The following information is based on a summary and my translation of Die Verschleppung ungarnländische Deutschen 1944/1945 that first appeared in Hungarian and was translated into German in an unpublished manuscript that came into my possession without the name of the author. 

  With only a few exceptions Hungarian historians have only recently acknowledged that segments of the German population living inHungary were deported to slave labour in the Soviet Union in the winter of 1944/1945 although a few isolated incidents were reported in Elek,Transylvania and Szatmar. On an official basis the subject was strictly taboo and forbidden.

 

  At the time of the signing of a truce on the part of the Hungarian government with the Russians on January 25, 1945 the deportations were already under way.  When the Yalta Conference (Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin) ended on February 11, 1945 the great majority of the slave labourers fromHungary had already been at work for two to three weeks in camps scattered across southernRussia.

 

  There were four areas ofHungary where the systematic deportation of German civilians took place:

 

1)  Transtisien and NorthEast Hungary

2)  The Great Hungarian Plain between the Tisza andDanubeRivers

3)  Budapest environs

4)  SwabianTurkey

 

  The order to “mobilize” all able bodied persons of German ethnic origin living in Hungary to provide war reparations to the Soviet Union by the use of their forced labour was issued by the Soviet Army on December 22, 1944 in their occupied areas behind the front lines.  It was Soviet Military Order No. 0060.  The order called for all persons of German ethnic origin to report for deportation; men from the ages of 17 to 45 years and women from 18 to 30 years.  Each person was allowed three pairs of shoes, three pairs of underwear, bedding, eating utensils and food for fifteen days up to a total weight of 200 kilograms per person.  Threats were imposed against family members if anyone refused to report.

 

  The mobilization was undertaken by district and local Hungarian officials.  The Interior Minister, Ferenc Erdei issued an order on January 5, 1945 for the registration of persons of German ethnic origin living in the territory of Hungary for the purpose of doing forced labour.  The order indicated that the action was to fulfill an agreement between the Hungarian government and the Russian military authorities.  Those who were excluded from the decree were persons with German names who considered themselves to be Hungarians; those with German names who were not members or participants in the activities of German or Hungarian Fascist organizations, i.e. the Volksbund; and those who participated in anti-German and patriotic movements.  Also were excluded were persons with German names who were Jewish.

 

  The Order 0060 was issued on the same day as the new Hungarian government was formally established known as the Hungarian Provisional National Government.  The order appears to have been developed during the period from December 23, 1945 to January 4, 1945.  This can be validated from official correspondence and documents in terms of the assembling of able bodied men and women of German ethnic origin and their subsequent transportation to the Soviet Union.  The records and files from Elek that have been found inSzeged indicate:

 

  “On December 26, 1944 a two hundred man unit of the GPU of the Red Army was quartered in Elek.  On the evening of their arrival the Russian commander issued an order to the local judge to begin the registration of the ethnic German population.  On January 1, 1945 the Russian major called upon the judge at 10:00 pm in the evening and informed him he would undertake the mobilization of all of those with German family names for labour service.  At 7:00 am on January 2, 1945 this GPU major made known that all persons with German names, without exception, fell under the terms of his orders.  All persons with Hungarian names whose grandparents had German names or were of German ethnic origin would be included.  The major remarked, “Whoever has even a tiny drop of German blood in his veins is German.”

 

  The assembling of the German population for removal and transport to the Soviet Union was completed on January 11, 1945 and they were entrained on railway box cars for shipment to Russia.  Three books of names prepared by the Russians indicate that there 1,903 persons involved.  The transport got under way at 1:00 pm on January 11, 1945 from the railway station in Elek.  Early next morning the Russian GPU unit left the community.  The deportees in this transport came from:

 

  Elek 983; Almaskamaras 320; Nagykamaras 20; Medgeyesegyhaza 15; Medyesbodzas 10; Pusztaottlaka 10; Kevers 10; Gyula 585.

 

  It appears that the assembling of men and women of German ethnic origin in the Russian occupied areas of Hungary began in the last weeks of December 1944 as well as their delivery to central assembly areas.  The action concluded by mid February 1945.  On the other hand, deportations were still carried out as late as April in Vas/Eisenberg County but consisted only of men and were primarily Hungarians between the ages of 16 to 40 years.

    Transtisien and North Eastern Hungary 

  The method used to round up the local German populations was primarily the same as at Elek.  The village was surrounded by Russian troops in the early grey dawn then the drums were beaten in the streets and the civilian population was ordered to report.  Large numbers of people were assembled from Mezöbereny, Gyoma, Fuzesgyarmat, Békes, Békescsaba, Szarvás and other neighbouring villages.  An assembly depot was located in Jula.  On January 10, 1945 a train transport with some 2,000 Germans left Jula and headed acrossRomania.

 

  Csangorad County provided 403 persons according to Russian military records.  In all of north east Transtisien there were only about 1,000 ethnic Germans. 

 

  The Russian military authorities also put other civilian populations behind the front lines to “Maleki Robot” in various other ways usually for three to five days.  The recruitment of this civilian labour was left in the hands of the Hungarian government officials and authorities.

 

  At the beginning of November 1944 the Russian troops that entered Szabocs took 2,000 civilians from Nyiregyhaza with them.  Many of them were Hungarians and were simply charged with being of German ethnic origin.  In some areas being related to a German even by marriage was tantamount to being German.  The age groups that were registered for “transportation” to the Soviet Union varied.  In the area around Dada it was women from 18 to 45 years and the men from 17 to 47 years.  In the village of Vencsello the local population was ordered to assemble on January 26, 1945.  They were surrounded and locked up in the school.  No attempt was made to differentiate between Germans and Hungarians.  In other areas of the region, men and women from 16 years to 65 years were registered.  At Tiszaladany the age group taken was 15 to 45 years including mothers with infants and pregnant women.  In Vissa and Balsa the assembling of the deportees was done to the accompaniment of the beating of drums.  All those who responded to the summons were surrounded by armed troops and shipped off toRussia.

 

  The Roman Catholic parish records of Merk in Szatmar County report that on January 5, 1945 villagers numbering 264 persons (159 men and 105 women) were deported to Russia by the Soviet military authorities.  In the neighbouringvillage ofVallaj the number of civilians taken numbered 214 persons (136 men and 78 women).

 

  In the County of Szabakcs-Szatmar-Bereg a total of 6,590 persons including 3,000 women were deported to labour camps in the Soviet Union.  The vast majority of them were first taken to Szerencs and then on to the assembly camp at Szolyva.  But the others from Merk and Vallaj from Szatmar were taken to Nagy Károly which is now part of Romania.  In Nagy Károly the new Romanian government officials had already assembled the local Swabian population and shipped them off toRussia.

 

  The action was carried out in Merk on January 2, 1945 by the local Hungarian police who knocked on the doors of all the Swabian households as well as three Orthodox families and two Hungarian Reformed families.  They simply took all persons from 17 to 45 years of age or ordered them to report at the school by 8:00 am where bread and salt would be distributed.  As the people arrived they noticed that the building was encircled by bayonet bearing troops.  Later that day they were placed in the local military barracks where they would remain for two days.  On the third day they were driven on foot carrying their meagre bundles and guarded and escorted by mounted troops to Nagy Karoly which was the County capital.  They remained there for two days and the Swabians from other nearby Swabian villages were also brought there from:  Caslanos, Kaplony, Mezöpetri, Szaniszlo, Nagymajjeny, Kalmand, Mezöbany, Mezöterem,and Kismanjjeny.

 

  As the deportees left the railway station in Nagy Károly on January 8, 1945 they were informed they would repair the rail lines in Hungary.  But on January 25, 1945 they arrived in the Donets region of Ukraine and placed in camps were they were interned.  A portion of the women from Merk were at the camp in Konstantyinowka and the men were at Nyikitowka.  Here they encountered larges numbers of Transylvania Saxons who all wore their traditional wide skirts.

 

  Of the 478 persons from Merk and Vallaj, 46 from Merk and 44 from Vallaj perished in the camps.  A total of 90 persons died due to the conditions in the camps and as a result of epidemics that broke out among the inmates.

 

  There were 547 deportees taken from Balmazujvaros on January 13, 1945 (395 men and 155 women) and they were sent to work in the coal mines of the Donets Basin.  Of these, 133 lost their lives there.

 

  In north eastern Hungary, in the Counties of Borsod-Abauj-Zemplen ethnic German civilians from 171 villages and towns were taken to the Soviet Union.  A total of 4,116 men and 685 women whose mother tongue was German or were of German ethnic origin were gathered together for deportation.  The largest numbers of them came from Miskolc (445 persons); Diosgyor (251 men and 17 women).  Clergy were not exempted and several of them died inRussia.

 

  In addition to the Donets Basin, slave labourers from this region inHungary were also sent to camps in theUkraine, along theVolgaRiver and theCaucasus Mountains.

 

  The Foreign Ministry of the Provisional Government received countless requests for the return of the deportees.  Their response was that the matter had been referred to the Allied Control Commission.

 

  From a total of 251 communities in Transtisien and north eastern Hungary we now have documentation to account for 19,816 persons of German ethnic origin or possessed German family names who were interned as civilians in labour camps in the Soviet Union.  In addition, 1,286 civilians from 6 communities on Csépel Island outside of Budapest were also deported.  They were taken on December 31, 1944.  Those taken from Szigetbecse included 66 persons.  Of these only 30 survived and returned home on August 9, 1947.  Four women and thirty-two men perished in the Soviet camps.

 

  The deportation action began in Rakospalota on January 20, 1945.  On January 22nd the drums were beaten and the population was told that all persons with a German family name or were of German ethnic origin including those who had Magyarized their names were to report to the officials.  They were sent to an assembly camp and then were on their way toRussia.

 

  The Budapest Environs and the Great Hungarian Plain Between the Danube and Tisza Rivers 

  As the battle raged for the capture of Budapest on January 13th and 14th of 1945 Swabians were dragged out of their homes and air raid shelters from the communities surrounding the capital.  They numbered 4,655 persons.  An additional 10,025 German civilians, both men and women from 30 communities in the surrounding Counties of Pest and Nogard were taken to various labour camps inRussia including the mining town ofNagybörzsöny with the largest Lutheran population in the region.

 

  The Russian military set up an assembly camp at Berzel/Gegledbercel.  Swabian men and women were interned there from the surrounding area and numbered 730 persons.  They were joined by others from twenty-five other villages and in all 3,600 persons were transported to the Ukraine.  From among the 630 Swabians who were deported from Tax/Taksony, 116 of them died on their way toRussia.

 

  From Harta on the Danube another large Lutheran community 393 persons were taken to Russia.  According to the report from Harta there were lists compiled that included the names of all of the German civilians who were to be taken.  If the person was not found at their home another family member was taken in their place.  The deportees from Harta were taken by horse drawn wagons to Solkvadkert and there they were entrained for transfer toRussia.

 

  The method used to assemble the deportees in Erd was the same as the method the Turks used in the far distant past.  On January 8, 1945 all men between the ages of 16 and 50 years were told to report to provide proof of their identity.  After waiting for over an hour representatives of the Soviet military command informed them that they could not get their papers locally but had to proceed to Ercsi where the Soviet headquarters were located.  The men were sceptical but proceeded to Ercsi.  While they were there the men were grouped together with Swabians who had served in the Hungarian National Army and were marched off to a new destination.  They were hungry and thirsty and trudged through a snow storm in the direction of Dunaföldvar.  They received some food on their way at Kloszallas but there was not enough for all of them.  Their route took them through Cece to Dunaföldvar and then on to Harta, Kolcsa, Dusanok and finally reached Baja their final destination.  They were entrained here.  Those from Erd were transported to Temesvár and others were interned at Szeged before they passed through Romania and then on to the camps in the Soviet Union.  Many of them would finally return home in November 1955.

 

  In all, documentation verifies that in this region 15,542 ethnic Germans were sent to slave labour in the USSR.  In addition there were 2,414 persons taken from the adjoining County of Kiskuman.  In total there were 17,956 persons of German origin or with German family names that were sent to Russia as part of Hungary’s reparations as agreed upon at Yalta by the Big Three.

   Swabian Turkey 

  The number of ethnic Germans inSomogyCounty was not large, while in Tolna and Baranya the Swabian population was a large proportion of the total population.

 

  The assembling and transporting of the German civilian population in Somogy County for deportation to Russia began in the first days of 1945.  The Swabian enclave in the northern part of the County consisted of twelve villages.  The forced mobilization and subsequent transporting of 205 men and women because of their German names and origins at the beginning of February 1945 can be fully documented.  But the numbers of deportees from five of the villages are not included in this figure:  Gadacs, Torvay, Raksi, Sereskozollos and Somogyszil.  The 205 who are identified came from Bonnyapuszta and Bonnya (78 persons), Miklosi, Ecseny, Szorasad and Kisparapati.  If we add Bárcs, Szulok, Döröschke, Szil, Szabádi, Galosfa, Kaposhomok, Kiskeresteur, Miha, Nagocs and Tab there were approximately 600 ethnic German civilians taken to theSoviet Union to slave labour out of pre-war population of 5,000.

 

  (Translator’s note:  On the basis of my own personal research I can provide some of the following missing details.  There were 35 persons of whom 24 were women and eleven men who were taken from Somogydöröcske.  Six of the women and eight of the men died there.  I have been able to determine that there were 74 persons from Bonnya and the neighbouring Bonnyapuszta.  In Somogyszil there were a total of 70 persons involved, 36 men and 34 women.  Five of the women and three of the men died in the camps.  In Gadacs the deportees numbered 24 persons, 17 women and 7 men.  Ecseny provided 54 persons although 76 had been selected but many went into hiding and several women escaped in Lapafö before they were entrained for Dombovár.  Five of the women and eight of the men from Ecseny died in the Soviet Union and two women and one man died on their way home in a sick transport and several women died shortly after arriving at home.  There were three deportees from Sereszkollos, two women and one man only one of the women survived.  In Raksi there were four women and one man who were deported and three of the women survived.  There were a total of 260 deportees from these Lutheran villages.  In addition there were also deportees from several Roman Catholic villages in the vicinity:  Miklosi, Nagocs and Szarosad.  Although I could not obtain the number of individuals involved in Miklosi I did learn that all of the women and seven of the men perished in the Soviet Union.  I could account for one death among the men taken from Nagocs but in Szarosad there were eight women and ten men who were taken to Russia and five of the women and nine of the men died there.  There were also deportees from Hács, Vámos and Polány who were part of the Lutheran community in these Hungarian villages.)

 

  In terms of Baranya County early research indicated that 733 person were involved.  It was only later that an additional 2,068 men 331 women were specifically identified.  But currently on the basis of the existing parish records 4,143 ethnic German civilians were transported to Russia from Baranya County.  But even these figures are suspect.  Official records indicate that were twelve persons  taken from Szalatnak but in fact we know that there were 120 persons.  A recent analysis suggests a minimum of 4,445 persons were involved.

 

  The first deportees from Tolna County came from Högyesz and numbered 350 persons, primarily young women who were transported by Russian military vehicles to Baja on January 3, 1945.  In the northern portions of Tolna County the forced mobilization of the ethnic German civilian deportees began on January 4th and on the 10th they were assembled in Szekszárd and were then transported to Baja.  Clergy recorded the numbers of ethnic Germans taken in Lengyel, Kisdorog, Diósbereny, Mucsi, Cikó, Szalka, Graboc, Kéty and Nemetkér.  We can determine that in these nine villages alone there were 531 persons who were taken to forced labour in the Soviet Union of whom 339 were young women.  In all, there were about 6,250 ethnic German civilians from Tolna County that were sent to the USSR. 

 

  The total number of ethnic German deportees from Swabian Turkey was 11,500 persons.  At least that is the official count.

 

  Beginning on December 22, 1944 the Soviet military along with the assistance of the Hungarian government officials carried out a systematic programme to take persons of German ethnic origin or with German family names as slave labour to the Soviet Union as Hungary’s “war reparations”.  This ongoing programme lasted until the end of January and early February in 1945.

 

  From the three major regions where the deportations took place we can report the following statistics:

 

  Transtisien and North East Hungary                              19,816 persons

  Budapest and the Great Plains (combined)                    17,956 persons

  Swabian Turkey                                                              11,455 persons

 

  These figures are based on the lists of names that are recorded in the Hungarian Foreign Ministry.  A conservative estimate is that 30% of the deportees are not named on the official lists another 14,750 persons.  On that basis:

 

  Transtisien and North East Hungary                              25,816 persons

  Budapest and the Great Plains (combined)                    23,300 persons

  Swabian Turkey                                                             14,900 persons

 

  Contemporary historians suggest that the Soviet military authorities transported 150,000 Danube Swabians and 75,000 Transylvania Saxons to forced labour from Yugoslavia, Romania and Hungary.  Of them approximately 60,000 to 65,000 of them were fromHungary.

 

  The first survivors from the labour camps arrived back in Hungary in March 1945 but in very small numbers.  The return of sick and injured deportees began in 1946 but no figures are available.  At the end of November 1946 one such transport consisted almost entirely of Swabians from Transtisien.  Others often accompanied returning prisoners-of-war.  On the basis of official records there were 16,322 persons who had returned home from the Soviet Union by the end of December 1946 if whom 3,194 were civilians.  The term “civilians” was the euphemism used by the Hungarian officials in place of ethnic Germans or Swabians.

 

  The Hungarian Ministry of Health reported that from January 1, 1947 to the end of December 1948 a total of 7,090 women, 26,232 civilian men and 6,965 minors returned to Hungary from Russia.  The minors were those who were eighteen years of age or under when they arrived in Debrecen which was the processing centre for returnees.  The last transport of survivors arrived in Hungary at the end of the December 1949.  There are no statistics on the number that died in the labour camps but 25% to 33 1/3% is a fair estimate on the basis of reports from the communities from which they had been taken.

 

  The vast majority of the returnees arrived in Hungary after their communities had been dispersed and their families had been expelled to West Germany in 1946 and 1947 while the final transports left Hungary for East Germany in 1948.  Many of the returnees fled the country illegally in search of their families in the West.  The transports that returned fromRussia at the end of 1947 and in early 1948 often arrived at the railway stations where their families were assembled for deportation and simply exchanged one cattle car for another and joined their families in another deportation into the unknown.

 

  Many of those who had become sick in the camps were placed in transports of returning German prisoners of war and were sent to Frankfurt-on-Oder in the Russian Zone of Germany instead of home.  This was especially true of many young women from Swabian Turkey and the Transylvania Saxons.

 

  Labour camps had also been set up in Hungary under Imre Nagy the Communist president.  The labour camp at Tiszalok had between 2,000 to 2,500 ethnic German inmates.  From October 23, 1953 up until the end of December 1953 about 1,000 of them were released.  Those whose families had been deported to Germany 1946-1949 were sent to rejoin them.  Most of the inmates were young men who had been conscripted into the Waffen-SS in the autumn of 1944.  Those who returned home from the war or had deserted the army ended up in the labour camps as civilians so that the Geneva Convention did not apply to them.  While others who were taken prisoner during the war maintained that status.  Most of the prisoners of war returned to Hungary from 1947 to 1949.  But all those men who had the SS tattoo were held back and not released from theSoviet Union until December 1950.

 

  Even before reaching the frontiers of Hungary the train transports were taken over by Hungarian Special Forces.  The men were kept in camps at Kistarcsa, Vac, Cyujto and in March 1951 they were interned at the recently established camp at Tiszalok.  This would mark the last phase of the reprisals taken againstHungary’s German ethnic minority.

  The forced abduction of the ethnic German civilian population was only possible through the cooperation of Hungarian officialdom.  The foremost among them were those officials in the local communities themselves and the district authorities.  At the Tehran Conference the Big Three had agreed that no military governments be established in the occupied lands.  All levels of the Provisional Government of Hungary participated and carried out the deportations with Soviet assistance.  The County administrations were informed later.  In most districts and regions the Hungarian officials were unaware of the real goals of the Russians in terms of the deportation to slave labour in Russia.  The two week assignments to labour that the Russians officially ordered not only fooled the ethnic Germans but the local officials as well.  There were cases where the local village Richter (elected official) sent members of his own family to do the ordered two week labour assignment while others who were suspicious spared their own.

 

  What was unclear with regard to the Soviet military order was the question of what constituted being German.  As far as the Russians were concerned anyone with a German sounding name or someone who married a German was one.  Although the task of assembling the deportees was the task of the Hungarian authorities in most cases Soviet troops carried them out with the support of Yugoslavian and Romanian Partisans units as part of their occupation duties in southernHungary.

 

  But the Russian military authorities were also somewhat uncertain as to when to proceed.  Those ethnic Germans who had already been assembled for transportation to Russia during Christmas of 1944 were kept interned for two weeks up to January 5, 1945 before the transports got under way.  The time was necessary to get the Provisional Government on side.  The project was first set in motion in Bekes County and the government was aware of what had been undertaken by the Russians.  Correspondence with the Ministry of the Interior documents the fact that the Hungarian government was fully informed.  The Ministry was in touch with the central military headquarters of the Red Army in Debrécen and were in direct contact with Stalin.

 

  There were two channels of information and communication.  The fastest was the Soviet military commanders.  As soon as the order was issued by the Ministry of the Interior on January 5, 1945 to all municipal officials the first trainloads of deportees were on their way to Russia.  In many counties, especially the newly occupied area of Swabian Turkey the order from the Ministry of the Interior had not even arrived.  The Soviet Military took action and informed the ethnic German civilian population of the forced mobilization directly.  But there was no inkling given that they would be forced to leave Hungary.  This was not even indicated in the Military Order 0060 of December 22, 1944 and the Interior Ministry remained silent on the matter.  The Hungarian officials proceeded with the registration of the individuals who would be involved and did all of the other paper work and by the time they were done the deportations had been completed.  In fact the government was impotent and simply a tool of the Russian military.  Because the ultimate goal of slave labour in the Soviet Union was kept secret the deportees had no opportunity to prepare for what lay ahead of them with regard to food, clothing, medicines and such.  Local officials had difficulty in communicating with the Provisional Government because of the fluid situation on the frontlines and the ongoing stubborn resistance of Budapest.  It was all done in the midst of chaos and in many instances there were Hungarians who were also taken to fill the local quotas.

 

  The frontlines split Somogy County in two and Russian troops carried out the abducting of the civilian conscripts by going from house to house.  After assembling them in a central area at Andócs they were taken on to Baja-Szeged-Temesvar-Deva-Brasso-Plojesti-Jassi (Romania).  The deportees had to detrain there and board another because of the track gauge and then went on to Djepropetrowsk-Rostov and the various mines in the Donets Basin and some went on to the Caucasus and the oil fields.  This was the most travelled route used to deport the ethnic Germans from south eastEurope.

 

  Various different ruses were used so as not to alert the deportees of their true fate and destination.  In the Baranya they were told they would be rebuilding the airfield at Pécs, while in the Tolna they would be doing agricultural work breaking corn in the region of Baja across theDanube.

 

  When the Minister of the Interior dispatched his orders to undertake the deportations he was well aware of their destination but kept that secret from his own officials.  After March 1945 Hungarian officials lumped in the civilian deportees along with the prisoners of war when they returned to Hungary with them.  Stalin discussed these labour reparations with Churchill and Roosevelt atTehran at the very time that the deportations were in full gear.

 

  There is no evidence to suggest that the Hungarians could have curtailed or prevented the deportations by any official or government action.  Their involvement was formal.  It was the Russian military who were in charge.

  What will now follow are official documents that deal with various phases of the deportations and those involved.

 

  The Chief Justice of Tolna County wrote from Bonyhád on December 31, 1944 to all the local and district Notaries of Tolna County:

 

  “Along with the accompanying order of the Russian Military Command in Bonyhád, dated December 31, 1944 I order the immediate registration for labour services all Germans in your locale, all men born in the years from 1899 to 1929 and women born in the years 1914 to 1926.

 

  These registered individuals are to be given identity certificates which will be sent to me immediately so that I have them in my hands by 12:00 noon on January 3, 1945 at the latest.  This registration will not allow for any postponement and all involved who are able bodied workers are to be included.

 

  The identity papers must include:  1) a certificate number 2) name 3) place of birth, year, month and day 4) current address 5) married women, pregnant and number of children under 7 years of age.

 

  For the precise and punctual carrying out of my orders you are personally answerable.”

  The local authorities in Tevel,TolnaCounty reported on January 1, 1945:

 

  “The statement and itemized list of deportees was handed over to the local Russian Commander on December 26, 1944 and the assembling of the deportees and their subsequent leaving forRussia took place on the night of December 30/31, 1944.”

 

  The District Notary at Szentbolaz wrote the following entry on January 2, 1945:

 

  “…in the village of Kiskeresztur, Somogy County the Russian Military Commander gathered together the men of German ethnic origin who were able bodied between the ages of 17 to 45 years and women from 18 to 30 years at the end of December and according to my understanding they were taken to Pécs…”

 

  The District Notary in Somogyszil reported on January 7, 1945:

 

  “I inform Your Honour that the able bodied German population of Szil and Gadacs have been transported as directed.  On January 6, 1945 there were 36 men and 34 women from Szil who were involved and on January 21st there were an additional 17 women and 7 men from Gadacs.  The great majority of the German male population in Gadacs is serving in the military and even though the Russian soldiers went from house to house they could not find any more men.

 

  In both Szil and Gadacs there are presently some men and women in the designated age groups who have been left behind due to illness or the women have infants under the age of two years.”

 

  The District Notary from Kisbarapati reported the following on January 24, 1945:

 

  “…the Soviet military authorities who have their headquarters in Andócs along with Hungarian police transported the ethnic German civilians, both men and women from two of the villages belonging to my jurisdiction:  Bonnya and Bonnyapuszta on January 22nd.  The enclosed list of names and identity certificates for 74 persons are enclosed for your information.”

 

  The decree issued by the Vice Governor of Somogy County on January 1, 1945 states:

 

  “Re:  The registration of the able bodied German population.

 

    To:  All local governments and community councils.

 

    In response to directions given by the Russian Military Command Headquarters in Kaposvár I call upon you to immediately register all Germans living permanently or abiding in your community.  This includes all men of German origin who are able bodied from the ages of 17 to 45 years and women of German origin ages 18 to 30 years.  The identity certificate must bear the precise name, both Christian and surname and married women must include their maiden name as well as the exact household address.

 

  With regard to the establishment of whether or not someone is of German origin is obvious:  anyone whose mother tongue is German or is of German ethnic origin and whether they were members of the Volksbund or not is immaterial.

 

  …should you not respond in a reasonable period of time you will answer for your tardiness directly to the Russian military authorities.”

 

  He also wrote to the Chief Justice in Igal, Tab and Lengyeltoti on January 18, 1945:

 

  “The Russian Military Command has decreed that the military units in the individual communities of your District are to assemble for labour service all those who are able bodied and of German ethnic origin, all women aged 18 to 30 years and men from 17 to 45 years and provide for their transportation.  Those persons chosen can take 200 kilos of goods, warm winter clothing, covers, eating utensils and food for fifteen days.

 

  I order you to be as helpful as possible to the officers of the Russian Military.”

  The following is an extract from a letter written by Jacob Studer of Cikó,TolnaCounty from the assembly camp at Szekszárd:

 

  “…we are here in the prison in Szekszárd and we lie around here all day and we folks from Cikó are not alone, we have many other comrades.  There are about 2,000 persons in all in the prison with us.  We do not know when we will leave here and no one knows where we are going.  We simply remain here until all of us are together from the area.  People from some villages have already been here for eight days.

 

  When all of us are together we are told we will be taken into Szekszárd or go on to Baja to repair the train tracks or who knows we may be able to come home as some of us have heard.”

 

  A letter from Michael Schramm in the assembly camp at Pécs to his family in Sásd:

 

  “We had to live through a sorrowful new year.

 

    They shaved off our hair and we have been disinfected.  At any minute we will be transported to Russia.  The translator told us it would be impossible to escape from there.  Many of us are already desperate for food and clothing.

 

    I take leave of all of you.  God be with you.  I think of home so often.  Your son kisses you many times.  God be with you.”

 

  On January 11, 1945 Michael wrote his last letter:

 

  “I am writing my last letter to you…perhaps our loving God will help me so that I will come home again.  We are going to Russia somewhere in Ukraine.  We are going on from here to Baja and from there toRussia.

 

  Thank you so much for everything and for all you have given and done for me.  Look after each other.  God be with you.  I wish you every good thing.  We are leaving today.  God be with you.  I think of home so often, perhaps our loving God will help me at some time.  God be with you.

 

  You had better throw this letter away.”

  The following account was written by Elisabeth Schmidt of Véménd inBaranyaCounty:

 

  “On December 27, 1944 we had to leave Pécsvarád where we had been taken first.  There were forty of us who had to go on to Pécs and were imprisoned in the Lakics Barracks in the horse stables.  All of the Swabians from Baranya County who had been assembled for labour service were there, about 12,400 of us.  We all thought that we had been brought there to do labour service.  We ended up being there for two weeks and on the 15th of January 1945 they put us on board boxcars heading for Dombovár and Batászék and then on to Baja.  We had no idea of where we were being taken.  In Baja we were quartered for two days in the sheds at the railway depot.  I along with two other women from Véménd were examined by a doctor and as a result were ordered to return home.  All of the others left Baja by train.  The next day the three of us were put back on a train along with total strangers.  Later we met five others from Véménd who were also part of our transport.  So now there were eight of us.  We were in boxcars with forty persons in each.  We travelled to Szabadka and Temesvár and across Romania to the Russian border.  Here we had to change trains and travelled for eight days across the Carpathian Mountains and through countless long tunnels.  It was cold in the boxcars and we had no source of heat or even a stove.  For food we were given bread and a sack of beans, a large pot full of sugar and coffee and salt that was divided among forty persons but our stomachs could not cope with this fare because we had not eaten anything cooked in three weeks.  After crossing the Russian frontier we were placed in larger boxcars that had stoves and we could even cook a bit but everyone was depressed and sorrowful.

 

  Today on the 24th of January we are here in Bessarabia and have been standing on railway siding for two days.  Occasionally we move forward a few kilometres and then stop again.  The Russians who escort us are not nasty and we are allowed to go out for water and to make use of improvised toilets but we sleep very little.  We toast our black bread on the stove to make it more palatable.  There are seventy-seven of us in this boxcar and it is about as long as on of our houses back home.  Today is January 28th and we are still on the train.  We have received bacon on three occasions but none of our own food is left.  The people from Véménd share what they have with one another.  We have been on the train for two weeks and its one month now since we left home.

 

  All of this is a test but it comes from our Heavenly Father because humankind no longer knows Him and the pride and envy of people is so great and we have to repent.  The lice now appear to be everywhere in our boxcar.  No one will ever forget this trip.  I think of my loved ones at home constantly.  The pain is so deep.”

 

  The following are other individual remembrances of deportees:

 

  “There was talk that we had to go to the Batschka to work for two weeks.  Everyone thought that we were going to there to break corn and we were told to take enough food to last for two weeks and warm clothing.”

 

  Another from Ecsény inSomogyCounty writes:

 

  “There were many on the list of deportees who went into hiding and sought sanctuary in nearby Hungarian villages.  Threats of reprisals against their families led others to give themselves up to the authorities.  Parents came and sought their children who had gone into hiding and convinced them to return home because the labour service was in Pécs and would only last two weeks or so…”

 

  A deportee reported:

 

  “Even when people were warned that they were being sent to Russia they refused to believe it and did not take warm winter clothing with them to spite those who had bothered to warn them.”

 

  Anna Maria Ehl from Bonnya inSomogyCounty recounted:

 

  “In the village of Bonnya in Somogy County the head of the village government registered all of the Swabian young people on the night of January 16, 1945.  He said that we would only have to do two weeks of labour service and showed us their official documents and orders and told us that we could bring along two of our best sets of underwear, two of our best outerwear, a feather tick, bedding, pillows, a straw pallet and food to last us for two weeks.”

 

  A young mother from Sásd inBaranyaCounty stated:

 

  “Many of us from Sásd were involved.  The officials held a meeting and announced that we would be sent to do labour and this and that.  Then the list of names was read.  When all of that was over an old Russian soldier and several Partisans (who were either Croats or Serbs) wearing civilian clothes but fully armed began to push us around.  We then went with them to Pécs on foot.  By the time we arrived we had become a caravan as we were joined by others from neighbouring villages.  The Partisans kept their distance from us and often fired their rifles in the air as a warning to us…”

 

  “In Pécs we were brought to the Lakics stables and barracks.  My brother-in-law was with us.  He took an old broom and began to clean up the mess because the stable was filled with manure and there was nowhere to sit with our bundles.  We sat there among the manure all day.”

 

  “We were taken to the railway station and loaded on board boxcars that had been arranged for us.  The windows were covered with barbed wire.  We were treated as if we were the worst of criminals.  Our train left Pécs and headed towards Dombovár and there were those who said we should try to escape but it was no longer possible.”

 

  “In Bonyhád someone managed to open the door of our boxcar.  He said we should get out quickly but we all just sat there and were afraid to move.  We thought that if we got off of the train we would be shot.  We were simply scared and stupid.”

 

  “Approaching the Danube River we passed through a large forest.  The bridge across the river at Baja had been bombed and we had to sleep in the forest that night.  There were as many Russians around as there were ants.  (The writer was unaware that there had been a German counter-offensive in the area at that time.)  Snow showers began at 10:00 pm and we wore our Schlappen (a kind of wooden shoe) socks and Patschkern (knitted footwear with a sole).  There was as much snow inside of them as there was outside.  Around 2:00 and 3:00 am the snow finally slackened.  Then the cold came.  We were wet and our clothes froze.  Then we had to go to the ferry to cross the Danube.  We put our covers and pillows on our heads and strapped out bundles to our backs and with our wooden clogs on our feet we marched through the snow and mud.  When we arrived on the other bank of the Danube we fell down with our packs.  We wept and said that we were about to suffer what Christ endured on the cross.”

 

  Some had chances to escape in Baja and were offered help but were afraid to risk it.

 

  The two young women from Bonnya inSomogyCounty reported further:

 

  “The Russians assembled us and our provisions in front of the Reformed Church in Bonnya.  Parents were threatened that if they hid heir children they would be taken in their place or would be shot.  We were taken in horse drawn wagons to Andócs and locked in the Roman Catholic Church for two days where we were guarded by armed Russian sentries.  On the third day they brought the Swabians from Szorosad, Somogydöröckse, Miklosi and Kara by horse drawn wagons.  From Andócs we travelled together to the school in Lápafö.  (Translator’s note:  Two young women from Ecseny, and several teenage girls from Miklosi and a sixteen year old boy from Bonnya escaped during the night.)  On the next day we drove on to Dombovár.  Here they also brought the Swabians from the area to join us.  From here we travelled by train or old jalopies without seats or windows due to the bombings on to Baja.  We crossed over the frozen   Danube on an emergency military bridge.  On the other side we were brought to a shed used to dry tobacco that was not heated and it was so cold that we almost froze.  We had to put up with that for the next three days and then we had to walk 62 kilometres to Kiskundhalas in hair raising bitter cold.”

 

  One of the deportees from Mekényes inBaranyaCounty relates:

  “Leaving Baja we were taken towards Szeged and there at the bridge the train slowed down and some managed to escape by jumping from the train.  Those of us from Mekényes had decided among ourselves that we would try to escape.  One from our group jumped but the next person behind him was too terrified to follow him and none of the others had a chance to jump.  We were in Yugoslavia when we were first allowed to get water.  Fortunately there was a man with us who had been on the Russian front, he had fought in the Don campaign, and he told us not to betray the fact that some had managed to escape because all of us would be punished for it.  He had been a soldier and knew the score.  First we portioned out our food and then we planned what we would tell the Russians because we were counted every morning.  They began to count and then proceeded to do so three or four times before they finally realized two of us were missing.  “Where are they?” they asked and we simply did not answer and shrugged our shoulders.”  (Translator’s note:  the majority of the “men” deported from Mekényes were sixteen and seventeen year old boys.)

 

  Another deportee from the Tolna reported:

 

  “We were never let out of the boxcars.  No water was provided for us.  Sometimes when the train halted at a station we would call for water but we did not always receive any.  We travelled through Romania.  There was a small hole in our boxcar and we called through it for water and handed out a bottle to be filled.  A man filled it with water from a nearby creek and asked who we were.  We answered that we were Hungarians.  As a result we did not get the water.  If we had said we were Germans he would have given us some.  That hurt.  I really hurt.  It was just too painful for us.”

 

  A schoolteacher from the Baranya wrote:

 

  “They always transported us at night and by day the train stood at a siding.  Where we were going or where we were was something we never knew.  We cried like little children.  We prayed the rosary and sang hymns…”

 

  A young teenage girl from Hidas inBaranyaCounty states:

 

  “One time, I believe we were in Romania, our train sat idle for a long time and we had a terrible thirst and need for water.  We called to some men who were working on the tracks and begged them for some water but they answered that the nearby water was bad.  But we continued to beg and said we only wanted to wet our lips with the water from the creek.  Those who drank a lot of the water soon died.  The dead were in our boxcar for two days until we stopped awhile and we were allowed to carry them out…”

 

  “At Dnepropetrowsk we received some warm cooked food.  It was one of the few times we were allowed to leave our boxcar.  Beside our tracks there were numerous columns of trains and we heard that there were people on board all of them.  We knocked at the locked doors and asked where they came from.  They said they were from Pécs.  I asked if there were any people from Hidas among them and I learned there were some two or three boxcars down from where I was standing.  I knocked at one boxcar after another and managed to see my father for the last time.  He looked very pale and ill.  I was told he died shortly afterwards.”

 

  A married woman from Magocs inBaranyaCounty writes:

 

  “They no longer let us off of the trains until we arrived in Dnepropetnowsk in Russia.  This was a very large railway depot and there were countless trains there including some that were from Hungary.  My husband was there too and we were able to meet.  He knew a bit of Russian and the officer allowed us to speak to one another.  I pleaded with my husband to take me with him.  There were so many people in the cattle car, men and women thrown together and my husband simply said, “My dear, just stay where you are.  You can see how packed we are in here.  We’ll find each other outside and then we’ll be together.  I had to be satisfied with that at the time.  We never met again.”

 

  A young woman from Nagy Hajmas inBaranyaCounty remembers:

 

  “At first we were not assigned to the mines.  We had to transport huge pieces of ice by sled.  The distance was as far as Magocs is to Hajmas about 6 kilometres.  Two pulled the sled and one had to push from behind.  We went up hills and down again and went on and on all day long.  One day when we went out we were so frozen that we could not raise our arms.  The Russian who accompanied us never spoke.  I thought, “My dear God where is he taking us this time?”  We had a long way to go and we could see other Russians in the distance.  As we approached them we began to cry because our hands were already frozen when one of the women from Hidas said, “Do you know what girls?  When we arrive there we will tell them that we are going back to our barracks and if he wants to stop us he will have to shoot us!  I mean all of us.  Right?  He might as well as shoot us for this is no life anyway and we cannot endure this any longer.”

 

  “When we arrived where they were waiting the Russians unloaded the ice on a sled and showed us where to go and get some more.  We did not go.  We stuck together and marched off to our barracks.  He shot somewhere behind us as we walked.  He shouted that we could not do this and we had to do as he had ordered.  We screamed back at him that we refused to do as he had ordered.  He then ran after us screaming all the way and gesticulating wildly.  We came to our barracks which were surrounded by barbed wire with sentries standing on guard at each corner and the gates were flooded by searchlights. If anyone attempted to escape it would cost them their life.  Our officer was on duty and we told him our Russian foreman had screamed at us that we were lazy and did not want to work.  He quickly put an end to the discussion speaking in German as did all of the officers in our camp.  The woman from Hidas said that we could not go and do the work demanded of us because it was too cold and we could not withstand it and that we had agreed among ourselves that we would prefer to be shot than endure that.  At that time we all believed that we would never see home again anyway.  She went on to say that we could not live on the kind of food we got and preferred to die.  And then the woman said, “Isn’t that right girls?”  And we all responded, “That’s exactly the way it is.  Shoot us instead.”  Then the officer looking perplexed and obviously very nervous said, “Then you had better get back to your barracks.”

 

  Another woman deportee from Bonnya inSomogyCounty stated:

 

  “I had never been in a mine before.  But once you were assigned to the mine there was no way out for you.  Only after a long, complicated process could a person be re-assigned from the mines.  It was an anthracite mine.  There are major differences between coal and anthracite mines.  For instance anthracite is very hard.  The other major difference is that anthracite is mined in thin shafts from 80 centimetres to one meter in height in the tallest tunnels.  One could only work on one’s knees, sitting down or on one’s back.”

 

  In addition to the working conditions there was also the frequency of accidents due to the physical weakness of the deportees who were overworked and underfed.

 

  A deportee from Magocs fromBaranyaCounty writes:

 

  “We became so weak that all of us became ill.  Half of us died.  In 1945 contagious diseases broke out, all kinds of typhus and people died like flies.  I caught typhus but a doctor from Szatmar helped me.  I became unconscious and they laid me out in the back of an open truck and the people from Magocs said I would never see Magocs again.  They cut off all of my hair.  I was bald.  I was given up for dead.  I gave the ear rings of my aunt who had died to the doctor who was able to get something to restore me to health.”

 

  Another anonymous deportee reported:

 

  “Just as we began to work, the typhus epidemic broke out.  People died like flies that autumn.  They got weak very quickly.  The disease spread and people died one after another.  We arrived at the camp on February 2, 1945 and consisted of 128 persons from villages in Tolna County and by December there were only 24 of us left.  The people died of hunger and typhus.”

 

  A woman from Kisdorog inTolnaCounty writes:

 

  “During the first year, many of us died.  It was common to wake up at night and discover that the person next to you had died.  They were filled with water.  They were just skin and bones and had a huge stomach.  The flesh between the toes would burst and the water would just pour out.  There was a room behind the building where they put the dead and those who were dieing.  There was young boy who had dysentery.  He lay there among the dead.  He thought it over and crawled out on his hands and knees.  He was fortunate because if he had remained he would have certainly died.”

 

  “My sister died in one of these rooms for the dead but not in our camp but in another.  She was just a seventeen year old girl and had been taken from Kisdorog, Tolna County.  She died at the camp in Donbas.  According to what others who were with her told us   she was still alive when they carried her over to the death house.  She screamed as loud as she could.  She had a very high fever and there was no medication of any kind and that was the problem for all of us.  They laid her among the corpses while she was still alive.”

 

  “The corpses lay inside there in a wooden chest for three or four days.  They were not removed until the chest was full.  The chests sat out in the blazing hot sun and the corpses decomposed and stank.”

 

  In order to survive the inmates of the camps had to find other sources of food whenever possible.  The following are some comments and memories of various deportees:

 

  “When we were no longer under heavy guard we went into the city to beg at the houses.  Sometimes they gave us things.  They had nothing themselves.  They were as poor as we were but they gave when we begged.  It was perhaps a head of corn, a piece of bread, an onion.  The old people were very kind.  They always wept with us.  These older people knew German but before they began to talk to us they first glanced around to see if anyone would notice them.  They were always terribly frightened those poor old people.  They said the Germans who had lived there had been deported to Siberia.  That is why they were afraid to speak to us…”

 

  “We always stole something.  While I was at a the lumber camp, we stole wood and took it to the bazaar and sold it for five Rubles.”

 

  “We got an old broken down horse so we could carry and deliver water but this poor old nag was so skinny that it fell over and did not have the strength to get back up.  Naturally we ate it but not too much because that would make us sick.  I remember even now how good it tasted at the time.”

 

  “On one occasion some secret cooking took place in our camp.  It smelled good too.  Everyone had some of it to eat even though we had no idea of what it was.  We found the hide of the dog in the pot later.  The dog belonged to one of the Russian officers.  He got terribly angry but did not know who to blame.”

 

  “Anyone who did not want to sell the things he or she had brought with them to Russia would soon die.  We sold everything.  I can remember that at first I sold the buttons from my vest and was able to buy some salt to use on the half kilo of bread I got each day because it tasted so bad and must have been made of sawdust.  Later I bought some garlic…”

 

  No semblance of religion or any Christian observances were tolerated in the camps.

 

  One deportee however writes that they were able to make connections with religious believers among the Russians.  A Lutheran deportee fromSomogyCounty writes:

 

  “And then we also sneaked out of the camp whenever we could when we knew it was Sunday and went to the local Orthodox Church.  Here we met deeply committed Christian people.  This was above all true among the elderly.  They bowed down and kissed the earth at our feet as if we were martyrs.  We went in groups of four or five every Sunday.  We wept when the priest preached even though we did not understand a word that he said for somehow we knew he was assuring us that God was with us and we had not been forgotten.  As the believers got to know us they brought us something.  On each Sunday each of us received something.  This became their offering at worship.  They had great sympathy for us and often wept with us.”

 

  “Many of them knew German.  They believed that we were from Germany.  They did not understand that we were from Hungary.  They didn’t even know were Budapest was.  They always shook their heads and said, “Berlin.  Berlin.”

 

  What was uppermost in everyone’s mind was going home; surviving so that they could return to their families and loved ones.  At first the only possibility of doing that was to qualify for release because of illness and the inability to work.  But that had its hazards too as this deportee indicates:

 

  “When a person became so ill that he or she could not work but was so bad that they could not survive transportation back to Hungary they would be kept behind until eventually they would die…”

 

  A deportee from thevillage ofKismányok in the Tolna states:

 

  “In the last two years of our time in Russia, things got somewhat better.  The food was better and we regained some of our strength and were able to do more work.  Finally the day came when we could leave.  The Russian officers informed us of our release but we could not believe that it was even possible because they had taunted us that we could only return after we had completed five years of labour service.  The wonderful day came when we were told that we would not have to work the next day and would be given two weeks to recuperate.  We were entrained in October 1949 but most of us were afraid to really believe we were actually going home.  At Maramarossziget we were disinfected and then our train headed in the direction of Hungary.  We were kept in Debrécen for two long days.  It took a whole day to complete all of our examinations and interrogations.  Above all, we men were put through the ringer because they were looking for anyone with the SS tattoo.  We were allowed to leave Debrécen on November 4, 1949 and on November 9, 1949 at 7:00 am we arrived at our homevillage ofKismányok in the Tolna…after two weeks of harvesting corn in the Batschka.”

 

  It was the returning survivors who kept the hope of those left behind alive.  They were out of touch or contact with their families and neither they nor their families had any idea of what both of them were going through in these perilous times.

  Elisabeth Anspach from Ecsény inSomogyCounty later wrote:

 

  “No letters came; absolutely nothing.  We had no idea of what was going on at home and our parents knew nothing about us either.  Only after the first returnees arrived home did they began to write to us.  Then we received a post card that the Red Cross provided.  There was also a reply card with it and we sent them.  Our answers ended up in the waste paper basket.  We never received them.”

 

  Another deportee writes:

 

  “After several inmates were allowed to return home we were able to exchange addresses.  We wrote to my father each week and when my uncle arrived in our camp in 1948 we learned that some of them had made it through.  He received every tenth one or so.  The first post card from my father came in 1949.  Four years after I had sent them.  The first card came on April 30, 1949.”

 

  The writers knew that their letters were always censored as the following indicates:

 

  “Our letters always went through the censor.  One could not write a long letter, just a post card.  I don’t know how they did it but with the help of translators they always knew what we wrote and often they didn’t even post our mail at all.”

 

  The day they were released was a day they would never forget as this man indicates:

 

  “We lined up in columns anxious to leave quickly as the main gate was opened when an officer came and asked, “You’re not even bothering to look back are you?”  And we answered, “We don’t ever want to see this place again…”

 

  But their return toHungary was hardly a welcome one for all of them as this woman from Elek shares in her terse statement:

 

  “Most of the deportees from Elek came on transports at the end of June 1947 and arrived at the crossing point and frontier of Hungary.  It was here where the men who had the SS tattoo were separated from the rest of us and returned back to Russia.  What a wrenching moment that was for all of us who fortunately later arrived in Debrécen.  We left Debrécen with five Forints worth of assistance and arrived in Elek on July 15, 1947.  A large group awaited our arrival at the train station that was not prepared for what they would see.  Our skeletal bodies and shorn hair made most of us unrecognizable even to our own families.”

 

  Another deportee from the Tolna shares her last poignant experience inRussia and her homecoming toHungary.

 

  “On the morning of August 15, 1947 the Chief Commissar of our camp announced that the Hungarian women could leave to go home.  We were loaded on open trucks and taken to the nearest assembly camp at Stalino.  Here we learned that the girls from Kaplony, Terkes, Peteri and Mezoterem could not come with us because their villages no longer belonged to Hungary but had been returned to Romania.  The young women pulled out their hair and screamed in agony as they were forced off of the trucks and taken back to our camp.  On August 20, 1949 the Feast Day of St. Stephen ofHungary our train transport was finally under way taking us back home.”

 

  Another writes:

 

  “We were in terrible physical condition but we felt fortunate and we sang the Hungarian national anthem.  On September 1, 1947 we arrived at the frontier between Hungary and Russia.  Hungarian soldiers awaited us as we crossed the border and a band played the national anthem.  When we were safely in Hungarian territory we got off the train and those who were unable to do so on their own were helped by Hungarian soldiers many of whom cried over our physical condition.  The first thing we did was to kiss the soil of Hungary.  On September 4th we reached Debrécen where we were examined and X-rayed.  The officer for the State Security screamed at us while the civilian police passed among us and instructed us to say that we had been well off in theUkraine.”

 

  “I was asked for my name and I said, “Magdolina J….”  The officer shouted at me, “So here we have a real German.  What is your father’s name?”  “Sandor J. Wieder,” I answered.  He screamed, “Another one of these dirty Fascists!”  Then he asked, “What is your mother’s name?”  “Julianna,” I replied and he yelled, “A real Nazi.  Welcome home toHungary.”

  In all, it can now be ascertained that between 500,000 to 550,000 German civilians in both the Reich and Eastern Europe were taken to theSoviet Union as forced labourers contrary to all international agreements.

 

  No one was really prepared to evacuate the German populations in eastern and south east Europe as the Red Army moved westwards or protect them from Partisan forces.  The total number of Swabians from Szatmar and the Banat that escaped through evacuation or flight numbered about 50,000 persons.  In the Yugoslavian Banat that had a Swabian population of 140,000 only about 10% of them were evacuated.  At a meeting in Sombor, the Swabian and the Reich German leadership all spoke against an evacuation.  But half of the Swabian population in the Batschka were successfully evacuated.  From Hungary itself about 50,000 to 75,000 ethnic Germans fled to Germany.  In terms ofCroatia,Slavonia and Syrmien over 80% of the Swabains were evacuated.

 

  Yugoslavia, Romania and Hungary agreed to provide their able bodied ethnic German population to do forced labour in the USSR in response to the “guilt” they had incurred.  This involved men from 17 to 45 years of age and women 18 to 35 years.  These age groups varied in terms of the quotas that were established.  Under Russian leadership and direction the Swabians were taken to Russia at the end of 1944 and the beginning of 1945.  They did labour service up to 1949 in the forests, mines and factories in Donets Basin and in the Urals and were assigned the heaviest work.  Of the Danube Swabians sent to Russia over 20% of them perished there.  It is estimated that 150,000 Danube Swabians in all were involved and excludes the 75,000 Transylvania Saxons who shared a similar fate.

 

  In 1951 the Romanian government forcibly removed the Swabian population from villages in the Banat along the border with Yugoslavia.  Some 40,000 Swabians were “re-settled” in the barren Baragan-Steppe in the vicinity of the Black Sea.  It was only in 1956 when they were allowed to leave and settle elsewhere.

 

  With the arrival of the Russian troops and Partisan bands, organized actions against the remaining Swabian population in Yugoslavia were swift and immediate.  They were fully underway as the Russian military moved on into Hungary.  The new Provisional Governments of all three states carried out actions against the Swabian population in order to take away their legal rights and rights of citizenship.  The brutality with which these actions were carried out differed in one country from another.  The goal, however, was the same, the exclusion and discrimination against the Swabian civilian population who had lost all of their legal rights.  The situation of the Swabians inYugoslavia was by far the worst.

 

  The first objective of the organs of the new government called for the elimination and liquidation of all leading men and women of the Swabian population.  This led to massacre and mass shootings of the Aktion Genzija carried out by the Tito partisans from October 1944 to April 1945 in which 10,000 men and women were put to death.  This included leaders of the cultural associations, academics, priests and pastors, teachers and prominent persons including many doctors.  The former head of the Cultural Association, Johann Keks was liquidated as well as the Bishop of the Lutheran Church who was a former senator, Philip Popp.  Both of these men devoted their lives to promote good relationships with the Slavic majority.  Both fell victim to the blood feud and massacres of the Partisans.  These actions were meant to scare the Danube Swabian population into obedience.

 

  In all three nations the property and possessions of the Swabian population were expropriated or confiscated depending on the country.

 

  In Yugoslavia in addition to the confiscation of property all Swabians were interned.  The extermination camps operated in Yugoslavia up until 1948.  Thousands upon thousands perished, mainly women, children and the elderly who died of hunger or the epidemics that raged in the camps along with the brutality they suffered.

4 Responses to “ Deportation to Slave Labour in Russia ”

  1. Thank you for making this available on the Internet. As you know, Henry, you translated two stories of slave labor captivity for me. It was real and it was horrendous. My cousins who were part of slave labor in the Soviet coal mines today are happy despite their five years in the camp. When asked why they weren’t bitter they replied that their being “schlepped” they could be happy–if they were bitter, then their captors would have won.

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  4. Daniel Prescher says:

    My Grandfather, John Prescher was from the Bonnya area of Hungary. He had 2 “Masters Degrees” in cobbling. He definitely spoke of being forced to make boots for Russian soldiers for 5 years. Told horrible stories of how they were treated. Eventually made it back to Germany and the family came to the US in 56 and settled in the Milwaukee area.

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