Deutsch Schützen
7474 Deutsch Schützen, Austria
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Jumped over to the neighbours'

Dostupné v: English | Magyar

Ferenc Schlaffer spoke a bad Hungarian. He was born to a family of smallholders of German ethnic origin. He was taught to be a skilled worker. Although as a roofer he had a good wage, when he turned 18 and understood that his family had planned it several times, he realized that he wanted to leave Hungary."I felt deep sorrow for having been deprived of everything we used to have,” he recalled. Schlaffer was born into the midst of the reprisals against the German minority who was considered to be guilty of the crimes of WWII. His family lost their lands and the house which had previously guaranteed them a relative well-being. So, some days after his 18th birthday Ferenc Schlaffer arrived home from work, he handed the wages to his mother and he took his bike. "I said simply that I was leaving, but I didn’t add that I was leaving the country.” He biked to the outskirts of Pornóapáti half a kilometer away from his house. On the way, he encountered his elder sister and her daughter, and he greeted them without revealing what he was planning to do. The neighbouring Austrian village, Deutsch Schützen "was so near you could see it” from the fringes of Pornóapáti. Border guards patrolled Pornó regularly, but "for those who were from there and knew the area it wasn’t a problem to cross the green border whenever there was a chance to leave the country. I knew where the guards were. Some patrolled, and others were also in the wooden tower.” He drew up between the Hungarian custom house and the station where the Austrian customs officers were. He ran to the fencing, climped it and jumped over to the other side. It was over in a matter of seconds. Even if the border guards noticed him, they couldn’t shoot at that point. And so Schlaffer arrived to Deutsch Schützen.

Ferenc Schlaffer

Ferenc Schlaffer

Ferenc Schlaffer was born in the Hungarian village Pornóapáti in 1950. His native village is some meters off the border between Austria and Hungary and in those days it was inhabited by mostly Germans. His family was of German origin and spoke spoke German at home. His parents made their living from the land that they owned. His mother Anna Éder was a housewife who first worked on their private land, later in the cooperative. His father János Schlaffer was an indipendent smallholder for a while, later he got a job at the forestry. His family planned several times to leave the country because of the widespread poverty and the injuries they had sustained during the reprisals against the Germans, as they were considered to be guilty for the war crimes of World War II. They lost their family house as well as a part of their land. Ferenc Schlaffer attended school in Pornóapáti and in the near village of Felsőcsatár. Then he went to Szombathely and he studied in an industrial school to be a skilled roofer. He finished school in 1968 and he was employed at Vasép (Iron Constructions) in Szombathely. He worked there for a couple of months, and then decided to leave Hungary just some days after he had turned 18. He returned home after a work shift, handed over his wage to his mother and headed to the border fence which was some hundred meter off their family house. He climbed up the fencing and jumped over to Austria to the town of Deutsch Schützen. On the Austrian side of the border Ferenc Schlaffer went to the border station, he was brought to Eisenberg. Later he was transported to a refugee camp in Traiskirchen. First he wanted to go to live in the United States of America, but in the end he changed his mind and remained in Austria. Although he was officially banished from Austria for four years, he didn’t have to leave the country. He lived in Traiskirchen and he worked as a roofer in Wien for different companies. After a while he succeeded to move to Wien, too. He was granted Austrian citizenship in 1980 and could visit Hungary for the first time after his emigration. He had an Austrian wife, but later they divorced. He lived together with an other Austrian woman and they had a child. His daughter Natalia die din 2005. In 1989 he remarried. His second wife is Erzsébet Gunyhó, of Szombathely. She works in Austria as a nurse; Ferenc Schlaffer has retired. The couple lives both in Wien where they rent a flat and in Szombathely where they have a family house.

Deutsch Schützen

Dostupné v: English | Magyar

Deutsch Schützen is a small municipality with approximately 1000 inhabitants in Burgenland (Austria). People who live in this basin at the foot of Eisenberg, bordered by oak and pine forests, cultivate their vineyards, produce wine and as of recently are engaged in agritourism. After the peace treaties following WWI and the plebiscite of 1922 the border line between Austria and Hungary was defined between Deutsch Schützen and Pornóapáti. The latter was inhabited mostly by peasants of German ethnic origin and only a few hundreds meters separate the two villages. This new frontier divided the two areas although only a narrow green zone separates one from the other. The brook Pinka, too, flows through both Deutsch Schützen and Pornó, meandering between both Hungarian and Austrian territories. During WWII a labour camp was built outside the village for Jewish deportees. At the time of the retreat of the Nazi forces, some 60 of them were massacred on March 29, 1945. In the Communist era when the Iron Curtain cut off the two neighbouring countries, those Hungarians who managed to reach the Hungarian villages in the border zone either by an official permission or by crossing the electric wires, could relatively easily escape to Austria from these places. This is the reason why a lot of emigrants chose the direction of Deutsch Schützen to leave Hungary illegally.

Deutsch Schützen

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Jumped over to the neighbours'

Jumped over to the neighbours'

Ferenc Schlaffer
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