Labour-Concentration Camp 1945 – 1946
Vladimir GEIGER and Branko KRANJCEV
ISBN 978-953-7606-20-6 – 2015
After the end of World War II the question of ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia was settled unilaterally and without compromise. Crimes committed during the war by some ethnic Germans, as well as their disloyalty during the Axis occupation served as a cause and justification for inhuman treatment with the ethnic Germans at the end and immediately after the end of war.
After the end of war the newly established authorities in Yugoslavia, including Croatia, persecuted all persons of German ethnicity, with the exception of those ethnic Germans who actively participated in the struggle against Nazis. Therefore only those Yugoslav ethnic Germans who were able to prove that they were members of the partisan movement or that they have actively supported it were exempt from the persecution. All other ethnic Germans were stripped of all of their property, arrested, deported to camps and forced to leave Yugoslavia.
The measures taken by the People’s Liberation Army and Partisan Detachments of Yugoslavia (later Yugoslav Army) and the new “peoples’ authorities” toward the Yugoslav (Croatian) ethnic Germans, who were proclaimed and legally treated as collectively responsible, is a model of ethnic cleansing in Yugoslavia (Croatia) at the end of World War II and in the immediate post-war period.
According to the available research results, at least 10,000, and possibly as many as 20,000 ethnic Germans who remained at their homes in the final period of the war, were deported to camps by the Yugoslav authorities. At least several thousand of them lost their lives in camps. The biggest camps for ethnic Germans located in Croatia were Josipovac near Osijek, Valpovo, Velika Pisanica near Bjelovar, Krndija near ?akovo, Šipovac near Našice, Pusta Podunavlje in Baranja and Tenja / Tenjska Mitnica near Osijek. These camps existed from May 1945 to early 1947. Conditions of life in these camps, especially hygiene and nourishment, were scarce. Camp inmates were mostly older persons, as well as women and children. Nevertheless they were used for forced labor outside of camps, mostly in agriculture. Most of the camp inmates died from illnesses, especially typhus, and also from exhaustion, cold and hunger. There were no mass executions of camp inmates, but they were occasionally maltreated and also killed.
Historical science works, publicist writings, various documents, memoirs and statements of former camp inmates and camp guards give various and often differentiated numbers or estimations about the number, age and gender of camp inmates. Such incomplete numbers or estimates also exist in connection with the number of victims of camps for ethnic Germans. Nevertheless, critical analysis of available sources and literature does enable us to reach basic and reliable data concerning this issue.
One among the many camps for ethnic Germans that existed in Yugoslavia was Labor camp Šipovac near Našice in Croatia. The existing literature in fact rarely mentions this camp. It was established in May 1945 on puszta Šipovac near Našice (45° 30′ 6.01” N, 18° 4′ 45.98” E). Ethnic Germans from Našice area were deported to that camp and used as forced labor. Initially the camp was used for captured soldiers of German Wehrmacht, and later for ethnic Germans. Inmates were located at buildings previously used for cattle. These buildings were located near the Šipovac-Brezik road (Land registry plot number 4639, Land registry municipality Našice). The camp was fenced with barbed wire. Inmates were also sent to then existing shacks located at Trnjak, east from Šipovac, in the direction of Velimirovac. Command of the camp and camp guards were located in houses near the camp.
Also during early August 1945 Labor camp Šipovac briefly served as transit camp for at least 3500 to 4000 ethnic Germans from Josipovac and Valpovo camps who were transported to Austria. But these transports were not allowed to cross Yugoslav-Austrian border and were returned to camp Velika Pisanica and later to camps in Valpovo and Krndija. Nourishment in the Šipovac camp was meagre and hygiene inadequate. Inmates were forced to sleep on plank floors and hay, without any blankets. According to the report of the Ministry of Internal of Affairs of People’s Government of Croatia, a total of 658 prisoners were located in Šipovac camp in October 1945. They were used for various labor duties. According to the later statements and memoirs of Šipovac inmates, they were forced to work in agriculture, in the woods, in smaller quarries and they also repaired roads. Peasants from nearby villages came to camp and rented inmates for various agricultural works. Peasants paid this labor force to camp administration. According to the later statements and memoirs of Šipovac camp inmates, numerous peasants showed courtesy toward them and helped them with food and clothes. Political commissar in the Labor camp Šipovac was a certain Pavi?.
The exact number of victims of Labor camp Šipovac has not been established. Exact data exist concerning only two persons who died there. It is certain that ethnic Germans who died in the Šipovac camp were buried at the location 250 to 300 meters northeast from the camp. Graves were dig by other inmates and marked with simple wooden crosses. During the 1960s crosses were removed. Today the location where inmates were buried is used for agriculture and it is not marked in any way. Labor camp Šipovac existed until early 1946. It was then disbanded and internees transferred to other nearby camps in Krndija and Valpovo.
Historical science still needs to find answers to numerous questions concerning the fate of German prisoners of war and ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia after the end of World War II. Lack of reliable data on German prisoners of war and ethnic Germans in Šipovac camp does still not enable us to give exact number of victims of that camp. Nevertheless, despite the lack of documents and more exact information about the Šipovac camp, the available documents, statements and memoirs can give us a general picture of this camp.
Known Prisoner Names in the SIPOVAC-NASICE Work Camp
|Family Name||First Name||Birth Year||Last Place of Residence|
|Belaj||Kata||*27. Oct. 1945||* in Concentration camp Šipovac|
|Decker||Erich||1920-2001||Germ. Soldier, Leipzig|
|Dewald||Slavica||*1945 Feb 23|
|Knapp||Johann||Germ. Soldier, Grafschaft, Germany|
|Schmitt||Miljenko & family||*1938||Razbojište|
|Stehli-Schadt||Sophie||*1899||Novo Selo, Vinkovci|