is Bukovina and Where
From 1775 to 1918, the easternmost crown land of the Austrian Empire; now
divided between Romania and Ukraine.
As a multi-ethnic province, its name has several spellings: Bukowina or Buchenland
in German, Bukowina
in Polish, Bucovina in
Romanian, and Bukovyna
in Ukrainian, all of which mean Land of Beech Trees.
The Bukovina Society of the Americas
welcomes everyone with interest in the history and culture of this land.
A Short History of Bukovina
on the eastern slopes of the Carpathian mountains, was
once the heart of the Romanian Principality of Moldavia (Moldova), with the city of Suceava being made
its capital in 1388. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the Painted Monasteries of
Arbora, Dragomirna, Humor, Moldovita, Putna, Sucevita, and Voronet were
constructed under the patronage of Stefan the Great and his son Petru Rares. With their famous
exterior frescoes, these monasteries remain some of the greatest cultural
treasures of Romania,
with the rest of Romania, Bukovina fell under the control of the Ottoman Turks. It
remained in Turkish control until it was occupied by the Russians, in 1769,
then by the Austrians, in 1774. With the Treaty of Constantinople in 1775,
control of Bukovina was given to the Austrian
Empire. Administered as a district of the province
of Galicia between 1786-1849, Bukovina was granted the status of an
separate crown land and duchy in 1849. When the Austrian Empire was reorganized
into the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary, in the Compromise of 1867, Bukovina,
like Galicia, remained under
Austrian administration, while the neighboring province of Transylvania
was placed under Hungarian rule.
World War I, Bukovina became a battlefield
between Austrian and Russian troops. Although the Russians were finally driven
out in 1917, Austria would
lose Bukovina with the war, ceding the province to Romania in the Treaty of St. Germain.
June 28, 1940, northern Bukovina was occupied by troops from the Soviet Union. It would change hands again during the
course of World War II, but this half of Bukovina ended back in Soviet hands,
and is today the Chernivetska oblast of Ukraine.
Southern Bukovina is now part of Suceava county, Romania.
Bukovina covers an area of 10,422 square kilometers. In the 1775
census of this province, its population was only about 60,000. To encourage the
development of this sparsely-settled land, the Austrian emperors subsidized the
immigration of colonists to Bukovina. After
end of these official immigration programs, colonists would continue to arrive
at their own expense. As a result, by the census of 1910, the population of Bukovina had risen to over 800,000.
of many different ethnic groups took part in this immigration, including Armenians,
Hungarians, Jews, Poles, Romanians and Ukrainians (at this time, generally
referred to as Ruthenians).
German colonists came from three distinct areas: Swabians
and Palatines, from what is now Baden-Württemberg and Rheinland-Pfalz,
in southwest Germany; German
Bohemians, from the Bohemian Forest (Böhmerwald), now in the Czech Republic;
and Zipsers, from the Zips mountains, now Spis county, Slovakia.
Austrians developed excellent system of public education in Bukovina.
The major languages of instruction were German, Ukrainian and Romanian.
the population of Bukovina expanded, so did
the pressures for emigration. Farmers with large families could no longer
divide their homesteads among their children, and industry in Bukovina had
never grown to the extent in had elsewhere in the Austrian Empire, or in the
first wave of Bukovina German emigration began in the 1880's. Most of these
emigrants would settle in communities among their Landsleute. These destinations
included Ellis, Kansas;
Yuma County, Colorado;
Lewis County, Washington; Saskatchewan, Canada; and Rio Negro, Brazil.
A second wave of emigration to the Americas took place in the years preceding and following World War I. While some joined those
who preceded them in the above mentioned locations, others would find
industrial employment in New York City.
War II would provide the major impetus for the Bukovina Germans to leave their
homeland. After the Soviet Union annexed northern Bukovina in 1940 -- while the
Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was still in effect -- an agreement between the Soviet
Union and Germany, and a similar agreement between Romania and Germany, allowed
the ethnic Germans of Bukovina to voluntarily leave for Germany (this agreement
obviously did not include the German-speaking Jews of Bukovina, who -- like
Jews all across Europe -- would become victims of the Holocaust during the
course of the war).
all the Catholic and Lutheran Bukovina Germans, some 95,000 people, accepted
the terms of this resettlement (Umsiedlung) to the Reich. In 1945, many of these, who
were sent to German-occupied land in Poland
would find themselves refugees again, fleeing from the advancing Red Army. Many
lost their lives and/or belongings.
fate of these Bukovina Germans was determined by their location at the end of
the war. Many would settle in West Germany
and Austria (with some
emigrating to the United States,
Canada, and elsewhere),
others in East Germany.
Some were forced to return to Romania,
from where they were finally granted permission to emigrate
again to Germany
over the following decades. Only a very small minority of Bukovina Germans
remain in Romania or Ukraine, today.
(Please note: most of the above discussion concerns the Bukovina Germans, an ethnic minority that was never more
than 10% of the population of the province. This is not meant to slight the
history and contributions of the many other ethnic groups of Bukovina -- it is
only a result of the fact that most members of the Bukovina Society are
descendants of this one group, and most of the resources available to the
society only discuss this group. We would welcome references to resources
regarding the other ethnic groups of Bukovina,
particularly those that might be available on the World-Wide Web.)
Ethno-Linguistic Maps of Bukovina
Click on the map to see the bigger
BRIEF HISTORY OF MOLDOVA
with historical maps and illustrations