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Historical Accounts

Dr. Vladimir Geiger
Historian at the
Croatian Historical Institute in Zagreb presented his research on

Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Ethnic German Human Loses during WWII and Thereafter

Page-3

Translated by
Rosina T. Schmidt

Continuation from page 2: ....homes, and those who were coming from different parts with the intention to return to their homes, were to be sent to labor camps, as well as those who are still arriving. "

At the Potsdam Conference (July 17th to August 2, 1945) the Allied powers who won the war, it was concluded (XIII: "Orderly resettlement of the German population") that the remaining German population from Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary must relocate to the area of ??Germany. Resettlement (ethnic cleansing) was legalized as a lasting and satisfactory solution that should be carried out in an "organized and in a humane way." The States that were not part of the Potsdam Conference, solved the problem of ethnic Germans cleansing in even more drastic ways, especially Yugoslavia.

For Austria it was a major economic, social and political problem in regards to the DPs (Displaced Persons), especially in regards to the largest group the ethnic Germans at the end of World War II and post-war period. From the middle of 1945 the problem of displaced persons in Austria began to intensify greatly. Czechoslovakia, Hungary and Yugoslavia began during that time expelling the ethnic Germans in masses. The Austrian government has protested to the Allies and insisted that they immediately shut the Austrian border. The British, American and Soviet occupation authorities in Austria, not only encouraged the return of ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia, but they expressed opposition to the Yugoslav efforts to deny the return of refugees / displaced persons, and especially opposed Yugoslavia's efforts to expel ethnic Germans from Yugoslavia.

Because of the closure of the borders with Austria, Italy and Hungary by the Allied occupation authorities in mid-July 1945 the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Yugoslavia became impossible and for the remaining Yugoslav ethnic Germans what followed were the camps and forced labor.

The question in regards of ethnic German property in Yugoslavia was resolved without compromise. There was no difference between the property of the German government and private property of the ethnic German who were actually Yugoslav citizens;  the properties of ethnic Germans were fully equal to the Germans of the German Reich and all were declared enemies of the Yugoslav peoples.

During the preparation for agrarian reform and colonization the question arose as to whether the decision of the Presidency AVNOJ on 21 November 1944t in regards to the property of Austrians, Austrian citizens who expressed to be Yugoslav nationals would also apply, the Presidency of the Ministerial Council DF Yugoslavia  took the view on the 26th October 1945 that the decision by AVNOJ should also apply to assets of the Austrians.

Thus, the assets of the Trappist Monastery of Mary Star, as well as asset of the ASC  convent were confiscated in the immediate post-war period, and their long-time charitable, educational, cultural and economic work  as well as the credit for the progress of Bosnia and Herzegovina was suppressed and forgotten.

In Yugoslavia, a total of about 100,000 ethnic German properties were confiscated, an area of 637,939 hectares.  Bosnia and Herzegovina took possession  of 3,523 properties of a total of 12,733 surface hectares. The procedure of confiscation only required to establish that a particular asset was entered on the date the Decision of the Presidency of AVNOJ on 21st of November 1944 was made and that it belonged to persons of German nationality or ethnic German minority.

*

It is estimated that approximately 500,000 Yugoslav ethnic Germans were able to escape by the end of World War II, and that's not counting members of the military and paramilitary troops.  But about 200,000 ethnic German civilians were not able to escape and fell under communist dictatorship in Yugoslavia.  Out of that 25% died in the internment camps between 1944 and the beginning of 1948, while the rest disappeared during the ethnic cleansing.

The structure of the Yugoslav ethnic Germans inmates was most vividly describe by the Ministry of Interior of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia on 18th of January 1946. (Tabular overview of interned and not interned ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia), which states that in Yugoslavia’s camps  were 117,485 ethnic Germans, of which 34,214 were men, 58,821 were women and 24,422 were children, and that 12,897 ethnic Germans were not interned. According to this report, on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina 1,117 ethnic Germans were in the camps, of whom 469 were men, 222 were women and 426 were children, and fnot interned were 4 persons of German nationality (1 man, 1 woman and 2 children). (Table 13)

This shows that the esimates were too low and that in the post-war period in Yugoslavia  acctually

580 German / folksdoj?erske were interned in the camps and that not interned were actually 70 Bosnian-Herzegovinian ethnic Germans. (Table 7)

In the post-war period the Bosnia-Herzegovina’s ethnic Germans were interned in camps for ethnic Germans in the regions of Slavonia. To the camps were sent entire ethnic German families, mostly elderly, women with children, regardless of age. However, the inmates who were able to work were forced to slave labour, usually to a physical labour.

In 1948 the first post-war census 55,337  ethnic Germans were recorded in Yugoslavia (in Bosnia and Herzegovina 1174), (the Austrians listed in 1948 census due to the negligible number of their members were grouped under "Other"), which most vividly testifies to their fate. (Table 1)

After 1951 the conditions for the ethnic German minority in Yugoslavia slightly improved. FNR Yugoslavia  abolished the status of “the state of war” with Austria and Germany. Until then the emigration of ethnic Germans from Yugoslavia was still possible only through the Red Cross as part of family reunification. After  the agreement between Yugoslav and German governments in 1952, the remaining Donauschwaben were able to relocate to Germany, and individuall emigration was approved. After the 1953 and 1954 with signing of an agreement between the Austrian and Yugoslav government's the remeining ethnic Germans were dismissed of the Yugoslav citizenships and had the opportunity to acquire the Austrian citizenship, and as of 1955 the emigration of German and Austrian minorities of Yugoslavia was considerably simplified. Therefore, the population censuses in Yugoslavia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina continued to show significant reduction in the number of ethnic Germans (and Austrians). (Table 1)

*

The most systematic statistical / demographic calculations of the casualties of Yugoslavia in World War II both B. Ko?ovi? and V. Žerjavi? present different numbers but also between themselves  present contradictory demographic indicators and actual losses of ethnic Germans Bosnias and Herzegovians. According Ko?ovi? the human losses of ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War were: demographic 19,000, and the actual 1,000 people. According Ko?ovi?’s calculations / estimations because of the war there were 1,000 unborn, assimilated 2000, migrated to Vojvodina 1000, emigrated to the West 13,000, emigrated to the East 1000, to a total of 18,000 ethnid Germans losses to Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Table 9 and 10)

Ko?ovi? noted that if there were less who assimilated (in the case of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s ethnic Germans  who "became Croats"), the less actual casualties of the Bosnian-Herzegovinan’s Croats, and vice versa. When assimilated,

in this case, "becoming Croats" Bosnian-Herzegovina’s ethnic Germans the outcome however woud be the opposite, but maybe it was more emigration.

According, however to  ŽERJAVI? the human losses of ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War were: demographic 16,000 (including assimilation), and the actual 1,000 people. According Žerjavi?’ calculations / estimations  in 1941 there should have been in Bosnia and Herzegovina 16,000, and in 1948 17,000 ethnic Germans. The census of FNR Yugoslavia in 1948 recorded around 1,000 Germans in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which explains Žerjavi?’ demographic losses of 14,000 16,000 respectively (plus assimilation 2000), and because of the war and emigration about 1,000 Unborn and emigration of about 12,000 people. (Table 11 and 12)

However, both Ko?ovi?’ and especially ŽERJAVI?’ calculations / estimates of the casualties among the Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Second World War are questionable. In addition to the official census of 1931 and the 1948, from which both Ko?ovi? and Žerjavi? took as a starting point in their calculations / estimates, the other figures presented are just assumptions and speculation.

First of all, it is the difference of assimilation estimation of about 2,000 ethnic Germans to "Croats," during the post-war period in Bosnia and Herzegovina of Ko?ovi? from Žerjavi?’s estimation.
Žerjavi?ev incorrectly calculated / estimated the number of emigrated Bosnian-Herzegovinian ethnic Germans during WWII to about 12,000. Both sources, the German and the Yugoslavian claim that the emigration of Bosnian-Herzegovinian ethnic Germans during World War II and especially in 1942 was about 18,000, including the what was then Croatian expatriates ethnic Germans  already living in the German Reich.

According to the German / Danube Swabina allegations, based on their estimates, calculations and lists, during and after World War II some 1,301 ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina, lost their lifes of which 110 persons werev civilians during the war, 130 people were civilians in the starvation camps of the post-war period from 1945  to the 1948, and 211 people lost their lives by the communist authorities, and most of them, 850, lost their lives as soldiers, members of the armed forces of the ISC and the German Reich during World War II. (Table 8)

The various lists of casualties and victims of soldiers and civilians in World War II and post-war period in Bosnia and Herzegovina differ drastically.

There are many of those documentations: created by the INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  during the Second World War, created by Germany after World War II and to the present day, and lists created in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia after the 1991.

The names of the civilians who were killed by the revolunionaries and the partisans People's Liberation Army and Partisan detachments of the  Yugoslav army and Chetniks - The Yugoslav Army in the INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as the  names of the soldiers who died in combat with the insurgents, partisans - NOV and PO Yugoslavia / I and the Chetniks  were published by JVuO in the press and in special editions of the ISC , and in the press of the partisan movement during the Second World War, specifically in the special editions of the new communist government in the immediate post-war period. Among those casualties and victims are also included etnich Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The names of ethnic Germans killed in the paramilitary units of the ethnic German folk group in the INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  (Deutsche Mannschaft, Ortsschutz, Heimatwacht) and military units of the INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  (Deutschen Jägerbataillons, Einsatzstaffel DM) or German Reich (Wehrmacht, Waffen-SS), as well as civilian members of the ethnic German civilian groups in the ISC, who were killed by insurgents, partisans - NOV and PO Yugoslavia / and the Chetniks - JVuO, were published already during the war by the ethnic German national groups in the ISC. In these lists are included the soldiers as well as civilians victims of the ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina in the period from the beginning of the Second World War to the end of the 1943.

Indispensable was the information by the the German Red Cross about the fate of the missing ethnic German persons in Yugoslavia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina both soldiers and civilians during World War II and post-war period.

After World War II the number of casualties and victims was reported larger than it actually was and their heritage origin was surpressed that lead to the reports of the human losses to be easily manipulated.

The postwar Yugoslav system and society were inhumane and extremly ideologicaly biased, justifying human losses as good or bad and being of adesirable or undesirable nature. The Yugoslav accounting of human losses in World War II did not list all human losses, be it military or civilian, with the  indication of the perpetrators of warring political and military parties, regardless of their nationality / ethnicity, religion, political or military background. These are the lists referred to the fallen and the victims that were caused primarily by occupation forces and their collaborators.

The fact was ignored that a considerable number of people lost their lifes on the enemy side, or  were killed in the fight against insurgents, and against the National Liberation Army and Yugoslav partisan / Yugoslav Army and, or in turn, were their victims during the war or in the post-war period. Yugoslav ethnic Germans were the prime example of such cases.

Specifically no human losses were mentioned by name nor  on any of the most comprehensive listings of the Bosnian-Herzegovinian ethnic Germans, be it soldiers or civilians during World War II, as they were considered as the enemy side until the 1991.  

Those WWII and later lists / VICTIMOLOGIES strictly included only the fallen members of the partisan movement, and the victims of terror by the government and armed forces of the occupying forces of the German Reich and INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA. Listed were the Serbs, Croats, Jews, Gypsies, and other nations / ethnic groups. The killings of Bosnian-Herzegovinian ethnic German members of the partisan movement, and victims of terror by the government and armed forces of the occupying forces and INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  and the German Reich during World War II (for example, Lina (Angelina), Borka (Borislav) and Mira (Miroslav) Dietrich (Dittrich) from Zenica, Drago Lang from Banja Luka, Samuel, Emily and Hilda Majer (Mayer) from Sijekovac near Bosanski Brod) very mentioned only in some published works and contributions. None of these people were mentioned in historiography publications nationaly or  ethnicaly or are reported as the Croats or
Jews.

When studying the human losses of  Bosnian-Herzegovinian ethnic Germans during World War II and post-war period, the inevitable question arises about  the ethnic Germans who died as members of the partisan movement and about ethnic Germans civilian victims of the terror by the government and armed forces of the INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  and German occupying forces of the Reich, as well as other occupation or puppet government and powers.

The history and the fate of ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina during, at the end of the Second World War and the post  war is dealt in the works of German authors, based largely on memories / statements, but also literature, newspapers and other sources. In these publications, the historical volumes, home-town books and collections of documents and written rememberances some  names of the victims are published including soldiers and civilians ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Second World War and the post war period, and the circumstances were described under which they lost their lives.

The most extensive name lists / VICTIMOLOGY of the ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina, soldiers and civilians, the victims during World War II and post-war period, in one places, which has brought together all the previously available data, bringing the fourth book of the series Leidensweg der Deutschen im kommunistischen Jugoslawien, titled Menschenverluste -Namen und Zahlen zu Verbrechen an den Deutschen durch das Tito-Regime in der Zeit von 1944-1948, published in 1994. The list is also available on the website.
 Ethnic German (Danube Swabian) lists of casualties and victims mention only the fallen members of the ethnic German national group in INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  who were part of the military and (or) paramilitary and police forces ISC or  part of the German Reich as well as the ethnic Germans civilians killed by NOV and POJ / I, but does not include the fallen ethnic Germans  who were members of the partisan movement and were the ethnic German civilian victims of terror by the government and by the armed forces of the INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  or the occupying forces, the German Reich, and other occupation and puppet government and powers.

Those ethnic German or Danube Swabian published collections of victims of ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Second World War and the post war period consists of numerous papers and victimologies that were published, especially after the 1991, in Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Slovenia.

Existing lists of casualties and victimologies, which bring information the ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina,  are incomplete, and are often being accused of being false and misleading. The reasons are several. For example, for some people, in spite of the German surname, it is not always easy to determine, whether the person is  German or Croat, or someone else altugether.

Many ethnic Germans did  not express themseles or felt as such. Also, many people who have felt and identified themselves as ethnic Germans did not have a German last name.

Often, the decission of national / ethnic origin of the victims , which is particularly the case of ethnic Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the problem was the lack or inaccessibility of necessary data.

With nominal indicators it was possible to determine that during World War II and post-war period at least 445 ethnic Germans in Bosnia and Herzegovina have lost their lives. (Table 14).  Most of them during the Second World War, but also in the post-war period. About 215 of these persons (men) died (killed, killed, dead, missing) as members of the military and (or) paramilitary troops of the INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA  or of the German Reich. Overwhelming number of others (men, women and children) were killed (murdered, killed, disappeared) as the civilian population during the Second World War and the post war period. Of which at least 40 civilians were killed in the post-war period in revenge and (I) in the camps. (Table 15)

*

Despite diverse sources in the literature and in different and even contradictory statements about the number of ethnic Germans in Bosnia and Herzegovina  in 1931, then in 1941and tin 1945, and the number of ethnic Germans who emigrated from Bosnia and Herzegovina in late in 1942., and the total number of emigrants, refugees and displaced Bosnian-Herzegovinian ethnic Germans during World War II and post-war period, and the number of Germans of Bosnia and Herzegovina during the Second World War and the post war period who lost their lives, as soldiers and as civilians, we can conclude:

Most likely the assessment and statistics that at the beginning of the Second World War in Bosnia and Herzegovina there were about 20,000 members of the ethnic German national group. Towards the end of 1942 about 15,000 or more were displaced to the German Reich. The statistics of the number of ethnic German emigrants, refugees and displaced persons of Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1943, 1944 and 1945 and until the end of World War II could be around 1,500 to 3,000 people. The first post-war census in 1948 registered in Bosnia and ... see page4

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