Mass exodus from villages in Baranya County, Hungary

Hungary is witnessing a steady flow of emigrants. Admittedly, one could counter that it is incorrect to call those who seek work abroad emigrants because “to emigrate” means “to leave one country or region to settle in another.” One could argue that these people don’t plan to live abroad for good. However, there is a very good likelihood that people who spend a number of years in another country, establish a career for themselves, make new non-Hungarian friends, perhaps even marry local men or women will not return to their country of birth. A good example of that kind of emigration was the mass exodus of Hungarian citizens, especially from the Slovak-inhabited counties of northeastern Hungary, who left for the United States in the 1880s and 1890s in order to make enough money to return home and live in relative comfort. Most of them never saw Hungary again.

We know that at least 330,000 Hungarians now work abroad. I suspect that most of these people are from larger cities and from regions adjacent to the Austrian border. But today I read a fascinating report about the poverty-stricken south of the County of Baranya which has been witnessing “emigration fever.” The population of this region is in an utterly hopeless situation. There are places where over 50% of the population are unemployed without the slightest hope of finding work. In the entire county there was only one large factory, the Finnish Elcoteq, but in 2011 the firm filed for bankruptcy and between 5,000 and 7,000 people lost their jobs. Until 2011 the lucky ones in these godforsaken villages could find work in Pécs, commuting between work and home. That opportunity is gone.

The Pécs stringer for Népszabadság visited four tiny villages, two close to Szigetvár on the west and two near Sellye, the largest town in the so-called Ormánság. I might add here that the Roma population of south Baranya is pretty high. It always was, but by now there are villages where all of the inhabitants are Roma. This is especially true of the Ormánság. Both Szigetvár and Sellye are marked on the map below.

The reporter’s journey began in Kétújfalu (pop. 667), 13 km from Szigetvár. There even the Fidesz-KDNP mayor’s son moved to Germany where he began as a dock worker but by now has a job as a computer technician. He made 110,000 forints a month as a fire fighter in Hungary; he now makes about three and a half times that amount–1,300 euros a month. The thirty-year-old English teacher in the village school packed up a couple of years ago. She became a housekeeper in the UK. A fifty-year-old locksmith has been working in Germany for the last ten years. Last summer his wife followed him. She was a cook in the school, now she works as a cleaning lady. She gives the impression of being a “secure and self-confident person,” at least this is how the mayor, who is a German-Russian-gym teacher, describes her.

The situation is very much the same in Teklafalu (pop. 343) close by. The first emigrant was a butcher who went to Germany fifteen years ago. His son decided to become a butcher as well in order to work with his father. As soon as he learned the trade he followed his father to Passau where he got a job at the firm his father is working for. The family has two daughters who are still not on their own, but once they finish school the wife is going to follow husband and son. She is ready to work in a factory. After all, in the old regime she worked in a canning factory in Szigetvár.

After the son of our butcher left, interest in emigration grew in Teklafalu. Two women in their fifties left for Germany. The son of one them headed to Italy. A young fellow just left for the Netherlands, but he is not the first one in that country from the village. A young woman left years ago and recently her father followed her; he got a job as a security guard. “He had enough of the poverty,” as his neighbor said.

County of Baranya

County of Baranya

From the Szigetvár region the reporter moved south, close to Sellye, to a village called Bogdása (pop. 295). The place has a Catholic and a Hungarian Reformed church but neither priest nor minister. They come from Sellye for services. The same exodus can be observed here. First, one fellow left for France and soon enough two more followed him. Neither man was unemployed at home; they had jobs but never made more than 120,000-150,000 a month. Now they make about five times that amount as plasterers. One of them is in Rennes and the other in Grenoble. Their sister is planning to go to Austria and would be happy to work either in a restaurant or in a hotel. Another couple moved to England where they work in a Sony plant. As their neighbors say, “they don’t even visit anymore.” Three men from the village work in a slaughterhouse in Germany while three others, also in Germany, got jobs as long distance truck drivers.

The most interesting story is from Drávafok (pop 508). Tímea  Buzás is thirty and Roma. She has been working in the United Kingdom ever since 2006 when she graduated as a midwife. At that time she applied for a job in Drávafok but lost out to someone else. She suspects that her Gypsy origin had something to do with it. So she decided to leave for Great Britain. Because she didn’t know English she first worked in a factory. Two years later when her English improved she got a job looking after elderly people. A year later she got a regular job as a nurse. Today she is head nurse in Crawley and makes 2,500 pounds a month.

In the last six years she paid off her parents’ mortgage on their house (4 million), spent 2 million fixing up their house in Drávafok, bought an apartment in Pécs for 8.5 million, and spent another 2 million fixing it up. She also generously helps others, preparing them for the journey and conditions in the UK. She apparently managed to get jobs for 72 of her acquaintances. Once they are there she helps them open bank accounts, fill out job applications, and find apartments. Out of the 500 inhabitants of Drávafok there are at least 15 people just in England.

These people, six months after arriving in the UK, are able to send home 200,000-250,000 forints a month. Not surprisingly there is great interest in moving to Great Britain in Drávafok. Tímea, who is currently spending her summer vacation at home, was approached by seven of her neighbors in just the past few days. The only impediment is that future emigrants must have some initial capital with which to start their new lives. According to Tímea one needs at least 300,000 forints. Since most of the inhabitants of Drávafok can get only 45,000 forint public works jobs it is almost impossible to scrape together such a sun. Otherwise, I suspect, there would be no way of stopping them.

Until now the Roma of Baranya County didn’t rush to leave the country seeking jobs abroad. That has changed. As one mayor in the region said, the best educated and the most ambitious are the ones who are leaving, which is a real pity.

Yes, this situation greatly resembles what was going on in the northeastern counties of Greater Hungary in the late nineteenth century. The news spread by word of mouth. One villager went to the United States to work in a factory or mine and sent home glowing reports about his good fortune. And more and more packed up until half of the villages had no adult men. This is what seems to be going on today, at least in Baranya. But now the women are also leaving.

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James Atkins
Guest

It seems like this is something which can’t be blamed on Fidesz alone. It is probably part of a bigger trend of rural places becoming unviable. Similar things are happening all over the world.

However, you can reverse the tide. Get people down there learning organic farming and horticultural skills and they can supply farmers markets in Pecs, Szigetvar. We’re doing this in Zsambok east of Godollo. No grants, no subsidies, just hard work and private capital. There must be some people in Pecs with cash to invest in such enterprises.

Ron
Guest

Eva even Bloomberg took up a report on a Hungarian who started a pancake cafe.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-07-15/london-opens-arms-to-hungarian-entrepreneurs.html

Ron
Guest

James Atkins :
It seems like this is something which can’t be blamed on Fidesz alone. It is probably part of a bigger trend of rural places becoming unviable. Similar things are happening all over the world.
However, you can reverse the tide. Get people down there learning organic farming and horticultural skills and they can supply farmers markets in Pecs, Szigetvar. We’re doing this in Zsambok east of Godollo. No grants, no subsidies, just hard work and private capital. There must be some people in Pecs with cash to invest in such enterprises.

Sorry James I cannot see how organic farming will work in Hungary. In the UK and the rest of Europe is decreasing every year since the crisis started in 2008. And these countries have plenty of resources and money. In Hungary people here do not have money, that is why they are leaving, and that is why they will not buy enough organic food in Hungary.

Istvan Foldesi
Guest

Born in Sellye, Baranya county, with great sadness I can only confirm this sociological piece. The situation is far worse in the Eastern part of Hungary.

Istvan Foldesi
Guest

To the Hungarian village the coupe de grace was delivered under Prime Minister Antall, whose small-holders partners destroyed a successful model of state farms, cooperatives and private endeavors. The present pattern of agricultural production is no match in competition with other EU countries and cannot retain the village population.

Guest
James is right – even in Austria (and Germany of course ..) there are a lot of villages which have lost a third or more of the population in the last decades. That means that there#s not enough money for the upkeep of the roads, the central buildings – not enough business for a baker, a butcher, a kocsma etc – so even more people are leaving. Just ead an article on this in the German “ZEIT” … What I find really depressing however is that many of these people can only get a “low qualification” job – a friend of ours who does a very good manicure/pedicure, now works in winter in Austria as a cleaner (at least her partner can work in his job as a cook), another who has all the diplomas as a hairdresser is thinking about “any job” in Germany – to translate the diplomas into German would be too expensive … And there’s the famous case of eachers from Poland/Hungary/you name it working the fields in Germany in summer – they make much more in the season than in one year in their homeland. This is really sad! But ten you have the people… Read more »
Guest

Sorry for the spelling mistakes – too much of a hurry ..

I just realised that we’ve been to Baranya county several times (stupid me):

A very nice hotel in Harkany – with visits to Siklos, Pécs, Villany …

Interestingly enough in Harkany (the spa) the working people are mostly from Croatia, not only in the hotels and restaurants, also the market – on the other side they have a lot of guests from the south too.

So the Hungrians are emigrating and the Croats are immigrating?

The Tesco in Siklos was totally different from “ours” in Keszthely – half of the products and the customers were Croatian …

And we had some very good Cevapcici in a small bar in Siklos, hmmm …

Gervais
Guest

Unfortunately there is no way the current population structure can sustain itself in rural areas in Hungary economically (that is until industrial style agriculture works based on fossile fuels and result in – relatively – cheap, competitive priced products).

Rural people should have moved to more urban areas long time ago, of which there is only one real in Hungary (Budapest).

Unfortunately, people don’t like to do work-intensive agriculture, such as organic agriculture.

There is a literal war for land in Hungary (hence Fidesz’ efforts to redistribute state-owned land, even leasing land located in national parks etc.) but only in order to grow staple crops, like corn/wheat which involve minimal work (and even that with machines) and can be stored/sold/transported very easily at any moment.

Nobody wants to grow vegetables or fruits, too messy. Until there isn’t a very big incentive, organic agriculture cannot work in Hungary.

That said, it is sad to see rural decline.

Paul
Guest
My own experience supports this growing tide of emigration. But with one difference – the Hungarians I know and meet in the UK are almost always from the more prosperous parts of Hungary and/or the larger towns. This is not a story of desperate peasants moving because there is no choice, this is about educated young people, who should have good prospects at home, choosing to leave because they can see no future in staying in Hungary. When I first met my wife, 12 years ago, and first visited Hungary, I had never met another Hungarian in the UK. And for the first few years nothing much changed. I would occasionally hear Hungarian in London, but never in our county town, an hour from the capital. Then, about 5 years ago, they started to appear. The check-out guy in Lidl turned out to be Hungarian, the waiter in the local pizza place understood what my wife was saying to the kids, other parents in the park after school spoke to my daughter when they heard her using Hungarian with her brother. This was so novel when it first started that I used to talk to each Hungarian I bumped into… Read more »
Marcel Dé (@MarcelD10)
Guest

Paul :This is not a story of desperate peasants moving because there is no choice, this is about educated young people, who should have good prospects at home, choosing to leave because they can see no future in staying in Hungary.

Welcome to migration patterns. A vast majority of Africans and Chinese migrants to Europe, for instance, have higher skills and education than those – families, neighbors – they leave at home.

I’m not so sure by the way that intra-EU migrants today are naturally ‘lost’ for their country of origin. It’s actually much easier for them and their relatives to move back and forth, and for them to move back (for reasons of convenience or should the job market shrink, look at what happened to Romanian migrants in Spain).

An
Guest

@Marcel De: “I’m not so sure by the way that intra-EU migrants today are naturally ‘lost’ for their country of origin. It’s actually much easier for them and their relatives to move back and forth, and for them to move back (for reasons of convenience or should the job market shrink, look at what happened to Romanian migrants in Spain).”

I agree. It all depends on how Hungary is going to do in the near future. If Orban is gone and the country gets back on a solid economic footing, some of these people will return (some, not all) . The same happened with Poles a couple of years ago … a lot of the Poles moved back a couple years ago when the economy was picking up (though it is starting to low down again in Poland again). It really depends on how long the state affairs will be this bleak in Hungary.

Eva compared this to the emigration to the US from Hungary in the late 19th century… well, this emigration wave is targeting EU countries, from where return physically is much easier.

cheshire cat
Guest
…I could write a long and boring essay on this – Paul, there is another side of this coin “And what happens to these people? They start in low paid jobs, but many soon start to work their way upwards, either to senior positions in the same firm, or to jobs that use their qualifications or skills.” it might be true of young single people, but on average, that’s exactly what doesn’t seem to be happening in Britain in the current economic circumstances. In fact, hardly anybody I know does exactly the same job they used to do in Hungary. Instead, a lot of them “do low paid jobs – learn English (3-4 years) – retrain (years again) – start a new career from the bottom.” This is quite daunting if you have a family already, not to mention the cost of childcare in Britain, which practically prevents one of the parents from working full-time, for years. Many are disappointed about British healthcare and regularly go home for treatment. Many Hungarians say that the explosion in living standards that they were expecting doesn’t really happen in Britain. In fact, some say if you were earning just a little bit more… Read more »
cheshire cat
Guest

I can see An has come to similar conclusions.
Eva, this is really different nowadays, different than anything before. Many people can change their mind, pack up and move back home in one week.

Thomas
Guest

Cat.
You cannot be serious! Going back to hungary for healthcare? Soon there will be more Hungarian doctors in th UK than in Hungary. And the level of healthcare in Hungary? Paying under the table, feeling totally at the mercy of nurses and sometimes doctors? Sorry I don’t buy it, unless you are talking about those who don’t have any steady jobs.

Po'K
Guest

Sa’ta near Ozd
Many villagers took works buses to the iron factories. The factories closed. Over time Sata has collapsed. In September children will be bussed; the school has closed. Houses stand empty; some built with gas-containing aggregate are condemmed. If people could sell their houses they would move.

tappanch
Guest

Can the EU Rescue Democracy in Hungary?

http://www.fpri.org/articles/2013/07/can-eu-rescue-democracy-hungary#main-content

The title is obsolete. It should read

Can the EU Restore Democracy in Hungary?

tappanch
Guest

The Orban government will compensate several hundred employees at various departments for the 0.6% banking transaction tax.

http://www.blikk.hu/blikk_aktualis/tizmilliokkal-vedik-a-bankadotol-a-tarcak-dolgozoit-2201693

petofi
Guest

My fellow bloggers do not appreciate the genius of Master Orban:
‘encourage’ immigration and open up jobs; lower the population and increase the availability of housing–Victor is Great.

HAJRA MAGYAROK!

Po'K
Guest

Dr Balogh’s comments on emigration from around Pecs start with a mention of over 300 000 “Hungarian citizens” from “Slovak-inhabited counties” who never returned.
Cautiously, may I ask Dr Balogh if many, if not the bulk, of these immigrants were in fact Slovak-speaking Hungarians ? And Slovak schools had been shut down inter alia ? Thank you.

Guest

London Calling!

Not so O/T.

Now we are fully into the ‘second half’ of 2013, can you help me please?

Is this it?

The economy is now ‘soaring’ like a Turul bird?

And job totals are rising in line with the promised 1,000,000 jobs?

And every country in the EU is amazed at Orban’s amazing turnaround and amazed at how the ‘Alice-in-Wonderland economics’ amazing fairy tale is coming true?

And the world is focussing on Orban like they are on Japan’s Shinzo Abe where the stock exchange has leapt 400% since January?

Is this it? Really?

Or is the Turul bird a low flyer – just a low soar – because it is weighed down by corruption; red tape; unhappy people; and about to drop into the lake?

Dead as a Dodo?

Or getting the hell out’a here?

Or have I missed something?

Kovach? Simon? et al?

Regards

Charlie

cheshire cat
Guest
Thomas “You cannot be serious! Going back to hungary for healthcare? Soon there will be more Hungarian doctors in th UK than in Hungary. And the level of healthcare in Hungary? Paying under the table, feeling totally at the mercy of nurses and sometimes doctors? Sorry I don’t buy it, unless you are talking about those who don’t have any steady jobs.” Have you any idea how bad state (free) healthcare in Britain is? In Hungary, you pay some halapenz, or ask someone who knows a good doctor, and you get a quicker, more thorough service than in Britain. In Britain you have two choices: 1. you go with the NHS, and 9.3 out 10 cases you get stuck at the GP, who mainly does guesswork. After months or even years of experimenting, he might refer you to a specialist, puts you on a waiting list of 6 months on average. If you need a scan or surgery, they put you on another waiting list. There is no continuity of care, half of the things they do in another countries is not available. If you have an illness that is not an emergency (you don’t need to be seen in… Read more »
tappanch
Guest

This is how the 10% utility “CUT” looks like at my personal level:

Utility bills of a Budapest apartment in a prefabricated highrise, aka “panel”,
calculated from six months of bills, February through July, 2013 vs 2012.

C= cold water+ cooking gas+ sewage+ garbage= +10.8% RAISE,
H= hot water+ district heating= +9.4% RAISE,
E= electricity= +4.2% RAISE.

C= 1.1* E
H= 2.8* E

C & H go to companies owned by the Budapest municipality,
E is owned by a foreign utility.

Guest

London Calling!

Cheshire Cat! – I don’t doubt your belief in your experiences – and that the NHS here can be patchy.

But the NHS is nothing like your description in my experience.

I used to have very expensive private-healthcare – the treatment I have received in the NHS has been at least as good – and sometimes better even than ‘going private’.

I have reservations that this will pertain in the future, but…..

Thomas is right – and I have witnessed so-called ‘healthcare’ in Hungary.

And my partner sees healthcare here from a ‘Hungarian’ perspective too – and she says never grow old – or be ill, in Hungary!

Regards

Charlie

Guest

….and your comment:

“……or ask someone who knows a good doctor, and you get a quicker, more thorough service…….”

says it all.

Guest

Re healthcare in Hungary:

You can be lucky there, for example around Hévíz and Keszthely, though in the East …

Most people I talk to go to private practice for real problems and of course the dentists around here are very good – and much cheaper than in Western Europe so this is really attractive not only for Hungarians who live/work in Western Europe.

Even my wife’s nephew and his wife combined the visits to their parents with dental work being done in their hometown – because it is so much cheaper than in the USA, where he is a science professor!

R-2013
Guest

Trafik revolution – new prospects for 2013

http://www.galamuscsoport.hu/tartalom/cikk/316541_trafikugyi_fejlemenyek_azt_irja_le_hogy_ev_alatt

The uprising may start at the trafiks. Angry customers will explode, and may stop at ransacking the store, or kill the salesman at worst.

Thomas
Guest
Guest

London Calling!

Oh poor people of Hungary!

You know Orban knows best – he wants you to stop smoking for your own good.
You must trust your leader.

He passed the bill in Parliament without any consultation – or debate from the opposition.

Go and admire that picture of him that’s in that klik frame in your kitchen – and thank him for being so thoughtful.

And did you go to church on Sunday? Orban would really like that.
But only Roman-Catholic church of course.

And when you go for your Sunday walk – try and take in the statue of Horthy. Orban would like that too.

Orban really does know best…..

…. and you voted for him.

Regards

Charlie

Po'K
Guest

Dr Balogh thank you for your reply. One source suggests 3 million emigrants by 1914. The school I had in mind was Matrica Slovenska.
Magyar Nemzet July p. 3
claims
employment UP
wages UP
unemployment DOWN
inf
national debt DOWN