of the late Gustav Merkli.

Theresia was born April 21, 1923 in Rábafüzes (Raabfidisch) Hungary to Johann and Anna (Heber) Schmidt.

She came to Mansfield in 1956 and worked for the North American Knitting Mill.

Survivors include her son Erwin (Mathilde) Merkli of Mansfield, daughter Gertrude (Robert) Brkich of California; four grandchildren; eight great-grandchildren.

In addition to her parents she was preceded in death by her husband, Gustav; a brother; and two sisters.

Friends may call at St. Peter's Catholic Church, 54 N. Mulberry Street on Friday from 12-1pm. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow at 1pm with Rev. Gregory Hite officiating. Burial will follow at Mansfield Catholic Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society. Herlihy-Chambers Funeral Home is assisting the family with arrangements (

Published in the News Journal on Jan. 24, 2018

END OF NEWSLETTER (Even good things must end!)

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: The Burgenland Bunch (BB) was formed and exists to assist Burgenland descendants in their research into their heritage and, toward that end, reserves the right to use any communication you have with us (email, letter, phone conversation, data upload, etc.) as part of our information exchange and educational research efforts.
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