Thursday, 6 November 2014

More about Germany…

Tower of London, September 2014
… Hungary, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Rumania

I began blogging again last week, after a long break. I was encouraged to begin writing again mainly because one of my much valued readers wrote me a wonderful motivational letter. That reader is Emma McDowell. Today I received a comment from her prompted by reading my blog about the wonderful series that BBC Radio 4 is currently running about Germany – 


Instead of publishing it on that blog posting as a comment I have decided to give it a more prominent position as a blog in its own right.

This not only reaches more readers it also gives me a good excuse to post some of my photographs! 

Thank you very much Emma.  

Dear Susie,

I enjoyed your blog in the Conductive Post about the radio programme. With the Armistice Day celebrations coming up - and everybody walking about with poppies in their buttonholes – I finally also feel myself to be British enough to wear it. Not everybody does in N.Ireland, this is another contentious issue here. Andrew S. should know all about it, since he and Chas were here at one of the biggest atrocities in 1987 when an IRA bomb went off at a war memorial in Enniskillen, killing 11 people on Armistice Day. (Andrew and Chas were our main speakers at the R.A.C.E. Northern Ireland Conference at that time.)


As for the forced evacuees after the war, I lived in Hungary during the “big amnesia” of so called “Socialism” when neither Hungarian nor German soldiers, who perished in the World Wars,  were officially remembered, nor were the many thousands captured  or rounded up (civilians, too) and transported to Russia into slave labour. If they were lucky enough to survive they were ordered not to talk about it. Neither could the so called “Benes Decree” be mentioned which forced thousands of Hungarian civilians (as well as ethnic Germans) out of their homes and into exile at the end of the 2nd World War in the newly re-annexed (ex-Hungarian) territories in Czechoslovakia. The lucky ones went to Austria, but – as refugees – into poverty.  The “issue” is still not solved, no compensation has been agreed on. The present (by hostile foreign press much abused) Hungarian government keeps the matter on the agenda… 

There were many ethnic Germans, enjoying Hungarian nationality for generations, who also had to flee the land they regarded as home, from the Southern part of Hungary, known as the Banat. When it was annexed to Yugoslavia, then to Rumania, at the end of the 1st World War, the majority of these people were taken in by (the territorially much reduced), Hungary, my mother’s father, and many friends and relatives, amongst them. It was still a fairly civilized affair, even pension rights of civil servants were guaranteed. The ones who stayed behind had a much harsher destiny at the end of the 2nd World War: they had to flee for their lives, leaving everything behind. 

Again, many of Mother’s close relatives were amongst them – their crime being that they were regarded as “German sympathisers”. Mother’s cousins ended up in Graz (Austria) and they were able to build up their lives again. Some of the older relatives who couldn’t move died in abject poverty in the geographic area where they had been brought up and which they had helped to make prosperous in times of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. It wasn’t until 1958 that my mother was able to visit her Aunt in her native village, which lay at a distance of about 40 km from Szeged (where we lived), but on the other side of the border with “friendly” Rumania.

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