Gemeinschaft Junger Ungarndeutscher – GJU (Germans in Hungary)
address: Mikes Kelemen u. 13.
place: 7621 Fünfkirchen/Pécs
phone: +36 20 298 7918
The GJU is a national organisation, which was founded in 1989. Its main objectives are preserving passing on the German language, traditions and culture in Hungary and organizing events and projects for young people. The GJU has some traditional events throughout the year, for example a children’s dance camp, a New Year Eve’s party for children, political education and a football tournament.
The GJU consists of so called “Freundeskreise”, which are smaller and independent associations, operating in villages and small cities, with all together more than 400 members. Most of them are living in the counties of Tolnau and Branau in southern Hungary. Nevertheless there are less and less youngsters interested in actively working in the umbrella organisation GJU. To improve this, the GJU has released an booklet, GJU-posters and also wants to renew its website.
Supported by the Federal Ministry for Interior (BMI) the GJU was able to buy a van and establish a training centre in Berkina, not far from Budapest. An upcoming project will be a second training centre in the South of Hungary.
Since the GJU was founded in 1989, it has a lot of good contacts and relations with other minority organisations throughout Europe. Mostly they meet up at YEN-events or at their own activities.
According to some estimates there are living about 200 000 Germans in Hungary. The national census of 2001 however just listed 60 000 members of the German minority in Hungary. Since 1993 the minority is officially recognized.
In Hungary there are living 14 recognized minorities and ethnic groups, which are supported by the government, when they propose for financial support.
There are a lot German kindergartens and schools, as well as opportunities for advanced education. Every day there are two hours of radio programme in German language, and there is also a German newspaper, which comes out weekly.
The biggest problem the German minority in Hungary has to face is, that they have no real parliamentary representation.
Hungarian-Germans live scattered in over 400 towns throughout the country: the Ofner Mountain territory near the capital city, the Hungarian middle mountain territory (until the Plattensee), West Hungary, the “Schwabische Turkei” (in Turkey: Komitate Baranya, Tolnau, Schmodei, and Batschka).
The first Germans came to Hungary around 1000 after Bavarian Princess Gisela, wife of the first King Saint Stephan. A strong German city civilisation appeared in the Middle Ages in Siebenburgen (today Roumania)and the Zips (today Slovakia) or in West Hungary (Sopron/Odenburg). After the Turks were driven away, German cities reappeared (the current capital, Funfkirchen, Raab) with a blossoming German-speaking culture in the 18th and 19th centuries (theater, press, musical life). The middle class of the cities, however, was dissolved in Magyarism until the first World War. After the Turkish occupation, the House of Habsburg and the Hungarian magnates brought German farmers into the country who preserved the German language, values, and customs in closed settlements in spite of a strong policy of assimilation in the period between the wars. After the war, half of the German population was driven away, and almost all of the intelligence vanished. Only in 1955 could the cultural Association of the German Working Population in Hungary be founded. The association which had no members until its disintegration on the 10th of March, 1995, could develop many independant initiatives in the Seventies and Eighties, thanks to the liberal national policy of “party and government”.
The German ethnic group forms the largest minority in Hungary. In many regions, such as, for example, the Budauer Hill country or the Branau around Pecs/Funfkirchen, they are even a majority. In 1957 the association of Hungarian-Germans which represented the German ethnic group and its members from all parts of the country for a long timewas founded. With an overwhelming majority, the Hungarian Parliament decided on a minority law in 1993. Accordingly, the first elections of minority self-administration were held on the 11th of December, 1994. In these, 11 german mayors, 328 German community delegates, as well as 104 German self-administrations with 2-3 members each, were elected. On the 11th of March, a new German self-governing body was elected. Thus, the Hungarian- Germans have political interest representation on the local, commitee, and country levels. In addition, there is a parliamenterian minority committee with which the Hungarian- Germans cooperate just as constructively as with various other state and community organisations in Hungary and in the German-speaking countries.
In the 50’s and 60’s the traditional cultural heritage, folkdance, folk music, and folk songs were groomed with priority. The “Deutscher Verband”, which is currently the only German organisationwas founded in 1955. From the “Deutscher Verband” cultural groups were founded in individual communities, consisting of musicians, singers, dancers, and amateur actors. These groups have been traveling through Hungarian and German communities and giving folkloristic performances since 1955. These gatherings are called “Freundschaftstreffen” (friendly meetings) or “Friedensversammlungen.” (peace gatherings) The “Schwaben Bälle” (Swabian balls) – carnival entertainment – also had a great political significance. At the time they were strong identity-strengthening factors. These have been organised in the major cities since 1925. At the beginning of the 70’s other cultural areas developed. A modest literature appeared, Hungarian-German artists became involved in cultural work. Countless literary, historical and ethnographic books have appeared since 1974. Young people have become aquainted with their past and present in summer reading camps. After the political change, over a hundred societies appeared, mainly local, and a few regional and country clubs which cover various areas: culture, youth, literature and art, religion, and commerce. The Bonn Federal Ministry of the Interior supported their activities by the promotion of organisational institutions and community-building measures.
In 1954/55 “Deutschunterricht” began in Hungarian state schools (77 known by name), of which only 19 were expanded into purely German public or general schools in the following school year (at that time there were about 360 nationality schools in Hungary with the teaching language of each nationality). The attempt to build up a higher German school system began with the introduction of German parallel courses at four Hungarian “Gymnasiums” (high schools). In 1969, the mother tongue school system was replaced with a bilingual school system. Only in the 80’s were so-called bilingual elementary schools created after the concept of the Association of Hungarian Germans, in which not only the German language, but also many subjects – environmental studies, biology, history, geography, choir, etc. – are taught in German. German activities are also held in many kindergartens. There are two independent Hungarian-German high schools (Budapest, Baja), at a further seven (two in Funfkirchen, Bonyhad/Bonnard, Mor/Moor, Gyonk/Jink, Pilivorosvar/Werischwar, and Sopron/Odeburg) there are German classes for Hungarian-German students. With federal German help, the Hungarian-German educational center in Baja is being expanded an elementary school will open its doors on the 1st of September, 1995. There are many difficulties due to a lack of German teachers. Although many have the qualifications, they choose other jobs because of better pay. The Federal Republic of Germany affords multilateral help – scholarships, guest teachers, school partnerships, etc. The union of Hungarian-German school associations and its commital organisation which was expanded with the help of the Austrian organisation of German expellees, is trying to promote the training and further education of German teachers.
In 1954, at first monthly, then weekly, the newspaper “Freies Leben” (free life) appeared. Since 1957, the weekly “Neue Zeitung,” has existed. In 1956 the German-speaking broadcasting of Radio Fünfkirchen began, in which currently two hours of regional programming and a half hour of country programming are transmitted. Since 1978 Studio Funfkirchen of the Hungarian television has been broadcasting German programs mwhich are currently aired once a week on Saturday morning for 25 minutes in the second central program. In recent years, local media have arisen: community radio and television programs also in German, as well as local periodicals with German news or German pages. The professionalisation of editorial staff of these media is a sizable undertaking.
The association of Hungarian-German businessmen has tried since 1991 to channel a kind of cooperation between Hungarian-German entrepreneurs and possible German partners. The association initiated the German property administration and trade corporation of Hungary in 1994 for the evaluation of “compensation certificates”. The Hungarian Farmers Association offers help and counseling to private farmers and attempts to coordinate machine circles.
The GJU, Gemeinschaft Junger Ungarndeutscher (Association of Young Hungarian- Germans) organizes sports events (football/soccer, bike tours, skicamps, and hikes.)
Organisations rely on state and sponsored help. The Hungarian parliament accords a determined sum each year to minority organisations, as does the Ministry of Culture. The Office for National and Ethnic Minorities conducts an foundation which promotes programs. Other Hungarian and German foundations support programs as well. Of notable mention is the work of the Hermann-Niermann Foundation (Dusseldorf) and the Danube- Swabian Cultural Foundation of the country Baden-Wurtenberg (Stuttgart).