Dedicated to Austrian-Hungarian Burgenland Family History

(Our 11th Year - Issued monthly as email by G. J. Berghold
November 30, 2006
(c) 2006 G. J. Berghold - all rights reserved




Current Status Of The BB:
Members: 1355; Surname Entries: 4806; Query Board Entries: 3630; Newsletter Subscribers: 999; Newsletters Archived: 157; Staff Members: 12

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  - by Frank Paukovits

In September I took a trip to Europe with my wife. The itinerary included three days in Vienna, six days in Burgenland, and another week and a half traveling through Croatia and Slovenia. We had fantastic weather. We used Austrian Airlines, which provides direct service from NYC to Vienna. Vienna is a beautiful city, and I strongly recommend stopping there if you travel to Burgenland. It is a very clean city and the architecture is beautiful. They have an underground system called the "U-Bahn" which is very handy and safe to use. Kartnerstrasse is one of the main streets in the City, with many outdoor cafes and eateries. Two churches that are a must to see are Karlskirche and St. Stefanskirche.

We stayed at a hotel (Prinz Eugen) conveniently located next to the Sudbahnhof, as we planned to travel by train to Maribor in Slovenia. The rates at the Prinz Eugen are relatively inexpensive for Vienna. I made reservations two months before the trip and paid 90 Euros a night, not bad for a 4 Star hotel in Vienna, a high-priced city.

I have an aunt in Vienna and visited with her and my cousin. We later went to Melk, where there is a beautiful abbey that dates back to the Middle Ages. We had purchased a Eurail Pass for Austria, Croatia and Slovenia ($200 per person) that entitled us to four days of travel. We used the Pass round trip Melk to Vienna. If you have never traveled by rail in Europe, it is quite an experience.

From Vienna we went by train to Maribor, where I had reserved a rental car. I rented a car in Maribor because it is only an hour and a half by car to the Güssing area. We stayed in Burgenland for six nights at the Gasthof Kedl in Urbersdorf. It's a nice place, conveniently situated close to Güssing and reasonably priced at 48 Euros a night for two (breakfast included).

I wanted to visit houses that were the homes of my ancestors. What I found particularly helpful was the BB site that lists the house numbers of the heads of household as of 1857. First stop was Tobaj. My g-grandmother (Maria Ernst) had married from house # 144 in 1844. She was raised by her Uncle Pal who came from Gerersdorf and had married an Eva Eberhardt, who lived in that house. It is still occupied by Eberhardt's today.

The family was particularly interested in our connections. While the house is old, it isn't the house from which my g-grandmother was married. That house had been torn down around 1900. We took a number of pictures, and I think I have developed a new friendship based upon the common link that binds our families together.

A second house I visited was in Kulm (# 22). My g-grandfather had lived there with his family before leaving for Glasing. In this case, the name had disappeared from the house. The 93 year old woman who lives there now said her grandmother was a Paukovits who had lived in the house and had married a Kroboth from Gerersdorf.

I was so amazed at how open and friendly the people were. While I was asking questions in "broken German" about things that happened more than 100 years ago, everyone was eager to help and genuinely interested.

One of my planned stops was Punitz where my mother (Theresa Magdits Paukowits) was born. Bob Strauch (BB Lehigh Valley Editor) had asked that if I would stop in to say "hello" to his Uncle Rudy Muller. I said I would, but I had problems finding the house. I then approached a man near his home, hoping that he could direct me. I chatted with him and told him that my mother had been born there and mentioned her name. He said his name was Magdits too, a common name in that town. The house name was Schume, and when I told him that, he said his grandfather came from that house. As it turned out, his grandfather and mine were brothers, making us second cousins. Here was a relative I never knew existed. Moreover, the fact that I had come upon him randomly made the situation all the more bizarre. When he found out who I was, we were invited into the house and he shared stories about my grandfather that I had never heard. We took lots of pictures and I said I would keep in touch. What an experience!

We visited the church in St. Nicholas, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary next year. Erwin Potzmann, the head of the committee overseeing the anniversary program, let us in to see the interior. The original church was located where the cemetery is now. It was used by the Croatians in the Güssing area in the old days and dates back to the 1600's. The original church matrikals, predating what has been microfilmed by the LDS, are available at the monastery in Güssing.

We went to Gerersdorf to the Buschenschank up in the "Bergen" owned by Helmut Issowits. The food is great and Helmut and his wife Marianne are great hosts. The last time I visited Burgenland I went to Magaditch's in Deutsch Ehrensdorf, which I would highly recommend if you're in the Pinkatal area. Any trip to Burgenland should definitely include a visit to a Buschenschank.
The day before we left Burgenland for Croatia, the town of Glasing had a "Kirchtag" to celebrate new stained glass windows that had been installed in the church. The celebration started with Mass, and then came food and drink, followed by music and dancing. All of the people in the town pitched in to make the day a success. The men set up a tent and manned the booths where drinks were sold, and the women baked delicious cakes and cookies that they sold. A great way to end our stay in Burgenland.

The following day we left for the next leg of our trip, for Croatia, specifically the area where our early ancestors had migrated from when they came to Burgenland.

Second Leg Of Trip (Croatia & Slovenia)

We chose to go through Hungary, using the border crossing at Heligenkreuz, giving us the opportunity to see some towns from which many Burgenlaenders had emigrated (Raabfidisch, Radling and Jakobshof). The towns along this stretch of the border have not advanced as quickly as the towns on the Austrian side of the border. The houses are older, and generally more in need of repair.

I had told Margaret Kaiser (BB Editor for this area) that I would try to visit Oberradling, her mother's village and that was our first stop. There is a beautiful church (St. Emmerich) in Oberradling. It has a wonderful setting, in a clearing in the woods outside of the town. It was not open so we couldn't look inside. It has an impressive exterior and is much larger than the churches you routinely see in Burgenland.

After leaving Oberradling we veered south, reaching Varazdin in Croatia. It's a pretty town and we stopped there to eat lunch at a restaurant recommended in one of the travel books (Zlatna Guska). The food was very good and not overly expensive. After lunch we saw the sights and then left for Koprivnica where we planned to spend the night. Rooms are not plentiful in this part of Croatia, so you need to make sure you have a place to sleep as this is not a popular tourist area.

Researchers have found that the area around Koprivnica is one place from which Croats immigrated to Burgenland. Koprivnica, itself, was destroyed by the Turks in the 16th century and slowly rebuilt in the 17th century. We visited the Civic Museum containing historical and cultural information. The curator of the museum was a friendly fellow and gave us a free personal guided tour. He recommended that we go to the town of Hlebine, which is about 20 miles from Koprovinica, and visit the art gallery there. The gallery exclusively displays artwork from what is called the "Hlebine School" of painting.

This form of painting originated in this area and is very beautiful. The paintings are done on glass, and most are of pastoral scenes showing different aspects of family life. They are colorful and uplifting, and especially appealing for their simplicity. A woman at the museum knew a little of the history of Hlebine, and told us that the town had also been burned by the Turks and rebuilt. This area was severely impacted by the Turkish invasions in the 16th century, accounting for the migrations to Burgenland at that time.

This area does not have many tourists and you'll find that you could have some difficulties communicating with people. The older people generally know German, while the younger ones usually know some English, but that's not always the case.

In the small town of Rovisce, another town of emigrating Croats, hand signals and gestures became the way to communicate. It was midday, and we were hungry. We went into a small grocery store to see if I could find something to eat. The proprietor didn't know German or English. I ended up doing a lot of finger-pointing, and actually went behind the counter to cut up the sandwich I had ordered. It's experiences like this that you tend to remember, and what makes travel interesting and exciting.

Kostajnica was a town I was particularly interested in seeing. Almost all the research done on the migration of the Croats to Burgenland cites this place as the likely area from which our ancestors emerged. The town is strategically located on the Una River separating Croatia from Bosnia. In 1577, the Turks pillaged the town and occupied the nearby castle of the noble Zrinski family.

According to the Ortschronik of Kroatisch Ehrensdorf, the Zrinski family had been provided with land in the Pinkatal area of Burgenland, and the origin of the town was traced back to that time period. Peasants aligned with the Zirinski family who lived in the area of Kostajnica relocated to Burgenland at that time fleeing the Turks.

As part of our visit, we visited a fort that was built in the Middle Ages, which protected the town from invaders. We then continued to the border crossing to Bosnia. There's a town right adjacent to the border crossing, and many Croats were there buying things at bargain prices. You could not tell that you were in a different country.

The view to Kostajnica from Bosnia is very nice. The baroque church of St. Anthony of Padua, is right on the other side of the river. The Una River is very wide at this point and the banks rise steeply to provide pretty views from both sides. Kostajnica was affected by the last war, some buildings were damaged and have not been refurbished. The area appears noticeably deprived. The population in recent years has declined and there is very little commercial activity.

My 10-day rental of the car was coming to an end. Since I had rented the car in Slovenia, I had elected to drop it off there. The most convenient place was Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. I am glad that we chose to visit Slovenia. The country is beautiful, and the countryside is dotted with many chalet-type homes that are neatly scattered on rather mountainous terrain. It reminds you of Carinthia and Styria in Austria. Of all of the countries that were established after the breakup of Yugoslavia, Slovenia is the most western-like and the most prosperous.

We spent one enjoyable night in Ljubljana. The Ljubljanica River runs through the center of the city, and there are many restaurants and cafes on each side. The city has a relaxed atmosphere, with a lively young tourist population. We enjoyed watching a folk group outside one of the cafes perform Slovenian dances. While we didn't try the pizza, someone mentioned that it's very good and rivals Italian pizza.

The following day we went to Zagreb by train and stayed for three nights. The layout of Zagreb is modeled after Vienna. The architecture and extensive trolley system are common to both cities. The infrastructure is not in as good condition as Vienna's. The Old Town, which sits up on a hilltop, provides beautiful views, and is most popular with tourists. Some of the landmarks that we visited were St. Stephan's Cathedral, St Mark's Church, the Mirogoj Cemetery, and a number of museums.

We took a bus to get to Mirogoj Cemetery on the outskirts of Zagreb. It has many works of art by Croatian sculptors. The arcade of tombs is especially noteworthy. As we walked through the cemetery, looking at the tombstones, we noticed one for a family named "Gerersdorfer". We wondered whether this family had any connections to the Gerersdorf in Burgenland, one never knows.

From Zagreb we flew to Dubrovnik, our last vacation destination. The flight on Croatian Airlines was cheap, about $110 per person roundtrip. I am so glad we went to Dubrovnik. It is a beautiful city, and fortunately, while there was some damage as a result of the 1990's war, it has been fully restored. It is a walled city by the Adriatic Sea. It has everything... good weather, great seafood and lot's to do. One day I had a sea bass on top of a bed of black couscous that was out of this world. One night we went to a spectacular Mozart Concert at the Rectors Palace. We took a boat trip to Lopud, a small island off the coast of Dubrovnik providing terrific views of the Adriatic. There are many tourists to contend with, but I would highly recommend a visit to this city.

We flew back to Zagreb, and then went to Vienna by train. It's a six-hour trip, and we arrived in Vienna late that night. The following day we saw more of Vienna, and then went to the airport and back to the U.S., a few pounds heavier and a little lighter in the wallet. Indeed, this was an enjoyable trip and had provided us with some wonderful experiences that we will always treasure.

(ED. Note: This trip is the eventual Croatian migration to the new world in reverse - a word picture of the Croatian trek - missing only the journey from Vienna to port of embarkation, now replaced by air flight.)

Newsletter continues as number 157A.

(Our 11th Year - issued monthly as email by G. J. Berghold
November 30, 2006
(c) 2006 G. J. Berghold - all rights reserved



This second section of our 3-section newsletter concerns:

1. Pictures Of Croatian Migration Sites - Dalmatia To Burgenland
2. Report Of August 2006 BB Midwest Picnic
3. Taste Of The Burgenland - Knödl Or Dumplings
4. Croatian Editor Frank Teklits Resigns
5. Szt. Peterfa Church Records Received By LDS
6. Taste of The Burgenland - Some Modern Strudel Variations?


We are very fortunate in knowing the where and when of Croatian migration to the Burgenland during the 16th century. I have always wanted to visit the migration path from the Adriatic (Dalmatian Coast), through the various Croatian, Slovenian sites, through Hungary and into the Burgenland. BB member Frank Paukovits did just that in reverse. His trip report is published in section one, but unfortunately, we can't publish the splendid pictures he took. They are available from the KodakGallery Website. It will be necessary to register your email name and provide a password, but having done that that you can view the pictures and/or order copies if desired. A hotlink to the file is Frank's Picures.

     - from Dean Wagner

(ED. Note: Hap Anderson, charter BB member and long time editor of our Homepage began an annual picnic for midwest BB members some years ago. Various hosts have continued it and long time BB member Dean Wagner hosted this year's August picnic. The BB is worldwide and thus a gathering of our entire group is almost impossible. It is possible, however, for regional groups to gather, as evidenced by this report. If anyone has thoughts of doing something similar, a list of BB members by geographic regions can be found at our Homepage. Click on BB Webpage "Where We Are" State & Country Where BB Members Reside, maintained by Hannes Graf. Notice of the midwest affair can be found by clicking on BB webpage BB Minnesota Area Picnic.)

Midwest Picnic Report

The Annual Burgenland Bunch Picnic was held on Sunday, August 6, 2006 between 10AM and 4PM. The picnic was held at Trapp Farm Park in Eagan, Minnesota again this year. Twenty-eight people interested in Burgenland genealogy showed up and made five-dollar donations towards the cost of renting the pavillion. Many people brought along books, maps, family genealogies and other items of interest. Much food was made available by attendees. There were several ethnic dishes provided and Dale Knebel brought more of his homemade sausage. There were also two bottles of Burgenland wine to sample. Firmus Opitz brought his son along to play some wonderful accordion music for us. All had a good time.

(Note: A picture of the attendees was supplied and I've asked for a list of names, which I'd like to publish.)


Correspondent stbees(at)tconl(dot)com writes: I can't thank you enough for the cabbage strudel recipe. I plan to practice making it, hoping that I'll have it down good enough to bring to our family Christmas Eve gathering. There will be family members who still remember Grandma's wonderful kraut strudel. Now, if I could just find the recipe for Grumpa Knoedl ...Bless you! Rob Scheiblhofer

Reply: Thanks for the kind words. You might try using phyllo leaves from the supermarket for your first attempt. They can be dry if not fresh but brush them with melted butter before filling with the cabbage mixture. That will often give them back their flexibility. Don't be afraid to patch pulled dough holes that may occur in your first attempt - a no-no at the Viennese Hotel Sacher, but OK in American kitchens.

Taste Of The Burgenland - Knödl or Dumplings

A rose by any other name smells just as sweet. A potato by any other name is still a potato and the basis of much good eating. A Grumpa Knoedl (phonetic spelling) or Grumpin Knödl is a Potato Dumpling. The German words for potato are Grumpin (Hianzisch dialect), also Grumbirn, Grumpan, Kartoffel (southern German) and Erdäpfel (Viennese and other low German places.) The Palatinates of Pennsylvania (so-called PA-Dutch) in their dialect use Grundberra, Grumberra (earth berry). A Knoedl (spelled with the "e" replacing the umlaut vowel "ö" in English translation) is a dumpling, of which there are many varieties in Germanic cuisine. Potato dumpling happens to be a favorite of mine. The important thing about dumplings is to make sure they are not tough (too much flour, handling and/or cooking.) They must be firm enough to stay together until cooked but not too floury or undercooked. Size and type of ingredients varies the dough consistency. You must gain the "dumpling dough feel" in your hands. It varies with type of flour, size of eggs and type and size of potato - a dry potato is better than one that is too moist - try baking potatoes or russets. One grandmother said, "a recipe for dumpling dough? The recipe is in my hands not in my head." My grandmother would say, "You start by making a dough!" With that said, let's look at a Viennese recipe.


Boil, peel and rice four large potatoes. When cool add about 1 1/2 cups of flour, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1 large beaten egg. With your hands, work the mixture into a dough, adding more flour if the dough is too moist. Pull it together with your fingers and push it away with your palms. Lean on it and repeat a few times until it all goes together; don't overwork. (Poke the finished dough with your finger; if it springs back slowly, it's about right.) Shape pieces into the size and shape of a golf ball (or a little larger) and drop them into a large pot of boiling salted water, don't crowd. Boil for about 15 minutes or less - when they rise to the top and stay there, they are cooked. Sometimes they won't rise and then you have to be flexible and sample one or two. If in doubt slice one in half and test center. When finished, skim from water and drain well. Place them in a large frying pan in which you've browned about a cup or more of fine breadcrumbs in butter. Cover each dumpling with the browned breadcrumbs and serve warm. They can be cut in half before covering with crumbs and serving but that's a banquet trick for people who feel dumplings are too fattening if left whole! Some add a little nutmeg to the dough. Some recipes add butter, cornstarch or Farina (Cream of Wheat) to the dough but it changes consistency. Cornstarch and Farina will dry potatoes that are too moist without adding a lot of flour, but it also helps hold them together, too much butter and they'll fall apart.

I might mention that once you learn how to makes this dough, you can fill the dumpling with plums (Zwetschten Knödl)), apricots (Aprokosen or Marillin Knödl), cherries (use four seeded) or even cooked prunes or dried apricots (pits removed and replaced with sugar and a little cinnamon). To do this, roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch, cut into four-inch squares, place filled fruit in center and bring edges together making a ball and sealing all seams. Roll between palms, boil as above and then cover with browned breadcrumbs to which some sugar has been added (don't burn the sugar.) Serve as a dessert with a sauce made from same fruit as in the dumpling. Left over dough can be formed into little noodles (about 1 1/4 inches, boiled, drained and thrown into the crumb mixture as well (A child's favorite called wötsels.) See our newsletter archives for more variations of these dessert dumplings.


A tastier and lighter dessert dumpling is made from a dough made from drained cottage cheese, butter, eggs, salt, breadcrumbs, sugar and spice. That one is called Topfenknödl. Then there is Semmelknödl (a bread dumpling), Leber (liver) Dumpling for soup, etc. etc. These are different but the potato dumpling dough is a basic start for many other dumplings or a good basic noodle.

Commercial Alternative

Now having said all of that, there is a commercial dumpling mix. The Panni Division of the Knorr Food company (distributed in food markets by Unilever, Englewood Cliffs, NJ) makes a Bavarian Potato Dumpling Mix using dehydrated potatoes. Not bad and a little gummy, but better than no dumpling at all. If you eat four of these (half the mix) you'll have a belly full of dumpling. I had some for dinner tonight with sauerkraut and pork. Wife didn't feel like getting out the ricer. You can find this mix in supermarkets in their dehydrated potato or ethnic food sections. Knorr makes a good European based product.


The following was recently received from Frank Teklits:

"It's been a pleasure being a charter member of the BB & seeing it grow into an international group while seemingly never having lost the feeling of being an aggressive young organization constantly seeking more knowledge of Burgenland, our ancestral homeland. The growth of the BB, and the synergistic group that it is, will remain as tribute to you, and your leadership ability. As you know, I've been contemplating resigning as a BB Editor for a while and, being a firm believer in change, I strongly believe that a new face with fresh ideas will continue growth. It is my intent to relax a bit, before beginning a leisurely digitization of the church records of Moschendorf which is my mother's birth place." Frank

ED. Note: It seems only yesterday (1996?) that I heard from Frank after an absence of almost forty years. Frank and I were members of the same social group at Lehigh University (class of 1956-57). Like me, Frank had to work his way through college and we didn't have much free time, but we were able to hoist a few together, then drifting apart following graduation. I knew that Frank was part of the Lehigh Valley immigrant descendant scene, since he was from the Northampton area. Of course at that time, I knew very little about the Burgenland and next to nothing about Croatian family history. That all came about much later with my retirement.

During our initial Internet correspondence it soon became obvious to me that Frank had developed a good knowledge of Burgenland Croatian matters. He also was joined by friend John Lavendoski and other Northhampton area friends who were descendants. Together they formed a special ad hoc group of BB members who worked together to uncover much of the Burgenland Croatian story. Moved by the desire to find their own family history records, they began the Szt. Peterfa record story as mentioned in previous BB newsletters. In addition Frank translated a history of the Croatian presence in the Burgenland previously available only in German or Croatian (see our Archives for the ten part series.) When I formed the BB staff, Frank agreed to serve in the capacity of BB Croatian sub-editor and has served in that capacity for ten years. His work was such that the Burgenland parliament was pleased to award him an Ehrenzeichen (civilian gold medal) - this was received when the governor of Burgenland and his entourage visited the Lehigh valley a few years ago. Frank has worked with the LDS to insure that this Croatian research will not be lost. Like many of us, he feels he'd like a rest. We will miss him but like other staff members who have felt the need to step down, I'm sure he will continue to be available for consultation. We wish him well and he has the heartfelt thanks and appreciation of the Burgenland Bunch for a job exceedingly well done. Effective 11/8/06, his new email address will be fteklits(at)verizon(dot)net. Gerry Berghold

    - from Frank Teklits

The effort to integrate all of the Szentpeterfa church records into contiguous data bases allowing searches / sorts on births from 1681 - 1925, deaths from 1682 to 1906, & marriages from 1683 to 1934 has finally been completed & forwarded to the LDS. The Szentpeterfa Church Records data base (SZPCRDB) consists of over 32,000 line items comprised of over 17,000 births, 11,500 deaths, & 3690 marriages, & concludes an effort begun in August 1999. Many thanks are due to the BB contributors of this effort, namely John Lavendoski, who filmed the village church records from 1681 - 1796, & 1895 to 1934, Steve Geosits for his valuable comments on surname spellings, Dr. Albert Schuch for his continuing effort through the years for the many Latin translations, & finally to a good friend Mr. Andy Filipovits for his unwavering support of the effort since its conception. Frank


Member bkeippel(at)hughes(dot)net writes: Read about making Strudel in last issue of "The Bunch" and it being labor intensive. If it's of interest I can send an easy recipe that uses the Pepperidge farm puff pastry sheets. It's a lot simpler than layering phylo dough and tastes just like Dad's. Also uses solo canned poppy seed paste, or fruit of your choosing. Barry

Reply: Thanks Barry, I covered something like this raised strudle in an older newsletter. See 83 (June 30, 2000). I use a bread machine to make the dough but use Solo filling as you do. Recently made one with apricot filling - quite nice. I also have used puff pastry for apple, cherry and cabbage. They too can be found in older issues. Use our archives and search on the word strudel. Still, why not send me an article covering your method? I'm sure members would appreciate it.

Later: Thinking about Barry's suggestion I happened to read an article about "apple twists" in the local newspaper. The recipe uses a can of crescent dinner rolls. Open the can, lay out the dough sections, and cut them in half lengthways. Peel and cut two Granny Smith apples in segments. Put an apple segment in each dough segment. Wrap each segment with the narrow end on top. Place the segments in a greased 8" square baking pan and drizzle with 2 Tblsp melted butter, sprinkle with 1/3 cup sugar or Splenda and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Pour 1/4 cup orange juice or water in pan. Bake until dough is golden brown (325 degree oven for about 30 minutes.) What you'll have is something that looks like "pigs in a blanket" but substituting apples for cocktail sausages. It doesn't look like apple strudel but close you eyes and it smells and tastes like apple strudel. Best of all, you can make it without stretching some dough! I'm going to try this with pitted cherries. I'll also add some raisins to the apples next time. I want to try using Pepperidge Farm puff pastry.

Newsletter continues as number 157B.

(Our 11th Year - issued monthly as email by G. J. Berghold
November 30, 2006
(c) 2006 G. J. Berghold - all rights reserved


This third and final section of our 3-section newsletter concerns:

1. Suggestion For 12 Day Burgenland Itinerary
2. Apetlon History Available
3. Ethnic Dialect Revival
4. What If The Turks Had Taken Vienna In 1683?
5. Recent Burgenland Family Obituaries
6. Hebraic Book Report - "A Wandering Feast"


Charles Stuparits writes: Was surprised that in your 12-day itinerary, you didn't include a visit to Schoenbrun Palace in Wien. I return there every trip I make, and it's still an amazing place.

Reply: Any Vienna tour booked at one of the hotels will stop at Schoenbrun. It's a little difficult to get to if staying near the cathedral. I suggested visitors should book an English language tour from their hotel. You're right however, Schoenbrun is not to be missed.

Charles responds: You're also right (about getting there being difficult) although the Wien subway system is great; I used it to go everywhere and never had a problem. It stops a block from Schoenbrun Palace. In fact I felt like a native, as you're right there traveling with the populace.

(ED Note: I've been remiss in telling BB members about the very good Austrian transportation system. Like most Americans I'm too quick to use an automobile. Vienna has an excellent transportation system and while I used the trolleys some years ago, I have not used the new subway system. I might also mention the great inter-city train connections as well as the bus service. For instance one can use the train for day trip connections to and from Vienna to places like Baden, Wiener Neustadt, etc. with little difficulty. With a little planning and familiarity, one could get around Austria quite well without an auto. It's only the smaller villages that are not on the transportation system that may cause a problem.


Christian Kusen from Cologne, Germany writes: Hallo! (ich bin der Neffe des Apeltoner Bürgermeisters (Bgl/Österreich!). Ich hoffe sie verstehen mich auf Deutsch?! Ich habe Ihre Homepage gefunden. Vielleicht hilft einigen Leuten aus Apetlon folgendes: Es gibt eine Chronik als Buch zu kaufen. Diese erhält man allerdings nur auf dem Gemeinde-Amt in Apetlon. Vielleicht kann man diese Telefonisch dort bestellen?!?! Ich kenne allerdings nicht die offizielle Homepage. Apelton ist über oder leicht zu finden.

Translation: I am the nephew of the mayor of Apetlon. I hope you can understand my German. I found your homepage. Perhaps several of your people might like to know that a History of Apetlon is available for purchase, but only from the Civil Office in Apetlon. Perhaps you reach them by telephone? I do not know the address of their homepage, but you can reach Apetlon via a google search.
(ED: or write: Gemeinde-Amt, Kircheng 1A, 7143 Apetlon, Austria.)


I am always pleased when ethnic interest resurfaces among later generations. The first few generations of southeastern European immigrant descendants try to adapt to their new culture and language to the exclusion of their ethnic origin. They feel somewhat embarrassed that their ancestors came over on a Hamburg-American steamship as opposed to the Mayflower. However, a few generations later, their descendants want to know all about their immigrant ancestors, even to the point of learning their language, dialect or proper.

Bob Strauch sent me an article from the Allentown Morning Call in which a high school senior (among others) says he wants to be able to talk easily in Pennsylvania German with his 95-year-old great-grandmother. His father never taught him Penna. German (so-called PA-Dutch). This high school student is now the youngest student in a Pennsylvania German class at the Pennsylvania German Cultural Heritage Center on the campus of Kutztown University.

Paul Kunkel, age 80, the instructor has taught classes like this one for more than thirty years. Until recently, most of his students were senior citizens. But lately, he said, a younger crowd is showing interest. Kunkel says this is the generation that never learned to speak the dialect because their parents didn't know it or didn't want them to know it. There are now about 20 students in the class. Kunkel had to learn the language secretly. He says his mother didn't want him to have a 'dumb Dutch' accent.

It was the same with the first Burgenland descendants. My mother didn't mind me speaking a little German but she said, speak proper German, not those words (Hianzen) your grandmother uses! I thought my grandmother's words sounded so much better, like Grumpen for potato instead of Kartoffel! Even my German teacher in high school would say, "Don't you dare use Pa. Dutch or eastern European German in this class." Now all that is changing as later generations dig into family history and learn of their ethnic language. In the Burgenland itself, many of the later generations are studying their ethnic language like Croatian or Hungarian and local dialects like Hianzen. Our roots go deep!

    - suggested by John Rajkovacz

John writes: "I have some thoughts that I have never heard reference to historically, especially in light of current events. The question is this: What would the face of Europe be today if the Ottoman Turks had been successful at their two attempts to seize Vienna? The texts that I have read just deal with the battle but not with possible outcomes. There was a lot of turmoil in Europe at the time of the first attempt, and the lack of a major coordinated Western effort was not present."

Reply: A very leading question! From what I have read (see the two main references concerning the sieges at the end of this email) we might all be praying to Mecca today. The army group put together by John Sobieski (Polish King who in conjunction with Imperial Austrian forces raised the siege and defeated the Turks) included almost all of the European military strength available at the time. The Holy Roman Empire was fragmented and uncooperative about this issue, even though some of them sent troops to help Sobieski and the Austrians. Most of the available European mercenary troops were also involved. Had the Sobieski coalition been defeated, only the French and some of the Italian (Venetian) and Spanish forces were left to oppose the Turks.

The French were hand in glove with the Turks politically at the time and might have gone either way. I feel the English would not have been able to react in time (or even wanted to) and the Scandinavian forces as well as the Baltic countries were too weak and too far removed. If the Turks had taken Vienna, the Hungarians (who had not joined the Turks) would then have done so, and the Turks would eventually have continued on to Rome, Paris, and the major cities of the Holy Roman Empire. Christianity and Western Civilization as we know it could have died. Given that Islam was somewhat intolerant of people of the book, strong Christian reaction to such occupation would have ended in wholesale slaughter. Neither side would have granted quarter.

Some factors that might have prevented this were the stretched supply lines of the Turks (they would have had the spoils of victory to fall back on) and their frequent penchant for creating alliances at distant victory sites as opposed to military occupation (for instance the way they handled Transylvania and Wallachia). The Turks considered Vienna the "golden apple" and they may have been satisfied with only occupying Austria but I doubt it. I doubt if the Russian Czar was strong enough to do anything about their possible occupation of Europe, but one never knows - he may have occupied Poland, the Baltic states and the Caucasus and erected a Russian military curtain - if he had the necessary strength to do that.

Kara Mustafa was a military leader of some repute and, as Grand Vizier with a Viennese victory, he would have had the full support of most Turkish leaders (he had enemies and not full support going into this campaign) and might have been able to muster full Turkish strength for an advance into Europe proper. However, Mehmed IV was a weak and capricious ruler (Sultan) and could well have turned a Viennese victory into a political defeat. As it was, he had Mustafa killed as a result of the defeat, at a time when he needed his military expertise to hold the Balkans. To really forecast what might have happened, we'd have to know all of the Turkish and European political machinations and possibilities of the time.

The Turkish army was not in good condition when attacked by the Sobieski coalition. There was much sickness and casualties had been high. Siege artillery was not what it should have been. Horse transport was in poor condition and grain was in short supply. (The Batthyany were able to keep their southern Burgenland domain by agreeing to supply the Turks with food and forage. When the Turks lost, they massacred 8000 occupying Turkish troops and were forgiven their Turkish cooperation by the Austrian court.) The Turks would have required a long period of rest, recuperation and re-supply.

What I'm saying is that it could have gone either way. Had the Turks been successful in taking the major European cities, God alone knows what our history might have been. Would it have been the final confrontation of Islam and Christianity? Would one or the other have been completely destroyed? What a question you raise! At least we'd have no Iraq problem today!

Since the year 800, Islam has been out to impose their religion on the infidel. We can't ignore that; it's a basic Islamic tenet, which comes to the fore whenever Islamic extremists take the lead. Today terrorists have replaced armies in the field. No doubt in my mind that had they been given the opportunity in 1683, they would have opted for further conquests of one sort or another.

If you haven't already read them, see:
The Siege Of Vienna by John Stoye, Birlinn Ltd. 1988
Double Eagle & Crescent by Thomas Barker New York State Univ. Press 1967

Western civilization owes King John Sobieski and the defenders of Vienna a debt that history fails to properly recognize. Ignoring the political possibilities, I doubt if we'd have a Burgenland and a Burgenland-Bunch had the Turks been successful. I apologize for publishing a semi-political article in what is usually an apolitical newsletter, but I believe the question is pertinent to our family history. Our ancestors were deeply involved and strongly affected by the outcome of the 1683 siege and its aftermath. It was following this that many migrants came to western Hungary and established what we today know as the Burgenland and subsequent emigration to the Americas.

    - Tom Glatz & Bob Strauch

Tom Glatz reports:

Maria Woppel: Our very loyal Chicago BG member and friend passed away on Saturday Nov. 4, 2006. Maria Woppel, nee Hasler, age 85. Maria was born in the Burgenland village of Burg. Her husband John was born in Woppendorf. They immigrated to America in 1956 with their sons. Maria worked very hard for the Burgenländische Gemeinschaft. She was famous for her food contributions to BG affairs and was membership chairman for many years.

Steffani Pomper: Steffani Pomper (nee Wirtitsch) died in Chicago the week of 11 November. The wife of well-known Austrian immigrant supporter Walter Pomper, she was born in Seltschach near Arnoldstein (south of Villach, near the "Dreiländereck", where Austria, Italy, and Slovenia meet). Walter Pomper, founder and editor of the Chicago based "Austrian American Newsletter" (no longer published) and a long time BG and BB member survives. He has our condolences and deepest sympathy.

Bob Strauch reports:

Mary Recker, 92, of Coplay, a resident of Northampton, died Nov. 14 in Sacred Heart Hospital, Allentown. She was married to the late Alois V. Recker. Born in Strem, Burgenland, Austria, she was the daughter of the late John and Elizabeth (Deutsch) Schrantz.


Although one of the smallest minority groups in the Burgenland (less than 2% even before WWII), the Jewish population exerted an influence out of all proportion to their numbers. Almost every village had its Jewish members and they could be found in many noticeable occupations. They were migrants par excellance and migrated to the Burgenland regions from very early days. Be they Ashkenacy, Ladino, Sephardic or even Hasidic, they were an integral part of Burgenland history. Because of this, I often read about Eastern European Hebraic culture.

A recent book "A Wandering Feast - A Journey Through The Jewish Culture of Eastern Europe" by Yale Strom and Elizabeth Schwartz (published 2005 by Jossey-Bass) held my attention like no other. Strom is a well-known author and musician, filmmaker and playwright. He is also a well-known violist and band leader (San Diego & NYC) with "klezmer"and Jewish folkloric music as his specialty. He writes of his many recent journeys through Yugoslavia, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Russia, seeking remnants of Jewish culture, music and food, which he finds in some abundance. While the Burgenland per se is not included, the Jewish effect on Burgenland culture and ethnic similarities can easily be recognized While attendant tales of the Holocaust survivors are sad and deeply moving we can take some consolation from the fact that while small in size, Jewish culture in Eastern Europe, while not well, is still alive. Strom has included both playable music and ethnic food recipes. Another minor Burgenland ethnic group, the Rom (Gypsy) are often mentioned due to their musical attainments. This book is "must" reading for our Hebraic members as well as for anyone interested in Eastern European history, past and/or present. The book can still be ordered from Daedalus Books & Music ( for $4.98 plus postage, but don't delay. A great Xmas gift and a great story. A Gerry Berghold book review.


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