By Nikolin Svetlana

People who live near the amazing, mighty river Danube are known as its big admirers. Here along its banks, during the history, many different national and ethnic groups have made their homes.

One such community is Danube Swabians, a collective name for German-speaking population who have lived in the south-eastern regions of this river. They first came here in the 12th century.

However, the biggest number of Swabians settled here from the 17th to the 19th century. At that time the whole area north of the left side of the Danube was under Austrian-Hungarian rule who wished to repopulate that almost empty region and restore agriculture after the expulsion of the Ottoman Empire rulers.
Swabians there were able to keep their language and religion and during decades of stay there, managed to develop strong German communities in the region. They were known as hard working and very well-organised community which contributed a lot to the development of all fields of life in areas where they lived.

After the First World War when most of the south-eastern European countries were established, the settlement areas of the Danube Swabians were divided into three parts by the Allied Powers. One part remained with Hungary, the second part with Romania and the third part went to the newly established state of Yugoslavia.
Danube Swabian culture always has been a melting pot of southern German regional customs, with a large degree of Balkan and mostly Hungarian influence. This especially can be seen in their food, where paprika is heavily used. This has led to their German nickname Paprikadeutsche (Paprika Germans). The architecture of their houses is neither German nor Balkan but is still unique in itself. Traditional houses of 18th and 19th century were usually made of stamped mud and straw walls or mud bricks which can be seen even today in some regions where they used to live.
After the Second World War, Danube Swabians mostly resettled in Germany, Austria, USA, Brazil and Australia. There are only a small number of Danube Swabians in the whole of this region of Danube in south-eastern part of Europe.
Despite their small numerical strength, they have still managed to keep their tradition alive with a great help from the European Union and minority laws of the countries they live in now. They meet regularly during folk festivals especially in Romania, Hungary and Serbia and their associations then show their attractive traditional attires, their dances, dishes, customs, revealing how beautiful is the colourful diversity of so many communities in this region along the banks of mighty river Danube.

pictures: Google

Nikolin Svetlana

politicologist /journalist
journalist/ editor in chief monthly news paper ‘Trgoprodukt’ (1982-1990)
freelance journalist from1990
editor in chief – non profit
intercultural magazin “XXI Century” (2006-2016)
independent researcher on intercultural dialogue, minorities and small ethnic communities of the Balkans (Banat Bulgarians, Aromanians)
specialised ”XXI Century” magazine editions:
”Palchens in Banat”
”Aromanians of Pancevo city”
Aegeo (Egej) travel book
‘Small anthology of Aromanian poetry’
‘ Aromanian old songs’
‘Aromanians in south Banat’/project book)
‘The nomads of the Balkans’ -(translation project book)
coordinator in NGO”In Medias Res” department for small ethnic communities and intercultural dialogue ( from 2006 to 2016)

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