The Bukovina is in the extreme east of the Austrian Empire. It lies south-east of Galicia, between 47° 12' and 48° 40' north latitude and 24° 55' and 26° 31' east longitude, and has an area of 10,441 sq. km. (about 4,030 sq. miles), or roughly two-thirds that of Yorkshire.
On the north and north-west the Bukovina marches with Galicia. Elsewhere its boundaries are those of Austria, touching on the south- west on Hungary, on the south-east on Rumania, on the east on Rumania and Bessarabia.
The Galician boundary is for the most part well defined: it ascends the Dniester for some 35 miles, thence strikes south along an arbitrary line to the junction of the Czeremosz with the Pruth, ascends the former river to the source of the Bialy Czeremosz on the north-western slopes of the Carpathians, and so gains the Hungarian frontier.
The boundary between the Bukovina and Hungary is much broken, but follows in parts the courses of the Cibo, the Golden Bistritz, and the Tesna, and in part the watershed of the Dorna. The same applies to that which in the south divides the Bukovina from Rumania, which follows for some distance the courses of the Neagra and the Golden Bistritz, in part the watershed of the Sucha, crosses the Moldova at Kornoluncze, and reaches the Suczawa just above its junction with the Sereth.
The Suczawa, the Sereth, and the Pruth all play a part in determining the eastern boundary, which between these rivers follows minor topographical features. Between the Pruth and the Dniester the Bukovina-Bessarabia boundary is marked partly by the Rakitna, partly by a smaller stream and some intervening hills.
The Bukovina is a highland, rising in terraces from the north-east to the south-west. It falls naturally into two parts, a mountain region and a hill region, the division being clearly marked by a line running roughly from Wiznitz on the Pruth to Gurahumora on the Moldova. To the south-west of this line is a complicated system of densely-wooded mountains of sandstone formation, the ridges running from north-west south-east. The valleys are steep and narrow, sometimes opening out into alluvial flats where cultivation is possible. In the south-west, in the neighbourhood of the Dorna and the Golden Bistritz, the mountains reach an average height of over 1,500 ft., Giumalaul (6,100 ft.; 1,859 m.) being the highest point in the Bukovina. These mountains form part of the mass of the Wooded Carpathians, and fill all the space between the Golden Bistritz and the Suczawa, the central point of the space being formed by the Luczyna Mountains. This group contains the sources of the Czeremosz, the Suczawa, the Moldova, and the Golden Bistritz, and is thus the main watershed of the country. The mountains in the extreme south- west of the Bukovina are spurs of the Kelemen group.
The hill region of the Bukovina consists of gentle, rolling ridges of limestone and clay rising to some 1,650 ft. It is watered by the Pruth, the Sereth, the Suczawa, and the Moldova, which flow at an approximate height of 650 ft., and here make great curves the south- east. The Suczawa, the largest of these rivers, divides the Bukovina into two almost equal parts. The valley bottoms are flat and open, while the higher regions have to a great extent been cleared of their woods, except on the steepest slopes, and the land has been ploughed.
The mountain region of the Bukovina is of little value for cultivation, but, in addition to its extensive forests, provides good summer pasture for numbers of cattle. The soil of the hill region consists largely of loess or of alluvial deposits; it is therefore fertile and well suited for cultivation, which is being rapidly developed. The most fertile region, containing some two-thirds of the agricultural land of the Bukovina, lies between the Pruth and the Dniester. Fertility decreases between the Pruth and the Sereth, and the fill region on both sides of the Suczawa is the poorest part of the province, wheat being grown only in very small quantities. On the other hand, the region south and east of Suczawa is very rich. Floods are a hindrance to agriculture in many valleys. The Bukovina is plentifully supplied with water, except in the district the south of Suczawa and south-west of Bossancze, where rain-water cisterns are necessary both for man and beast.
With the exception of a few small streams in the north, which are tributaries of the Dniester, all the rivers of the Bukovina belong to the Danube system, and flow to the Moldavian-Bessarabian plain. The southern rivers the Czeremosz (an affluent of the Pruth)) and the Sereth, with its tributaries the Suczawa, the Moldova, and the Golden Bistritz--run in roughly parallel courses, and take their rise within the Bukovina the neighbourhood of the Luczyna Mountains. Only the Dniester and the Golden Bistritz have well-defined rocky beds; the other rivers divide into arms round islands in broad alluvial valleys as soon as they emerge from the mountains, often changing their courses, and using serious damage by their floods.
As has been said above, the Dniester forms the northern boundary of the Bukovina as far as Onut, where it is some 270 yds. wide. Its depth varies from 2 to 6-1/2 ft., and its banks are sometimes nearly 500 ft. high. Its bed is rocky, but contains in places a number of difficult sandbanks. Hence, though navigable by small boats, it is chiefly used by rafts.
The Pruth, one of the largest tributaries of the Danube, flows right across the country at its narrowest part, parallel with the Dniester, through a valley which is wide and open to the north, but on the south merges into a mountainous district. The Czeremosz, formed by the junction of the Bialy Czeremosz (which,. like the main stream itself, is a boundary-river of the Bukovina) and the Czarny Czeremosz, is its most important tributary, and has the Perkalab as its affluent on the left bank. The Sereth, another left-bank tributary of the Danube, rises in the western mountains near the Szurdyn Pass, on the opposite side of the watershed to the Suczawa, and flows in a course which, curves from north-east to south-east right through the Bukovina, whose borders it leaves not far below the town of Sereth.
The three remaining important rivers of the Bukovina--the Suczawa, the Moldova, and the Golden Bistritz--are all right-bank tributaries of the Sereth, though they join that stream outside the borders of the province. Of these tributaries, the Suczawa rises near the Iswor Pass and opens out below Straza to water the largest piece of open ground in the country; the Moldova, whose course lies through deep valleys, receives two important effluents, the Sucha on the right bank and the Moldawitza on the left, and the Golden Bistritz rises in Transylvania, entering the Bukovina at an altitude of 3,172 ft., and receives the Dorna on the right bank and the Cibo on the left.
The Dniester is the only river in the Bukovina which is navigable otherwise than by rafts. The water in the Sereth, the Suczawa, and the Moldova is always sufficient for rafts, but their streams are not regulated and sandbanks are numerous.
The climate of the Bukovina is severe and thoroughly continental. The eastern regions are characterized by violent windstorms, which cause sudden variations in the temperature amounting to as much as 64° F. ( 18° C. ). The rate of humidity is comparatively low and the climate in general approximates to that of Russia. In the mountain region the frost continues on an average from September 1 to June 10; in the hill district from October 1 to May 20. July is the hottest month, January the coldest. The following table shows the difference in average temperature between the mountain region and the hill region:
23° F. ( - 5° C.)
48° F. (9° C.)
66° F. (19° C.)
46° F. (8° C.)
21° F. ( - 6° C. )
46° F. (7° C. )
61° F. (16° C. )
43° F. (6° C. )
Czernowitz in the north and Suczawa in the south both have the same average summer temperature of 66° F. (19° C.); but in winter Czernowitz averages 25° F. (-4° C.), and Suczawa 28° F. (- 2° C.).
The annual rainfall in the mountains often exceeds 33.5 in. (850 mm.); in the hills it is often under 21.7 in. (550 mm.). The valleys of the Pruth and the Dniester have the lowest rainfall. June and July are the wettest months, and January is the dryest. Snow lies everywhere between November and April; it falls most heavily in the latter month and is deepest in the neighbourhood of the sources of the Suczawa. There is considerable cloud throughout the year.
The west wind is the commonest, both in summer and winter, whilst in the spring westerly and northerly winds prevail. Southerly and westerly winds bring a high temperature, heavy cloud and rain, and low pressure, whereas northerly and easterly winds bring low temperatures, clearer weather, less rainfall, and higher pressure.
The climate of the Bukovina, though severe, is healthy and hardening. The people still rely to a great extent upon herbs and spells, which are generally administered by old women, in cases of illness. Only in the last extremity do they call in doctors, of whom there are few in the county. Too much reliance cannot therefore be placed upon the official statistics of the causes of death. In 1910, 13 per 1,000 of the deaths were ascribed to congenital weakness, 70 per 1,000 to tuberculosis, and 90 per 1,000 to other lung troubles. Diarrhoea accounts for another 20-40 per 1,000, and scarlet fever and measles are also important causes of mortality. The Lipovans, whose religion binds them to rely on prayer alone in time of sickness, are a serious danger during an epidemic. The rate of infant mortality in the last decade was 240.3 per 1,000 births. The very high death-rate among the gipsies is accompanied by an equally high birth-rate.
The Bukovina lies on the great highway of migration from east to west, and is consequently inhabited by a strange mixture of races, even at the present day. Among them it is possible to find traces of earlier peoples who have disappeared, passed on, or been absorbed.
The Rumanians, who numbered 273,254, or 34 per cent. of the population, at the last census, have a majority in the south, south- west, the centre, and part of the east of the Bukovina. They are most numerous on the middle Sereth and in the Suczawa valley, where, excluding a few isolated islands, over 75 per cent. of the population is Rumanian. On the Moldova the position of the Rumanians is hardly less strong. North of the Sereth they rapidly diminish in numbers, and still farther north are only found in a few villages; but they are found scattered throughout the country, and the greater part of the nobility and of the well-to-do classes in the towns are Rumanian. How or whence they entered the Bukovina is uncertain, but they are true members of the Rumanian people, speaking the Limba romana, which is of Latin origin. The majority belong to the Orthodox Church, and there are a very few Uniats among them.
The Ruthenians or Little Russians in 1910 numbered 305,100, or 38 per cent. of the population. With them are included the Hutsulians, who speak their language, though there are grounds for believing that they are of different, possibly of Scythian, origin. The Ruthenians form a solid mass in the north and west, but they are also found almost everywhere among the Rumanians, notably along the lower Sereth. The country round the sources of the Czeremosz, the Suczawa, the Moldova, and the Moldawitza, as well as the whole north-western mountain region, is inhabited by the Hutsulians. The Ruthenians, who speak Little Russian (or rather the dialect of it known as Red Russian) have dwelt in the Bukovina from a very early date; and a number of them have probably been assimilated by the Rumanians. The Ruthenian element predominates among the lower classes: they are members of the Orthodox Church.
The Germans in the Bukovina in 1910 numbered 168,851, or 21 per cent. of the population, if we include the 102,919 Jews, who are all Germans. They have an influence out of proportion to their numbers, as it was they who colonized and civilized the country. German is still the language of culture and the official tongue. The Austrian occupation has resulted in a large influx of soldiers and officials, with the result that there is now hardly a village which does not contain a German.
They are most numerous along the middle Suczawa and in the towns and mining regions of the south-west, but there are also a number of German agricultural colonies in the hill regions. Most of them are Roman Catholics, but at Alt Fratautz, near the Sereth, and Badautz, near Radautz, over 75 per cent. of the population is Lutheran. In the country districts the Germans preserve an attitude of racial superiority, holding aloof from the Rumanians; but in the towns they tend to drift with the tide, using Ruthenian or Rumanian for business purposes.
The Jews are found in compact masses only in Wiznitz, on the Czeremosz, where they form three-quarters of the population, and Sadagora, which lies to the north of the Pruth, but there are also many in Czernowitz and Suczawa. Elsewhere they constitute some 5 to 10 per cent. of the inhabitants.
The Magyars in the Bukovina number about 10,000, but their numbers are diminishing. There are a few Magyar colonies near Badautz, and one at Josseffalva in the south, but elsewhere they are not numerous. They are all Roman Catholics, and work as farmers or market-gardeners.
There are 36,000 Poles, chiefly living in the towns. The district of the Plesch is entirely Polish, and in Neusolonetz the Poles number 78 per cent. They are all Roman Catholics, and generally retain their sense of nationality.
Most of the 3,000 Lipovans live in Fontina-alba and Klimoutz outside Sereth, but there are a few near the town of Suczawa and at Lukowica, near Czernowitz. They are Great Russians, belonging to the old Russian Church, and speak Great Russian. They keep their traditional costume, and their diet is largely vegetarian, while they do not touch alcohol or tobacco. They are market-gardeners, bee-masters, and fruit-growers. Physically, they are a fine people, and as their religion forbids them to have intercourse with strangers they preserve their race absolutely pure.
Gipsies are found all over the Bukovina, especially among the Rumanians. The early regulations: against vagabonds were so severe that they are now virtually all settled, forming considerable colonies in many villages, many of them working as smiths. They are nominally members of the Orthodox Church, but their religion is said not to go much beyond making the sign of the cross. They speak their own language among themselves, though in a very corrupt form, but otherwise they use Rumanian or Little Russian.
The 657 Armenians, 311 of whom live in Czernowitz and 200 in Suczawa, are an interesting ethnological feature of the Bukovina. Those in Suczawa are Uniats, the others mostly Orthodox. They speak Armenian among themselves, but also use Rumanian or German. They nearly all belong to the upper ranks of society, and are traders, officials, or landowners. Their honesty, hospitality, and courtesy make them very popular.
The population, according to the census of 1910, was 800,098, and was estimated at 818,328 in 1913. It is naturally most dense in the fertile valleys of the rivers flowing through the hill region, notably those of the Pruth, the Sereth, and the lower Suczawa, where it often exceeds 300 to the square mile. There are also comparatively well-populated centres in the north and north-west. Kimpolung is the largest settlement within the mountain district, where the inhabitants are very scanty. The number of inhabitants per square mile in the Bukovina was 198 in 1910.
Czernowitz; with a population, including suburbs, of over 87,000, one-third of whom are Jews, is much the most important town in the Bukovina, of which it is the capital. It lies on the right bank of the Pruth, over which at this point there are two bridges. The town, which is modern, is the seat of the Orthodox Metropolitan of the Bukovina and of the German University.
Other towns are Radautz (16,535), an important agricultural centre on the Suczawa plain and the most German town in the Bukovina; Suczawa (11,229), a neatly laid-out town on the same river; Sereth (7,948), the oldest settlement in the land, on the right bank of the Sereth; and Kimpolung (8,748), on the upper Moldova, which owes its importance to the traffic over the Mesticanesti Pass. Wiznitz (5,052), with a largely' Jewish population, on the Czeremosz, and Berhometh (7,309), on the Sereth, are the chief centres in the northwest. Storozynetz (10,242), on the Sereth, and Bojan (7,468), on the Pruth, may also be mentioned.
The birth-rate in the Bukovina is 42.3 per 1,000 inhabitants. The illegitimate births number l07 per 1,000 births. Between 1900 and 1910 the excess of births over deaths was 14.39 per cent., the loss by emigration being 4.82 per cent. The net increase of population was thus 9.57 per cent., as compared with 12.93 and 13.1 respectively in the previous decades. The emigration of Germans in considerable numbers to America did not begin till the present century.
1769-74. Russo-Turkish War.
1772. First Partition of Poland.
1774. Austria claims northern Moldavia.
1775-6. Boundaries settled by Conventions.
1786-90. The Bukovina incorporated for administrative purposes with Galicia.
1790. The Bukovina declared an autonomous province.
1817. Once more included in Galicia.
1849. The Bukovina created an autonomous duchy as an Austrian Crown- land.
1864. Rumanian Metropolitanate proclaimed at Synod of Karlowitz: the Bukovina excluded.
1873. Churches of the Bukovina and Dalmatia united under one Metropolitan.
THE Bukovina has been described as a 'rendezvous' of peoples, so many races have in turn occupied the forest lands of this district, which lie about the head-waters of the Sereth, the Pruth, and the Moldova. In the early part of the fourteenth century the Bukovina formed part of the Voivodate of Moldavia, established by the Vlachs or Rumans who migrated from the Maramaros district of Hungary. Compact bodies of Rumanians appear to have settled along the eastern slopes of the Carpathians, where Little Russians or Ruthenes were already established, while the plains were still held by various Tatar tribes who were not expelled until the second half of the fourteenth century. In 1372 the Emperor recognized Louis of Hungary as overlord of Moldavia, but the King of Poland disputed his claims, and in the first half of the fifteenth century the Voivodes did homage to him. Under Stephen the Great (1457-1604) Moldavia regained its independence, and he inflicted severe defeats on both Poles and Turks; under his successors, however, Moldavia became tributary to the Turks, who began to plant fortresses in the country. The Rumanian principalities, hard pressed by Poles and Turks, invoked in turn the protection of the Emperor and the Tsar of Russia, and the eighteenth century found the Bukovina a bone of contention between these Powers and the Turks.
Two events in the latter half of the eighteenth century, the Russo- Turkish War (1769--74) and the First Partition of Poland (1772), helped to decide the fate of the Bukovina.
After the conclusion of peace between Russia and Turkey (at Kuchuk Kainarji), when it became evident that Turkey could no longer retain the Rumanian Principalities, Austria put forward its claim to the northern part of Moldavia. This was based on (1) the need for settlement of the old disputes concerning the frontier, (2) the desire for a ' cordon sanitaire ' against the plague, and (3) the assertion that the territory had been originally usurped by Turkey. Simultaneously with the diplomatic introduction of blue-claim the Imperial troops occupied various points in northern Moldavia.
Originally the frontier proposed by Austria followed a line running from Chotin to Czernowitz across the Bukovina forest; but in March 1775 the order was given to leave an ' undetermined frontier '. The protests of the ruling prince and of the Moldavian boyars were passed over, with the intimation that the question was one to be settled by Austria with the Porte alone; the latter, however, was less amenable than had been expected, because it feared internal disturbances and hoped for external support from France and Prussia.
Eventually, however, Austria secured the Convention of May 7, 1775, by which the lands contained by ' the Dnjestr, the borders of Pokuta, Hungary, and Transylvania ', were surrendered to it, in order to facilitate communication between Transylvania and Galicia. This district was one of the most richly wooded of the Moldavian provinces, and contained the ancient capital Suczawa and the town of Czernowitz. The exact limits were to be determined according to a fabricated Austrian map which the Porte had been induced to adopt, and which represented the territory in question--to quote an Austrian statement--as a strip of land with ' three or four market towns and eleven villages, the rest consisting of forest and rugged land '. The final Convention of May 12, 1776, ceded to Austria a territory of 4,035 square miles, with a population of 70,000 inhabitants. Maria Theresa did not fail to shed a tear over these ' Moldavian affairs... with regard to which we are totally in the wrong.... I must confess I do not know how we shall come out of it, but hardly with honour, and that grieves me beyond expression.'
When Austria entered into possession in 1777 the country was almost denuded of population (this having sunk to about 70,000) and immigration from the adjacent territories was encouraged; this brought numbers of Ruthenes from Galicia and Rumanians from Hungary and Transylvania, together with a smaller infusion of Magyars, Poles, and Germans, to reinforce the mixed population of Rumanians and Ruthenes already in possession.
Those boyars who remained were won over to the administration by a lavish distribution of titles, while their children were educated in the German schools and became willing functionaries of the new Government. Commerce and farming passed into the hands of foreigners, chiefly Jews from Galicia; and, as has been pointed out, the immigration of Poles, Germans, and Ruthenes was encouraged.
Although the Ruthenes submitted to the Orthodox Church, and thus thwarted the aims of Catholic propaganda, their continued influx gradually reduced the numerical superiority originally possessed by the Rumanians. A document of 1843 recognized Ruthenian as being with Rumanian ' the language of the people and of the Church in Bukovina '.
A certain number of young nobles, especially those of the Hurmuzaki family, although educated at Lemberg and at Vienna, took up the old Rumanian traditions with enthusiasm, and asserted the rights of the Rumanian population to supremacy in an autonomous Bukovina. Like other national movements among the Rumanians, this also aimed, as an ideal, at the complete reunion of their race, and emphasized the bonds which united them to the Rumanians in the Principalities and in Hungary. The loyalty which the Rumanian upper class felt towards the Habsburgs, together no doubt with their distrust of the Slav peoples by whom they were surrounded, made them, however, look rather to union within the frontiers of the Austrian Monarchy.
This programme was submitted to the Emperor in June 1848. Under the pressure of circumstances the Imperial Government recognized the Rumanian nationality, admitted the introduction of Rumanian in the schools, transferred to the Consistory of Czernowitz the educational control hitherto exercised by the that of Lemberg, and, finally, by a new Constitution, created in March 1849 the autonomous duchy of the Bukovina as an Austrian Crown-land. In a memorandum presented to the Congress at Olmutz in February, the Rumanian leaders, having failed to secure the creation of a duchy embracing all the Rumanians of the Monarchy, restricted their demand to the ecclesiastical union, and persisted in this through the period of reaction during which there was for a time (1859-60) again a question of incorporation with Galicia.
On the death of the head of the Orthodox Serbian Church, who had opposed Rumanian ecclesiastical' independence, the Emperor approved (June 15, 1863), the principle of a Rumanian Metropolitanate. In 1864 a synod met at Karlowitz to proclaim separation from the Serbian Church, but the new Metropolitanateat Czernowitz included only the Rumanians of Transylvania and Hungary. The national party in the to the intrigues of the authorities and the jealousy of the higher clerics; after the accession of Prince Carol to the throne of Rumania (1866), and in view of the imminent incorporation of Transylvania with Hungary, the idea of an ecclesiastical union which should include all orthodox Rumanians was finally rejected by the Government.
That policy was largely successful, at any rate in so far as the upper class was concerned. But the strenuous political agitation organized by the Rumanians of Hungary called forth an echo in the Bukovina among circles more democratic in origin, action, and purpose. In 1891 a political journal made its appearance, and early in 1892 the constitution of a compact national party, which adopted the name 'Concordia', was announced, to represent ' the solidarity of all the Rumanians of Bukovina in political, national, and ecclesiastical matters '. While insisting, on the one hand, upon the autonomy and historical individuality of the Bukovina, and upon the right to a national cultural development, the new leaders reiterated their loyalty to the Habsburg monarchy. This movement, however, never realized the aspirations of Rumanian nationality, and the field was left open for the policy of the authorities which was directed rather to the encouragement of other elements in the population.
JewishGen, Inc. makes no representations regarding the accuracy of
the translation. The reader may wish to refer to the original material
JewishGen is not responsible for inaccuracies or omissions in the original work and cannot rewrite or edit the text to correct inaccuracies and/or omissions.
Our mission is to produce a translation of the original work and we cannot verify the accuracy of statements or alter facts cited.
Bukovina - Handbook Yizkor Book Project JewishGen Home Page
Copyright © 1999-2019 by JewishGen, Inc.
Updated 20 Aug 2005 by LA