Episode 1: Schwartz to Sarkozi: “Volunteering” to Take a Hungarian Name


My father-in-law, Laci (pronounced: Lut-zee), has self-published a book for his grandchildren that described what he called “episodes” about his life. On the front cover is this picture you see here of a 1912 postcard of his grandfather’s store in Ujkecske, Hungary.

In the Introduction to his book Laci wrote:

“During some conversations about past events, my daughter-in-law, Jill, asked me to write down some of my experiences for my grandchildren. My stories will be lost forever if I don’t. You may have heard of the Chinese curse: May you have an interesting life! Hopefully they won’t have such an “interesting” life as I have had.”

The Sarkozi Family Story begins as the “Schwartz Family Story” when we arrived in Hungary sometime in the 1700s. By the late 1800s, people were encouraged to “voluntarily” adopt a Hungarian name. It was a time of assimilation and acculturation known as “Magyarization” or “Hungarianization”.

Practicality runs in our family. Laci’s grandfather knew that if his family was going to have a chance in Hungary, he had to change their last name. So in the 1860s he chose the Hungarian “Sarkozi” (pronounced: SHARK-uh-zee) because he had a friend with the name from the Sarkoz region and we’ve been known by that name ever since. The name is symbolic for a family of would-be survivors — the region survived 150 years of Ottomon Turkish occupation because its swampy landscape made it difficult to access.

Episode 2 coming soon!

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