Behind Our Name: Part II, by Michael Fricker

Last week we discussed the Banat, the region that was once the home of our founders and many of our members. We ended on a note that after its founding in 1910, the Banater Männerchor became a rendezvous for all German-Hungarians in Philadelphia.

“Mir sin Deitsche Leit vun Ungarn”
It is likely you have heard this before, but if you have not and you need translation here, “We are German people from Hungary.” It is such a simple and truthful phrase. Although our founders came from the Banat, our club grew and became a home to a variety of German-Hungarians in Philadelphia.

While mainly Catholics sought to settle the Banat of Temeswar, people of the German realms of all faiths and regions sought a new life in the newly conquered areas. A few regions were settled creating distinct groups including, Banat Swabians (Banater Schwaben), Satu Mare Swabians, the, Bačka Ger-mans (Batschka) and other Germans from Serbia’s Vojvodina and Croatia’s Slavonia.

As people of these regions too migrated to the United States, they found homes in social clubs like our own. Our historian Rudy Rack once wrote in our history,

“Everyone who has had the experience of being alone amidst strange surroundings will recall having felt a sudden glow of warmth upon seeing a familiar face or hearing a familiar voice. During the great immigration to this country in the early part of this century there were many people who upon arrival experienced a feeling of loneliness, and oftentimes fear. Since man is probably the most gregarious of all creatures it is not at all surprising that when several persons from the same European locale found one another they automatically joined together, not only for mutual protection and comfort in this strange land, but also to swap stories, use the language to which they were accustomed (after a hard day wrestling with the new, unfamiliar sounds into which they had been thrust) and relax with a brimming stein and a cheerful song.”

-Rudy Rack

In 1922, our sport section, the Banater Athletic Club was created. For eight years, the group operated under that moniker. In 1930, however, the sport group showed its forward-thinking mentality and changed its name to the “German-Hungarian Sport Club.” The new name did not extend to the “mother club” for another nine years. It was, however, more inclusive, yet still maintained a connection to who they all were as people together in America.

Michael N. Fricker

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.

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