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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

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



GENOCIDE
of the Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia
1944-1948
Genocide

(B)




Chapter 5

Central Civilian Internment 
and Labor Camps Overview

The internment of the Danube Swabians in Yugoslavia in central civilian labor camps began October 1944; the internment of the Gottscheer and German Untersteirer took place at the end of the war. By August 1945, all communities of Yugoslavia were cleansed of their ethnic German inhabitants. Only Germans married to other nationalities or the few that had joined the partisans, were spared from confiscation of property and internment.
In their process of the complete annihilation of Yugoslavia's ethnic Germans, the Communists established three types of camps: work camps, central civilian camps and "special camps." The latter served as liquidation camps for those unable to work.
In July and August 1945, the central camps and work camps reached their maximum capacity of about 120,000 civilian internees, of which over 100,000 came from the Banat and Batschka. They consisted mainly of marginally ablebodied men and women.
There were ten central camps in the Banat, nine in the Batschka and one in Syrmia and about 200 work camps under the jurisdiction of the central camps. Almost each community with more than 200-300 German inhabitants maintained a work camp, consisting mostly of empty, pillaged German houses. The situation was somewhat different in Slavonia, therefore central, work and extermination camps of this region are presented together.
The central camps were set up primarily in existing barracks or former factories. Some were filled with several thousand internees in cramped facilities. These camps served, particularly in the Banat, during the "bloody autumn 1944" as the partisans' torture and execution stations.
The central camps allocated laborers to its work camps. The food provided for the forced laborers was usually completely insufficient. Starting in spring 1946 Slavs and Magyars could "buy" laborers for a day, month or longer periods (payable to the camps commander; the prisoners did not receive any remuneration). For those lucky ones, it was often a life-saving opportunity. The condition in the central camps often resembled those in the liquidation camps. This is borne out by the fact that about 12,000 men and women, mostly of able-bodied age, perished between the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1948.




Central Camps in the Banat
Milchhalle at Gross-Kikinda/Kikinda Already by the middle of October 1944, immediately after the take-over by the Russians and partisans, it became a torture and murder camp for over 1,000 defenseless civilians. Subsequently, it was the central camp for the northern part of the Banat until the end of 1946.
Alte Mühle at Gross-Betschkerek/Zrenjanin It was probably the most gruesome execution camp for the Germans during the bloody autumn 1944 and then used as a central camp until May 1947.
Stoikowitch-Telep at Werschetz/Vrsac The town Werschetz, in the South-Banat was also notorious for the murders committed there. After the killing-orgies of the "bloody autumn 1944" came to an end, it served as a central camp.
Stockhaus at Weisskirchen/Bela Crkva This building too, was used for the torture and executions of hundreds of victims before it was transformed into a Southeast central camp of the Banat.
Schuschara/Susara On December 24, 1944, the whole village was declared a central camp for the German civilians of the surrounding area. For a time, children, old and ill civilians were housed there as well. It existed until spring 1947.
Karlsdorf/Banatski Karlovac Established April 27, 1945; it also contained children and old people until October 1945, when they were transferred to the liquidation camp Rudolfsgnad. At Karlsdorf 1,000 occupants, including 400 documented by name, died of starvation.
Fischplatz at Pantschowa/Pancevo This camp was established November 1944 and dissolved February 22, 1948. The conditions in the overcrowded barracks were horrible and led to diseases and epidemics. The commander, a cruel female named Radojka, indulged in torturing the defenseless victims.
Banat-Brestowatz/Banatski Brestovac November 1944 - early 1948. This camp contained, among many others, several thousand inhabitants of the city of Pantschowa, unable to work, until October 1945, when they were shipped to the liquidation camp Rudolfsgnad.
Seidenfabrik at Kubin/Kovin Towards the end of 1944, after termination of the murderous "Aktion Intelligenzija," this silk spinning mill was made into the central camp for the surrounding communities. It contained about 600 detainees.
Mramorak By the end of April 1945, all those inhabitants of Mramorak not yet interned, were put into several houses, together with children, ill and old people from the surrounding area. Beginning November 1945, they were all shipped to the liquidation camp Rudolfsgnad.




The Central Camps in the Batschka
Neusatz/Novi Sad Already in November 1944, the notorious central camp Neusatz was the first of its kind established on the swampy banks of the Danube River in the South-Batschka.
Initially it contained able-bodied men and women from the South Batschka region. After additional central camps were created, it became the main "trading center" for this modern slave-trade and engaged in a continuous exchange of inmates with other central and liquidation camps. The sick ones were shipped to the liquidation camps and exchanged for still somehow usable workers. From here, many were selected for the deportation to Russia at Christmas 1944.
Even though the camp had a steady occupation of 2,000, it consisted only of two windowless barracks and a notorious "bunker" of six square meters. For even the slightest trespass, inmates were thrown into the waterlogged structure. For many the long ordeal of standing in the water was fatal.
The numerous mistreatments and murders without court proceedings, even though the war was over, induced Dr. Wilhelm Neuner, formerly Oberlandesgericht Präsident (equivalent to president of a state appeals court) and also internee at the camp, to send written complaints to the ministry of the interior at Belgrade. These complaints were secretly smuggled out of the camp. For his courageous actions he was locked into the "bunker." He then was passed from camp to camp, but continued his written complaints and was eventually expelled to Hungary. The camp is said to have been closed during the last days of March 1948, when its occupancy was down to about 400. There are no records of how many of the inmates perished.
Palanka/Backa Palanka The central camp Palanka was set up in November 1944, containing 14-15 year old boys and 60-70 year old, able-bodied men from its surrounding area. Eventually it grew to an average of 600 internees.
Sombor The town of Sombor, as already mentioned in a previous chapter, turned out to be the "turn-table" for the persecution, internment and murder of the Germans in the West-Batschka. It was established in November 1944 and also had jurisdiction of the central camps Hodschag, Apatin and Filipowa.
Thousands of ethnic Germans were stuffed into the lice-infested barracks, often mistreated, insufficiently fed and forced to work weekdays as well as Sundays. Whoever became sick was immediately sent to the death-camp Gakowa which was established on March 12, 1945. The first camp commander was Rajko, the second one Dusan Kurepa. Both were cruel sadists, the second one even worse; he personally committed at least thirteen murders. He sent for his vietims, nearly beat them to death and then cut their throat. The camp was one of the last to be closed sometime in March 1948.
Apatin This town was originally inhabited by 12,000 Germans. During the winter the local camp, under the overall jurisdiction of Sombor, suffered from starvation. The camp commander, Mito Volic was particularly cruel. His deputy, Milivoj Beljanski from Sombor took girls from the camp into his apartment and raped them. Later he was demoted and dismissed. His successor tied women to trees, whipped them until they became unconscious and threw them naked into the cellar. His specialty was to electrify naked women's breasts and genitals.
Hodschag/Odzaci This camp too, fulfilled its purpose, particularly in the investigation and persecution of members of the "Kulturbund" (cultural society). Those arrested were never seen again.
Filipowa/Backi Gracac Because the liquidation camps Gakowa and Kruschiwl were overflowing by mid-1945, this camp was opened between mid-June to mid-October 1945 for able-bodied, as well as those unable to work, of the Hodschag area. In this short time about 250 perished due to starvation and epidemic diseases. By about October 1945, about 2,000 had died of starvation at Gakowa and since there were now openings those unable to work at Filipowa were shipped to Gakowa.
Seidenfabrik at Werbass/Vrbas Towards the end of 1945 this former silk factory was established as a central camp for the Germans of the Middle-Batschka. It also had jurisdiction over the relatively large work camps at Tschervenka, Kula and Weprowatz. The conditions there were worse than in a prison. Since there was no more work to be done in the fields as of December 1946, the camp commander made the inmates stand in formation from 5 to 11 o'clock during the bitter cold winter mornings. Then he let them sit till evening in the court yard. The camp was most likely dissolved the beginning of 1948.
Sekitsch/Lovcenac This used to be an entirely German community at the eastern edge of the German settlements and in January 1945 was transformed into a central camp for about 6,000 Germans. In October 1945 it was reduced to 1,500 inmates and was functioning as a work camp. Most of the rest were taken to the liquidation camps of Gakowa and Kruschiwl at about the time their inmates were dying in great numbers. Before they were shipped they were searched once more and deprived of their last miserable belongings. They even had to exchange any still somewhat useful clothing they wore for torn rags.
Stärkefabrik at Subotica This former starch factory was most likely converted into a central forced labor camp by the middle of November 1944. The 4,000 inmates were mostly Germans who earlier had fled to Hungary but tried to return to their homes after cessation of the war. Upon crossing the border from Hungary they were immediately robbed of all their belongings. According to reports, devastating typhus epidemics raged throughout the camp. It was most likely dissolved in January 1948.




Central Camps in Syrmia
Kalvaria at Semlin/Zemun After the murderous stations in the villages India and Ruma were transformed into work camps, the central camp established on the Kalvarienberg (Kalvarien mountain) was apparently the only one of this kind. According to Hans Volk, it was a barracks area 100m x 200m, fenced in by high barbed wire. The inmates were Germans from the town of Semlin and the few Germans that did not flee from the eastern part of Syrmia. They had to sleep on bare wooden cots and forced to perform hard labor from 3 a.m. till late at night. They were repeatedly and mercilessly beaten. The food was hardly any better than in the death camps. In the morning watery soup with some ground corn (maize), at noon soup with a few rotten potatoes or wormy peas and evenings whatever was left over from noon, with a slice of corn bread, without fat or salt - the same fare as in other camps. The central camp Semlin was evacuated in August/September 1945. As Hans Volk recalled, there were only about 150 men and 60 women that survived. These were shipped to the work camp in the nearby Beschania and in November 1945 after this one was also shut down, transferred to the death camp Mitrowitz.
Hans Volk was present when, on April 12, 1945, 660 men from the Kalvarienberg camp were picked to repair the railroad line Belgrad-Slawonisch Brod. This notorious construction probably lasted till May 16, 1945, about five weeks (including travel time to and from the construction sites). The food supply was completely inadequate and the work period punctuated by almost incredible killing episodes.
Here are some excerpts from Hans Volk's eye-witness report: "Daily several people passed away; on the way to Slakovci twelve sick were sorted out, shot and buried. When we moved on towards Semlin and arrived there on May 25, 112 out of 660 men were already dead and 20 more died during the following 2 days."
Georg König, another eye-witness from Filipowa commenting on the fate of an 82-year old who could no longer walk well: "The partisans grabbed him, threw him into a lime pit were he burned, still being alive. Whoever could no longer walk was thrown into the ditch and beaten to death. About 20 men broke down, and were brutally beaten with carbines. I had to cover the graves of the dead and still alive, stomp on them and listen to the moaning of the ones still alive. The two partisans then agreed that the sick and weak should be beaten to death. Thus, about 8 o'clock in the morning of May 2, 17 men were beaten to death with axes. From 480 men there were only 120 still alive. While we were 480 on April 20, only 71 were left on May 8."
----------------------------





Chapter 6

Deportation of Laborers to the Soviet Union
Stalin Demanding Deportations in Violation of Human Rights

In late fall of 1944, Stalin demanded from Romania and the territories of Hungary and Yugoslavia which it had occupied at that time, to make available German laborers for the reconstruction of Russian areas destroyed during the war. The process started at Christmas 1944 even though it was only during the Jalta Conference, February 4-11, 1945 that Stalin obtained the approval of the Western Powers to receive from Germany a portion of its allocated war reparations in the form of labor. This agreement by the Allies to the "fait accompli" gave Stalin a quasi-legal base for the German "reparation slaves" from the Southeast European nations, even though this act was a human rights violation.
The military administration of the partisans made available to the Russians at least 12,000 Danube Swabian civilians from the West Banat and Batschka (8,000 women and 4,000 men) who were forcibly shipped to the mining and industrial areas in the Ukraine. The women were between 18-40 and the men between 16-50 years of age. There were at least 8 trains, 4 from the Batschka and 4 from the Banat and each had up to 45 freight cars which were stuffed with up to 45 persons to a car. These transports, routed via Romania, took place during frigid winter weather and lasted about three weeks.






The Agony of Farewells and Brutality of the Transports
It was during the Christmas days of 1944 that the ones selected by Russian doctors had to leave all their loved ones, spouses, children, relatives and friends. They were forced to march with their baggage, often long distances and under strict military escort, to the collection railway stations. The uncertainty of their own future was only matched by the anxiety about the loved ones left behind. During frigid temperatures the work slaves were shipped in cattle cars that were locked from the outside. There was no space for movement, ability to sleep only in a sitting position and running the risk of freezing to death while asleep. Food supplies were almost non-existent and people had to survive on what little they could bring along. The lack of water was particularly painful since it was often withheld for sheer sadistic reasons. In the crowded space and absence of all hygienic facilities, bodily functions could only be taken care of with greatest difficulties. In addition, they had to suffer the mental and emotional anxiety of not knowing where they were going and when this trip was going to end. The first casualties occurred already during the three-week trip.




Catastrophic Accommodations and Difficult Working Conditions
In Russia, initially the tightly guarded billets often had neither windows nor doors. The premises were fenced in by barbed wire. Considering the notorious Russian winters, heating material was inadequate and often completely lacking, hygienic facilities insufficient, no warm water for washing and toilet facilities catastrophic. Epidemics and infestations started to erupt.
The food supply consisted almost entirely of lumpy, sour-tasting and hardly digestible bread as well as cabbage or flour soup without any meat or fat. The food had to be picked up from kitchens that were up to 3 km away. The dishes consisted of rusty tin cans. Sometimes they were forced to exchange good clothing against torn and lice-infested military garb.
Extremely hard work had to be performed under all weather conditions. The work targets were usually set much too high. While bread rations were adjusted to the work requirement, they were still insufficient. In addition to the heavy work load, the long distance to the work stations entailed long arduous marches, even during snow storms. The women too had to perform hard labor, many of them below ground, down deep in the coal pits. Twelve hours and more daily, including Sundays were mandatory, in winter at minus 40 degrees Celsius (40°F) in wet and torn clothing.




The High Mortality Rate of Humans at Their Best Age
Even though Danube Swabian men and women were used to hard physical work, many could not endure the working conditions in the mines and at the railroad and construction sites. Undernourishment, humidity, rain, cold, excessive work hours and the excessively long distance marches led to the total exhaustion of many. Men in particular, who had to work the hardest, soon suffered from dystrophy. The additional insecurity of ones' own fate which often turned into hopelessness, homesickness, longing for the loved ones at home and anxiety about their well being, soon led to the great mortality rate.
The slave labor in the Soviet Union resulted in the loss of life of at least 2,000 Danube Swabians. That is about 17 percent, including 1,100 men and 900 women. For those who were able to survive, the term of the slave labor lasted up to five years.
The first repatriation of the very sick and unable to work started towards the end of 1945. At that time, many had already died. One of the first repatriation trains went to Yugoslavia where the returnees were promptly put into camps, most of them into the death camps.
It was only during the last two years of their stay in Russia, 1948 and 1949 that the conditions improved. Food was adequate and working conditions more bearable. At the end of 1949 the Russians dissolved the camps and shipped the deported to Frankfurt an der Oder, in East Germany. The last to leave had spent five years of hardship in the "workers' paradise."




Upon Their Return, the Bitter Truth
After their arrival in Germany, the discharged slave workers had to learn that they could not return to their homeland and that their dependents, their children, parents and grandparents suffered a fate worse than their own. Bit by bit they found out who of their family and relatives did not survive the genocide perpetrated by the Tito regime. Almost all temporarily orphaned children were shipped to unknown children homes and unknown locations in Yugoslavia. It was many years before they could be located and reunited with the help of the Red Cross. Many of the younger ones no longer recognized their parents and had partially or totally forgotten their mother tongue. Every third of the deported women had to find out that her husband was lost in the war and she stood alone in the world.
Almost all of the slave workers suffered from health problems. Many, after their return to Germany and confronted with the loss of their loved ones and their home, were overcome and passed away.
The survivors, particularly those who after their flight or expulsion, settled in Germany and Austria organized themselves into "hometown societies." These societies compiled rather exact statistical documentations of the fate of their former communities and inhabitants. Knowledgeable observers determined that the life span of surviving slave workers was much shorter in comparison to those who did not suffer those hardships.


Josef Purr from Parabutsch, a First Person Report
"We all, men 18-45, women 18-35, had to report to the town hall. From there we went to the Helleis Inn. Only pregnant women were excused. No consideration was given to mothers with small children. We were told we are being sent to work for one month and to bring our own food for that time. After being held for three days we, 57 persons, were chased to Hodschag, guarded by partisans. Youth is somewhat more optimistic and we celebrated New Year's Eve with the youths of Batch. When the light was turned off at midnight we wished one another a happy New Year. The 'happy' New Year came very quickly; we had to get ready for the trip. After marching for miles in the snow we suddenly had to turn around and go to the railroad station. They started loading us into freight cars. The next day, at Apatin, the loading was completed and the doors locked. One engine in front and one in the back in between over 30 cars, each crowded with 30-40 persons. More than 1,200 ethnic Germans began their trip into an uncertain fate. Nobody anticipated that over 400 would never return. We had some inkling that we were heading for Russia and we learned that several transports preceded us.
"The trip took us through Hungary and Romania. Every two days the doors were opened to get water. Only a few of us had bottles; washing was out of the question. We rubbed our hands and face with snow. Nearby fences were torn down for heating. After 19 days we reached our unknown destination, 13 km from Krasani Lutsch. The train stopped and we had to disembark. The camp consisted of stone buildings, windows were bricked shut and the only light consisted of small broken glass panes overhead as a skylight. Most of the double bunk beds still had to be constructed. We had to haul the wooden boards, which were frozen and snow covered, from the sawmills. Since we were weak from the long trip it took two persons to carry one board. There was no water since the pipes were destroyed. Day and night it had to be brought in a large tub by sled from the shed where the train engines were refilled. It took 16-20 men to pull the sled. The kitchen consisted of four bathtubs on pedestals and the fire underneath. For weeks the same menu was cooked: diced green tomatoes, cucumber or cabbage soup with four tablespoons of barley or millet gruel.
"After the speech at the shaft the Natschalnik ordered the 'instruments' to be brought up. I thought they were going to play music but the instruments were pickaxes and crowbars. With these 'instruments' we played for five years. The work below ground was very hard and dangerous. For this reason they attached us to groups of Russians, Polish or Ukrainian girls who were also forcefully conscripted. I still think often of Marusja who collected Machorka from her colleagues so we could have a smoking break. I also think of Njusa, who often gave me a piece of bread or milk, and of the old Russian who did not talk very much, bowed three times, made the sign of the cross, divided the cornmeal polenta and shared it with us. Later on we got some additional help. The Russian POWs (Prisoners of War) and displaced Russians returned from Germany. They were not sent to their homes, but again became slave laborers.
"Almost daily, accidents occurred in the shafts. One of the casualties was Heinrich Hirschberger who was killed by falling rocks. Because of the unsanitary living conditions we were all infested with lice. Therefore they shaved our heads, both men and women. During the autumn of 1945 typhus broke out in the camp and we were quarantined, the sick outside the camp. People died daily, including eight Parabutscher. After we returned to the camp we found that not only the dead but the living as well were robbed of their last few possessions. The culprits were not only the Russian camp personnel but our own fellow countrymen. There were enough informers who betrayed some of us to the political Kommisar. Those poor souls were then sent to penal or prisoner of war camps.
"In 1946 two transports of the sick were released; they were very ill or severely injured and unable to work. It was with sadness that we saw them departing and waving to us. The camp administration withheld a large portion of our wages, for the administration expenses of the camp. But we now could purchase, depending on our income, clothes, shoes and fabric. Throughout the year we were given the slogans 'Skoro domoi' (going home soon). However, we didn't believe it anymore.
"Finally, in November 1949 the day came. We didn't have to go to work anymore, and were allowed to do some necessary shopping since we could take care of our own travel provisions. Everybody had to be dressed properly since nobody could leave 'paradise' in rags. Streamers for the decoration of the freight trains were made proclaiming: 'We came as enemies, we return as friends.' We were asked if we didn't want to stay in the 'paradise' and were given many promises. As far as I know, nobody stayed. Finally, on November 23, our day of departure came. The trucks that normally carried coal took us and our wooden suitcases to the Antrazit railroad station. Suddenly the Russian coal miners from the other shafts appeared to bid us farewell. Our trip took us via Warsaw to Frankfurt/Oder in East Germany. Here we were again inundated with Socialist slogans. We were apprehensive as to what we were going to encounter in the West. We had our fill of Socialism.
"We continued to the camp at Gronefelde. We were really surprised when we were finally free. At our final destination at the camp at Ulm (West Germany) a priest welcomed us with a short prayer."
(This first person report was extracted from the documentation series Leidensweg der Deutschen im kommunistischen Jugoslawien, Volume II, München/Sindelfingen 1991, published by the Donauschwäbische Kulturstiftung, München, pages 961-963.)
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Chapter 7

The Liquidation Camps

Until the publication of the Leidensweg documentation there had been no systematic description of the death camps which were an essential instrument for the execution of the premeditated genocide of the Danube Swabians in Yugoslavia.
The condensed descriptions on these pages are based on the incidents in the death camps as published for the first time in 1995 in volume III of the documentation Leidensweg der Deutschen im kommunistischen Jugoslawien respectively in the Weissbuch der Deutschen aus Jugoslawien. (The Tragedy of the Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia). They are the depositions of first person experiences of the survivors of the death camps. Most of the original reports are located at the Bundesarchiv in Koblenz (German Federal Archives at Koblenz).




Eight Liquidation Camps
In addition to the numerous local work camps and central camps the Titoregime established a third category, "special camps." In the Batschka, they consisted of the entire villages Jarek, Gakowa and Kruschiwl. They were already established during the end-phases of the war. In the Banat too, entire villages such as Rudolfsgnad and Molidorf were designated as "special camps." For the relatively few Germans that did not flee from Syrmia, the silk factory at Mitrowitz was converted into the notorious liquidation camp, whereas in Slavonia, sections of the villages Kerndia and Valpovo were fenced in and made into death camps. The first liquidation camp was established on December 2, 1944 at Jarek and the last, Rudolfsgnad, was closed in March 1948.




Conditions at the Death Camps
The following examples are typical of the conditions in all liquidation camps. The inmates of the liquidation camps were usually those unable to work, people over 60, the infirm, children up to 14 years of age and mothers with children below two years old. These were usually already separated from the able bodied at their home communities. The heart-rending scenes at these sites are described by the survivors in the depositions. We just want to mention here that all children over age two were literally torn from their mothers or relatives.
The mentioned villages in the Batschka and Banat which served as liquidation camps consisted of several hundred homes and were not fenced in, presumably because there was not enough barbed wire available. Therefore, they were closely guarded around the clock by the partisans or militia. The sentries were positioned every 100 meters. Leaving the camp was prohibited under penalty of death. The houses, built closely together as originally laid out by the Pannonian plans, had closed-in yards but no front yards which made it possible to imprison the people in the houses as well. The houses, already completely ransacked, were, depending on room-sizes, crowded with 15 to 20 occupants per unheated room or stable. As a rule, occupants had to sleep on the bare floor, often without even any straw or blankets. During daytime they also had to stay indoors. Due to the insufficient hygienic and sanitary conditions, they were defenseless against the flees and lice, brought along by the soldiers, which was particularly painful for the older people.
Food was scarce and often withheld for days. When available, it consisted mainly of ground-up corn or flour soup, barley or pea soup, but without any salt or fat and a little coarse corn bread. It is noteworthy that the executive committee of the people's assembly of the autonomous province Wojwodina decreed in December 1945 that the bread for all camp inmates had to be made of corn flour without any wheat flour added.
Since no food was delivered to the camps until mid-1946 and the attempted begging trips by children and mothers with babies to the neighboring villages of the Magyars and Slavs was severely restricted, the predestined annihilation by starvation of the inmates proved to be very effective. The death tolls increased rapidly.
Initially, the camp management made no efforts to provide any medical service. The one or two Danube Swabian physicians among the internees in the various camps had no medications with which to treat the sick and feeble. Personal hygienic and sanitary facilities were utterly insufficient for the overcrowded camps. Starvation diets, dystrophy and lack of vitamins weakened all to diseases. Consequently, by late autumn 1945, malaria, typhus, dysentery, etc. reached epidemic proportions. The buildings which contained the sick became death houses. The winter months of 1945/46 were the worst in the liquidation camps, the last of which existed until March 1948.
The facilities in which the internees were contained had no heat even during the frigid winter months of 1945/46. The use of any kind of fuel such as wooden fences or empty sheds was prohibited. No blankets were provided and their only protection against the bitter cold was the clothing they wore or the few covers some were able to bring along. It was not until the spring of 1946 when DDT powder was shipped from the USA that the lice problem could be contained and the death rate drastically reduced. The use of DDT powder, however, was only decided when the partisan guards were about to contract the diseases and a countrywide epidemic envisaged. A further improvement of the conditions took place when the partisan guards were replaced by the militia or regular military.
The burial of the poor deceased was miserable and undignified as was their suffering and dying. When disposing of them to the mass graves they were roughly thrown onto wagons like dead cattle. The farewell by the still living family members was indescribably painful. As a rule there was no clerical assistance and relatives were not even allowed to attend the burial. The dead were thrown, usually naked (as ordered by the camp management) into the pits.
Between the autumn of 1946 and autumn 1947, the guarding of the camps was relaxed - apparently intentionally and due to political considerations. Thus about 30,000 to 35,000 were able to escape to Hungary or Romania and from there to Austria and Germany. Considering the number of escapees, the year 1947 can be considered as the peak escape year.
The two Slovenian liquidation camps Sterntal and Tüchern, as well as the two Croatian camps Kerndia and Valpovo, were dissolved one year after the end of the war. What was left of the inmates was expelled to Austria or to the Wojwodina. The camp Jarek in the Wojwodina was also closed one year after the war ended and the inmates transferred to Kruschiwl; Syrmian Mitrowitz and Molidorf, two years after the war and the internees of Molidorf were sent to Rudolfsgnad. Kruschiwl and Gakowa closed after about 2½ years (beginning January 1948) and their inmates sent to Rudolfsgnad - the largest liquidation camp, was also the last to close, March 1, 1948. Three years after the war ended all camps were officially dissolved. At Rudolfsgnad, the remaining Germans were forced into mandatory three-year "work contracts" outside their own home communities.




The Camp Victims - Horror Balance Sheet
Based on thorough research presented by Mr. Karl Weber in volume IV of the named documentations, the extent of the perished victims in the liquidation camps, including the work camps and central civilian internment camps are illustrated on Table 1
These are low, conservative figures. They are based on the investigations and compilations by the communities which, after their flight and after the war, settled in their new home countries. Since up to 70% of the victims could be accounted for by name and are documented in volume IV of the before-mentioned series, the averages of the casualties could be calculated. They are very reliable figures. These somber numbers confirm the fact that 90% of the victims lost their lives long after World War II had ended.
The physical and mental anguish which the victims had to endure up to their death cannot be adequately expressed in words or print. The mass graves were purposely made unidentifiable. Only in the late 1990's some half-hearted efforts were made to make the mass graves at Rudolfsgnad/Knicanin in the republic of Yugoslavia and those at Kerndia in what's today Croatia visible by markers.
For the general public, up to this day, the genocide of the ethnic German citizens of the former Yugoslavia has remained a "non-event." Nor have any of the murderers, several of whom are still alive today, been charged in any courts.




Expulsion and Transfer to the Liquidation Camps
"Austreibung" (expulsion) is the term used by the Danube Swabians for their permanent deportation from their homes and the complete removal of the ethnic German inhabitants of the German villages. The usual "modus operandi" was as follows:
Partisan commandos secretly encircled the community and suddenly, beginning at one end of the village, began to chase the unsuspecting and unprepared inhabitants from their homes. They were chased to the village pasture at the edge of town where three to four thousand villagers were awaiting their screening: The separation of the able-bodied from those destined for the death camp. If a child was two years old or less, both mother and child went to the death camp. But if the child was three years old, it was torn from the mother and shoved to a grandmother or other relatives or neighbors. The mother went to the work camp, the three-year old or older child with the transport to the liquidation camp. Many a mother tried to smuggle herself over to her children.
The following description of the expulsion in Filipowa is a typical example of what happened in hundreds of villages.
On March 31, 1945, the village of Filipowa in the Batschka, after having been settled 182 years ago, ceased to exist as a Danube Swabian community. Rita Prost-Pertschy, in her book Das Heimweh der Simon Rita (The Homesickness of Simon Rita) describes her expulsion experience as a ten-year old:
"Saturday before Easter (March 31, 1945), the women were baking for the Easter holiday when they heard loud cries and sobbing from the street. To their horror they saw people being chased from their homes at the lower end of the village. Hastily my mother made me put on several layers of clothing and my sister's new coat. Then we collected food in a blanket, but it was too heavy for me, so I threw half away and ran into the house to find lighter items. When I got into the courtyard, the partisans were already in front of the gate. They shouted 'Napolje! Brze, brze!' We did not understand those words, however, when they started beating us with their rifles, we knew it was a situation of survival. They were beating mother, but she did not hurt too much since she wore several dresses.
"A long line of people was moving past our house and we were shoved into the line. We now realized we had to leave our home forever. The women cried and prayed to God. The partisans chased us like cattle from the village to the pasture. There people were lying crowded together like a herd of animals. Here we spent the first day.
"At daybreak they took every second woman and chased her into a house. When the women came out again, crying, they no longer had their bundle and no more jewelry. Also part of their clothing was removed. We met our aunt; she only had the empty baby buggy left. She had to put the baby into it without any bedding. When night came we had to search for a place to sleep. The partisans chased a group of 20 to 25 people into the court yard of a house where we had to sleep in the open. The next day it started all over. Back to the street. People were robbed again of everything they had. This continued for three days and nights. We were sitting on our bundles in the dust and dirt and found out that people were even shot. (In Filipowa two men and a woman were shot.) I shall never forget these days, full of tears and sorrow. However, sometimes they were also full of hope, when we were told we could go home tomorrow.
"The nights were particularly difficult. The children cried because they were hungry and freezing. Dogs were barking all night, being hungry and left alone in the houses. A few days later they were all shot. During the night you could hear the women crying and praying. While we were still under the stars of our homeland and the wind was still the same; however everything else had changed. I was particularly sad during the nights. I was longing for my father and sisters. We did not know where they were.
"On the last day when the plundering started again, it was my mother's turn. The partisans dragged her from the column and into a room. When I wanted to hold on to her I was slapped in the face. I feIt no pain since my fear for her was greater. I was happy when I saw her emerge alive. But this joy did not last long. Mother was ash-pale and her body shook. When she wanted to say something to me, blood streamed out of her mouth. Blood also dripped from her ears. Her gold-covered teeth were broken out and the earrings torn from her ears....
"The next day started with a murder in front of our eyes. At daybreak we were chased to the railroad station. In front of us walked a man who continually laughed. I could not understand this. Our situation was anything but laughable. He wanted to join our row. When one of the partisans saw this, he came to us in a rage and shouted at the man, who continued laughing. The partisan beat him with his rifle butt, however, the man continued laughing. His wife tried to pull him back, but then the rifle cracked and the man sank to his knees. The blood spurted in a high ark out of his body and his face turned pale. But his mouth continued to laugh. At that moment, I developed a fright of uniforms and weapons which will stay with me for life. The women had to dig a hole right then and there into which he was dumped, his body still warm.
"We were thinking of Easter, but it was not a time to think about celebration. We were stuffed into cattle cars. The partisans did not care whether families stayed together. The cars were sticky from the wet straw on which hundreds were shipped days before, going in the same direction. We were crowded with no place to lie down. When the train started moving, I was glad the doors were shut... We did not know where this trip would take us. But we sensed we were going farther and farther away from our homes. When, after many hours of torture the doors were opened we saw that we were shipped to the Gakowa liquidation camp."




Camp Molidorf/Molin (Banat)
Established: September 1945 for the ethnic Germans of the North and Middle Banat
Original size of community: 1,200
Number of internees: 5,000 - 7,000
Duration of camp: September 1945 - April 1947 (20 months)
Casualties: about 3,000 (2,012 documented by name)
Main causes of death: starvation, typhus, malaria

Overview: The ethnic Germans of Molidorf had to endure the revenge of the local partisan chiefs even before the establishment of the death camp. In addition to the looting by the Red Army, partisans and particularly the residents of the surrounding Serbian communities, they immediately began with the arrests and torture of ethnic German men and the rape of women. Mayor Georg Haverkorn and four men were brutally beaten to death. At Christmas 1945, 58 women and 8 men were deported to Russia.
Between September and November 1945 the Yugoslav authorities began cleansing some 20 local work camps of men and women unfit for work, children and mothers with small children were herded in long marching columns into the Molidorf death camp. The community, which originally had only 1,200 inhabitants, was stuffed with 5,000 - 7,000 occupants.
The camp administration often withheld food for days. Breakfast usually consisted of boiled water with ground corn, no fat nor salt. Lunch was always pea soup, also without fat or salt. Dinner consisted of 150 grams corn bread, no fat. The hunger drove the inmates to catch and eat the cats in the village and, during the nights, to make their way into the neighboring villages, e.g. Torda and Hungarian Zerne to beg for food. Whoever was caught by the partisans was either brutally tortured or immediately executed. The latter fate was suffered by two mothers with children.
In addition to the starvation and scurvy, the infestation with lice led to the demise of many inmates. The end came always the same way: the feet began to swell, then the face and after a few days, death.
The ones able to work were separated from the unfit and had to perform hard labor, day or night. Whenever the church bells rang they had to report for work. The shifts often lasted up to 20 hours. They also had to carry all the wood, corn flour for bread and the entire provisions for the camp from the railroad stations of the neighboring communities. Many had to carry loads of up to 30 kilos, with insufficient clothing and bad shoes along snowy and icy roads. They were slave caravans. Whenever somebody broke down, which happened frequently, sympathetic men or women who wanted to come to their help were beaten with rifle butts and brutally mistreated.
Camp inmates had to suffer not only from starvation and lack of other necessities, but also from continual torture and mistreatments. These mistreatments were carried out not only by the camp commander and the guards but also by Serbs who came into the camp and picked out their victims. In one instance, Marianne Haberkorn, received repeated bloody beatings by her former farmhand who shouted: "Now we subordinates are the masters."
The camp commander was a sadist. Here is an example of his sadistic actions: On February 18, 1946 at five in the morning he chased thirty women, without any reason, into a water ditch where they had to remain for half an hour in the icy water and mud. Then they were chased to work, in their dripping clothing. They were given no food and after work, at about 17:30, they were chased back. Three of the women were so weak they collapsed. The first two were left where they fell and died the same night. The third was able to drag herself into the village. The first two women were 25 and 27 years old and left behind three small children. Seven other women became seriously ill.
According to statements of Dr. Jenö Heger, himself an internee who was allowed to function as camp physician between January 1 and February 22, 1946, the health condition of the inmates was extremely bad. There were no sanitary installations, people had no soap or other cleaning materials to keep themselves clean. Rashes and other skin diseases were widespread. Among the infectious diseases, particularly typhus has to be mentioned, since it spread rapidly because of the weak body resistance of the inmates. During his position as camp physician, the daily mortality rate was between six and seven.
In view of the hopelessness of their situation and the inhuman torment, more and more inmates risked their escape to Romania. During one such attempt a young woman from Kesic was killed. Since Dr. Heger could no longer tolerate the barbaric punishment of women and the reckless use of fire arms by the camp commander, he filed a complaint against him and also fled to Romania.
Dr. Steiner, from Zerne, who temporarily functioned as camp physician tried to help the sick but his possibilities were very limited. The only mediations available were some aspirin, quinine, carbon dust against diarrhea and a skin cream against skin diseases. Cold compresses were the general treatment against all diseases.
There were no mass graves at Molidorf. Twenty four old men, designated as grave diggers, had to dig, in addition to the graves required during the day, additional holes as a reserve for the next day. The dead were sewn into old blankets and buried without any ceremony.
Taking Dr. Heger's daily mortality figures as a base, the extended number of the casualties for 20 months would be about 4,000. Mr. Karl Weber's estimate of 3,000, is also within the same proximity. Two thousand and twelve are documented by name in volume IV of the documentation series Leidensweg der Deutschen im kommunistischen Jugoslawien.
At the end of April 1947 the partisans dissolved the Molidorf liquidation camp and transported the inmates to the camp Gakowa in the Batschka. Only about 300 younger inmates who were still able to work, in spite of all the mistreatments, were retained and used for agricultural work in the Molidorf area.
This place of horror was totally destroyed by a flood during 1955 and 1956 as if nature wanted to extinguish all memories of it.




Camp Rudolfsgnad/Knicanin (Banat)
Established: October 10, 1945 for unfit for work ethnic Germans, particularly of the Middle and South Banat.
Original size of the town of Rudolfsgnad: 3,200
Number of internees, average: 17,200 average (maximum: 20,500)
Duration of camp: October 10, 1945 to mid-March 1948 (29 months)
Casualties: about 11,000 (7,767 documented by name)
Main causes of death: starvation, typhus, malaria

Overview: The large "special camp" Rudolfsgnad was located at the edge of the ethnic German settlement area of the Banat. Traffic-wise it was well-situated and easy to control since it was positioned at the point where the River Theiss flows into the Danube. Of the town's 3,200 inhabitants, 900 did not flee.
Before all the camps in Yugoslavia were officially dissolved, all their remaining inmates were transferred to Rudolfsgnad. There all remaining ethnic Germans were conscripted into 3-year "work contracts," mostly serving in areas outside their home territories, e.g. the mines of Serbia and Kosovo and the marsh areas of Baranja, Batschka and around Pantschowa.
The health conditions, illnesses, treatments and mortality statistics were well documented by Dr. K.F. Of all the camps, Rudolfsgnad had the highest mortality rate with 11,000 deaths.
Immediately after its occupation, Rudolfsgnad experienced the fury of the persecution. Responsible were the commanders Rado Perz of Perles and Lazo Milenkovic of Tschenta. Under their command, on October 16, the Danube Swabians Jakob Werth, Franz Hess, Franz Metz and Michael Wacker were tortured, shot and hung from acacia trees. Johann Drumm, out of desperation, hung himself. Anton Karl, 78, was shot for no reason. Milenkovic wanted to execute all Rudolfsgnad men but was prevented from doing so by Russian officers.
On December 27, 1944, 47 girls and women as well as 20 men were deported to Russia as slave workers. On April 14, after the village was completely ransacked, the Rudolfsgnad inhabitants had to leave their houses. All the women and children were concentrated in the school building and the men age 14 and up in the Kindergarten. The gypsy Gajo, also known by the names Arandjelski and Bocarac commanded the guards.
As of October 10, 1945 the Tito regime interned thousands of ethnic German civilians, predominantly senior citizens, women with children and children whose mothers were shipped to Russia and concentrated them in the now empty houses. The camp was guarded by about 80 armed militia.
The arrivals, dressed with only minimal clothing were crammed into the empty houses, usually 20-30 to a room. They had no blankets and were forced to lie on the floor which was only barely covered with straw. During the entire period of the camp's existence and up to its dissolution in March 1948, the straw was never changed nor replaced.
Nourishment consisted of ground corn soup, polenta (corn) mash, corn bread and tea, no salt. Even babies and feeding mothers received nothing else or any additional rations. Initially, the usual camp soup was ladled out but already in the winter 1945 and 1946 it was given out scarcely and the inmates received only about 2 kgs raw ground corn per month. Soon there were no more wooden fences, barns or fruit trees left. The inmates had to cook their own meager rations which they tried to augment by adding edible grasses or clover to fill their empty stomachs. They gulped down anything they could get their hands on.
Klara Deutsch, at that time only 13 years old, records: "People became blind or insane because of starvation, or they just lied down, went into a stupor for a few days until they fell asleep for good. The worst off were the ones that became insane. They screamed day and night; many walked around aimlessly, could not find their way home and died in the street."
Stray cats and dogs were butchered, even dead ones were eaten. The sufferings from diarrhea are indescribable; they drained the last strength from their bodies and also led to other diseases. Once hit by diarrhea or dysentery, there was rarely a recovery. That winter thousands died.
These conditions forced people to desperate attempts to slip out of the camp and beg for food in the surrounding villages, inhabited by other nationalities. The Catholic priest Johann Nuspl, formerly priest at Tscheb in the Batschka, remembers that during one of these begging trips four women and five children were shot by the guards. The ones caught were usually locked into the cellar, called the "bunker," received almost no food but instead fierce beatings which some did not survive.
Cooking in the camp's kitchen resumed in spring 1946 and was considered a luxury not known for many months. The soup consisting of peas and barley was, for those who survived this terrible winter, the essence of delicacy. Beginning 1947 the food rations were somewhat improved; however, the emaciated inmates hardly noticeable. As of May the restrictions on receiving packages was eased for the Serbs and non-camp internees. Also, many who had related or acquainted Serbs could occasionally benefit from these relaxed restrictions. The CARE program and the International Red Cross relief actions were supplying some camps. Now even packages from America arrived, sent by relatives who learned of the misery at Rudolfsgnad, Father Nuspl reports.
Beginning May 1946 a "softer touch" in the elimination started at Rudolfsgnad as in other camps as well, apparently directed by higher authorities and due to political considerations. Now parcels could be shipped directly into the camp. The larger aid program, initiated by Peter Max Wagner and his Danube Swabian Aid Society of Brooklyn, started towards the end of 1946. The first phase of large-scale parcel shipments from the USA probably reached the camp around Christmas 1946.
Starting spring 1946, Serbs and Hungarians in the surrounding area could "lease" camp inmates for work, at a rate of 50 Dinars per head. The Germans were often shamelessly taken advantage of by their employers. Nevertheless, the inmates eagerly competed for this slave work since they received at least some food whereas there was almost nothing to eat within the camp. For many this outside work opportunity was a lifesaver. Also, starting in spring 1946 and particularly in 1947 many inmate workers took this opportunity to escape. At an opportune moment they would sneak away, searching a way to cross the border into Hungary or Romania. It was always a life threatening undertaking.
The heroic endeavors of the camp physicians and nurses, who themselves were internees, to fight against diseases and the epidemic were mostly in vain. The deplorable hygienic conditions, the meager rations, lacking salt and vitamins contributed to the spread of the epidemic. The physical and mental deterioration of the humans robbed them even of the strength to defend themselves against the infestations of lice, mice and rats that suddenly appeared in large numbers. Where the rats didn't find anything to eat they started to gnaw not only at the dead but also the defenseless living. The mortality rate reached its peak in February 1946.
Finally, the spread of the epidemic alarmed the authorities and a medical commission arrived to investigate. Quarantine was declared and the camp was sprayed with DDT powder. The group of physicians and nurses, risking infection themselves, worked selflessly to fight the epidemic and to save the humans. Nevertheless, many succumbed. In April 1946, after the epidemic was eradicated, the quarantine was lifted and the camp received a "clinic" for adults, a "children clinic" and a "children home." There the food was somewhat better than in the camp.
The "homes for the aged" were virtual dying places. Father Johann Nuspl, a camp inmate himself, was allowed to visit the homes in Molidorf as well as Rudolfsgnad twice a week. He writes about his visits: "The sick and dying were lying on the floor which was covered with a thin layer of straw, tightly crammed together and separated only by some loosely placed tiles. Dirty bowls with rotten food leftovers, pots serving as spittoons, unwashed bed pans, dirty rags, etc. were scattered among the sick and dying; many in their own feces. This was the last chapter of our people's tragedy. I had never seen our people in such misery and downcasts as here, however, at the same time so heroic. Most of them died composed and God-devoted. I remember with awe and reverence the people in these homes."
The partisans' treatment of the ethnic Gerrnan children is one of the saddest chapters in the chronicle of the Yugoslav liquidation and slave labor camps. One has to keep in mind that the initial occupants of the dying camps consisted of boys and girls under fourteen years of age.
Lorenz Baron, assistant to electrician Weissmann who had to install electric lighting in the so-called "children home" writes: "Upon entering the home one could hear a monotonous hum. It was the song of the children dying. Every room of the large building was full of defenseless, dying children. Not able to express any feelings myself, I climbed up the ladder and installed the fixtures. Some of the skeletons below me were still able to move somewhat and followed every move I made. Some then fell back, their gaze still focused on me - and were dead. Nobody showed any compassion, knowing that we ourselves could be the next to die."
During the summer of 1946 the authorities then began to allocate groups of children to government children homes in order to assimilate them as "good citizens" into the national fold.
The camp administration and militia, belonging to the camp guards, were housed in the town hall. Some followed their orders off and on, others, however, were very evil. Franz Apfel, fourteen years old, was caught going begging, beaten unconscious by the guards and, presumed dead, dumped into a manure pile. Regaining consciousness, he mustered all his strength to free himself and crawl to the next house where, with some help, he could get back to his family.
Leaving the camp was strictly forbidden. Dr. K. F. recorded eleven executions in 1946 and three in 1947. In spring 1947 two men cutting down a tree were caught by a policeman and shot. Out of desperation eleven inmates committed suicide. Every death and cause was recorded. The month of February had the highest mortality: 1,346. February 4 had the highest daily number: 72. Total deaths during the existence of the camp (October 10, 1945 - March 1948) were over 11,000.
The first mass graves were dug at the village cemetery. Due to the floods in spring 1946 no more dead could be buried there, but had to be moved to the Teletschka hill, about 2 km south of Rudolfsgnad.




Camp Gakowa/Gakovo (Batschka)
Concentration camp for the unfit to work, primarily for the Middle and West Batschka.
Original number of inhabitants of the town of Gakowa: 2,700
Number of camp inmates: 17,000
Duration of camp: March 12, 1945 - beginning January 1948 (33 months)
Casualties: Approximately 8,500 (5,827 documented by name)
Main causes of death: starvation, typhus, dysentery, malaria

Overview: On March 12, 1945 the two neighboring communities Gakowa and Kruschiwl, situated near the Hungarian border became the two large death camps for the ethnic Germans of the West Batschka. The 6,000 ethnic Germans of Apatin were the first inmates. Between March 13 and October 17, 1945 the unfit to work from 24 communities of the districts Apatin, Hodschag and Sombor were interned in these two camps.
In the year 1931 the community of Gakowa had 2,692 souls, 2,370 were ethnic Germans. By the end of 1945, 17,000 were crammed into the completely emptied houses of the community. During the first ten months approximately 4,500 had already died or were murdered.
Since both death camps were not fenced in by barbed wire and watch towers, they were guarded by patrols and sentries, placed about 100 yards or more apart. The camps were surrounded by fields and meadows. Due to this arrangement it was at times possible to sneak past the sentries and go begging or to attempt escapes. The camp commanders punished such attempts with executions, incarcerations, beatings and witholding of food, which many victims did not survive.
The daily camp ritual was as follows: The still somewhat able-bodied were chased out by the guards and divided into work teams. Under guard they had to work in the surrounding fields, perform work in the camp or push carts around the area to collect anything burnable for the kitchen.
For about a year, lasting to May 1946, there was, according to the impression of the inmates, a definite annihilation program by starvation, exposure to cold and further aggravated by unforeseen epidemics. During that time the guards were particularly cruel. About half of the 8,500 victims died during the "months of death:" November 1945 - March 1946.
The attempted escapes from Gakowa to Hungary started rather early. However, more frequent and larger escapes began with the loosening of restrictions and the replacement of the cruel guards. Relatives, friends and other helpful compassionate minorities also aided the escapees. Most of them continued their flight to Austria and Germany.
Beginning late autumn 1946 and lasting into fall 1947, the so-called "white escapes" were tolerated by the camp commanders. The term "white escapes" was used in contrast to the previous "black escapes" which were prohibited and severely punished.
The use of DDT powder in March 1946 also brought an end to the "months of death." The replacement of the partisan guards by a militia in May-June 1946 also reined-in the worst of the wanton physical mistreatments which, at that time, were also officially prohibited. Apparently the hard annihilation, policy was replaced by a "softer" elimination process.
Now the orphaned children were taken to government education centers with the intent to educate them to be "young pioneers," model fighters for communism. Four of such transports of children from the Gakowa camp are known to have taken place.
Starting May 1946, people outside the camp were allowed to bring or send packages to camp inmates. However, there was no mail service, only the receiving of packages was tolerated. American food donations could be distributed such as powdered food for undernourished children. American CARE packages began arriving by the end of 1946, shipped by the Danube Swabian Aid Society of Brooklyn and American relatives of camp inmates.
The neighboring camp Kruschiwl was dissolved on December 10, 1947 and their inmates transferred to Gakowa. By the middle of January 1948 the last inmates of Gakowa were moved to the Banat liquidation camp Rudolfsgnad.


Peculiarities of the Gakowa Camp
The primary reason for the rapidly growing mortality was due to starvation which became more acute by the middle of October 1945.
Josef Thiel narrates: "During the winter 1946 the news was passed around the camp that a horse died outside the camp. My sister and I as well as a cousin slipped out of the camp, cut off large pieces and brought them back to the camp. Since there was almost no firewood the meat had to be eaten half-raw. The cousin died from it. Whenever a dog or cat was found it was caught and eaten."
During the summer and early spring 1945 the first epidemics such as malaria, dysentery and dystrophy began to appear and caused numerous deaths.
Chaplain Matthias Johler voluntarily came to the Gakowa camp to look after the spiritual welfare of the inmates. He himself became sick with typhus and was bedridden for four weeks. Here is an excerpt from his diary: "December 1, 1945. The Almighty also took my sister-in-law. The funeral is supposed to be today. Deep in thought and worrying about the young orphaned children I went to the cemetery to see if the grave had already been dug. Upon entering I noticed two girls, shivering, trembling and weeping bitterly. They were looking for their mother. They tell me that a cart was passing by their house and picked up their mother. It was the cart, picking up the dead. 'Now we are all alone' lamented the older, eleven-year-old. 'Only me and my sick little four year old brother who is at home.' I ask: 'and whom are you holding in your arms?' She replied: 'That's my little brother, ten months old' and presses him, covered in a piece of cloth, to her shaking bosom; he was dead."
In January 1946 the camp command decided to order a regrouping of the able-bodied, the children and the sick. This took place during the worst three-day snowstorm of the winter and had disastrous results. It was apparently done on purpose to expedite the annihilation.
Eyewitness Eva Schmidt of Filipowa: "A buggy went from house to house to collect the dead who were loaded like pieces of firewood. Those who could not be collected were pushed to the cemetery on a wheelbarrow. This manner of transporting the dead was a daily occurrence. Others pushed their dead children out into the street, children their mothers. Some corpses were sewn into a piece of linen, but most had only their faces and waists covered since there was nothing available to cover the entire body. At the cemetery the dead were piled up in the mass graves like logs. The priest could only utter a general blessing. No family members were allowed to be present."
During the period of March 5 to April 4, 1946, Wendelin Gruber relieved the chaplains Johler and Pfuhl who were ill. In a discussion with the camp commander he was able to obtain the permission for the inmates to go to church on Sunday evening, after completing their allocated work duties. He was, however, not allowed to conduct any service. But he disregarded the order and did preach on March 24. The church was too small to hold all the people; many were standing outside. The church bells rang and someone played the organ. During the service they repeated the solemn promise that, should they survive, to make an annual pilgrimage and should they be able to get back their homes and possessions, to build a church in the honor of the mother of Jesus Christ. The Danube Swabian annual pilgrimage to Altötting (Germany), taking place since 1959 is the redemption of this promise.
The Chaplains Johler and Pfuhl, after their recuperation continued to look after the religious needs of the inmates, a heroic achievement, considering the persecution of the clergy by the Communists. In January 1946 the camp administration attempted to prohibit further clergy activity in the camp. Nevertheless, the clandestine activity continued. On October 30, 1946, however, both chaplains were also thrown into the camp as inmates.
The fate of the children was deplorable, writes Chaplain Paul Pfuhl. "When a child fell ill it was taken to the so-called children hospital. This term, however, is misleading. While it had some beds, they were too few and often three to four children had to share one bed. These children hospitals were the saddest site in the whole camp. Reduced to skin and bones, they were too weak to call for help and even their weeping was feeble. Their eyes conveyed unspoken sadness, like those of a wounded animal - and an accusation for the injustice perpetrated upon them. One had to muster all one's strength to leave without shedding tears."




Camp Jarek/Backi Jarak (Batschka)
Established: December 2, 1944 as a concentration camp for the unfit to work of the South Batschka
Original number of inhabitants of the community Jarek: 2,000
Average number of camp inmates: 15,000
Duration of camp: December 2, 1944 - April 17, 1946 (16.5 months)
Casualties: at least 7,000 (5,240 documented by name)
Main causes of death: typhus, dysentery, exhaustion, dystrophy

Overview: This community consisted of about 350 houses and was entirely ethnic German. Fortunately most of the inhabitants fled before it was captured by the Red Army and the partisans. Only 54 persons stayed behind. The entire community was declared as the first "Special camp" for those ethnic Germans of the South and Middle Batschka that stayed behind. It was planned for the unfit to work of the regions Palanka, Neusatz, Schablj and Titel as well as some communities of the Kula region. The liquidation camp Jarek was also a collection point for the ethnic Germans from the Batschka and Syrmia who were put to work and survived, completely exhausted, the notorious Syrmia work projects, such as the rebuilding of the raillink Belgrade-Bosnian Brod.
At times the number of camp inmates numbered as many as 15,000. It was dissolved April 17, 1946 and the survivors were transferred to the liquidation camp Kruschiwl. During the existence of the camp at least 7,000 civilians became mortality statistics of the mistreatments, stavation and epidemics. Mr. Karl Weber registered 5,400 by name. The victims came from 75 communities, predominatly from the South and Middle Batschka as well as from Syrmia.
The peculiarity of the mistreatments of the Jarek camp consisted in the virtual confinement of the inmates to their lodgings. They were only allowed to come into the street to receive their meals, for which the church bells were rung.
According to the hometown chronicle of Futok, the meals were dispensed from 19 kitchens. About 500-600 persons were served by one kitchen. New arrivals, however, received their first meal only after the eighth day. Normally three meals a day were served. Breakfast consisted of ground corn boiled in water; lunch was usually a soup, some barley or peas, also boiled in water, occasionally bugs included, and 200 grams of coarse corn bread. Dinner was again soup.
The first camp commander who came from the neighboring village Katch was relieved of his command because he was too humane. In his place came Jana Dragojlovic from Banostor, Syrmia. She was young but very much dreaded and considered sadistic. She usually rode on horseback, attacked unsuspecting women and children, pulled them by their hair, whipped them, had them tied to trees and beaten until blood flowed from their noses and mouths. Her usual comments while perusing the daily list of the dead was: "Not enough have died, more have to die." When she was rotated she remarked to the incoming commander: if he was going to annihilate 7,500 Germans within five months as she did, there won't be any left.
The guards were considered more sadistic than in other death camps and more trigger-happy. According to Katharina Frank they received for each kill a special furlough or other bonus. Katharina Haller had to witness how her own father was murdered. He was gunned down while trying to get a few potatoes from a nearby field.
Fritz Ilg also reports: "Daily the partisans came since some of us still had good clothing. We had to give everything away while being beaten. An old man used to ask: "Why are you beating me? I gladly give you my shoes, you don't need to beat me!"
Susanne Harfmann tells of three women who were murdered while coming back from a begging trip: "The three women were lying only 50 yards from the village; they were riddled by bullets. Next to each was a small bundle with food for themselves and their starving children."
Among the clergy interned at Jarek were also Kornelius Weinmann, Franz Klein, Karl Elicker and Kaspar Kopping. They were selected for particularly rough mistreatments by the partisans, ridiculed, beaten and had to perform the most menial jobs.
Martha Müller describes the appalling conditions at the infirmary: "The sick were lying on the floor on a bundle of straw and waiting to die. They all had diarrhea and the lice were crawling over their faces. As soon as they were dead we took them out to the horse stable. The camp commander Jana repeatedly jumped on their chests and shouted: 'You Swabian, have you kicked the bucket?' "
Peter Wilpert, at that time six years old, talks about a somewhat older boy who climbed over fences to be with his mother who became insane and was tied to a post. "Her gaze was staring into a void. Her son sat in front of her, weeping silently. Even though I was younger then he, I sensed that it was his greatest pain to realize his mother did no longer recognize him. For me it was a heartbreaking scene."
Martha Müller was appointed head of the children home. She relates: "The children were left to fend for themselves, neglected, dirty and lice-infested. They were sitting or lying around in the corners, usually in a state of shock. Nevertheless, they continued trying to break out of the home and go begging to the neighboring town Temerin, an attempt that often was fatal. There was nothing we could do to prevent the mass dying; they were too weak and starving. One day they were still playing in the yard, the next day they were dead on their bundle of straw. Maybe it was a blessing that many a mother does not know how her child had to die. I repeatedly had to witness that the last words of children were: 'Mother please give me a piece of bread.'"
Many of the inmates coming from the village Bulkes in April 1945 collapsed since they arrived during a period when no salt was available. Ten to twelve inmates succumbed daily due to starvation, diarrhea and exhaustion. No medicine was available. The physician Dr. Hans Müller and pharmacist Öhl, both inmates themselves, tried to help and concocted some heart drops from a mixture of herbs. Even though they were not effective, they nevertheless had a psychological benefit and people were grateful.
Katharina Haller describes the misery and dying in Jarek: "Wherever you looked, you saw people, shrunk to a skeleton, who were trying to pick the lice from each other's body. They were lying on their straw bundles, conscious or unconscious and waiting for death to arrive. Most of them had sores over their entire bodies. Children had oversized heads and stomaches and one could count each bone. Some slept and died, others were struggling desperately with death. They couldn't help one another since everybody was helpless."
When Agathe Prohaska visited her great grandmother who was dying in the horse stable, the latter whispered to her: "My child, the dogs are biting at my legs." When she checked she saw that the rats were gnawing at her great grandmother's toes even though she was still alive.
Karl Weber who was eleven years old at that time relates his feelings about the dying children: "They died without their mother and without loving care, medical help or compassion. We were so stoic that we felt no sorrow about somebody's death. On the contrary, we were relieved that another crybaby disappeared. Everybody was concerned only with his or her own survival." Many of the surviving children report that, after having been witness to so many miserable deaths, they could no longer shed any tears, even at the death of their own family members. They were completely devoid of feelings and in a state of shock.
The last journey of the dead was equally inhuman. The daily removal of the many corpses had to be done with primitive means. A rack wagon was the hearse. The corpses were thrown into the wagon, one on top of the other, like the disposal of dead stray animals. In the mass graves, they were dumped, nude, in layers of up to five deep and then covered up. Family members were not allowed to be present, nor any clergy.
The Bulkes community has exact documentation on the perished occupants of the former hometown Bulkes. According to these records the chances of survival at the death camp Jarek were as follows: for children up to and including 14 years of age only about 50%. Adults from 50 to 54 years old about 30% and from 55 to 69 about 10%; older ones practically nil.




Camp Kruschiwl/Krusevlje (Batschka)
Established as a concentration camp for the unfit to work of the West and North Batschka.
Original number of the inhabitants of the village of Kruschiwl: 950 (900 ethnic Germans)
Average number of camp inmates: 7,000
Duration of camp: March 12, 1945 - December 10, 1947 (33 months)
Casualties: 3,000 - 3,500 (2,100 documented by name)
Main causes of death: starvation, typhus, dysentery

Overview: The village Kruschiwl was only four km from the Hungarian border. On March 12, 1945 it was designated as the liquidation camp for the Danube Swabians of the West and North Batschka. Between April 15 and 17, 1946 it received a significant increase in inmates due to the transfer of survivors from the Jarek camp. About 100 persons, mainly old people and children were crammed into each house.
The camp Kruschiwl was particularly notorious for the cruelty of its guards and series of public executions ordered by the commanders. After being able to escape in 1946, Therese Schieber reported the following events: "In April 1945 we were forced to hand over all money, watches, rings, earrings, jewelry and items of value. At 4 o'clock in the morning we were called out into the street and the process lasted until 5 o'clock in the morning of the 15th. We all had to stand there during that time, including women with babies.
"Two women, Theresia Peller and Rosalia Langbein, were found to have hidden some change. Mrs. Langbein implored the partisan not to shoot her since she had a five month old baby. In vain, both women were executed. As a deterrent for the others, the corpses were left in the street until the next day.
"On April 24, 1945 Anni Schreiner, a 16-year old girl from Sonta and the 31-year old Elisabeth Piry were taking meals into the field and then went to Stanischtisch to beg for food. They were betrayed and upon return to the camp arrested and locked in a cellar. Like criminals they were taken before the camp commander and given a short tongue-lashing. A partisan, Hungarian, was ordered to execute them; however he refused. The next partisan's rifle misfired and a third was called. He first shot and hit Mrs. Piry who fell down; then he shot at the girl but she was only slightly wounded. She walked towards the partisan and implored him to spare her. However, he dispatched the girl with a bullet into the head. The three grave diggers who were present were ordered to put the two women onto a cart and take them to the cemetery.
"On the way Mrs. Piry regained consciousness, asked for some water and for her child. The six year old daughter was walking along and praying next to the cart. The mother told her to remain brave and tell her father what was done to her. The partisan guard at the village entrance noticed that Mrs. Piry was still alive and notified Djevic Stanko the camp commander who mounted his horse and rode to the cemetery. There he ordered the gravediggers to put the gravely wounded but fully conscious woman next to the dug grave, shot her in the head and pushed her with his boots into the grave."
The two guard teams were notoriously quick with cruel beatings. Mrs. Schieber writes: "Women before being beaten had to disrobe so that the whips and belts hit their bare bodies. Just before Easter several women were caught sneaking out of the camp to beg for food for their children. First they were thrown into a cellar and then brought to the guard house where they had to disrobe. In the middle of the room were two chairs, with the partisans sitting around them. Always two women had to kneel down and grasp the chairs with their hands. Then two partisans began beating the bare backs of the women. When the two were tired they were relieved by two others. The women's backs were bloody and became festered. Most of them died of their wounds. Only the 'third generation' of camp guards, mostly Moslems, were somewhat more humane. "
The cold winter temperature was also one of the premeditated procedures to reduce the number of camp inmates. Another draconian edict was that no heating of the inmates' houses was allowed. According to Stefan Mutter, "During Christmas and New Year 1945, the partisans chased us barefoot during the nights repeatedly across the yard and we had to stand for two hours in the snow until we were stiff from the cold. Then they chased us back into the camp. Most of the people became gravely ill. I myself suffered from an inflammation of the joints."
During the autumn 1945, a typhus epidemic spread throughout the Kruschiwl camp, as it did in the neighboring death camp Gakowa. Over 10 people succumbed daily to this disease.
Another major factor, in addition to starvation and epidemic diseases, was the lack of personal hygiene and washing facilities, which caused infectious skin diseases. This problem and the bites of fleas and lice affected particularly children. The dead were collected daily by a cart which at times had to make two or three trips a day.
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Chapter 8

Crimes Committed Against Children

The most cruel and most shocking chapter of the tragedy of the ethnic Germans in the communist Yugoslavia is the fate of the children. Their demise in the liquidation camps, caused by starvation and diseases is documented in many eyewitness and first person reports. The extent of the spiritual and mental anguish, however, can never be adequately described.
The attempt of the Tito regime to send the surviving children who had no parent or relative left in the camp to government children homes, subject them to a re-nationalization process and arbitrarily determine their ethnic identity runs against the human rights and personal dignity. Fortunately for most of the children, this despicable experiment had to be terminated at the beginning of the 1950's due to world-wide moral pressures, particularly those exerted by the International Committee of the Red Cross (IKRK) in Geneva. At that time, the IKRK, as well as world opinion, could resort to the United Nations Resolution of December 9, 1948 according to which the re-nationalization was explicitly termed a form of genocide and condemned.
The torture of children was also programmed at the end of 1944 together with the internment of all ethnic German civilians. The children were, together with the old, the sick and those unable to work chased into the liquidation camps - also called "death camps," and "starvation and dying camps." Particularly cruel was the brutal taking of children from their mothers since almost all young women were to be shipped as work slaves to Russia.
It is documented that 45,000 children, of up to 14 years of age, were interned and at least 6,000 (13%) starved to death. The percentage of children in the liquidation camps was very high. On April 30, 1946, at the Rudolfsgnad camp there were approximately 18,000 inmates registered of which 8,288 were children under the age 14. For many children the care by parents or relatives was of short duration, since the death rate, particularly up to May 1946, was at its peak and the older people used to sacrifice themselves by giving their tiny rations to the children.
The terms "death camp," and "liquidation camp" are, indeed, justifiable, particularly when you consider that, for example, at the death camp Jarek 171 of the 190 children of the village Bulkes, Batschka, died within one year. That's 42% of the 457 children interned at Jarek.
At the Rudolfsgnad camp 7,664 people out of 17,000 perished between October 1945 and December 1946. Of these 1,036 were children up to 10 years old.
The rapid demise of older people, mostly grandparents and relatives of these children without parents, created a high percentage of orphans. These were then put into children homes within the camps. From there they were then shipped to children homes in the Banat and the Batschka and from there split up to distant homes from Mazedonia to Slovenia.
Siblings were separated with the intention to make them forget their origin. This was mainly achieved with very young children. Those forcefully separated brothers and sisters met again only many years later - if at all - at Belgrad where the Red Cross organized the reunification transports. Most did not recognize each other any more and even spoke different languages. Very few, however, still spoke German.




Eyewitness Reports of the Children's Fate
Volume III of the documentation series Leidensweg III contains 53 reports. They were written by men and women who experienced these events as children. The following are a few of these tragic experiences.
DAVID GERSTHEIMER, born 1936 at Kischker/Batschka. Within a few months after being interned at the Jarek liquidation camp his mother, six siblings and grandparents died of starvation. David, at that time 8 years old, was the only survivor and sent to a government children home for re-education and "Slavinizing."
Father WENDELIN GRUBER, born 1914, Filipowa/Batschka. He spent some time in the Gakowa death camp: "Afternoons I went to the children homes which were set up in the larger farm houses. There the children, between 20 to 30 in a room, were lying around, only on straw and scantily covered. Only skin and bones, sick, and with infected wounds. Nobody cared for them. The small ones cried and screamed pitifully - they were starving. Others were lying motionless; they didn't even have the strength to cry anymore. I went from room to room, always the same picture. A woman who took over as caretaker leads me to the room in the back. Carefully she pulls the cover from a pile of children. What a sight! 'Are they still alive?' I ask trembling. These little ones, in a row on rags are almost naked; skin and bones only. They are gasping for air with open mouths. The last thing the world can offer them. 'We pulled these out since they cannot digest food any more and are the first to die,' was the reply."
Suco, the almighty commander of the Gakowa camp, responding to the question of what plans the Communists had for the surviving children tells Father Wendelin Gruber: "Don't worry, comrade Pope! Everything will be in order! Our Socialist State will look after the children. They now will be adequately fed and then housed in government children homes. A progressive kindergarten teacher has already arrived. She will now take over the responsibility for a good education. These children will be Tito's pioneers and brave fighters for our liberation revolution. You will see, these Fascist, Capitalist children will become model members of the liberated working class and enthusiastic supporters of a better future."
This programmed re-education which was supposed to awaken the hatred for their "Fascist" parents was reported by most of the children. At the time of the reunification process there were children who did not want to go home to their "criminal parents."
KARL WEBER, at that time 11 years old, reports of the tragic consequences of trying to go begging. "My friend Philipp was beaten to death during such a begging trip (on October 28, 1945). It didn't take much, we were already half dead," said Karl Weber about the fate of his friend Philipp Bauer with whom he undertook several such begging trips.
At the Jarek camp, FRIEDRICH GLAS from Bulkes who saw two of his great-grandparents and two grandparents, as well as his two year old sister starve to death, was caught, together with his friend PETER KENDL slipping out of the camp to go begging. The two partisans took them to the guardroom. After a while they were led back to the place where they were caught and motioned to go away. After they made a few steps the guards then shot at them from behind. Fritz who played dead, survived. The wounded Peter, however, screamed after the guards had already started to go away. They returned and killed him with a bullet to the head.
Suicides because of despair, fright and sense of shame after being raped also occurred. Not even children were spared from rape during the mass rapes at Deutsch-Zerne in October 1944. EVA BISCHOF, only nine years old, was cruelly raped by nine men. Her injuries were so severe that she lost consciousness and was unable to move. Thereupon her own mother, in desperation, hung her child and hung herself.
JULIANE WIRAG, born 1908, from Ridjitza strangled her twin daughters, born in 1944 because she could find no way to save them from slow starvation and then hung herself.
EVA BUTZSCHEDEL, born 1932, from Gakowa, relates one of the most tragic and touching experiences documented. Her mother was sick with typhus. "Day by day, the condition in our room and that of my mother became worse. We were praying intensely. Mother never stopped praying. God, however, had other plans for her. Her condition became worse and we saw death approaching. Everybody in the room already had high fever and nobody was aware of the others around them. When Monika, my sister, became aware of mother's imminent death, she did not leave her side. She constantly called: 'Mother, you will not die, right, Mother you won't abandon us, right?'
"She implored the Holy Mother: 'Wonderful Mother please help our mother.' She continuously caressed Mother and noticed that she became increasingly weaker. Her tears kept dripping down on the terminally ill as if she believed they would help save her from death. I think there is nothing worse in this world for a child than in such a state of loneliness, surrounded by death and distress to kneel at the deathbed of the mother, not being able to help in her struggle and having to watch how the hand of death slowly takes her away forever. . ."
KAROLINE BOCKMÜLLER, born 1905, Deutsch-Zerne, Banat, describes the condition of the children camp in a part of the Rudolfsgnad liquidation camp. "I had to visit this children camp and happen to enter a room which contained 30-35 children (from babies to 16 months old) whose parents had died. None of them could stand, let alone walk. They were just lying there or slid around the room on their bellies. The room was reeking of excrements. The children were crying, pale and starving. Their bodies were smeared with excrement, which was partially dried to the skin. I fled from the room, weeping and asked the women whether there was anybody to look after these poor abandoned children. They replied they could not help since they had no diapers, nor towels, water basins, water, soap - practically nothing. They continually asked the camp administration for just the basic requirements, however received nothing, only the comment: 'The children should kick the bucket.' They also tried repeatedly to take away my grandchild and put it into the children camp but I did not give her up. After she died I escaped from the Rudolfsgnad camp and went to Molidorf to look for my mother. There I was told that my mother and aunt had died of starvation in the camp."
PETER WILPER, born 1938, from Palanka, Batschka, talkes about the conditions at the liquidation camp Jarek: "Both grandmothers died within a week. After that I was all by myself, only six years old, terribly alone."
KATHARINA WEBER, born 1935, from Bulkes/Batschka, at that time ten years old was, together with six of her schoolmates at the Jarek liquidation camp. Five of them died between September 1945 and February 1946. The sixth girlfriend died in October 1947 at the Subotica camp. The surviving Katharina was shipped to a government home.
ANNA NIKLOS-NYARI describes the sad passing of an entire family at the Gakowa liquidation camp: "There was a young mother who lived in a room with her three small children. When her last child was struggling with death she said to the people in the next room: 'I don't know anymore for whom I should pray, mourn or weep first: for my husband who died in the war, my parents, my grandparents, brothers and sisters or for my children. What does the Almighty want to do with me? Haven't I suffered enough yet? Do I now also have to give up my last child?' She staggered back into her room and knelt down next to the dying boy. We stood in our own room and wept. If the years of compassion could have helped, the little boy surely wouldn't have died.
"We heard the boy groan and for a long time I could not fall asleep. It must have been early in the morning when I woke up. Everybody around me was still asleep. I looked into the neighboring room. The little boy, lying on the floor had his hands folded; I knew what this meant: the woman's third child had now also died. She didn't wake anybody but kept watch and prayed all by herself. At that moment I saw her kneeling down, her gaze up to the ceiling and she started to talk aloud. Was she becoming insane? Her voice was humble: 'Almighty, you have taken all my loved ones to you. I hope you now won't forget to take me. Don't let me wait long, I am ready to die. I have only one wish: When Tito dies let all the poor souls who were tortured, starved to death and murdered on his orders pass by his death bed, me and my children last. Only then should he be allowed to die.' "




Rescue Efforts
Promises of the Yugoslav representation in the USA were never carried out. It was all deception and delaying tactics. Endeavors of governmental, ecclesiastical, as well as the efforts of the welfare offices of the Red Cross in Germany and Austria, remained ignored by the Communist Yugoslavia. Even the efforts of the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva remained without real success. There were not only problems with the Yugoslavian authorities, the Allied occupation forces in Germany and Austria were not always understanding and often delayed possible support.
Finding the location and repatriation of the "lost children" entailed great efforts. The distribution of the publication Kinder im Schatten (Children in the Shadow) by Batschka writer Adalbert K. Gauss, in early August 1950 initiated some movement in the rescue of the children. Several organizations and individuals and particularly the International Committee of the Red Cross, after tedious struggles, achieved some success and, between 1950 and 1959, about 2,300 children could be re-united with their parents and relatives. Still, several hundred German children could no longer be found and meanwhile were "reeducated" and "slavinized." They now live somewhere in the partitioned Yugoslavia. They may be lost, but never forgotten. It is one of the most tragic chapters of the Danube Swabian tragedy.
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Chapter 9

The Suffering and Dying of German Clergy

The Catholic and Protestant clergy was a highly respected profession by the Germans in the former Yugoslavia. During the persecution of the ethnic Germans by the partisan regime, 37 of them were killed, mostly in a gruesome manner. The clergy of both denominations became martyrs for two reasons: first because they were declared ideological enemies of the Atheist dominated Yugoslavia and second because they belonged to the ethnic German population which was destined to be exterminated.
The short biographies of some of these murdered clerics are representative of the suffering and annihilation of this vocational group. More detailed descriptions are documented in the book Verbrechen an den Deutschen in Jugoslawien 1944-48, (Crimes Against the Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia), pages 256-270, published by the Donauschwäbische Kulturstiftung, München 1998.
Already in 1941, at the beginning of the Axis Powers' war with Yugoslavia, some clerics were taken as hostages and interned at Peterwardein. With the battle fronts getting closer in 1941, most of the clergy refused to leave, even though implored to flee. While some were initially spared from internment, others were ridiculed, forced to do menial work and tortured. Several were already murdered in their parishes immediately after the occupation as part of the annihilation process by the Intelligenzija campaign. For them death was a release from their sufferings.
Here are some particularly notorious examples of such suffering and murders.
Dr. PHILIP POPP, (1893-1945) Bishop of the German-Protestant church in Yugoslavia and Senator of the Yugoslav Upper House, 1940. Dr. Popp was loyal to his German heritage and the Yugoslav nation. In those difficult times he was criticized by those not sharing his views, however, he preserved the independence of his church. When Croatia became an independent nation, he protested against the persecution of Serbs, helped them to flee and accepted them in his church without baptism.
Towards the end of the war, when the partisan army approached, he remained in his Agram parish. He was arrested in May 1945, court-martialed and condemned to death on false charges on June 28, 1945. He was shot the next day. The Serbian Patriarch in Belgrade described Bishop Dr. Popp as a just and loyal man. He died a martyr's death for the Danube Swabian Protestant church.
ADALBERT von NEIPPERG, (1890-1948) Count von Neipperg was a priest who looked after the spiritual needs of the German troops at Windisch-Feistritz. He became a prisoner of war in 1945, refused the offer of freedom and remained with the soldiers as a medic and priest. At the notorious POW camp Werschetz/Vrsac he succeeded in obtaining additional food and performed religious services. The POWs (Prisoners of War) called him "Our Father." On December 23, 1948, the day before Christmas Eve, he was summoned to the Communist staff headquarters and did not return. He was found the next day with his throat cut, tortured and murdered. His remains were transferred to the monastery chapel at Neuburg. The grave marker reads "Martyr of Love."
ANTON ADAM, (1908-1944) born in Chicago, IL, USA died at Gross-Kikinda. He was the priest for the parishes St. Hubert, Charleville and Soltour. Father Adam was, together with 120 men, tortured and executed by machine guns.
ANTON BERGER, Kunbaja (1884-1944) Priest at Tavankut. He was taken out of his rectory and disappeared. Manner and place of death unknown.
JOSEF BÖCKMANN, Rudolfstal/Bosanski Aleksandrovac (1910-1945) Priest at Glamoc and Prijedor (Bosnia). Secretly executed.
FRANZ BRUNET, Modosch (1898-1944) Priest at Deutsch-Zerne. Representative of the Belgrade See at Gross-Betschkerek was taken as hostage and executed by the partisans.
JULIUS BÜRGER, Kula (1885-1944) Priest at Podravska Slatina. Executed for keeping religious articles.
VALENTIN DUPP, Bukin (1883-1944) Priest at Tschurug. Even though he intervened on behalf of the Serbian priest during the Hungarian occupation in 1941, the son, a partisan, ordered him executed.
JOSEF EPPICH, (1874-1942) Priest at Bittersdorf near Gottschee. Was killed on his way to visit sick people at one of the dispersed settlements.
FERDINAND GASSMANN, (1914-1946) Franziscan and Missionary took food to the Gakowa liquidation camp. He was arrested by the OZNA (Secret Police of the Partisans), condemned to death and executed.
ANTON HAUG, (1890-1945) Priest at Tschonopel. After torture and starvation, died at the Svilara camp.
THEODOR KLEIN, (1872-1945) Priest at Manoster/Beli Manastir, Dechant. Died after torture at the village inn.
FRANZ KLEIN, (1879-1946) Priest at Katsch, Decau. Had a good relationship with the authorities and Serbian clergy. Looked after inmates at Jarek and Kruschiwl camps. Died of starvation.
JOSEF KNAPP, (1912-1944) Priest at Glogon. Before being executed with 46 men of the community, he admonished his companions to face death with faith and confidence.
JOSEF KORNAUTH, (1872-1945) Priest at Gross-Gaj. He died at camp Setschanfeld.
WILHELM KUND, (1880-1946) Priest at Pantschowa, Senior. In spite of prohibition to preach, torture and injuries he secretly prayed with the camp inmates. He succumbed to his injuries from torture at the camp prison.
JOHANN NEPOMUK LAKAJNER, (1873-1944) Priest at Ruma. He refused to be evacuated before the capture by the partisans and stayed with his community. He was said to have been tied to a wagon and dragged to death by the partisans.
PETER MÜLLER, (1884-1951) Priest at Filipowa. Arrested by the UDBA (Yugoslav Secret State Police) in 1948 because he was corresponding with former members of his parish (prisoners of war, refugees and deportees to Russia) he was sentenced to 3 years at the penitentiary. Since he was terminally ill, he was released after 20 months and died.
STEFAN MÜLLER-MAJOROS, ( -1946) Priest at Neu-Palanka, Batschka. In 1944, forced by the partisans to walk to Hungary he was supposed to have died there due to the hardships he endured.
JOSEF NOVOTNY, (1909-1944) Priest at Plawing/Plavna. Kidnapped by the partisans to Batsch, tortured to death at the cellar of the town hall and disposed of in the forest.
FRANZ PLANK, (1885-1944) Priest at Alt-Siwatz. Murdered by the partisans.
EMANUAL RETZER, (1912-1944) Lutheran pastor at Heidschütz. Deported as slave worker to Russia and presumably succumbed to the hardships in one of the slave labor camps.
MICHAEL ROTHEN, (1895-1944) Chaplain at Weisskirchen, Zichidorf and Werschetz. He was tortured and murdered, together with 28 other ethnic German men at the notorious "Milchhalle" at Gross-Kikinda.
MICHEL SCHAFFER, (1908-1946) Priest at Laibach. As a German national and priest he was arrested in 1945, became ill while in jail and, after his release, died as a result of his incarceration.
WILHELM SCHÄFER, (1848-1944) Priest at Tschestereg. Was interned with community inhabitants. Being a priest he was humiliated and tortured. He died in the camp.
FRANZ SCHAFFHAUSER, (1919-1945) Franziscan. He is one of the 139 Franziscans who were murdered in Yugoslavia between 1941 and 1946 by either the Tschetniks or partisans.
LORENZ SCHERER, (1912-1947) Vicar at Tscherwenka. Was deported as a slave worker to the coal mines of Russia. Because of his faith esteemed but particularly mistreated. He died of exhaustion.
JOSEF SCHMIDT, (1913-1944) Professor for religion and youth counselor on the island of Daksa near Dubrovnik. As an enemy of communism he was murdered on the notorious "Death Island."
JOSEF SCHMIDT, (1876-1949) Priest at Modosch. Because he issued documents to members of his former Modosch congregation, he was admonished, then arrested and sentenced to two and one half years of detention. He died while in jail.
KARL UNTERREINER, (1897-1944) Teacher of religion at Palanka, Papal Honorary Chaplain, founder of Boy Scout groups and the Bonifatius Society at Budapest (Hungary). Arrested together with 100 German men and, after gruesome torture, executed in the forest near Palanka.
ANDREAS VARGA, (1913-1944) Priest at Toba. Chaplain at Werschetz and Weisskirchen. Tortured at the town hall, dumped into the basement, killed and disposed of.
PETER WEBER, (1884-1944) Priest at Karlsdorf. During the "Aktion Intelligenzija" tortured by Red Army soldiers and executed.
PETER WEINERT, (1874-1945) Priest at Batschka-Palanka. Together with 1,200 ethnic German men chased to the central camp at Neusatz, where he died. The regime had to consent to his burial in the tomb of the last abbot of Neusatz, with a large participation of believers.
MICHEL WERNER, (1883-1944) Priest at the abbey of Martonosch. Dragged, together with 21 ethnic German men, by local Serbs to the basement of the town hall. There they were tortured, mangled with pliers, taken to Tschurug, shot and disposed of in trenches.
ANTON WEISS, (1913-1943) Served as German military chaplain. Captured at Stalingrad (Russia) and executed by the Russian army.
RICHARD WEISS, (1916-1944) Chaplain at Modritsch (Bosnia). Tortured and murdered by Tschetniks or partisans.
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