Marija Fischer’s Recollection

Published at Scrinia Slavonica

Godišnjak Podruznice za povijest Slavonije, Srijema I Baranje

Hrvatskog institute za povijest

Band 4 (2004)

By Dr. Vladimir Geiger

Translated by Rosina T. Schmidt

Up to the end of WWII most of the Yugoslavian ethnic Germans fled or were thrown out of their homes due to the war situations to Austria and Germany where they awaited the war end. Between them there was a large number Slavonia’s Donauschwaben. The Allied occupying forces in Austria and Germany urged and insisted that those refugees return to their homes in Yugoslavia at war’s end.

However, the new Yugoslavian government was strongly opposed to the return of ethnic Germans, whom they have thrown out in the first place. On 22nd of May 1945 a decision was made to prevent the return of all Yugoslavian ethnic Germans by the Yugoslavian Democratic Federal government as well as by the Yugoslavian Army headquarters in Belgrade.

To most of those returning Yugoslavian citizen of ethnic German minorities, who left the country at their own initiative or were forced by the partisans to do so during the war, the return to Yugoslavia was strongly prevented. They were stopped at the Austria-Yugoslavia border or Hungary-Yugoslavia border. Most of them had to return to the refugee camps in Austria or Germany.

Marija Fischer, nee Kalajkovic from Kula vividly describes those times and events:

“Because my husband, Friedrich Fischer, lost his life during one of the air bombings on Linz/Danube, I went to my parents to Nussbach, county of Kirchdorf on the Krems (Austria), where they found refuge after evacuation from Croatia. On 5th of July 1945 mayor Edlinger visited us and said: All the Croats had to go home on the 6th and had to assemble in front of the city hall at seven in the morning with their hand luggage for repatriation to Yugoslavia.

After we assembled the next morning the city hall secretary told us, that we would be transported directly to our homeland. With the cars of the American occupying forces we were transported to the train station, embarked on the train and via Linz, Salzburg, Marburg, Steinbrueck we reached Zagreb on the 8th of July 1945 at eight in the morning. Just prior to the Yugoslavian border we changed into different train cars.

In Agram (Zagreb) we were sent with our luggage to a close-by military barrack. Each person received a small loaf of bread and SOME bean soup. In the afternoon we again received each a small loaf of bread. Around 16h we were told to assemble in the yard, so a list of names could be made. During the day an announcement through the loud speakers was made numerous times that we were to give some cloths and other items as donations to the partisans. Since all of us had only hand luggage with us, and no one had anything that they could do without, no donations were made. The making of the name list was interrupted quite a few times so there was already tension in the air, which escalated with each interruption.

We were pushed back inside after the list was completed and the guards were posted. Shortly thereafter an order was issued that we were to pack some food and assemble in the yard again. Two hours later we were brought once again to the train station and into the railway cars. Firmly guarded we headed via Varaždin – Csakatornya towards the Hungarian border. At Medjumurje prior to the boarder we had to leave the train and marched the 25 kilometers across the border.

Russians took us over in Hungary and boarded us again into trains. We had to change the trains numerous times and marched in between. The frustration grew and it became so unbearable that two men cut their own throats. One of them was from Kula, one died and the other was sent to a Hungarian hospital. During that trip between 8th of July to 13th of July 1945 we received no food. We were also not able to purchase anything.  We had to leave our luggage in Zagreb behind.

On 13th of July at 11h in the morning I fled from the transport in Oelenburg and arrived in Nussbach starving and robbed out.”

There were about 1700 persons in the transport, all Danube Swabian refugees from Yugoslavia.