Rosina T. Schmidt
The ‘Action’ during which 8,000 ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia were liquidated (men, women, priests and even children) took place between October 1944 and April 1945 by being shot or killed under torture.
With this action the ethnic German leadership was to be eliminated and the rest of the ethnic German population made pliable and submissive to the communist system. Such mass liquidations happened in the Batschka as well.
The OZNA shooting commandos worked uniformly. The mobile shooting commandos arrested the leading, respected and wealthy ethnic Germans, tortured them and in the end shot them. They choose the elite from the ethnic German groups of industrialist, the merchants, wealthy farmers, professionals, clergy, intellectuals, and even children, calling them the ‘capitalists’ and ‘the peoples enemies’.The order to eliminate them came most likely from the highest partisan leadership without any kind of consultation. These were Tito, Rankovic, Pijade and Kardelj.
The “judicial proceedings” consisted of making of a list of “fascists” and “public enemies” to be executed, which the village mayor had to confirm with his signature. One such list is to be found in the military archives (Vojni Sud) of Novi Sad, which lists the 212 men from Filipowa who were murdered on 25 November 1944.
Danube Swabians from the Batschka were shot and killed as follows:
|Apatin 55 persons||Kolut 40 persons|
|Bajmok 80 persons||Palanka 242 persons|
|Besdan 18 persons||Sombor 59 persons|
|Filipowa 212 persons||Weprowatz 17 persons|
|Hodschag 164 persons||Werbaß 101 persons|
|Kleinker 138 persons|
The abbreviation AVNOJ stands for: Antifašističko Veće Narodnog Oslobodjenja Jugoslavije (Anti-Fascist Council of the Liberation of Yugoslavia).
At the AVNOJ meeting in Jajce on 29th /30th November 1943 MOŠA PIJADE requested -as per paragraphs 11 and 15- that “Public Enemies” and “traitors” be deprived of their liberty rights and receive the death penalty. The disenfranchised should be shot. During Tito’s administration ALEKSANDAR RANKOVIC implemented this decision on October 1944. The AVNOJ’s declaration was the cause of the expropriation and deprivation of the ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia.
It the Batschka ethnic Germans (Danube Swabians) were affected as well. It started the confiscation of their assets, their internment and murder. The measures taken by the partisans to eradicate Yugoslavia’s ethnic German minority prior to the establishment of this law were adopted and sealed the future of the Donauschwaben. Even the later elected Yugoslavian National Assembly accepted this law and allowed it to stay in full force.
This law included:
- All persons living in Yugoslavia of ethnic German descent automatically lose their Yugoslavian citizenship, civil privileges and civil rights.
- The state has the right of confiscating all the assets – movable and immovable – of persons of ethnic German ancestry and those assets automatically became the state’s property.
- Those persons within ethnic German minority cannot claim any civil or civic rights and cannot use the courts or state institutions for their personal protection.This law made outlaws out of about 250,000 ethnic Germans. Anyone was free to commit any conceivable crime against to him or her without being made accountable. Anyone could play being a ‘judge’ to the ethnic Germans. The consequences of this law were mass liquidation by shooting, butchering and the like, the mass deportation to forced labor and mass extermination in concentration and forced labor camps. Tito’s administration, which imposed and enforced this law, was fully responsible for all the crimes before and after that law came into effect, which were perpetrated against the ethnic German minority.
Were the AVNOJ decisions legal?
On 8th of July 1941 Germany and Italy dissolved the state of Yugoslavia and divided it. From that moment on the laws of the newly created states came into effect.
The AVNOJ decisions of 21st of November 1944 were not declared by freely elected legislative bodies. Therefore those resolutions have no legality. The AVNOJ decisions violated the declaration of universal human rights. As such they lack legal standing. Since a wrong cannot be legally enacted, therefore they would have been void even if proper legislative bodies have supported them. The violence committed by the partisans on the Danube Swabians and other ethnic Germans was perpetrated during a time of tyranny and not under a lawful state. They were performed with hatred against innocent people and are crimes against humanity.
It is the duty of all nations to assert the universal human rights of their people. It means:
- Make all the AVNOJ decisions null and void.
2. Punishment of the crime.
3. Restoration of the legal rights to the homeland.
4. Compensation for damage to life and limb.
5. Restoration and compensation for the confiscated property.
DISPLACED PERSONS LAW (BUNDESVERTRIEBENENGESETZ)
The definition of the term ‘displaced’ in the displaced persons law (BUNDESVERTRIEBENENGESETZ) under the common law has been defined as follows:
“Displaced persons are the German citizens or ethnic Germans who through the events of World War II were displaced by expulsion or had to flee and lost their homes, which are currently under foreign administration of eastern German territories or in the areas outside of the German Reich as of December 31, 1937.”
This also applies to those German nationals and their ancestors that emigrated decades or centuries earlier and lived in foreign countries. (Volga Germans, Transylvanian Saxons, Banat Swabian, Danube Swabians).
The first expropriation of the ethnic German population in the Batschka (as well as in the other areas of Yugoslavia) took place after the First World War. Those expropriation measures imposed on the German ethnic group undertaken under the ‘Agrarian Reform’ were the forerunner of the total expropriation, which occurred after 1944. This ended the nearly two hundred years of Danube-Swabian implemented farming agriculture and social culture in Yugoslavia.
The first expropriation law decrees of 25th of February 1919, 21st of May 1922, 4th of July 1922 and 19th of July 1931, were the basis for a number of detailed rules and regulations. Large landholdings of cultivated land, farmland, meadows, vineyards, vegetable gardens, hop gardens, rice fields, were expropriated, which were larger than 300 hectares (521 KJ) or 500 hectares (869 KJ).
Mostly affected by the expropriation was the ethnic German population. The expropriated land was allocated to so-called “Dobrovoljci” (volunteers of the First World War), Optanten colonists and Slavic land-poor farmers (tenant farmers, farm workers), predominantly of Serb ethnicity. Not a single ethnic German received any of the allocation land, not even a poor ethnic German agricultural laborer.
After the First World War a total of 155,195 Katasterjoch (89,315 hectares) were expropriated in the Batschka. This represented 12.5% of the total cultivated farmland. Under this agrarian reform 264 farms from 137 individuals were confiscated from 80 communities, 17 from church ownership, 19 from the former State of Hungary, 8 from charities and 3 from agricultural communes.
After the Second World War the ethnic German population was totally expropriated. The “legal basis” of this expropriation was the decision of the “anti-Fascist National Liberation Council of Yugoslavia” (AVNOJ) made on 21st of November 1944 to transfer the ‘enemy’s’ assets to the ownership of the state … (Article l, paragraph 2: “All assets of person of German ethnicity. ..”). Expropriated were a total of 97,000 properties with a combined area of 637,000 hectares.
With the extension of the ‘Law of Restriction’ regarding the real estate ownership in Vojvodina, which was declared on 24th of February 1938 and 7th of September 1939, which included also Batschka, that the long term expropriation of the property of the ethnic German population was enforced. Affected were 80% of ethnic German municipalities.
In the Hungarian part of the Batschka the land reform of 15th of March 1945 included the total expropriation of the ethnic Germans. It was confirmed with the law made on 9th on June 1945 regarding the confiscation and their implementation in Yugoslavia.
As per Belgrade’s statistical yearbook of 1989 the ‘Law of Agrarian Reform of 23rd of August 1945’ the following real estate assets were expropriated and taken over by the “National Fund”:
Large farms 235ha = 15.00%
Banks, Brokerages and similar 78ha = 5.00%
Churches and monasteries 164ha = 10.50%
Real estate larger than the maximum of 122ha = 7.80%
From owners who have disappeared 32ha = 2.00%
Assets of the ethnic Germans 637ha = 40.70%
Assets expropriated after a court ruling 92ha = 5.80%
Assets of foreigners 15ha = 0.90%
Assets of the State 12ha = 0.70%
Assets left behind by the colonists 46ha = 3.00%
Assets of communities 3ha = 0.20%
Other assets under the Law of the revision 22ha = 1.40%
Non-agricultural estates 109ha = 7.00%
Total 1,566ha = 100.00%
These statistic confirms that the largest share of the expropriated land was taken away from the ethnic Germans (40.7%). Even the other points bring us to the conclusion that more ethnic German assets were included, as there were also ownerships of large companies, churches and monastery holdings etc. Under “possession of the foreigners” for example we know that Danube Swabians who immigrated to America owned real estate in Yugoslavia. The loss of ethnic German real estate assets is therefore much higher than the statistic’s report.
The law enacted on 23rd of August of 1945 by the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia concerning the citizenship rights had no any practical consequences for the disenfranchised ethnic Germans as they had already been imprisoned some time previously in the extermination camps.
The flight from Batschka by the Danube Swabians started on 8th of October 1944. “Escape” is a term that can be easily glossed over in an attempt to convey the idea of expulsion. The people flee voluntarily; they are expulsed under pressure. But what difference does it make if one decides to leave under highest risk to human life “voluntarily”? Is in that case the escape not expulsion? Is this different interpretation of the term not hair splitting?
Generally speaking under international law refugees are people that leave their country behind due to political, religious or racial persecution. The fleeing Danube Swabians were threatened with death.
The ethnic Germans in Tito’s starvation camps also began to escape. Up to 1946 anyone caught fleeing was shot. Then a flourishing business was discovered and that business was put into practice. The mass exodus into Hungary with a payment of 1000 dinars was tolerated. The middlemen helped the refugees over the border into Hungary. The business flourished throughout the winter of 1946/47. It is estimated that the camp leaders of Gakowa and Kruschiwl have collected about 10-20 million dinars in these “white transports”.
Of course the Danube Swabian inmates did not have the money to escape because everything of value had been taken from them. The money came from different nationalities, the relatives and friends (Hungary, Bunjewatzen, Schokatzen, Slovaks, but also from Serbs). The number of ethnic Germans who escaped from the camps was approximately 30,000.
The Yugoslavian Air Force General SIMOVIC voted against Yugoslavia joining the Three Powers Pact on 27th of March 1941. Anti-German sentiment escalated immeasurable throughout the country. A war could no longer be avoided. Even before the bombs fell on Belgrade the prominent Danube Swabian personalities in the Batschka were arrested and hundreds of hostages were jailed in the fortress Peterwardein and other locations. Thanks to the quick end of war nothing worse happened to these hostages.
These are the people who resided outside the boundaries of the German Reich’s borders as of 31st of December 1937 and because of the consequences of the Second World War lost their homeland. The ethnic Germans of Batschka are a part of them.
INTERMENT CAMP (INTERNIERUNGSLAGER)
The partisans began establishing the interment camps as early as November 1944. The interment camps were established to accommodate ethnic German children, the elderly and frail men and women and the incapacitated.
The Danube Swabians were driven from their homes house-by-house and forced into the labor camps or in the internment camps. Most often the ethnic Germans from different counties were crammed into the concentration or internment camps. The inmates were prohibited of any contact with the civilian population outside from the camp and prohibited from begging for food to assure life support. The diet of the internees was so deficient that as many of them as possible would die. Shooting was punishment for disobeying orders.
The partisans themselves called the internment camps “extermination camps”. In the most literal sense they were death mills. Hunger caused countless deaths especially among the children. There was no protection against the cold. Money, jewelry and other items of worth were taken away from them during recurrent raids. The food was not adequate enough for survival. The mortality rate was very high; the dead were buried in the mass graves either naked or wrapped in shreds of cothes. The relatives were not permitted to be present at the burial.
The last two internment camps in Batschka (Gakovo and Kruschewlje) were closed in the summer of 1948. There were still 42,000 inmates left. About 40,000 had escaped; most of them with co-operation of the partisans after the fee for the freedom was paid. The rest of the originally approximately 250,000 ethnic Germans who stayed at home had perished.
A brief history of the end of World War II:
- July 1917:
Declaration at Corfu. The idea of uniting the southern Slavs in a common state is born. Pašic declared the unification as the target of Serbian politics.
- November 1918:
The merger of the Southern Slavic peoples into the “Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SHS)”. The largest part of Batschka becomes part of the new state. A referendum did not take place.
- November 1918:
The occupation of southern Batschka by the Serbs. Only a small remnant of 1,625km² remained in Hungary.
- November 1918:
The “Grand National Assembly” in Novi Sad decides to connect the Vojvodina to the Kingdom of SHS by disregarding the self-determination of the nationalities. The Assembly enforced this decision.
- December 1918:
Proclamation of the “Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes” (SHS) by the Prince Regent on behalf ALEXANDER I. In the name of King PETER I the Hungarian territories are annexed.
- December 1918:
Recognition by the victorious powers of the Serbian occupation of southern Batschka. Additional recognitions took place on 3rd of December 1918 and 20th of March 1919.
- December 1918:
Ratification of the proclamation on 1stof December in the Skupština (parliament). Official name of the new government: “Kraljevina, Srba, Hrvata i Slovenaca” (SHS). Prime Minister was NIKOLA PAŠIC.
- December 1919:
International recognition of the kingdom SHS by the major powers and their allies.
- June 1920:
Final annexation of the largest part of the Batschka into the Kingdom SHS.
- June 1921:
Centralist constitution of the new kingdom SHS (Vidovdan Constitution).
Start of internal difficulties between the nationalities, especially between Greek-Orthodox Serbs and the Roman Catholic Croats and Slovenes.
- January 1929:
Military dictatorship under ALEXANDER I.
- October 1929:
Renaming of the state by a new law into “Kingdom of Yugoslavia” (Kraljevina Jugoslavija). Batschka becomes part of the Ban Danube (Dunavska Banovina), with headquarters in Neusatz (Novi Sad).
Yugoslavia gets a new constitution.
- December 1940:
Friendship treaty between Yugoslavia and Hungary on “permanent peace and everlasting friendship.”
- April 1941: The start of Yugoslavia campaign.
- April 1941: Invasion by the Hungarian troops of the Batschka and their occupation.
A brief history:
- March 1941:
Yugoslavia joins the Tripartite Pactin Vienna. The signature on the documents was provided the Prime Minister DRAGlŠA CVETKOVIC and Minister of Foreign Affairs CINCAR MARKOVIC.
- March 1941:
Coup d’etat in Belgrade by the Air Force General Dušan SIMOVIC. Overthrew of the government. King PETER is declared of age. The anti-German demonstrations start. The slogan: “Bolje rat nego pact” (Better War than The Pact). The anti-German sentiment in the country also rose against the native ethnic German minority (Danube Swabians). There were hostage-takings and finally it came to war, in which Batschka was occupied by the Hungarian troops.
- March 1941: All schools closed because of the uncertain situation in the country.
- April 1941: General mobilization in Yugoslavia.
- April 1941:
Germany declares war on Yugoslavia. Beginning of the Yugoslavian campaign and the invasion by German troops (5.30 clock). Bombs falling on Belgrade.
- April 1941:
Hungary’s entry into the war. Invasion of the Batschka by Hungarian troops without having encountering any significant resistance. The Yugoslavian troops had already withdrawn in flight.
- April 1941:
Unconditional capitulation of the Yugoslavian army. Batschka is annexed by Hungary and at first is placed under military rule.
- July 1941:
End of the State of Yugoslavia through a declaration by the victors. The negotiations by the Foreign Ministers of Germany and Italy in Vienna are ongoing beginning 20. April 1941.
- August 1941: Introduction of the Hungarian civil administration in the Batschka.
CONCENTRATION CAMPS OF BATSCHKA
Y 21236 – Bački Jarak (Jarek).
3. December 1944-13th of April 1946.
Of some 15,000 inmates at least 9,300 died. In April 1946 the remaining inmates were sent partly to Kruschewlje and partly to Gakowa.
Y 25280 – Gakovo (Gakowa)
15th of March 1945-January 1948.
At the end of 1947 the camp had around 17,000 inmates, of whom about 8,900 died. The rest of the internment camp was relocated in January 1948 to Knićanin (Rudolfsgnad / Banat).
Y 25282 – Kruševlje (Kruschiwl).
12th of March 1945-1947/48.
Of about 7,000 inmates approximately 3,600 perished. The camp was dissolved in 1947/48 and the remaining inmates were relocated to Gakowa.
Self-determination is the right of a minority to preserve and develop their cultural identity. In January of 1919 the Prime Minister STOJAN PROTIC promised the ethnic German delegation under Dr. Stefan Kraft cultural autonomy. It remained an empty promise.
Liquidated were “Public Enemies”, “fascists” and “collaborators with the occupier.” The purpose of the liquidations was:
1. Weakening the political opposition.
2. Spreading the terror.
3. Creating the benefits for the establishment of the communist system.
The victims of the liquidation were: rich farmers, merchants, industrialists, academics, intellectuals and leading citizens. There was a total of approximately 6,000 men, women and teenagers, aged 16 to 60 years. (Action intelligentsia).
By the mass elimination in the forced labor camps the Yugoslavian ethnic Germans were to be terrified, worn out, their physical resistance destroyed and their moral grip broken. For this reason they were ordered to perform often nonsensical work. As a rule the work began at 4 in the morning and lasted until late into the evening, with a piece of bread and a non-nourishing soup as food allotments.
The harassment in the camp was constant. There was a great deal of flogging and shootings. The people were beaten on the way to work. Many died already after only the first week. Private persons outside of the camps could rent the workers from the internment camp. This often saved lifes of the prisoners.
Batschka forced labor camps were in Novi Sad, Palanka, Hodschag, Werbaß, Apatin, Sombor and Subotica.
Even in the concentration camps the disabled ethnic Germans were constantly exposed to abuse. The mortality rate in these camps was very high. In the Batschka such camps were in Jarek, Filipowa, Sekitsch, Gakowa and Kruschiwl.
The first deportation occurred on Christmas Eve of 1944. That day thousands of children became orphans.
Abducted were men aged 18 to 40 years and women aged 18 to 30 years following an inspection to affirm their physical fitness for work by a Soviet commission. Stuffed in the cattle cars they were sent on a weeklong trip to the Soviet Union. Pregnant women and mothers of infants were exempted.
At the beginning of January 1945 new deportations began again. The age of women was raised to 35 years and in some places mothers of infants were also included in the deportations.
About 40,000 ethnic Germans were abducted. From Apatin alone 2,400 people were deported. A grandfather in Filipowa remained back with 28 grandchildren after all his adult children were abducted to the Soviet Union.
The liquidation of the ethnic Germans began with the establishment of the military administration by Tito’s partisans. There are no words to describe the cruelty and bestiality, which unfolded. The methods used before and after AVNOJ declaration (21st November 1944) did not change. Even though after January 1945 the mass liquidation became rare, the slaughter of individuals was so much more frequent and crueler. Such liquidations of the individuals never stopped entirely. Last known victim in the prison camp of Werschetz / Banat was the Benedictine monk count Adalbert Neipperg.
The number of Danube Swabians shot and liquidated in other ways up to 21st of November 1944 was approximately 20,000 to 25,000.
On 10th of December 1948 the United Nations ratified the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. Article 13 protects the right of every person to leave his country and to return back to it. The declaration prohibits the arbitrary deprivation of citizenship and prohibits the deportation of the population of the occupied country. Tito and his partisans violated Article 13 in its entirety.
The incursion of the partisans into the Danube Swabian villages in the Batschka in 1944 resulted in the severe persecution of the local population. Stripped of all their assets they suffered unspeakable. Despite the threat of harsh penalties during this time there were Hungarians, Croats, Serbs and others who helped the ethnic Germans wherever or however they could. They requested that the ethnic Germans work for them to at least temporarily relieve them from the heavy lot of their burden and to save their lives. They also provided them with money later so that they were able to buy they freedom and escape with the willing connivance of the partisans. If a book of those who have shown humanity to others is ever written those brave people would fine a place. About 40,000 confined ethnic Germans in the internment camps were able to flee to safety. Of these about 25,000 were able to pay the high fee to the partisans who tolerated the escape.
Such a ‘rights option’ was available after the First World War in the Batschka too. The population in the ceded territory of the Hungarian part of the Batschka could decide up to 22ndof January 1922 whether they wanted to resettle to Hungary or Austria. Until then they had no political rights in the new state of “SHS”, but also no political obligations, except for a good conduct towards the new government. After the expiration of the option period the integration and equality of all minorities in the Kingdom of SHS become enforceable by law. However, the equality was never implemented. The Batschka ethnic Germans made no use of their ‘rights option’.
They were armed guerrilla fighters. Residents of a country, who do not belong to a military power, but take the fight against an invading enemy. Making sneak attacks and carrying out assassinations they had no protection according to the laws of war. The Yugoslavian Army under Tito decided on 4th of July 1941 to use guerrilla attacks against the occupation forces. Instead the first battle instead took place on 2nd of November 1941 between Tchetniks and Tito’s partisans. On 20th of November 1944 Tito’s partisans occupied Belgrade. On 12th of July 1944 the partisans revived activity in the Batschka. The attacks were not numerous. After the invasion of Soviet troops Tito’s partisans formed what they called the military administration, whose reign was accompanied with mass liquidation, atrocities of all kinds and terror.
The “Potsdam Conference” between TRUMAN, STALIN and CHURCHILL took place between 17th of July to 2nd of August 1945 at the Cäcilienhof in Potsdam. They endorsed the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Eastern and Southeastern European territories under the condition of a “humane transfer”. The ethnic Germans of the Hungarian Batschka were included.
The atrocities of Tito’s partisans towards the ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia after the Second World War – contrary to assertions otherwise – were not because of some anti-state behavior. If it had been so, then the ethnic German priests would have been left unmolested. However, they were the preferred victims in the liquidations. Actual reasons for their persecution were:
1. They were ethnic Germans.
2. They represented one ideology, which was not compatible with the communist ideology.
3. They were intellectuals.
In the Batschka alone, 48 Catholic priests were exterminated as the result of partisan blood lust towards their victims, of which 18 were killed, 4 disappeared in the Soviet Union and the rest was imprisoned in extermination camps.
Cvetković joined the three powers in signing an agreement in Vienna on 25th of March 1941. A military-junta led by Air Force General Dušan SIMOVIC took over power on 27th of March. On the day of the coup d’état the ethnic leader Dr. SEPP JANKO ordered the cessation of any activity on the part of SDKB. In the wake of the coup, there were hostage takings of the ethnic German population, disappearances, mass arrests and terror. On the first day of war in Yugoslavia (6 April) the Danube Swabian leaders went into voluntary house arrest into HABAG-hall in Novi Sad (Neusatz) taking shelter behind makeshift barricades and refused to be taken away by the police. A contact with the outside world was impossible.
The torture and killing methods of Tito’s partisans were sadistically excessive. One has to go far back in the history to find similar examples of sadism. Even the Huns and the Tartars could not have murdered more bestially.
The relevant literature cites –without claiming to be exhaustive-, the following torture and killing methods:
– “Layer Cake” effect (see definition);
– Shooting, hanging, killing, drowning;
– Suffocation in overcrowded bunkers;
– Pushing burning cigarette on the nipples;
– Pulling pubic hair;
– Sticking the monthly period napkin in the mouth;
– Slow death by dehydration and starvation;
– Pulling a person by the hair through the internment camp;
– Pulling the nostrils apart;
– Forcefully pulling out the teeth;
– Smashing of the teeth;
– Breaking the hands;
– Breaking the ribs;
– Using weights to smash the genitals;
– Electrocuting the genitals;
– Pulling skin stripes;
– Cutting off the genitals;
– Cutting off the limbs;
– Cutting the throat;
– Jumping on the person laying on the ground;
– Torturing the person on a nail board;
– Tearing out the fingernails;
– Sprinkling salt into open wounds;
– Cutting off arms and legs while the person is still alive;
– Inflicting burns with the hot iron;
– Force the person to stand barefoot in the snow for hours;
– Pull the eyes out;
– Throw a living person in the Danube River;
– Press the head under water until drowned;
– Flogging to unconsciousness;
– Beat to death with sticks and rifle butts;
– Smash the skull with the stones;
– Damage the kidneys with the rifle butt;
– Placed in a pit and beaten to death with a showel shovel or spade;
– Shooting when caught begging for food;
– Shooting when caught visiting a grave;
– Bound together the victims and shooting them in the pit;
– Shot in the neck;
– Leave the wounded to bleed to death;
– Shoot several people with a one shot;
– Shot when finding money during a search;
– Dum-Dum bullets in the stomach;
– Shooting for drinking water from a puddle;
– Shot if too close to the barbed wire fence;
– Beheading while alive;
LAYER CAKE EFFECT
“Tito’s partisans had many opportunities to prepare ahead of time on how to eliminate, in their opinion, unwelcome people and punish them to death. One of the more popular forms of elimination was the ‘layer cake effect”. This method of liquidation had two advantages: 1. It was particularly unpleasant for those concerned and 2. Larger quantities of opponents could be removed with one strike. The technique is the following: There had to be a wide and deep well or mine shaft around. Then one takes the first batch of ethnic Germans, it can also be Croats or Slovenes, and throws them into the pit. Next comes a layer of exploding hand grenades, then a layer of people and then a layer of new hand grenades – hence the name ‘layer cake effect’. The procedure continues until about two meters below the top of the shaft or well, so that the top people who perhaps were only wounded could not creep out. ” (Nikolaus von Preradovich in “Deutschen Anzeiger” on 26th October 1984)
The American president WILSON on 8th of January 1918 proclaimed the right to self-determination minorities. His 14 points would become the guidelines for the peace treaty at the completion of the First World War.
The principle was:
No national minority may be forced or placed under the jurisdiction of a government under which it does not desire to exist.
This includes the right of the individual as well as the social groups to autonomy, i.e. to freely select and make solely responsible decision in individual and social affairs. Each person has the right to full political independence within the structure of the state in which he adheres.
The Danube Swabians led a constant fight – in Hungary as well as in Yugoslavia – for at least a minimum of autonomy. At no time was their right to full self-determination ever spoken off.
The Bundesamt for statistics in Wiesbaden wrote the following about ethnic German victims in Yugoslavia after the Second World War:
“It has been determined that the total losses of the German-Yugoslavian population both during and after the war during and after the war amounted to 175,000 persons, or 32.7 percent of the total population of 1939. Of that 40,000 were men (7.5 %) in the armed forces, and about 135,800 persons (25.3 %) were civilian losses. The largest losses under the civilian population happened immediately after the military occupation of the ethnic German settlement areas by the Red Army and/or by the establishment of the partisan administration, from mass shootings as well as from other arbitrary and common mass liquidations.
DESECRATION OF GRAVES
The desecration of the ethnic German graves started right after the Danube Swabians were driven out of Batschka and Yugoslavia. The crypts were broken open, corpses and skeletons were thrown into mass graves and the bricks of the crypts were used for new construction. With that two objectives were reached at the same time: one procured building material and all the traces of the ethnic Germans past was eliminated.
On the 4th of June 1920 a peace treaty between Allies of WWI and Hungary was signed. Almost all of Batschka became part of the new state of ‘Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats and Slovenes’ (SHS). The contract contained a minority protection clause and an ‘option right’ for the non Slavic population living in a separate part of the Batschka. The minority protection law was never implemented in Batschka.
TSCHETNIK (Serbian Cetnik)
About 1900 Serbian partisans united for protection of the Serbian population in Macedonia. In the First World War they fought against the occupying powers. In the Second World War they were lead under general DRAŽA MIHAJLOVIC who established partisans groups and they became later non-communist resistance fighters, which protected Serbian interests against the Ustaša and the occupying powers. About 4th of July 1941 the conservative Tschetniks began with the preparations for the guerilla actions with the agreement of the Yugoslav government-in-exile in London, England. On the 2nd of November 1941 it came to first battles between the Tschetniks and Tito’s partisans.
The extermination camps were concentration camps for those not able to perform work. All ethnic German women, children and above all the old men who no longer could work were put there. Those able to work were sent to the slave labour camps. Among them were also women and older children.
The rules in the extermination camps (so called by the partisans themselves) were:
- Leaving the camp was forbidden.
- Contact with the outside world was forbidden.
- Begging was forbidden.
- The plan was to starve the inmates.
If an inmate was caught begging for food, he received the death penalty. Raids took place systematically in the extermination camps. Anything found was taken away. Twice daily the food was given out. It consisted of a weak soup and on some days a peace of bread the size of a matchbox. Bread and soup were not salted and the soup was without any lard.
The deceased people were thrown naked or bound in cloth scraps on a cart, driven out of the town and buried in a mass grave. Jarek, Gakowa and Kruschwil were the extermination camps in the Batschka.
The annihilation of the ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia during 1944-1948 by Tito’s partisans followed a prescribed system and was implemented in three ways:
- Mass liquidations.
- Mass deportations.
- Mass extermination through hunger and hard labour in the concentration camps (starvation camps) as well as slave labour camps. The annihilation of the ethnic Germans was not only tolerated, it was planned and therefore ordered.
Thousands of ethnic Germans from the Batschka, both men and women, were dragged away to the slave labour camps in the Soviet Union. Mostly they worked in the coalmines. A great many died from accidents, diseases and hunger.
The ethnic Germans expulsion from Yugoslavia had a long history. Already back in 1916 VLADIMIR MATIJEVIC worked on behalf of the Serbian government on a concept of expropriation, expulsion and extermination of the ethnic Germans after the First World War from the planned state of Yugoslavia. This plan incorporated the following methods of expulsion:
- To burn the villages and let the citizens flee.
- Shooting at the villagers and insist that the inhabitants were involved in a revolt.
- To shoot one portion of the inhabitants and the other part would flee on their own.
The driving force behind the establishment of a south Slav (mostly Greater Serbia) state was NIKOLA PAŠIC, STOJAN PROTIC, ANTE TRUMBIC, ANDRE NIKOLIC and SVETOZAR PRIBIČEVIC.
To relocate the ethnic German population was decided prior to the end Second World War by the Allied leaders at the conferences in Teheran and Yalta. Yugoslavia was not included in those resolutions, but Hungary was. Yugoslavia solved the problem of expulsion in its own way by replacing expulsion with extermination. Yugoslavia’s extermination methods represents a new form of state approved liquidation politics. The brand name was ‘TITO’, who was later courted by the Reich’s German politicians.
From Hungary approximately 239,000 ethnic Germans were expulled; another 230,000 remained in the country. The usage of the German language was forbidden in the church, school and in the public. That led to a ‘lost generation’, which no longer was able to speak their mother toque.
The remaining ethnic German population in the Batschka was also affected by it.
Yugoslavia did not belong to those countries expelling their ethnic German population like Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
Only in Slovenia and partly in Slavonia was the expulsion completely implemented. In the ethnic German settlement areas of Vojvodina however, the ethnic Germans were dragged into the numerous extermination camps, where they lost their lives through murder and starvation.
On 21st of November 1944 at the AVNOJ partisan conference the resolution was approved to deny the Yugoslavian ethnic Germans the civil rights and to declare that their assets were enemy property. With it began the Danube Swabian Leidensweg, which ended in murders and torture of unimaginable extent.
The top chief of OZNA (organization, which implemented the murders) was ALEXANDER RANKOVIC. He planned the system of extermination and ensured for its fully implementation. The extermination methods were:
- Mass liquidations;
- Mass deportations;
- Mass exterminations through hunger and slave labour in the concentration and extermination camps.
The well-known Batschka’s Donauschwaben Leidensweg places were Gakowa, Kruschewlje and Jarek, as well as other less know localities in which the Danube Swabians died in huge numbers due to the orders of the criminal head of state and his helpers.
The initial mass murders by shooting and killing were followed by deaths in the camps. The little children died there of hunger and of illnesses, as there was no medication and only a few physicians. Typhus fever took many, because there was no way of getting rid of the lice. Hunger and cold took their toll and the death rate rose rapidly. In the extermination camp of Gakowa thus 30 to 40 died daily, sometimes even 50 persons between December 1945 and March 1946, as the diary of pastor MATTHIAS JOHLER documents. At the end the Yugoslavian partisan rulers succeeded to exterminating approximately a third of the ethnic Germans. This GENOCIDE on the ethnic Germans is still unpunished to this day and is even concealed by the present day German governments.
The genocide of the Donauschwaben in the Batschka began in October of 1944 after the invasion of the Soviet troupes and Tito’s partisans into the towns and cities with ethnic German population. The mass shootings started immediately, which cannot be accounted here in detail.
During the post-war years there was no one to protect Yugoslavian ethnic Germans, as they had no civil rights and were outlaws. Even so, there were many cases where the Pannonian Serbs as well as the Hungarians helped the ethnic Germans in the extermination camps as much as they could.
Quotation of TARAS KERMAUER, a Slovenian author in the Leibach’s communist partisan newspaper “Delo”:
”There is no nation, which is immune to fascism – the Slovenes included. Us Slovenes are boasting –just like the Serb – that until now we have not committed genocide. But what was then the liquidation of the ethnic German minority in Slovenia in 1945? And what is meant with the final solution of the ethnic German question in the Banat?”
SLAVE LABOUR CAMP
Immediately after the establishment of the partisan’s military administration ethnic German population, who were stripped of all their civic and civil rights, were forcible sent to slave labour camps to perform often meaningless and irrational labour. The slave labour camps were erected in many counties and in many communities. As of autumn 1944 each county had already established a centrally located large slave labour camp. The goal was to wear down and destroy the physical and emotional health of the ethnic German people. Fearful and emotionally worn down were they to become.
The workday usually lasted from 4 o’clock in the morning into late in the evening, or until it became too dark. As provision, a bit of bread and a week soup was the daily quota. Misuses were the order of the day and the weakened slave labourers survived those daily strains often only for a few weeks long.
There were often inmate exchanges between the labour camps. The work teams were shuffled from one labour camp to the other, contributing to even bigger poverty of the inmates, as at each transfer what little remained of their personal possessions was taken away.
The labour camps were guarded by the military and armed civilians escorted the work teams. The contacts with the outside population were firmly forbidden, as well as giving or receiving any gifts.
After the civil law implementation on 3rd of March 1945 each slave laborer in the slave labour camps had to be paid daily between 50 to 100 Dinar for the work performed besides the lodging and provisions. Private individuals were able to lease the slave labourers. In mane cases it was a more humane treatment for the slave labourers, in many cases even a life saving occurrence.