The Local and Regional Activity of German Organizations in Hungary between 1924 and 1945

Funding: OTKA  
Duration: January 1, 2015 - December 31, 2018

Between 1924 and 1945, two organizations sought to organize German minorities in Hungary, according to their belief and to advocate their political views against an antagonistic Hungarian public administration. The German Cultural Society or Hungary (Volksbildungsverein) and the Alliance of Germans in Hungary (Volksbund) have caught researchers’ interest for the past four decades. But because many historical documents went missing, most studies resulted only in fragmented views and conflicting scientific assessments of these group’s relationships with the Hungarian and German governments.

Not only have these previous studies placed both groups merely as an antecedent of the expulsion of the German minority from Hungary. They have also ignored how these organizations’ leadership engaged with local communities—through discussions, events, and lectures. That inspired the researcher Ferenc Eiler to home in on these gaps in the project “The local and regional activity of German organizations in Hungary between 1924 and 1945”. It aimed at examining the activity of these organizations both regionally and nationally. His research will lead to a map of these organizations' activities, a novelty that will result in an interactive map which uses Google Maps features.

Using archive research, Ference has scrutinized historical sources on the group available at the Hungarian National Archives, other museums, and by analyzing both groups’ publications. Other research archivists helped him find documents at nine other sites. Beyond letting him perform an in-depth analysis, these documents will come out as a monograph on the group’s history and social organization; an attempt to recall the group’s visits to Hungarian villages occupied by German minorities—and how the Hungarian administration reacted to their serendipities.

By tracing back the history of German minorities through these two German organizations, the project sheds light on the origins of state practice toward minorities, which could help identify and contrast past practices with current attitudes. The researcher will discuss his findings at international conferences and local events.

Principal investigator (PI):

Ferenc Eiler

Senior Research Fellow  
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