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    It is a common place to say that the Magyarisation Process [or Program] started only in 1844 when Hungary passed the Language Act, "which made Magyar the official language for government, education and religion". Unfortunately, this is not historically very accurate.

   In fact, this process started probably [first, as a defense!] in the same day [in 1784] when Emperor Joseph II decrees the German language as official language of the Empire instead of the Latin language. All the official documents would be written in German and everybody desired a governmental function should know the German language. The teaching of the German language was introduced in all the schools across the Empire in order to facility this process. The measurement, one of the many steps made by Joseph II in order to unified the imperial government, raised a strong opposition in Hungary also. Finally, the decree was removed in 1790 and the Latin was reintroduced as official language. If this decree was not able to Germanized all the elite from the Empire, instead show them their real cultural and linguistic identity. At the end of XVIII Century in Hungary began a rising movement of the Hungarian national identity. Through the establishment of the Hungarian Academy, the National Theatre or the Pesta University, these ideas are spread in the Hungarian public opinion. But under the influence of the extremist wing of the hungarian Liberal Party, the hungarian nationalism began to be intolerant face to all non-hungarian minorities [Germans, Romanians, Slovaks, etc.].

    Up to October 1895 the church records had the role of civil registration in Banat/Transylvania/Hungary. So, that means, the official name of people was the name written in the church records and when people would like to emigrate from Banat, all their official papers were done in hungarian language and their names were written in hungarian language.

    The first concrete step of the Magyarisation Process was made in 1836 when the Hungarian Parliament introduced the Hungarian language in administration and justice all over Banat and Transylvania. Later, 1839-1840, the Hungarian Parliament rules that the Hungarian language must be used in the correspondence between all the churches and the civil authorities. In 3 years time, all the church registers must be written in the Hungarian language even in the case of the churches where this language was not used in the holy service [as the german or romanian churches]. But already on 9.08.1836 the Banat's Roman Catholic Bishopric issued an order that all the church register to be completed in Hungarian language.

So, from September 1836 the Hungarian language was introduced in almost all the Banat's Roman Catholic Church registers. But this not happened at once.

For example, in Sannicolau Mare's case, the Hungarian language could be found as follows:

   -the B register: starting 1.01.1837 and up to 19.02.1850;

   -the M register: starting 1841, up to 3.10.1850 [the header of the register will be in Hungarian until 26.01.1852 due to the use of the already existing registers!];

   -the D register: starting 1841, up to 25.02.1850.

In Cenad case:

   -the B register: starting 1.01.1837, up to 22.02.1850;

   -the M register: starting 1837, up to May 1850;

   -the D register: starting 1837, up to 23.02.1850.

The ruling from 1843 reinforced these measurements and the Hungarian language was introduced as official language in all the rural schools in the same year.

    One of the main changes is the particular way in which the names are written in hungarian language. In Hungarian language the family/last name is first and the first/baptismal name is the last; in Latin language the order is the same as in English]. It means you should change your first and last name to fit Hungarian customs. Famous composer Bela BARTOK [born in Banat, at Sannicolau Mare, on 25.03.1881 as BARTÓK Viktor János Béla] was called BARTOK Bela in Hungarian language.

Finally, the name of a woman can be confusing in hungarian language to those unfamiliar with this custom. The bride has a chance to choose from tree possibilities.
1. She may keep her maiden name in the marriage.

2. She may keep her last name (that is first in English) and uses her husband's first name. This is similar to the customs in other countries and has become more and more popular recently.
3. By the old Hungarian custom, the bride got the entire name of her groom with a –“ne” suffix at the end [Kiss Zoltanne means the wife of Kiss Zoltan (in hungarian) or Zoltan Kiss (in english language)]. Even though she was called by her previous first name no one could find it out from her official name.

    The Magyarization Process will continue also during the years of 1848 Revolution when the Liberal Party [and his leader Kossuth Lajos] will became preponderant in the hungarian political life. Taking in to consideration these facts, it is very strange why almost all the germans in Banat were on the hungarian side during the 1848 Revolution [and this fact come in contradiction with another historical myth: "the loyalty of the Swabians went to the Habsburgs"]. The exception was the village of Wiesenhaid [or Ipet/Tisa Noua/Rehat, in Arad County/Romania, at 15 km SE of Arad] where the germans raised against the hungarian administration.

    After the defeat of the 1848 Revolution, the German language was reintroduced as official language in the whole Empire. On 8.02.1850, Banat's Roman Catholic Bishopric issued an order that all the church register to be completed again in Latin language [and this was the case up to 1881]. In the period 1850-1866 the Magyarisation Process will stagnate in order to become more powerful starting 1868 [with the law on the nationalities, the law on education, etc.]. In 1867 the Empire was defeated in the war with Italy and Prussia, and the Emperor Franz Joseph I was forced to reach an agreement with the hungarian nobility in order to maintain the Empire. So, the Dual Monarchy was founded on 27 May/8 June 1867 when Franz Joseph I was crowned also as King of Hungary. Immediately, in 1868, the Magyarisation Process started again very aggressively with several laws introduced by the Hungarian Parliament:

-Law no. XLIV regarding the equality of all nationality [which introduced once again the Hungarian language as official language in Banat and Transylvania and all the citizens of the Hungarian State became members of the hungarian nation];

-Law no. XXXVIII regarding the education.

These laws were followed by:

-the school law of Tréfort Ágoston [in 1879] which introduced the hungarian language in all the primary schools. Therefor, all the teachers must know this language and after 1882 you can not became a teacher without knowing the hungarian language;

-a new school law [in 1883];

-the kindergartens law [in January 1891].

    The Magyarisation Process will continue until the end of the WW I. Starting 1881, the Hungarian language was reintroduced [until the end of WW I] in the Banat Roman Catholic Church registers. The catholic clergy had his role in this process; it is well known the quip "in Hungary even the good God speaks only the Hungarian language".

    Until 1896 more than 14.000 family names were already changed. And is not about the writing in hungarian a german or romanian name; the family name Kohn or Kufmann became Kardos and Schaffer or Steiner became Szabados. Here was no rule because in other case, for example, the Kohn name became Vasvari. In 1898 was published Simon Telkes's book1 "How to magyarise the family names?/Hogy magyarositsuk a vezeték neveket?".

    In 1897 the Hungarian Parliament vote the Law on the Villages Name [the Banffy law]; according to this law, all the official names of the villages in the Hungarian Kingdom will be only in Hungarian language after 1897. So, all the Banat villages receive new hungarians names.

    The German Theater from Timisoara had roots back to 1753. Starting 20.11.1898, by Timisoara's mayor and the Permanent City Commission decision, all the German Theater's performances were hold only in Hungarian language.

    In 1907 were abolished all the confessional schools and, by this, the education in maternal language just disappeared [by the Apponyi law].

    The Magyarisation Process had many "faces". For example, after 1867 in the census organized by hungarian authorities, the Jews, the Armenians and the Gypsies were not longer put down in the mother tongue column [the one showing the ethnic affiliation]. They were considered automatically Hungarians. Another example; in the 1880 census, only in Satu-Mare/Sathmar/Szatmar County, approximately 57.000 Swabians, Jews, Slovaks and Romanians of Greek Catholic believe were conscripted as … Hungarians! And in the 1910 Hungarian Census the "nationality" column was replaced by a "maternal language" column.

    In 1908, the Popular German Party's [Ungarlandische Deutsche Volkspartei] electoral campaign in the Banat german villages and all their gatherings here were forbidden by the police. So, the romanians Coriolan Brediceanu and Valeriu Braniste -being deputies in the Hungarian Parliament they had parliamentary immunity- went in several german villages to present the party's program.

    The electoral laws, the newspaper laws, the creation of the "cultural zones" in 1915-1916, the credit system, etc. were all used as tools by the hungarian authorities in this process. For example, if you wanted a government job career - e.g. post master, railroad work, tax collector, clerk, etc.- it was better to have a magyar/hungarian name; this was not something imposed by law but it was a custom, something implied. Another example is the way in which the emigrants were treated by the Cunard Line in Fiume. Not only a some simple clerk/clerks was responsible for the declaration of all banaters2 as magyars/hungarians by the Cunard offices Line in Fiume. The city of Fiume [even it was a "szabad kikotovaros/freie Hafenstadt"] was under hungarian administration [only here all the emigrants needed a hungarian passport!] and the Cunard was a "governmental" shipping line. Having the advantage of exclusive concession -starting 1904- for the transport of migrants from Fiume, the Cunard line acted in the favor of the Magyarization Process: only hungarian emigrants from Banat = Banat is inhabited only by hungarians = Banat is hungarian land = Banat is belonging rightfully to Hungary = etc. "This classification of banaters as magyars very rarely happened in the Bremen manifests [according to Dave Dreyer]" only because there -being in Germany!- nobody was thinking to the official hungarian policy of Magyarization.

    Of course that in the schwab's family Johann will not cal his brother Joseph as Jóska [or Józsi, Józsika, Jóci, Jóka] and Joseph will not respond with János [or Jani, Jancsi, Janika, Jancsika] but, for example, Johnny Weissmüller, was born/baptized by the priest as János3 Weiszmüller on 2/5.06.1904 in Freidorf and will emigrate under this name even if the family used the nickname Hansi when he was an infant. 

    The resultants of this process were so significant that the german writer Korodi Lutz will say: "if would not be the Pace Treaty [after the WW I], in less then 30 years the Swabians would be completely magyarized" [see "Auf deutsher Fahrte in Sudosteuropa", Berlin, 1936, page 9]. But there were also the schwab intellectuals [not all of them but the majority!] which magyarized their name on large scale and which become loyal subjects of the hungarian state. Their desire to abandon their roots and assimilate with/in the hungarian culture provoked large and violent debates among the schwab's in Banat.

    David Dreyer [in his "Extractions of Banat Emigrants from Pre-1914 United States Customs and Immigration Passenger Ship Records. Background and Village Index"] has some concrete examples for the Magyarization of the Banat German surnames in the records as well as the increasing substitution of the magyar version of given names for the Germans.



[1] The book is available trough FHL:
Subject Class 943.9 D4
“Szazadunk nevvaltoztatasai: helytartosagi es miniszteri engedelylyel megvaltoztatott nevek gyujtemenye, 1800-1893”; eredeti okmanyok alapjan osszeallította a Magyar Heraldikai es Genealogiai Tarsasag egyik igazgato-valasztmanyi tagja

[Changed names. A list of legally changed family names in Hungary, 1800-1893]
Location FHL INTL Book
Call Number 943.9 D4m
Location Film VAULT INTL Film 897093 Item 2

[2] More details on David Dreyer's WEB Pages: "Introduction to the Emigration from Banat in the UNITED STATES CUSTOMS AND IMMIGRATION PASSENGER SHIP RECORDS": IMMIGRATION FROM THE BANAT.

[3] In fact, this is only the official name found in the church record. Even if the family/godparents wanted for him the name Johann [John in english], the priest was obliged by the law to used the name János when he made the notation in the church register.