Dr. Thomas Reimer August 31, 2004
From the 1860s to World War I, several thousand Carpathian Germans emigrated to the United States. For instance, several families moved to Charleroi, PA, after 1900, notably from Muennichwies. After two generations, Thomas Kendrick, one of their descendants, estimated their numbers at 300 families. Another group of Carpathian Germans, from Metzenseifen, came to Cleveland, OH, to work for Theodor Kundtz, (1852-1937), a Metzenseifener who in the late 19th century had become wealthy building the intricate wooden cases for White sewing machines, according to the recently created website of a granddaughter of these immigrants. Many descendants of these families, Kundtz, Eiben, Mueller etc. still live there. The webpage is listed under cities and in the bibliography.
Many Carpathian Germans, as well as Slovaks and Ruthenes, later returned home with their savings. Little is known today about these immigrants to historians.There are several reasons for this. Carpathian Germans were not numerous anywhere, even in cities where they congregated, e.g. Philadelphia, Charleroi, PA, Schenectady, NY, Greater New York, Chicago, Cleveland, or Danbury, CT. Also, unlike Transylvanian Saxons or Danube Suebians, they had not a strong sense of regional ethnicity. Most of them, if they thought at all about this, saw themselves as German-Hungarians. And so, because of their small numbers and lack of desire, Pressburger, Hauerlaender and many Zipsers simply joined existing German or Hungarian parishes and clubs, sometimes Slovak ones. Unlike so many other German immigrants, they did not create many regional societies. Therefore, though individual families may have information about these early immigrants, it is difficult to find material about them as a group. The Deutsch-Ungarischer Bote, also German-Hungarian Herald, published in Cincinatti, Ohio, for all German-Americans from the old Kingdom of Hungary, did not survive in libraries in the United States save for its last six months in 1918, (at the Center for Research Libraries in Chicago, miscataloged there as German-American Herald). The other likely source, the Oesterreichisch-Ungarische Zeitung, published in Chicago and New York City from 1881 to after 1912, vanished, too. In Upper Hungary, the Hauerland had no German paper before the war, but news about individual emigrants certainly will be found in the newspapers of Pressburg, and the Kesmarker Karpathen-Post, published from 1879 to 1940. Zipser had a somewhat stronger sense of regional identity, and before World War I founded several K.U.V. (or Krankenunterstuetzungsverein, sickness support society). In the absence of material, the following chapter is intended as sketch, and will be developed as more information comes in.
In New York City, Zipser founded on 12 October 1889 the 1. ZIPSER KUV. The labor daily New Yorker Volks-Zeitung reported once or twice a year about their socials.These small clippings give us a glimpse on early Carpathian German-American life. In 1893, for instance, the Zipser KUV had its 4th annual picnic at Zahler's Clinton Park in Maspeth, L.I., on June 19, and on September 3 a fest at Wavrac's Garden in Tremont, Bronx. The members and guests danced, the men competed at bowling and rope-tugging (prizes $10, $5, $3, not bad when a worker earned $1.50 for 10 hours of hard labor), the ladies in egg-racing and bird-sticking (prizes $5,$3,$2). The articles stressed that, besides Zipser Germans, there were guests from other ethnic groups from Hungary, and "German, Magyar, Croat, and Slavic were spoken together." In any case, all had "recht flott gezecht" (did drink heartily). Whether in 1900 or 1913, the games were the same, and so was the observation that despite rising ethnic conflicts in Central and Eastern Europe, the Zipser Germans mixed easily with their fellow Zipser Slovaks and Magyars. How large was that KUV? Data is scarce, but in 1905 it was noted that it had 183 members and $6,000 in the bank.
Relief was not easy to organize. For, like other German-Americans, they had been attacked and vilified as "hyphenate Huns." Many were undoubtedly intimidated from expressing publicly concern with fellow human beings who happened to be German. That hate-filled atmosphere is well described in David Kennedy, Over Here: The First World War and American Society, (1980), and Joan Jensen, The Price of Vigilance, (1968). Many individuals discreetly helped their families directly. But this was not always the most efficient. Local relief associations were founded, such as the Zipser Hilfsverein of Philadelphia, and the Zipser House Association of Newark. An estimated 15,000 Zipser lived in the United States at the time. Gustav Adolf Weiss, from New York, (1867-1933), born in Kesmark, decided to organize the Zipser Bund of America.
In September 1919, a benefit fest was held in Fram Park in Newark, NJ, followed by a much larger one on September 5, 1920, also in Fram Park. Over $1,100 were sent to the Zips. Among the organizers were Adolph Kaltstein and Miss Elsa Weiss, of New York. The organization became permanent on September 14, 1920, with branches in Newark, NJ; Hudson County, NJ; Passaic, NJ; Manayunk, PA and Chicago. A monthly, the Zipser Bote or Zipser in Amerika was published from 1921 to 1928. Till 1930 over 1 million Czech Crowns sent over. Besides saving countless lives from starvation in the aftermath of the war--fighting at the Southern Zips border lasted till Summer 1919--the money funded German schools in the Zips. Gustav Adolf Weiss visited the Zips in 1922/23. In 1929 he led 120 members to the old homeland, who were honored by their grateful countrymen. Weiss died on June 16, 1933. He was succeeded as president by Alexander G. Rothberg. The Great Depression severely cut donations, since so many Zipser--usually artisans and skilled workers--had to fear for their own livelyhood. Yet contacts and donations continued till the outbreak of the war.
The officers (Vorstand in German) of the Zipser Bund in 1920 were (according to Paul Sauter's article): National officers: G. A. Weiss, president, Adolph Kalstein, vice-president, Ms Elsa Weisz, correspondence secretary, Robert L. Centner, recording secretary, Rudolf Grund, press secretary, Julius Dirr, financial secretary, John A. Schmeisz, treasurer, and Gesa A. Rothbert, manager.
The local branch officers were:
Newark, NJ: Theodor Mischlivetz; Eduard Augustin; Paul Krisch; L. Maylaender.
Hudson County, NJ: Stephan Molnar; Arthur Schmidt; Mrs M. Schmidt.
Passaic, NJ: John Billak; Julius Schablik; Arpad Hoentz; R. Centner; A. Weyse.
New York, NY: Joseph Schwabik; Jakob Palencsar; John A. Schmeiss; Gesa A. Hoentz; Gesa A. Rothberg.
Manayunk, PA: Karl Stefany; H. Wohlgemuth; John Reiff; Paul Schmoegner.
Chicago, IL: Gustav Kruss; Marie Krey; Mrs G. Kruss; George Szarnyassy; Eddie Kulhomer.
For genealogists, the names of listeners who also donated during the collection on August 4, 1957 at the Tabor Church in Philadelphia might be
of interest. They were, according to the Karpatenpost:
John Bies, L. Boess, N. Bollok, M. Bross, Mrs Dollok, Gustav Emerich, Anna Faix, William Fedor, P. Forberger, Aurel Frantz, Adalbert Galgon, John Galgon, Paul Galgon, Rudolf Graaf, Robert Greisiger, M. Grofcsik, Susan Gurersky, Paul Haas, Margarethe Haeuser, Ger. Jung, John Kraus, Samuel Kraus, John Kubis, John Kulman, Gustav Loisch, Julius Menhard sr., Julius Menhard jr., John Repcsik, B. Roth, Julius Roth, Miss Schneck, Anna Shops, Michael Stefany, Mrs Stefany, Paul Stefany, Gustav Sunday, Robert Sunday, E. Tvarok, Bela Wolf, N. Zaborsky, Albert Zubak, John Zubak, Matthias Zubak.
But then the Zipser Bund and the KUV passed away. The last president of the Zipser Bund, William Dirr, from Zipser Bela, brought its flag to Germany in 1962, where it hangs now in the Heimatmuseum in Karlsruhe as a witness to the philanthrophy of Zipser abroad.
In September 1970, (p. 3), the Karpatenpost reported that "after a long time" the Zipser met on May 9, 1970 at the German-Hungarian Hall in Philadelphia. The people responsible for the meeting were Ted Kereczmann, Julius Boesz, Otto Fischer, Ernst Knott, Rudi Haas, Erwin and Werner Koch, Annette Brosz, Edward Brosz and others. A Zipser Chorus, a Zipser dance group, and a Zipser Poetry Group (Anne Tvarok, Jakob and Adam Stefany, Elisabeth Zubak) read poetry by Friedrich Lam and others to an audience of 300 Zipser and 200 guests (or 500 people!).
Further meetings then were organized by the energetic late Rev. Zoltan Antony. The current president of the Carpathian German Association in the United States is John Gally. We meet annually, either in Danbury, CT or Philadelphia. The meetings are mainly social in nature, but the Association also tries to prevent our little group from being entirely forgotten. There is a memorial stone at the Danbury Lutheran cemetery, and soon there will be a book in English.
An overview over postwar Carpathian German immigration, written by Julius Loisch, has been published in the Karpatenjahrbuch 2000, pp. 161-188. It describes among else the history of Julius Loisch himself, from Muehlenbach/Zips, a former engineer for the US army in Alamogordo, and then for a company making parts for NASA. His sunwind-measurer on Apollo XII worked much longer than expected. Other families noted in that article are the family of Gustav Scharritter from Altwalddorf, Johann Zubak from Hunsdorf, Julius Klein from Muehlenbach, Gesa Knott from Rissdorf, Julius Demko from Kaesmark, Johann Gally from Forberg, Julius Menhardt, Hans Weiss, from Malthern, a hobby painter of great skill and retired manufacturer of parts for NASA in Manchester, CT, (Dynamic Metal Products, Co.), and Otto Maurer, who founded a great cabinetmaking company in Toronto.
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