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Despite these minute local distinctions, the German immigrants into the lands of the Habsburg Hungarian Crown and what became Yugoslavia were collectively called Danube Swabians (Donauschwaben), since most settled along the Danube river.
The Danube Swabians who settled in the Banat and Vojvodina regions straddling Serbia, Romania, and Hungary became known as Banat Swabians.
These factors were sources of enduring inter-ethnic tension, as Slavs and Hungarians increasingly rallied for self-determination against the Germans.
So too, in areas primarily populated by Orthodox Serbs or Calvinist Hungarians, the presence of Catholic priests or churches became synonymous with what was perceived as the encroaching presence of German imperialism.).
Small populations of German farmers were first invited into Serbia, eastern Bosnia, and Hungary by the Hungarian sovereign Géza II in the 12th century and the Serbian Tsar Dušan the Mighty in the 14th century ().
Equally salient was the irascible ethnic situation in the highly diverse Habsburg Empire, which included an unequally powerful German elite and Hungarian, Serb, Romanian, Croat, Slovene, Czech, and Slovak subjects with diminished linguistic, cultural, and political rights.
The Hungarians, who constituted the second most powerful ethnic group in the empire's nascent developing dual monarchy system, bitterly struggled to gain equal franchise with the ethnic Germans.
Modern Slovenia, which was integrally attached to the Habsburg Empire for centuries, possessed an inordinately powerful German economic, intellectual, and political caste that was largely unaffected until the fall of the empire.
There were as many as 38,631 Germans in Slovenia by 1921 (The largest German population in the former Yugoslavia was in the Habsburg Banat and Vojvodina, two adjacent territories that are today split between Croatia, Romania, Hungary, and especially Serbia.