Henry Fischer of Canada has researched and subsequently written an article on the
history of the Heidebauern settlers of Bikacs and other villages. He
has graciously given me permission to reprint this article that also lists the names of settlers in the Heidebauern
villages. Many thanks to Henry for all of his hard work and
willingness to share!
Henry has also written four books about the lives of the German settlers of
The books may be purchased from AuthorHouse at the links below:
Children of the Danube
Remember to Tell the Children: Book Three: Emigrants and Exiles
The Heidebauern Connection
by Henry Fischer
The origins of the later known Heidebauern as a distinctive "people" began after
796 following the defeat of the Avars and the destruction of their Empire in
what is now known as Slovakia by Charlemagne. In order to defend the eastern
approaches to his empire he built fortresses in the area, which future
generations would know as the Burgenland, "the land of fortresses", a
defensive ring along the Danube. Along with the border garrisons he also
settled Bavarian and Franconian peasant farmers to provide the necessary
provisions for the troops and as well as serve in thedefense of the fortresses
when they were under attack. This area would later be better known as
Western Hungary and consisted of Weisselberg County that the Hungarians referred
to as Moson County.
In the century that followed, numerous new groups of Germanic peoples joined the
original settlers and adopted the Bavarian name of Heidebauern to describe
themselves. All of their original settlements and farms were overrun and
devastated by the onrushing Magyar tribes that streamed into the area from across
the Danube at the beginning of the tenth century, while the population was
massacred, fled or went into hiding. With the defeat of the Magyars, the
future Hungarians, at the Battle of Lechfeld on the outskirts of Augsburg in 955
they retreated eastwards to the Great Hungarian Plain, and the remnants of the
refugee Heidebauern returned to the Heideboden where they had lived previously.
But now a new wave of colonists arrived, mostly again from Bavaria and
Franconia. Stephen I the first Christian king of Hungary married the Bavarian
Princess Gisella of Passau and gave her the Heideboden as part of the marriage
settlement and a massive German immigration took place throughout Hungary.
Many of the new settlers were knights and nobles, skilled tradesmen and
peasants as well as large numbers of monastic orders whose formidable task was
the conversation of the nomadic Magyar tribes. This colonization was the
beginning of most of the towns and cities of Hungary and their German character
would last well into the 19th century.
In the future many wars were waged along this western frontier of Hungary and
the population was at the mercy of marauding armies. Then the ultimate
disaster appeared with the coming of the Mongols in the 12th century that
devastated and ravaged the countryside and massacred the population, leaving
Hungary desolate and impoverished. King Bela IV called for more colonists and
settlers to his domain and new German speaking people came to the Heideboden and
other parts of Hungary.
A pivotal point in the development of the Heideboden came during the reign of
young teenage Louis II, married to a young Bavarian Princess Maria of the House
of Habsburg, which would forever change the relationship between Hungary and
Austria. Both he and his young wife were avid followers of the teachings of
Erasmus of Rotterdam and as a result also read the writings of Martin Luther.
Their chaplain at court was an ardent Lutheran and played a role in their
acceptance of the "new" teachings. Louis II however was forced to face the
advance of the Turks into Hungary and at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 he and his
army were annihilated. His young widow Maria was given the domains of
Ungarisch Altenburg (Mosonmagyarorvar) which contained all of the Heidebauern
villages and communities. This central fortress alone was now able to
withstand the never ending Turkish raids into the territory, which saw countless
Heidebauern massacred or taken captive to be sold in the slave markets of
Turkey. It was during these troubled and perilous times that the Lutheran
Reformation was introduced into Hungary and especially in the Heidebauern
communities, which would become a stronghold of Lutheranism in the following
centuries, in the face of relentless
persecution, both by the Roman Catholic hierarchy and the House of Hapsburg.
The Heidebauern were now joined by Lutheran refugees from Upper Austria and
Styria, and Upper Swabia from around Lake Constance and brought new dynamics
into their communal and religious life. Their influence can be noted in some
of their family names that indicate their origins were not from Hungary like the
Heidebauern who had settled there earlier. There were twenty Heidebauern
communities in all, some now in present day Austria and the others in Hungary.
Although the Heidebauern had gone en masse over to the Reformation, it was only
in six of the communities that they were able to maintain their Lutheranism
after repeated forced conversions of the population. It is interesting to note
that the reasons given for their ability to survive was the role that
fathers played in their household, where the "house" church was the norm, and
the catechism and hymnal and scripture were taught, and as one disgruntled and
frustrated Jesuit put it: "the fanaticism of the women who were so deeply
steeped in their heresy and were beyond conversion".
These six communities were:
The first three are in present day Austria and the others are in Hungary, and I
have also given their current Hungarian names.
Due to several factors, the most important of which was the lack of religious
freedom, the Heidebauern began to move elsewhere and establish new communities
to the south of the Heideboden. They had also experienced a series of droughts
and a stream of refugees had swarmed into the area and taxed the meager food
supply. The Turks' final attempt to take Vienna in 1683 had been unsuccessful,
but they had pillaged and massacred the local populations throughout Western
Hungary, including the Heideboden and the population sought another location far
removed from the War of Liberation which the Habsburgs were waging and for which
they were seeking recruits for their armies.
They established settlements at:
But they were also to be found in various new settlements being formed in Tolna
County that consisted mainly of Hessian colonists coming directly from
Germany. These were usually family groups or individuals. This is where the
Danube Swabians met the Heidebauern and to all intents and purpose, became part
of the same family, except that the older communities in the Heideboden
continued on their own way in defining who they were as the "Ungarn Deutsche"
In what follows I will list the various Heidebauern communities with a brief
description of their history and the major family names associated with them.
Some of the names are not exclusive to the Heidebauern, such as Fischer,
Hoffmann, Schmidt, Schneider, etc. and will be identified with an * for that
Paks on the Danube
Lajos Komarom, Veszprem County