Kangaroos and black police officers, Native American seminarists and Chinese idol figurine sellers, Russian revolutionaries and Odessa Jews in Szabadka/Subotica a hundred years ago. And how many more peoples were not yet mentioned in the previous post! Thus now, a week before our excursion, we make Szabadka even more unlimited, picking some exotic reports from the hundred years old – 1911-12 – volume of the most popular local newspaper Bácsmegyei Napló. Nevertheless, the first one will be a cuckoo’s egg, from a country whose inhabitants did not come to visit Szabadka in the period, only kept sending letters with more or less regularity. Nevertheless, it is worth to publish the contemporary article on this correspondence, first because we can recognize in it an early example of the Spanish lottery or Nigerian letters, and second because the sender probably did not know that he is almost writing to his fellow countrymen: from old Barcelona to New Barcelona.
Bácsmegyei Napló, 30 December 1911
The Spaniard has written again
Our correspondent. Szabadka, 29 December
The Spaniard, the well-known dear Spaniard was late in this year. In the previous years he already wrote in early summer his letter, in which he complains that he was put in prison and has no access to his wealth of some 800 thousand francs.
Nowadays nobody believes any more to the Spaniards, who seem to write their well-known letters only so that the Hungarian newspapers would have some fresh topic. But so far they at least wrote in the summer, when there was a shortage of subjects. Now, however, they decided – absolutely unfairly – to write their letter in the wintertime.
Today it was restaurant owner Rehák to get a letter from Barcelona. The author of the letter was Civilo Lurang Vapor Trixtan, who outlined his tragedy according to the usual template, and invited Rehák to Barcelona.
The restaurant owner, however, did not go to Barcelona. He went to the police, where he gave over the Spanish letter. And the police officers filed the letter with the other similar ones. They will probably propose to elect Civilo Lurang as a corresponding member of the Academy, as he corresponds so diligently.
Bácsmegyei Napló, 27 October 1911
Two German students want to become cowboys in Szabadka
– Letter to the mayor –
The letter which arrived today to the mayor’s office from Essen in Germany is not only interesting, but also very characteristic.
It was written by a young man named Kitzki. He writes that he is now a high school student, but he got tired of the school’s four grim walls, and longs for a free life. He also has a friend, and both of them want to be cowboys. Kitzki, the author reports that both are strong and healthy boys, as well as excellent walkers. They have already made a long tour, where they slept in the open air every nigh for four weeks.
The letter ends by pleading to the mayor to employ them as cowboys in Szabadka, and then he will see two happy people by his side.
The letter was addressed to:
An das Bürgermeisteramt alt Stellenvermittlungs burendt, Szabadka.
Two adventurous German students are now waiting for a response to this letter. Two young lads, in whom youth and vitality are raging, who feel their own power, and whose life is made miserable by having to live their days among the houses of a petty, grim German town. They have read some old poems or popular German novels, from which they made themselves an idea of Hungary. They imagine Szabadka as a place where the famous cowboys reside, and the mayor, the chief cowboy sits on horseback every morning, performs feats of daring in the endless puszta, and eventually goes to some outlaw tours… This is that mysterious and unknown world where the two red-faced, blue-eyed German students long to go.
The mayor’s office filed the strange application of the German students in the archive. Kitzki and his friend are preparing in vain for a cowboy’s career, in vain they order a white shirt with wide sleeves, in vain they drink wine instead of beer, in vain they roam in the night – they will not even get an answer.
Maybe it is better this way. They will wait for a few weeks, and then they will acquiesce in the knowledge that the cowboys of Szabadka cannot even write. The mayor wears wide white pants and a Hungarian tomahawk, but he only communicates from the horseback. Thus the two German students will come without an invitation, save they change their mind, and stay home to learn algebra in the Hochschule.
Bácsmegyei Napló, 24 November 1911
Nikola Tsankov made peace with his woman in Szabadka. But then he was arrested
(From our correspondent) The Bácsmegyei Napló reported on Saturday night that a woman from Újvidék [Novi Sad] reported to the police his lover, the Bulgarian-born wrestler Nikola Tsankov, who allegedly killed a stagecoach-driver in Bulgaria and robbed 100 thousand crowns from him, and furthermore killed a Bulgarian gardener in Rákospalota. We also reported later that the police investigation has determined that all this was just a tall tale of a woman in love. She invented the whole accusation out of jealousy, as she learned that while she was laying in the hospital of Szeged, his lover took up with a brothel owner at home in Újvidék. Thus the investigation was terminated.
Nikola Tsankov – as he wanted to get rid of the woman in love – then left Újvidék, and came to live in Szabadka. Here he got employed at the Lifka Bioscope.
The woman in love from Újvidék, however, got to know where the companion of her joys and sorrows, the brave wrestler was hiding. The day before yesterday at 6 o’clock he arrived in Szabadka, and went to see the accused kraftmensch. A violent scene developed between the athlete and his lover. The love of the woman finally won the anger of the wrestler, and after the quarrel they sealed with a kiss their peace. Yesterday early morning Nikola Tsankov and his woman traveled back to the happy nest of their love, Újvidék.
However, they could not long enjoy the pleasures of reconciliation. By the time they arrived at Újvidék, the telegram of the Sofia police also arrived there. From Sofia they reported that Nikola Tsankov is no murderer, but a nice burglar anyway, who has already been convicted of prison, from where he escaped.
Thus the border police has arrested the strong Bulgarian.
Thus the woman in love has lost the companion of her life again.
Bácsmegyei Napló, 2 November 1912
Turkish warriors in Szabadka
Refugees from the war
(From our correspondntó) Friday night, around one o’clock, soldiers in exotic uniforms invaded the railway station in Szabadka. In the second class restaurant twelve Ottoman officers were sitting in the company of some Austro-Hungarian lieutenants and captains, while the third-class waiting hall almost swarmed with the many Turkish private soldiers.
The news quickly spread throughout the city that Turkish troops are at the station, and thus many people rushed out there even at this late night hour. Serbian and Bulgarian soldiers daily travel home this way, and the Red Cross detachments also go to the front via Szabadka, but Turkish soldiers are not a common sight here even in peace times. When it also turned out that the happily smoking Turks were still fighting in the morning, the curiosity was even more raised. They made all efforts to fulfill the curiosity of the citizens of Szabadka.
On the gray uniforms of the Turkish officers one could hardly distinguish the ranks and arms. One had some golden stripe on the shoulder, another on the arm. But their high fur-cap, with various colored fabric bands on the top, was the fancier. All of them were unshaven, and looked with a wrinkled face at the curious bystanders. The soldiers in gray cloaks and with fez in the head were rapidly consuming the alcohol banned by the Quran. The more religious ones drank coffee.
The soldiers are very worn, tired people, but their voices ring with fanaticism. The officers seem to be intelligent, well-read men. Most of the common soldiers also speak in Serbian and Greek. The officers have a perfect command of Slavic and French. Some of them even understand German and English. Most of them studied abroad: two of them in the Kriegsschule in Berlin, others at the Paris Military Academy.
They politely replied to all the answers, and with a collegial affection offered to the foreign officers their only treasure, the delicious Turkish cigarettes.
The first Turkish troop arrived shortly after midnight from Bosna-Brod, followed by three other groups in the early morning. Their situation is sad, almost devastating. 1,160 soldiers and 77 officers became voluntarily prisoners of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. One of the officers recounted the following:
“On Monday evening we arrived at the Bosnian border of the Novibazar sanjak, to perform guard-duty at about eighty kilometers from the border. By an incomprehensible strategical mistake, the main army of Montenegro was able to cut us from the main body of our division. They attacked us. They immediately cut the heads of the surviving outposts and set them on their bayonets. The night was still dark, and they did not know that they had cut off a whole army corps from the division. But in the morning they already noticed it, just like we noticed that on the other side three corps of the Serbian army were nearing. Terrible hours followed. We were 2,400 opposed to 120,000 people. The only way of escape from being massacred to the last man was to reach the territory of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, the Bosnian border. In the early morning twilight we crawled through the bushes, and then we run with a superhuman impulse down to the valley of Plevje. We arrived at Plevje half dead, after nine in the morning. Most of us made the eighty-kilometer road on foot, by running without rest for about eight hours. Many of us collapsed on the road, mainly the old soldiers. The 16-18 year young boys were also carrying their fathers. In Plevje we immediately reported at the military headquarters. Our weapons were seized, and since Tuesday noon we are captives of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. We trust in the victory of the Turkish weapons, but the luck will stay by our side only if the Asian forces will also arrive at the front.”
One of the escorts of the Turkish soldiers escaping the certain death, Lieutenant Artur Winckenberg informed us about their future fate:
“The Secretary of War sent by telegram to Plevje the emergency passports, in which they indicate the garrisons where the POWs must stay until the end of the war. These 1237 Turks will be distributed in six garrisons. The cities of Miskolc, Kaposvár, Ungvár, Lőcse, Reichenberg and Zsalm receive now new Turkish inhabitants. Of course, they can freely go wherever they want, the soldiers will live in the garrison, and the officers, having given their word of honor not to escape, in private places. During their stay in Hungary the officers will receive their normal salary, and the crew their pay. This will be advanced to Turkey by the Austro-Hungarian army”
Serbian postcard: The Turkish army fleeing the battle of Kumanovo (23-24 October 1912, one week before the publication of the above article)
According to the plans of a century ago, Szabadka should look like this in this year. After all, the difference is not that big. The art nouveau town hall, inaugurated exactly a hundred years ago, on 15 September 1912, is still standing, and several bikes of more or less this age run throughout the city: we will publish a separate photo post on them. Only the flying objects are less, which can be explained by the proximity of the state border drawn up here in the meantime, and the prestigious City Theatre was recently demolished by the current city administration directed by Kosovo Serbians: a nation they did not yet reckon with in Szabadka a century ago.