This piece is part of a series that was originally published in 2014, in the Monthly Progress. It was re-released in 2022 here online.
The year, Two Thousand Fourteen marks an anniversary not only of 104 years of existence, but also of 75 years we have held the name United German-Hungarians of Philadelphia and Vicinity. This essay, printed in parts in this newspaper, will take you on a journey to find out the true meaning of who we are and why our names are important.
This story and so with it our name, is older than 75 years. It stretches past 1939, the year we adopted this name. In the history books it surpasses the timeline that often for us begins with the founding date, 1910. Though the beginning may be set ages ago, in a different time, at a different place and for all intents and purposes, a different world, may it be a story we continue to write long into the future.
Banat: Once Our Home
Numerous times we have printed in these pages the story of who we are and where we come from. Countless writers amongst our learned members have taken the time to describe and define who we are as a people. Misunderstanding of these truths is a result of a number of possible handicaps. More often than not however, people choose to not understand. Those looking to overcome this ignorance are encouraged to read and study the subject. It is suggested that Werner Fricker Jr’s “A History of Our People” printed in “Mahlzeit,” our cookbook is the perfect place to start.
“Banat” is a name given to many geographic regions in southeastern Europe. The term “banat” referred to a frontier region that was governed by a military leader sometimes known as a “ban” himself. The “banat” that we are concerned with is sometimes known as the Banat of Temeswar. The word “Banat” used alone refers to this region.
Banat was under the rule of the Hapsburgs though for a time it was lost to the Ottoman Turks. After the Austro-Turkish war of 1716-18 the region was once again returned to the hands of the Austro-Hungarian Empire when it was conquered by Prince Eugene of Savoy.
Under the Emperors and Empresses of the German and Austrian realms, these areas were settled and their culture, hard work and faith flourished in the region. Our ancestors were these settlers. People who hailed from here would go on to found our club in America. The Banater Männerchor was founded November of 1910 and as is written,
“very quickly became the rendezvous for the German-Hungarians of Philadelphia.”-Rudy Rack
Michael N. Fricker