Hungarian Germans

A program by Erasmus students (2014)

In German language



It’s crowded in the foyer of the Müvesz Cinema in Budapst. It’s Fridaymorning. Usually, the cinema is closed during this time. Not today. Today, there are hundreds of pupils for the FilmFestival „Abgedreht“. The pupils produced films about the Hungarian Germans.

„Abgedreht“, the hungarian-german Filmfestival, is for pupils between the ages of 14-19 young film-producers between the ages of 19 and 35. It’s about showing their view on the Hungarin-Germans in form of Short-Films. The young film-producers are supposed to make advertising-spot for the Hungarian-Germans.
We show hungarian-german literature, it’s a very old cradle-song called „Schlaf Kindlein, schlaf“. It’s from the 19th century. And there’s also a cradle-song by Klaus Klotz. This is an overworked version of the first one and it has a totally different meaning from the first one. / The dog is nerved and he runs away, because his lordlings don’t want to do anything with him. When he’s in the city, he becomes scared and the he goes back home. And then he realizes that he’s also a Schwabian. / We want to organize a birthday-party for Sara, but Sara doesn’t feel good in modern clothings. This is why she dresses up in an schwabian dress.

The student which are gathered here, are mostly Hungarian-Germans. It means: They are decendants of Germans, who immigrated to Hungary hundreds of years ago. The term „Hungarian-German“ is diffuse. Many Hungarian-Germans don’t live in Hungary anymore – because of Trianon. But they all share a thing: they are living between two cultures.

Being Hungarian-German means, being a German in Hungary so to say. This is different from the community. But on the other side, we also belong to Hungary. It’s an interesting mixture. / It’s not only belonging to one Nationality, but belonging to two. It’s the german and the Hungarian nationality. This is kind of a mixtured-identity. You try to combine it.

The first germans arrive in Hungary shortly after the foundation of the country. They are popular. Cities are being built after german example, they are seen as hard-working and they are welcome in Hungary. They find a new home.


Despite the fact that the Hungarian-Germans are called „Schwaben“, only two percent of the immigrants are actually from Schwaben. There are different phases of immigration. Most of the immigrants are wealthy, hard-working and conformed. WW II brings a change.

There were few which always sympathized with Hitler. They stood by him and they even were in the SS. They were interested in the German fascism and thought it was good. But there were also Germans who didn’t want to be part of all of this. They went to church. Nobody knows how many there were of them. But after the war, everybody was seen as a Nazi.

The Hungarian-Germans were brought to the SU. Until 1950, there were no German-Classes for the hungarian-german students. There was no cultural work, no press. Many emmigrated. After a while, the language got lost. Until today, there are fewer and fewer Hungarian-Germans which still know German.

If you have an identity, you need to work for it. Also, if you want to keep the language. But of course, if you are often in a community where you can’t practise this, then it’s easier to be conformed. This is why still many don’t care about they hungarian-german heritage.

Monika Ambach is the director of the „Zentrum“. They care for the hungarian-german heritage in Budapest.

Since September 2013, we work here on programmes for the Hungarian-Germans. We have theatre-plays, lectures, wine-tastings and so on. Everything what’s interesting for the people. It’s a very diverse work.
In Budapst, it’s hard to offer programmes, because there is a lot already, also for german-speaking people.

Monika Ambach cares for the German language. She herself is a Hungarian-German. And it’s important for her that she speaks two languages.

I’ve combined my private with my professional life. I’ve always worked on something which was linked to the german minority. I’ve been for a long time a moderator in the hungarian TV, of course for the german programme. Now, I have the possibility to work for the „Zentrum“. So, it’s easy for me to be with the Hungarian-Germans, because I see them at work and also in my private life.

For others, this is not so easy. They can’t practise their German so often. That’s why the events of the „Zentrum“ are so important. Here, Hungarian-Germans can meet and talk – most of the time in German. For Monika Ambach, being Hungarian-German is part of the identity.

I think, it gives you the possibility to develop yourself. Some find it in art, music or in working in a garden. Others find their german roots and like it to be in a choir or to travel and meeting other poepole.

Monika Ambach also cares for the following generations.

The biggest question for all is, how to pass my heritage to my children. It’s a big question right now. We have to combine the future with the present and also the past.


Daniel Schröder sees himself as a hungarian-german European. He’s part of the younger generation, Monika Ambach aim at. He speeks German and Hungarian fluently. He’s living with his family in Stuttgart. Right now, he is in Budapest for his Erasmus-Semester.

I just wanted to live in Budapest for a longer period of time. I’ve been many times here, it’s a wonderful city. And I just wanted to life in the country, where my ancestors come form.

He’s working on his heritage. Also, when he’s in Stuttgart.

There is a cultural institute in Stuttgart and there are many events. There’s also a youth centre and a centre for hungarian speaking students. There is another club for Germans with Hungarian-German roots. But there, only the old people speak Hungarian, that’s not so much fun. I prefer to meet with the others in the hungarian cultural institute. It’s always fun to meet hungarian students at University.

His parents always helped him to find out about his hungarian roots. When he was a child, his family has often traveled to Hungary – though it was a long and exhausting trip. The border controls were annoying. Everything needed to be controled.

We’ve had toys with us, my brother and me. This was also controlled by the police. Because we could have hidden something in there.

Daniel remembers these trips very well. He’s glad that Europe has changed.

Since I was a child, Europe grew together more and more. In the 90s, Hungary was not part of the European Union. You’ve had to wait three hours at the border. There were very huge differences between Germany and Hungary. Nowadays, Hungary is part of the Western culture, it’s more or less like Germany: part of the European Union. I can’t think anymore in categories like East and West or German or Hungarian. Everything is so similar now.

Daniel, the hungarian-german European. It means for him speaking Hungarian and German. Also to talk in English. Living in Budapest for a period of time. Meeting other Hungarians and Hungarian-Germans in Germany. It doesn’t mean dancing folk dances or listenting to Brassmusic – like for many others.

The hungarian-german culture is very interesting, because many only think of dancing, old songs or brassmusic. But now, there is a new generation which tries to combine modernity with culture, to keep the culture alive.

Mixing the modernity with the culture – it’s also something which the Filmfestival „Abgedreht“ tries. Right now, there is a pause in the cinema. Everybody’s waiting for the second half of the presentation. Also Sebastian takes part in „Abgedreht“ – for the third time now. He produced a film with his class. This time it’s about a Schwabian dog and Clichees about Schwabians.

He loves to collect things, eating, loud music and saving money. These things. / Do you think that’s part of being a Schwabian? / Somehow well…yes, kind of.

Sebastian and his classmates collected these clichees in the classroom. He has great hopes: the last three times, his team won a prize.

The year before last year we were first, last year third and this year, we take part for the third time. We’re here every year.

The presentation starts again. Sebastian and the others are watching a movie about traditional dresses. His film was shown already in the first part. Now he has to check out his competitors.
Monika Ambach, who also organizes this Festival thinks it’s a good opportunity for young people to find out about Hungarian-Germans.

They meet people, old people, younger people. They have to research about different things. This is how they get to know a lot of things about the Hungarian Germans. It’s really important, I think. For me, the festival is always interesting. It’s a weird feeling. You congratulate the winners, but there are always losers. And if there’s a 15-year-old that he’ll come back next year for sure – that’s just great.

Sebastian is disappointed. He didn’t win anything. Though, he’ll come back next year. Although most of them don’t dance folk dances, wear traditional dresses or are part of a brassband – they are Hungarian-Germans.

„Die alte Gärtnerei“ for Solo-Piano, Martin Hauber, Drei Miniaturen für Klavier, 10. April 2008, Oomoxx Media
„Seid gegrüßt ihr Deutschen Brüder“; Text: Dr. Ernst Imrich; Melodie: Prof. Ludwig Hackl (1918); played by Ungarndeutsche Jugendblaskapelle
Paradise, Colplay, Paradise, 9. September 2011, EMI UK (Piano Version)

Franz Zeltner – Meine zwei Sprachen
János Szábo – Mein Vaterland

About Post Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.