The Long Shadow of Dawning


New Szivác is the only Protestant settlement near Sombor, and the road towards it is not bad. You are going to build your home there, but you do not have to cultivate the land yourself. And you shouldn’t. Lease it out. I need your wit, not your hands. Here in Sombor there are many good bricklayers and carpenters. Hire them, and  make them hurry, to raise the roof before the first snow. For the beginning you can stay in the local tavern. I suppose you do not have money…

Abrahan Kertner was registered in the Deed Book of New Szivác under ordinal number forty. He was the head of the family that he still did not have, and the owner of the session of 20 acres of arable land, choked  with weeds, as well as a little locust-tree wood along the stream, which then, in autumn, promised more than it would give the following spring.

(Book I, page 63)

Well…which color tile stove would you like, Master? Green, blue or brown?

Are these all Sombor colors?

All. Such stoves are owned only by wealthy men, gentlemen and merchants. When color is concerned, they choose as they like. The Serbs choose mostly blue, the Hungarians green, and your Germans brown.

Next  Saturday he was invited to the Baron’s house for dinner. He put on his formal suit , the  “  church and  burial ” one,  as such a suit used to be called by his father. First he  brushed it carefully ,for he  used to do things that needed to be done well himself alone, if he could  and  was able to. Although clouds started to gather from the west, the weather was dry and calm. The Sombor streets were well cobbled, and the distances short ,so he went on foot. The “Crown” inn, in which he  stayed , was in the main street, the street stretching  from the town square towards south, the third house from the beginning , and he could see from the window of his room the building of the Chamber Administration, opposite of which swaggered the newly built Zupania. It was already quiet under the large crowned plane-trees and the passers-by where rare. The  people obviously, not having where to go out, went to bed early, except lawyers and  merchants , who checked  their bills and settled their papers under oil lamps.

(Book I , page 67)

On Monday I go to Essegg, to the Chamber head-office . Partly for business, partly to refresh my stocks – pointing to the bottle of wine. I will go down to Vukovár with my carriage, to spend there  a day or two. There my friend Count Eltz  has vineyards on the Űjlak hills. You can not perceive their end. Soon he will start preparing his shipments for the Court.

(Book I, page 69)

Summer  has arrived earlier this year – he said.- And the Canal…..I have the impression  that you are  not too impressed with what you have seen. The same happened to me  when I came to one of the construction sites … there, near the Danube. Its constructor Mr. József Kiss was with me then. He told me on that occasion that all big deeds have to be finished  to be understood. Only then when  water starts to float this way, and when barges appear on it, and when people realize that this is the first river made not by  God but  man, only then the time to admire it will come.

(Book II , page 14)

Mr Tomislav Ketig, a writer of German origin who lives in Novi Sad, received the First Prize for his Novel from the District of Baden-Wuerttenberg and a Special Prize of the Frankfurt Book Fair.His Novel is about the destiny of the first settlers to Batschka. It was published in German language in May 2011.

A special thank to Mr Tomislav Ketig for his permission to translate and  publish excerpts of his Novel.

This historical novel was published in German language by the ” Verlag der Donauschwäbischen Kulturstifung”, Munich,  May 2011.


German merchants and miners started to settle  in the Kingdom of Hungary at the beginning of the 12th century, but this migration was not extensive. The colonization of Germans along the lower Danube area started intensively after the long period of Turkish rule (1552-1718)...