Danube Swabian


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Donauschwaben Glossary
Commonly used words and terms found during Donauschwaben researcher & discussions.
Last Updated: 06 Feb 2014

The Bund der Vertriebenen "Federation of Expellees"
concentration camp
death camp
displaced person
displaced persons (DP) camps
ethnic Germans
Familienbuch or Ortssippenbuch, Ortsfamilienbuch
forced migration
labor camp
Ortssippenbuch, Ortsfamilienbuch or Familienbuch
penal labor
Village Coordinator


Banat: The term “banat” originates from Persian, meaning lord or master, and was introduced into Europe by the Avars; it came to mean a frontier province or a district under military governorship. *1

Bildband: A book containing mostly pictures but may include village information.

The Bund der Vertriebenen (BdV) (German for "Federation of Expellees") is a non-profit organization formed to represent the interests of Germans displaced from their homes in Historical Eastern Germany and other parts of Eastern Europe by the expulsion of Germans after World War II. ("Heimatvertriebene": "Homeland expellees").

It represents the diaspora of, today, approximately 15 million German citizens, that after World War II were on flight from the oncoming Russian Army or expelled from Poland and the Soviet Union and former German territories, ethnic Germans who were expelled from Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia and other countries, it also includes people who were part of colonization effort by the German Reich or who resettled by Nazi occupied (mostly) former German territories during the war. The federation is currently headed by the CDU politician Erika Steinbach.  

Over the course of the twentieth century, the arbitrary imprisonment of people of civilians by the authority of the state became more common and reached a climax with the practice of genocide, [the systematic killing of substantial numbers of people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political opinion, social status or other particularity] in the death camps of the Nazi regime in Germany, and with the Gulag system of forced labor camps of the Soviet Union and the death camp installed by the communist Tito regime in Yugoslavia during the post war years of WWII. *2

concentration camp: a large detention center created for political opponents, aliens, specific ethnic or religious groups, civilians of a critical war-zone, or other groups of people, often during a war. The term refers to situations where the internees are persons selected for their conformance to broad criteria without judicial process, rather than having been judged as individuals. Camps for prisoners of war are usually considered separately from this category, although informally (and in some other languages) they may also be called concentration camps. The word "concentration" indicates a regional concentration, but it also implies the crowded, and often unhealthy, state of the facilities. *2

DS: Abbreviation for Danube Swabian/Donauschwaben, coined by the DVHH volunteers.

death camp: is either a concentration camp, the important (though not necessarily single) function of which is to facilitate mass murder of the people deported into such a camp, or a camp specifically set up for mass extermination (such as Treblinka, Belzec and Sobibor, in German occupied Poland or such camps as in Rudolfsgnad, Gakowa or Mitrowitza among others in communist Tito Yugoslavia during the post war years of WWII which were not concentration camps, but pure extermination camps). *2

diaspora: the term (Ancient Greek a scattering or sowing of seeds) used (without capitalization) to refer to any people or ethnic population forced or induced to leave their traditional ethnic homelands, being dispersed throughout other parts of the world, and the ensuing developments in their dispersal and culture. *2

Displaced person: (sometimes abbreviated DP) is the general term for someone who has been forced to leave his or her native place, a phenomenon known as forced migration. The term first gained widespread usage during World War II and the resulting refugee outflows from Eastern Europe, when it was used to specifically refer to one removed from his or her native country as a refugee, prisoner or a slave laborer. The meaning has significantly broadened in the past half-century. A displaced person may also be referred to as a forced migrant.  The term "refugee" is also commonly used as a synonym for displaced person, causing confusion between the general descriptive class of anyone who has left their home and the subgroup of legally defined refugees who enjoy specified international legal protection. *2

Displaced Persons (DP) Camps were established in Germany, France, Italy and Belgium, some located in former concentration camps, where forced immigrants were housed.  Some remained in these camps for several years while they waited for permission to immigrate.3

Donauschwaben: The name “Danube Swabian” was coined in 1920 by Dr. Hermann Rüdiger (a scientist from Stuttgart) and Robert Sieger (a geographer from Graz) and validated by the German Foreign Department in 1930, during the Weimar Republic, acknowledging the German origin of the Danube Swabians.   The Germans realized that, left unassisted and divided among Romanians, Yugoslavs and Hungarians, the Danube Swabians would not be able to resist assimilation attempts and as an ethnic group would disappear, and with them a culture and values worth preserving.  This collective name would identify and better describe the Germans whose ancestors settled in Hungary during the three "Great Swabian Migrations."

The name was derived from the German province of Swabia (Schwaben), and the Danube (Duna/Donau) River.  The name Danube derived from the Celtic word Danubius.  However, the name was not used by the "Danube Swabians" themselves, the youngest of the German "Volksgruppen" (folks groups), until after their expulsion by the communist governments of their respective countries after WW II. The Danube Swabians are also referred to as "Donaudeutsche" meaning Danube Germans. *3

Donaudeutsche: Danube Germans

Ethnic Germans (usually simply called Germans, in German Volksdeutsche) are those who are considered, by themselves or others, to be ethnically German rather than anything else but who do not live within the Federal Republic of Germany nor hold its citizenship. The concept of ethnic belonging is always problematic; it can relate to...
  • Having a cultural connection with German culture
  • speaking the German language
  • having ancestors who were born in Germany or an area that is or was otherwise considered German, without having German citizenship

The concept of who is an ethnic German has repeatedly changed in history. For example, in contrast to the Swiss and the Dutch who had already split off and shaped separate national identities, the German speaking Austrians used to consider themselves as ethnic Germans up until the mid- 20th century. The first attempts to create a consciousness of the "Austrian nation" took place during the Napoleonic wars (including non-German speaking Austrians) and in the early 1930s, but without major effects. After WWII Austrians increasingly see themselves as a nation distinct from the German one, and today no more than 10 percent of German-speaking Austrians consider themselves to be Germans. *2

ethnicity: Identity with or membership in a particular racial, national, or cultural group and observance of that group's customs, beliefs, and language.

Familienbuch or Ortssippenbuch, Ortsfamilienbuch: Ort means place; Sippe means kinship or tribe; Buch means book.  It should list all of the families of that particular village with their genealogical data in alphabetical order. All genealogical connections known to the author should be given.

Guidelines for the compilation of these books | Ortsnamenbuch Guide - Image

Forced migration refers to the coerced movement of a person or persons away from their home or home region. It often connotes violent coercion, and is used interchangeably with the terms "displacement" or forced displacement. *2

Genocide is the systematic killing of substantial numbers of people on the basis of ethnicity, religion, political opinion, social status or other particularity. *2

GULag is the acronym for Chief Administration of Corrective Labour Camps and Colonies; meaning Glavnoe Upravlenie Lagerei, or the Soviet's Main Camp Administration. Over time, the word "Gulag" has also come to signify not only the administration of the concentration camps but also the system of Soviet slave labor itself, in all its forms and varieties: labor camps, punishment camps, criminal and political camps, women's camps, children's camps, transit camps. Even more broadly, "Gulag" has come to mean the Soviet repressive system itself, the set of procedures that prisoners once called the "meat-grinder": the arrests, the interrogations, the transport in unheated cattle cars, the forced labor, the destruction of families, the years spent in exile, the early and unnecessary deaths. *2

Heimatbuch: Tells the history of the village and only a few of them provide all of the names of inhabitants in former times.

Hochdeutsch is proper German spoken in Germany, like Oxford English is considered proper English *1

Joch: One joch is the area of a square 40 klafters (about 83 yards) on a side (1klafter»1.9m). The Joch thus comes to 0.5755 hectare (1 hectare=10000 m2) or about 1.422 acres. Joch is also the German word for a yoke, so this unit represents an area that could be plowed in a day by a yoke of oxen.

Judetul: municipality

A labor camp is a simplified detention facility where inmates are engaged in penal labor. Labor camps have many common aspects with slavery and with prisons. Conditions at labor camps vary widely depending on the operators.  During the regime in Yugoslavia to perform labor duties under adverse condition by German (Donauschwaben) civilians, while during Stalinism,  labor camps in the Soviet Union were officially called "Corrective labor camps." The term Labor colony; more exactly, "Corrective labor colony" was also in use & referred to camps that housed prisoners with shorter average sentences.*2

lookup:  Lookup Informants provide a labor of love when helping you find missing pieces of your family puzzle that eludes you. They search through related reference books including specific village family books.

Magyar: Hungarian language; a native or inhabitant of Hungary.

Magyarorszag (Hungary) officially in English the Republic of Hungary (Magyar Köztársaság, literally Hungarian Republic), is a landlocked country in Central Europe, bordered by Austria, Slovakia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Its capital is Budapest.

megye: Hungarian for county.

nationality: The status of belonging to a particular nation by origin, birth, or naturalization.

naturalization: The act or process of naturalizing, esp. of investing an alien with the rights and privileges of a native or citizen; also, the state of being naturalized.

Ortssippenbuch, Ortsfamilienbuch: see Familienbuch

Penal labour is a form of the unfree labour. The term may refer to two different notions: labour as a form of punishment and labour as a form of occupation of convicts. *2

The term Nazi typically refers to someone who affiliates oneself with or is perceived to be affiliated with the ideology of the former National Socialist German Workers Party (Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, commonly called NSDAP:the Nazi Party).*2

A refugee  is a person seeking asylum in a foreign country in order to escape persecution. *2

VC: Village Coordinator, coined by the DVHH for their volunteers.

Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans) is a historical term which arose in the early 20th century to apply for Germans living outside of the German Empire. *2

Volksgruppen: German folks groups

*1: © DVHH Archives 

*2 Copyright © This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Federation of Expellees."  NOTE: Corrections and updates made by Hans Kopp 23 Nov 2007.

*3: DVHH Webmaster note

*4: Who Are The Donauschwaben? by Hans Kopp

[Published at DVHH.org, 21 Apr 2005 by Jody McKim Pharr]

Finding Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

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