Leslie Gyi nee Feig - Jun 10, 2001
I found this interesting quote in a book entitled, "Bridging Three Worlds:
Hungarian-Jewish Americans 1848-1914". The book is on Hungarian immigration and
then emmigration to the U.S. The quoted material is from Ernest Marton's book, 'The
Familytree of Hungary Jewry' which looks to be an excellent book to read.
Which category do you think your family fits into and why?
Characteristics of the 3 waves of immigration roughly between 1650 and 1850
1) Austrian and German Jews, mostly artisans and merchants of modern means,
entered the western counties of Hungary between 1650 and 1700 when the census
showed 4,000 Jews in the country. The movement from Austria was precipitated
when the king's advisors persuaded him that the Jews were in league with his Turkish
and Swedish enemies and that he should therefore expel them from his realm.
2) Fifty years later (1700-1750) a large influx of Jews from Bohemia and Moravia,
northwest of Hungary, was triggered when the authorities there decided to limit or if
possible decrease the size of their Jewish population. To accomplish this they decreed
that only one male in each Jewish family would be allowed to marry. Young Moravian
Jews, usually the wealthiest, crossed the border into Hungary in considerable
numbers seeking wives and homes. Incidentally this generated in the border villages
a lively business in wedding arrangements, complete with cooks, musicians, and
jesters. By 1735 the Jewish population of Hungary amounted to only 11,000, most of
them German-speaking people who had settled in the northwest or 'Oberland'
3) Within another fifty years (1750-1800) the largest migration of Jews got under way
from the Galician province of Poland soon after it came under Hapsburg rule. The
Galician Jews were living in dire poverty, practically their only permitted occupation
being the distilling of spirits. Thus economic need drove large numbers of them across
the Carpathian Mountains into the northeastern section of Hungary, known to the
Jews as the 'Unterland'. Here they engaged principally in innkeeping, distilling, rural
trade and peddling, and to a large extent manual labor. The Galician phase of
integration reached its peak in the 1830s and 1840s.
There were 185,000 Jews in Hungary in 1825. In the next 75 years the increase was
rapid, culminating in a peak population of 910,000 in 1910. A small number of
Sephardic Jews had trickled into Hungary from Turkey and the Balkans, but they did
not retain a distinct identity within Hungarian Jewry.
Both Livia Elvira Bitton in, 'A Decade of Zionism in Hungary, The Formative Years-The
Post-WWI Period:1918-1928" and Meir Szasz in, 'Vanishing Communities in Hungary:
The History and Tragic Fate of Jews in Hjhely and Zemplen County", refute the origins
of Hungarian Jews being the Kabar tribe of the Khazans, as previously conjectured. It
has been labeled as, 'mythical history' with dubious motivations to link Hungarian
Jewish population to the 2nd century Khazars, a Turkic people who converted to
Judaism, with a large empire in the 9th c. Though an interesting hypothesis, there is
no proof they joined the Magyar tribes in their conquest of Hungary. These theory
was part of the Hungarian Government's 'Magyarization' policy.
Not mentioned were the Hungarian demographics that caused Hungary to recruit
immigrants. Twice the Hungarian population was reduced in half due to:
1) Plague deaths
2) War with the Turks
As a result they sought to repopulate the country with skilled artisians and merchants
to develop the agrainian Hungary economy. Recruitments were done of both Jews
and Christians. Transylvania was particularly interested in increasing the Protestant
and Jewish minorities to offset the Catholic (aristocratic) and Orthodox (local
Romanian peasants) majorities thus maintaining the delicate balance required for a
multi-cultural coalition that comprised Transylvania. Transylvania law supported this
diverse coalition by allowing different languages, schools and religions to exist on a
town by town basis appeasing each minority.