Jahrhundertbuch der Gottscheer, Dr. Erich Petschauer, 1980.
The Final Chord in a Minor Key
Several weeks had passed since life in the camp had first begun and the searching, asking, and writing for the closest relatives, friends, and neighbors took no end. Finally, the first letters from the United States arrived, happy and sad family news, but also the message that help was on the way.
In 1946 the American-Gottscheers proved that the spirit of neighborliness that had thrived for centuries had not been extinguished in the granite deserts of the megalopolises. After extensive preparations, the "Gottscheer-Hilfswerk" (Relief Association) was created in 1946 for the purpose of assisting the severely tested fellow countrymen in Europe as quickly and as extensively as possible. The book commemorating the 25-year existence of the organization states the following about its creation:
Provisional committees were already set up in January 1945 at the general meeting of the Gottscheer clubs in Ridgewood. They were to concern themselves with the difficulties involved in a relief action. The end of the war, with its chaotic and horrible consequences for our countrymen in Europe, urged us to act. To help the Gottscheer people stranded in misery by the consequences of a tragic policy of the war powers, a generous and coordinated relief action was needed. Since the articles of the existing Gottscheer clubs were not suited for such an undertaking, a meeting was called for May 23, 1945 in the Gottscheer Klubhaus in which the following clubs participated:
- Gottscheer Kranken-Unterstützungsverein (Gottscheer Workmen's Benefits Organization)
- Österreichischer Männer-Kranken-Unterstützungs-Verein (Austrian Men's Health Benefits Organization)
- Gottscheer Central Holding Company
- Gottscheer Männerchor (Gottscheer Men's Chorus)
- Gottscheer Damenchor (Gottscheer Women's Chorus)
- Deutsch-Gottscheer Gesang-Verein (German-Gottscheer Singing Society)
- Gottscheer Vereinigung (Gottscheer Association).
Later, the Gottscheer Kranken-Unterstützungs-Verein von New York, the Gottscheer Kegelklub (Bowling Club) and the Fisch- und Jagdklub (Fishing and Hunting Club) joined and, after its founding in 1951, also the FuBballklub
(Soccer Club) Blau-Weiß Gottschee.
Nineteen representatives were then elected from their ranks as provisional officers for the relief organization. Money and clothing were collected immediately. Unfortunately, there was not yet any postal service to Europe, and besides, mailings to private individuals or groups was not allowed. Only church organizations were permitted to send medicine to hospitals and refugee camps.
In March 1946 the "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" linked up with the "Katholischen Kriegshilfe Konferenz" (Catholic War Aid Conference) (N.C.W.C.) and contributed $6,000 with the expectation that the suffering Gottscheers would at least receive some of the aid when it was distributed in the various countries.
After overcoming many difficulties, the Gottscheer Hilfswerk (Gottscheer Relief Association, Inc.) was finally legally registered on April 15, 1946. It should be pointed out that the Gottscheer Hilfswerk was thus the first organization
in America that was granted the right to work for its own countrymen. Now the work started at top speed. A trustee from each village was instructed to collect the addresses of the countrymen, and within a short time more than 2,000 Gottscheer families were counted. The Relief News, appearing whenever it was thought necessary, saw to it that the countrymen were continuously kept informed. It included a column, "Verwandte und Freunde gesucht" (relatives and friends sought) which again re-established contact among hundreds, contact which had been interrupted for years. Because of its close ties to the N.C.W.C., it had access to important information and could publish such. An appeal in the Gottscheer dialect was broadcast for two months, a half-hour weekly, over station WWRL. Correspondence, printings, radio broadcasts, the many trips, particularly later on the cost of transportation, etc., were paid for by the office holders themselves, and all legal and other work was done absolutely free.
When the aid organization CARE, which still exists today, was first formed, contact was immediately established with it, and soon thereafter the first CARE-packages at a cost of $15,000 were sent off. The Cleveland Group also contributed $5,000 towards this shipment. In subsequent years, 3,000 additional CARE-packages followed. Tons of clothing, as well as powdered milk and eggs, were sent.
It became increasingly difficult to raise the necessary funds. To be sure, the donations of the first year covered all the expenses with a surplus. The above-named compatriotic organizations also put all of their income from club
events at the disposal of the Hilfswerk, but new sources of income had to be found if the relief action was not to come to a halt. Thus, the first picnic and benefit festival was held in Franklin Square on June 29, 1947. It was not
only a decisive financial success but it became the biggest of all Gottscheer festivals. No one surmised at that time that this picnic was from then on to become the meeting ground for Gottscheers from all over the world. After
twenty-five uninterrupted years this festival with its big and small events and activities has become an established part of the Gottscheer traditions.
On October 26 the Gottscheer Gedenkbuch (commemorative book) was published. Besides the financial contribution that it made at the time, this publication will always honor those who were responsible for it and worked on it. With it they created an historical work for the following generation.
During these months the collection and relief activities reached a highpoint and the shipments were made regularly to the needy countrymen in Europe. The Hilfswerk had hundreds of volunteers at that time. All of them contributed time and money. The willingness to sacrifice did not discriminate; all that mattered was to aid the countrymen who were in need and misery.
The distribution was left with confidence to the relief organizations established in Austria and Germany after the war and to trustees. The future of our homeless people in Europe was shrouded in a cloud of hopelessness and despair. They were sheltered in camps, partly condemned to idleness, and dependent upon help from strangers, or they struggled to support their families as farmhands or laborers. These conditions could not be endured forever. The Gottscheer refugees could not count on any assistance from the German and Austrian governments to grant them permanent residency since the incoming stream of refugees took no end. But let us here once more cordially thank the native population of the Austrian provinces. Their willingness to share the not abundant supply of food at that time saved countless of our refugees from starvation. A way out of this distressing situation had to be found. The Gottscheers had been used to earning their living in other parts of the world for centuries. Thus, they once more had to consider emigrating. Emigration to the United States was also not possible at that time; hence, they considered other possibilities, such as South America or Canada. The negotiations with the vice-consul in Venezuela were not satisfactory. Lengthy negotiations were held with Canadian officials which opened the possibility of individual immigration but not that of a unified settlement.
In the meantime, the USA permitted a two-year immigration quota for Germany and Austria. After many negotiations and overcoming strong opposition, it was established that half of these quotas were to be for ethnic
Germans. In this way, 23,000 ethnic German refugees were to be admitted in these two years. According to the estimates of church organizations, there were more than 11 million ethnic German refugees in Europe at that time.
The Gottscheer Hilfswerk, which already had done much of the preliminary work in regard to this, already had a list of 11,000 names of Gottscheers which had been gathered in the various camps by our representatives for an
eventual emigration. Because of the connections with the N.C.W.C., Adolf Schauer, President of the Gottscheer Hilfswerk at that time, was himself a member of this organization, and due to the innumerable talks and negotiations of this representative, the work for our immigrants could begin immediately.
The "Displaced Persons Law" which was in effect at that time but which, however, did not include the ethnic Germans, unfortunately had a very negative effect upon the processing of the immigration applications in the respective offices. Thus it was that only 10,400 of the permitted number of ethnic Germans immigrated during these two years. Among them were many who were not entitled to do so. Nevertheless, 2,000 Gottscheers were among these immigrants, a noteworthy 20 percent instead of the 10 percent of the entire refugee ratio. Unfortunately, many of our countrymen who were already waiting for a visa in Salzburg at that time were disappointed and had to turn back again.
On June 16, 1950, the ethnic German immigration came to life again as President Truman signed a law which eliminated discrimination in immigration. However, at the conferences of the N.C.W.C. and the D.P.C. (Displaced Persons Commission) which now followed, the problem of the ethnic Germans was always discussed last. Under this law, every immigrant had to have assurance of employment and housing, which was again generously provided by the Gottscheer businessmen here.
This was not a simple matter because apartments were scarce at that time and financial means limited. In
addition, no one was quite sure to what extent the guarantor could be held liable. At a conference in Bellville, Illinois, Father Zurin of Missouri also promised support for fifty Gottscheer families. Two months later there was a
two-day conference in Milwaukee at which Bishop Swanstrom spoke up very loudly for the ethnic Germans before the representatives of the D.P.C. and the N.C.W.C. This brought the immigration issue to life again. Despite the
difficulties in finding sufficient jobs and apartments - our countrymen only reluctantly went to farms - everything proceeded relatively smoothly.. .
These statements give us not only the founding history of the Hilfswerk but also a succinct impression of the life of the Gottscheers in New York. Above all, we find out that they had many organizations with which we will concern ourselves again later. But first two points in the above quote have to be clarified:
The eleven thousand Gottscheers that the "Relief Association" found to be in need of assistance is not to be equated with those granted the right to resettle by the ENZ in 1941. Of course, this number is made up primarily of the refugees from Lower Styria, but there were also countrymen among them who possibly had already emigrated to Austria decades earlier and now were in need of financial assistance due to the outcome of the war.
On the other hand, other refugees were not included in this count, for whatever reason. It must also be stated that the American-Gottscheers not only gave assistance through the Hilfswerk, but that they also privately sent innumerable packages to Europe. It would be difficult to find a Gottscheer in Germany and Austria who was an adult at that time who did not partake of this great humanitarian effort.
The "Gottschee-Hilfswerk" gained a lucrative source of money with its touching documentation of altruism, the Gedenkbuch 1330-1947. Within a very short time, a committee under the editorial leadership of attorney and notary public John Kikel produced a richly illustrated book with historical texts about the individual Gottscheer villages and communities as they existed until 1933. The aim and purpose of this unique work in the Gottscheer literature were, however, the advertisements of various sizes, for which the purchaser spent considerable sums
of money. Other contributors are listed with their names and village of origin, including the house number. Most of them had been living in the USA for decades. The list includes 2,300 names.
It would be an unforgivable oversight in the eyes of the recipients of the loving donations if one were not to mention the names of the men and women from Gottschee who collectively brought about the "Gottschee-Hilfswerk." The village of origin is given next to their names because at home when two countrymen who did not know each other met, it was customary to first ask each other, "Won bu sheitar?" (Where are you from?)
According to the commemorative book of 1971, the following individuals belonged to the founding committee on May 23, 1945:
- Frank Deutschmann of Suchen near Nesseltal
- Alois Fink of Klindorf
- John Kikel of Altlag
- Mary Gregoritsch of Stockendorf
- Maria Högler of Göttenitz
- Mary Hönigmann of Windischdorf
- Rudolf Kump of Buchberg
- Mathias Lackner of Preriegl
- Frank Meditz of Nesseltal
- Hilda Meditz of Nesseltal
- Josef Meditz of Nesseltal
- John Petschauer of Tschermoschnitz
- Ferdinand Sbaschnig of Masereben
- Adolf Schauer of Oberwarmberg
- Viktor Schauer of Niedermösel
- Josef Schneller of Nesseltal
- Karl Stalzer of Büchel
- Fanny Staudacher of Büchel
- Ferdinand Stimpfel of Mooswald
With similar grateful appreciation I list the names of the presidents of the "Gottschee-Hilfswerk", or rather "Relief Association, Inc.", who were active until this book appeared:
- Adolf Schauer of Oberwarmberg (1946-1950)
- John Kikel of Altlag (1951-1953)
- Josef Hoge of Altlag (1954-55)
- Karl Stalzer of Büchel (1956-1965)
- Ernst Eppich of Unterdeutschau (since 1966)
Not only the Gottscheers in the United States but also those in Europe have big festivals. The "Volksfest" in the Plattdeutschen Park in New York, however, has the largest number of visitors. Depending on the weather, anywhere from four to five thousand attend. The "Gottscheer Volksfest" is among the largest compatriot festivals of the German-Americans in New York. In form and proceedings, it most closely resembles a church festival at home, a "Kirtog." Long tables under old trees recall some inn in the "Ländchen." A gigantic bandstand indicates that
this park was intended for folk festivals with brass bands. The Gottscheers, however, use it as a speaker's platform. Colorful "Dirndltrachten" (woman's peasant dress) enliven the happy scene.
A good-humored humming of Gottscheer sounds and the always newly sounding laughter of the happy visitors is superimposed upon the festive scenery. During the first years of the "Volksfest," the whir of voices was often interrupted by loud shouts, people rushed toward each other and held each other by the hands and with the eyes for minutes. Some had not seen each other for thirty, forty, others for fifty years. Neighboring children, who had grown up almost like siblings, childhood friends, old comrades from the military and the war had found each
And yet there is a profound difference between the "Gottscheer Volksfest" in New York and a "Kirtog" in Gottschee. When they stand like that side by side, each one secretly looks for the features of his childhood in the countenance of the one facing him - and finds them, hidden beneath the remembrance of the wonderland of his youth. Everything that alone was important then comes alive again: the parental home, the village, his chapel, the well-remembered paths past the wayside shrines and field crucifixes in the meadows and woods, the often mysteriously threatening, dark Gottscheer woods. The playgrounds, the school, the church, and the cemetery crowd into the image, through which playing children run, the mother walks on serious and silent. Everything seems much bigger and plusher than it actually had been, because the narrowness and the having-to-do-without
are forgotten. Many, many old Gottscheers come from the depths of the North American region, suddenly tired of the foreign, to this resting place of homeland love, which now only permits the recall of a lost youthful dream.
However, in front of the enclosed festival site are hundreds of those witnesses that prove that hard work pays: the automobiles, some of which cost more than a small- or medium-sized Gottscheer farmer had earned during his entire life.
The official speeches also distinguish the "Volksfest" from the "Kirtog" back home. There the priest's sermon was the focal point. In the Plattdeutsche Park the guests are officially welcomed by the festival organizer and by the president of the "Gottschee-Hilfswerk"; those from Europe are mentioned by name. The Reverend Mathias Schager of Meierle is very often among them. He is active as a priest in Vienna. Whenever the Reverend attends the "Volksfest," he also says a field mass several weeks later in New Gottschee. "New Gottschee" is a tract of
land in the Walden region, sixty miles west of New York, which the Gottscheer" Country Club" bought and on which were built widely-spaced country homes in the usual American style. Despite the fact that it is quite far away, several hundred Gottscheer women and men attend this service to feel once again their heritage reaffirmed in this event with its unique aura. The field altar, richly decorated with greenery, is set up in back of the Clubhouse. The faithful assemble in numerous semi-circular rows several meters from it. In their midst is a group of women. They sing the "German Mass" by Franz Schubert without the assistance of a director.
Another loosely structured rural settlement of Gottscheer countrymen is located in Hawley, Pennsylvania. The settlement is spread over approximately five square kilometers: Fifty-two single-family homes built in a contemporary style are already standing on plots ranging in size from 5,000 to 50,000 square meters. Most of
them are immediate neighbors. About twenty Gottscheers also own other plots in this region, which is located about 200 kilometers from New York in the Pocono Mountains (a well-known and popular summer resort region). It resembles our homeland in its landscape and its location above sea level. Here, too, is the popular resort "Lukan's Farm" which is owned by the Lukan family of the Gottscheer Unterland.
In order to establish the "Hilfswerk" and to imbue it with life and to put on an event like the "Volksfest," many voluntary helpers and a number of men and women were and are needed who can organize and are willing to assume the leadership despite the considerable personal sacrifices.
The presidents of the "Volksfest" were:
- 1947 Anton Gliebe
- 1948-1952, 1959 Ingnaz Kreuzmayer
- 1954-55 Karl Stalzer
- 1956 Fred Sumperer
- 1960 Albert Belay
- 1961-1963, 1966 until today Richard Eisenzopf
- 1964-65 Ernst Eppich
The achievements of Richard Eisenzopf of Hohenegg, who has been entrusted with the leadership of the festival for fifteen years, deserves particular mention. He has been named "Ehrenrat" (honorary counselor) of the "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" and is an honorary member of the Gottscheer Landsmannschaft in Klagenfurt in recognition of his efforts.
All of them found the strength for their sacrifices in the call of their conscience, which a woman from Hinterberg so simply expressed in her newspaper advertisement: "Don't forget the Gottscheer in his hour of need!"
There are no exact statistics, there probably could not be any, on the total material contributions that were made by the Gottscheers in the United States and Canada. The rounded-off estimate of $100,000 given by the "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" as the value of the CARE packages that were handled by it does not include the countless individual packages that were sent to relatives, friends, and strangers. The idealistic value of this unique demonstration of charity can also not be calculated because it cannot be expressed in dollars and cents. At best, one can explain it as an outgrowth of the history of Gottschee and of the numerous clubs that jointly cultivate the memory of the distant "Ländchen."
Ernst Eppich was elected president of the "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" when the board of trustees was chosen in 1966. He was born on April 10, 1920 in Unterdeutschau and emigrated to the United States in 1952. At that time, the entire board of trustees was composed of recent immigrants. These young people set to
work with vigor and a certain degree of ambition to prove that they were ready to continue assisting those countrymen in Europe who were still in need of help. Thus, they wished to demonstrate how grateful they were for the aid they themselves had received.
It was at this time that the still existing cultural committee was founded. Sofie Moschner, the director of this organization, devoted so much time and effort to it that she deserves the most credit for its successes. She organized the "Gottscheer Trachtengruppe" (group wearing the traditional Gottscheer garb) which participates in all the major events and festivities. All of the Gottscheer clubs headed by the "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" also support the "Deutscher Schulverein" (German-American School Association) in New York. They deem it very important that the children of Gottscheer parents attend the German-American School.
The present director of the cultural committee, Albert Belay, organizes the annual Christmas show in the Gottscheer Clubhouse which young and old attend. The old Christmas traditions from the lost homeland are revived, poems and familiar Christmas carols are performed by children and the Gottscheer choruses. Children and the elderly receive Christmas gifts.
Since 1965 the Gottscheers of New York also participate in the big Steuben Parade of the German-Americans which is held annually along Fifth Avenue in New York. Many of the members of the various clubs participate in it. The current Miss Gottschee with attendants, the Gottscheer "Trachtengruppe," which gets much attention every year, as well as a large number of young soccer players of "Blau-WeiB Gottschee," march in it.
The "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" has worked very energetically to obtain compensation for the property that our countrymen in the United States lost when they emigrated from Gottschee. It would be wrong to forget a man who devoted himself so completely to this matter. His name is Josef Novak from the city of Gottschee. His efforts were already recognized by the "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" in 1970 when he was named "Ehrenrat" (honorary counselor).
Today the Gottscheer organizations of New York work closely together in harmony. This can to a large degree be attributed to the prudent efforts of the president of the "Gottscheer Hilfswerk," Ernst Eppich, and his twelve-year term of office.
We have already shown how the first organization for mutual assistance was founded in Cleveland, Ohio (1889). All clubs were founded on and exist out of idealism and serve cultural, social, and athletic or purely sociable objectives. The Gottscheers in the New World have not founded any organizations with political or economic goals.
Below is a listing of the member organizations of the "Gottscheer Relief Association." It also includes those organizations which may have been active for decades but have now been dissolved. The sources for this list were the Gedenkbuch 1330 to 1947, the "Jubiläumschrift" commemorating the 25-year existence of the "Gottschee-Hilfswerk" 1971, and reports of a "Hilfswerk" committee.
The "Gottscheer Männerchor" (men's chorus) is the oldest Gottscheer organization in North America which engages in a particular cultural activity. It was founded on April 1, 1900 and in the nearly eight decades since its founding it has acquired the reputation of a highly regarded singing group. Still today it adheres to the goals established at its founding, namely, the cultivation of German and Gottscheer songs, as well as philanthropic neighborliness in a setting of jovial comradery in the Gottscheer style. Its first president was Peter Stonitsch of Unterdeutschau. Julius Drück, a very well-known music teacher at the time, was chosen as the first conductor. The present conductor is Peter Freund, a "Donauschwabe" (Danube Swabian), who not only is musically very talented but also has much appreciation for the Gottscheer songs. The "Gottscheer Männerchor" is particularly indebted to him for its recognized musical qualities. The soul of the club, however, is its president since 1937, Karl Stalzer of Büchel, township of Nesseltal. He was born in 1905 in Newark/USA into that generation of Gottscheers who emigrated to the United States in droves but of whom few returned home to begin again anew with the dollars they had saved. His parents, too, did this. In 1923 the eighteen-year-old preferred to emigrate to the United States, the land of his birth, because of the living conditions that were becoming increasingly more difficult in Gottschee. He settled in New York and became a construction worker, later a master builder and entrepreneur. Immediately upon his arrival, he participated in Gottscheer club activities. His countrymen recognized his capabilities and gave him numerous positions of responsibility in the organizations to which he has now devoted his leisure time for nearly fifty-two years. His unusual energy allowed him to occupy simultaneously the office of president of the "Männerchor" and that of first vice-president of the "Relief Association" and president of the same (1956 to 1965). The "Gottschee-Hilfswerk" awarded him the title of honorary president for his great achievements. The "Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Gottscheer Landsmannschaft" (study group of the "Gottscheer Landsmannschaft", located in Klagenfurt) unanimously voted to award him the honorary Gottscheer ring in 1977. The ring was presented to him in a ceremony in New York.
In 1923 the "Männerchor" found a counterpart when the "Gottscheer Damenchor" (women's chorus) was established. It became traditional for the two choruses to appear jointly each season with an extensive program. The "Gottscheer Damenchor" was dissolved in 1957. Another example of the New York Gottscheer women's love of singing can be found in the "Deutsch-Gottscheer Gesangsverein" which was founded in 1937. Its current president is Sofie Moschner, nee König of Hohenberg. Her predecessors were Elsa Tscherne, Netti Wittmann, Luise Högler, and Maria Stampfel-Graf, all of whom were made honorary presidents by the organization. Sophie Moschner, born in 1922, emigrated to New York in 1955, where she immediately became an active participant in the clubs. She deserves a great deal of credit for the already mentioned founding of the "Trachtengruppe" as a unit of the "Hilfswerk." It is also due to her efforts that the songs in the Gottscheer dialect became a focal point in the undertakings of the "Gottscheer Chöre" (another name for the "Männerchor" and the "Deutsch-Gottscheer Gesangsverein"). In 1967 the two choruses jointly produced a record of sixteen Gottscheer folksongs. It was a unique accomplishment at the time and is a meritorious effort and worthy contribution to the preservation of our cultural heritage.
Today this women's chorus no longer relies solely on the Gottscheer women who immigrated but on their daughters who already comprise one-third of the singers. They thus attest that the golden age of the chorus has not yet come to an end.
If the founding of the "Gottscheer Männerchor" was an indication that the number of immigrants from the linguistic island had increased considerably, then this fact was underscored by the founding of the "Gottscheer Krankenunterstützungsverein" (workmen's benefits organization) on April 24, 1901. It is one of the oldest worker self-help organizations in America. The lack of social welfare and the longing for social gatherings among the Gottscheer countrymen were essential factors in the founding of this organization, but the support of the
members in cases of illness and death were and still are its primary objective. Its first president was John Krisch. One quickly realized that the meager membership dues would not suffice to meet the needs. Thus they decided to hold a "Bauernball" (farmer's dance) which now has become traditional. It not only strengthened the treasury of the organization but also provided an opportunity for social gatherings for members and their families. The Gottscheers, however, did not have their own place for holding such events. Thus the cry for a clubhouse of one's own was heard very frequently. Gottfried M. Tittmann, president of the organization at that time, became the creator and founder of the Gottscheer Clubhaus and of the soon-to-follow children's Christmas party. Adolf Schauer directed the latter for many years.
On June 4, 1904 another organization by the name of "Österreichisch-Ungarischer Reservistenbund" (Austro-Hungarian Reservists Union) was created. It became known as the "Österreichischer Männer-Krankenunterstützungsverein" in 1907. Its first president was Alois Duffek, later named honorary president. Its motto, too, was to assist those countrymen who were in need due to illness and death. On December 18, 1955 the two organizations with like objectives united. Deserving presidents of the Austrian M.K.U.V. were Andreas Stonitsch, Adolf Schauer, Ferdinand Matzele, Alois Fink, Hermann Koch, and Ferdinand Novak. Just as the Gottscheer K.U.V. was the main driving force for providing assistance after World War I, the first voices for aiding the suffering countrymen in Europe after World War II also came from its members. It actively supported the founding of the "Gottscheer Hilfsverein." As far as membership is concerned, the organization probably reached
its zenith in December 1956 with a membership of 530. The organization also was very generous in its financial contributions towards the remodeling of the Gottscheer Clubhaus in 1962. No efforts were spared to enlarge the home of the Gottscheers in Ridgewood.
The fact that this organization has paid out half a million dollars in health and death benefits, in addition to many other contributions, speaks for its great success. Not only the elderly members are aided, but scholarships are also provided for the young. Several presidents have been made honorary presidents because of their special contributions.
- Mathias Kump of Kummersdorf 1903-1906 and 1931-1937
- Gottfried M. Tittmann of Steyr 1910, 1912-1922, 1924-1927
- Adolf Schauer of Oberwarmberg 1924-1930 President of the Ö.M.K.V.
- Josef Eppich of Altlag 1962-1969
Alois Eppich of Kukendorf, currently the president, has held this office for eleven years (1958—59 and since 1970). A third welfare organization with almost the identical name and program, the "Gottscheer Kranken-Unrerstützungsverein von New York," was founded in 1919.
"Gottscheer Vereinigung" is the name of a fourth organization, whose motto since 1935 is mutual support and the cultivation of Gottscheer customs and ways. Its founding president was John E. Loser of Rieg who, except for a brief interruption, still presides over the club today. Loser is a hard-working participant in the Gottscheer clubs in New York and his achievements are highly regarded and fully recognized.
The club with the most members and the one that is most familiar to the German-American public is an athletic club which has assumed the name "Blau-Weiß Gottschee" after the national colors (blue and white) of the former linguistic island. Its first president was the civil engineer Albert Belay of Lienfeld. He was born in 1925, emigrated to the United States in 1950, and immediately became active in the club activities of the Gottscheers by assuming permanent offices. Among others, he presided over the cultural committee of the "Relief Association" for ten years.
From the outset, the founding of "Blau-Weiß Gottschee" gave much joy to the countrymen. From time to time, the club was, for extended periods, the most successful sport's club of the "Deutschamerikanischen Fußballbund" (German-American Soccer League). Thus it advanced to the Upper League of this organization in 1963. The most significant victories, however, were won by the teams of the succeeding generations, particularly by the boys' team. In the years 1963 to 1968 and in 1970 the boys' team was the DAFB champion (German-American Soccer League) in its division and (an outstanding accomplishment) it has, since 1963 until now, lost not a single game.
For years, "Blau-Weiß" has been participating in every playing season with ten or more teams, an undertaking that fully occupies the free time of many coaches and assistants. To date its presidents were:
- 1951 Albert Belay (Lienfeld)
- 1952, 1953, Erwin Hönigmann (Altlag)
- 1954 bis 1961 Josef Hoge (Weißenstein)
- 1962 bis 1965 Albert Belay
- 1966 bis 1969 Louis Hocevar (Brunnwirt/Gottschee city)
- 1970, 1971 Albert Petsche (Hinterberg)
- 1972 bis 1974 Erwin Jonke (Gottschee city)
- 1975 Willy Stalzer (Reichenau)
- since 1976 Ernst Kresse (Ort)
In addition to "Blau-Weiß Gottschee," Gottscheers have founded many other sports and nature clubs. The Gottscheer Country-Club fulfills the wish to dwell as often and as long as possible in one's own home among Gottscheers. The rather extensive settlement that was established by the club members calls itself "Neu-
Gottschee" (New Gottschee). On its grounds is located a well-equipped clubhouse which the Gottscheers in New York visit often on summer excursions.
The "Green Mountain Hunting Club" fulfills the joys of hunting. It was founded in 1954. Its first president was Hermann Ostermann. Its yearly agenda includes appropriate sporting events as well as the cultivation of sportsmanlike traditions. Its current president is Josef Kofler of Katzendorf.
The "Gottscheer Rod and Gun Club" has a similar program. John Kostner became its first president when it was founded in 1950. He is owner of extensive hunting grounds whose forest and wild-life cannot, of course, compare with those in the forests of Gottschee. With all the more devotion, the club cultivates the memory of the old, traditional "Jägerei" (hunting). Adolf Petsche of Unterskrill is its current president. The "Gottscheer Kegelclub" (bowling club) must also be mentioned. Its goals are not limited to athletics; its members meet often, and often with old-Gottscheer entertainment among friends. Its first president was John Kropf; Robert Schlinderer of Rieg is now its president. This club has a considerable membership and is a faithful participant in the Gottscheer community.
The clubs of the Gottscheers in New York would not have been able to exist for now nearly eighty years and to carry on their social and sociable events and gatherings if steps had not been taken to form the "Gottscheer Central Holding Corporation" on March 15, 1924. The clubs that existed at that time called a mass meeting. At that meeting more than one hundred people declared themselves willing to be shareholders of the proposed new foundation, whose main goal was to set up a clubhouse. As early as June the organization was registered with the appropriate New York authorities. In the meantime, the membership had increased to more than 400 and the stock capital to about $10,000. This was used for a down-payment on the property number 657 on Fairview Avenue in the city district of Ridgewood and for the most urgent building repairs. Gottfried M. Tittmann deserves the most credit for the creation of the "Gottscheer Central Holding Corporation." He was born of Gottscheer parents in 1888 in Steyr and emigrated with his parents to the United States in 1902. He is a trained goldsmith, founded his own company more than sixty years ago, and still runs it today with his sons. Of his life accomplishments for the Gottscheer people, two deserve special mention: He was the founder of the "Central Holding Corporation" and its first president. He was president of the "Gottscheer Kranken-Unterstützungsverein" for sixteen years and its member for seventy. In both cases he was elected honorary president by the members.
After several alterations during the course of the decades, the Clubhaus fulfilled its purposes better and better. However, the breakthrough to being the spacious, representative focal point of the Gottscheers in New York was only made possible when the adjoining property was bought in 1960. The since deceased president Ferdinand Sbaschnig of Masereben (1905—1970) was in charge of the alteration planning and the necessary work. He was assisted by an eager committee. Sbaschnig was particularly suited for this task because he was owner of an iron and steel construction firm. A great number of Gottscheers participated in the opening ceremonies on December 1, 1962.
The present president, Arthur Tramposch of Nesseltal, also considers it his personal concern not only to maintain the excellent condition of the Clubhaus but to improve it still more. Arthur Tramposch was born in 1904 in Chicago, lived with his parents in Nesseltal from 1911 to 1922, when he returned to the United States. He looks back upon a successful life as a specialist in woodworking in a large furniture factory.
The Gottscheer Clubhaus of today is living proof of the readiness to sacrifice and the communal spirit of its club partners and visitors. Its attraction does not stop at the city limits of Greater New York. All Gottscheers know that there stands a piece of homeland, homeland because of the people who pass through it day in and day out, year in and year out. This may sound a bit sentimental, but - it's not meant to be an accusation - a contemporary given to the materialistic spirit of the time can hardly imagine what these people feel when they can once again speak "Gatscheabarisch" in the old dialect to a countryman after sometimes not having had the opportunity to do so for a long time. The Swabian is most likely to understand this. He is extremely happy when he meets a countryman in an environment where one speaks another language and can "schwätze" (chatter) in Swabian with him. The "Haus der Gottscheer" (House of the Gottscheers), as one could also call it, is not coincidentally located in Ridgewood. It is said that every second house in this district belongs to a Gottscheer. The city authorities have repeatedly recognized the noticeable cleanliness of the streets and houses in this area. This is the external representation of the attitude towards one's living space.
The great significance of the New Yorker "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" for all living Gottscheers justifies a detailed account of its founding and existence. This, however, does not mean that there were or aren't any equally supportive Gottscheer organizations outside of New York. There are also other meeting grounds for the countrymen of which one can likewise say that they are homes for the clubs. As in New York, community events, family celebrations, concerts, and dances are held there. One sees and is seen, young people find their life partner here, celebrate weddings and baptisms here. Not by chance, the "Relief Comity" in Cleveland, Ohio was established almost at the same time as the "Gottscheer Relief Association Inc." in New York. It was set up by the following organizations: "Erster Österreichischer Krankenunterstützungsverein" (First Austrian Health Benefits Organization), which we encounter for the second time. It can claim to have been the first Gottscheer aid society, in general, the first organization formed by Gottscheers on American soil. In addition, there were the "Deutsch-Österreicher Unterstützungsverein" (German-Austrian Aid Society) and the "Deutsch-Österreicher Frauenbund" (German- Austrian Women's League). All three are Gottscheer foundings before 1918. They used the word "Austria" in their names because they came from that country and because the concept "Gottschee" was unknown even to the German-Americans of that time. Three delegates of each of these organizations met with the members of the board of directors and non-organized Gottscheers in March 1946 for preliminary talks. Already at this time they decided to work with the "Gottschee-Hilfswerk" in New York. The decision to found the "Relief Comity" was made shortly thereafter. In the middle of the 1970's approximately 6,000 to 6,500 Gottscheers may have resided in Cleveland, Ohio. They, too, built a clubhouse for their communal activities. However, for decades they also have had their own parish which is administered and attended to by clergy from Gottscheer families. They officiate in the community-owned church of the "Heiligen Dreifaltigkeit" (Holy Trinity). A brass band, established in 1970, was the last organization to be founded by the Gottscheers.
In Milwaukee on Lake Michigan, where there also is a Gottscheer club, women interested in singing have founded a mixed women's and children's chorus. A substantial number of Gottscheers have also settled in Chicago. It's difficult to say how many there are, but there are enough of them so that they have a club with a respectable annual calendar of events.
The Gottscheers in Canada numerically represent only a fraction of their countrymen in America. In addition, they are widely scattered across the huge country. They immigrated considerably later than those in the United States, mainly between the two World Wars and after World War II. The largest group lives in Toronto, a somewhat smaller group in Kitchener, and several dozen families have found a new homeland and life in Montreal and Vancouver. They and other small groups that are spread across the land are generally members of German and Austrian organizations.
Gottscheer clubs have only arisen in Toronto and Kitchener. Both clubs have their own clubhouses. The one in Kitchener was founded in 1953 by president Richard Mausser. It is called "Alpen-Club" and belongs to the Gottscheers but is also made available to other German-Canadian organizations. Visitors consider the "Alpen-Club" in Kitchener to be the most extensive complex of its kind built by Gottscheers.
If one speaks of Kitchener, then one should also mention Josef Mausser, the brother of Richard Mausser. After the Second World War he helped more than eighty Gottscheers to immigrate to Canada. For this accomplishment the city of Kitchener named a street and a park after him.
The "Verein der Gottscheer in Toronto" was founded in 1955. Its founders were Rudolf Muchitsch of Obergras and Heinrich Lobe of Zwischlern. Since 1965 Norbert Lackner heads the club, which bought and began to equip the "Gottscheer Park" in 1967. Lackner comes from Hohenegg and was born in 1924. He graduated from the private German teacher's college in Neuwerbaß/Batschka, Yugoslavia.
Josef Schleimer of Zwischlern should be mentioned for his special athletic accomplishment. He won - participating for Canada - a bronze medal in wrestling at the Summer Olympic Games of 1936 in Berlin. His name is entered in the "Hall of Fame," the highest honor for Canadian athletes.
Let us return to the United States. We still must complete the picture of the Gottscheer clubs in the United States of North America with regard to their economic and social placement by giving their total numbers and dispersement. Fortunately, John Kikel has left us a full account of it in the Gedenkbuch 1330 to 1947. He writes on pages 22-23 among other things:
Compared to other ethnic groups that have emigrated to America, the Gottscheers are economically at the top and the average property is valued at more than $ 10,000. The majority of the Gottscheers are employed in a skilled
trade and a large number of them as builders and carpenters. One encounters them as businessmen in almost every branch but predominantly in the delicatessen business and in restaurants. Almost all the Gottscheers are homeowners. In Cleveland, which has greater opportunity for expansion than New York, most of them own one- or two-family homes.
We do not have exact statistics about the Gottscheers and their families living in America, but we can fairly accurately assume that about 7,000 live in Cleveland and other cities in Ohio and about 6,000 in Ridgewood, New York and surroundings. If one estimates the number of Gottscheers and their dependents living in the other states of America and Canada - one finds them everywhere from New York to San Francisco - to be about 6,000, then there are today 19,000 Gottscheers in America. This number may be larger but certainly not smaller.
These statements by John Kikel only apply in a limited way today. Three decades have passed since they were written. Doubtlessly, the average property holdings of the Gottscheers have increased nominally but the value of the dollar has dropped sharply in the meantime. One is also very well acquainted with inflation in the United States.
On the whole, one can state that the America-Gottscheer is better off than ever in the middle of the 1970's.
The population figures for the Gottscheers in America and Canada, however, give much less cause for rejoicing. Without fanfare, submitting to their fate, the Gottscheers in the United States and in Canada are fulfilling the existential imperative of their tribe since true Gottscheers are no longer born, they only still die.
By "true" - one could also substitute the word "born" - are meant those Gottscheers born in the "Ländchen" and their descendants who may have been born in the United States and Canada or in Austria and Germany or, after 1941, in a refugee camp. Most of them still can speak the Gottscheer dialect, or at least they understand it.
Faced with the attempt to determine the total number of Gottscheers in the middle of the 1970's many a reader surely asks why one should bother to pursue the final act of the Gottschee tragedy, the slow dwindling of the last generation, to the bitter end. Whoever asks this questions the validity of this entire work because the decline, too, is Gottscheer history. In addition, only the last of this small ethnic group from the calciferous region possess a political and human maturity after six hundred years of their history, a maturity which one would like to see widely spread. To be sure with resistance, but finally they have accepted the immutability of their fate and have come to the realization that they would at the most have gotten a pitying smile in the power centers of the world if, after 1945, they had thought of asking for the return of their former settlement region.
If the Jahrhundertbuch then attempts to verify specifically the accuracy of John Kikel's statistics that 19,000 Gottscheers and their families lived on the North American continent in 1947, it not only records in bold strokes the history of the Gottscheer immigration to the United States; it also records the statistical prerequisites for the total number of Gottscheers living in the middle of the 1970's.
Is John Kikel right? We must assume that his 19,000 is an estimate. Today we have the following figures, which are firm:
1876: The Viennese demographer C. Czoernig estimates that there are about 25,000 to 26,000 Gottscheers. We assume the upper limit: 26,000.
1910: The last census in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy shows 17,400.
1930: A private census with the help of the parishes shows about 14,500.
1941: The results of the processing in the EWZ-train: about 12,000.
Thus we are looking at the population and migration movement of exactly one hundred years, from 1876 to 1976. Let us recall once more that the region of Gottschee was a victim of two epochal developments during these three stormy generations: the migration balance between the densely populated old and the sparsely settled New World on the one hand, and the chauvinistic outgrowths of Central European nationalism on the other. The Gottscheers disappeared from their little piece of the earth but their vitality is for the time being still unbroken. If we namely add together John Kikel's approximate number of 19,000 Gottscheers, the approximate 12,000 resettlers of 1941, and the approximate 700 (the author's estimate) true Gottscheers in the First Republic of Austria, we suddenly are confronted by approximately 32,000 Gottscheers. Thus one can echo John Kikel: "... and the number may be larger, but surely not smaller." Moreover, it illustrates the predominance of American-Canadian-Gottscheers: sixty percent of those of Gottscheer descent lived in North America in 1947!
To check Kikel's numbers of 1947 let us take a close look at the first emigration phase of the Gottscheers from 1880 to 1914. We will clearly distinguish between birth years and emigration years. First, we want to know which age groups migrated overseas during this period. Inevitably, they had to be in their early twenties and if they were already married, they had to be childless. Just one small child could make the settling in America much more difficult, not to mention that the ocean crossing would have jeopardized the life of such a vulnerable human
being since sanitary conditions and adequate nourishment were not available. Thus, although there were exceptions, families with several young children were automatically excluded. We may therefore assume that the average age of the first emigration generation was twenty-three. The young men were somewhat older since they had to serve their time in the military, the young women somewhat younger, twenty-one to twenty-two. Accordingly, the thirty-five generational years of the first emigration phase were born between 1857 and 1891.
To determine the total number of Gottscheer men and women who emigrated at this time from the "Ländchen," we first consider the decline between Czoernig's estimate (1876: 26,000) and the results of the 1910 census (17,400). The difference is 8,600. These 8,600 people are the migration loss between 1876 and 1910. This number, however, has to be clarified with regard to the years between 1911 and 1914 and the rising birth rate after 1876. Czoernig tells us that he considered his estimate to be the greatest number of Gottscheers in their history. This means
that the birth increase did not suddenly stop in 1876 but continued, which indicates that there was a subsequent population explosion. Doubtlessly, it declined as a result of the overpopulation in the ethnic island. We therefore would do well to make a modest prediction because, beginning with 1881, the births of those girls and young women who had emigrated were no longer included. We most likely are not very far off the mark when we assume that the increase in the birth rate ranged from sixty to seventy children per year. Even then we still come up
with about 2,500. This figure overlaps the actual number of emigrants. Hence, we have to add it to the 8,600 which brings us to 11,100.
With regard to the assumed emigration figures for the years 1911 to 1914 inclusive, it must be stated that these were years of political and military crises. The Balkan Wars of 1912-13 considerably increased the emigration since they in effect took place in the backyard of the Hapsburg monarchy. Dr. Podlipnig verifies how high this number climbed in the Cultural Supplement No. 54 of the Gottscheer Zeitung of September 1973. During the first six months of 1914 the district office of Gottschee still issued 700 passports for America. Since, however, several smaller districts of the linguistic island of Gottschee were under the jurisdiction of the district offices in Rudolfswerth and Tschernembl, we have to add an additional 200 passports for the U.S.A. Thus we can calculate that during the first half of 1914 900 people emigrated. Hardly anyone emigrated to Canada at this time. We will approximate the emigration figures for the years from 1911 to 1913 with the help of the following calculations: The average annual emigration figure for the time from 1880 to 1910 was about 360 (11,100 divided by 30). If we applied this figure to the three years from 1911 to 1914, we would get 1,080. If we estimate that there was an increase of about 30 percent due to the tense situation - surely not an excessive rate - we get approximately 1,350. Thus we can give the following figures for the emigration in the years from 1880 to 1914:
If we now take this number, which everyone who is familiar with the conditions in Gottschee will readily accept, and divide it again by 35—the years from 1880 to 1914—we arrive at the annual average of 380.
Now let us look at the birth years from 1858 to 1892 and ask how many of the emigrants from this period could still have been alive in 1947. To shorten the process, let us deal with groups of five years each, which gives us 5 times 380 = 1900.
1. Those born between 1858 and 1862 would have been between 89 and 85 years old in 1947. Because those who had emigrated lived under extremely difficult working conditions, they did not attain such an advanced age.
2. Those born between 1863 and 1867 were 84 to 80 years old in 1947. It could be assumed that none of them were still alive.
3. Those born between 1868 and 1872 were 79 to 75 years old in 1947. About 8 to 10 percent of them could still have been alive, thus about 175.
4. Those born between 1873 and 1877 were 74 to 70 years old in 1947. Possibly 15 to 17 percent of them, particularly women, were still alive, thus about 315.
5. Those born between 1878 and 1882 were 69 to 65 years old in 1947. At the most, 34 to 36 percent of them were still alive, accordingly 690.
6. Those born between 1883 and 1887 were 64 to 60 years old in 1947. At least 85 percent of them were still alive, thus about 1,650.
7. Those born between 1888 and 1892 were about 59 to 55 years old in 1947. Most likely 98 percent of them were still alive, that is about 1,850.
All together 4,680.
Rounded off to 4,700 these are therefore the old emigrants from Gottschee still alive in 1947. This figure does not include those who returned to Gottschee during this same period in order to start life anew on the farm. We have no idea how many of these there might have been, particularly since a number of them again emigrated to the United States after World War II.
To the remaining 4,700 old emigrants we now add the children who were born in the U.S.A. We would still consider these to be true Gottscheers. The number of births was surely low in the early eighties, but the birth rate increased steadily as the emigration increased and as life became more stable. They themselves were of marriage- and childbearing age in 1906. To be sure, one can no longer consider their children to be "true Gottscheers," since they spoke only English even with their parents and rarely or never heard a Gottscheer word or a description of their grandparents' birthplace.
But how can we arrive at least at an approximation of the number of descendants of the first emigrants from Gottschee so that we can add them to the 4,700 we arrived at above? The simplest solution seems to be to half the number of 13,350 old emigrants since there are about equal number of men and women in the world. But not in this case. During the first emigration phase more men than women left for the United States. To be sure, it was the rule that a Gottscheer man married a Gottscheer woman, but due to the unfavorable dispersion of immigrants and the greater number of men, hardly more than 5,500 marriages could have taken place. The 2,350 Gottscheer women and Gottscheer men that are not included either did not marry or found partners who were not Gottscheers. If we now assume two to three children for each of these 5,500 marriages - we can presume to be very close to the actuality - then the number of "descendants" in Kikel's sense could have been 11,000 plus 2,750 = 13,750. The oldest of them were then sixty to sixty-five years old in 1947. If we now add the 4,700 old
immigrants and the descendants of the 5,500 Gottscheer marriages together, we already arrive at this point at a figure of about 18,500! And we still have to estimate the second emigration phase. As we stated, it began in 1920—21 and gradually ceased in the thirties. We also have to include those who emigrated to Austria. It includes those who opted for Austria, the teachers and officials who were forced to leave in this manner, the pupils and students who attended Austrian schools from 1919 to 1925 and did not return again, as well as the steady stream
of Gottscheers who sought employment as craftsmen and in service occupations. We surely do not underestimate their total number if we place it at 700.
Let us take a look at the official and semi-official figures that we already previously cited in order to estimate the second emigration phase:
We cannot use the official Yugoslavian census of 1921 because the manipulation of the results in Gottschee made it a statistical farce. A comparison of the Austro-Hungarian census of 1910 and the Yugoslavian one of 1921 demonstrates this. We quote Dr. Podlipnig (Cultural Supplement No. 54 of the Gottscheer Zeitung of September
The manipulation of the alleged count is too apparent to need much clarification. Let it only be said that one simply crossed off a number of Gottscheers from the census lists and substituted an approximate number of Slovenes for them. This, too, was a kind of Slavenizing of Gottschee. Since, however, no one in the "Ländchen" from 1919 to 1921 had the money to build houses - particularly not the young SHS-state - it is baffling how one was suddenly to have room for about 280 people in Mösel. There was no forced sheltering. No Slovenian school was built. In addition, what had supposedly happened to the Gottscheers who had disappeared? The emigration to the U.S.A. and Canada was just barely getting started again. Hardly any Gottscheer farmer opted to move to Austria. However, to give the statistics the semblance of truth, one did not change the 1910 figures for the Slovenes in Morobitz and Göttenitz in 1921. It will always remain the secret of the 1921 statisticians in Ljubljana why only twenty-two Gottscheers left Göttenitz as opposed to about seventy in Morobitz, which was considerably smaller,
while 85 Slovenes moved to neighboring Rieg.
But let us return to the second emigration phase.
Before we continue, a word about the resettlement figure of 12,000: According to their final count, the EWZ processed 11,747 Gottscheer men and women; Dr. Wollert speaks of 12,000. Both figures, of course, do not include those who did not elect to resettle and those who were away from the "Ländchen" for civil or military reasons but who still belonged to that region. However, if we aim to arrive at the total number of Gottscheers who were still alive in 1941, we cannot omit them. They did not suddenly cease to be Gottscheers nor suddenly become Slovenes because they did not opt for Germany. Ultimately they opted for Gottschee. If we place their number at only three percent, we already get about 360. Combined with those who were absent from Gottschee, we get about 400 to 500. Thus there is a realistic difference of about 5,000 people (17,400 minus 12,500) from 1910 to 1941. Thus the population in the old settlement region shrank by more than half, by about fifty-seven percent, in the sixty-five years after 1876.
We also have to clarify the purely numerical loss of people between 1911 and 1941. The author undertook this with consideration of all pertinent factors and, using the same methods that were used for the first emigration phase, arrived at a departure of about 1,600 people to the U.S.A. and Canada. The northern neighbor of the United States, a country of very great expanses, but with a low population density, was so attractive to the Gottscheers after World War I because they could thus circumvent the strict American immigration requirements by crossing the "green border" or by staying for a while in Canada. Others, of course, did this too. How many emigrants from the "Ländchen" took this route cannot be determined.
At first glance, it seems totally implausible that only about 1,600 Gottscheers emigrated to the U.S.A. between 1920-21 and 1935, approximately. However, one has to consider that the immigration policies of Washington towards the successor state of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy did not allow for any significant quotas. In addition, the world economic crisis which began in 1929 and was accompanied by unemployment did not induce the American-Gottscheers to lure their countrymen to the land of now limited opportunities.
Let us, again purely statistically, set the number of marriages for these 1,600 Gottscheer men and women at 560 to 600 and let us assume that each marriage produced on the average two children. Only two and not three because the Gottscheers also adapted themselves to the declining American birth rate. In any case, the number of Gottscheers living in North America is increased by about 1,600 immigrants and by their 1,200 descendants (approximately) to a total of about 21,000. Thus we have absolutely confirmed John Kikel's comment that 19,000 is a low estimate. We assume, however, that he too did not count the grandchildren of the old immigrants from the linguistic island as true Gottscheers. As far as the total number of Gottscheers living at this time is concerned, it may presumably have been about 32,000 to 34,000 between 1941 and 1947 - including those who did not resettle and opted to stay in the old homeland.
It is 1950. The third emigration phase of the Gottscheers to North America begins very slowly. Only a small percentage of those resettlers who fled from Lower Styria had up to this time been able to get out of the refugee camps. Those that did found at least some foothold for a new life under sometimes unfavorable conditions. The younger, unmarried resettlers dream about America. The communication with the relatives and friends in the United States and Canada had been re-established some time ago. Those in the refugee camps can hardly await the fulfillment of the hopes that the letters contain. They hear that everything is being done to make their emigration to America possible as soon as possible. In the enormous confusion of the streams of refugees during the post-war years, it was extremely difficult to find, as it were, a small life-boat for the Gottscheers who desperately wanted to get to their people in America. There were also innumerable non-Germans whom the wretched war and the dictatorships had uprooted and who now aimed for old or new life goals in an orderly way. The "Festbuch" for the 25th anniversary of the founding of the "Gottschee-Hilfswerk Relief Association Inc." writes, among other things, about the efforts that were necessary to open a little door in the wall so that the Gottscheers could enter the land of now seemingly again unlimited opportunities:
In the second half of 1951, however, the immigration stopped completely. This necessitated a trip by the representative of the "Hilfswerk" to Europe, particularly to Germany and Austria. At this time a conference concerning the refugees was being held in Brussels and an investigation was underway in Frankfurt/Main. As a result of these, the existing restrictions were lifted to some degree, and many countrymen could again emigrate. The guarantees from our circles were, however, already exhausted. Nevertheless, our representatives were aware that the N.C.W.C. was prepared to vouch for 5,000 families. A visit with Msgr. Bernas, the representative of the Catholic Aid Society, and an urgent request made it possible for the Gottscheers to get 500 of these vouchers. Our representative was also told that based on these guarantees up to 2,000 people could immigrate. This visit, which had the approval of the D.P.C. and the N.C.W.C., had an additional advantage in that the Gottscheers were recognized and the immigration applications that had been pending for a long time were finally processed. As a result, the largest number of Gottscheers immigrated in 1952. On August 31, 1952 the D.P.C. was dissolved, and in 1953 and in the subsequent years Gottscheers immigrated to the United States only in small numbers.
The majority of new immigrants settled in those American cities where countrymen from earlier years were already living. Those immigrants who came to the United States due to the efforts of the "Gottscheer Hilfswerk" under the N.C.W.C. quota often landed in far-off regions. But they, too, soon found their way to the "Gottscheer communities." Help was extended to all and gratefully one recalls those countrymen who got the new immigrant his first "job".
The Gottscheers had the good fortune to have a formidable personality in those years when inhumane and material deprivation could only be overcome with systematically applied energy. Hidden behind the word "our representative" is none other than Adolf Schauer, the leading force at the founding of the "Gottschee-Hilfswerk" and its first president. He conducted the negotiations and discussions referred to in the above report and did not let himself be side-tracked by any obstacles. And it was he who did not hesitate to go to Europe in order to make
immigration to the United States a reality for as many of his countrymen as possible. Adolf Schauer was born in 1901 in Oberwarmberg. He emigrated to the United States in 1920 and founded the still existing insurance agency, "Schauer Agency," in Ridgewood. He is considered to be the great wise man of the American-Gottscheers. His efforts on their behalf and for the Gottscheer people as a whole are of historical significance. His countrymen appreciate them. He wears the honorary ring of the Gottscheer "Landsmannschaften" and is honorary president
of the "Relief Association." The Americans awarded him the "Citizen Medal." However, the small army of workers of the "Hilfswerk" were also honored in his name. Certainly the old immigrants helped those countrymen who immigrated later to adjust to the big country; certainly the employment, social, and human conditions in the U.S.A. have changed for the better during the hundred years since the first emigration phase began. But the last immigrants from the former linguistic island were given the well-organized initial assistance of the great community of American-Gottscheers. They, however, were only able to deal emotionally, economically, and socially with this sudden extensive influx of mostly adult human beings because they themselves were well-balanced in these aspects of life. Only because of this were they able to welcome enthusiastically and to extend a neighborly
hand - both of these are meant literally. To change more than 2,000 innocently destroyed fates for the better at personal sacrifices was another humanly imposing deed, whose deeper human motives were not simply present by chance but had developed through the centuries. Two thousand is few by American standards but many for the Gottscheers.
In the meantime, these last immigrants from the "Ländchen" have taken root in the North American soil and adapted to the American way of life. They also became members of the Gottscheer organizations. To be sure, they too experienced that the United States does not demand the surrender of one's national heritage upon stepping on American soil, but that one can only be effective if one adapts oneself from the outset.
When the travel time across the Atlantic was reduced to hours, the American-Gottscheers were seized by a new, by the latest migration: In the summer they flew to Europe by the hundreds, on scheduled and chartered flights. First came those who had emigrated between the two World Wars. They were pleased to see for themselves the good that the "Gottschee-Hilfswerk" and all of its workers had done and that they were not forgotten. But toward the end of the sixties and at the beginning of the seventies, more and more travelers came from the emigrant group of the early fifties. The camps had long since been cleared away. In Europe, particularly in German cities, only a few broken-down buildings were still reminders of the catastrophe which had been overcome. To be sure, not all of their countrymen shared in Germany's and Austria's economic miracle, but the government provided for all, the reparations were underway, the elderly received their pensions, the number of Gottscheer car owners was already considerable at that time. Like the inhabitants of the Baltic regions, the displaced from eastern Germany, the Germans from Czechoslovakia, those from South Tyrol, and the Germans from the Danube-Carpathian region, the Gottscheer men and women who were able to work had immediately joined in the reconstruction of the Austrian and German economies. A seemingly insignificant observation aside: The American-Gottscheers flew and fly mostly with a German airline well-known throughout the world.
The travelers to Europe from the former linguistic island of Gottschee have to traverse long distances, by European standards, until they have visited the relatives, childhood friends, and neighbors for whom they primarily undertake this long boat and airplane trip. But the "Americans," as the Gottscheers call their countrymen from "over there," are used to the long distances. In Austria, the travel objectives that are undertaken for personal reasons very often also include the wish to see a particular city for the first or second time, perhaps Vienna or Graz. These cities - and it is true not only of them - already had a magical appeal at the time of the old monarchy. Gottscheers already lived in these cities in the nineteenth century but a general Gottscheer organization was nevertheless not formed. The "Verein der Deutschen aus Gottschee in Wien" (Club of the Germans from Gottschee in Vienna) was only founded in 1891. This means that the first organization of Gottscheers that was open to everyone was established outside of the "Ländchen" in the United States. It was the already mentioned "Erste Österreichische Unterstützungsverein" in Cleveland, Ohio, which was founded in 1889.
If Klagenfurt is included in the itinerary of the travelers then it is actually not so much because of personal visits but because this city has become the center of the exile culture of the Gottscheers. More about that later. Linz and Salzburg, Innsbruck to a lesser extent, also have a not inconsiderable group of Gottscheers living in them since the fifties and they too attract a number of "Americans" every year.
("Jahrhundertbuch der Gottscheer", Dr. Erich Petschauer, 1980)