Information from Tibor Jermy

(Retired Director of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences)


My family lived for more than 200 years in the north of Hungary which now belongs to the Slovak Republic, in the town called at that time Kesmark (at present Kezmarok - about 115 kms SSE of Krakow). My father (Sandor Jermy, 1870-1949) found out that the name Jermi first appeared in the registers of the Lurteran church of Kesmark on 29 January 1726, when Michael Jermi married Eva Kolbenheuer. Michael Jermi's birth date, 1697, is mentioned in the registers, however the birth place is not. So it was impossible to find out where the first Jermi came from. In 1775, when David Jermy, born in 1750, married Maria Krausz, the name was written with a "y".

According to the unwritten family tradition the ancestor(s) migrated to Kesmark from the north central part of Hungary during the so called "counter-revolution" (17th century), since they were already Lutherans and Kesmark was a stronghold of the Lutheran church. All Jermys during the 200 years had German wives, since there was a great German settlement called county Szepes (in German "Zips"). It was founded by the Hungarian kings in the 11th century as a stronghold against the possible invasion by eastern peoples. This German group (about 80 000 people) developed a very special German-Hungarian culture during the centuries. They were evacuated by the Czechoslovaks in 1945 as a retaliation for Hitler's crimes. Naturally, simple German peasants and shepherds of the mountains who knew nothing about politics also had to leave the land of the fathers, who had lived there for eight centuries.

There is a Turkish word "yermi" meaning "twenty". Its pronunciation is similar to that of "Jermy" by Hungarians and Germans ("yarmi"). I was told that in the south of Bulgaria many families of Turkish origin have that surname. Thus, it cannot be excluded that my ancestors were Turks who, after the expulsion of the Turks from Hungary, remained here, became Lutherans and one of them fled to Kesmark. It is a fact of history that in the 17 century after the defeat of the Turkish empire many Turks became Christians in this part of Europe.

But who knows? Since Jermys lived for so many centuries in northern Europe, one could speculate that some of them participated in the more or less international army that expelled the Turks from Hungary and after the war settled here.

As for myself, I was born in the town of Locse (today Levoca) that is 30km from Kesmark, on 31 January 1917. I had two sisters and a brother. After the Versailles Treaty of 1920 that gave the whole northern part of Hungary to Czechoslavakia, my family came to what is today Hungary. I studied at the University of Budapest, received my high school teacher's certificate in 1940 and PhD in Zoology in 1942. Then I had to join the army against the Soviets and was taken prisoner of war in 1945. I returned from the Soviet concentration camps (Gulags) in 1947. From 1949 until my retirement in 1978 I worked at the Plant Protection Institute that belonged first to the Ministry of Agriculture and since 1981 to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences. From 1969 to 1978 I was the director of the Institute. My wife is of German origin (nee Schumacher). Her ancestors immigrated to Hungary from Germany after the end of the Turkish occupation, because there were many empty parts of the country where the resident Hungarian population had been wiped out by the enemy during 150 years. This is a very turbulent part of Europe!