The following information is a summary and translation of various portions of the Bulkes Heimatbuch published by the Heimatsausschusses Bulkes in 1984. 

  Bulkes is located in the Batschka some 30 kilometres north west of Neusatz and south of Torschau and also in close proximity to Altker and Schowe.

 

  After the liberation of Hungary from the Turks very few of the Hungarian nobles and landlords were able to reclaim their estates or substantiate their ownership so that almost all of the Batschka became Crown Lands of the Habsburgs although a few private landowners were in possession of some of their land.  To all intents and purposes the Batschka was state owned.

 

  During the first phase of settlement in the Batschka some 5,000 families were established in colonies; half of them were Magyars, Serbs numbered about one third and the German settlers were about one fifth or 1,070 families.  In the Josephinian phase of settlement 2,500 to 3,500 German families were settled in the Batschka.  Later in 1785   an additional 900 families arrived and in 1786 there were 1,450 more mainly Protestants from south westernGermany from the Pfalz and Hesse.

 

  Bulkes was settled by German colonists in 1786, most of whom were Lutherans with also a few Reformed among them under the gracious sponsorship of the Emperor Joseph II.  Bulkes was one of several totally Protestant settlements established following the Edict of Toleration.  The settlers came from the Rhineland, Pfalz, Duchy of Nassau, Zweibrücken and districts of Swabia.  They sold most of their belongings and property but also received financial assistance from the Emperor to cover the transportation costs.  There were hindrances placed in the way of the emigrants and passes and papers had to be obtained.  There were conditions and restrictions placed upon would-be-settlers:  only married men were eligible for land grants; the settler had to be approved by an Imperial agent and their feudal lord would probably attempt to restrain or prevent their emigration.

 

  Next to Regensburg, Ulm which was a river port on the Danube was the major assembly point for the emigrants to the Batschka.  At these two cities the emigrants received their travel passes to Vienna from Imperial authorities.  If they left from Ulm they did so on rafts called the Ulmer Schachtel which were dismantled in Vienna and sold as timber.  If they started out fromRegensburg they sailed on Kehlheimer ships that had a simple rudder for the 500 kilometre trip toVienna which took about ten days.

 

  When they arrived in Vienna those desiring to settle in Hungary had to report at the Hungarian Government Chancellery.  There the families were registered and given a new pass that was valid as far as Ofen (Buda) and each person was paid two Gulden as their travel money.  As each ship arrived in Ofen the emigrants were informed where they would be settled in Hungary and where to register for that purpose.  They received another Gulden per person to cover those travel costs that would take them to Sombor in the Batschka where the central administration for settlement for the Batschka was located.  The trip to the Batschka was approximately 1,200 kilometres.  The new settlers were billeted in existing German villages until their own houses were constructed.

 

  The village was initially intended to be located elsewhere but because of floods a new site was chosen for the 230 families assigned to establish Bulkes.  Actually, only 215 families moved in numbering about 900 persons.  In addition to the houses there was a community centre, a home for the notary, a school and a wooden Bethaus (prayerhouse) and land for the upkeep of the pastor, school, etc.  The Bethaus had wooden pews, a pulpit, altar and chalice, bells and a tower.  The colonists congregated in areas of the village with their relatives, friends and neighbours from “home” and that is how the streets were named:  Pfalzer Strasse, Schwabeneck, etc.

 

  The first years were very difficult for the settlers in Bulkes as it was true of all of the Batschka.  There were countless setbacks in reclaiming the wastelands.  To these were added major difficulties and catastrophes.  The climate was new to the settlers.  That was especially true of the heavy rains that had created all of the swamps and threatened to take over again.  The dampness in the quickly constructed houses and the contaminated water that was available led to sickness, swamp fever and countless victims.

 

  Terrible fear emerged again after more severe flooding almost destroyed all of their attempts to develop fertile fields and an epidemic followed so that the survivors were homesick and felt betrayed.  They sought to find new homes and many left for Kisker, while others went to the Banat as well as Werbass and Sekitsch.  They usually went to places where relatives, friends or former neighbours had settled.

 

  At the time of settlement Bulkes had a population of 900.  When the first pastor arrived in 1787 there were 1,000 souls.  By 1789 only 500 remained.  The death rate in Bulkes was higher than in any other community.  At that time there were 30 orphan children, an indication of the sorrowful condition of the community.  The survivors at Bulkes became known as “sturdy and tough” people.  Nor were they hesitant about expressing their grievances to officialdom and the community carried out extensive correspondence withVienna over various issues and concerns.

 

  The places of origin of the Bulkes colonists were as follows: 50 families from Alsace; 19 families from the Saarland; 111 families from the Rhineland Pfalz; 47 families from Hesse; 38 families from Baden Württemberg; 3 families from Bavaria; 1 family from Westphalia and 13 thirteen families from Saxony.

 

  Later the people from Bulkes moved on to other areas and settlements as land ran out.  Chiefly to Lutheran communities in the Batschka but also in the Banat and some ventured as far as Poland and Russia.  They also established Swabian enclaves in Serbian and Hungarian villages often as artisans and tradesmen rather than as farmers.

 

  Protestant settlement in the Batschka only became possible during the reign of Joseph II.  The Bulkes settlers spent the winter of 1785/1786 in Palanka which was a Roman Catholic settlement and the church records there indicate Protestants were served there by the priest in terms of baptisms, marriages and funerals.

 

  The foundation for permitting Protestant settlement was the Edict of Toleration in 1781.  The Lutherans had the same rights as other confessions to practice their faith freely.  In communities where there were at least one hundred Lutheran families a Bethaus could be built without a tower and with no entrance facing the street with access only from a side entrance.

 

  During the settlement period there was only one Lutheran pastor.  He was Samuel Spannagel of Kaschau (from the Zips).  At first he was the pastor in Neu Pasua, then in Torschau and finally at Bulkes where he enjoyed serving the settlers.  The Slovak Lutheran pastor Andreas Stehlo of Petrovac also served the settlers.  Nine Protestant villages were founded:  Torschau in 1784; Cservenka in 1785; Werbass in 1785; Kleinker in 1786; Sekitsch in 1786; Siwatz in 1786; Schowe in 1786; Bulkes in 1786 and finally Jarek in 1787.

 

  In Torschau, Cservenka, Werbass, Siwatz and Schowe there were also Reformed settlers and congregations.  These congregations were in close relationship with the Hungarian Reformed (Calvinist) Church and also maintained connections with the Reformed Church of Switzerland.  The Lutheran congregations formed a Seniorat (Church District) of theEvangelicalChurch of the Augsburg Confession inHungary as theLutheranChurch inHungary was known.

 

  In 1808 there were 7,874 Slovak Lutherans in the Batschka and 7,734 German Lutherans.  In 1846 there were 18,673 Slovak Lutherans and 23,449 German Lutherans.  In 1939 there were 85,369 German Lutherans in the Batschka and 15,437 Germans who were Reformed.

 

  The first Lutheran settlers used the Marburg and Zweibrücken hymnbook.  The Magyar church authorities attempted to introduce the Pressburg and Neusohl hymnal in the Batschka but without success.  The congregation in Bulkes used another hymnbook:  Das Christliche Gesangbuch der evangelischen Gemeinde AB in Mezöbereny, Bulkes, Gyoma, Hartau, Sambok und Vadkert.  (The Christian Hymnal of the Lutheran congregations in the above named communities.)  The sixth edition was printed by Wilhelm Kraft in 1913 in Hermannstadt inTransylvania.

 

  By 1830 there were no longer any Bethaus buildings in the Batschka.  Instead there were churches with organs and towers that stand to this day or are used for various purposes unless they were demolished by the Partisans.

 

  The Bethaus was erected at the cost of the state.  If Reformed settlers were only a small minority both groups used and shared the one facility.  In the case of the Lutherans there was always a cross on the tower and the Reformed preferred the morning star.  In Bulkes there were only a few Reformed families.

   The Heimatbuch at this point deals with daily life in the village over the centuries and the customs and traditions that were observed but I will proceed to the period that begins with the Second World War that would have a devastating effect on Bulkes and its German inhabitants who were now  known as the Danube Swabians. 

  As a prelude to all that would now befall Bulkes, on Palm Sunday, April 6, 1941 the Nazi invasion of Yugoslavia began and fifteen of the leading men of the community were taken as hostages to Peterwardein.  In the fortress dungeon there they were joined by five hundred other hostages from the Swabian communities throughout the area including ten women.  The oldest hostage was an aged Roman Catholic priest and the youngest a seventeen year old student from Bulkes.  All kinds of threats of execution were made but not carried out.  After six days and the capitulation ofYugoslavia they were released.

 

  The Batschka was annexed by Hungary and the Danube Swabian population came under the jurisdiction of the Volksbund of Hungary led by Dr. Franz Basch.  This so-called cultural association was in effect a Nazi front organization that peddled their racial and nationalist ideology.  By February 1942 Basch and his cohorts in Budapest reached an agreement with the Hungarian government to allow the Danube Swabians to voluntarily enlist in the German Army that was now desperate for reinforcements on the eastern front.  All men born 1912-1922 and later those born 1911-1923 were told to report in Palanka and most of the men in Bulkes did.

 

  When they reported at the recruitment centre in Palanka they were called up into the German Army but the greater portion of them found themselves almost immediately stationed in the Waffen-SS.  All of them were taken to the Waffen-SS training camps in Vienna, Breslau and Radom in Poland.  But as the situation on the eastern front deteriorated all able bodied men in Bulkes under 50 years of age were forcibly recruited into the Waffen-SS in late 1943 and early 1944.

 

  The German front fell back in the fall of 1944 and the Russian Army moved closer and closer.  Partisan activity increased and it was obvious that the Danube Swabians would bear the brunt of any reprisals in light of the hostility the Serbs felt towards the German Army during the occupation.  The majority of the male population of the village was at the front and there was little local leadership available to plan and carry out an evacuation.  But an effort was made.

 

  The first wagon trek left on October 10th and 11th but only 53 persons were prepared to leave their homes.  They left for Gajdobra in pouring rain where the leader of the Bulkes wagon column requested that the SS Commandant force the community of Bulkes to evacuate immediately.  He promised to do so because he also had orders to that effect.  As they left Gajdobra drum beats announced that everyone living in the village should pack immediately and be prepared to flee their homeland and join the Bulkes’ trek.

 

  They travelled on to Hodschag and then to Sombor.  Here again the leaders of the Bulkes trek approached the SS Commander to order that the population of Bulkes should flee.  They were informed that the order had already been given and they could go on in peace because the entire population of Bulkes was being evacuated.  On the way to Bezdan they met many soldiers from Bulkes with open-back trucks who had been given permission to evacuate their families and could still get there in time before the Russians arrived.  Others had been given access to horses and wagons to be able to evacuate their families.  But all of their families refused to leave and stayed at home not prepared to flee into an even greater danger.  The soldiers returned with their vehicles to their military units without their families.  Many soldiers from Bulkes were in Bezdan and joined their retreating units that were quartered in the town.  They said their final farewells as the trek from Bulkes left and few of them were ever heard from again.

 

  The trek moved on to Baja on the Danube and waited their turn to cross the Danube into Hungary.  They moved on to Bonyhád and remained in Cikó only 6 kilometres away for ten days and rested.  There they were overjoyed when they learned that another trek from Bulkes was on its way.  As the front moved closer they had to leave Cikó for Keléviz on Lake Balaton where they arrived on the day of Bulkes’ Kirchweih.  They remained there for three weeks and the Hungarians were most hospitable.  Here they learned that the other trek from Bulkes was quartering in Nemésted and two days later some girls from Bulkes walked on foot from there.  The leaders of the two treks tried to arrange for the two groups to travel together but were unsuccessful as the second trek was always one day ahead of the others now.  Four families from the second trek joined up with the first so that it now consisted of 25 families and 63 persons of which 13 were small children.  It was winter and it was cold as they headed for Ődenburg (Sopron) and quartered there for four days and left by train for Glatz in Silesia.  Later when the Red Army rampaged intoSilesia they fled again assisted by Pastor Jung from Torschau leading them in their flight toAustria where they were again told to move on because there was no more room for refugees anywhere and Pastor Jung led the column to the Oberpfalz.

 

  In terms of the second trek we need to backtrack.  The people who remained in Bulkes no longer knew who or what to believe or what to do.  A German army unit that passed through Bulkes told the people to stay because the Russians needed farmers too.  People were undecided and alarmed that the German Army and their officials were opposed to any evacuation.  The children of Bulkes were to be taken to safety and after a tearful wrenching parting the hundreds of children were taken to Palanka where they were to board ships to take them to Germany.  The ships never appeared and the children were brought back home.  Unknowingly for countless numbers of them it was their death sentence.  The population was even more determined to remain at home.  The soldiers who returned with vehicles and wagons to evacuate their families were turned down by all of the villagers and they left their families behind and returned to duty with their empty trucks and wagons.

 

  A messenger came by motorcycle on the night of October 11th.  His message was simple, “Either leave now for Germany or you’ll end up in Russia!”  In the midst of all of this doubt and confusion three families packed their wagons that night.  They left the next day and a few other wagons filled with fleeing Bulkes families followed them later.

 

  Russian units arrived shortly after.  It marked the beginning of the end.

 

  On November 16, 1944 drum beats were heard throughout the village announcing that   all of the remaining men in the village were to gather at the community centre for an important message.  Added to the announcement was the threat that if any man did now show up he would be shot.  All of the men, except those who had already gone out earlier to work in their fields, assembled at the community centre.  Once they had gathered the Partisans locked all of the doors and no one was allowed to leave.  The commander of the Partisans announced that all men 16-60 years of age must register with a special commission that day.  All those able to work would have to go on a work detail for a few days.  The men were herded into the school building and locked in.  They encouraged each other that the work detail would soon begin and then they could go home.  They were alarmed to discover that the school had straw on the floors and theirs was to be an overnight stay.  One man said it all had the smell of Siberia!  One hour later the Partisan Commander arrived along with a Serbian doctor.  They began their work immediately.  A list of names was read.  Anyone with a noticeable or obvious disability was set aside to be released later.  The able bodied remained in the school under heavy Partisan guard overnight.  The families knew they had been herded into the school but had no idea that this was the last night they would ever spend in Bulkes.

 

  On November 17th at 7:00 in the morning they were driven into the yard of the community centre.  Drum beats sounded and the announcement was made that the families of those held overnight in the school should bring winter clothing and food for three days for their men folk.  All complied.  Tear filled eyes were to be seen even in the hardest of men’s faces.  Women and children ran to the rows of men to say farewell.  It was to be their last handshake, embrace and goodbye.  They left at 8:30 marching in columns of five through the deep snow on the way to Palanka.  The Partisans who guarded them were not the kind they would meet later.  They let them rest and stopped to eat.  They arrived at the high school in Palanka at 3:30 in the afternoon and had endured cursing from the local Serbian population on the way through the town.  The night was terrible.  The five leading men of the village including the doctor, druggist and teacher were separated from the others.  They were taken to an unknown location and were never heard from again.  Others were thrashed because they had hidden some money or cigarettes.

 

  On November 18th at 7:00 in the morning the men were ordered out into the yard of the school and were subjected to a harangue.  They were lined up in five columns to march to Neusatz and did so under Partisan guard at 8:00 and were locked up in the tobacco factory at Neusatz that night.  They had passed through areas where German troops were still active.  Several Partisans were killed and wounded and they took out their anger by beating the Swabians.  Seven men who could not keep pace were executed on the spot.  Swabians in the area gave the men food and water, clothing and bedding when they had the chance as they passed through their villages.

 

  On November 19th they left at 7:00 in the morning.  Their extra clothing and any remaining food were taken away from them.  They were set to work on repairing the dam system on the Danube.  This became their life, day in and day out for the next month.

 

  On Christmas’ Eve, 1944 all of the men younger than 45 years of age were separated from all of the others.  On Christmas Day the younger men were loaded on wagons and taken to Russia as slave labourers.  The remaining older men were made available for farm and factory work and they were bid for like slaves at a slave market, which in fact is what they had become.

 

  Meanwhile in Bulkes on the evening of December 26th the order was given that all women 18 to 30 years of age were to report next day at the community centre with a change of clothing and food for two weeks.  Mothers and children of those involved accompanied the frightened young women.  Partisan guards herded the women out of the village.  Many of the women had to leave small children behind.  It was a horrendous farewell.  On one side of the street the young women stood with their knapsacks on their backs, guarded and threatened by Partisans and on the other side crying children and weeping parents walked along with them to the outskirts of the village but were not allowed to go any farther.  They went on foot from place to place.  It was a sorrowful journey.  At night they slept on straw in empty houses of Swabians who had been deported, driven out or had escaped by flight or evacuation.

 

  On January 10, 1945 they were loaded on freight trains in Baja filthy with frozen manure.  It was ice cold inside and they did not have enough warm clothes.  They were locked in for three weeks, terrified and helpless, having no idea where they were going or what lay ahead of them.  It was Russia.  They worked on construction in the Donets Basin along with Danube Swabians from the Tolna villages ofHungary, both men and women.

 

  A second group of women in Bulkes from the ages of 18 to 40 years had been taken weeks before to be agricultural workers in Yugoslavia would soon follow the others to Russia.  Their journey to Russia was just as awful.  When they arrived in Russia they were separated and divided up in various camps.  They worked on construction, in saw mills and the coal mines doing the work of men while being starved.  Heads were shaved when typhus broke out the ultimate degradation for a Swabian woman who took pride in her long hair.  There was no water for washing, and lice, rashes and the epidemics that followed claimed countless victims.  In Barrack 1026 over 500 died of hunger, cold and illness.  Added to their suffering was the constant anxiety about the children, husbands and families they had left back home.

 

  It was in their third year of captivity that they first received news from home and their families.  What they heard was even worse than they had feared.  They no longer had a homeland, their families had been expelled from their homes, aged parents and their young children were interned in camps throughout Yugoslavia and many had already died.  With this horror in their hearts and on their minds they laboured in Russia until the fall of 1949.  After the women from Bulkes were released from Barrack 1026 they were imprisoned in Hungary for ten months and had to work hard until they were released to join their families.  That is, if they could find them.

 

  One of the deportees later wrote:  “All of us girls and women between 18 and 30 years of age in Bulkes had to report at the community centre on December 27, 1944 at 8:00 in the morning.  We brought along a change of clothes and food for three days.  All of our families who came to say goodbye were driven off by the Partisans.  The noon hour bells in our church tower began to ring as seventy-seven of us had to leave.  We knew then that we would never hear the bells again.

 

  We were marched to Petrovica, Kulpen, Schowe and Altker.  Dirt and mud were flung at us by outraged Serbs along the way.  We stayed overnight in Altker which was totally deserted.  The second night we spent in Werbass and then the next night we were in Kula.  Wagons took us to a camp that was surrounded by barbed wire in Topola.  We were imprisoned there for days.  Drunken wagon drivers drove us to Sombor.  In Hodschag we were supposed to be entrained along with the other but older women from Bulkes who were 30 to 40 years of age.  But they arrived late.  In all of the confusion escape would have been possible but we were exhausted and frightened.  Bulgarian troops tried to get the Partisans to free the women who had left children at home but it had no effect on the Partisans.  We were turned over to the Russian military at Baja.  Our names were registered and rings, watches, earrings, knives and such were all confiscated.  They told us we would have no use for them where we were going.  It was then when we found out that we had been sentenced to five years of labour to reconstruct theSoviet Union.

 

  At night the seventy-seven women from Bulkes, along with Danube Swabian men and women from Tolna County in Hungary were loaded in cattle cars.  These people had been able to bring whatever they could carry but by now none of us from Bulkes had any food left.  Some of the people in our car were terribly sick and seven of the women were removed from the train including four women from Bulkes and they remained behind.

 

  We travelled through Romania.  We were given black bread and dried mutton as food.  The train stopped at open water and we collected water in our dishes, pots, etc.  A hole in one corner of our car served as out toilet.

 

  At the Russian border we were transferred to larger Russian cars, sixty of us in each.  We slept sitting up and often our clothes froze overnight if we leaned up against the walls.  We arrived at the camp on February 2, 1945 and disembarked in knee deep snow among mountains of coal.  We were in Camp 32 with a population of 1,500 Danube Swabian men and women.  The first death occurred on February 14, 1945 as a result of an injury on our journey to Russia.  It was the first of many.

 

  I was released from the camp at Stalino on November 11, 1949 and was sent to Germany by way of Frankfurt-on-Oder.  As our train entered the city the church bells began to ring as we survivors from Bulkes began to cry remembering the last time we heard bells on the day we left home.”

 

  Following the deportations to the Soviet Union in early 1945 the local population in Bulkes experienced various forms of repression and harassment at the hands of the Partisans.  On April 15, 1945 the 1,275 inhabitants of the village were interned.  There was first a selection process and 345 of them, of whom 305 were women and 40 older youths and older men were designated as able bodied and remained behind in Bulkes for distribution to various labour camps in the region.  The oldest among them, some 80 persons were sent to Bukin and Obrowatz three weeks later and the survivors were taken to Palanka a year later.  Around two hundred of the others were brought to Palanka in June of 1945 and placed in various jobs in Palanka’s agricultural programme.   About fifty–five women remained in Bulkes until August and were then sent to Neusatz and its vicinity and put to hard labour.

 

  The great majority of Bulkes’ population some 930 persons consisting of old men and women and 365 children and infants under the age of fourteen were taken to the mass extermination camp set up in the Lutheran village of Jarek on April 15, 1945.  Later other people from Bulkes came to Jarek from other camps so that approximately 1,000 people from Bulkes were interned there.

 

  In the period from April 15, 1945 to April 15, 1946 a total of 654 of the inhabitants from Bulkes died in the hell hole of Jarek, including 172 children below the age of fourteen.    The death toll among them would have been even higher if many of them, mostly older children, had not sneaked out of the camp at night to beg for food around Tenerin where the population tried to provide them with food.

 

  The some three hundred Bulkes survivors at Jarek were transferred to the death camps at Gakowa and Kruschiwl on April 15, 1946.  More deaths occurred there numbering 36 persons including eleven more children.  A total of 183 of the 365 children perished in the various camps accounting for more than half of them.  Later in 1946 about one hundred of the surviving younger children were taken out of the camp and placed in so-called children’s homes in northern and western Yugoslavia where they were raised as Serbo-Croatian orphans.  Years later some of them were successfully reunited with their families.  From March 1947 to the beginning of 1948 many of the survivors escaped across the nearby Hungarian border.  This was possible as more and more of the younger adults who had been in the labour camps in Jarek, Neusatz and Palanaka were transferred to Gakowa who took the elderly and surviving older children with them.

 

  The following is the story of one of the young survivors.

 

  On her seventeenth birthday, Elisabeth Ilg discovered that after her day’s work in the cabbage fields the worst fear she and her younger sister and the other remaining people in  Bulkes had was about to become a reality.  They were to be transferred to the extermination camp in Gakowa.  Hungry and exhausted from overwork and lack of adequate nutrition they were loaded into ice cold cattle cars at the train station in Futog.  Throughout the night they huddled together for warmth or they would have frozen to death.  The night seemed to last forever and all of them were too cold to sleep.

 

  For months now the sisters had no word if their father who had been sent to Jarek was still alive and had every reason to fear the worst.  Their mother, along with other women had been taken to Russia to forced labour.  Fortunately their grandmother and another relative had fled in time.  The sisters were filled with doubts and fear and prayed continually that God would defend and protect them and grant them the gracious gift of a reunion with their loved ones one day.

 

  At the train depot in Gakowa, the place which would become the last stop in the life of thousands of Danube Swabians, they were awaited by Partisans guards and herded like cattle through the village.  None of the inmates in the camp seemed to notice the latest increase in the camp population.  The houses were filled to overflowing.  They found room in a kitchen in a house across the street from the cemetery.  What they saw here in terms of hunger and starvation confirmed all of their fears.  Everyone awaited something.  The hungry sought food.  The ill sought healing.  Many simply waited for death.  Living next to the cemetery they saw the daily offering of lives.  There was not enough food, no fuel for heating, no medicine for the sick.  Their every thought was about food and warmth and the haunting question, “Will I ever be able to survive all of this?”

 

  On some days the two sisters went to the orphan section of the camp where there were hundreds of children whose mothers or grandparents had died in Gakowa.  They had such pitiful and sad faces.  One day they found Peter Bieber the son of their cousin.  When they called him by name he was astounded that anyone could know him.  He was very thin and could no longer walk and only hobbled around a bit.  They placed him in a wheelbarrow and drove him around which he seemed to enjoy and after that the sisters were frequent visitors.

 

  On another day they found a former neighbour who was sick and suffered from malnutrition resting on a straw mat in an unheated room.  When she recognized the sisters she was overjoyed and pressed their hands to her heart and wept.  They could not give her anything or help in any way but promised to visit her daily.  When they visited they talked about Bulkes, their missing family members and tried to encourage each other with a sense of hope.  One day she asked to be remembered by her loved ones and sent greetings to all of them if they should survive and be able to return to Bulkes.  The next day she was no longer there.  Her body had been taken by cart to the mass grave.

 

  When spring arrived there was an announcement that all mothers who had children in the camp were to report to the Children’s Home.  A friend they called Auntie Christine was possessed by only one thought and that was how to keep her daughter Traudl out of that section of the camp.  She dressed her daughter in her own clothes and the girl was passed off as an elderly woman with success.

 

  Things got worse, hunger was unbearable.  The sisters hit rock bottom.  They decided to attempt an escape but were caught and shut up in a cellar for three days and nights without food or water.  Everyone told them not to try again because they would be shot the next time.  Some people told stories to others to forget their hunger while others traded recipes.  The sisters sang hymns and folk songs they remembered from home and that also met other people’s needs.  One day one of the older women who had befriended them that they called Danu Basl (Auntie) smuggled some horsemeat into their quarters and they made two meals out of it.

 

  At the end of March contagious diseases were spreading through the camp and after two years of internment the sisters realized their resistance was low and their survival less and less likely.  It meant a second escape attempt.  Once again it meant a beating and three days in a damp, louse-infested, dirty, water filled cellar.

 

  Conditions worsened and on April 14, 1947 the sisters prayed together asking God to help them in their third attempt at escape.  Along with another girl from Bulkes and some other people they met at a designated place at the outskirts of Gakowa.  A man named “Ludwig” was supposed to take them across the border into Hungary.  The sky was cloudy.  The sisters took turns carrying the meagre belongings of an old woman.  They crossed over intoHungary with no difficulty.

 

  After an hour they reached a Hungarian farmyard.  They hugged and kissed one another and all of them got down on their knees and prayed the Lord’s Prayer.  They were finally free!  But it did not last long.

 

  Hungarian police arrived and took them to Gara and put them in a wooden barracks along with other apprehended border crossers.  They were searched for money and valuables.  On the evening of the second day of their incarceration they had to leave.  They numbered about one hundred and fifty persons!  It was said that the police would take them all to the train station.  They were herded up the road and the Hungarian police simply disappeared.  Barking dogs and Serbian shouts of “Stoj” (halt) told them they were back in Yugoslavia.  Crying, weeping and wailing most of the people were driven back to Gakowa by threatening Partisan guards.

 

  A small group, including the two sisters and the other girl from Bulkes lay flat on the cold ground and waited.  How long they cowered there in the darkness no one knows.  Once they could no longer hear the weeping and shouts of the Partisans they headed back to Gara where a kind old woman gave them food and let them sleep in her barn.  Two days later after thanking her they left heading for Budapest.  At the train station they met the Klein Richter (a local official) of Bulkes who was able to tell them that their father was alive in Höflein in Austria.  Their father had survived Jarek.

 

  Now they had a destination and they wanted to reach it quickly.  They travelled to Sopron.  Because they had no papers and looked a mess they were arrested by Hungarian police and put in jail.  They told their story but it was not believed.  At night another sentry believed them and felt sorry for them.  He promised to help and brought them to an abandoned house outside of Sopron.  It began to rain.  He told them to keep to the left and they would reach the Austrian border.  Before they could thank him he disappeared.

 

  By morning they were in Austria and reached Eisenstadt on foot.  Then they looked for directions to Höflein and found that there father was registered with the police for the purpose of locating his family members.  Following the directions of the police they made their way to the farmhouse where their father lived.

 

  As they stood at the front door of the house they knocked loudly.  The farmer’s wife, Frau Rupp opened the door and screamed, “Get out of here.  Get going.  Today I’ve got nothing left for handouts.”  She tried to close the door.  The girls were frightened but Elisabeth said, “We don’t want a handout!  We just came to ask if Friedrich Ilg lives here with you.”  The farmer’s wife was shocked and cried out, “Jesus.  O Jesus.  These must be Friedrich’s little girls.”  Their father came out of the stable and ran to the door and saw both girls standing there.  He could not speak because he was in shock.  And then from out of nowhere their mother appeared who had come fromRussia two weeks before who ran into the arms of her daughters.

 

  Later they said it was all like a dream.  There were no words to describe what they felt.  As the sisters tell it now, “We will thank God for His grace for all of our lives.”

  In another source, Leidensweg der Deutschen im Kommunistischen Jugoslawien the following information is provided on the sufferings of the inhabitants of Bulkes.

 

  There were no battles around Bulkes.  On October 25th 1944 the first Russian troops and Partisans arrived.  The Russians came in small groups.  They requisitioned horses, attacked women and looted at will.  A group of twenty Partisans took up quarters in one of the houses.  Break-ins, looting, rape and torture became an every day occurrence.  Many of the looters came from Petrowatz.  Then the atrocities began.  There were 1,792 Swabians in Bulkes at this time.  Two persons were shot:  one man and a woman.

 

  On November 16, 1944 there were 140 men and three women between the ages of 16 to 60 years of age who were interned.  The three women and seven men were taken to Palanka on the night of November 17/18 and shot.  The leadership of the local Swabians was ordered liquidated beginning with the doctor, druggist and teacher.  On November 18th 133 men were taken from Palanka to Neusatz and five of them were shot for not being able to keep up.  One of the men was taken away by the Russians and never seen again.  Twenty-five of the men taken to Neusatz were deported to the Soviet Union at Christmas.  The others were sent to labour camps at Mitrovica, Rudolfsgnad, Semlin and Jarek.  A large number remained at Neusatz.

 

  On December 4, 1944 an additional 75 men aged 60 to 70 years and youngsters who were 14 and 15 years old were interned in Palanka.  Some were later sent home because they had become sick while three of them died there in the camp.  The others were sent to Jarek when they became ill.  Most of them remained in Palanka.

 

  On December 8th, 1944 there were 33 women aged 18 to 40 who were interned in the labour camp in Palanka.  On January 1, 1945 eighteen of their number were deported to the Soviet Union while the others remained in Palanka.  On December 27th, seventy-seven women from Bulkes 18 to 30 years of age were deported to Russia.  On December 31st another one hundred and twenty women from 30 to 40 years of age were also shipped off to the Soviet Union to forced labour.  Five men who had made their way home from the war were sent with them.  In total, thirty men and two hundred and fifteen women from Bulkes were sent to the labour camps inRussia.

 

  On April 15, 1945 the remaining 1,280 persons still remaining in Bulkes were interned.  Three hundred and five women, forty young boys and old men were placed in a labour camp set up in Bulkes.  The oldest among them, involving about eighty persons were sent to Bukin three weeks later and a year later they were shipped to Palanka.  Two hundred and ten of the others arrived in Palanka in June 1945 and set to work there.  About fifty-five women remained in Bulkes until August 1945 and were then assigned to Neusatz and its vicinity.

 

  The vast majority of the population of Bulkes, 935 persons in all, mostly aged men and women along with 365 children as young as a few days to fourteen years of age were herded to the extermination camp at Jarek on April 15, 1945.  During 1945 many other Bulkes Swabians were also sent there.  The total number of internees from Bulkes in Jarek was about one thousand.

 

  From April 15, 1945 to April 15, 1946 there were 655 inhabitants from Bulkes among those who died in Jarek during that period, including 172 children under fourteen years of age.  The numbers would have been much higher except for the bravery of the older children who sneaked out of the camp to beg for food for those in the camp.  To leave the camp was punishable by death.  Peter Kendl, twelve years old was shot September 14, 1945; Philip Bauer aged eleven years was beaten to death by Partisans on October 18, 1945; Elisabeth Jung a thirty year old mother was shot on April 11, 1946 and her two young children perished in the camp.  This was the fate of those apprehended by the Partisans.  Others who were caught were beaten, imprisoned, starved and tortured.

 

  In the end there were about three hundred survivors from Bulkes who were sent to Gakowa and Kruschiwl which resulted in more deaths while others were able to escape from there and made their way acrossHungary intoAustria.

 

  The death toll as a result of the Second World War and its tragic aftermath in thevillage ofBulkes is as follows:

 

    775 persons died in internment camps inYugoslavia

        9 men died in labour camps inRussia

      56 women died in labour camps inRussia

    112 men were killed in action or are missing

      15 men died as prisoners of war inRussia

        6 persons died during the evacuation

        4 persons were shot by the Partisans at Jarek

        7 men were shot by the Partisans at Palanka

        3 women were shot by the Partisans at Palanka

        5 men shot by the Partisans on the march to Neusatz

 

   992 persons out of a total population of 2,716 died a violent and cruel death

 

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