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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GENOCIDE of the Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia 1944-1948 (A)

http://www.read-all-about-it.org/genocide/table_of_contents.html





GENOCIDE
of the Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia
1944-1948
Genocide
Published by the Danube Swabian Association of the USA
2001
ISBN 0-9710341-0-9



Summary of Contents


Foreword
Prologue


Chapter 1:
History of the Danube Swabians in the USA and Canada


Chapter 2:
Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia


Chapter 3:
The Tito Regime - Executor of the Genocide


Chapter 4:
The Carnage


Chapter 5:
Central Civilian Internment and Labor Camps


Chapter 6:
Deportation of Laborers to the Soviet Union


Chapter 7:
The Liquidation Camps


Chapter 8:
Crimes Committed Against Children


Chapter 9:
The Suffering and Dying of German Clergy


Chapter 10:
Size of the Ethnic Population of Yugoslavia as of October 1944


Chapter 11:
Documentation of Human Casualties


Chapter 12:
Danube Swabian Chronology


Chapter 13, Appendix 1:
Explanation and Notes


Chapter 13, Appendix 2:
United Nations Convention on War Crimes and Crimes Against Humanity


TABLES
------------------------------




Foreword
By Alfred M. de Zayas

"The right not to be expelled from one's homeland is a fundamental right ... I submit that if in the years following the Second World War the States had reflected more on the implications of the enforced flight and expulsion of the Germans, today's demographic catastrophes, particularly those referred to as 'ethnic cleansing,' would, perhaps, not have occurred to the same extent ... There is no doubt that during the Nazi occupation the peoples of Central and Eastern Europe suffered enormous injustices that cannot be forgotten. Accordingly they had a legitimate claim for reparation. However, legitimate claims ought not to be enforced through collective punishment on the basis of general discrimination and without a determination of personal guilt."[1]
These words of the first United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, José Ayala Lasso (Ecuador), were spoken at the Paulskirche in Frankfurt/Main on 28. May 1995 on the occasion of the solemn ceremony to remember 50 years since the expulsion of 15 million Germans from Eastern and Central Europe, including the Danube Swabians of Yugoslavia.
There is no question that in international law mass expulsions are doubly illegal - giving rise to State responsibility and to personal criminal liability. The expulsions by Germany's national socialist government of one million Poles from the Warthegau 1939/40 and of the 105,000 Frenchmen from Alsace 1940 were listed in the Nürnberg indictment as "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity." The Nürnberg judgment held several Nazi leaders guilty of having committed these crimes.
It is an anomaly that in spite of this clear condemnation of mass expulsions, the Allies themselves carried out even greater expulsions in the last few months of the Second World War and in the years that followed. Article XIII of the Potsdam Protocol attempts to throw a mantle of legality over the expulsions carried out by Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Poland. Nothing is said about the expulsions from other countries like Yugoslavia and Romania. However, the victorious Allies at Potsdam were not above international law and thus could not legalize criminal acts by common agreement. There is no doubt that the mass expulsion of Germans from their homelands in East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, East Brandenburg, Sudetenland, Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia constituted "war crimes," to the extent that they occurred during wartime, and "crimes against humanity" whether committed during war or in peacetime.
Moreover, the slave labor imposed on persons of German ethnic origin as "reparations in kind," which was agreed by Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference, [2] also constituted a particularly heinous crime, which led to hundreds of thousands of deaths during the deportation to slave labor, during the years of hard work with little food, and as sequel of this inhuman and degrading treatment.
American and British historians have not given the flight and expulsion of fifteen million Germans, in the process of which more than two million perished, the attention that this enormously important and tragic phenomenon deserves. Nor has the American and British press fulfilled its responsibility to inform the general public about these events. On the contrary, the issue has been largely ignored and subject to taboos, even to this day. Only the occurrence of the ethnic cleansing in the former Yugoslavia during the last decade of the 20th century [3] allowed obvious parallels to be drawn, and some discussion on the subject of the Germans as victims has finally ensued. Much more is necessary.
Whereas some studies about the expulsion of the Germans by Poland and the former Czechoslovakia have been published, there is relatively little information available concerning the fate of the Germans from the former Yugoslavia. That is why the publication of this book must be welcomed, and its dissemination among the press and in the schools should follow. Testimonies of survivors of this "ethnic cleansing" of Germans should be recorded in video and on paper for future generations. Survivors of this awful crime against humanity should also speak to students in high schools and universities.
Let us remember the words of the noted British publisher and human rights activist, Victor Gollancz, one of the first courageous voices to recognize the moral implications and thus condemn the mass expulsion and spoliation of the Germans:
"If the conscience of men ever again becomes sensitive, these expulsions will be remembered to the undying shame of all who committed or connived at them ... The Germans were expelled, not just with an absence of over-nice consideration, but with the very maximum of brutality."[4]
But in order that the conscience of mankind become sensitive, it is necessary to have full information, open discussion without taboos - i.e. freedom of expression. Let us hope that this book will help us understand that all victims of "ethnic cleansing" are deserving of our attention and of our compassion.
Alfred M. de Zayas, J.D. (Harvard), Ph. D. (Göttingen) Senior Fellow, International Human Rights Law Institute, Chicago Member, International P.E.N. Club
Author of Nemesis at Potsdam, 1998, Picton Press, Rockport, Maine
A Terrible Revenge, 1994, St. Martin's Press, New York
The Wehrmacht War Crimes Bureau, 2000, Picton Press, Rockport, Maine

Reference Notes [1] The complete text in German was published in Bonn, 1995, in Dieter Blumenwitz, ed., Dokumentation der Gedenkstunde in der Paulskirche zu Frankfurt/Main am 28. Mai 1995; 50 Jahre Flucht, Deportation, Vertreibung, p. 4. Excerpts from the English original are quoted in A. de Zayas "The Right to One's Homeland, Ethnic Cleansing, and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia", Criminal Law Forum, Vol. 6 (1995), p. 257-314 and 291-292.
[2] A.M. de Zayas, A Terrible Revenge. The ethnic cleansing of the East European Germans 1944-1950, St. Martins Press, New York, 1994, p. 81
[3] The Nato Bombing of Kosovo in 1999
[4] Victor Gollancz, Our Threatened Values, London, 1946, p. 96

------------





Prologue

Throughout history the Balkan countries have often been called the "Powder Keg of Europe." Indeed, they have sparked many conflicts, including World War I which created the dispersal of ethnic groups and the forging of new frontiers that to this day are the source of continual conflicts.
The current political events involving Yugoslavia, Bosnia and Kosovo focus the spotlight on Yugoslavia's attempted ethnic cleansing of Albanians, Bosnians and Croats, causing the United Nations and NATO to intervene. The genocide of the ethnic German population of Yugoslavia at the end of World War II and during the period of 1944-1948 has been, however, largely suppressed or ignored and needs to be recognized.
At the beginning of World War II about 540,000 people whose mother-tongue was German lived within the national boundaries of the then Yugoslav kingdom. About 510,000 belonged to the ethnic group of Danube Swabians, which comprise the ethnic Germans of the West Banat, Batschka, Belgrade, Serbia, Syrmia, Baranja Triangle, Slavonia, Croatia and Bosnia. Additional groups were the Germans (formerly Austrians) of Slovenia, mainly the German Untersteirer, German Oberkrainer and the Gottscheer.
This publication is a condensed version of the German language series of five volumes Verbrechen an den Deutschen in Jugoslawien 1944-1948 (Crimes against the ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia 1944-1948) documenting the genocide of, and atrocities committed against, the ethnic Germans of Yugoslavian nationality by the Communist Titoregime at the end of World War II and the years 1944-1948. For almost 300 years these ethnic Germans have lived peacefully in, and contributed to, the prosperity of the entire region, adapting themselves to all subsequent changes of sovereignty.
Numerous eyewitnesses were interviewed and their personal experiences recorded in order to document the crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing so they can be included in the historical records of that era. These volumes were published by the Donauschwäbische Kulturstiftung, München, Germany. To make the world aware of these tragic events the Danube Swabian Association of the USA, in cooperation with the Donauschwäbische Kulturstiftung (Danube Swabian Cultural Foundation) München, Germany, has issued this English-language edition. It is also a historical document for the Danube Swabians scattered throughout the world.
In the title, and throughout this publication, the authors have used the term "genocide" to describe the atrocities committed against the ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia.
The United Nations "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" Article II and III give the following definition of genocide:


Article II
In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
a. Killing members of the group;
b. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
c. Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
d. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
e. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.


Article III
The following acts shall be punishable:
a. Genocide;
b. Conspiracy to commit genocide;
c. Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
d. Attempt to commit genocide;
e. Complicity in genocide.
The complete copy of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide is included in the Appendix section of this publication.
The reader will undoubtedly come to the conclusion, as the authors have, that the crimes committed and described here come under the definition of "genocide" as determined by the United Nations Convention.
While ethnic German minorities in Hungary and Romania also were persecuted and expelled as an aftermath of World War II, it was in Yugoslavia where the most gruesome atrocities were committed against this entire ethnic group.
Between 1698 and 1782 these ethnic Germans, known collectively as "Donauschwaben" (Danube Swabians), were recruited by the territorial rulers to resettle and help rebuild the devastated areas which were liberated from Turkish invaders. At that time these territories were part of the Austrian-Hungarian Empire. For about 300 years they cohabited with other ethnic groups as loyal and respected citizens in their adopted homelands.
During World War II they were caught up in the political and military power struggles, particularly when German troops occupied Yugoslavia. At the end of World War II Southeastern Europe came under Communist control and the tragic fate of the ethnic Germans was sealed.
Most of those who managed to escape or were expelled and the survivors of the death camps settled in nearby Austria and Germany or emigrated to America, Canada, Australia and South America. In the United States and Canada they migrated mainly to larger communities where they were able to stay together and establish their cultural societies which foster Danube Swabian culture and traditions. They and their descendents have again become loyal and respected citizens in their new homelands but the world needs to know of their tragic history.
----------------------



Chapter 2

The Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia

This book deals with a subject which has largely been kept secret by the Yugoslav Communist regime and by government decrees, systematically falsified for school teachings and publications: the historic truth of the genocide of the ethnic Germans of Yugoslav nationality in Yugoslavia during World War II and particularly thereafter and their flight and expulsion from their ancestral homes. The events detailed here took place particularly between fall 1944 and spring 1948.
It is, therefore, not surprising that after 50 years the likelihood that this crime will be forgotten is great and the false Yugoslav history version could prevail.
At the beginning of World War II, about 540,000 people whose mothertongue was German lived within the national boundaries of the then Yugoslav kingdom. About 510,000 belonged to the ethnic group of Danube Swabians, which comprise the ethnic Germans of the West Banat, Batschka, Belgrade, Serbia, Syrmia, Baranja Triangle, Slavonia, Croatia and Bosnia. Additional groups were the Germans (formerly Austrians) of Slovenia, mainly the German Untersteierer, German Oberkrainer and the Gottscheer.


The Danube Swabians
The Danube Swabians are descendants of the Southwest Germans and Austrians who, between 1689 and 1787, were settled in the Pannonia Basin by the Habsburg emperors after the liberation of Hungary from Turk rule (which at that time belonged to the Habsburg empire).

Origin, Settlement and Colonial Achievements
The defeat of the Turk armies at the battle of Kahlenberg (1683) at the end of the siege of Vienna led to the gradual retreat of the Osmanic Empire and the liberation of the Danube region. After 160 years of Turk domination, the victories of the Imperial Armies, under the military leadership of Karl of Lorraine, Ludwig of Baden and Prince Eugene of Savoy, laid the foundation for the reconstruction of the region.
Vienna proved to be not only a bastion against the expansion of the Turk military might, but also a launching pad for the political, cultural and economic reconstruction of the Hungarian region. Already in 1689 the Habsburg decree called for the resettlement of the depopulated Hungarian Kingdom. In the years 1722 to 1723 the Hungarian representatives to the national assembly (Landtag) at Pressburg demanded that "people of all walks of life be recruited and exempted from all public taxation for a period of 6 years."
The Monarch Karl VI was requested to issue appropriate decrees in the entire Roman Empire and neighboring countries. The colonization was carried out in a peaceful manner and with the consent of the landowners. Among the settlers from several countries, those of Germanic origin were an important and preferred group.
During the 18th century over 150,000 immigrants arrived from various German and Austrian areas and settled in the then historic Hungarian boundaries. Since many of the settlers and their descendants were of Swabian origin, historians later (1922) referred to them collectively as Danube Swabians ("Donauschwaben").
The immigration which took place throughout the 18th century reached three peak periods: 1723 to 1726, 1764 to 1771 and 1784 to 1787. They were called the Swabian treks ("Schwabenzüge"). Instead of the "Promised Land," touted by the recruiters, they encountered, particularly during the earlier phases of the colonization, harsh living conditions in the swampy lowlands and mines of the mountain regions causing hardships, epidemics, diseases and many casualties over several generations.
Fittingly, this led them to coin the phrase "The first encountered death, the second distress and only the third bread." ("Den ersten der Tod, den zweiten die Not, erst den dritten das Brot.")
It was due to a well programmed settlement policy which led to the creation of many new, attractive villages, substantial increases in agricultural, commercial and industrial production and growth of national prosperity. Thus, the Pannonian lowlands developed, with considerable contributions by the settlers of the 18th century and their descendants, into the "breadbasket of the Danube Monarchy."
The Austrian settlement program must not be interpreted as a tendency of Germanization, as some adversaries argue. It was the principles of practicality, trade and national interests which called for the recruitment of colonists, merchants, artisans and skilled laborers from the German and Austrian territories.
Most of the immigrants in the Banat mining district were miners, foundry workers, charcoal burners and forest workers who, shortly after the retreat of the Turks, were recruited to reactivate the abandoned copper, silver and iron mines. It was their efforts, which, in the 19th century, established the basis for the largest mining and industrial region of Southeast Europe.
The Danube Swabian poet Stefan Augsburger-Roney aptly characterized his countrymen's achievements with the words: "Conquered not by the sword, but by the plow, children of peace, heroes of labor." ("Nicht mit dem Schwert, mit dem Pflugschar erobert, Kinder des Friedens, Helden der Arbeit.")
The 19th century was highlighted by positive economic growth of the rural communities. However, adverse circumstances prevented the Danube Swabians from developing their individualistic intellectual strata, since the strengthening Magyar (Hungarian) society attracted and assimilated the intellectual forces emerging from the rural peasantry.


The Danube Swabians in Yugoslavia 1918-1944
After the dismantling of Austria-Hungary in 1918, the community of the Danube Swabians (numbering 1.5 million at that time) was dissected and - disregarding President Wilson's proclamation of self-determination rights of the people - distributed among the three successor nations Hungary, Romania and Yugoslavia.
As an ethnic entity and "a people in three fatherlands" it was difficult for them to find their common identity. They had to make do and go their own way in their respective new nations. According to their individual interests they formed their own different cultural, political and economic organizations.
The majority of the Danube Swabians, their mother tongue German, became involuntary Yugoslav national citizens and lived in Westbanat, Batschka and Baranja, which was collectively termed Wojwodina. This province never before belonged to a South-Slavic nation. It's population was multi-ethnic and none of its segments had an absolute majority. The composition of the Westbanat, for example was: 39% Serbs, 33% Germans, 13% Romanians, 9.5% Hungarians and 5.5% other minorities. In relation to Yugoslavia as a nation, the Germans, Romanians and Hungarians were a relatively small minority. Such comparisons, however, are misleading since in their former home territory they represented considerable ethnic groups.


Restrictive Minority Politics
In the 1919 newly created Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (renamed Yugoslavia in 1929) the Danube Swabian national minorities accounted for approximately half a million citizens. As a condition to be internationally recognized as a nation, at the Paris (Versailles) peace agreements, Yugoslavia had to grant contractual minority protection guarantees which provided for their individual ethnic development. However, these constitutional provisions were never carried out and an effective control system did not exist. Thus, the Serb authorities largely ignored the minority guarantees. Nevertheless, during the first two years the German minority was, temporarily, able to improve its school system, establish the basis for a German-language press and, in 1920, establish the Swabian-German Cultural Association ("Schwäbisch-Deutscher Kulturbund"); in 1922 the German Party ("Partei der Deutschen") and the very successful German trade union Agraria. These initial concessions, however, disappeared after a few years.
The restrictive school policy of Belgrade - it was only in 1940 that Belgrade permitted the first German-language full grade high school (Vollgymnasium) - the prohibition of German societies and other restrictive measures considerably impaired the ethnic-political situation of the German community.
New restrictive property legislation made the purchase of real estate within 50 km of the national border subject to governmental approval. The purpose was to stop the acquisition of real property by foreigners. However, this legislation was quickly used to also make it impossible for Germans of Yugoslav citizenship to acquire property. This measure was devised to further limit the economic base of the ethnic Germans. The situation of the Germans in Yugoslavia began to improve only in the thirties after Germany began to strengthen its political posture.


Transformation of the Ethnic German Group (Volksgruppe)
About the middle of 1939 the old national-conservative cultural respectively national-liberal society leadership, (Kulturbundführung), was replaced by representatives of the national-radical Renewal Movement (Erneuerungsbewegung) which was supported by the German government. Its leadership consisted of a handful of young intellectuals.
Dr. Sepp Janko, its leader, was elected in 1939 upon strong pressure brought about by the German government Office for Germans Living Abroad (Auslandsdeutsche). For him the principal idea of "Nationalsozialismus" was the total unity of the ethnic group, rooted in the same blood. He was convinced that the blood relationship with the German Nationals (Reichsdeutsche) necessarily united them all. The destiny of Germany would also become the destiny of the Danube Swabians.
Similar developments took place in Hungary as well, where in 1938 the "Volksbund der Deutschen in Ungarn" ("Alliance of the Ethnic Germans in Hungary") was established.
An opposition against the Renewal Movement was started by a Catholic Action (Katholische Aktion) under the leadership of the priest Pfarrer Adam Brenz. From 1935 to 1944 he conducted an intense ideological battle against the anti-Christian excesses and abuse in his weekly periodical "Die Donau" (The Danube).
The ethnic German group leaders (Volksgruppenführer) began adopting organizational and image models, patterned after those of Germany. Thus, after the "April War" of 1941 which led to the first partition of Yugoslavia, organizations such as "Deutsche Mannschaft" (German Team), "Deutsche Jugend" (German Youth), and "Deutsche Frauenschaft" (German Women's Group) became established. In the independent Croatia, "Arbeitsdienst" (Work Team Service) and "Winterhilfswerk" (Winter Aid Society) were also founded.
The group leaders had idealistic conceptions of Germany's "Nationalsozialismus." They had great hopes such joint common cultural and socially strengthened groups together with the interchange of the larger Germanic cultural community could give them a real chance to ensure a continuation of their own identity in this multi-ethnic and multi-cultural Southeastern Europe. Until well into the course of the war they held those idealistic notions of the Nationalsozialismus and the merits of the fight against Bolshevism of which the German propaganda projected a dramatic image.
There was another opposition group to the Nationalsozialismus which was rooted in political, ideological and religious doctrines. It included mainly the Catholics and Protestans of the middle and western Batschka and had the belief that one could also be a good German if you had other role models other than the national socialistic one. The majority of the Danube Swabians were, in general, non-political. The renewed strength of Germany after 1933 increased her esteem in middle-eastern Europe. It kindled the hope of the Danube Swabians that Germany's influence would bring an end to the discrimination of the German-speaking people in Yugoslavia and give them a cultural autonomy.


A Military Coup and its Consequences
Both the Yugoslav government of Prime Minister Dragisa Cvetkovic and the German government were interested in preventing an expansion of the war in the Balkan. (World War II began September 1939.) Cvetkovic wanted to protect Yugoslavia from territorial claims by Italy and Hungary. Hitler was preparing his attack on Russia and did not care to tie up his military forces in the Balkans. He also wanted to ensure a peaceful Yugoslavia. Given those circumstances, Cvetkovic's government accepted the invitation to join the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy and Japan), particularly since his neighboring countries Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria had already done so and the conditions were favorable for Yugoslavia (no commitment on the part of Yugoslavia to participate in the Axis war or to permit transit of foreign military forces).
The pact was signed on March 25, 1941. However, two days later, a military coup in Belgrade, led by General Dusan Simovic toppled the Cvetkovic government and thus prevented the ratifications of the pact. Anti-German slogans and an agreement with Russia indicated a change of Yugoslavia's political direction. The participants of the coup were mainly members of the Serbian general staff. Documents of their secret negotiations with the Allies fell into German hands during her war with France.
The reasons for Hitler's quick decision to attack Yugoslavia was his concern of the creation of a southern front by the Allies and his desire to protect his flanks during the planned attack on Russia. The simultaneous attack on Greece was to support the Italian army which became bogged down. The Yugoslav war began on April 6, 1941 and ended on April 18 with the unconditional surrender of the entire Yugoslav army.
Contrary to some reports, the conduct of the ethnic Germans was that of loyalty to their home country Yugoslavia. Eighty to ninety percent of those subject to draft followed the call, compared to only sixty to seventy percent of the Slavic population. Accusations that members of the ethnic German group acted as a "Fifth Column" against their home country are without merit.


The Disintegration of Yugoslavia and the New Constitutional Position of the Danube Swabians
As a result of the partitioning of Yugoslavia following the April War, the ethnic Germans became subjects of the independent nations Croatia (Syrmia and Slavonia), Hungary (Batschka and Baranya) and the German-occupied Serbia (West Banat). The Germans of Lower-Styria became citizens of Germany (Austria), since their homeland was annexed by Germany. Because the homeland of the Gottscheer was given to Italy, they were resettled to Lower Styria.
The partitioning of Yugoslavia created complex international and constitutional situations. In addition, the infighting among the Tschetnics, Communist partisans, and Croatian Ustaschas was leading to civil war-like conditions. The German and Italian occupation forces and Hungarian government were further power factors in the former kingdom. On July 8, 1941 Germany and Italy declared that Yugoslavia had ceased to be a nation due to its unconditional surrender, even though the exiled king and his government-in-exile, which had fled to London, claimed the continuation of the country's existence.
Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and the newly created independent nation Croatia (USK) which had joined the Axis powers adopted the same position. The legal consequences were that the inhabitants of the annexed areas, including the Danube Swabians, became national citizens of these countries, subject to their laws and compulsory military service. It was beyond their political understanding that they could, therefore, be considered traitors to the kingdom or the terroristic partisans "liberation" movement.


Legal Position and Military Objectives of the Tschetnics
The National-Serbian Tschetnics led by the Chief of the General Staff Dragoljub-Draza Mihajlovic did not recognize the unconditional surrender. For them the kingdom did not cease to exist as a legal entity. Accordingly, the government-in-exile appointed Mihajlovic Secretary of Defense and Commander-in-Chief of the Yugoslav Army in the home territory. He considered himself the Commander of the surviving armed forces, continuing the fight. In reality, the Tschetnics carried on a gang-like war. His objectives were:
a) The liberation of the country, re-establishing Yugoslavia's former governmental, legal and social structure with a strong Great-Serbian, centralistic domination.
b) Fight against Communism which, in his declaration of allegiance to the Western Powers, he considered an internal Yugoslav matter.
c) An "ethnic cleansing" of Yugoslavia, in which only Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, but no minorities, were permitted. This resolution was adopted at the end of 1942 at Sahovici (Montenegro).

The Partisans and Their Strategy for Seizing Power
In 1939 the illegal Communist party of Yugoslavia (KPJ) numbered only about 2,000 members. A tightly organized underground group of several hundred persons was already active since the end of the twenties. They had an influential following among students and intellectuals and were able to infiltrate the government apparatus. In 1937 the Croat Josip Broz became Secretary General of the Central Committee of the KPJ.
When Germany attacked the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, the Komintern (International Communist Committee) called upon all Communist parties of Europe to rise up. As a national section of the Komintern the KPJ also did its duty in the service of the "world revolution." On the same day the central committee of the KPJ issued a proclamation calling for the Proletariat of Yugoslavia to come to the defense of the Soviet Union, "the beloved socialistic Fatherland." On July 4, Tito, as Josip Broz now called himself, issued the call for the KPJ to rise up against the occupational forces. The same month German officers and soldiers were ambushed and killed, the railline Belgrade-Agram sabotaged and Communists were liberated from prisons, including Alexander Rankovic, who later became Tito's Minister of the Interior and chief of the notorious secret police OZNA.
The assigned tasks of the KPJ were:

a) Tying up as many enemy divisions as possible on the secondary Balkan front.
b) Protecting the Balkan from a British landing. For the latter purpose Tito was even willing to collaborate with the Germans. Therefore, the initial objective of the partisans was not the "liberation of the people" but grasping the historical opportunity to enforce Communism in Yugoslavia according to Moscow's plans.


The Status of the Tschetnics and Partisans According to the International Convention on the Conduct of War
As far as the German military was concerned and according to the International Convention on the Conduct of War (International Law), neither the National Serbian Tschetnics nor the ethnically mixed partisans had the status of "combatants" (soldiers). They were considered "guerrillas" or gangs. According to the Convention only combatants are authorized to carry out acts of war.
The ambush and murder of German soldiers, which started on July 7, 1941 led on August 11 to a new appeal in the Serbian newspapers by the German military to cooperate with the occupying forces. The same appeal was made in public posters. The disregard of these appeals by the partisans led to the notorious order #888/41 of the German Army Command (OKW) of September 16, 1941 which ordered the execution of 100 hostages for each murdered German soldier and 50 hostages for each wounded soldier. The express purpose was of deterrent nature. This action was purposefully provoked by the partisans as admitted by Serbian historians. The German retribution, however, far exceeded the principle of "adequate numbers," as provided by the Convention.
The strategy of the partisans, however, was to provoke the occupation forces to retaliatory actions against the civilian population and threatened summary executions of hostages. It induced many to seek refuge with the partisans in the forests.
During the course of the civil war, the creation of a Communist Yugoslavia became an increasingly greater objective of the Communist Party's central committee. For tactical reasons, however, it was necessary to expand the war and not make it appear to be a fight of the unpopular and, by the government-in-exile, unrecognized Communist party but a national "Revolutionary War" of the Yugoslav people, for the liberation from the Fascist occupiers and their collaborators. Hence the slogan "Death to Fascism - Freedom to the People." This slogan became the "signature" of the Tito-movement. This popular-front image was the concept for the realization of a Communistic Yugoslavia in order not to scare away non-Communists but rather to induce them to join and fight with them.


Autonomous Administration of the Danube Swabians in the West Banat 1941-1944
With the authorization of the VOMI German government, the group leadership under Dr. Sepp Janko moved to the West Banat, which belonged to German-occupied Serbia and was permitted to establish an official autonomous self-administration of the ethnic German group. The Banat model was supposed to show that a peaceful coexistence of different ethnic nationalities in the same living space was entirely possible. It was also supposed to prove the Pannonian lowlands could, when properly managed, deliver extraordinary economic results.

Tito-Partisans Planning the Annihilation of the Danube Swabians as an Ethnic Group
After the German attack on the Soviet Union, the Tito-Partisans also began their terrorist attacks in the Banat. This action in itself made it clear that the Tito-movement considered the Danube Swabians collectively as allies of the German enemy. Dr. Janko reported that during the fighting which led to the retreat of the partisans from their temporarily established "Uzice Republic," the "Resolution of the Executive Committee" of the "Anti-Fascist Front" was seized. It prescribed the manner in which the ethnic German group was to be destroyed. After the "punishment of the culprits," all others were to be dispersed among all areas of the country and integrated into the Slavic population. According to Dr. Janko, after this resolution became known, the leadership in the Banat came to the conclusion that there was no other alternative for the ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia than to put their trust into Germany's support and protection. At any rate, the ordinary person had to feel that his fate was that of all Germans. The conviction that only Germany could protect them, was the major reason for strongly defending themselves against the actions of the partisans.
Aside from the obvious genocidal intentions, the partisans also jeopardized public safety and order, which an occupying force, according to the International Law on the Conduct of War, was obligated to uphold regardless whether such occupation of a country was legal or not. According to this international law, partisans can be executed.
As the terror actions of the partisans increased, the group leadership decided to organize a home guard regiment, named Prinz Eugen, consisting of Banat citizens, for the sole purpose of the defense of the Banat. This was entirely legal according to the Haag Convention on the Conduct of War (HLKO). In April 1942, however, Hitler ordered the formation of the "SS-Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen" instead of the home guard regiment. The service became compulsory for all ethnic Germans since there were only very few volunteers. The Division had a German-national leadership, German-national officers, and, against the original intent of the ethnic German leadership, was deployed against the Communist Tito partisans outside of the Banat.
Sepp Janko, leader of the ethnic German group was concerned about this turn of events and argued with the SS headquarters that such deployment of Banat Germans was against the laws of the HLKO. However, he had to yield to the SS pressure. Based on this fact, the Danube Swabians had to reject the later accusations of treason.
This Waffen-SS division (SS = acronym for "Schutz Staffel," was a German military organization parallel to but independent of the main army called "Wehrmacht"), however, did not cooperate with the Ustascha units (Croatian military units) which tried to exterminate the orthodox Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia.


The Danube Swabians of the Batschka and Baranja - Hungary 1941-1944
After the incorporation of the Batschka and the Baranja into Hungary, the Schwäbisch-Deutsche Kulturbund (Swabian-German Cultural Alliance) became affiliated with the Volksbund der Deutschen in Ungarn (Alliance of the Germans in Hungary). The latter was established on November 26, 1938. Its founder Dr. Franz Basch now also became the leader of the Germans in the Batschka and Baranja. His program included, in addition to the legal recognition of the ethnic group, the establishment of schools and church services in the German mother-tongue.
At the Vienna meeting, on August 30, 1940, the German and Hungarian governments, without the participation of the ethnic Germans, agreed upon the following status of the ethnic German group in Hungary:
a) Member of the group is a person who professes to be of German heritage and is accepted by the leadership of the Ethnic Alliance.
b) Members of the Alliance have the right to organize and form societies.
c) All ethnic German children should have the opportunity to receive a grade school and higher education in their mother-tongue. The necessary training of teachers will be supported by Hungary.
The Vienna agreement, however, did not grant the Alliance a legal status. Nevertheless, it succeeded to establish 300 local chapters with about 50,000 members. After the second Vienna agreement, following the incorporation of North Transylvania and Sathmar into Hungary, the membership increased to 97,000 and the incorporation of the Batschka and Baranja, as a result of Yugoslavia's partition, added another 100,000.
The leadership of the German army and lawyers of the German State Department took the position that according to the Haag Convention, the German army could not legally recruit soldiers in the allied nations Hungary, Romania and Slovakia and let them fight outside their own borders. Thus, the ethnic Germans in the Banat should not have been deployed outside their home territory.
The SS leadership, however, and its leader Heinrich Himmler insisted on the overriding concept of "Volksrecht" (Right of the People) and the "blood brotherhood." - "Same ethnicity same people," as it was called at that time, meant the same destiny and the same obligation of military service, regardless of nationality. Therefore, Himmler considered his actions in the Banat justified.
After the start of Germany's war against the Soviet Union, the Waffen-SS needed additional soldiers to make up for its losses. Himmler saw in the ethnic Southeast Germans a welcome human resource and decreed in summer, 1942 that, while there was no legal requirement for the ethnic Germans living outside of Germany to fulfill military service in the German armed forces, there was a moral requirement based on ethnicity. The governments of Hungary, Croatia and Romania were put under pressure to enter into an agreement with Germany and allow Germany to draft their able-bodied ethnic Germans into the German Army, preferably into the Waffen-SS.
To stay within international law, the SS leadership declared the recruitment to be of a voluntary nature. Furthermore, the drafted ethnics serving in German military forces automatically received the German citizenship. This made them German soldiers, in accordance with the HLKO Convention.
The agreements which served as the legal basis for the drafting of able-bodied Germans were made without participation of the respective ethnic German leadership. However, the task to direct the draftees to the induction centers was given to the ethnic organizations, thus absolving the respective governments from taking legal actions against those not complying with the draft notices.
In the third agreement regarding the Waffen-SS action, the Hungarian government transferred the military service jurisdiction over its ethnic Germans to Germany and required them to serve their military service in Germany's armed forces. Simultaneously it reversed its earlier cancellation of the Hungarian citizenship of the German-Hungarians, serving in the German armed forces. Therefore, the German-Hungarians drafted in 1944 into the Waffen-SS were neither volunteers nor formal German citizens.
During WWII, about 93,000 Danube Swabians of the former Yugoslavia served as soldiers in various national armies. One in four, 26,000, did not return. There are no records of any war crime trials of ethnic Germans of Yugoslavia, serving in the Waffen-SS.


Danube Swabians in the Independent Croatia 1941-1945
The "German Croatians," referred to here collectively as definition for all Danube Swabians living at that time in the various regions of the independent nation Croatia (USK), which included Syrmia, Slavonia, Croatia and Bosnia, did not consider themselves any longer citizens of the partitioned Yugoslavia, whose government-in-exile was in London, but citizens of the newly created nation Croatia and subject to its jurisdiction.
The "German Croatians" led by Branimir Altgayer, were given legal status of ethnic citizens and enjoyed considerable cultural autonomy. As members of a recognized ethnic group, they enjoyed equal rights in education. The central issue of cultural autonomy was schooling in its mother-tongue to a degree not imaginable in the former kingdom of Yugoslavia.
The Tito-partisans were operating mainly in Krajina, Bosnia, Syrmia and Slavonia, areas which belonged since the April war of 1941 to the now independent nation Croatia. The Croatian Ustascha regime was allied with Germany and persecuted the Serbs living within its territory. This caused many of them to join the Tito-partisans who fought a cruel and bitter war against the Croats and to some extent against the Muslims as well. For the National-Fascist Ustascha it was an ethnic-motivated civil war. For the Tito-partisans it was primarily a war leading to the Communist take-over. Thus, the partisans considered the Danube Swabians of Croatia also their enemies.
In view of the growing hatred and cruel actions of the Tito-partisans against everything German, the leadership of the ethnic Germans considered their own fate inadvertently and unavoidably intertwined with that of Germany. This led the leadership and majority of the Danube Swabians to conclude that their survival as an ethnic entity was only guaranteed by a peace favorable to Germany.


Resettlement of the Germans in Bosnia and West-Slavonia
The widely scattered Danube Swabian settlements in Bosnia and West-Slavonia became a major problem for the ethnic German leadership. With the beginning of the partisan activities in summer 1941, it already became evident, particularly in Bosnia, that the German settlements could not be sufficiently protected. The German Bosnians suffered considerable casualties inflicted by the raids of the partisans. The local home guard was simply too weak to protect the scattered settlements. In late fall 1941 and in cooperation with the Croatian government, all endangered German settlements were evacuated. The 18,360 residents were shipped to various camps inside Germany and Austria.
In 1943, the situation in Slavonia became increasingly critical due to the frequent partisan raids on the scattered German settlements, particularly in West-Slavonia. It was therefore decided to resettle the German inhabitants of fifty communities. They were moved to the area between Essegg, Vinkovci and Vukovar. In total 20,206 persons had to leave their homes.


The Partisans: Raids, Murders and Lootings in Syrmia and Slavonia
Some of the partisans used the following strategy. They operated only at night, while at daytime pretended to be peaceful citizens pursuing their normal activities. These "night-partisans" were particularly successful in West- and East-Slavonia as well as in Syrmia.
However, when Croatian or German forces were further away, regular partisan units settled down in the conquered villages and coordinated their activities with the night-partisans. "Settling the score" with non-Communists, particularly government-loyal Croats and Germans were daily occurrences.


Flight and Evacuation, Fall 1944
When Soviet forces approached towards the end of September 1944, the order of the German military to evacuate the Danube Swabians in the Banat and Batschka came too late. Hence only relatively few from the West-Banat, in some of the Batschka villages only one percent, in others up to ninety percent, fled by the time the Red Army and the partisans were getting ready to cross the Theiss River.
Major reasons for this tragic evacuation delay were the tactical and political dilemma of Germany's leadership. The evacuation of the Danube Swabians was tantamount to admitting that large areas of Hungary and Croatia were considered lost, risking that the Hungarians would immediately capitulate and the Croats lose their willingness to continue the fight. On the other hand, if one did not evacuate the ethnic Germans, one risked the loss of "German blood" which again was contrary to the philosophy of Germany's Nationalism. It is known that Colonel General Alexander Löhr (equivalent to a US 4-star general) pleaded for a timely evacuation. A few days after Romania's capitulation (August 23, 1944) in a meeting with ethnic German leaders at Belgrade he said: "If you want to save German blood in this region, we have to do it immediately."
Beginning October 1944, the German military began a systematic evacuation of the Danube Swabians in Croatia, mostly by rail and horse-drawn wagons. The evacuees, loaded onto open railroad cars tried to protect themselves from rain and cold with wooden boards and tarps. The horse-drawn wagons were traveling for weeks. The search for fodder for the horses and lodging for the nights were daily struggles. Some of them had to travel over 1,000 km (621.4 miles) to reach their allocated destinations.
By fall 1944 almost 225,000 Danube Swabians fled or were evacuated. Several thousands returned to Yugoslavia under great difficulties and were immediately forced into internment camps. Between October 1944 and May 1945 weIl over 200,000 civilians, whose mother-tongue was German, fell into the hands of the partisans.
The escapees and surviving Danube Swabian prisoners who could not go back totalled about 300,000. Thus, Yugoslavia achieved a first "ethnic cleansing" of more than half of its 540,000 citizens of German decent.


The Germans of Lower Styria (Untersteiermark)
The German Untersteirer are the former inhabitants of the Untersteiermark (Lower Styria) which, since 1147, for over 770 years, belonged to the Styria duchy. In 1910 the population was 74,000.
For hundreds of years they were dominant in cultural life, trade, industry and mining. At the peace treaty of St. Germain, the Lower Styria was separated from the Styria which belonged to Austria and was made part of the newly created Slovenia which in turn was incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenians (renamed Yugoslavia in 1929). After the partitioning of Yugoslavia (1941) the Untersteiermark was joined with the old Steiermark and both were attached to Germany.
"By Hitler's orders," the entire historic Steiermark was to be "Germanized." All 10,000 South-Slavs who immigrated into the Untersteiermark after 1918, and about 20,000 Slovenians, who openly opposed the Germanization, were expelled. The former were moved to what was left of Serbia and the latter to the "German Reich."
In their place the Gottscheer and the resettled ethnic Germans from Bukovina and South Tyrol were transferred to the southeast of the historic Steiermark, which now belonged to the "German Reich."
It is not surprising that these measures disappointed not only the Slovenes who had put their trust into the Germans but also incited the hatred of the Slovenian Nationalists which led to the partisan uprising. The "Slovenian Liberation Movement" was created April 27, 1941. Initially, it consisted mainly of Communists and radical Nationalists who soon were joined by desperate citizens. The partisans' actions were brutal. Resorting to executions and torching farms, they forced the farmers to feed and support them. German countermeasures were equally brutal but could no longer contain the fire they had ignited.
Understandably, the Deutsch-Untersteier were initially enthusiastic about their incorporation into the "German Reich." However, their disappointment came rather quickly as they found out that they had no voice whatsoever in the administration of the territory. Many warned against the expulsions, executions of hostages and forced political re-education; but they were told that the nature of the war required such measures and were given glorious post-war promises.
Since their fate was intertwined with that of Germany, they had no choice but to support the German administration.
Even as the course of the war tumed more menacing and eventually hopeless, with few exceptions, people were not permitted to leave. About 4,300 ethnic German-Slovenian civilians perished as a result of the partisan war, mostly by executions, torture and starvation in the camps at the end of the war; adding about 1,000 Gottschee civilians, a total of about 3,300 Deutsch-Untersteierer became victims of the genocide. Approximately 90% of the surviving Deutsch-Untersteierer found a new home in Austria. Since 1948 they are organized in a "Hilfsverein" (an Aid Society) with its headquarters in Graz.


The Gottscheer
The "Gottscheer" are inhabitants of the German speaking language enclave "Gottschee," situated in the former Habsburg crown land Krain. It was established in 1330, about 660 years ago, by German settlers from Carinthia and East-Tyrol, due to an initiative of the Carinthian counts of Ortenburg. In 1918, the naturally developed language enclave, numbered 18,000 inhabitants, living in 25 communities and 172 villages. At the peace treaty of St. Germain, (September 10, 1919), it became part of Slovenia and the newly created Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenians.
After the collapse and partitioning of Yugoslavia in 1941, Gottschee became Italian territory and the Gottscheer (about 11,200), were moved to the Southeast Untersteiermark (Lower Styria). Like the Germans in Slovenia, they too initially were forbidden to leave when the Russians approached. The order to evacuate was issued only beginning May 1945, which for most was too late. While the exact number of those who perished during the flight or in camps is not known, estimates of the casualties including those of soldiers, run around 1,000. A large number of Gottscheer found a new home in Austria; however, other significant groups emigrated to the USA and Canada.
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Chapter 3

The Tito Regime - 
Executor of the Genocide

In order to come to the final conclusion that these atrocities were indeed a genocide, historical examination has to ask the question: "What were the reasons of Tito's partisan movement that led to the genocide of the ethnic Germans of Yugoslavian citizenship of the former Yugoslav kingdom?"
A careful examination of the events and review of the Tito partisans own statements lead to varying reasons which induced the annihilation of the ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia. The causes are of ethnic, national, ideological, poweroriented and personal nature.


Hate of Everything German
A primary reason is the hate of everything German which has its origin in the course of World War II. Beginning April 1941 and following orders of the Komintern, under the command of party leader Josip Broz, also called Tito, the Yugoslav Communists began their fight against the German and Italian occupation and shortly thereafter also against the Serbian Tschetniks who were loyal to the monarchy as well as against the Croatian Ustaschas - all in support of the Soviet Union, the "Socialist Motherland."
In 1942 the Tito partisans infiltrated the autonomous Westbanat, administered by the ethnic German Group. The "Volksgruppe's" leadership wanted to organize a battalion, called "Prinz Eugen," consisting of Banat ethnic Germans for protection, a form of home guard, considered legal by international conventions, and turned to the German occupation forces for weapons.
Himmler, head of the SS, however, had other plans. In order to circumvent the "Haag Convention on Conduct of Warfare," he declared the recruitment as "volunteer actions." The originally intended Banat home guard battalion "Prinz Eugen" became the "SS Volunteer Mountain Division Prinz Eugen." Against the wishes of the ethnic German leadership the division was used in the war against the partisans outside of the Banat. For the Tito partisans, this was reason enough to identify the Danube Swabians with their main enemy: Hitler's Germany.


The Power of the Communists
During its battle, the communist Tito movement changed direction. It saw its chance to grasp the power in Yugoslavia, provided Germany would lose the war. For tactical reasons it no longer preached the "Communist Revolution" as its objective but the "Liberation of the People" and developed a popular-front movement to entice as many non-Communists as possible to join their fight.
In its November 1943 meeting, the Anti-Fascist Council for the Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ), an interim ruling commission declared: "Whoever served in the enemy's armed forces, whoever supported the occupation forces, is a traitor, will lose citizenship rights, be court-martialed and indicted for treason, which carries the threat of the death penalty."
This resolution could be used as a pretext for the murder of all soldiers of the former Yugoslavia who fought against the Communists, including the Germans, Croats, Slovenes and Serbs under the leadership of Nedic or Mihajlovic.
The resolution also outlined the federative structure of the future "People's Republic." Ethnic German citizens were not included in the ethnic nationalities with equal rights. It was obvious the purpose was to punish not only the soldiers who were drafted mainly into the German units but to establish a collective guilt of the entire ethnic German population by designating them "Enemies of the People," "Collaborators" and "Fascists." These were the preparations for the annihilation of all Germans and they were no longer considered part of the future Yugoslavia.
This patriotic approach was used in the interest of the Communist power grab and to mobilize many patriots who loved their own country - while Tito had greater Yugoslavian aspirations. He succeeded to maintain this national patriotism, if not by conviction, then by force.
After Tito's death the individual Serbian, Croation, Slovenian, Macedonian, Bosnian, Kosovo-Albanian Patriotisms suddenly resurfaced. We all have witnessed the horrible consequences of the unraveling of Yugoslavia since 1990.


The Aftermath of Jajce
The proclamation of Jajce removed all killing restraints for the partisan leaders and gave the executions a semblance of legality. The results were tens of thousands of victims: Croatian Ustachas, Domobranen, German soldiers, whole sections of the division Prinz Eugen and about 8,000 Danube Swabians mainly male non-military victims during the fall 1944 massacres in the Banat, Batschka and Syrmia.
The genocide of the ethnic German population, branded as Fascists, proved to be an important factor in stabilizing the Communist's power since it was an effective intimidating factor against the national-conservative forces and loyal monarchists. At the same time the annihilation of the Germans suited the Communist concept in removing a segment of the population which, in a Communist society, would have been the greatest source of resistance.


Danube Swabian Property - Reward for the Tito Partisans
There was, as admitted by the partisans, another motive for the annihilation of the ethnic Germans: the confiscated property was to serve as a reward for the fighters of the "liberation battle." In the relatively barren revolutionary regions of the country, there was a dearth of fertile agricultural soil. A large percentage of the land, if not most of it, which was redistributed by the Agrarian Reform, belonged to the Germans. Thousands of active partisan fighters and their families from these barren areas, particularly from Krajina and Lika were rewarded with the homes of the escaped or interned Germans in the Wojwodina. They had to learn how to cultivate the fertile land of the evacuated villages within the Communist's communal property doctrine.

Confiscation of German Property - A Step Towards a Government Planned Economy
The extensive Agrarian Reform of August 23, 1945 confirmed again the collective confiscation, regardless of individual culpability and the transfer of the entire tillable land belonging to "persons of German ethnicity" to the land trust of the Agrarian Reform. These former German properties were to be granted preferably to Yugoslav partisans and soldiers. This clearly illustrates that the annihilation of the Germans was contemplated simultaneously as a step towards a government-managed economy. The confiscated real property of the Danube Swabians, double the size of Luxembourg, appeared to be particularly suitable to carry out the ideology of the government.


Effects of the Planned German Expulsion from East/Central Europe
Causes only become reality if certain circumstances prevail. The Serb Djilas, in his book Revolutionary War writes: "Our warriors, as well as the people, became so weary of 'our Germans,' that in our Central Committee we repeatedly touched on the subject of expelling the ethnic German population. However, we might have thought differently, had not the Russians, Poles and Czechs already decided the expulsion of the Germans from their territories and started doing so. We arrived at our position, without discussion or negotiations, a matter that was understandable and justified because of the 'German crime'."
The intent of the Yugoslav government to effectively cleanse the country of her ethnic Germans is also evident in Yugoslavia's approach to the Western Allies in an Aide-memoire on January 19, 1946 asking to agree to a collective transfer to Germany of the 110,000 ethnic Germans that survived the first persecution year. It repeated this request on May 16, 1946; however, it did not receive any reply.
At a January 1947 London meeting of the Deputy Foreign Ministers in preparation of a peace treaty with Germany, the Yugoslav delegate Dr. Mladen Ivecovic again raised this request, however, it was not considered.
In spring 1946 the US government intervened at the Yugoslav government on behalf of American citizens of Yugoslav heritage and protested repeatedly against their internment in forced labor camps.
On October 18, 1946 the US ambassador at Belgrade delivered a note of protest to the Yugoslav government in which the actions of the Yugoslav government were declared a violation of the human rights of American citizens of ethnic German heritage, who were interned without any judicial process.


Ethnic Germans Declared "Enemies of the People," Expropriated and Disenfranchised of All Civic Rights
Under different political conditions, the partisans could have possibly refrained from the annihilation of the Germans. However, on November 21,1944 the AVNOJ issued an ex-judicial decree declaring the Germans "Enemies of the People" and stripped them of all civic rights. All their personal properties were confiscated by the government without any compensation.
Exempt were only those married to other nationals or active fighters belonging to or supporters of Tito's Communist "Peoples' Liberation Movement." To give this action a semblance of legal justification the decree had to be made by an ex-judicial process. This meant that they did not lose their citizenship but were deprived of civic rights.
Thus, the ethnic Germans could, without providing any reason, be expelled from their homes, coerced into forced labor, put into labor camps or camps for children or liquidation camps for sick persons.
Among the criteria for genocide the UNO Convention of December 9, 1948 specifies: "Genocide means: Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."
The AVNOJ decrees provided exactly these conditions and are the basis and justification for the planned and government-sanctioned genocide of the Danube Swabians.


Great-Serbian Nationalism, a Partial Reason for Expulsion
The question as to what extent the expulsion of the Germans in Yugoslavia was also due to the desire of the Serbs for territorial expansion, is actually the most controversial debate among Danube Swabian and Serb authors.
The Serbs were only a minority in the Banat, Batschka and Syrmia (now called Wojwodina) which were part of the Hungarian kingdom. These areas, which for about 1,000 years belonged to Hungary and historically never to Serbia, were given to Serbia after World War I at the 1920 peace treaty of Trianon. The strongest ethnic groups which suddenly came under Serbian domination were the Germans and Magyars (Hungarians). In spite of immediate Serb colonization efforts, in 1941 the Serbs still did not represent more then 37% of Wojwodina's total population, in the Batschka only 23%.


Nationalization of the "Land of the People" (Volksboden): Objective of the Chauvinists
The objective of the Great-Serbian Nationalism to squeeze the Germans and, to a lesser degree, the Magyars out of the Wojwodina took several forms. Already starting in 1918, the government adopted anti-German measures by restricting the teaching of German-language classes at grade and high schools, nationalizing real estate, discriminatory tax rates, eliminating ethnic Germans from public service jobs, prohibition of Danube Swabian umbrella organizations, etc. After the April War of 1941 (the occupation of Yugoslavia by German forces which led to the partition of the Yugoslav kingdom), the anti-German groundswell in the Serb political thinking and the determination to eliminate the Germans increased dramatically. Germany was blamed for the demise of the Yugoslav kingdom and, by association, this also included the ethnic Germans in their own country.

The Intent to Eliminate All Non-Slavs After the War
During World War II, nationalistic Serbian circles also expressed their intent to expel minorities. In 1942, the monarchy-loyalist, but nationalistic Tschetniks, at their Congress at Sahovici (Montenegro) adopted a resolution that stipulated: "Within the territory of the future nation there can only be Serbs, Croats and Slovenians. No minorities are tolerated."
The Secretary of War of the Government-in-Exile and leader of the Tschetniks, General Oraza Mihajlovic intended to expel all Germans, Magyars and Romanians after the hoped for victory of his Tschetniks. After the renewed recent break-up of Yugoslavia the resurrected Tschetniks retained their radical nationalistic Great-Serbian course. Fifty years later, during the wars in Bosnia and Kosovo, their paramilitary units committed bloody massacres.
Even General Milan Nedic, the Prime Minister of German-occupied Serbia and installed by the Germans in 1941, did not want to have any national minorities in a future post-war Serbia. In 1944, the Communist party of Yugoslavia, however, became the executor of the elimination plans.
The conclusion of those who cite Great-Serbian Nationalism as a major reason for the expulsion and annihilation of Yugoslavia's ethnic Germans is the following: The three leading Serbian, respectively Serb-dominated groups, the Tschetniks, partisans and Nedic-followers, who were fighting each other during World War II, towards the end of 1942 all agreed on the elimination of the Germans from a future Yugoslavia. At the very least, the intent was to make them disappear as an ethnic group by integrating them into the Slavic ethnic sections.


Disputes of Today's National-Conservative Serbs
Lately, national-conservative Serbian authors have strongly objected against the theory that Great-Serbian Nationalism was the virus which infected the movement of the Tito-partisans and thus injected them with the idea of the expulsion of the Germans. They claim that the Great-Serbian Nationalism had no decisive influence on the Politbüro (the political leadership) of the partisan movement which at that time consisted of Tito, Kardelj, Rankovic and Djilas. They offer the following reasons:
1. The AVNOJ (Serbian acronym for Anti-Fascist Council of Yugoslav People's Liberation) of the partisans was dominated by Communists. The decisive motivation for the decision of the AVNOJ to expel and annihilate the Germans was that the Germans did not join the "Volksbefreiungskampf' (liberation struggle) of the partisans and that they defended themselves against the guerilla attacks on their villages.2. Alexander Rankovic, although being a Serb but a radical Communist and since 1944 chief of the OZNA (Yugoslav secret police), controlled the leadership policies and issued the instructions to the OZNA chiefs of the country's regions, as well as to the other members of the political leadership. He was considered the "executor of the political suppression and annihilation of all real or suspected enemies of the regime." Therefore, the policy of political terror was Communist motivated.
3. Edward Kardelj was a Slovene, leading party ideologist and second in command after Tito. He pursued the transformation of the society according to the Communist doctrine. He considered the Germans potential opponents and enemies and he needed their property values to carry out the agrarian reform according to the Communist pattern.
4. Josip Broz Tito was a Croat, had a Croatian father and Slovenian mother. The actions of the genocide were subject to his approval and tolerance. He was hardly influenced by nationalistic Serbian considerations since he had a schismatic relationship with the Serbs. He toned down the Great-Serbian ambitions and limited the sovereignty of the Serbian part of the nation by establishing the two autonomous provinces Wojwodina and Kosovo.
5. According to the national-conservative Serb Zoran Ziletic, not enough consideration is given to the sufferings of the anti-Communist, Serbian intelligentsia, middle class, commercial and industrial citizenry and all other "South-Slavs" in the AVNOJ of Yugoslavia.
6. Zoran Ziletic and the Danube Swabian Hans Sonnleitner recognize that the Atheism of Communism is the predominant cause of the inhuman, gruesome and bestial actions of the Tito-partisans against the defenseless ethnic German population. The ungodliness of the Communist zealots diminished, even eliminated all moral restraints. Ziletic in the prologue to Nenad Stefanovic's book Eine Welt an der Donau - Gespräche und Kommentare (A World at the Danube - Discussions and Commentaries), published 1996 in Belgrad, writes: "The dictators in 1944-1948 also expelled our God."
Final comment by Herbert Prokle, another Danube Swabian eye witness: "Even if Great-Serbian Nationalism did not provide the impulse for the crime, it certainly facilitated it. The execution of the indescribably fiendish genocide between 1944 and 1948 on such a national scale required a large number of participants, not all of whom were Communists. Furthermore, there was a large segment of the Serbian population that, while not wanting to 'dirty their hands,' were quite in agreement with the annihilation of the Germans. The pathologically extreme Nationalism of a part of the Serbs may very well be responsible for it."
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Chapter 4

The Carnage

The Tito partisans appeared behind the advancing Red Army. By October 6, 1944 the Soviets occupied the Western Banat and by October 23, 1944 the whole Batschka.
During their occupation of the Banat and Batschka, October/November 1944, the Russian soldiers rarely wantonly killed Germans, however, they did commit numerous rapes of German girls and women and destruction of property. The first action of the partisans was usually to establish local "People's Liberation Committees." Then began the arbitrary detention, brutal mistreatment, rapes, executions and murders, particularly of Germans, but also of Magyars (ethnic Hungarians), loyalist Serbs and other Slavs.
Especially during the first two months of the partisans' military administration there was a period of widespread lawlessness. During this period a great number of murders of Germans were committed; therefore it was called "the bloody autumn 1944," of the Wojwodina.
In the Banat and Syrmia during the bloody autumn 1944, approximately 5,000 and in the Batschka 2,000 Danube Swabians perished. The analogous losses in Slovenia (Untersteiermark, Oberkrain, Gottschee) are not included in these figures. Between 1941 and October 1944, about 1,100 lost their lives due to partisan raids on German communities. These are conservative figures. Names and localities are documented on page 1019, volume IV of the German-language book Leidensweg der Deutschen im kommunistischen Jugoslawien, published 1994 (The History of the Ethnic Germans Tragedy and Sufferings in the Communist Yugoslavia).
Source References: The identification of the most important localities where the murders and massacres committed on the ethnic Germans of Yugoslavia as well as various murderous acts occurred, are based on statements of the surviving victims themselves. They were recorded and published 1990-1995 in four volumes Leidensweg der Deutschen im kommunistischen Jugoslawien. The major part of these first-person reports are located at the Deutsches Zentralarchiv Koblenz (German Central Archives at Koblenz). So far, access for the Danube Swabians and most foreign researchers to the Yugoslav military archives ("Militärhistorisches Archiv") at Belgrade has been denied. Also, according to a statement by the director of the Yugoslav archives, Miodrag Zecevic in the Belgrade paper Borba of July 24, 1987, large scale destruction of archive material took place in the immediate post-war period.
A major difficulty has been the determination of individual responsibility. The reports do not always specify which of the various groups or authorities authorized or carried out the executions and murders and whether they were based on individual decisions or on orders from higher up.


The Seven Executors
The first-person reports indicated that there were seven authorities or groups acting as the direct executors of the killings: invading partisans and spontaneously organized groups, local private persons, "People's Liberation Committees," the secret police OZNA, local revenge groups, military courts and execution commandos of the "Aktion Intelligenzija." Events in Slovenia were more complicated, since additional factors were involved.

Spontaneous Groups
Occupying partisans and citizens in some ethnically mixed communities spontaneously formed groups that engaged in murderous activities.
The worst incident took place in the Banat village Deutsch-Zerne. After it was seized, a spontaneously formed group of Serbs, Russian soldiers and gypsies engaged in pillage and mass rapes of German girls and women which caused at least 55 (documented) victims to commit suicide.
Another example is the tragedy at Palanka in the Batschka where local gypsies joined an invading group of partisans. This group executed a number of prominent Germans, Magyars and Serbs. Some of the latter were executed just beeause they pleaded on behalf of the Germans. In Obrowatz, the partisans and local Serbs tortured and executed 33 Germans, 6 Magyars and 2 Serbs after Russian troops moved on. At Towarisch, 36 of the 48 Germans that stayed behind were also killed.


Private Persons
Personal revenge was also a motive for the murder of individual Germans. A tragic example is what happened at Homolitz. When the males between 14 and 70 years were led away for execution, the Serbs decided to spare the locksmith Kudjer since he was deemed to be useful. His young son, also in the group pleaded: "Father, don't leave me." He replied, "Son, I stay with you." The son would have also been released because of his young age, but as eyewitnesses testified, a young Serb of the same age objected because the two boys had a previous quarrel. So he also had to die; a revenge for a quarrel among children.

The Local People's Liberation Committee
Some local People's Liberation Committee (NOO=Narodno Oslobodilacki Odbor) took a liberal interpretation of the Declaration of Jajee as an opportunity to liquidate influential Germans without formal court action by branding them "Enemies of the People," "Fascists" or "Supporters of the Occupation."
At India, Syrmia, on November 11, 1944 nine men were executed. The following day an additional 64 persons, among them children, were killed with a hand grenade or beaten to death with hatchets. The names of the torturers and murderers are registered in the India chronicle.
At Sombor, Batschka, November 5, 1944, 52 men from Kolut were taken to the OZNA jail. They all perished there.


Revenge Groups and "People's Courts"
Serbian revenge groups in the part of the Batschka, which was occupied by Hungary during the war, took revenge on the Magyars for executions committed by the Hungarian military during a 1942 raid. The Serbs from Schajkasch and Tschurug are reported to have personally asked Tito for permission to take revenge on the Hungarians, which was granted. (Reported by the Hungarian historian Enikö A. Sajti.) The ethnic Germans, who had nothing to do with the Hungarian military actions, were nevertheless included in the orgiastic murders.
The "People's Court" for the areas of Batschka, Banat and Baranja instructed the partisans to collect several thousand men, mainly Hungarians and Germans but also Serbian intellectuals and trucked 2,500 of them at night to the forest near the Danube where they were shot and dumped into mass graves. This massacre is also documented by Hungarian sources.
Beginning 1945 the Communist leaders stopped the actions against ethnic Hungarians due to political reasons: Hungary had to be considered a "socialistic brother country." The barbarous extermination of the ethnic Germans, however, continued until1948.


The Military Courts of the Partisans
Immediately after conquering an area, the partisans declared martial law and court-martialed important German personalities. The most striking example was the case of Dr. Philipp Popp, Bishop of the German Protestant Church of Yugoslavia. On the pretext that he was a collaborator, he was sentenced to death and shot on June 29, 1945.
It was evident that the military courts and prisons of the partisans' army served the power-grab strategy of the partisan regime. They were used according to their policy to achieve their "political cleansing." In the Batschka, former German soldiers and members of the Schwäbisch-Deutscher Kulturbund (Swabian German Cultural Society) were picked up and shipped to the military prison at Sombor.


The OZNA
The Germans in cities and county seats were particularly targeted for murder by the OZNA (acronym for Office for the Protection of the People), the secret police of the partisan movement. It was established in 1944 by the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (KPJ). The head of the national OZNA was Alexander Rankovic. He was simultaneously Secretary of the KPJ. All heads of the regions (Republics) were important functionaries and simultaneously members of the regional KP (political arm of the Communist party). The regional OZNA organizations selected their victims rather arbitrarily and according to their own criteria. They arrested well-known ethnic German citizens, members of the "Deutsche Mannschaft" and alleged saboteurs. Particularly notorious was the OZNA central prison at Sombor (Batschka).
Generally speaking, the OZNA was the main instrument of the Communists power-grab strategy and served to carry out the "political cleansing" in the conquered territories.


Aktion Intelligenzija
Beginning about the middle of October 1944, mobile execution commandos in the Banat and Batschka began entering the communities and arresting leading, respected and well-off Germans - sometimes against the objections of local Slavic citizens. The victims were later cruelly tortured and murdered.
Targeted were also "leading heads" of the communities, occasionally also Slavic followers of the previous monarchy, former leaders of the bourgeois-Serbian parties, industrialists, well-off trades people, rich farmers, professionals, clergy and intellectuals. All persons that were categorized as "capitalists," "class enemies" and potential "counter-revolutionaries." Most were males. The selection of these persons indicates their liquidation was carried out according to the Stalinistic pattern. Evidently, the purpose of these actions was to remove the leadership, intimidate the people and make them obedient.


The Question of Responsibility
The first six groups that carried out the executions and murders of the ethnic Germans operated during the reign of the partisan military administration. The leadership, with the active support of Tito, allowed the OZNA, local committees, "People's Courts" and individuals to wantonly persecute alleged "Enemies of the People," "Fascists" and "Supporters of the Occupiers."
The Aktion Intelligenzija was obviously planned, organized and directed by the fanatic Stalinist communists Moscha Pijade and Alexander Rankovic. But also here, Tito is mainly responsible since nothing could be done without the "highest authority's" consent.
Other fully responsible top leaders were Edward Kardelj and Ivan Ribar. Commander of the Military Administration in the Banat 1944/45 was Jovan Beljanski ("Lala"). Toma Granfil was Politkommissar. Commander of the Military Administration of the Batschka was Ivan Rukavina. Secretary of the communist party for the province of Wojvodina was Jovan Veselinov Zarko. The OZNA chief Vid Dodik was commander of all concentration camps in Wojwodina.


Description of Specific Events

The following are just a few examples out of many similar gruesome events that took place during the "Bloody Autumn" of 1944.


Banat
In most of the reports on the events the handwriting of the OZNA and Aktion Intelligenzija was evident. As a rule, a few days after occupying the communities, the victims selected for execution were taken from the communities to the county headquarters, tortured for days and then murdered. Occasionally, mass executions also took place in the individual villages. Most of the inhumane atrocities were committed against the Danube Swabians in Deutsch-Zerne.
After the retreat of the German armed forces, a spontaneously organized group of Serbs, Russian soldiers and gypsies turned into a psychotic victory and hate orgy, resulting initially in mass rapes of German women and girls and looting. At least 55 persons (documented by names) committed suicide out of despair and sense of shame. The local report describes the following sequence of events: "On October 5, 1944, at 2 p.m., the first Russian troops appear. Already at 3 p.m. the first German men, including Father Franz Brunet are beaten to death or shot to death. At the same time, a large number of German men are already locked up in the Serbian town hall. On October 6, Peter Schweininger with his horse-drawn wagon has to report to the town hall (where all crimes were committed) and is beaten to death. A drunken soldier starts shooting wildly in the cellar, killing five and wounding four people. Margareta Themare, according to her own testimony, and two other women, have to report to the town hall; eleven women are already there. The first corpse is brought out and thrown onto the wagon. A young Serb and a gypsy command the women to start singing otherwise they would be shot too. They sing till all the dead are on the wagon, then they have to run behind the wagon, clapping their hands... At the 'Schinderplatz' (knacker's yard), a gang of gypsies with shovels is already waiting. The women have to take the wagon of the murdered owner back and are then released into the town hall...
"On October 24, 1944, around 4 p.m., the first group of men and women, all from Deutsch-Zerne, tied in pairs by wire to a rope, are led to the 'Schinderplatz.' Young Serbs and gypsies with clubs escort the column and commit excesses at will. Those collapsing during the march are clubbed and dragged along. The 'column of death' is flanked by Serbian men and boys with cow bells. Church bells are ringing also.
"On this day three groups are being executed. Head executioner of all three groups is the female partisan leader Ljubica from the Batschka, who lives in the Catholic rectory. All the victims have to undress; those unable to do so are undressed by the gypsies. In groups of five to six, they have to stand before the grave and are executed with machine guns. Meanwhile several hundred Serbs have congregated as spectators. The next group of victims always has to push down the bodies of the previously shot who did not fall into the hole. There are some in the pit who are not yet dead and their death struggles evoke laughter from the spectators. The bodies are not covered with soil to leave space for the next two groups. At dusk the second group is not quite finished yet and the third is disposed of by moonlight. Towards 9 p.m., having completed the executions, the partisans return singing to the village."
Already on October 7, one day after the occupation of the town Gross-Kikinda (30,000 inhabitants, 6,000 ethnic Germans) in the Nordbanat, a prison was set up for German men. The first mass executions took place on October 7 or 8, 1944. Twenty eight Germans were murdered on this first day. Starting October 10 the Milchhalle (milk hall) initially became the annihilation station for the Kikinda district and then the central civilian camp for the Germans of the entire northern Banat.
For days, those imprisoned were subjected to inhuman, sadistic tortures. The ones that did not succumb were shot do death. Wantonly the partisans pulled out some Germans. Before killing them, they were usually horribly tortured, then beaten to death or butchered with knives like pigs. They first killed the wealthy Germans of the entire district so the partisans did not have to account for the stolen property. Among the first victims were also the intellectuals and Father Michael Rotten of Kikinda. German men from the North Banat and the Modosch district were concentrated in the Milchhalle and there tortured to death. November 5, 1944 became a bloody Sunday. About 100 men were selected and murdered that day.
Rose Mullarczyk writes about the butchering in the Milchhalle:

"On November 3, 1944 I was an eye-witness of the first slaughter of a larger group of men. Individual people were already previously liquidated. This group of 22 men, among them two I knew from our neighboring village, were fiendishly murdered. First, the men were disrobed, had to lie down, their hands tied behind their back. Then they were subjected to a terrible lashing with whips. Then, strips of flesh were cut from their bodies. Some had their noses, tongues, ears or genitals cut off. Their eyes were cut out and in between, the beatings continued. I could witness all these terrible atrocities since I was at that time, together with another female prisoner in a room on the ground floor. The victims screamed, convulsing in pain. This went on for about an hour, then the screams became weaker and eventually ceased. Even on the next day, when we walked across the yard, one could find tongues, eyes, ears and other human body parts lying all over and the entire yard was covered with blood."
The three sister communities Charleville, Soltur, and St. Hubert with 3,300 inhabitants, of which 3,050 were ethnic Germans were almost exclusively German settlements. On October 6, 1944 the Russian troops entered without resistance. Indescribable scenes of rape by the Soviet soldiers and partisans and looting, in which civilian Serbs and gypsies from the surrounding villages participated, took place. From October till mid-December 1944, 180 Germans (documented by name) were murdered. Most of them were shipped previously to the Milchhalle Gross-Kikinda.


Some Specific Atrocities
On October 11, 1944 Adam Weissmann, a well-known farmer, was immediately tortured to death. The next day five additional men and two 15-year old youths were arrested and locked in the town hall. After a drinking bout, the partisans began a gruesome torture process. The victims were burned behind their ears with red-hot phosphorous rods and their soles beaten with bullwhips. Their screams were heard in all the surrounding houses. On October 17 they were taken to Gross-Kikinda where they disappeared without a trace.
During the night of October 31, 1944 the partisans surrounded the three villages, gathered in St. Hubert all the men they could capture including those working at the railroad and took them to Milchhalle Gross- Kikinda. Altogether there were about 70 men from Charleville, 93 from St. Hubert and 76 from Soltur. Their executions lasted until the end of November 1944. The Catholic priest Anton Adam was among them.
Dr. Wilhelm Neuner who served as presiding judge during the war period reported the gruesome events at Grossbetschkerek (35,000 inhabitants, of which 7,500 were ethnic Germans). The town's name was later changed to Zrenjanin.
"On the day the Russians came, a local Serbian government formed which, however, was changed on October 10 when Communist partisan troops from Syrmia arrived and took over control. Already on their first day after assuming control they closed off in the western part of the city those streets that had mainly ethnic Germans. Groups of partisans, including women in partisan uniforms moved from house to house and classified all their occupants. Where they found a German man or youth they chased him out of the house. The only question he had to answer was: 'Are you German?' When he answered in the affirmative, the short order issued was: 'tie-up and execute.' End of interrogation.
"Then all these ethnic German civilians, about 300, were beaten, tortured and dragged to the Serbian part of town. In the court yard of one of the houses they had to undress and were chased, in groups of ten, into the street and to a long brick wall. There they had to kneel and were shot from behind. Then the partisans brought some wagons onto which they tossed the murdered victims. At the end of the town where the partisans had already dug a pit they dumped the bodies."
In October 1994, a partisan unit appeared at the South Banat town of Karlsdorf/Banatski Karlovac (3,600 inhabitants, 250 of different nationalities) and requested a number of Germans to be executed. The local Serbs, however, refused to hand any over, stating that there were no guilty ones. Thereupon a new unit appeared on November 4, arrested a number of prominent ethnic Germans and tortured them in the city hall. There were 28 males age 22-71 and 6 women 19-38 including the pregnant Maria Pursch. Among the men, the priest Peter Weber, two physicians and the attorney Dr. Jozo Rogitsch who served as Minister for Sport and Physical Education in the Stojadinovic government were included. The detained were placed on horse-drawn wagons and taken to the county seat Weisskirchen.
During the trip Maria Pursch went into labor. She was taken off the wagon, shot in the militia building of Jasenovo and buried there. It was a double-murder. At Weisskirchen the other prisoners were tortured and executed November 8 or 11, 1944.
The partisan rule in Kubin/Kovin, a community of 8,000 (2,300 ethnic Germans) was particularly cruel. They occupied the mixed ethnic community on October 2, 1944. According to the report of Johann Fischer, the first arrests and torture of leading personalities, including the mayor Sava Gulubic, started already the next day. During the persecutions that begun by the middle of October, one girl was hung with wire slings in a doorframe and split in half with a butcher hatchet. Fischer also states that he was an eyewitness when Hilde Kucht, leader of a women's society, had her breasts cut open and pieces of flesh cut from her abdomen. Several people were tarred, bound together in a group and set aflame. Such burnings were also carried out on barges which then floated as flaming torches down the Danube. The 54-year old Jakob Filtschek was sawed apart alive. One hundred and eight murdered victims of Kubin are documented by name in volume IV of the document Series Leidensweg.
Ernsthausen (Personal experiences of Ladislaus Schag and his daughter Elisabeth Flassak, née Schag.)
During the months of October/November all men in the village that could be tracked down (old men as well as teen-age youths) were herded into the Betschkerek death camp, including Ladislaus Schag.

In the first few days, 24 succumbed to the terrible tortures and lack of nourishment. The camp was also known as a "death mill" and the dead were taken away by the cart-loads. Later on those about to die were shipped out of the camp and into the surrounding villages.
One week before Christmas, Ladislaus Schag was one of them, together with 38 other victims, who were taken to Ernsthausen.
They were completely exhausted, their skin covered with sores and dirt from all the beatings. They were too weak to step down from the wagon and village dwellers had to assist them. One of these unfortunate fell down and could not get up. A partisan shoved his rifle into his stomach and the man made one more attempt, fell back and died. After the few weeks at the Betschkerek death camp, Ladislaus Schag became so disfigured that his own daughter did not recognize him. She found him among the rags and wrapped in the inner linings of his coat, shriveled to a skeleton but still alive. The local commander allowed her to take him home; all others, including the two Modosch villagers Ernst Wabersinke and Mathias Fuderer, were thrown into the Schlitter Inn.
The partisans began getting drunk. During the night they brought the prisoners out to the bowling alley, one at a time. They had to bend over and received axe blows to their back. The mortally struck bodies convulsed while the partisans erupted in sadistic laughter. The apparently lifeless bodies were then hacked into pieces to be buried in the neighborhood manure piles. This, however was not possible since everything was frozen. The next morning some old men from the neighborhood were chased out to load the dismembered pieces onto a horse-drawn wagon and taken to the cemetery. It took three wagons, dripping with blood to complete the transport, watched by the horrified inhabitants.
A young partisan from a Hungarian neighborhood village was standing guard and watched the whole event. He was still in shock when he reported the occurrence to Elisabeth Schag. The inn was covered with splattered blood, pieces of human hair and bloody axes. Some of the old men, before they died, also told their wives.
Glogon is a community belonging to the district of Pantschowa. It had a population of about 2,500, mostly ethnic Germans. One hundred and fourteen citizens, recorded by name, were murdered. Innkeeper Anton Scherer relates the following events:
"One day the village drummer announced that everybody had to report for work at the airport. The second day the workers were herded together into a group. Some were released but the rest, about 160, were tied together and chased to Opovo. There they were driven into the marsh and shot. Among them were two of my brothers, Ignaz and Martin. At home the partisans went from house to house. Each was accompanied by a Romanian who showed them where Germans lived. Thus they collected all the men between 15-72 years of age. The partisans came from Syrmia and were much dreaded. On that day many men were murdered including the Catholic village priest."
Homolitz in the county of Pantschowa had about 5,200 residents, over half ethnic Germans. On October 3, 1944 Serbs and gypsies took over the administration of the town. Overnight, local Serbs became partisans, however, it was the mobs that were the rulers. Russians and partisans raped women and girls. One girl, only 14 years old, was raped at gunpoint in front of her parents by five Russian soldiers. On October 27, an execution squad of the Sremska brigade appeared and surrounded the village. The partisans of the brigade, led by locals, went from house to house and arrested all male German youths and men between 14-70. They took them to an inn and wrote down their names and occupations. Fifteen to twenty craftsmen were sorted out for later use and the rest taken to a tile shed at Donauried. There they had to strip and stand in front of a previously dug pit. Machine gun bursts ended the lives of 173 youths and men. Up to the end of the year 1944, 49 additional men and women of Homolitz were murdered.
Mramorak in the Kubin district had a population of about 5,200, half ethnic Germans. One week before the October 6 occupation, the partisans had already murdered mayor Johann Spahn and notary W. Walter, kidnapped five men, two women and two girls while working in the field and tortured them to death. On October 10, 105 men, distinguished citizens, farmers and German soldiers on furlough, were captured, tortured, shackled and killed in the neighboring community of Bawanischte. One hundred and forty six Germans from Mramorak, recorded by name, perished even before the general internment had begun.
The city of Pantschowa had about 22,000 inhabitants, about 8,000 ethnic Germans. Before the internment 222 of these, recorded by name, were murdered. Immediately after the occupation by the Russians and partisans and the resulting rapes and pillage, all men were arrested. Some were held in a camp at the Fischplatz; men of the intellectual level and women in the Stockhaus jail. A partisan court martial dispensed the sentences. Each morning women and wealthy intellectuals, after night-long torture, were led out and shot. Then, a few days later, all the other jailed inmates, shackled together with wire, were herded through the city and executed as well. Among those executed were member of parliament Dr. Simon Bartmann, attorney Dr. Bartosch and jeweler Boleschni. By the end of October, all still alive were chased to the 25 km distant Banat-Brestowatz and put into local German houses. Those who could no longer walk were shot on the spot.
The village of Startchowa/Starcevo had a population of 3,645 of which 850 were Germans and 1,000 Croats. The pillage began October 1, 1944; partisans and gypsies took whatever they wanted, "in the name of the people." On October 20, a Russian and local Communists, after a nocturnal drinking bout, executed the first seven Germans in the city park, "just for their amusement." The next day 300 men of a special commando of the Sremska brigade arrived. They took all the men and several youths to the inn, beat them with belts, chains, sticks, forks and rifle butts. Except for seven, all 86 - the youngest was only 14, the oldest over 70 - were tied up in pairs and during the night taken out into the marsh. There the gypsies were already waiting with lanterns in front of excavated pits. Machine gun bursts killed all the prisoners except a 15-year old. He was able to loosen his shackles, crawl out and escape. During the months of October and November, 108 men and women were murdered.
The city of Werschetz/Vrsac had 29,000 inhabitants, almost 12,000 ethnic Germans. On October 2, 1944, after heavy fighting, the Russians and partisans occupied the city. During the month of October about 700 German civilians were murdered. Pastor Neumann reports: "The Russians behaved like rabid animals. They raped women and girls and took with them whatever they wanted." On October 3rd the partisans started with the detentions, resulting in the murder of 136 citizens. After a hidden German soldier shot a Russian major, a large number of farmers, just starting their trip home from working in the vineyards, were arrested and executed the next day. "Cheering gypsies and partisans tossed the dead onto wagons," writes Maria Nadaschdy, another eyewitness. Eighty-one of the killed are recorded by name. Johann Bless, also an eyewitness counted 124 killed. On October 23rd, 35 well-to-do citizens were taken from their homes, tortured for two days in the jail and disappeared without a trace; among them school director Nikolaus Arnold. On October 17 (or 25) Mayor Géza Frisch and five prominent citizens were chased through the city and executed at the Schinderplatz. The rest of the men were locked up at the Stojkovic-Telep. It was always at sundown that they were trucked to their executions. Serbian loyal monarchists were also among the victims.
Zichydorf/Veliko Plandiste in the Werschetz district had a population of about 3,300, almost 2,000 were ethnic Germans. One hundred forty nine of them became victims of the Aktion Intelligenzija. Most of the men jailed in the village hall during October did not survive their tortures. On November 2, 1944 about 200 partisans disembarked from a freight train and arrested all males age 14-70, in total 350 persons. They were taken to the Stoikovic-Telep at Werschetz which had acquired the sad reputation as being the execution camp for the Danube Swabians of the South Banat. There about 160 males from Zichydorf were executed, according to the Zichydorf home town book.


Batschka
The mass executions and other murders (by stabbing, beating, etc) in the Batschka during the Aktion Intelligenzija in the individual communities were, as a rule, carried out in a single day or night. This happened for instance in Bajmok, Bezdan, Filipowa, Hodschag, Kischker, Kolut, Obrowatz, Palanka and Weprowatz. The "special commandos" selected male youths from age 16 and adults up to 60 for executions. In the Banat, from 14 to 70.
Notorious was Sombor, the former regional capital of the Batschka with 32,300 inhabitants (2,500 Germans) with its Kronics-Palais, which the OZNA confiscated and converted into its central prison, and the Zupanija (district administration building). Both buildings also served as the partisans' military court.
Helene Rajal, who was arrested on November 20 in Apatin and taken to the notorious Palais, had to take food to the prisoners who were locked in a garage. She describes the conditions of that place: "About 150 men in chains were in this garage for seven weeks. The chains were so tight that the men had sores on their hands. During the seven weeks the chains were not removed once, not even for eating or performing bodily functions. Their clothing was scant and infested with lice. During the cold December days, they had to lie down on the concrete floor of the unheated garage. It was only at Christmas 1944 that a new judge arrived from Neusatz and ordered the chains removed for Christmas Eve." Rajal herself was sentenced to six months forced labor at a partisan hospital because she was a member of the Bourgeoisie.
Besides the Germans from Apatin (13,400 inhabitants of which 11,700 were Germans), the Germans from Kolut, a multi-ethnic village in the district Sombor, were one of the larger groups in the Kronics-Palais. They consisted of 52 Germans and other nationals. None of them survived.
A particularly bestial crime was committed in the multi-ethnic community Batsch-Brestowatz (8,500 inhabitants, 4,450 Germans). Magdalene Thorer, after her escape from the camp, described how the partisans summoned her to the deathbed of a Brestowatz Serb and forced to forgive the dying man, who considered himself a murderer. He confessed that he participated in the murder of her brother Stefan and eleven other Brestowatz Germans. He narrated how these men had to bury each other up to the neck in a field outside the community. Then their heads were bashed in or hacked off. Only after Magdalena Thorer forgave the murderer of her brother, was he able to die.
The district of Palanka experienced the first partisan actions against the ethnic Germans since it was situated at the front line and for a long time German troops were stationed on the other side of the river Danube. The city of Palanka had a population of about 13,200, about 6,800 ethnic Germans. The first partisans appeared on October 20, 1944 and a few days later also partisans from Syrmia who were particularly rough. According to Dr. Wilhelm Neuner, president of the local court, the partisans committed terrible massacres during the very first days of the occupation: they murdered 15-17 year old youths. On October 26, they arrested, tortured and murdered between 80-100 men, particularly prominent citizens and those considered, in the eyes of partisans, to be "capitalists." On November 17 all so-called higher-educated from all communities within the Palanka district were executed.
According to Nikolaus Dietrich, in the community Kischker/Backo Dobro Polje (population 3,660, 3,500 Germans) 77 of the 139 documented victims of the Aktion Intelligenzija were women. Usually they were almost all men. On November 9, 1944 the partisans picked out names from a list and took them to the town hall. Men and women were separated by gender and crowded into separate small rooms that gave them hardly space to breathe. The partisans continuously threatened to execute them, pushing the poor victims even closer together. After midnight the execution squad arrived. The trembling men and women were taken out one by one and hauled into the interrogation room. A woman whose life was spared relates the following procedure: When brought into the room the interrogator screamed at her, asking if she was a member of the Kulturbund (Cultural Society) and where her husband was. When she answered that they had to be in the Kulturbund otherwise their son could not have attended the German high school and that her husband was also here, the judge, flanked by a partisan with whip, shouted: "Group 2." The interrogated were separated into two groups. Her husband was put into group 1. Those in group 2 were spared, group 1 was murdered. Twenty-two men and fifty-six women age 20-70, among them mothers, were torn from their babies. One mother left behind five children under 12 years of age. "My grandparents had a son, two daughters, two daughters-in-law, one son-in-law and two grand daughters among the murdered."
According to the Danube Swabian Karl Mengel who did not flee his hometown Werbass/Vrbas (13,900 inhabitants, 7,900 Germans) the partisans occupied the city without resistance. Werbass was the most important school center for the ethnic Germans in the Wojwodina. The executions began towards the end of October. Initially 20 respected citizens and one woman, they are recorded by name, were herded together, tortured and shot at the cemetery. The same fate happened to three young soldiers who had returned home. Repeatedly Germans were taken from their homes and disappeared without a trace.
Mengel quotes: "Interventions by known Serbs were fruitless. The leader of the partisans was a certain Anton Heller, 28 years old. He was conscripted by the Germans into a so-called "work unit," serving on Germany's eastern front and deserted to the Russians. With the advancing Russian army he returned to his hometown Neuwerbass and assumed a leading role among the partisans. Under his command 22 workers from the sugar factory, Germans as well as Hungarians, were arrested and put to death."
According to Mengel, the Aktion Intelligenzija at Werbass took place during the nights of November 19, 21 and 23. A Serbian acquaintance reported to him that on these days 150 Germans and the same number of Hungarians were rounded up and beaten. At midnight they were shackled to a long wire and chased nude to the central cemetery. In groups of two they had to stand before the pit and were executed by neck shots. Among the executed was Jakob Lotz, the former director of the Werbass Serbian high school. These reports are based on statements of Karl Schimony, who was only wounded and able to crawl out of the pit and saved by the Serb shoemaker Novo, performing guard duty. One hundred and one of the murdered Germans are documented by name.
On January 20,1945, all Germans of Werbass still at liberty were interned at the Seidenfabrik (silk factory) at Werbass which then began to function as the notorious Central Civilian Camp.
November 23, 1994 became the "Black Day" for the district city of Hodschag/Odzaci (5,900 inhabitants, 4,750 Germans). On that day a partisan commando that supposedly belonged to the Krajiska brigade arrived at Hodschag. Anton Mathes reports on the actions of this troop:
"On November 23 they started a large scale raid; 181 men and two women were herded into the house of photographer Johann Raab. Meanwhile, 40 young people dug a large mass grave in a field along the road to Karawukowa. At that time the city council consisted of three Serbs: Dobranov, Urbas and Pavkov. They knew what was going to happen and succeeded to free some of the prisoners. Thus, innkeeper Franz Kraus, merchant Ladislaus Kollmann and Hans Petko were saved. The three Serbs genuinely tried to prevent the mass murder, however, without success. Towards midnight the prisoners had to undress and line up in rows of four and were marched to the mass grave. There they were brutally murdered and the corpses thrown into the pit which was then closed. Hans Mayer was the only one who managed to escape during the night. For many days the mass grave was guarded and nobody allowed to go near."
The murder of men and youths of Filipowa/Backi Gracac (an entirely ethnic German community of 3,500) in the Hodschag/Odzaci district during the night of November 25 was probably the peak - at least as far as the number of victims was concerned - and the end of the "Bloody Autumn" in the Wojwodina.
These were the sequences of events, as researched by Dr. Georg Wildmann: "The evening of November 24, a squad of partisans, belonging to the Krajiska brigade arrived at the village. On the 25th they surrounded the village. After the morning mass the "Kleinrichter" went through the village and announced: All males between 16-60 have to report immediately to the village hall. Anybody not doing so and caught by the partisans will be executed on the spot. Towards 9 o'clock more than 300 men and youths congregated at the village hall. Towards 10 o' clock they were ordered into the fenced churchyard and to form into files of four. A table was brought and some Serbian clerks sat down. Two partisan officers were in command, one Serb and one Hungarian. Then the men and youths were motioned to the table, their names recorded and divided into two groups. Early afternoon the larger group of 212 had to form lines of four. Partisans stood between them. A leader, on horseback, assumed command as the condemned moved out of the village, watched by horrified women and children behind drawn curtains. The church clock struck 3 p.m. The ones left behind, about 100, were chased into the church and locked up for the night. If a villager showed himself as the condemned left the village he was shot at immediately. At one of these shots fired by the commander, his horse rose up and the commander wounded himself and fell from the horse. He was said to have died the next day. Some distance outside the village the procession stopped. In spite of the silence imposed on the participating partisans, the family members were able to learn of the tragic events that transpired. Camp inmates who were bought out as workers by Wojwodina Slavs obtained some of the details from their masters.
"First the men were asked to squeal on each other. He who would tell which ones of the co-prisoners is a member of the Swabian Cultural Society (Schwäbisch-Deutscher Kulturbund) would be freed. Nobody squealed. That's when the tortures started. The execution commando was reinforced to 50 men: Serbs, Slovaks, Bunjewatz and Hungarians from the Batschka. A Bunjewatz recognized Ludwig Vogl, the Filipowa pharmacist and requested that he be released, since he knew he was not guilty. Arguments started and a major part of the Wojwodin men joined the Bunjewatz in refusing to participate in the torture and execution of the Filipowa men. A messenger on horseback was dispatched to notify the higher-ups of the situation. He returned the same night with the order that the protesters should be immediately withdrawn."
An eye-witness from Piwnitz told Sister Lea Helfert of the "Armen Schwestern" (the Poor Sisters), who was still spared from the camp: "In 1944, I was drafted into the 'Heimatschutz' (Home Guard) and had to participate in the 'cleansing action' on November 25, 1944. I was not with the armed guards but with the ones who had to hold together the ropes so nobody could run away. What I tell you now I'll never be able to forget in all my life. Most of the men prayed and made the sign of the cross before they were shot to death. When both father and son were together, the father made the sign of the cross on his son's forehead, before they were executed."
At Roth-Sallasch they chased the men onto the hay-meadow that contained pits which were used to protect the anti-aircraft guns of the former German airfield. The men had to undress in front of these pits and then were beaten to death or shot. Bunjewatzen citizens who, unarmed, also had to participate reported to Father Friedrich Gillich the screams and praying which only ceased after the last victim expired. This unholy night gave them endless nightmares. Victims of this massacre included 35 youths age 16-19. Officially all 212 murdered were termed "Fascists" and "War Criminals."


Syrmia
Fortunately most Danube Swabians of Syrmia were evacuated. However, the fate of the ones that stayed behind was tragic. In the multi-ethnic community India/Indija (8,100 inhabitants, 5,900 Germans), it was the local Volksbefreiungsauschuss (People's Liberation Committee) which cruelly persecuted the ethnic Germans that stayed behind.
On November 11, 1944, nine well-known men were summoned to the school yard, tied with wire and chased to Alt-Pasua 8 km away. On the way they were beaten with clubs and guns. There they had to dig their graves and then were executed by a machine gun salvo. Gypsies with hatchets in their hands checked whether all were dead and split their heads. Some Croats from the area were also murdered.
On November 12, more prisoners were taken from the Hungarian school, two prisoners tied together and each was also tied around the waist with a rope. Then they were chased to the village hall, cussed at and mistreated on the way, particularly by the gypsies. At that time a messenger arrived from Semlin requesting workers for a Russian commando. After these were selected and dispatched, the rest of the prisoners were divided into three groups. The first consisted of six men, women and children. They were told that they now were taken home; but instead they were taken to the Schinderhaus, horribly tortured and herded into a room. The Serb Toso Vujanic then threw a hand grenade into the room, which tore apart many of the occupants. Those still alive were butchered or beaten to death with hatchets. During this massacre, conducted under the command of a Kommissar and a female partisan, the butchers sang partisan songs. (A local record names the participating Serbs.)
At Semlin/Zemun, a suburb of Belgrade (28,000 inhabitants, 8,350 Germans) immediately following the occupation the partisans arrested hundreds of ethnic Germans. Of the ones they murdered during the night of November 3rd, 241 are documented by name.
The local records read as follows: "The first unit of the partisans came from Beschania. Three days after their arrival posters appeared in the entire city announcing that on October 29, 30 and 31 all Germans had to report for work to the Salzamt. Anybody not following this order will be shot immediately, without a court martial." A great panic broke out among the Germans that had stayed behind.
Responsible citizens as they had always been, the majority of the Semlin and Franztal Germans reported to the Salzamt. With very few exceptions, none of them survived the trip. An eyewitness reports: "When I arrived the next day I found over seven hundred people crowded together in a small space; men, women and adolescents but mainly older people. Since I was delivering milk for a municipal institution, I was taken out of the Salzamt by the Serbian manager. In the night of November 3, all those that had reported to the Salzamt disappeared... "
A woman who wanted to bring food to one of the persons held did not find anyone, only big piles of their clothing in the hallway. The next day, a Franztal worker who did not report to the Salzamt was told by a coworker at the electricity plant: "Last night they took your fellow-countrymen past this plant, stripped and tied together two-by-two." The electricity plant was situated at the Danube River. None were ever seen again.
After this occurrence, the German Communists, under the leadership of Alexander Mettler thought they could help their countrymen in Semlin and Franztal that were still alive. According to reliable sources, Mettler went to Belgrade to protest against the Partisans' actions in Semlin and asked for assistance. He was said to have gone to Moscha Pijade, one of the most influential members of the new govemment whom he personally knew from the time of the Communists persecution during the reign of the Yugoslav monarchy. Mettler, however, was supposed to have been told to keep out of this matter if he didn't want anything to happen to himself. Mettler and his comrades in the Communist party were no longer considered important and they were just able to save their own heads.
In November 1944, a similar bloodbath occurred at Ruma (13,400 inhabitants, 6,950 Germans). During many nights, numerous Germans were brutally murdered, initially at the Croatian center (Hrvatski Dom) and later at the Rausch brick works.
A. Kreuzer reports: "As soon as the partisans moved into Ruma during the Autumn 1944, they began a hunt for all ethnic Germans. The Germans from Ruma and surrounding communities that had remained in the Autonomous Republic of Croatia after evacuation of the German population were rounded up and jailed in the Croation Center. During the night a larger group of the partisan murderers, including a concertina player, arrived. They lined up in the second large hall. They all had daggers tied to the shaft of their boots or around the waist. The concertina player positioned himself in the doorway that led from one hall to the other. The ethnic Germans were ordered to lie down on the floor, closely together. When there was a deadly silence, the leader motioned to the concertina player who then played a Kolo-dance melody and the whole group danced into the hall. The murderous gang trampled over the motionless German bodies, continually shouting and cheering while they stabbed the humans under their feet until they had finished their butchering. During the next two nights the same bloody orgy was repeated with new groups of victims. Each morning German women had to wash the blood from the walls and floor."
Some reasonable Serbs apparently protested to the new rulers against the mass murdering in the center of Ruma. At any rate, the order came to discontinue the mass killing in the Croatian Center. Now the ethnic Germans were only herded together into the Croatian Center and, after midnight, stripped and chased to the Tausch brick works. The hands of each two prisoners were tied together with wire. At the brick works they again had to lie face down. The executioners stepped on the bodies of the condemned, illuminated their necks with flashlights and dispatched them with a bullet. This process lasted until there were no ethnic Germans left alive. The murdered were covered with lime.
A young man from Ruma was also shot in the neck but not dead, only unconscious. After the murderers left the scene he recovered consciousness and being on the top layer of the dead, was able to free himself. In spite of his wound he could flee into a cornfield and make his way across the border to Hungary.


Slavonia
Originally, the community of Walpach/Valpovo had a Gerrnan population of abaut 400. The death camp was set up in May 1945 to house the ethnic Germans of Slavonia. It closed in May, 1946. About 3,000 inmates were crowded together and 1,000-2,000 perished during the 12 month period, mainly due to typhus and dysentery.
The barracks, surrounded by barbed wire, had no window panes and were boarded up. There was no electricity nor heating. Those who could not find a place inside had to sleep out in the open, in all weather conditions. The courtyard was often a mud patch; leaking roofs also soaked the people inside.
Inmates had to report for work at 6 am, most had only torn clothing, their feet wrapped in rags or even barefoot. The meager food rations consisted of leaf tea for breakfast, a watery soup for lunch and in the evening again soup with some occasional left over potato or bean peels. The daily ration of coarse corn bread was 100-150 grams. No fat nor salt. As an unusual twist, at times people over 60 received a ration of sugar. Ten days later hundreds died. It was probably poisoned.
Typhus and dysentery raged and the highest daily death rate reached up to 32. It was only in April 1946 when barrels of DDT powder arrived from the USA that the epidemics started to decline.
On July 22, 1945 an attempt was made to expel 1,800 inmates to Austria. However, the British occupation authorities refused to accept them and they had to be returned to the Valpova and Kerndia camps.
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