The News
Dedicated to Austrian-Hungarian Burgenland Family History

March 31, 2013, © 2013 by The Burgenland Bunch
All rights reserved. Permission to copy excerpts granted if credit is provided.

Editor: Thomas Steichen (email:

Our 17th Year. The Burgenland Bunch Newsletter is issued monthly online. It was founded by Gerald Berghold (who retired Summer 2008 and died in August 2008).

Current Status Of The BB:
* Members: 2145 * Surname Entries: 7171 * Query Board Entries: 5106 * Staff Members: 17

This newsletter concerns:


2) CHRISTINE REMEMBERS…Part II (by Christine Pöltl Rubba)




(by Bob Strauch)
(from Ladislaus E. Batthyány)
(from Bob Strauch)


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

Concerning this newsletter, after the Bits and Pieces in my President's Corner below, we get down to full length articles starting with Part II of one by Canadian BB Member Christine Pöltl Rubba, who was born in Burgenland. I asked her about her life in Burgenland and she responded with a two-part article, Christine Remembers... (Part I was last month). Our second article is one about the new 2012 Hungarian Constitution. Hungary was in need of a modern, post-Communist constitution, but I'm not convinced that the one put in place in 2012 is the right one for the Hungarian people nor that the process of creating it was appropriate... read the article and decide for yourself. The last two articles are a report by Hannes Graf on the History of Heiligenkreuz im Lafnitztal and a gathering together of information on the Available Burgenland Genealogical Records.

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

So I start with some bits and pieces for you:


Großpetersdorf Offer: New BB Member, Angyne Smith is returning to her ancestral village this summer and makes an offer...

Angyne writes (in part): I am a novice at this genealogy thing, but I am planning to visit Grosspetersdorf with my sister this summer. I am hoping to visit the cemeteries and the two churches – Katolische und Evangelische. Please let me know if there anything that I can do for any other members of the BB while I am there.

So, if there is something Angyne might be able to do for you, please contact her via her email address (found in her Member entry) or write me and ask that I pass along your request.


Where in the World is your Surname? Did you ever wonder where concentrations of your family surname exist in the world today? Well, website can help give you an answer. If you want to try this out, you must provide the surname of interest, an email address and a gender. Truth be told, you can make up an email address and the site won't care (likewise, you don't have to tell the truth about your gender)... according to the site FAQ, the email address is just used to track the number of distinct users of the site (so, if you go back, try to use the same fake address!).

When you provide the required information, you will get a map like the one to the right (though much larger than my example image, which is for my surname, Steichen). The map is color-coded by relative frequency of the appearance of the surname in different countries. As you can see, the US, Western Europe and Argentina are marked as having intermediate frequencies of the Steichen surname and Canada, more of Western Europe, and some Far East countries are marked as low frequency.

In reality, the basis for these relative frequency counts are publicly available databases such as phone directories, voter lists, etc. As such, they cover only the more technologically-advanced countries that also publish such lists... in fact, only 26 countries. Those not included remain unshaded in the maps (mainly Central and South America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Central Asia, and Oceania). Thus, only the US, Canada and Argentina have data from the Americas; India, China, Japan, Australia and New Zealand represent Asia and Oceania; and Europe has the most countries: Norway, Sweden, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Netherlands, Denmark, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Poland, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia and Italy.

Perhaps one redeeming quality for this rather limited selection of countries is that the data for the available countries is broken down further, where possible, into regions (provinces, states, etc.) and localities (counties, cities, etc.). If you click on a shaded country, it will provide a map of that country and the frequencies for the regions in it. Likewise, if a further breakdown is possible, clicking a region will give a map of the region with the frequencies in the localities.

There are also statistics presented. The first is what they call the "Roots of this name." For Steichen, these are the "European_Other Western" group, "French" subgroup, and "French" language. This is actually quite accurate, though Luxembourg (tucked in between Belgium, France and Germany) is the true high-frequency location for the name. Although most people assume Steichen is a German-based name, research suggests it may have been a Luxembourgishen/Germanization of an earlier French-like name: Steiffgen, though that transition occurred in records in the early 1500s and has remained stable ever since.

( gives the origin of Steichen as a German variant of Stauch, whatever that is! Regardless, reseach by Steichen genealogists strongly suggests that such a claim is fallacious... nonetheless, if you are interested in seeing what Ancestry provides on surname roots, use link but put your own surname in place of "steichen".)

The Worldnames website claims that the basis for its roots derivation is "Onomap," which is "...a research methodology that classifies names into groups of common cultural ethnic and linguistic origins." I wanted to investigate this methodology further but quickly found that the links provided to go to the Onomap website do not work. What I did learn was that it is a tool developed by the Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.

The other stats provided by the Worldnames website report are straightforward, being the top Countries, Regions and Cities, based on frequency per million (FPM) population. Here, Luxembourg stands out with an FPM of 391.09, versus 4.68 for the next highest (France). Austria, surprisingly, comes in fifth with a 0.79 FPM.

If you are curious, give the tool a try.


Wallern Data and a Request: I recently received a message from Konrad Unger of Wallern. If you don't know, Konrad is author of a website about Wallern at At one time, he maintained both a German and an English version of this website—but the English version is no longer available. However, he has continued to add to the German version.

I visited Konrad and family in 2000 (we are very distantly related). Konrad tells me that he has been headmaster of the Neue Mittelschule in Pamhagen since 2003, that wife Heidi is still working in a bank, though now in Andau, and that his two sons, Wolfgang and Thomas, are still single. Wolfgang is an computer engineer, often working for Microsoft, and Thomas, after obtaining a Master of Science degree last year, was hired by the Austrian federal railways. Konrad's mother, with whom I had a 2-hour discussion on Wallern genealogy in 2000, passed away in 2002 but his 92-year-old father is still in good health.

As I mentioned above, Konrad's German-language site continues to grow, as does his collection of genealogical data related to Wallern. One thing he did was assemble the genealogical data in Father Graisy's "History of the Houses of Wallern" into a computer database, then expanded it with additional information from the Wallern and Pamhagen Church books. When I inquired whether he would be interested in storing the data on the BB website, he told me that there are two problems: "We have a very restrictive data privacy law, no data of a living person is allowed to be published on the internet and the other thing is that I only have the permission from the diocese for private use. Only for private requests, I can give the records. If you like, you can mention in the BB newsletter that I have a lot of records from Wallern and Pamhagen (I also have all the records from the books of Pamhagen). If someone has a request, I’ll try to help."

Konrad also tells me that he is part of a team trying to record stories of emigrants from Wallern. He asked for the story of my emigrant Wallern Halbauer family (which I have shared) but also says "if you have some more links about stories from Emigrants of Wallern it would be a help for me."

So I invite all you who claim Wallern as a family village, to consider sharing the story of your family with him and, if you need info on those ancestors, send a request his way.


Hungarian Gazetteers: Thanks to Google, there are two more gazetteers available on the internet documenting Hungarian towns. These are from years 1786 and 1863, so represent earlier times than have generally been previously available on the web.

The 1786 gazetteer, Geographical-Historical and Products Dictionary of Hungary, is written in Gothic German, so it can be somewhat difficult to read, especially as there are also many abbreviations and symbols mixed in (a plague infesting all gazetteers!). I show a (simple) example below so you can see what I'm talking about.

My reading of this text is: "Agendorf, ein deutsches Stadtdorf im Oedenb(urg) Kom(itat). 3/4 W(esten) v(on) Oedenb(urg). W(esten) hat schöne Kastanienwälder. [Symbols representing: Katholische Kirche; Evangelische; Weinbau]." Note that I've expanded the abbreviations and place them in () and have interpreted the symbols for you. My translation is: "Agendorf, a German town-village in Ödenburg County. 3/4 west of Ödenburg. To the west, has beautiful chestnut forests. [has: Catholic church; Lutheran church; Viticulture]." So, while the detail is not extensive, at least some info is provided. The link to this book (Geographisch-Historisches und Produkten Lexikon von Ungarn) is:

The 1863 Gazetteer, Reports of Hungary Place Names: the various branches of government positions detected as existing at the beginning of 1863, is largely a table-based book, with villages or counties listed alphabetically in the left-hand column and various entries in the remaining columns. The main, by-village table spans two pages, left and right, side-by-side, when the book is opened, so the village is only listed once per two pages... however, when Google scanned the book, these side-by-side pages were scanned separately and placed consecutively, so you are forced to count rows to find the village entries on what would have been the right-hand pages. This, though, is only a small nuisance. This main table presents the Komitat (county), Bezirk (district), # of souls, main language(s) spoken, the various dioceses (Roman Catholic, Greek Catholic, Greek Uniate, Lutheran and Calvin), the military district, the tax office, and the nearest post office for that village. Other, smaller tables present summary information for each Komitat. The link to this book (Magyarország Helynévtára: a különféle kormányzati ágak szerinti beosztás kimutatásával mint az 1863. év elején fennállott) is


Plaque for Walter Dujmovits: Below is a translation of an article (passed along by Margaret Kaiser) recognizing Walter Dujmovits 80th birthday and his contributions to Burgenland emigrants:

Unveils Plaque for Walter Dujmovits
Worthy Tribute

Recently in the Auswanderer Museum and the Josef Reichl Museum in Güssing a plaque for Councilor Walter Dujmovits was unveiled. It is a gift of the two clubs for his 80th birthday.

This small plaque commemorates his great achievements for the Burgenländische Gemeinschaft and pays tribute to his life's work.  He has now been President of the Burgenländischen Gemeinschaft for 27 years since its 1956 founding. Dujmovits has worked for more than two-thirds of his life in the service of foreign Burgenländer all over the world. Walter Dujmovits is also the initiator of the Auswanderer Museum, which was opened in 1994. Also, Dujmovits has worked with the Josef Reichl Bund for many years.


Madison County, Illinois, Online Records: For those of you who have family that settled in Madison County, IL, (just northeast of St Louis, on the other side of the Mississippi River) Margaret Kaiser passed along a Facebook posting entitled "Hungarians to down-state Illinois" from Louis Takács:

Louis writes: "FYI, if anyone out there has immigrant ancestors that lived in Madison County, Illinois, the Madison County Illinois Circuit Clerk has recently finished a new DB of Immigration & Naturalization Documents, 1850-1959. Complete and indexed scans of Petitions for Naturalizations, Declaration of Intentions, Oath of Allegiance, etc. 122 Volumes worth! Lots of pre-WWI Hungarians settled in this area. Steel mills, coal mines...the usual."

This same site will also allow you to search and view Probate indexes and documents for 1800 to 1976. Just enter a surname in the "Search Box" near the top of the page.


Burgenland Recipes: We continue with recipes reprinted by permission of the Austrian Donau Club in Connecticut. Our thanks to Dennis Kern, President of the club, and to Evelyn Recano, Carolyn Braunstein, Ursula Gmeindl, who provided this recipe!

RED CABBAGE / ROT KRAUT (from Evelyn Recano, Carolyn Braunstein, Ursula Gmeindl)

1/2 c. fat
1/4 tsp. onion, chopped
1/3 c. sugar
3 lb. red cabbage, shredded
1/4 tsp. salt
1 apple, peeled and sliced
1/2 c. water or soup stock (or more)
1 Tbsp. flour
1/2 c. red wine
3 Tbsp. vinegar

Melt fat. Fry onion and sugar. Add cabbage, salt, apple, and water or soup. Cook about 30 minutes or until soft. Blend in flour; add wine, vinegar and more soup or water, if necessary. Serves 6 to 8.

For richer color sprinkle red cabbage with vinegar after shredding.


I also have some follow-up on recipes/food:
The first message I received requested information about a cookbook:

Mathildae Hamedl Rogan wrote: Tom, I would like to purchase a copy of Alois Schmidl's "The Cooking of Burgenland" in English. Can you advise how to do this? Thanks.

l replied: Hi Milly, the book is available online at That is a German language site and transactions are done in Euros (I assume your credit card company would handle such a transaction, though for an extra fee). This is a 1992 book, written in English. The BB’s Bob Strauch was the translator so I’ve asked him if he has copies or additional advice. He may email you directly or, if he goes through me, I’ll forward his comments on.

Bob replied: Tom, yes, that's the cookbook I translated. The few copies I had are long gone and I know of no source on this side of the Atlantic.

Ed. Note: As promised, I passed Bob's comment on to Millie. Although I did not mention the following to her, a significance of this cookbook to the BB is that it served as a major resource for Burgenland recipes in Gerry Berghold's "A Taste of Burgenland" series of recipe articles that ran in the BB Newsletter (but, perhaps that is why Millie asked about it!).

The "Food In Pre-Emigration Burgenland" article I reprinted last month, as part of our "Historical BB Newsletter Articles" series, also prompted a comment...

Nancy Coughlin wrote, saying: Thanks, as ever, for this month's BB Newsletter. I could just see my mother holding a loaf of bread and cutting it just as the gentleman in the picture. Also, Grammel Pogatscherl reminded me of having them on a trip to meet my, then, 86-year-old grandmother in St. Michael, Burgenland, in 1969. It's fun when something in the newsletter sparks a memory.

I replied: Hi Nancy, I'm pleased to hear that the Newsletter twanged a memory chord or two for you! Interestingly, the picture you mention is actually a clip from an 1879 oil painting entitled "Wife Cutting Bread" by Norwegian painter Christian Grohg. The image Gerry verbally portrayed was so evocative that I had to find a picture... and Christian's wife was the best stand-in for Gerry's grandfather I could find, though I had to trim it tight to make it look more 'manly'!

Pogatscherl, eh? You likely still have enough fiber in you even though that was over 40 years ago! LOL. But the memory is sweet, I'm sure. Thanks for writing.


Silly Food for Thought: Various demographers have estimated the number of people on earth who have ever lived and/or who were alive at particular points in time. Currently, the world population is estimated to be about 7 billion people and the total cumulative estimate of humans who were ever born is about 110 billion people. Interestingly, much of the growth in world population occurred after 1650... or for us Burgenländers, after the Ottoman Turks were pushed out of Hungary (that timing being coincidental rather than causative, of course).

The world human population in 1 AD is estimated to have been about 300 million (up substantially from an estimated 5 million in 8000 BC). However, it would not be until 1650 that the population increased to 500 million. Growth was more rapid in the next two 100-year intervals, with world population rising to 795 million in 1750 then 1,265 million in 1850. The population growth continued to accelerate in subsequent years: 1,656 million in 1900, 2,516 million in 1950, 5,760 million in 1995, and 6,987 million in 2011 (i.e., just shy of 7 billion people!).

Let's permit those world population numbers to rest a minute while we switch to speaking of ancestors... as you know, we each have two parents, four grandparents, eight great-grandparents, etc. That is, the number of ancestors doubles in each prior generation.

So, let us assume a child was born in year 2000 and that there is, for convenience of calculations, exactly 25 years between birth of generations. Now let's work back in time.

In 1975, the two parents of our assumed child would have been born. In 1950, its four grandparents were born and, in 1925, its 8 great-grandparents joined the world. Rather than continuing to list these counts of ancestors in my text, I'll refer you to the table to the right, which will also show you the numbers at the turn of each century back to 1300.

I stopped at 1300 for a reason... remember the world population counts from above? Those numbers said that the world population was between 300 and 500 million living souls between 1 and 1650 AD. Yet, in 1300, this ancestor table says 268 million were direct ancestors of our fictitious child (nearly all the people alive at that time!). And, for the next generation back (in 1275), the child has 536 million ancestors... more than were alive at that time!

Had we continued this exercise further, the number of required ancestors in year 1000 for our child would have exceeded 1000 billion, nearly 10 times the cumulative number of humans who ever existed.

All this really says is that all of the branches in our family trees are not independent... clearly, over just 30 generations, many, many, many of our ancestors must have been related to each other through ancestors of theirs that were also related. Thus it seems clear that "tree" is a really a poor descriptor... perhaps "vine" might be better. So I say to each of you: Cousin, enjoy working on our family vine.

2) CHRISTINE REMEMBERS… (by Christine Pöltl Rubba)

[Ed. Note: This is the second of a two-part article, with the first part published last month. After Christine, who emigrated to Canada from Burgenland in 1968, joined the BB a few months ago, I asked her to write about her personal experiences as an emigrant. The first part of her article spoke of her time in Burgenland and took us to her arrival in Canada. This second part is a response to a series of follow-up questions I asked. Christine will touch just a bit more on the emigration process itself then will cover her time in Canada. Again, My thanks to Christine for sharing!]

I had written to Christine:

I had hoped you might tell us more about the emigration process itself (but perhaps there is not much more to tell?). I’m not familiar with Canada’s process of accepting immigrants and becoming a citizen (and I assume you did become a citizen), so, if there is more detail, I’d like to hear about it. It must be harder, for example, than moving from North Carolina to Pennsylvania (which is what I did this past year!).

Also, I had asked about life in Canada… did you become part of a Burgenland expatriate community? Or a German one? Have you (often) traveled back to Burgenland? How are relations with your family, who you left behind? Do you miss the old country? Was Herbert of a related ethnic background (and when did his family come to Canada)? Was your English/French training adequate to get along in Canada? Or were you able to use German? …I assume you routinely spoke German at home in Burgenland, as Pöltl appears to be an ethnic-German name, though Oberpullendorf has/had a Magyar concentration so I might be wrong! All these kinds of questions, I guess, are targeted around what made your life (as an immigrant) different or difficult (if it did) relative to longer-term Canadians. I may be wrong in assuming you had some transitional difficulties but, if you did, they are worthy of writing about.

Her responses follow:

CHRISTINE REMEMBERS… Part II (by Christine Pöltl Rubba)

The process to emigrate to Canada
can be, at times, difficult and, as far as I remember, often the government of Canada asked a spouse in a young couple, who was already living in Canada or already a Canadian, to sponsor the other person. Today there is a point system, where language skills come into play and where the profession of the individual and whether that particular profession is needed in Canada, that helps a person to emigrate.

As to my personal situation, since I had a college degree and was able to converse in French and English with the officer at the Canadian Embassy, there was never a question whether my husband had to sponsor me. Therefore I assumed that I emigrated on my own merit.

Did you become part of a Burgenland expatriate community?

After we arrived in Edmonton by train, we stayed for a couple of weeks with my mother-in-law until we purchased a house on the north side of Edmonton. Herbert started to look for work and found a job with Poole Construction as a carpenter. Unfortunately, the carpenters soon went on strike and Herbert had to make a choice: go on strike with the other carpenters in Edmonton or go to work for Poole Construction out of town, up north in Grand Prairie, which was a 6-hour drive from Edmonton.

He chose to go up north and I found myself alone at home during the week. I had obtained my driver’s license in Oberpullendorf when I was 18 but found out I had to obtain a driver’s license again here in Edmonton. So, I went to take the written exam and passed it. Then I needed to do the driving test and took the VW Bug we had purchased to the testing place. When the inspector found out I had come there by myself, he flunked me immediately and scolded me. So, next day, I asked my father-in-law, John Gurtler, who my mother-in-law had married here in Edmonton in 1964 or so, to come with me for the test drive. He did and I passed the exam.

While Herbert was working up north the whole week, I took the time to discover Edmonton, by public transportation, the bus. I went all over and really discovered a lot of places. Herbert already had made some friends, since he came over in 1959, and I got along with them as well. However, they were all Germans who had come over to find their fortune in the fifties and sixties. Eventually we joined Club Austria, which was very successful and had over 300 members at their best time. I was trying to connect to the Austrians and became the secretary.

But it did not work. The Austrians of that club, especially from Burgenland, the ones to whom I tried to connect, were very cliquey and did not accept us into their circle. Herb was a German, and they were friendly, but they never offered us two chairs at their table.

I remained the secretary of Club Austria until 1975, when we decided to go Austria to live there with our two boys. My parents really wanted us to live in Oberpullendorf. They bought a lot across from their house, an older house on the business street. In November 1970, I gave birth to our first son, Victor Paul, by Cesarean and, in 1974, to our second son Klaus, again by Cesarean. My gynecologist did not recommend to us to have another child, and we were happy with both our healthy boys.

So, we decided to go to Austria. We sold our house and, by the way, we had sold our house that we had bought in 1968, after Herbert had built a house on an acreage of 14 acres. We sold this second house in 1975 and moved to Austria. I went to Eisenstadt to take a course at the Wirtschaftsinstitute for the license to open up a restaurant, a fast food type. I had to pass an exam and then we set out to finish the building that our parents had started for us. The main floor was supposed to be for the business and the upstairs was to be the apartment for us to live in. While finishing up the apartment, we lived with my parents. That part was not easy since my mother and I are of the same character, and we clashed quite a bit. Especially since my mother wanted to interfere when my husband made decisions with the kids. But after a good talk to my mother, she understood and it went smooth after that.

Herbert did most of the work, putting tiles on the floor, carpets in the bedrooms, painting the walls, installing the light fixtures after we purchased them, building in the living room a fireplace using sandstone from St. Margarethen and building the kitchen cupboards. When we were done upstairs, he started with the downstairs restaurant. He put tiles on the floor, made the tables (steel bottoms, which had to be welded (geschweisst) and arborite [Ed note: a countertop material similar to Formica and named after the Canadian company that developed it] on the top of the tables. He built the counters for the bar, where we installed the coolers and the ovens, the kitchen, etc., etc.

Eventually, September 13, 1976, came and we opened up our very own Stadtimbiß [City Snack Bar] (80 seats). We had quite a good selection of food. We made French fries fresh from potatoes: we had a woman peel them for us, put them through the slicer, and fry them. Later we had to buy the pre-cut ones because we could not keep up with the demand. Sometimes a whole school class showed up and wanted fries to go, in the paper “Stanitzel” [an inverted paper cone], with ketchup or mayonnaise.

My dad, Viktor Pöltl, loved to help. Every day he came across the street. He was already retired and my brother, Wicki, had taken over the business of knitting (Strickwarenfabrik Pöltl [Knitwear Factory Pöltl]). My dad loved to talk to the customers and he knew most of them.

Our older son, Victor, went to Vorschule [nursery school] and then to grade 1 (1. Volksschule [elementary school]) in Oberpullendorf, and our younger one went to Kindergarten. We made Hamburgers with Fries, Bratwurst, Gulaschsuppe, Blutwurst, and even minute Steaks, and Herbert was very much involved in cooking and getting the merchandise bought in Vienna, and both of us looked after the children together.

The only thing we did differently from what was the norm in Burgenland was the business hours. We opened Monday to Friday from 7 am to 7 pm and on Saturday from 7 to 1 pm. Then we closed up and enjoyed our family life.

Herbert went back to Canada in July 1977 with Victor and I closed the restaurant for 4 weeks and joined him with Klaus. Already on the first day when I arrived in Edmonton, I knew there was something up. Herbert had to make a choice whether he wanted to return to Canada to live there or whether he wanted to continue with me running the Stadtimbiß in Oberpullendorf.

He did not want to tell me right away, but I insisted, and he wanted to return to Canada. He could not see himself living this way with the Imbißstube [snack bar] for the next 25 years. He loved the outdoors, and that was impossible to combine with our business in Oberpullendorf.

We returned to Austria, all 4 of us, and set about to find someone to buy the restaurant and lease the building.

We found everything we looked for and, after a very difficult goodbye to my family, especially my father, we returned to Edmonton in 1978.

Victor, our oldest, had finished grade 1 in Oberpullendorf, and I registered him in New Sarepta, a small town close to Edmonton, to go to Grade 2. Victor had already learned to print and write, and knew his numbers from 1 to 100 and had started the time tables up to four. BUT he knew no English. After a couple of weeks, I noticed that he was regressing with his reading, he started to look at cartoons where he was previously able to read. I checked back at the school and found out that he had the misfortune of an older teacher who was sick quite often and being replaced many times by a substitute teacher. So, I went to the principal and asked him to put Victor into grade 3. I had held him back in Austria, since he was born November 1970, and now I was putting him a grade ahead. The principal was not pleased. He told me he can't stand those German women who were on their high horses. But I remained firm. I did two things after that: I made a deal with our son Victor that we would do 1 hour of English work, writing, reading, etc., from then up to Christmas, which was in about 3 months, and then I would leave him alone. The second thing I did, I baked cinnamon buns every week and brought these to the staff room. I offered to help anywhere they needed me, reading with a student, checking here, or helping there.

Victor did well and after Christmas the marks improved and he did not have one C in his report card at year end. The principal eventually conceded that I had made the right decision.

Where did we live? Before we left for Austria, we purchased an acreage about 25 km from Edmonton, and there Herbert put up a hut the size of a single garage. Anything we could not sell, we put into that hut. When we came back from Austria, we lived in that little hut for about 2 and a half months. Herbert used that time to build our new house, a split level, on a 3-acre parcel in a subdivision. Herbert was building and I did the purchasing. I bought two-by-fours, nails, wire mesh, anything he needed. Victor was in school from 8 to 4 pm and Klaus stayed with dad or came with me. Sometimes I had to drive to Edmonton twice or even three times and, with our VW Bus, I lugged all home. Sometimes I had to stand at the building supplies store and wait, because nobody asked me what I wanted (I was a woman), so finally I blew up and put my hand down really loud and complained: my money is just as good as the men's and I wanted service. And I got it after that, promptly!

Sometime in October 1978, the house had heat, water and windows, and we moved in. The hut and the Jonny-on-the-Spot were burned in a big bonfire. Herbert still had to get the kitchen cupboards built, and the bathroom counters, etc., but that did not matter; it was warm and we were inside.

Herbert built, all in all, 9 houses that we lived in and then sold. I was the purchaser and he the builder. Mind you, he build those houses after work. He was back working at Poole Construction, which eventually became PLC Construction, a very successful company that is still building in Canada and USA. Eventually he became foreman and then a superintendent.

Your question as to when Herbert came to Canada: His mother, Albertine, had to flee from Ostpreussen with her small children, Herbert, Rosemarie, Hildegard and Ulric. They were not allowed to leave their farm in 1945 until the very last minute because the man in charge, Koch, would have them shot if they did. So, they fled and crossed over the Ostsee, with their wagon. Unfortunately, her husband Paul and one daughter, Elisabeth, had been taken prisoner by the Russians, and now Albertine tried to get away with her 4 children. They were almost run over. They made it to the West in 1950 and tried to settle in Hanover, where they stayed for a while. One brother, Willi, put down his roots in Kamp-Lintfort [a town near Essen and Düsseldorf, about 150 miles southwest of Hanover], and that is where they also set up to live.

Hildegard and Ulrich dreamed of Canada. So they both emigrated in 1952 and, in 1958, they invited their mother Albertine to come to Canada. Herbert and Rosemarie stayed in Kamp-Lintfort. Hildegard found her mother a husband, John Gurtler, and one year later, in 1959, Herbert and Rosemarie emigrated to Edmonton, Canada, with their mother.

Coming back to our social life: Club Austria no longer interested us because we could not get any friends (they did not need new friends, the old ones were good enough). So, in 1988, we became members of the German Canadian Cultural Association, located in Edmonton. Soon, I was asked to join the executive and became secretary. We were welcomed with open arms. Everyone was pretty well new to the club since it had been an amalgamation of three German clubs. After a while I became Director at Large and, for the last 10 years or so, I was Director for Public Relations. It's only last year, 2012, that I resigned from the board. I wanted to make room for younger people.

In 1980, our son Klaus started Grade 1 in New Sarepta and I had to make a decision: did I want to find a job? I wanted to be home for the kids when they came home with the school bus, but what to do all day? I was not interested in staying home all day and watching TV or cleaning house or going shopping all the time. So I took a couple of courses, among others, one where you find out your strengths and weaknesses. I took a sewing course and learned to sew T shirts for my boys and practiced on myself. Herbert said, do what ever. You don't have to work. So I started to take courses at the University of Alberta. One or two courses, passed them, picked other courses and, over the years, I had quite a selection. I even took French, which I had not used for 14 years. Eventually I had to make a decision: what did I really want to get out of the University? My mother always wanted me to become a teacher. When I was 15, that was the last thing I wanted to become.

So I went to the department of Education at the UoA, presented all the courses I had taken from 1980 to 1985, and asked which courses they would give me credit for if I wanted to do my Bachelor of Education, major French and minor English? All the courses except one (Psychology 101) were given credits. Now I had to go to UoA full time, since I had to start my teaching apprenticeship. That was a bit tough, but our boys were doing well in school and now it was time for me. I finished in 1987 and received my degree in 1988.

As to the question whether I did a lot of teaching? No, not really. I was taking care of my parents in Austria, whenever my brother Wicki went on holidays with his wife Heidi, and stayed in Austria with them. There is no teaching job that gives you that much holiday time. So I became a substitute teacher for a couple of years. When I was around, I worked. I taught in French Immersion schools, where you are talking French all the time, in the elementary classes, or in French as a Second Language classes, where you talked both English and French. I also taught German in the public school system as a substitute teacher.

Being a teacher was fun. We had a German Saturday School where we took our children every Saturday so they would not forget their German.

Have you (often) traveled back to Burgenland?

After we returned for good to live in Canada in 1978, we did not return to Burgenland until 1981. Herbert quit his job at Poole Construction and we stayed in Oberpullendorf from August until Christmas. In January, we returned to Edmonton. This way we could enroll our children in school in Austria, and they refreshed their German language skills and made new friends. We returned to Canada, and kept repeatedly returning to Austria every three years. Herbert and I enjoyed reconnecting with my family, and the kids did the same with their friends.

When our son Klaus got married to his wife Maki in 1999, his three best friends came from Oberpullendorf to be at his wedding in Edmonton.

Since we had the apartment in Oberpullendorf, we did not need to stay with my parents or with my brother, Wicki, and that was really an ideal situation. We never felt to be in the way, just enjoyed their company.

My parents made a trip to Edmonton, Canada only once, the summer of 1971 and, due to the lousy service they had at a Reisebuero [travel agency], they traveled from Vienna to New York to Toronto to Edmonton. Both never spoke an English word but they arrived after an almost two-day trip at our airport. I suppose they wanted to see whatever Herbert or I had told them about Edmonton and, when they realized everything was true, they were happy and satisfied and never wanted to come back to Edmonton. No wonder after such a trip! We showed them the Rocky Mountains, Banff, Calgary and they enjoyed their grandson, Victor.

In 1986, I had a funny feeling that something was going on at home. I tried to call but there was no answer. I talked to my husband and said that it was weird that no one answered the telephone. So I called back again and my mother answered. I asked her whether everything was alright and she asked me back, why I was asking that? It turned out that my dad, Viktor, had cancerous polyps and they needed to be taken out. Within 24 hours, I was in Austria and sat at my dad's bedside. The operation took three hours, where they removed some intestines, especially those with the cancer. My mother and brother and I, we waited anxiously and, the longer it took, the more confidence I had that dad would be alright. I kept telling that to mom. My dad never knew he had cancer. He survived this cancer by living another 10 years.

My mother, Anna, became ill in September 1989 and, in February, my brother called me by telephone to tell me, she is dying. They finally found out that she had cancer of the liver but there was nothing they could do to help her. He promised to call me when it came to the end but I would still be able to talk with her and, in the middle of May 1990, he called me. I was in Oberpullendorf again within 24 hours and stayed at my mother's bedside. She did not know she was dying. My brother wanted her to die at home, so we took turns looking after her. The doctor came every day to give her a morphine shot, which had to be picked up by my sister-in-law, Heidi, at the Bezirkshauptmannschaft in Oberpullendorf, the reason being, that she was staying at home. I stayed up all night with her, only dozing off at the kitchen table or on the Sitzbank (bench at the table), and my brother looked after her with dad during the day. When mom wanted something, someone was always close by. When she realized that she was dying, she was very sad, mad and disappointed. She passed away on May 31, 1996, at home in her own bed. I helped dress her for the funeral with my aunt. It was an eerie experience. She had been in so much pain, was moaning all the time, that I believed that the pain killers were not very helpful. To this day I still believe that.

My dad survived my mother by 6 years. Every year we came to Oberpullendorf to look after him when my brother went on vacation.

To this day we still go to Austria every year, sometimes in the Spring or Fall, sometimes in the Summer. We speak German at home all the time. With our boys, we Skype in German, write in German, and when the daughter-in-laws are around, we speak English.

About 25 years ago, my husband joined a men's club, Schlaraffia. The goal of Schlaraffia is to support the three pillars: Art, Humor and Friendship, and this is done in the German language. The club originates in Prague, about 154 years ago, and was a satire on the society. The men are all knights, run through a period of development, and eventually become a Ritter (knight) (see  There are many friends we have met through Schlaraffia and we have a fantastic time when we go to Austria or Germany or France, etc.

So, when we go to Austria, I notice that our old friends from way back are still there, most of them, but we have grown apart. But our new friends through Schlaraffia make our stay a wonderful time.

Only a couple of years ago, we started to travel to Mexico. My husband used to travel to Mexico before my time, and now we do it together. It is our 8th time in Puerto Escondido. First time we stayed for 3 days and then for 1 week. We traveled about in Mexico, using the excellent bus system, but now we are happy to stay put.

As to the German Canadian Cultural Association: I resigned from the executive but I still look after the website,, and the library, which I run with a team of volunteers. You can check it out online.

One other thing: I took over the German Saturday School as a Schulleiterin [headmistress/principal] in the 80s, where Klaus went to learn German. We had about 34 students. The teachers were mothers who wanted their children to learn German. The location was a Lutheran church. When I took over, I started to replace the mothers with teachers in training, young people who went to the UoA to become teachers and who were speaking German. Then I applied to Alberta Education to have the Grade 10, 20 and 30 German courses also taught at our school. Condition was, an Alberta Education Certificate. I increased enrollment to 124 students; it was a booming school. Politics got in the way and I resigned from the school. Eventually this school amalgamated with another German school, Edelweiss, and is now called the German Language School of Edmonton. I m happy to report it is still going, though not in the church location but in a school.

Oh yes, Club Austria: how did it continue? The club started the Vienna Opera Ball in Edmonton and it was a highlight of the Edmonton high society. The proceeds were used to support students studying in Austria, be it Salzburg or Vienna. Ah, and then trouble started. The club split in two and the higher society people left and founded the Johann Strauss Society. They also started their own Johann Strauss Ball. And then almost another split, which was averted by the then president.

The members got older and older and started to die and the membership of Club Austria dwindled. About 8 years ago, the executive and membership decided to use up all the money they had accumulated over the last 40 years or so and held events, which they paid for with the club's money. They whittled it down to $3,000. That was two years ago.

At the Annual General Meeting of Club Austria in 2011 (Herbert and I had rejoined the Club in 2009), the president and past president called for a vote to shut down Club Austria. They wanted to make it a vote by ballot. We had a small group we knew who were willing to continue as president and directors. Only 31 people were there. I insisted that it should be a vote by standing up. I told them if you want to kill the Club you should have the courage to stand up and be known for it. Everyone agreed. 17 to 14 decided that the club would continue. So, now I am on the executive of Club Austria and so is my husband. We have 4 events per year and are trying to keep up our club; I do not know whether we will succeed. I only know when we get together, everyone has a good time.


Ed. Note: The following article is based on published articles and documents about a highly complex subject: the evaluation and interpretation of a new 2012 Hungarian Constitution. While I've tried to find mostly neutral sources for the basis of this article, I suspect the "anti" crowd (against the new Constitution) is more likely to write than the "pro" crowd, so my selection of sources may be biased in that direction. Nonetheless, my major sources tend to be scholarly assessments (such as Amicus Briefs to the
Venice Commission, a body of independent experts providing advice on constitution-making and human rights under the Council of Europe) that are based on what the Constitution says (or refrains from saying), and they seem to be consistent with my reading of the (translated) Constitution. It should be noted that the "official" government translation of the Constitution has been accused of choosing "soft" translations of certain troubling passages... that is, the least "disconcerting" translation among potential translations apparently often appears in the official translation. The official translation is missing certain sub-sections also (however, scholarly, non-official translations are available on the web).

If any of you readers have followed developments around this subject and wish to comment, I'd be pleased to publish your views in a subsequent newsletter.

On January 1, 2012, a new Hungarian Constitution came into force, replacing the communist-driven Constitution that was enacted in 1949 and then substantially modified in 1989 as Hungary moved from a communist dictatorship to a liberal democracy. By waiting until 2012, Hungary was among the last of the Soviet-satellite countries to fully replace their Soviet-era constitution. So this new Constitution sounds like a good thing, right? Well, the process of creating it, the reactions to the early drafts, and the subsequent challenges to it may suggest otherwise.

Let us back up a few years and speak of its origins. In the spring of 2010, in what all agree was a free and fair election, the center-right political party, Fidesz, a party espousing conservative Christian social doctrine and led by now Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, received an unprecedented 53% of the vote due to widespread public disgust with the Socialist party that had previously been in power. This 53% of the vote translated into 68% of the seats in the parliament under Hungary’s disproportionate election law. With this supermajority (more than two-thirds of the parliamentary seats), Fidesz won the power to change the constitution without the cooperation of any other party... and they have used this power in what appears to be an extreme manner at every opportunity, amending the old Constitution ten times in their first year in office and then quickly enacting a whole new Constitution in their second year. Interestingly, adopting a new constitution was not part of the Fidesz political platform when it ran for election.

The new Constitution is embodied in a 2011 document known as the Fundamental Law of Hungary [Magyarország Alaptörvénye] (sometimes translated as the Basic Law). The Fundamental Law required and is supplemented by a Transitional Act (defining temporary provisions needed in moving from the old constitution to the new) and a series of Cardinal Acts that provide the necessary legal details to implement the provisions of the Fundamental Law and that, in the future, will also require a supermajority to change, thus in theory giving stability to the constitution. However, one Amicus Brief stated: "As a general trend, the old Constitution used the Cardinal Law / supermajority requirement to ensure heightened protection for fundamental rights, but in the new Fundamental Law, the function of Cardinal Laws is to place rules about the structure of and personnel in governmental institutions beyond the reach of a (future) simple majority of Parliament."

From the start, this has been an exercise in authoritarian power, with Fidesz effectively ignoring other political parties, largely ignoring the general public, and quickly forcing through new measures based on party-line votes on superficially-reviewed legislation. Using this approach, the Fidesz government enacted some 359 new laws in their first 18 months of power. And, because many of these laws will require a supermajority to change, the Fidesz policies likely will remain embedded in Hungarian life, even if another party were eventually to gain majority control.

While the new Constitution follows the basic form of a liberal European constitution, defining and separating the three branches of power and enshrining human rights, questions arise about its substance and spirit. For example, the Venice Commission expressed serious concerns about the quality of its human rights provisions. The commission found issues with almost all the rights and freedoms recognized under the Fundamental Law, and especially those left out: such as the omissions of an explicit commitment to prohibiting the death penalty and forced labor.

Of some interest is the Preamble to the 2012 Constitution, which is denoted therein as the "National Avowal of Faith." In particular, there are phrases which seem incompatible with typical post-modern constitutions. I will provide some quotes:

At the dawn of a new millennium, we MEMBERS OF THE HUNGARIAN NATION declare the following, with a bond of duty to all Hungarians:

We are proud that one thousand years ago our king, Saint Stephen, based the Hungarian State on solid foundations, and made our country a part of Christian Europe.

We acknowledge the role Christianity has played in preserving our nation. We respect all our country’s religious traditions.

We pledge to cherish and preserve our heritage: the Hungarian culture, our unique language, and the man-made and natural riches of the Carpathian Basin.

We proclaim that the family and the nation provide the fundamental framework for community, in which the pre-eminent values are loyalty, faith and love.

We honor the achievements of our historical Constitution and the Holy Crown, which embodies the constitutional continuity of Hungary and the unity of the nation.

We do not recognize the suspension of our historical Constitution that occurred due to foreign occupation. We declare that no statutory limitation applies to the inhuman crimes committed against the Hungarian nation and its citizens under the national socialist and communist dictatorships.

We do not recognize the legal continuity of the 1949 Communist “Constitution”, which laid the foundations for tyranny, and hence we declare it to be invalid.

Our Fundamental Law shall be the basis of our legal system. It shall serve as a covenant between Hungarians of the past, the present and the future; it is a living embodiment of the nation’s will, an expression of the ideals by which we collectively aspire to live.

What makes these sections of some concern is Article Q(3) of the Fundamental Law. It says:

The provisions of the Fundamental Law shall be interpreted in accordance with their purpose, with the Fundamental Law’s National Avowal of Faith, and with the achievements of our Historical Constitution.

That is, the Preamble must be used in interpreting the Fundamental Law. Such a requirement is highly inconsistent with most constitutions, wherein the Preamble normally has no legal, binding authority. One must wonder what those Hungarian citizens of a non-Christian faith may think; or those whose culture or language is not Hungarian; or even those countries whose territory was once part of a greater Hungary or who have citizens of Hungarian heritage. And what does it mean that the "family" provides the fundamental framework for community?

These fears are not without substance... moving into the body of the Constitution, in the Fundamentals section, one discovers Article D:

Hungary, guided by the notion of a single Hungarian nation, shall bear responsibility for the fate of Hungarians living outside its borders, shall foster the survival and development of their communities, shall support their endeavours to preserve their Hungarian identity, and shall promote their cooperation with each other and with Hungary.

Clearly the Constitution envisions a wider influence, well beyond just legal citizens within the current borders of Hungary.

Next we find Article K:

(1) Hungary shall protect the institution of marriage, understood to be the conjugal union of a man and a woman based on their independent consent; Hungary shall also protect the institution of the family, which it recognises as the basis for survival of the nation.
(2) Hungary shall promote the commitment to have and raise children.

Regardless of what one thinks about an appropriate legal status for marriage, I'm not convinced that its definition should be forced on a nation without due public consideration and discussion. Here, the political preference of the conservative-Christian Fidesz party is dictated to the nation and constitutionally entrenched.

Then there is the curious Article N:

Everyone shall bear responsibility for his or her own self, and shall contribute to the performance of state and community tasks according to his or her abilities and possibilities.

Is this a forced labor clause? I'll note that part of Article XI reiterates this position:

Everyone shall have a duty to contribute to the enrichment of the community through his or her work, performed according to his or her abilities and possibilities.

Moving into the section entitled Freedoms and Responsibilities, we come across Article II:

Human dignity shall be inviolable. Everyone shall have the right to life and human dignity; the life of the foetus shall be protected from the moment of conception.

Like the marriage definition, I'm not convinced that the definition of when life starts should be forced on a nation without due public consideration and discussion. Instead, the political preference of the conservative-Christian Fidesz party is once again dictated to the nation and constitutionally entrenched.

Article XV, especially its sub-section (5), has raised concern, in this case for what it does not say. I also find the constitutional responsibility laid on adult offspring in sub-section (4) to be surprising:

(4) Adult offspring shall provide care for their parents if they are in need of such care.
(5) Hungary shall take special measures to protect women, the elderly and the disabled.

Compared to the previous Constitution, Article XV (5) protects fewer groups, most notably omitting minorities. This raised important concerns for the EU.

There are other Articles that give pause on a first reading... but I shall move on, as there remain other issues well worth discussing.

The first of these is the question: was the Constitution legally enacted? The procedural justification behind the creation of the new Constitution followed a rule established under Article 24.3 of the 1949 communist Constitution. However, the preamble to the 2012 Constitution says it "does not recognize the communist constitution of 1949." Can we have it both ways? Even more so, that Article (which was retained in the 1989 amended Constitution) only states that a two-thirds majority is required to amend the existing Constitution; it says nothing about drafting a new constitution.

In 1995, the Hungarian Parliament, knowing it wanted to consider drafting a new constitution, addressed this deficiency by adding Article 23.5, which required a four-fifths vote to establish a regulatory process for drafting a new constitution. It then voted in such a process; however, the 2007 Parliament deregulated that process by a four-fifths vote, leaving itself with no current legal way to draft a new constitution. Nonetheless, Article 23.5 made it clear that the preparation of a new constitution in the future necessitates the inclusion of the opposition into the preparatory process, even in case of a two-third majority of the ruling parties.

This did not stop Fidesz. The four-fifths guarantee was removed from the 1989 Constitution by a party-line two-thirds vote in July 2010.  According to an opinion submitted to the Venice Commission by legal scholars at the Program in Law and Public Affairs at Princeton University, this "in itself amounts to a constitutional violation that a law adopted by and requiring a four-fifth majority was annulled by a two-third majority—for which annullment no constitutional or political justification whatsoever was offered."

Fidesz then proceeded to establish its own procedures for drafting a constitution, procedures that effectively removed the negotiating positions of all opposition parties and the necessity of political, professional, scientific and social debates. Although the Venice Commission expressed concern about the exclusion of the public and also the opposition political forces and professional, scientific and other nongovernmental organizations, Fidesz charged ahead. The one remaining avenue for public input, a referendum vote to decide on the adoption or rejection of the text, which would have required a majority vote of Parliament to initiate, was summarily rejected by the ruling party.

Next comes the question of the Separation of Powers: The big difficulty concerning the new Constitution's approach to separation of powers involves the guarantee (or, more accurately, the lack of a guarantee) of judicial autonomy. The 1989 Constitution gave perhaps excessive power to the Constitutional Court. This power was given primarily in reaction to the then disproportionate control of the communist-based central government. When the 1949 Constitution was amended in 1989, the drafters wish to assure a strong counterbalance to central governmental powers, and that counterbalance was created in the form of a powerful Constitutional Court (and also in powers granted to Ombudsmen, to be discussed later in a Fundamental Rights section) that would restrict illegitimate employment of executive or legislative powers.

However, the new Fidesz Constitution offends legal sensibilities about establishment of courts both in what it says and in what it does not say.

For example, from the view of what it does not say, it does not define the parts of the Judiciary (except to replace the Supreme Court by the Curia and the National Council of Justice by the National Office for the Judiciary), thus leaving open the possibility of eliminating or modifying some or all of it. Second, it only says that the "Courts shall administer justice,” which does not guarantee a monopoly to the courts concerning administration of justice. Thus, a classic element of the division of powers is missing.

From the view of what it says, it manipulates the makeup of the Constitutional Court and the Judiciary, in general, by increasing the number of members on the Constitutional Court, reducing from 70 to 62 years of age the forced retirement age of judges (on all courts) and of public prosecutors, and increasing the term of service for most judges by three years. Given the Fidesz government will appoint the replacement judges and prosecutors, the effect of these changes is to accelerate the dismissal of judges and prosecutors not beholden to Fidesz and increase the number supportive of their ideology while also keeping these individuals in office longer (this was also coupled with an earlier moratorium on filling vacant judgeships, likely in anticipation of the changes envisioned in the new Constitution). Further, the replacement of the Supreme Court and the National Council of Justice allows the government to appoint new presidents and members, ensuring a judiciary almost certainly supportive of their ideology.

Fundamental Rights of Citizens: The 2012 Constitution also largely eliminates an element of the 1989 Constitution that provided an independent way for organizations, businesses and citizens to contest government actions. This element was the system of specialized Ombudsman for the protection of fundamental rights—individuals who were not part of either the government or the public administration, were independent of each other, and who could act with authoritative power in their specialized spheres, making decrees or directly accessing the judiciary on behalf of citizens. These included ombudsmen for data protection, freedom of information, future generations, minorities, and general citizens’ rights. The ombudspersons also served as guarantors for the execution of pertinent directives of the European Union in their areas of responsibility.

Under the Fidesz Constitution, the Ombudsman concept has been shrunk to a pair of government-appointed vice-ombudsmen with apparently reduced roles and a Complaints Committee for Law Enforcement, a group of five political appointees accessible only after all Administrative appeals have been attempted and whose investigations are submitted to the Chief of Police for a decision. Changing these roles to political appointees may put Hungary in conflict with the EU, which requires independence for many of these roles.

In addition to the above, there have been numerous other concerns raised about specific fundamental rights for citizens, both as expressed in the Constitution or because of an absence therein, but I need to move on, as there remain still other issues well worth discussion (and this is becoming a rather long article!).

Two of these topics are the Transitional Act and the recently promulgated Cardinal Acts.

The Transitional Act, intended to be the roadmap for moving from the old Constitution to the new, was passed into law on December 30, 2011, and published on the 31st, the day before it and the new Constitution took effect. Parliament asserted that everything in that Act is—at least according to the wording of the Act itself—now part of the Fundamental Law, as if it were all one giant constitutional amendment. However, many of its provisions are not transitional in nature; rather, they enact permanent legislation. In fact, it has been argued that a number of its provisions were designed merely to make "constitutional" a number of Parliamentary laws that were deemed unconstitutional when enacted over the prior year. For example, the Constitutional Court ruled in mid-December 2011 that it was unconstitutional (under the 1989 Constitution) for the public prosecutor to select the court that would hear a criminal case. Fidesz responded by simply putting into the Transitional Act the very same provision that the Court had annulled.

Perhaps the most disturbing element of the Transitional Act is its long first section, which lists accusations against Communist Party officials during the Soviet period, extends the statute of limitations for these crimes, brands the former Communist Party a "criminal organization", and designates the current Socialist Party (Fidesz' primary opposition) as the legal successor to the Communist Party, hence responsible for all of its crimes. This section also opens the way for prosecuting crimes that involve “maintaining a repressive system, violating fundamental rights and betraying the nation,” without regard to whether those offenses were crimes under the law of that time. The Act therefore contemplates retroactive criminalization of certain actions, not just lifting the statute of limitations for crimes that were already on the books. It is not difficult to read these provisions as a way to emasculate Fidesz' primary opposition party. It should also be noted that prior legislation, along with language in the Fundamental Law, could justify the legal dissolution of the far-right Jobbik party (the third largest party, which arose from obscurity in the last election) due to its inflammatory anti-Jewish and anti-Roma rhetoric and positioning.

As for recently promulgated Cardinal Acts, one of the first was adopted on 23 December 2011 and addressed the Protection of Families. It was introduced in Parliament on December 2nd as a private member’s bill, not as a government bill, thus the government was able to avoid the rules on extensive public consultations and the rules on producing a impact assessment that are required of government-sponsored bills (this private-member approach would be a procedure Fidesz would use on most of the Cardinal Acts in order to avoid scrutiny and expedite passage). This law, affecting millions of Hungarian families, was adopted in just three weeks and without the involvement of any representative civil society organizations. Chief among its statements is the legal definition of "family":

“Family is the relationship between natural persons in an economic and emotional community that is based on a marriage between a woman and a man, or lineal descent, or family-based guardianship.”

This definition of family ignores hundreds of thousands of legally-existing Hungarian families, as recognized under prior law. It also creates a direct link between family and marriage that does not follow either from the relevant provision of the Fundamental Law or the international laws Hungary has ratified. Registered same-sex partners, childless de facto partners and cohabiting or registered partners (regardless of gender) raising children who are biologically related to only one of them while "living in an emotional-economic community" (the phraseology previously used to define a legal family relationship) may not be covered by this definition, thus these individuals may lose all benefits and protections accorded to families. One example benefit/protection is intestate succession (i.e., who inherits if a partner dies without a will). Under prior law, a registered partner was second in line (as was a spouse) behind direct descendants, and was entitled to inherit, in the absence of direct descendants, without further ado. Under the new law, they hold no special right to inherit and would need to take legal action to claim against distant kin or even the government.

The Cardinal Act on the Status of Churches listed only fourteen legally-recognized churches (the term church is used generically in the Act to indicate a religious organization) and required all other previously registered churches (some 330 religious organizations in total) to either re-register under considerably more demanding new criteria, or continue to operate as mere religious associations without the legal benefits offered to the recognized churches. Among the initial list of recognized churches were eleven Christian churches and three Jewish congregations.

Since then, an additional 18 churches were recognized (six Protestant, Coptic Orthodox, Hare Krishna’s, Jehovah’s Witnesses, two Islamic and seven Buddhist churches). However, an additional 67 registration petitions were permanently tabled, effectively denying registration.

The Act allows Parliament to choose whether to assess and register a religious association—provided there is a registration request signed by 1,000 people and provided that the church has been present in Hungary for at least 20 years or has been known internationally for at least 100 hundred years. Parliament must then assess the religious nature of the activities of the church, including whether it has creeds and rites reflecting the essence of its teachings. There is no procedure where the petitioning religious organization may present evidence about whether it meets the criteria for registration (beyond the registration form) and there is no avenue for appeal.

While the current list of 32 recognized churches covers over 99% of religious followers in Hungary, unrecognized denominations are severely and negatively affected, largely because registration implies state sponsorship and benefits, including tax exemptions, automatic state subsidies (a state subsidy that matches the 1% donation Hungarians can make), additional tax breaks (church officials’ salaries are assessed for taxes at the minimum wage regardless of actual salary) and other privileges (the ability to operate state-subsidized religious schools and the right to minister in prisons).

Among the more egregious Cardinal Acts, in total, is the one on the Judiciary, however, it is egregious mostly because it implements (without change) the problematic approaches defined in the Fundamental Law and the Transitional Act. It is the Transitional Act that defined the criteria for constitutional complaints and it restricted, even further than the Fundamental Law did, the jurisdiction of the Constitutional Court by extending forever the prohibition of a Court review of fiscal laws enacted during a debt crisis. The Fundamental Law prohibited Court review while the country remained heavily indebted (defined as a deficit exceeding 50% of annual GDP). Now such fiscal laws can never be reviewed for constitutionality so will remain forever unchallengeable by the Constitutional Court.

Another Cardinal Act, the new law on the Central Bank (the Magyar Nemzeti Bank or MNB) gives the prime minister the right to appoint all vice-presidents of the bank, when previously the president of the central bank initiated the nomination process. The law also creates a third vice-president so the government is able to name one of these vice-presidents immediately. The new law also expands the number of members on the monetary council. The monetary council, which—as the name suggests—sets monetary policy and interest rates, will grow to nine members, of which six were already or soon will be appointed by the Fidesz government. Plus it allows the Prime Minister to participate in its meetings, thus allowing politics to enter financial discussions, and requires agendas to be shared with the government.

The parliament also passed another constitutional amendment that affects the status of the central bank. Now the parliament may merge the central bank with the existing Financial Supervisory Authority to create a new agency, within which the central bank would be just one division. The government would be able to name the head of this new agency, who would effectively become the boss of the president of the central bank, reducing the bank president to a mere vice-president. The constitutional amendment does not actually complete the merger—it just lays the constitutional groundwork for the later disappearance of the free-standing bank.

These actions have raised great EU concern, causing "infringement actions" being initiated against the government and denials of loan requests, as the independence of the bank does not meet EU standards. Hungary risks a national financial default if these issues are not corrected soon.

All told, there are (or will be) some 26-28 Cardinal Acts—too many to discuss in this article. I'll close by providing a March 2012 quote from a Hungarian citizen:

Orban was gifted his two-thirds majority in 2010 by the spectacular collapse of the outgoing corrupt and incompetent (but pro-EU and international banking-friendly) Socialist government. The fact that he has taken advantage of this to concentrate power in the hands of the ruling party, and to game the system to increase the likelihood of that ruling party being Fidesz, is a sign of his weakness and insecurity, and not his strength. For my part, I don’t understand why Orban feels to the need to do this.

To be honest, I’m fairly supportive of his socially conservative, economic nationalist agenda, and so are plenty of others, but I’d feel a whole lot better if he had the confidence to defend these policies in front of the electorate, rather than resorting to rigging the constitution in his favour.

My suspicion is that such support is diminishing day by day.


We have been republishing some articles Hannes wrote over the past two years for placement on his personal site, Spirit of Gradišće - Őrvidék Group. This month, we are presenting an article about Heiligenkreuz im Lafnitztal (Hungarian: Rába-Keresztúr, Romanes: Kerestula) in central Jennersdorf, near the Hungarian border.

As the agricultural hub of the West Hungarian lowlands, Heiligenkreuz in the Lafnitz Valley has a long history to look back on. The town was not far from the so-called “Bernsteinstraße” [Amber Road], which was already an important point of North-South connection during Roman times and led from the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea. The settlement, which lay on Römerstraße [Roman Road], was mentioned as early as 1157. The first documented mention of the settlement, referred to then as “Keresthur” (Kreuzherr), appears in 1428 in King Sigismund’s letter of bestowal. In the letter, Heiligenkreuz, in relations to the customs office, is portrayed as an important ancient locality.

According to folklore, hundreds of years ago Bavarians and Swabians came to the area, which was predominantly covered with thick forests. The settlers are rumored to have placed a cross made of oak on the site where the church now stands. The community’s name, “Keresztur” (Lord Cross), is said to come from this cross. In 1782, the name of the town was changed to Rabakeresztur and finally to Heiligenkreuz. In the year 1921, the designation “in Lafnitz Valley” was added.

On the outskirts of St. Gotthárd, the post office in Heiligenkreuz was very important for the region. The post office was built as early as the middle of the 18th century and is, thus, the oldest post office in South Burgenland.

Even early on, Heiligenkreuz was not spared from blows of fate. In 1824 and 1917, large fires raged and destroyed large parts of the community. 400 years earlier, the plague raged, claiming many inhabitants’ lives (an old legend tells of the affliction).

After the end of the first World War, almost the entire population supported an annexation of German-speaking West Hungary to Austria. One of the most avid supporters of this idea was the mill owner, Karl Wollinger, from Heiligenkreuz. He traveled throughout the Lafnitz Valley and won support of the inhabitants for the annexation. On August 29, 1921, Burgenland was supposed to be handed over to Austria. The Austrian national police and customs officers marched into Heiligenkreuz. The next night, they were attacked by Hungarian guerilla fighters and escorted to St. Gotthárd. From then on, the area was occupied by the guerilla fighters for three months. The annexation ultimately took place November 28, 1921.

Destruction of Heiligenkreuz in WW-II

Especially severe destruction was brought on by WW-II. At the end of March 1945, Russian troops stood at the town’s door. Ownership of the village changed six times during the combat operations. The battle lasted 10 days. 75% of the town was destroyed, making it the most severely devastated in Burgenland. After the war ended, the afflicted population began right away on the reconstruction of the community, and soon the worst damage was repaired. In 1969, the last damaged house in Heiligenkreuz was repaired. In its place, the new administrative building with a kindergarten was built.

In the name of community centralization in Burgenland, in January 1971 Poppendorf and Heiligenkreuz were united with the Heiligenkreuz community. Owing to a decree from the Burgenland federal state government in 1971, the community was conferred the right to refer to itself as a “Market Town.”

Since then, Heiligenkreuz has been an important “Gateway to the East” in Europe.

Population development 1869-2010

(Credits: Photographs courtesy of Silvia & Günter Nikles)


Although it has been discussed piecemeal in various BB Newsletters, I thought it worthwhile to gather together the information about Burgenland's genealogical records.

As you may know, Roman Catholic parishes were first required, by order of the Council of Trent, to keep baptism records in 1563. It would not be until 1614, that marriage and burial records would also be required. Prior to this, no universal system existed to record vital records (births, marriages and deaths), especially as it pertained to common folk. Even the (sparse) surviving records of the nobility only reach back to the early 1400s and they seldom recorded any vital information about the common folk. After the Catholic decree in 1563, other denominations quickly followed in the 1500s with their own formal and mandated recording systems.
Thus, the church registers, the recording of births/christenings, marriages, and deaths/burials (later also first communions, confirmations and conversions), are generally the earliest available records in Europe. The oldest such church registers in Hungary date from the 1630s, but the actual earliest entries in the registers of most parishes were made in the 1686-1740 time period. This occurred because much of Hungary was under Ottoman/Turkish rule from 1526 until 1686, and the remaining parts of West Hungary were under constant threat or attack. Almost certainly, some of the initial records in Burgenland were destroyed when villages were wiped out during the last Turkish siege of Vienna. In addition, the Kurruzen Wars (Hungarian revolution of 1602) destroyed many records in southern Burgenland.

It should be noted that Hungary successfully forced the ruling Habsburgs, at the Peace of Linz in 1645, to recognize four religions: Catholicism, Lutheranism, Calvinism, and Unitarianism. Each of these denominations determined separately when recording would start. However, since Unitarianism is identified only with the Hungarian minority in Transylvania, it had no known parishes in the Burgenland area.

Of those denominations of interest to Burgenland, here are the details:

• Roman Catholic: Most Roman Catholic records begin shortly after the Turks were forced to leave in 1686.

• Greek Catholic: In the 1600s, Orthodox ethnic groups agreed to accept the jurisdiction of the pope while retaining Orthodox liturgy and ritual, this compromise accepted in order to gain legal status and its accompanying freedoms and benefits. The resulting Uniate churches were called Greek Catholic. Most Greek Catholic parishes began keeping registers in the mid 1700s.

• Reformed: Calvinist Protestantism became the dominant religion of Hungarians in the late 1500s. The keeping of Reformed (Calvinist) church registers began in the early 1700s after the Turks were replaced by the Christian Austrian government.

• Lutheran: Lutheranism was accepted by many Germans in Hungary at about the same time Calvinism was adopted by the Hungarians. Their church registers begin in the early 1700s with the departure of the Turks. Lutheran records, for the most part, are located in the churches. During the Nazi era, some were photocopied (the records show stamps to that effect) and may be in Lutheran Archives.

• Jewish: Not recognised as a religion until 1781, Jews were required to keep records of births, marriages, and deaths in German, under Catholic supervision, beginning in 1788. However, because these records were also required for conscription and taxation purposes, Jews often evaded registration. Most Jewish communities did not actually start keeping records until the practice was again codified into law in 1840. In 1885, the Hungarian Royal Ministry of Cults required Jewish vital births, marriages, and deaths to be recorded in vital registers that included several congregations in a sub-district rather than in registers for each individual congregation. Exceptions were allowed when individual congregations paid to have their own registrar.

• Roma (Gypsy): Technically not a religion, Roma did not internally keep records of births, marriages, and deaths and avoided reporting such to external authorities. They were frequently banned, deported or forced to assimulate by various Hungarian governments. Empress Maria Theresa banned Roma marriages in the mid-1700s and ordered Romani children to be taken away from their parents. Emperor Joseph II prohibited use of the Romani language in 1783. Due to these measures, the Roma were largely assimulated into the larger society by the 19th and 20th centuries, so no separate record systems, then or now, exist.

Thus these dates reflect the earliest point where you can expect to find church records... and it would be unreasonable to assume you can go back further.

In 1730, Hungarian Catholic priests were ordered to record non-Catholic vital events in their church register books and a new format for the records was introduced in 1771.

In 1781, the Emperor Joseph II issued the Toleration Patent, which recognized Protestantism and Judaism throughout the Empire.

In 1784, still under Joseph II, regulations for keeping records were implemented. The key regulations are outlined below.

• Catholic priests were to function as civil registrars for non-Catholics: Catholic priests kept the official vital records for other religious groups, such as Jews, Lutherans and Orthodox. These other faiths sometimes kept their own records, but the records were not state documents. (However, over time, each of these religious groups was granted official record keeper status by the Austrian government.)

• Records were to be kept in Latin: Thus, one must be careful regarding names and languages found in the records. First names were usually translated into Latin and surname spellings sometimes adapted to be "more natural" in Latin.

• Records were to be kept in columnar format: It means that all the information is written in columns, making it comparatively easy to read and search the records. It also means that foreign language is less of a problem, requiring only a few key words to be learned. (Compare this to the paragraph format which requires the researcher to pick out the main information from long complicated sentences and to stumble through a larger vocabulary and complex grammar.)

Each type of vital record was to be kept in separate registers: The Catholic priest was to keep three separate registers for each event in the parish: births/baptisms, marriages, and deaths. Furthermore, each village in the parish was to be identified in the records. Thus, it is important that a researcher know the parish his/her ancestor came from. If the researcher knows only the village name, he/she will have to identify the parish the village belonged. The BB, of course, provide this information for villages in Burgenland on its website. For other villages, consult a good gazetteer from the time of interest. Having parish records, as opposed to village records, is generally a good thing for a researcher. If an ancestor moved from village to village, so long as the new village was in the same parish, the vital records would still be bound together. Of course, ancestors could have moved to a neighboring parish. Thus it is a good idea to become familiar with the geography of the region and learn all of the parishes in the immediate area.

• Copies of the records were to be made and forwarded to the Bishop: A copy of the birth/baptismal and marriage records was to be made by the priest so that one copy could be transferred to the Bishop’s Consistory. This operation was extended to death registers in 1836. This Austrian mandate was done for tax and military conscription purposes. (These copies, commonly called the Bishop’s copy or the duplicate copy, are one reason records from the area have survived, since two copies would need be destroyed to completely lose the records.)

Despite these 1784 regulations, Protestants in Hungary were authorized by 1787 to keep their registers independent of Catholic control.

The LDS (Mormon Church) microfilmed most of today's Burgenland church records (all faiths) that were available in archives in Budapest (mostly 1828-1895). Consult the LDS website,, or the BB LDS webpage,, to find the film numbers.

As noted below, the beginning of Civil Registrations in 1895 ended the period where Church records, though still kept, were also official state records.

Other records: Church records and nobility archives are not the only sources of records.

Wills. Started in Hungary around 1700. They include the name and age of testator, names of heirs (heirs in most cases are family members or close relatives), date and place of will, and description of the estate. Some of these earliest documents survive but, generally, wills were not written by the common folk. Available wills are in the Hungarian State Archives.

Tax books. Were also begun about 1700. They include the name and residence of the property owner, a description of real property, and the amount of tax paid. For 1700 to 1900, these records are in the Hungarian State Archives; since 1900, city and county archives hold the tax records.

Land registration records (Urbariums / tax appraisals). Covers 1715-1945 and includes the name of the property owner or head of family and sometimes names of family members. For 1715 to end of 1800, these records are in the Hungarian State Archives; since 1800, in local county archives and courthouses.

The 1715 and 1720 Urbarium images for much of Hungary are online at (however, Vas county is not in the available 1715 images). The Urbariums are also available on LDS microfilm #'s 1506129 (Moson Co, 1715), 1529556 (Sopron Co, 1715), 1529570-1529571 (Vas Co, 1720) and 1529572 (Moson and Sopron Co's, 1720).

Land records and deeds (Intabulations Bucher). Covers 1750-1945 and includes names of landowners and successors, location and description of property, and date of document. For 1750 to 1850, these records are in the Hungarian State Archives; since 1850, in local county archives.

Poorhouse and hospital records. Covers 1873-1920 and includes name, age, residence, and occupation of patient and names of parents. These records are generally not in usable order but can be found in local county archives.

Census Records. There are two censuses of interest to Burgenland:

1) The 1828 Hungarian Census, a land and property census with conscription information. Written in Latin, it gives names only of property owners with very little information about the household; Moson County can be found on LDS film #'s 0623058-0623060; Sopron County is found on film #'s 0623111-0623116; and Vas County is on film #'s 0623007-0623014. Consult the film notes at to determine the film a particular village is on.

An index and extraction of the listed names for Sopron County is available online from LDS here (the link is hidden due to its length). A similar index and extraction for Moson County is available from LDS on film # 1573238 (Item 18). Vas County has not yet been indexed or extracted.

2) The 1848 Hungarian Census of the Jews, a Jewish household census. Written in Hungarian, it gives names, ages and specific birthplaces of all members of the household. Moson County can be found on LDS film # 719825; Vas County is on film # 719827, Sopron County is not available but the free city of Sopron is on film # 719823.

Civil Registration records. Began in 1895 and go through the present. Digital copies up to 1920 are available online via the LDS link given here (the link is hidden due to its length). Newer records are at the civil registrars' offices in the town halls, with duplicates in the local county archives. However, the more recent records are available only to immediate family members. Church records, though still kept, were no longer official state records.

Ellis Island Passenger records. Covers 1892 to 1954. I prefer to search them for specific surnames or lists of all surnames from a particular village by using Stephen Morse's gold form found at: Be sure to consider spelling variations and Hungarian names for villages.

BB Records. The Burgenland Bunch website has a number of resources that can document the existence of a family name in a particular village at various times. Among these are:

The BB Surnames Pages at, which contain surnames connected to villages and to emigrant destinations. Some entries contain substantial detail.

The BB Village History files at While we do not have a village history page for every village, and some we do have are quite thin, it is a source you should try to look at for your village. Selected ones contain surnames from various historical records.

These histories are courtesy of various BB staff members who translated and summarized information from various sources, including:
- Josef Loibersbeck: Um Hirschenstein und Plischa. In: Volk und Heimat 1962
- Harald & Leonhard Prickler: Hoheitszeichen der kroatischen Gemeinden des Burgenlandes. Eisenstadt 1997
- More Hungarian Border Villages from Gyor-Moson-Sopron County (from Hizi Atlas)
- Leuchs Adressbuch, Band 18: Ungarn, Kroatien und Slavonien, 1899-1904, 9.Ausgabe
Magyar Katolikus Lexiko
n (Hungarian Catholic Encyclopaedia)
- Dr. Josef Loibersbeck's series "Um den Eisenberg", published in "Volk und Heimat"
- Handbuch der Historischen Stättten Österreich, 1970
- Father Gratian Leser's articles in the "Güssinger Zeitung," 1928
- Extractions from various village "Chroniks"

The BB Houselist pages,, give a snapshot in time (usually around 1856-8) of names of property owners.

The BH&R (Burgenländers Honored and Remembered) sister-site ( contains useful data. While this data is not sorted by village or origin (rather, it is by place of burial), a village-sorted index can be found online at the end of the book we created in 2012 about BH&R. See the back pages of for page numbers involving a particular surname or village.

In addition there are various village-specific items available on the BB website such as Father Graisy's book about the History of the houses of Wallern (see Wallern in der Geschichte seiner Häuser), BB Member Ed Malesky's extracts of Select Krobotek Church Records, and the Emigration & Deportation Lists from villages Schandorf, Balf and Pornoapati.

While I'm sure I've missed some potential Burgenland genealogical records, the above list should identify most of them. If you are aware of an additional source of information, please send me a note with details so I can add it to our BB bag of genealogical tricks!


Editor: This is part of our series designed to recycle interesting articles from the BB Newsletters of 10 years ago. This month, I reprint one from NL 116C (March 2003) about Dr. Ladislaus Batthyány-Strattmann (1870-1931), who was beatified in 2003 by the Catholic Church for his medical work with the poor. Dr. Batthyány-Strattmann is unique in that he is the only Burgenländer to receive this high honor from the Catholic Church.

For your information, 'beatification' is step three in the Catholic canonization process, wherein one is given the title of "Blessed." Receiving the title "Servant of God" is the first of the four steps in the process and is given to a deceased person of the Catholic Church whose life and works are being investigated in consideration for official recognition by the Pope and the Catholic Church. The second step is being declared "Venerable," upon a decree of heroism or martyrdom by the honored. This is followed by beatification, which requires confirmation of miracles resulting from the intercession of the honored. The final step is canonization, wherein the honored receives the title of "Saint."

It turns out that there were two additional articles related to this topic in BB NL 117 (April 2003); I include those also.

March 31, 2003


(ED. Note: The Batthyány family held the Güssing Herrschaft from 1524 to 1918).

Bob writes: This week I got my copy of the latest Karpatendeutsche newspaper from Vienna, which also had an article about Ladislaus Batthyány's beatification. He was also well known to the people in and around Pressburg/Bratislava, just a stone's throw from his castle and hospital in Kittsee. My article says that he is buried in the crypt of the Batthyány family castle in Körmend, not Güssing. But according to the Diocese of Eisenstadt website, he is indeed buried in the Franciscan Cloister Church in Güssing.

Other tidbits from this article:

• A hand bone was recently removed from his remains and will be placed in a shrine as a relic.

• Burgenland parishes organized bus and plane trips to Rome for the celebration.

• Deceased Bishop of Eisenstadt, Stefan Laszlo, who visited the Burgenländers in America several times, originated the campaign for Batthyány's beatification.

• Batthyány was among the first to perform cataract operations.

• He would give children a Gulden (florin, guilder) to "help ease the pain." When this became known, children would feign toothaches just to get the coin.

• He was affable, down-to-earth, even folksy, and this endeared him to the "common folk."

• The mother of the article's author (family was from Pressburg) was sent to Batthyány as a child because of an earache and hearing loss. He told her, "Don't worry about it, Mitzerl, because there are a lot of things you're better off not hearing anyway!" His all-natural remedy: brew some chamomile tea and let the steam enter the ear through a hole cut in the tip of a Stanitzl (cone).

• His castle in Kittsee is now an ethnographic museum (Ethnographisches Museum Schloss Kittsee). I've been through Kittsee several times on my way to Pressburg, but never had a chance to see the museum. A well-known Advent Concert and Market, lasting three days, is held every year at the castle, entitled "Burgenländischer Advent in Schloss Kittsee." The concerts are broadcast on Austrian TV and radio. See

• A memorial to him will be dedicated on March 30th in the Franciscan Cloister Church in Güssing.

• For more info, see the Diocese of Eisenstadt website (includes an extensive bio and tribute in English):ány/ [Ed: link is no longer functional; see instead:]

• Click "Batthyány-Gedenkstätte vor Fertigstellung" for an image and description (in German) of the memorial, as designed by architect Johann Traupmann and artist Heinz Ebner, both of Güssing.

• Ladislaus Batthyány has now been entered into the online Dictionary of Saints in Germany:

• His birthplace, Dunakiliti (Kiliti = St. Cletus, feast day April 26), lies in Györ-Moson-Sopron County and also has a German name: Frauendorf. The Batthyány castle, where he also ran a clinic, still stands and has been turned into a school named after him.

April 30, 2003


With interest I noted that you too mentioned (BB News No. 116C) the beatification of our great grand father, Prince Batthyány-Strattmann in Rome. Just for clarification, I want to point out that this was a unique beatification for one main reason: Batthyány-Strattmann is/was of course buried in our family crypt in Güssing. However, he is also considered a "Hungarian Saint", so the beatification was done by TWO dioceses, Eisenstadt and also Szombathely (Steinamanger). After all, Kittsee was Hungarian when he lived and Körmend (where my father, one of the 27 grand children of the blessed, still lived till WW2) is in Hungary. So also for the whole organization of the beatification it was a big challenge which worked out well, that two countries, two bishops, were involved.

For the beatification, the Batthyány Family came as well, all together over 150 members. My father presented the relics to the Holy Father at the ceremony. From Hungary as well, the Hungarian State President attended and from Austria the governor of Burgenland. Also Archduke Otto von Hapsburg and his family attended.

The ceremony was also broadcast on TV in Hungary and Austria. The ceremony on Sunday the 30th in the Franciscan Church in Güssing, where the remains of my great grand father were carried into a new shrine by members of the family, at a holy mass with Bishop Iby of Eisenstadt, was very moving!

I also want to mention that Güssing (the castle, and family burial place under the church (the largest in Austria, after the Hapsburgs) is still managed by the family Batthyány. This is done via a foundation between the family and the government of Burgenland.

Kindest Regards, Ladislaus E. Batthyány, Vienna, Austria

PS: Further information can also be found under: [Ed: direct link is:]


The beatification of Ladislaus Batthyány has been a very important event in Burgenland, especially for Güssing, it appears. Busses of pilgrims are arriving from Hungary.

I received mail from Güssing late last week: a commemorative envelope of the beatification; inside was a prayer pamphlet with Ladislaus Batthyány's biography, a prayer, and quotations, along with a postcard of Batthyány with the following message:

"Einen herzlichen Segensgruss von unserem seligen Augenarzt Dr. Ladislaus Batthyány sendet Dir und dem lieben Hianzn-Chor Euer dankbarer Pater Leopold Prizelitz."

("A heartfelt greeting from our blessed eye doctor to you and the dear Hianzn-Chor sent by your thankful, Father Leopold Prizelitz.")


(courtesy of Bob Strauch)

Wednesday, April 10: German Music Show at the Evergreen Heimatbund in Fleetwood. Info:

Saturday, April 13: GTV Edelweiss Schuhplattlers' 64th Stiftungsfest at the Reading Liederkranz. Info:

Saturday, April 20: Spring Concert at the Reading Liederkranz with the Reading Liederkranz Chorus and guest choruses. Dance music by the Joe Weber Orchestra. Info:


Tuesday, April 2, 5:30 to 7:30 pm: First Tuesday Buffet (Members $10 - Guests $14). Lancaster Liederkranz. Entertainment by Carl Heidlauf.

Saturday, April 13, 7:30 to 11:30 pm: Ein Abend In Wien (Semi-formal, Members $8 - Guests $10). Lancaster Liederkranz. Music by Walt Groller. Dinner service available 5:30 to 8 pm.

Sunday, April 27, 5 to 6 pm: Spring Concert by the Liederkranz Chorus. Open to the public ~ Free admission.  Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church, 85 E Brandt Blvd, Landisville.

Sunday, April 27, 6 to 11:30 pm: Buffet Dinner & Spring Dance (Dance, 7:30 to 11:30 pm: Members $8 - Guests $10). Lancaster Liederkranz. Music by Die Immergrün Musikanten. Buffet dinner (6 to 7:30 pm: $12 Adult - $6 Child) follows concert above.


Friday, April 5, 7 pm: Heimat Abend. Austrian Donau Club, 545 Arch Street, New Britain, CT (860 223-9401). Music by Joe Rogers.

Friday, March 19, 7 pm: Heurigan Abend. Austrian Donau Club. Music by Schachtelgebirger Musikanten.


Mary Waldvogel

Mary Waldvogel, 94, of South Bend, Indiana, passed away at 7:25 pm Monday, February 25, 2013, in Morningside Nursing Center.

Mary was born on February 3, 1919, in Nikitsch, Burgenland, Austria, to Fabian and Mary (Tompos) Darabos.

She was a member of Our Lady of Hungary Church, and member of the former St. Anthony's Society Ladies Auxiliary and DFV Ladies Auxiliary.

On June 28, 1941, in South Bend, she married Robert F. Waldvogel, who died on January 7, 2006.

She was also preceded in death by a son, Robert, and brothers, Steve, Louis and John Darabos. Surviving are a daughter, Mary Louise Kuminecz of Las Vegas, NV; and 3 grandchildren, Christopher Kuminecz, Anne (Bowd) Beal and Beth (Ben) Kimberlin; and 2 great-grandchildren, Cage Beal and Hudson Beal; and a brother-in-law, Ronald (Judy) Waldvogel.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 10:00 am Saturday, March 2, 2013, in Our Lady of Hungary Church. Burial will follow at Highland Cemetery. Family and friends may call from 4-8 Friday in the Zahoran Funeral Home, 1826 Kemble Avenue, where a Rosary will be recited at 4:30 pm. Memorial contributions may be made to Our Lady of Hungary Church. To leave an online condolence, visit our website, or our Facebook page, Zahoran Funeral Home.

Published in South Bend Tribune on February 28, 2013


Theresa Zotter

Theresa Zotter, 95, of Toronto, Canada, died peacefully on Thursday, March 7, 2013.

Born in St. Martin an der Raab, Austria, she was a daughter of the late Alois and Anna (Schreiner) Winkler.

She was predeceased by her husband Frank.

She is survived by her family and friends in Austria and Canada.

Special thank you to the staff at Leisureworld-Etobicoke, especially Raquel and Elvira, for their loving and compassionate care. Viewing at Newediuk Funeral Home, Kipling Chapel, 2058 Kipling Ave. (north of Rexdale Blvd.), from Monday 10 a.m. until service time in the chapel at 11 a.m. Cremation to follow. In lieu of flowers, donations to UNICEF would be appreciated. Online condolences at

Published in the Toronto Star on March 9, 2013


Gisela Hirmann

Gisela Hirmann (née Hanzl), 78, of Clifton, New Jersey, passed away on March 24, 2013.

She was the beloved wife of Michael Hirmann, devoted mother to Rosemarie Tintle of Riverdale and Kenneth M. Hirmann of Clifton, loving grandmother to Erika and Amanda, and great-grandmother to Adaya.

Mrs. Hirmann was born in Gamischdorf, Burgenland, Austria and came to the U.S. in 1955, settling in Clifton.

She was a bookkeeper for 15 years with Mahaffy & Harder Engineering Co. in Fairfield. She was an active parishioner of Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Passaic, where she was a member of the church choir and Golden Agers and current president of the Kolping Society. She was also an honorary member and New Jersey representative of the Burgenländische Gemeinschaft.

Funeral from the Marrocco Memorial Chapel, 470 Colfax Avenue, Clifton on Wednesday at 9:15 AM followed by a funeral mass at Holy Trinity RC Church at 10 AM. Entombment Calvary Cemetery. Visitation Tuesday 2-4 and 7-9 PM. In lieu of flowers memorial contributions should be made to Holy Trinity RC Church, Passaic.

Published in The Record/Herald News from March 25 to March 26, 2013.


Angela Kessler

Angela Kessler (née Zach), 75, of Montauk, Long Island, New York, passed away peacefully on February 9th, 2013.

She was born in her beloved town of Gerersdorf bei Güssing, Austria on July 22, 1937 - where she traveled back as often as she could to visit and spend time with family and friends.

Angela came to the United States in 1949, and she married John Kessler on November 10, 1957. Angela and John have 2 children, Richard and Lorraine, and 7 grandchildren whom she so enjoyed spending time with whether she was baking, gardening, fishing or swimming with them.

Angela was an avid volunteer at her original parish in the Bronx, Holy Family. Not only was she a Lector and Eucharistic Minister, but she was a coach for the girls youth softball teams and the girls junior basketball teams which she coached to a CYO Archdiocese title in 1970. She worked as a teacher's aide for the special education class for 8 years at Holy Family and St. Raymond's elementary schools. Angela graduated cum laude with a BS in Education from CUNY Lehman in 1975 and taught for 10 years at Our Lady Queen of Angels elementary school in East Harlem, New York. She implemented and directed many after school programs, which she secured government grants for. Angela's never ending community support eventually got her appointed to Community Board #9 in the Bronx in 1978 where she began volunteering as an administrative assistant for 3 years; was then appointed Chairperson of Land & Zoning Committee for 2 years; appointed Chairperson of the Youth Service Planning Committee for 2 years; appointed Assistant District Manager of Community Board #9 in 1985 and was interim District Manager during vacancies until she retired in 1993. Her adventurous spirit and enjoyment of beaches helped her discover her second home in Montauk, Long Island, whereby she attained her captain's license for the charter fishing trips she and John would run once they retired. In between fishing trips and days at the beach, Angela tended to her vast outdoor garden and indoor flowers and plants; she and John sang on the choir at their parish church, St. Theresa's and enjoyed the many friends they had in the Montauk area in addition to all those who ventured to "the end" to visit with them.

The family wishes to express their sincere appreciation and gratitude for all the acts of kindness shown to them in their time of sorrow. Visitation at the Flynn Memorial Home Inc., 1652 Central Park Ave., Tuesday 7-9 pm and Wednesday from 2-4 & 7-9 pm. Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated 10 am Thursday, at Our Lady of Fatima Church, 5 Strathmore Road, Scarsdale, New York 10583. Interment will follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, Hawthorne, New York. Memorial donations may be made to: The Long Island Chapter of Alzheimer's Association,


Agnes Schneider

Agnes Schneider, age 93, of Murfreesboro, Tennessee, passed away Tuesday, March 26, 2013 at Life Care Center of Hickory Woods.

Mrs. Schneider was born in Punitz, Austria to the late Christoph and Theresia (Radits) Maikisch.

She was a member of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church and an active member of Stones River Seniors Club.

Mrs. Schneider was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Edgar F. Schneider; brother, Josef and sister, Theresia.

She is survived by her son, Peter James Schneider (Mary) of Murfreesboro; grandchildren, Sarah Anne Busman of Durham, NC, Katie Marie Schneider of Murfreesboro; brothers, Gustav and Johann of Austria; and sister, Anna of Austria.

Celebration of life service to be held at a later date. Those wishing may send condolences online at Murfreesboro Funeral Home, 145 Innsbrooke Blvd., Murfreesboro, TN (615) 896-2229.

Published in The Daily News Journal on March 28, 2013


Theresa Strom

Theresa Mary Strom, 93, of Iselin, New Jersey, passed away Friday March 29th in Perth Amboy.

She was the wife of the late Gustav Strom.

Born in Kirchfidisch, Austria, she was the daughter of the late Stefan and Julianna (Gollatz) Schaffer.

Retiring in 1985, she was employed by Crum and Foster for many years. She was a member of the Immanuel Union AARP and Widows Club in Staten Island and also volunteered at the Eger Nursing Home. Theresa loved playing cards, sewing, playing bingo and Scrabble.

She is survived by her devoted daughter Corinne Fahy and her husband Francis of Port Reading, cherished grandchildren Gregory and Kenneth, both of Port Reading.

She was predeceased by her son Richard in 2002 and three brothers.

Funeral services will be Tuesday 11:00am from the Chubenko Funeral Home 625 Port Reading Ave., Port Reading followed by interment at Ocean View Cemetery, Staten Island. Visitation Monday 2pm to 4pm and 7pm to 9pm at the funeral home. To send online condolences please visit,

Published in Home News Tribune on March 30, 2013


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