The term Swabian Turkey (German: Schwäbische Türkei, Hungarian: Sváb-Törökország) describes a region in southeastern Transdanubia in Hungary delimited by the Danube (Donau), the Drava (Drau), and Lake Balaton (Plattensee) inhabited by an ethnic German minority. This present-day minority, the largest German-speaking minority in Hungary, primarily lives in the counties of Tolna (Tolnau), Baranya (Branau), and Somogy (Schomodei) and are regarded as Danube Swabians.
After the Ottoman Empire was defeated in the Second Battle of Mohács in 1687, the Habsburg Monarchy forced the Ottoman Turks to leave the Kingdom of Hungary. Because much of the Pannonian Plain had been depopulated during the Ottoman wars in Europe, the Habsburgs began to resettle the land with various colonists, including Czechs, Slovaks, Serbs, Croats and Germans.
German colonization in southeastern Transdanubia began in 1689. While many came from Swabia, the German settlers also came from the Rhenish Palatinate, Hesse, the Westerwald, Fulda, Bavaria, and throughout Franconia. Because of the many Swabian colonists settling on land previously controlled by the Turks, the region of Tolna and Baranya counties became known as Swabian Turkey. The settlers were often induced to immigrate to Hungary with the promise of three years without taxes. The vast majority of German settlement was organized by private ventures run by the nobility or the Roman Catholic Church. Most of the German settlement was in pre-existing Slav- or Magyar-inhabited villages, but some new villages were also founded by Germans. The only two German-founded villages remaining in Swabian Turkey that were established by state ventures were Dunakömlőd (Kimling) and Németkér (Deutsch-Ker). Germans also settled extensively in the major towns of Pécs (Fünfkirchen) and Mohács (Mohatsch).
Post-World War II
During the expulsion of Germans after World War II, many Germans from Swabian Turkey were expelled from their homes and replaced with Hungarians evicted from Czechoslovakia; the remaining Germans were often persecuted by the Communist government. After the fall of communism in 1989, the Transdanubian Germans received minority rights, organisations, schools, and local councils and maintained their own regional dialect of German. However, the Germans are gradually being assimilated.
- Krallert, Wilfried. Atlas zur Geschichte der deutschen Ostsiedlung. Bielefeld: Velhagen & Klasing, 1958.
- Swabian Turkey at Genealogy.net
- Former German-inhabited villages in Swabian Turkey
- Map of Swabian Turkey (in German)
- Danube Swabian Resources (in English) (in German)