Burgenland Croats


July 5, 2022

Burgenland Croats or Gradistye Croats (Croatian: Gradišćanski Hrvati, IPA:ɡradiʃtɕanski hrʋaːti) are a Croatian ethnic group who live in the province of Burgenland, Western Hungary or They live in Bratislava and speak the Gradišće language. The name gradistye, gradišćanski is considered new, as the area annexed to Austria was later named Burgenland, which means Castle Land. The name Gradistye is actually a mirror translation of this (gradcastle). Burgenland Croats are one of Austria's 6 legally (Volksgruppengesetz) recognized native minority ethnic groups.

Their names

At first they were called West-Hungarian Croats or White Croats. In German their name was Wassercroaten, in their own language it was translated as Belihrvati. However, the name White Croats is misleading, because in the Middle Ages a group of people called White Croats lived in the territory of today's Slovakia and the Czech Republic, but despite the similar name, some scientists do not consider them to be direct relatives of today's Croats. Since Burgenland is also called Őrvidék or Upper Őrvidék, the Croatian minority is also sometimes referred to as Őrvidék Croats, instead of the German Burgenland.

Their history

Settlement of Croats

In the 16th century approx. 100,000 Croats arrived in what is now Burgenland. The Burgenland Croats arrived in the 1530s from the regions of Kordun, Lika, Gornji Kotar, Una, Velebit, and partly from Bosnia. A decade later, people from Slavonia also migrated here. The former speak the Chakav dialect, while the latter speak the Štokav dialect. They are mentioned for the first time in 1577 in a certificate of the village of Pásztorháza. The reason for the migration was the Turkish wars. They came from endangered regions hoping to start a new life as "new people". Count Erdődy and Count Batthyány, who hosted them, also had estates in Croatia and Western Hungary. They populated the border region next to the Ottoman Empire. Along with the Croats, German settlers also arrived at that time, and today's ethnic structure was also formed. A smaller group of Croats moved further as far as the Moravian Field east of Vienna, they are called Moravian Field Croats. However, the group was completely assimilated by the 1950s.

English translation

They used their own mother tongue separated from their homeland until the end of the 19th century. It was only with the development of transport that a greater interest and cultural connection between Croats emerged again. The Magyarization policy provided a narrow opportunity to maintain relations. In 1907, the new education law Lex Apponyi was introduced. From then on, Hungarian was also taught in elementary schools, and Hungarian teachers tried to instill national consciousness in the children. Based on the 1910 census, there were Croatian ethnic groups in 110 localities, of which 60 belonged to the Roman Catholic Church, 150 folk schools and about as many priests were listed.

Formation of Burgenland

Based on the Saint-Germain Peace Treaty of 1919, Austria received the western edge of Moson County, Sopron County, and Vas County. The area inhabited by Croats was divided into Hungarian and Austrian sides, a larger block went to Austria. Approximately 50,000 people came to Austria. The peace treaty stipulated the protection of minorities and the teaching of the national language in schools. In reality, however, Germanization began and many people declared themselves German. In 1929, the Croatian Cultural Association (Croatian: Hrvatsko kulturno društvo, (German: Kroatischer Kulturverein)) was founded, which was a strong advocate of interests in public offices and inspired political parties. However, the situation with the Croats in Western Hungary changed fundamentally. K