* Magyarositas = Hungarization (a bit long) #hungary

Tom Venetianer <tom.vene@...>

Dear Ricky and all,

Since this subject could be of interest to all H-siggers, I'm
replying your letter to the list.

As far as I know, "magyarositas" was common practice among Jews *and
gentiles* since the 18th century. The main motives behind this trend
were two: the mandatory decree for the Jews to adopt surnames (>from
1786 on) and the exacerbated Hungarian nationalism which resulted in
the 1848 revolution. What motivated mostly the Jews was the impulse
to get accepted by the Hungarian society (assimilation). Somebody
called Feher could circulate better in gentile circles then if he was
called Veisz (the Hungarian spelling of Weiss).

So this trend was extremely strong and only ceased during WW2 when,
no matter what was ones surname, 3 previous generations of gentile
ancestors were the only guarantee for non deportation or harassment
by the [anti] Jewish Laws (Zsido torvenyek) and the vicious
"nyilasok" (Arrow Cross gendarmerie).

Even during the communist regime the trend continued, although with
lesser vigor. This time the reason was different. It was *safer* not
to carry a very Jewish surname because, despite all the propaganda,
the communist regime was anti-sionist and anti-semite, mainly during
the Stalin era. A relative, who was born Hellschein, only changed his

surname to Takacs in 1948. By then he was an officer in the Hungarian

As for registers about name Hungarization, I am familiar with only
one very important publication (which contains family names of Jews
and gentiles):

Szazadunk Ne'vva'ltoztata'sai
(this century's changes of names)
a book published by Viktor Hornyanszky in 1895
which contains thousands of surnames of people who "hungarized" their
names >from 1800 to 1893. This is a real jewel for the genealogist but
it presents one BIG hurdle for the researcher: the names are listed
in alphabetical order but according to the surname TAKEN, not the
surname the person hold *before* he/she changed it. And there is no
cross index!

Thus, the book's searching can be extremely time consuming, as one
has to read through all its pages (over 300) to eventually bump into
a hit. And don't trust that *logical* name changes (that is,
meaningful translations >from one language into Hungarian) will lead
you quickly to discover an ancestor. Here are some examples of how
weirdly people acted when changing their surnames:

EISENBERGER (>from the iron mount) became VASVARI (>from the iron castle)
but several other surnames (Kohn, Hoffman, Varecska, Popa) were
changed into the same Hungarian name

WILFINGER became VECSEI but several WEISZes also adopted this same surname

BRANIK (portal keeper in Slovak) became VEDFI (the protector), but
people previously called WENK also took the same surname.

The book offers the following information:
* Surname taken
* Previous surname
* Occupation
* Town name (not clear if this is the birthplace or of abode)
* (eventually) the name of children who also took the same surname
* Number of the decree which authorized the name change; the last two
digits indicate the year in which the change was authorized.

How useful can this listing be to the researcher? Well, it depends.
You may find an unknown ancestor, you may confirm that an ancestor
existed and changed his name or you can get more confused then you
were before starting the search :-)

Now to the good news: this book has been filmed by the Mormons, thus
its contents can be examined in film number 0897093. BTW, this same
film contains the Postal gazetteer of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,
published in 1910, so you pay for one and get two excellent sources
for research.

Good hunt

PS: I first discovered the book mentioned through one of H-sigs very
active members - Janos Bogardi. I would ask Janos (if he is reading
this) to add his comments to the above, since he is very much more
familiar with Hungarian genealogical research then I'm.

______________________________ Reply Separator
no dia 03.01.01 `as 20:59 -0500 horas, Zebradisc@aol.com escreveu:
at 03.01.01 - 20:59 -0500, Zebradisc@aol.com wrote:

>| In a message dated 01/03/2001 5:32:39 PM Pacific Standard Time,
>| tom.vene@uol.com.br writes:
>| > surnames could change according to the
>| > predominant language at a given period of time. In Hungary, for
>| > example, "magyarositas" was a very common practice. Wolf became
>| > Farkas, Stern became Csillag, Weisz became Feher
>| i am quite interested in your above stated observation--Weisz is among my
>| tree as is coincidentally Feiner (and i have looked at Feher in
this regard)
>| where can i read more about "magyarositas" can you shed any
light as to what
>| period this was most common?
>| i have some rather commonplace names all subject to interesting
variations so
>| it gets curioser & curioser...many thanks for any assistance
>| ricky schultz

-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. -.-.-.-.-.-.-.-.-. -.-.-
Tom Venetianer <mailto:tom.vene@uol.com.br>
Sao Paulo - Brazil

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