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Migrations of the Székelys

The Székelys of Bukovina are a minor Hungarian ethnic group with a special history. Today they live in Tolna and Baranya counties of Hungary, in Hunedoara/Hunyad county of Transylvania and in the Serbian province of Vojvodina.


In the second half of the 18th century some Székely groups emigrated from Transylvania to the Province of Bukovina, where they established new villages and kept their unique culture and folk traditions until the 20th century. The cause of the emigration was the organisation of the Székely Frontier Zone by the Habsburg Empire that endangered the ancient privileges and rights of the Székelys. The Székelys protested against the forced conscriptions but their gathering in Madéfalva (now Siculeni) was dispersed by the Austrian General Siskovics in 7 January 1764. In the so-called Massacre of Madéfalva or Siculicidium more than 400 Székelys were killed. After that approximately 1000 Székelys emigrated to the neighbouring Bukovina which was then part of Moldavia, a suzerain of the Ottoman Empire.

Székely villages in Bukovina

After northern Bukovina was occupied by Austria in 1774 a new wave of migration began. In 1776 100 Székely families settled down in the sparsely populated territory. In 1784 and 1786 more than 200 families arrived with the help of Emperor Joseph II of Austria and Count András Hadik, the Governor of Transylvania. The villages of the Székelys of Bukovina were: Istensegíts ("God help us!", now Ţibeni), Fogadjisten ("Accept God's will!", now Iacobeşti), Józseffalva (now Vornicenii Mari), Hadikfalva (now Dorneşti) and Andrásfalva (Măneuţi).

The number of the Székelys of Bukovina tripled in the 19th century and in 1880 reached 9,887 and until the end of the 1930s 16,000. Because they have only small plots, the standards of living became worse, and many Székelys temporary or finally left their home. The government of Hungary settled down 4,000 impoverished Székelys in 1883 next to the Lower Danube in the new villages of Hertelendyfalva, Sándoregyháza and Székelykeve. This part of the Banat was included in Yugoslavia in 1918. Other Székely families emigrated to Canada, Brazil or to the towns of southern Transylvania.

After 1918 Bukovina became part of Romania, and the Székelys before long felt themselves an oppressed minority without any Hungarian language education. Most of them waited help and solution for the financial problems from the "mother country". After Hungary in 1941 occupied the former Yugoslavian territory of Bácska (Vojvodina) a forced Magyarization began there. The re-settlement of the Székelys of Bukovina was part of this policy. The whole community of 13,200 people left Romania, and according to a treaty between the Hungarian and the Romanian states they lost their Romanian citizenship and their possessions. In exchange they received the confiscated homes and lands of the Serbs in southern Bácska.

On 8 October 1944 Hungary evacuated the territory and the Székelys fled to Transdanubia. Again, they lost all of their property and became homeless emigrants. In 1945-46 the Székelys were resettled again, mostly in the former German villages of Tolna county. Although there were tensions between them and the remaining German population, eventually they formed strong and flourishing communities. The Székelys of Tolna today are proud of their history and folk customs.


  • Andrásfalvy Bertalan: A bukovinai székelyek kultúrájáról. In Népi kultúra népi társadalom. A MTA Néprajzi Kutató Csoportjának évkönyve VII, főszerk. Ortutay Gyula. 7-23. o. Budapest: Akadémiai Kiadó, 1973.
  • Sebestyén Ádám: A bukovinai andrásfalvi székelyek élete és története Madéfalvától napjainkig. Szekszárd: Tolna Megyei Tanács VB. Művelődésügyi Osztálya, 1972
  • Sebestyén Ádám: A bukovinai székelység tegnap és ma. Szekszárd: Tolna Megyei Könyvtár, 1989.

See a complex bibliography in Hungarian on the discussion page/Reference

See also



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