Bezdan - Official webpage

Last update:
17. sep. 2014.



The History of Bezdan from the early beginnings until today

Bezdan is one of the biggest settlements in the northwest Backa, at the left banks of the Danube, in the meeting- angle of Serbia-Hungary-Croatia; it is situated at the crossroads of the national road from Sombor to Bezdan and Croatia, in the direction of Backi Breg and continues to Hungary. The bridge over the Danube, built in 1974 connects mankind - and relieves the movement of goods.

The ongoing migration movement over a period of several centuries has created a colourful ethnical variety. According to the census of 2002, Bezdan counts 5.263 inhabitants, the majority (2.983) is of hungarian nationality (56,68 %). The turbulent history of the region is also reflected its changing rulers:
- before and after the Turk-wars, until 1918 is the one part that Austrian-Hungarian monarchy also named Danube-monarchy, after the First World War through the Treaty of Versailles 1918, kingdom of the Serbs, Croatians and Slovenes; from January 1929 renamed to the kingdom Yugoslavia; in the World War II. from 1941 from Hungary recaptures, from 1944 Yugoslavia up to the disintegration of the multi-ethnic state, after it confederacy of Serbia and Montenegro, today Republic Serbia.

Besides traditional craft and a fruitful agriculture, also industry (shipyard, printing work, flour mill, and textile-factory) originates. Bezdan is rich of forests, farmland, numerous canals and seas. The Danube, the second largest river of Europe, contributes to the development of a comprehensive flora and fauna in the abutting regions. Furthermore Bezdan also disposes of that thermal springs, which are instituted for their medicinal benefit as well as for the heating of public buildings.

Archaeological excavations and numerous findings, whose age is estimated to more than 5.000 years, assure the hypothesis that this area was populated over a longer period than assumed yet. In the first centuries after Jesus Christ the Trak-, Avar- and Roman tribes populated the region, only in the 7th century ac the Slavic trunks arrived in an immigration-wave. It is assumed that they have built the mound-castle „Bodrog “, which unfortunately has fallen victim to atmospheric exposure and the Danube- flooding. Approximately around the 9th century the Hungarian tribe „Botond“ conquered this castle. In the course of the hereafter incipient assimilation of the Slavic population, several settlement- foundations with city and village character occurred (Bodrog, Hájszentlörinc - 1173, Kengy-1198, Udvard, Szölös - 1255, Paka-1280, Bartyány-1290, Battyány-1305, etc.). The remains of the castle of Bartyány are still to see in the forest named „Kozara“, which belongs to Bezdán.

After the Battle of Kosovo Polje (1389) and Mohács (1526), Hungarian population has been expelled in a northward direction by the Turkish advance and Serbian tribes settled this area. The village named “Bezdán” has been mentioned first 1579 in the Turkish tax-books (Defterek). In the year 1598 village of 10 houses has been totally destroyed by Turkish soldiers based at the today’s district capital Sombor, this is the reason why this area is called “Bezdan Pussta“ since that time.

Approximately 1,5 km to the destructed village, the Serbian population established a new settlement named Sterbac (Isterbac) in the year 1585.

During the Hungarian liberation-battles (1703-1711) the Serb population has escaped from Strebac, and Croatian settlers took in the abandoned village. At the same time, Hungarian settlers have settled from today’s combines Somogy and Zala in the region of Bezdan Pussta. Between the years 1710 and 1720, the inhabitants of Sterbac and Bezdan Pussta have built and initiated a Chapel in commun, it concerns the oldest Roman Catholic construction of Vojvodina built by believers themselves.

In the year 1742, by the help of József Losonci and the Hungarian Foreign Office the region Bezdán Pussta has been repopulated by Hungarian combines. These settlers became no farm-labourers but free citizens and lessees, who had to pay the lease to the royal Hungarian treasury.

In April 24th of the year 1743 a local executive body has been elected by the local population and representatives of the royal treasury, the clergy and the district administration; the Latin- Catholic congregation and the Catholic primary school Bezdan have been established.
Public buildings as the beadhouse, the parsonage, school have been built of clay brick or reed- netting plastered by clay, and finally covered by reed- roofs. On the initiative of the local executive body and secretary János Ketchmark, the local registry office started to record births. The local teacher András Király began his instruction at the just inaugurated school.

1756, after the beadhouse has been totally burned down, the royal Hungarian treasury initiated the construction of a smaller church with tower, built of clay brick. From 1750 to 1760 many buildings as the town hall, the tavern, the ferryman-inn, customs house etc. have been originated.

From 1763 to 1768 many families of most different origin and nationalities settled in the village. These new citizens, among other Czechs, Slovaks, Serb, Croatians, Sinti and Roma, as well as Germans, integrated despite their ethnical diversity very quickly within the Hungarian majority in Bezdan.

The empress Maria-Theresa of Austria (1717- 1780) declared Bezdan „Mezöváros“ (market towns* with a privilledged status between rural municipality and town) in 1772. This significant incident confers Bezdan the right to carry out four big annual fairs. At this time the recently crowned “small town” enumerates about 3.000 inhabitants as well as 400 residential houses.

1794, a firestorm burst out in the center of the village, 56 buildings fell victim to the flames, parts of the school building, the town hall and the church had been destroyed. In this context the post office was mentioned the first time. After all, in the year 1806 the royal Hungarian treasury initiated the construction of a new school building with a reed-roof and three rooms: one classroom and two small one-room-residences.

In the years 1814, 1829 and 1832, several religious monuments have been built in the city, which are partially still in a very good condition nowadays. For example the monument of virgin Maria is unique in its singular form and its impressive height.

A bad cholera-epidemic appeared in 1831, so that from approximately 800 sickened citizens 350 died. In consequence János Wolf from Baja (southern Hungary) opened a drugstore in 1834. Due to the defeat of the cholera-epidemic a conspicuous baby-boom lead to the fact that the school building became too small for 510 schoolchildren in 1841. In consequence, a further school building had been constructed beside the chapel.

At the end of the 18th century two Calvaries had been raised, firstly a simple one and then a complex and valuable one near to the present Bajai cannel bridge and sluice. The new roman- Catholic Church, built in roman style, and equipped with three doors, is inaugurated in 1847. As well as for the previous fanes, Saint Simon and Saint Jude Thaddeus had been the patron saints of this new church. Nowadays, five precious paintings in oil as well as five glass paintings enhance the church.

Bezdan counts to the first municipalities within the Backa area that provided a surgeon to its citizens in the year 1743, it was Mr. Péter Német. In 1855, the first medicine Ferenc Csihás has begun his work.

1856 the Franz-Joseph channel has been finished; the sluice that connects the channel to the Danube has been absolutely unique at that time: For the first time in Europe, Ferro concrete has been applied under water.

In the same year, the old school building downtown has been torn off and replaced by a new one built of brick with three classrooms. Nowadays, a banking establishment lodges in this building.
Also in this period, the most modern country road of Backa, Danube-Bezdan has been built of clinker or so called Congobricks. Finally it has been extended until Sombor between 1866 and 1870. In the year 1913, the so called Macadam, a revolutionary type of road construction has been built until Backi Breg.

In the year 1858, a steamship- landing stage has been built on the riverside of the Danube. The post office has been equipped with telegraphs in 1864. In the Baranya County (comitatus in present Hungary, in the Baranya region), seasonal workers from Bezdan built a new village and called it New-Bezdan.

Without any consent of the authorities already at the beginning of the eighteen sixties the first catholic fraternities have been established. The first chairperson of this association has been József Szulik from Baja (H), an ancillary spiritual and later even spiritual author and poet. Above all, the association has been equipped with a library and a troupe of layman actors.

The then local press has been composed of the „Képes Ujság“(Picture newspaper*) a local popular magazine as well as the „Katolikus Néplap“ (Catholic people-leaf*), a catholic public paper that has been already more sophisticated.

In the following years, many clubs and associations have been founded and established in Bezdan:

o 1865 the civil reader circle
o 1869 the males- choral society
o 1870 the Casino- society
o 1873 the public circle
o 1879 the auxiliary fire brigade
o 1891 trade- guild and the first saving bank
o 1894 The Hungarian select company, a kind of high- society association
o 1897 The Catholic circle, the civil circle as well as the the chant-community of the reader circle
o In the year 1873, János Schmidt, a descendant from Pécs starts with the manufacturing of damask.

In the same year approximately 400 citizens died due to the 1873 appeared cholera-epidemic. 1875, the cannel Baja-Bezdan with the sluice „Sebesfok” has been inaugurated. Even some documenting photography’s of this construction remained for the posterity. Two years later, in 1877 the chapel of Saint Anna has been inaugurated within the 1848 dedicated upper graveyard. The holy grave chapel of the 1844 dedicated lower graveyard has been finalised in 1855.
The first veterinarian of Bezdan Dr. Mátyás Werker has took up his work in the year 1892. Two kindergartens have been opened 1894 for a total of 259 children.
Briefly before the turn of the century, a fire brake out 1899 in the new street and has burned down 30 residences and 60 outbuildings.

The school, which has been an ecclesiastic institution at the beginning, has got more and more under municipal influence, later even under governmental influence. One of the most known teachers and directors has been Mr. Ferenc Molnár, the bookbinder Ernö Schneller passed out the first picture postcards of Bezdan.

Following new foundations have contributed to the economic success of Bezdan in the first half of the 20th century:

o 1907 the first brickyard
o 1909 the implementing of the steam- mill
o 1911 the powerhouse
o 1912 inauguration of a railway station, a well, the new rectory and a further Calvary. In this year the citizens of Bezdan have received the first Telephone.

The sports club of Bezdan has been established in 1920; the biggest success of the club has been 1941 to participate in the II. Class of the so called „repatriates championship"* or rather „national championship"*.

In the year 1924, the citizens have already enjoyed silent films and from 1932 on even talkies. 1934, several weeklies have appeared, among others the „Goál “, „BSU “and 1935 „Bezdan and its environments"*, a weekly with Elemér Urban as editor.

At the riverside of the Danube has been built the colloquially called „customs-palace"* 1938, a custom house. The ancient Steam bath and present therapeutic bath of Bezdan has been deducted in 1940.

In the year 1943, 33 Jewish citizens have been deported from Bezdan, 1944 approximately 600 to 700 Germans escaped. During the Second World War have died 52 Hungarians, 18 Germans, 6 partisans; 25 persons have died in the ships, furthermore have been enumerated 116 identified and 36 unidentified civilian dead, in the work-camps died 400 persons in Sombor and 83 in Gakovo. 1944, during the battle of Batina at the Danube, approximately 5000 Russian, Yugoslavian, Germans and Hungarian soldiers have died.

Between the two world wars, three people distinguished themselves as excellent culture guardians, it has concerned the pharmacists Sándor Slávik, the journalist Ernö Urbán as well as the teacher István Ruff.

1945, 109 families from Dalmatia, Kordun, Lika and Herzegovina, altogether 605 persons have been settled in houses, which Germans had abandoned.

Under pretence not to have fulfilled their liability to pay taxes, all farmers have been expropriated between 1947 and 1949, successively they have been pushed into an agricultural cooperative.

The Hungarian culture-club* Bezdan has been established in 1947. As protruding personalities of this club are to mention Mrs. Anna Pfaff and her son Dr. Mihály Pfaff; both have achieved excellent performances as particular actors as well as directors. In this context to mention is, under many others, Mr. József Nagy. The cooperative stage, built after the II. World war totally burned down in 1968, so a new playhouse with 280 seats has been built in 1979. The television-ages have entered in Bezdan in the year 1959.

o The construction of the sluice at the Danube- Tisza- Danube- canal has been completed in 1963.
o 1974, also the Danube -bridge "Most 51. Divizije" (51th Division bridge*) has been dedicated.
o 1980, almost all roads in the village became asphalted
o 1981, a therapy-department was dedicated in the spa
o in the same year, the memorial-museum of the II. World war battle at the riverside of the Danube has been finished
o 1990 a mortuary has been completed
o 1993 the grain-silos of the agricultural cooperative have been inaugurated
o 1995 the guesthouse „Kendjija“ has been built.

Since the year 1990 Books exist about Bezdan, in the meantime the documentation counts volume 15.

Since the disintegration of the Yugoslavian federation, the composition of different nationalities Bezdan has strongly changed. With the beginning of the 1990ths, many refugees of primarily Serbian nationality have settled, coming from all areas concerned by the civil war. In the mean time 300 to 350 persons of usually Hungarian nationality have abandoned Bezdan almost for economic reasons.

What you should necessarily see in Bezdan:

the ruins of the castle Bortán
the chapel of Saint Anna
the customs house and the town hall
the church saint Simon and saint Jude Thaddeus
the sluice Franz-Joseph
the Danube-bridge of the 51st Division
the memorial museum of the Batina battle
the damask manufacuring Dunav-Novitet

Sources:

Dr. Balla Ferenc:
1984 Hronika Bezdana do 1944. godine. Bezdan
1993 Bezdán története a kezdetektöl 1914-ig. Bezdán
1994 A bezdáni Szentháromság fogadalmi kápolna. Bezdán
2001 Bezdán története az I. Világháború kezdetétől 1944. október 25-ig. Tótfalu: Logosz

Dr. Balla Ferenc, dr Balla István:
Bezdán története a jugoszláv katonai közigazgatás bevezetésétöl a termelő parasztszövetkezetek felbomlásáig ( 1944-1953 ). Tótfalu: Logosz
Bezdán művelődési krónikája ( nyomdában van ).


Freely translated by Fredy /AW /, many thanks to my friend Jens G., for much help in this "translation project".
words marked with „* “ have been translated equivalently because of easier understanding

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