In the impressive studies Ms. Sylvia Diener-Gohl, student council, has described the history of Bulkes in the Bulkes homeland book. Ms. Diener-Gohl was born in Germany, half descendant of Bulkes, half Tscherwenka.
The Founding Time
The settlement of Bulkes in 1786 was during the time of the third Schwabenzug (migration of the Swabians). In 1771 the colonization which began under the Empress Maria-Theresia came to a standstill in 1763. After the death of his mother, Emperor Josef II resumed the settlement effort again to a large extent in 1784. At the high point in 1786, which was during the third Schwabenzug which lasted from 1784 to 1787, 1450 German families settled in the Batschka. Josef II's Tolerance Act of 1781, about the equal treatment of Catholics and Protestants promted many people to apply to be colonists. The promis of religious freedom, and the provision of the necessary clergy and teachers pronounced in the first emigration act of 1782 triggered an emigration fever to the small states in the German southwest. The number of Protestant emigrators exceeded the number of Catholics. The supporting point on the Danube where the colonists arrived was Apatin which was populated in 1750. With the promise the colonists were guaranteed transportation on the Danube and further into the lands interior to receive pasture land, which during Theresia's reign the settlements lay predominantly near the Danube. In the course of the third Schwabenzug the colonists came to the newly founded settlements on the Prädien (pasture land) in the lands interior. So purely Lutheran and Lutheran-Reformed communities came into being which were Torschau in 1784, Tcherwenka in 1785, Kleinker, Sekitsch, Bulkes in 1786 and Jarek 1787.
In view of what was happening at the time in Europe can be an indication. In 1786 the Prussian King Frederick II, the Great, died and in Russia the Czarina Catherine II, the Great, ruled. In France Louis XVI held court and he was married to Marie Antoinette, a daughter of Maria Theresia. In 1786 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart composed the opera "The Marriage of Figaro" and at that time the poets Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Friedrich von Schiller and Immanuel Kant wrote some of their later world famous works.
The place where those who applied to be settlers in the small German states in the southwest gathered was Ulm. On "Zillen" (small boats), to discriminate from the Neckar ships, they were called "Ulmer Schachteln", they went down the Danube over to Regensberg and on to Vienna. The small boats were a type of wooden ship. They had no motor, their speed was decided by the current of the river. On the Danube shore in Ulm one such Zille (boat) in original condition is on display. From the start of the colonists' trip at the second gathering point, Regensberg, they went by simple rudder ships, the 'Kehlheimer', to Vienna. Up to Vienna the cost of the trip had to be raised by the colonists. After registration in Vienna the costs of the continuing trip to the Batschka was taken over by the Viennese court. With that the Viennese settlement authorities took over and guaranteed the colonists did not have to worry about food and lodging until they could possibly take care of themselves again.
On the Prädium (prairie?) (called Puszta in Hungarian), Bulkesz, a steppe or grassland, the establishment of Bulkes began in June 1786 with 200 homes for farmers and 15 homes for craftsmen pounded from the ground. The colonists' homes were thatched covered "Stampfhaus" (sod houses). The walls and floors were pounded from the earth taken from the settlement place. The walls were painted with chalk. Other building materials were not at their disposal. Later, with the construction of the church in 1817, the first bricks were fired from clay in Bulkes. The farmhouse had two rooms, a feed chamber with a loft high up, a kitchen, and a stable. The craftsman's house had one room less and no stable. The room had one simple small window.
The climate in the uninhabited steppe and the overall rainy weather the first year brought the settlement generation some hard setbacks. Rising ground water caused flooding. They labored on the steppes' grounds as they wrestled with the farmland which was swampland. The standing water caused decay which brought out swamp fever. Unhealthy drinking water caused intestinal illnesses which led to an epidemic. Many settlers died. In Bulkes 900 colonists were settled there. One year later, with the arrival of the pastors, the community numbered 1000 people in November 1787. In the following year of 1789 the number of inhabitants sank to 500 as a result of the high death rate and through the migrations away from the unhealthy climate. In the community there were 30 orphans. At irregular intervals, especially in the middle of the 19th century, the flooding returned. A noticeable remedy was brought about first by the Franz Josef Canal which went past Bulkes and was finished in 1872.
After the end of 10 tax free years at the end of May 1795 the customary "Urbario" (cultivated land tax?) was demanded. The farmers and small homeowners were hereditary tenants and had to pay house interest. The farmers had to give up from one seventh to one tenth of the harvest yield. The greatest need was overcome. In the year 1810 there were 1,425 inhabitants in Bulkes in 229 homes by that time. There were no woods and thatch reeds in Bulkes and its surrounding area. In the beginning heat was provided with straw. With the cultivation of the corn the homes were heated until 1945 with "Starze", corn stalk roots. The husks of the corn stalks were used for livestock feed and the rest of the corn stalk was dried and heated.
In the years when they began to cultivate hemp the homes were also heated with "Brechoune", the chopped up and dried hemp stalks. Until 1945 the "Butzen", the dried corncobs with the kernels removed were used in the oven as burning material.
The currency in Austria at the time was the Gulden (fr.) One Gulden consisted of 60 Kreutzer (Xr.). The measure of grain was the Metzen. The Metzen has a content of 62 liters.
No farmer could sell the assigned grounds, agricultural equipment, cows and horse of the estate or give or pass it on to his children. Only the oldest son, or if there was none, the oldest daughter, had rights to inheritance. If the couple was childless, only then was it passed on to the wife if she was younger than 60 years old. If these terms were not met, ownership fell back to the royal court and from this another subject was assigned to the estate. After the events in the year 1848 and the social changes connected with it, hereditary tenants ended. The farmer was property owner of the house and the grounds were managed by him. The small homeowner was also property owner of the homes he lived in.
The Blossoming Times
Was the settlement period shaped by the pure battle for existence, increased by the economical upswing due to the
desires for better living quality. For the owners of property, freed of state regulations, it now left them with
their own capital full of wishes. When the Hungarians revolted against the Hapsburgs for their independence in 1848 troops came to Bulkes again and again.
These came to the judge and wanted to know which party he stood for. At the time there was still no newspaper and
Bulkes was almost cut off from the world. The judge could not recognize the membership of one troop by the uniforms.
When the first troop came to Bulkes the commandant asked the judge which party he stood for. Assuming they
were the imperial army he answered: "We are for the emperor." But they were rebels. The commandant ordered the
"small jusge" (community servant) to fetch a bench on which the judge was to lay down and had to pull off his
stockings. As punishment the judge received from the commandant 25 lashes from the whip on the soles of his feet.
This event happened again one more time. When a troop came into the community house for a third time and the
question was placed to the judge again to which party did he belong, he hardly answered the question when he said
to the small judge, "Kirschan, go and fetch the bench." The first police were in Bulkes later. At what point was a free administration with elected community representatives
introduced is not recorded. Bulkes was subordinate to the judicial authority of the district office in Palanka.
The appropriate political authorities of the area for Bulkes were in Neusatz. This was the situation until 1945.
The original stamped house was sufficient because the changing soil moisture no longer increased demands. The new house type was built with mud bricks. The so-called mud bricks were sun dried and for better binding wheat chaff was mixed with the clay brick. Later this was removed from the burned clay bricks. The thatched roof was replaced with tile roof. The ground water draining and the new building techniques mad it possible to now also build a cellar. Each house had an open "Zieh" (draw) well typical of the land, later also with modern pump wells with their own water supply. That was the standard until the year 1945.
One example from Jakob Stadt of Würzburg, an ethno-topographic description by Rev. Josef Spannagel and notary Friedrich Tonner published in the Bulkes homeland newspaper gives a view in the life in Bulkes in the year 1860. A visible prosperity of the citizen was reported there. There were now 2725 inhabitants living in 297 homes. In the year 1850 the 400 children were instructed by only one teacher, which now two teachers instruct 234 children in the boys' school and 239 children in the girls' school.
The hospital erected in 1859 with 6 beds was already closed a year later and was moved to the neighboring community of Gajdobra.
The judge and the revolution.
The 280 families who settled in Bulkes came from 221 communities from 6 of the empire's lands. Most came from present day northern Pfalz and from the neighboring Rhine-Hesse.
From this mixture of German people developed in the village community in the Batschka its own unmistakable DIALECT with a strong Pfalz accent.
As the son of landlords born in 1848 in Bulkes, Georg Schwalm, the pastor of Pantschewo, became known as an important dialect poet of the southeast German area under the pseudonym "Jörg of the Schwalm." What he wrote dealt with Bulkes and is predominantly drafted in the Bulkes dialect. The third Bulkes homeland book, published in 1984, begins with the poem by Jörg of the Schwalm, MEI MOTTERSPROCH.
As poets of our community he has in Karl Brunner, Jakob Graß, Elli Elicker, and Hans Weber, to name only a few worthy successors.
The cultural life in our community was revived with the establishment of different associations and music bands and the fire company in 1894. A choral society of prestige wanted to obtain, at least had to perform in one to two operettas in the year. As the first cultural association of the community of Bulkes the Bulkes Evangelical Men's Choral Society was established in 1866. Many customs and traditions in the ethnological descriptions by Spannagel and Tonner are handed down from the year 1860, had existed until 1945. As someone born in Bulkes, I have the Easter egg of my "Goten" (godparents and other relatives) on Easter Sunday going from house to house still collecting exactly like the description of the 1860 custom.
Those on the loess soil in the ground cultivating process consisting of black earth and interacting with the existing climate between the oceanic west and the continental east where the continental predominated, offered the best possible prerequisites for grain cultivation.
From the ethnological-topographic description of the year 1860 we learn that for the most part wheat, oats, hemp, and corn were cultivated. The ground produce, which could not be used in the village, had to be driven with a team of horses to Neusatz, Palanka, or Werbas to be sold. Bulkes was first connected to the railway network with its own train station in 1894.
Plow, iron harrow, roller, and thorn bushes connected together as a bow were the agricultural appliances at the disposal of the individual farmers for the fine crumbling of the field surface. For a time, the farmers had no other agricultural appliances at their disposal besides the plow and the harrow as helping agents, the day worker was irreplaceable, its most important work force. Without day workers the agriculture was like a forge without a hammer or a loom without hemp.
The main cultivated product and existing support in the agriculture with 40 % of the cultivated surface was from the beginning the wheat and remained so until the forced end of our village. The Batschka was the bread basket of the monarchy.
With 23% corn was used as human nourishment still during Turkish times. Because of its starch content it was used for fattening the cattle and poultry farming.
The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy and the membership of a part of the Batschka to Yugoslavia after World War I, also dropped the custom duty for Bulkes which was in effect up till then for agricultural products.
The parochial school led by the pastor at the time was turned over to the state in 1920-21 and received a school director. The students of the six Bulkes public school classes were taught by four teachers in four classrooms. The class teacher taught all of the subjects of the lesson plan. The instruction language was German. With the change of the state citizenship at the time from Hungarian to Yugoslavian in 1920 and back again to Hungarian in 1941, the state language of the lesson plan changed from one day to another. The demand to master the state language in the shortest time placed great difficulties on the students before their final exams and in planning their academic curriculum. Peter Degen who today lives in Seevetal near Hamburg at the time attended the Serbo-Slovakian grammar school in the neighboring village of Batschki Petrovac 5 kilometers away and wrote as one of those affected: In 1941 I attended the 8th grade in grammar school in Batschki Petrovac and prepared for my A levels there. In the course of the year several boys and girls from Bulkes attended the grammar school. We went daily on foot from Bulkes to the neighboring village of Petrovac. In very bad weather we were driven there in the horse wagon. After the entry of Hungarian troops in the Batschka in 1941 the grammar school closed its doors since most of the teachers were Serbian or Slovakian. Since I didn't know it would go on, I did not get a pass for my departure to Germany, so I tried over in Belgrade to come to Germany with the German soldiers. There I got the news from my father that the grammar school in Petrovac was opened again and I can take the examination. Two Hungarian teachers came to the grammar school to teach us the history and geography of Hungary. The following examinations were held however in the Serbian language. Many Bulkes students went to the adult education schools for continuing education in Petrovac, Futok, Neu-Werbaß, Apatin, and Neusatz. As preparation for the adult education the children went in the Owoda (kindergarten).
When the Hungarians revolted against the Hapsburgs for their independence in 1848 troops came to Bulkes again and again. These came to the judge and wanted to know which party he stood for. At the time there was still no newspaper and Bulkes was almost cut off from the world. The judge could not recognize the membership of one troop by the uniforms. When the first troop came to Bulkes the commandant asked the judge which party he stood for. Assuming they were the imperial army he answered: "We are for the emperor." But they were rebels. The commandant ordered the "small jusge" (community servant) to fetch a bench on which the judge was to lay down and had to pull off his stockings. As punishment the judge received from the commandant 25 lashes from the whip on the soles of his feet. This event happened again one more time. When a troop came into the community house for a third time and the question was placed to the judge again to which party did he belong, he hardly answered the question when he said to the small judge, "Kirschan, go and fetch the bench."
The first police were in Bulkes later. At what point was a free administration with elected community representatives
introduced is not recorded. Bulkes was subordinate to the judicial authority of the district office in Palanka.
The appropriate political authorities of the area for Bulkes were in Neusatz. This was the situation until 1945.
The emperor watched over the rights and order, supported by the basic idea of Christianity bringing
people together where there were no minorities in the empire. One believed God has many flowers in his garden, each people
depicting such a flower. This holy world began to gradually disintegrate at the latest with the revolution of 1848-49 and
also made no stability in the settlement region of our ancestors.
With the establishment of the double monarchy of Austro-Hungary in 1867 Hungary attained more of its autonomy. The part of the population speaking other languages amounted to more than half of the total population of Hungary, and should be converted to the Hungarian nationality with the magyarization politics introduced. They should accept a Hungarian name, renounce their original mother tongue, as well as give up their surviving ways of living in favor of the Hungarian.
Then for Germans in city and state service magyarization was virtually forced upon them because they did not want to lose their occupational positions. For one Bulkes medical officer in the Hungarian army in the rank of general it was necessary to give up the name Burkhard and accept the Hungarian name Bacsvari. Descendants of the German settlers were politically inexperienced, turning to possession thinking, their thin upper layer in state service was extorted by magyarization with the loss of existence, which in the cities were easy prey of the Hungarian minority politics. T he protective hand of the emperor as patron of the German settlers was taken away, striking the hour for them of a new people's consciousness. In the pressure of the national identity the political thought and treatment had to be developed gradually. In the Bulkes homeland book handed down to us there were courageous men around Johann Eidenmüller who achieved passionate resistance against the magyarization effort in Bulkes.
With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 our grandfather battled and died side by side with the Hungarians in the royal and imperial army, so these ethnic arguments were lost in violence. After the military defeat of 1918 and the disintegration of the double monarchy, the Batschka fell, with her Bulkes, to the new state union of Serbia, Croatia, and Slovenia, later the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. For the currency and strength of the national German culture and as a result of the disregard in the Paris Peace Treaty established minorities protection treaties by the new homeland state established the Swabian German Cultural Association for the Germans in Yugoslavia in 1920. In the central point of the statutes stood the preservation and development of the intellectual culture (school instruction in the mother tongue, for fostering and purity of the German language), the establishment of cooperatives, the economical strength through the further development of the agrarian economy. Political activity was forbidden. The Bulkes village group was established in the late fall of the same year. In 1922 the transfer in the statute established plan led to the establishment of the agricultural Central Agrarian Cooperative. Their dynamic growth let them become the greatest Donauschwaben economical organization. The main task of the Agraria consisted of the central procurement of agricultural consumer items, seeds, and artificial fertilizer as well as the commercial exploitation of the agricultural products. Bulkes was one of the first members of the Central Cooperative with the establishment of the "Agricultural Goods and Credit Cooperative with Farmer Assistance." Somewhat later the Cattle Breeding and Milk Utilization Cooperative was established in Bulkes. In 1940 the Agraria turned over 48 million Dinar with their 141 local cooperatives from the sale of wheat, corn, and hemp. The agriculture was still the main source of income of the German population in Yugoslavia. On the average the part of the population on the land consisted of almost 40% property owning farmers, for the most part 20% of the farmers were dependant on tradesmen and 40% small homeowners, which mainly worked as agricultural assistants for the farmers as day workers.
In the month of August of the year 1936 Bulkes celebrated 150 years of its existence. This jubilee began in the same year as the Batschka communities of Sekitsch, Feketitsch, Neu Schowe, and Batschki Dopro Polje (Kischker). The chronicler wrote: There are these blossoming colonial communities which 150 years ago at the time of Emperor Josef II were established by decent men from the Pfalz, Württemberg, Alsace, and Hesse. With the participation of guests at the jubilee the alliances of the descendants of the settlers to their original homeland were strengthened. The bishop of the land, Philipp Popp, whose mother was from Bulkes, recognized the achievements of the settlers in his sermon with the words: Was it a trifle to create a breadbasket of present day Yugoslavia in the middle of a swamp region, in the wilderness of a new land. Blossoming communities have developed with much diligence by the descendants of settlers working for prosperity.
In the middle of the 30's the national conservative leadership of the cultural association maintained good relations with
the homeland state of Yugoslavia. From their studies from Germany and Austria scholars returning home had national
socialistic ideas in mind. Despite their demands to obtain more cultural freedom from the state they could not
infiltrate the cultural association leadership. The failures of the national socialistic influences led to the
establishment of the revival movement in 1934. Also in the same year the camaraderie of the Bulkes village group
was established. With the assistance of the German middle class of the German Empire, from Himmler in 1936 to the
attempted political influence, German folk groups were established in foreign lands and in 1939 the revival took over
the fate of the cultural association. The cultural association leadership was now up-to-date in folk group leadership.
In a historical respect this period is regarded as the beginning of the drama of the Donauschwaben history. The special announcements about the victorious course of Hitler's Blitzkrieg (lightning war), in the patriotic tenor in Hitler's and Goebbels' obligatory speeches were balm for the souls of German minorities in foreign lands who since 1867 had been wrestling to preserve their national identity. For the revival movement it was the final breakthrough. Those organizations and forms of expression introduced by the Third Reich were adapted and imitated by the revivers.
The traditional dress was out - and the brown shirt and the boot, Bulkes Zischme, was put on. This new attitude imported from the German Empire split friends, neighbors, relatives, and in some cases also families, not only in the Bulkes village community. Not all were willing to wear this uniform, to connect themselves to the spiritual attitude and the world view. The split went through all layers of the population and occupational positions. In language usage, the different thinking people, the conservatives, were called the "blacks".
On the day of the outbreak of the war between Yugoslavia and Germany, on Palm Sunday of the year 1941, Yugoslavians of German origin were taken into custody as hostages at the Peterwardein Fortress near Neusatz (Novi Sad), Serbia. Among them were 15 men from Bulkes. On Easter Sunday, shortly before the end of the war they were again allowed to go home. After the capitulation of the Yugoslavians on the 17th of April 1941 the land was divided. As reward for joining the three power pact of Germany, Italy, and Japan and for its participation in the Yugoslavian field campaign on the side of the German Empire, Hungary received the Batschka back. The village called Buljkes in Serbian until now was now called Bulkeszi. The Yugoslavian Dinar was replaced with the Hungarian Pengö.
Yugoslavia and to compulsory work in the Soviet Union. Among the last was also my mother. The remaining population of the community of Bulkes which included those who were incapable or working, the sick, the old and children of the community of Bulkes, were driven to the cow pasture before the village on the 15th of April, 1945 where they had to spend the cold night outdoors. On the next day they were loaded into open gravel wagons and brought to JAREK in the "camp with special status". (Friedrich Glas) Jarek was one of 8 of Yugoslavia's arranged death camps to carry out the genocide of the German population.
During the Tito and Milosevic era the truth about the disappearance of the Yugoslavian citizens of German origin were persistently discreet. In the state decreed version the collective blame was placed on us for the misfortune of the Slavic population during the German occupation period.