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It is a common affirmation that the Banat Romanians had only one child and that they adopted this custom from the Swabians / Schwaben [in Banat the Schwaben are a mixture of Germans, French, etc. colonists from W Europe]. This axiom appeared in the third decade of the XX century, when Banat’s depopulation resulted in an avalanche of studies2 and, besides emigration, one of the phenomenon’s most important causes was exactly the "one child" system [we also include here the "no children"/ Kein-Kindersystem or "two children"/ Zwei-Kindersystem system].

There are at least two questions regarding this problem.

       The first: did the Banat Romanians have only one child for real?

       The second: did the Banat Romanians copy the Swabians?

Unfortunately, there are only very few serious demographic researches3 regarding Banat and the statistic information [and its interpretation] is very disputed4. This situation does not allow a quantitative valuation, but implies a punctual and qualitative valuation5 by using the experimental deductive research method. And therefore6, we will try to get an answer for these two questions, by analyzing the problem exclusively in its Swabian context. Let’s remember that the single child is mentioned for the first time in the Swabian historiography in 1929 [see Lovrin’s monography7, while in case of the Romanians this phenomenon is described already in 19148.

First of all, we do not agree with the idea that in the second half of the XIX century the Swabian population in Banat decreases, which should be a necessary premise for the "Swabian’s death"21. Analyzing the statistical data for Timiş County9 we come to the following results:


























We can observe that while the Romanian population decreases with 7,7%, the Swabian population in the same period 1840-1910 increases almost to the double.

The statistic data do not sustain the generally accepted idea of the appearing of the unique child phenomenon at the Banat Swabians, so we can ask ourselves how this idea was able to impose in the social imaginary. In our opinion, the explanation can be found by analyzing the specific Swabian successor right [none of the other nationalities –romanians, serbs, hungarians, etc.- from Banat adopted/applied it], which in dialect is called "Frunt" [or "Fründnersystem"]: the parents used to give the house, yard and they entire household, with all rights and liabilities, to their eldest child10 in exchange for a life annuity. If the inheriting child got married, the woman or man entering the house used to pay half of the rural possession’s value, so that the other children have also the possibility to receive something. This way they assured the indivisibility of land/farm, which is the purpose of this inheritance system with a principal/privileged heir ["Anerberecht"]. In fact, Banat Swabian’s life twisted around this purpose –to preserve a property, which can assure him a calm retirement– even if, sociologically speaking, this kept him in a medieval family organization type –"Sippe"- which is very well described by the French historian Jacques Le Goff11.

This is not blameworthy or bad, as it looks at first site. On the contrary, the agricultural productivity is greater due the bigger surface of land available for farming, leading to certain welfare of Swabians in comparison to the other inhabitants of Banat, which did not apply this system. In their cases the land become smaller –geometrically– because many of their children reached maturity in the XIX century in comparison to the XVIII century12. For instance, Liebling is a Swabian village surrounded by Romanian villages; its inhabitants succeeded to purchase land out of the borders of the neighboring villages [over 10000 Joch/iugăre – old surface measure unit used in Banat; 1 Joch=5751,7 m2] so that they doubled their property [up to 19609 Joch].

Furthermore, this system also led to the acceleration of introducing the capitalist relationships in Banat, because the other children were forced to become handicraftsmen or dayworkers. The exceeding working force at the beginning of the XIX century disappeared by internal migration22 in whole Banat and the neighborhood [between 1860-1900]: Slovenia, Syrma and even Bulgaria. In fact, we are observing an extensive increase –new villages– which comes to saturation at the end of the XIX century [there is no available land in Banat anymore]. Between 1880-1890 only 11 new villages were set up: 7 in Caraş-Severin County, 3 in Timiş County and one in Torontal County.

The immediate result was that in the Swabian villages remains only one child for each family, which could induct this myth of the single child at the Swabian families.

Enric Feichter says20 that the decrease in the number of new-born children appears for the first time in case of the Serbs in Cenadul Mare [in 1840], while in case of the Swabian population in the same village the phenomenon appears much later [between 1860-1865], almost in the same time with the Romanians [5 years later].

We can not forget the fact that the decrease of the number of new-born children17 in case of the Swabian population is intimately linked to the major juridical change from 1849, when peasants were granted the right to buy and sell land, and their heirs received equal [which did not exist –due their custom- until than in the case of the Swabian population] shares out of the inheritance, and also through the agricultural laws from 1848 and the imperial licence from 1853 regarding the freedom and put in possession of land of the serves, who rented plots of land from the feudal lord.

The demographic and economic pressure [exercised also by the increasing agricultural proletariat], which was not finally solved through the possible urban absorption due to the accelerated industrialization, found its outlet at the end of the XIX Century and the beginning of the XX century, through migration13. Although there are no relevant statistics14 up to 190015, we know that between 1900-1914 a number of 153653 persons emigrated from Banat [89455 Swabians; 28493 Romanians; 19528 Serbs; 10623 Hungarians; 5554 others]. The migration continued also after the First World War, when it is estimated that between 1921-193016 a number of approximately 42300 Swabians immigrated only to USA [17% of Banat’s German population].

There are also other possible explanations for the so-called "urn" phenomenon, which appeared in the pyramid of age regarding the Swabian population in Banat after 1890:

- we should not forget that in 1873 there was a severe cholera epidemics in Banat [between 19.07.-6.09.1873 over 677 Swabians died in Jimbolia only, out of a roman-catholic population of 7413 in 1865 and 7261 in 1875];

- the high rate of child mortality paradox noted by Manuilă18: Banat has the same birth rate like western Europe and exceeds the death rate of eastern Europe];

- increase of life expectation; in 1780 in Lovrin the life expectation was of 8 years and in 1926 of 60 years. In 1870 the persons over 45 years represented only 20% of the Swabian population in Banat in comparison to 1930, when they represented already over 45%.

As a conclusion, we can state that not the Swabians introduced the fashion/custom of one/unique child in Banat, and as a final argument we invite those persons, who are not yet convinced about this fact, just to look into a Familienbuch19.