Second World War

Internment at the Lendl/Lengyel Camp


   The source of the information in this article is from a lecture delivered by Josef Wirth at the International Historical Conference held in Budapest, March 5-6, 1987The presenter was a seven year old participant in the events he describes.


  When the internment of Swabian civilians in Tolna County began the vast majority of the Volksbund members, especially their leaders were no longer in Hungary.  They had either fled or gone into hiding.  Some were in labour camps in the Soviet Union.  The vast majority of the inmates in the internment camp in Lengyel were the elderly, children, women and even nursing infants.  We faced the grossest forms of inhumanity and were spared nothing.  This “action” taken against us did not appear to have been ordered by the central government but by local officials and self-appointed “special commissions” that claimed to be government “Commissars”.  Local functionaries bare the brunt of the blame but so does the national government and the Allied Control Commission in Budapest.


  I discovered that there were all kinds of people in the camp at Lengyel.   One man told me he had been a Communist since the 1919 Red Revolution.  He was arrested because a member of his extended family was a Volksbund member.  Very few people attempted to help us except for some villagers in neighbouring Hungarian communities.  I will use the village of Tevel as an example of the people who were interned in our camp.  Until 1945 it was an entirely German community in Tolna County and according to the census of 1941 it had a population of 2,516.  The number of war dead from the village was 207 or 8% of the population.  Of that number 58 of the men fell while serving in the Hungarian Army and 99 men serving in units of the German Army lost their lives.  There were also 13 of the Jewish population who perished in German concentration camps.  In addition 33 men and women died in Soviet labour camps in Ukraine and 4 people died due to other causes related to the war.


  As the Volksbund became more and more radicalized in their Nazi ideology, their Führer, Franz Basch lashed out at their greatest enemies, the local intelligentsia, at a mass assembly of the Bund in Hidas in August 1940.  He made all kinds of threats against them.  In April 1942 as he toured Swabian Turkey he said the time would soon come when those who stood on the sidelines of the struggle of their “Volk” (Translator’s Note:  code word for race) would have to face the consequences.  The consequences that were to follow where not exactly the kind which he had envisioned.


  The Volksbund controlled the German press in Hungary.  The Volksbund Führer’s tours of an area were very much like that of a Gauleiter (Regional Nazi leader) inspection tours in Germany.  Following such visits their newspaper would report that the total population of twenty-five villages went out to greet him when he entered their community.  There was great “joy” for the “many thousands” committed to the cause.  Everyone knew that their newspaper was filled with lies.  It is therefore hardly any wonder that the Hungarian public was taken in by their propaganda and had such a false picture of the Swabian population.  The Volksbund fanned the flames of the Hungarian nationalists who had advocated the expulsion of the Swabians for generations.


    The most important effort in which the Volksbund was engaged was the recruitment of Swabians to serve in the German Army.  During 1942 and 1943 they campaigned to muster volunteers to serve in German units.  They played a major role in planning and carrying out the forced conscription of all Swabian men of military age in 1944 even including those men serving in the Hungarian Army.  A German physician involved in the physical examination of the conscripts pointed out to me how different the various commissions were and how they made decisions.  Wherever the Voksbund was powerful, like in the southern Batschka, the recruitment commission was welcomed and a great spread was put on the table for them.  At other places they were met with flying rocks.  That occurred at Harta where the Lutheran pastor led the opposition and had the local population behind him and not the Volksbund officials.  But what needs to be dumped in the laps of the Volksbund and their leaders is the overly large number of 15, 16 and 17 year olds they “passed” for recruitment.  Many of these boys were killed in action or languished in prisoner of war camps for years after peace had been declared.


  In Swabian Turkey where the largest concentration of Swabians resided in “rump” Hungary after the Treaty of Trianon at the end of the First World War, the Volksbund leaders sought desperately to gain their allegiance.  It was in this region where most of the mass assemblies were held:  Cikó 1939, Hidas 1940, Magócs 1941 and Bonyhád 1944.  But the results were rather modest.  The recruitment effort for volunteers to serve in the German Army had far less response than in the newly annexed Batschka and Transylvania.  The girls in Swabian Turkey did not wear the Volksbund uniform but wore their traditional village attire.  In their attempt to find a regional Führer they had to parachute in Florian Krämer from the south Batschka.  The only prominent Volksbund personality from the area was Dr. Mühl, who later fell into disgrace when his home community Bonyhád which was the most important town in the region could not organize a local chapter of the Volksbund due to the opposition and agitation of the True to the Homeland Movement (Treu zur Heimat).


  The chaos created during the inspection of the Bonyhád region by the SS-General Lorenz (from Himmler’s office in Berlin) became a complete rout for the Volksbund because of his drunkenness and lecherous advances towards young girls which was the case in Kisdorog.  The actual influence the Volksbund had in the region can best be seen in terms of the numbers who participated in the evacuation organized by them.  Despite the mass propaganda effort to get the population of Swabian Turkey to evacuate most the vehicles and trains that were provided left empty.  In Tevel, which the Volksbund press painted as “always first among those who gave themselves to the movement” when the evacuation took place at the end of November 1944 there were fifteen families of the five hundred families in Tevel who answered the Volksbund’s call and fled westwards along with the regional Volksbund leadership.  These same “Führers” had used torture and beatings on 15, 16 and 17 year olds at Hidas in the Fall of 1944 in order to get them to “volunteer” in the German Army.  Some of them managed to escape and came home only to be taken back under guard by the local Volksbund leaders.  I share this terrible story of one of the 17 year olds who was taken from his home by armed men.  A few days before the end of the war he and an older soldier were ordered to guard a food depot.  Because of the entreaties of the old soldier he entered the depot to get him some bread and was discovered doing so and was taken to a court martial, condemned to death and executed.


  In the Spring of 1945 all kinds of punishments were inflicted upon those who were inmates at the internment camp in Lengyel in Tolna County.  The “political” police were in charge of the camp’s operation.  In March 1945 they began to assemble Volksbund members and no one was to be excused because of age, gender or status.  Under the leadership of the Small Landowner and Social Democratic parties a Regional National Committee was formed in Bonyhád on April 10, 1945.  Its objective was to punish the German war criminals by using the local police to carry out appropriate action.


  On March 14, 1945 when the Lengyel castle of the Apponyi family still served as a hospital, the Finance Minister telegraphed the County administration and requisitioned “five or six wagons of cartographic materials in the Apponyi Castle in Lengyel.” The Russians had converted the castle into a military hospital.  A letter to the County sheriff from some time between March 14th and April 16th  indicated that the castle was to be used to intern Swabians.


  In the Spring of 1945 over 3,000 Szekler (Magyar) families from Bukovina were sent for resettlement in the Bonyhád district.  The County officials were responsible to make arrangements to provide for them.  In each of the surrounding villages a local committee developed a list of names of those families who were Volksbund members.  The political police played a major role in the whole affair.  In some cases people were warned that their property would be confiscated.  When the local list was completed the families were taken into custody by the police and placed in the internment camp in Lengyel.  This action was carried out in Tevel on April 25, 1945.  The entire population of the village had to assemble in a meadow and leave the doors of their houses unlocked.  All of the families that had a Volksbund connection had to endure day long harassment at the hands of the police before they were brought to Lengyel.  The local committee handed over their homes and properties including their household furnishings, bedding and clothes to the new settlers who arrived from Bukovina.  The action was directed by Gyӧrgy Bodor a police officer from Transylvania under Confiscation Order Nr. 600/1945.


  According to information at his disposal Peter Lazló estimated that in May of 1945 there were 20,000 Swabians interned at Lengyel which made it the largest camp in Hungary.  It is unlikely that they were all there at the same time in the castle.  Because of the chaotic conditions in the camp a “selection” was undertaken to separate the aged who were unable to work as well as the children and mothers with infants from the other family members who were force marched out of the camp and taken to northern Tolna County.  Families had physically resisted the separation but were unable to prevent it.


  After a short while they were they were set free.  They were totally destitute and most of them went into hiding with Hungarian families.  Many others escaped along the way and hid in old wine-press houses, huts or stayed with relatives or friends who hid them.  The police carried out raids nightly in order to catch them.  Those who were captured were taken back to the camp.  One old man from Tevel who was to be returned to the camp was shot when he attempted to escape.  Only those who had fled and hid out in Hungarian villages were able to escape ongoing internment.  Despite that the vandalized castle was filled to the brim with people.  The nutritional and hygienic situation bordered on the catastrophic.  The guards were gangs of youth who were called “cattle herders” by the inmates.  Beatings were the order of the day.


  Peter Lazló claimed that in May of 1945 the local and national press attacked the actions taken by Bodor and the Bonyhád Regional Police Commissioner.  The coalition parties got involved as well and called for an investigation.  The first action that was taken was the removal of the young guards.  On May 27th, Bodor was ordered back to Budapest.  His settlement programme and the Lengyel Camp were dissolved and his position was taken over by the Regional Police Commissioner of Bonyhád.  A portion of the internees were jailed in Szekszárd.  From among those released, some of them were taken in by the “new owners” of their homes.  Most, however, had to seek shelter elsewhere.



The Lost Danube Swabian Children of Yugoslavia


  The following is a summary and my translation of portions of Janitscharen? by Karl Springenschmid published in Vienna in 1978 that deals with the unknown fate of thousands of Danube Swabian children during Tito’s “Final Solution” of Yugoslavia’s  Danube Swabian problem.


  This brief study deals with the fate of some 20,000 Danube Swabian children from the Yugoslavian Banat.  A similar fate awaited the children in the Batschka which is a story all its own.  Their fathers had been taken to fight a war that was already lost and their mothers were dragged off to slave labour in the Soviet Union.  The children languished in extermination camps and many died of hunger along with their grandparents.  The orphans who survived and were still young enough were placed in so-called State “children’s homes” to be raised as “comrade citizens” of the new People’s Republic of Yugoslavia in the hope of turning them into Janisaries.


  Janisaries were annual quotas of Christian boys levied by the Turks in the Balkans who were taken from their families and raised as fanatic Moslems to do the bidding of the Sultan often against their own people that they no longer remembered.


  The 20,000 Danube Swabian children were placed in some 40 State homes throughout Yugoslavia where they were brainwashed into the state ideology of Yugoslavia.  They would no longer “remember” or be conscious of their Danube Swabian identity and heritage.


  To all intents and purposes the Second World War had bypassed the Banat.  Where could danger or a threat to the Banat come from?  The non Danube Swabian populations in their villages with whom they lived in peace for generations bore them no animosity or hostility.  There were no Partisans in the Banat unlike the other regions of Yugoslavia.  There was only a token force of the German occupying army in the Banat.


  But as the war took a turn in favour of the Allied Powers armies focus was shifted to the  campaign in central Europe.  There were those who encouraged the Danube Swabians to flee to Germany for safety.  This would later become “official” policy when it was too late for many.  It was only the Danube Swabians in Slavonia and Syrmien who fled en masse under the leadership and protection of the German Army but only because they were ordered to do so.  In the Batschka only a minority of the population joined the refugee treks.  In the Banat, by and large, the Swabians simply stayed put.  (Translator’s note:  This is a very biased account and disregards the Führer Order that the Danube Swabians were not to be evacuated or allowed to leave.  Those who left would be branded traitors and defeatists.  Those who actually left were mostly the local Danube Swabian Nazi leaders and party functionaries who had also escaped going into the military.)


  The Danube Swabian farmer had learned patience and how to live with catastrophe; occupation by a foreign army was just one more thing to come their way and they would be able to survive it.  They knew there would be political consequences just as there had been after the First World War.  But like always, the Banaters would be loyal to their ethnic and cultural heritage and loyal to the State in which they lived as they always had.  No wonder the Banat had developed into the most prosperous region in Yugoslavia and the Danube Swabians had the respect of the other nationalities around them.


  In less than a week, in fact a matter of three days, the Banat was overrun by the Red Army following the capitulation of Romania in August of 1944 and faced only token resistance on the part of the few German occupying forces.  Other Germans were rushed in at the last minute, but it was too late.  By September 16th the Soviet Army had reached the banks of the Tisza River and the city of Temesvar had been taken.  The Germans tried to hold the front here on the river line but by October 18th Belgrade fell and all of the Batschka was in danger and hastily organized treks attempted to escape as the Germans and Hungarians retreated to Lake Balaton and the siege of Budapest soon began.


  The Banat was in the hands of the Soviets.  The occupation had been so swift that little uproar or destruction was created.  There was no real resistance.  The occupation was basically what the Danube Swabian population had anticipated.  People simply played the game of ostriches and accepted the “results” of the occupation.  But then several weeks after the beginning of the occupation in this Soviet “liberated” area where 500,000 Danube Swabians lived the military administration of the region was handed over to the Partisans and their leadership.


  This was not an organized army in which order and discipline could be expected.  These were armed bands from Serbia and Bosnia in search of plunder in the prosperous Banat.  Belgrade was interested in the wealthy landholdings of the Danube Swabians in the Banat and Wojwodina (Batschka) some 1,800,000 joch (1.6 acres a joch) of land and 80,000 houses.  But what would they do with the Danube Swabians who were in the way?  Could they be trusted not to become an opposition to their planned takeover?  There was no need to fear that because all of the able bodied men were in the army or were already prisoners of war.  They would have a free hand with the Danube Swabian population.  Should they expel them from the country as others did and would in future.  That would create an international incident wherever they arrived.  There was only one alternative:   the 200,000 Danube Swabians who had remained must be liquidated.  For that purpose Belgrade set up the process and plan for the “final solution” to the Danube Swabian problem.


  The decrees and laws of the national anti-fascist assembly on November 21, 1944 had three points directed against the Danube Swabian civilian populaton.  (1)  All persons living in Yugoslavia of German origin were stripped of their citizenship and all rights of a person before the law automatically on the basis of their race.  (2)  All goods and property of the Danube Swabians were confiscated by the State.  (3)  They had no rights under the law to protect the above matters in the courts.  The Danube Swabian population were declared to be outlaws…outside the law.


  They were placed into the hands of the military administration of the Partisans wherever they happened to live.  Plundering, murder, rape, torture, beatings and mass shootings took place throughout the Banat.  Local Serbs followed the lead of the Partisans.  The Danube Swabians regardless of age, gender or status were guilty of the crime of being German.  A systematic plan of liquidation was set into motion.


  Moscow was only too glad to assist Yugoslavia in carrying out the extermination.  Tito would have the gratitude of the Soviets and would get rid of the younger Danube Swabians.  Although the Partisans had little to do with the actual “liberation” they sought to control the Banat and for this privilege they were willing to pay but not with money that they did not have but with able bodied workers to rebuild the wrecked Soviet economy.  The question was:  Where could they find the necessary workers?  Just about any Danube Swabian village or enclave would do.


  How many were taken?  In Apatin alone 2,400 women were deported to the labour camps in Russia.  In all, it is estimated that 40,000 Danube Swabian women from Yugoslavia were taken to the Soviet Union and this figure does not include those from Romania and Hungary and also excludes the Transylvania Saxons who all shared the same fate.  Few women and older teenaged girls able to work were left in the Banat.  Men from eighteen to forty, women from eighteen to thirty years were taken but those age groups differed in various villages according to the quota that had been established.  This mass deportation occurred around Christmas 1944.  But because so many of the men had gone off to war a second roundup followed at the beginning of 1945 and this time nursing mothers and pregnant women were not excluded and the age for women was raised to thirty-five and lowered to sixteen in some places to meet the quota.


  Packed in cattle cars they set out for Russia in the midst of a bitterly cold winter and their families had no idea of where they were or what had become of them.  Only one out of three of these women would ever return home from the coal mines at Stalino in Ukraine.  Those who were released three years later were sent to East Germany and from there they began to search for their husbands, children and families.


  But what had their children endured?  They had seen their mothers being taken away, torn right from their arms.  It was something neither the mothers nor children would ever forget if they were among those who survived.  The children were simply left behind as if abandoned.  Is there any way to describe that horrendous experience and trauma for the young children?  Some of the smaller children were left in the care of an older brother or sister; some were left with grandparents, relatives, neighbours and some were left alone.  One old grandfather in Fillipowa in the Batschka was left to care for over twenty of his grandchildren.  The strong sense of community among the Danube Swabians often led to an organized care of all the “orphaned” children but the Partisans often interfered in their efforts.


  The confiscation of houses and property of the Danube Swabians was carried out quickly and the displaced population were housed in internment camps.  The original plan was the total liquidation of all those in the camps by 1947.  A whole string of labour camps were set up in the Banat for those still able to work.  The rest of the population, the elderly and children were placed in large internment camps.  Karlsdorf that became Rankovicev was a camp for the elderly and infirm and better known as “the old folk’s home.”  Most of the Roman Catholic priests serving in the Banat were also placed there.  There were other camps in Rudolfsgnad (Knicanin), Gakowa, Kruschevlje, Stefansfeld, Molidorf, Brestowatz and Kathreinfeld.  All of them were former Danube Swabian villages.


  The first camp that was established was in Werschetz on November 18, 1944.  This was six days before the law passed by the so-called National Assembly which would become known as the AVNOJ.  Ten days later the people of Palanka, Neusatz and other parts of the Batschka were driven from their homes and into the camps.  The last village that was purged of its Danube Swabian inhabitants was Stanischitisch which had a Serbian majority that protected its local German population for as long as possible up until August of 1945.  By September no Danube Swabian man, woman or child was free in all of Yugoslavia.


  When the surviving children were taken out of the extermination camps for the purpose of “rehabilitation,” all of their possessions, especially pictures, documents and papers were taken away from them.  Brothers and sisters were separated and all of the children were strangers to one another.  Their names were never to be used again and if the children did they were punished.  Each child was given a Croatian or Serbian name.  They were also made to forget their origins, their place and date of birth.  They were told that they were orphans.  They had no living parents.  One of the youngsters fought for his identity in the years that followed by repeating his name, “Michael Heider” until he fell asleep each night.  If any of the children spoke German they were disciplined.


  The fathers of these children were released from prisoner of war camps and made their way to the Western Zone of Germany and Austria.  At the same time the mothers who had survived the labour camps in the Soviet Union were “dumped” in the Russian Zone of Germany and made their way illegally into the Western Zones.  The parents sought to be reunited with one another and then began the search for their children if they had any indication they could have survived the death camp at Rudolfsgnad or Gakowa.  But they were haunted by the question that if they located their children could they ever be a family again.  They undertook the campaign to locate their children using all of their energies and resources.


  Organizations were established by their fellow countrymen in Germany and Austria.  Key individuals began the investigations and research including Professor Gauss and Anton Rumpf.  The original investigation centred on targeting the location of the “children’s homes”.  They were unable to have much clout so they appealed to the International Red Cross at Geneva and provided them with the first list of names of the “kidnapped” children.

Jarek in the Batschka


  The information that appears in this article finds its source in several publications but primarily the Heimatbuch that was published by the Village Association of Jarek.


  The picturesque Danube Swabian village of Jarek was located 15 kilometres from Novi Sad in present day Serbia.  In 1937 there were a total of 1,911 inhabitants all of whom were Swabians and Evangelical Lutherans.  It was founded in 1787 as the last settlement in the Batschka under the sponsorship of Emperor Joseph II.  The first settlers came primarily from Württemberg as well as Hessen-Nassau, the Pfalz and Alsace.  The initial 80 families all came from Württemberg and by 1788 they were in great need and had to borrow wheat from the government using their future crops as collateral.


  These settlers were first placed on the estate of Count Sigismund Pejachevich whose agents had recruited them promising land, homes and work.  Instead they found themselves destitute and spent the first winter in the cellars they had dug in the ground.  There were seven hundred colonists involved on his estate.  Some had come as early as 1770 from Hungary:  Kisharta, Vadkert, Meszӧbereny, Mokra, Nagyszӧlles and were all German-speaking Lutherans.  New settlers from Germany joined them in 1786.  All of the groups complained to the authorities and eventually word got to Emperor Joseph II who took immediate action.


  The settlers from Württemberg found it hard to cope with the climate, swamps and barren land.  In terms of their church life they had to accept the ministry of Roman Catholic priests and were placed under their jurisdiction.  They were registered in the Roman Catholic parish records in Ruma.  Seventeen family names that are recorded would be re-settled in Jarek.  Others moved on elsewhere or returned home.  Most of the Württemberg families settled in Ruma from March to September of 1786.  By February of the spring of 1787 they had left.  There were 80 families and some 300 persons.


  They were later joined by other Lutherans as mentioned previously and together they established community and church life and would have to brace themselves to face many hardships in the future.  One of the major setbacks that affected the second and third generations was “the flight of 1848”.  The village and its inhabitants were victims of the Hungarian Revolutionary War of that same year.  Serbian rebels were on the rampage throughout the area and the local population of Jarek fled north to the neighbouring Lutheran village of Kisker 20 to 30 kilometres away as well as Schowe, Altker and Werbass wherever they sought sanctuary.  In late August 1848 plundering bands of Serb rebels crossed the Danube and struck Jarek and the Hungarian village of Temerin on the night of August 29th-30th.  They put both of them to the torch setting fire to many buildings.  The fires got out of control in Jarek and everything was totally destroyed except for the twenty-five year old Lutheran Church which was badly damaged.


  In the future grandparents would tell the story of a Serb who aimed and fired at the crucifix on the altar of the church and instantly became deaf and mute.  For generations, the older residents told the children the stories about “the flight” many of which became local village legends.


  On their return to their burned out and blackened village they had to sell their services as agricultural workers throughout the area.  Slowly the village and church were renovated and their homes were restored.  Their church bells had been carried off but they were located in Karlowitz and were brought back home.


  Later many of the young families of Jarek left to establish themselves in other villages because there was no more available land or the existing land that was for sale was far too expensive.  Between 1883/1884 many left for Budisawa, others migrated to Syrem and 200 would leave for the United States.


  What distinguished the inhabitants of Jarek most of all was their deep piety.  The Bible played a major role in their family life.  Many wives, mothers and grandmothers would write out the 91st Psalm by hand and sew it into a special pocket in the breast pocket of their family members serving as soldiers.  Every trooper from Jarek knew Psalm 91 by heart in both the First and Second World Wars.


The Last Days in Jarek


  The summer of 1944 was one of relative peace and calm in Jarek although war was raging well beyond its perimeter.  The only reminders were the death notices from the army.  Flights of silver Allied aircraft overhead were simply a sight to behold.  A few bomb shelters were built but no bombs ever fell on Jarek.


  Large numbers of children from the cities of Westphalia had been evacuated to the Batschka to escape the bombing and 240 of them were in foster homes in Jarek.  Later children also came from Vienna.  The last of the children left in April 1944.  In that spring the first bombing attacks on Novi Sad took place.  The airport was hit and the Hungarians set up a make shift air base at Jarek and the pilots were billeted in private homes.  The summer was soon over and the harvest was in full swing as September began.  German troops arrived and were housed in the school buildings.  Troops marched through Jarek on their way to the front as well as trucks and wagons with supplies.  The first rumours that Jarek was endangered were heard and fear began to spread.


  Novi Sad was bombed heavily, day after day.  The shock waves from the explosions could be felt: windows rattled and floors trembled.  People who were bombed out sought shelter in Jarek.  Then the entire population fled into the villages in the district which appeared to be safe from bomb attacks because they were out of the way and not strategic supply centres.


  In the middle of September as Jarek went about the harvest the first refugees from the Banat arrived.  They were Swabians who had been ordered to evacuate.  They came with horses and wagons.  They had been travelling for five or six days.  Their horses were exhausted and the wagons were dirty.  They arrived towards evening.  They were grateful for a roof over their heads.  From these refugees the people of Jarek learned that they too could soon be on the refugee trail themselves.


  By the end of September, retreating battle weary troops and refugees from the Banat streamed through Jarek.  The German front to the east was collapsing.  The Hungarian pilots and their aircraft were ordered out quickly to a safer area to the northwest.  The troops followed on the trains.  In the neighbouring villages and area Partisans from Srem began to put in an appearance.  But Jarek was still at peace until the first days of October.


  Fire broke out in the hemp factory and caused alarm in the whole village and the fifteen year olds had to put it out as all other men-folk had been taken into the army.   As late as September12th, the men from 35 to 50 years of age had also been taken.  Many of them were stationed in the northern Batschka and three or four days before the evacuation they were sent home to assist the villagers in their flight.  By the end of September the Village Council was informed of an imminent evacuation and these older men got home just in time to help carry it out.


  Many had heard from their fathers and grandfathers of the evacuation of 1848, when the people of Jarek fled to the north and middle Batschka and it looked like the same thing was happening again:  packing, bread baking, butchering and fodder gathering.  Instead of taking the best linens, bedding and clothes they took their every day things!  They wanted to “save” the best.  Just like the last time they would soon be coming home again.  They thought they were only fleeing across the Danube.  Many wanted to stay and take their chances with the Russians.


  The order to evacuate Jarek was received on the evening of October 6, 1944.  The Village Council met for the last time.  All men from eighteen to fifty years of age had been conscripted into the Waffen-SS and only some older youth were around to help.  At ten o’clock that night some older youth were sent from house to house to tell the members of the household to be ready and packed in the morning to leave.  A blackout had been ordered and so all the preparations were made in the dark.  Next morning at nine o’clock the first wagons appeared on the main street.  Chaos reigned in the village.  Traffic jams were everywhere.  Things were often at a standstill.  Retreating German and Hungarian troops passed through with trucks and wagons.  No one seemed to know what to do.  Who was in charge?  At noon amid the confusion, a German officer arrived.  Under his direction and leadership the first column of wagons got under way even though it took a lot of shouting and screaming on his part.  The bells in the church tower struck noon.  But the first column of wagons still stood there.  The side streets were filled with wagons and no one had any idea of what was going on.  Nothing had changed by one o’clock.


  The officer complained bitterly and told the mayor, Nikolaus Schurr, to start out and lead the column.  By two o’clock they were on their way to Novi Sad.  On that Saturday, October 7th the first wagon convoy of 290 wagons set out led by the mayor.  Many people from Wassergasse, Kreuzgasse and Neugasse returned to overnight in their homes because they were afraid to travel in the dark.  Those who remained in the village spent a restless and  fearful night.  No one slept.  Cattle and livestock that had not been sent out to pasture bellowed for fodder and water.  Some of the villagers went from house to house to care for them.  But plunderers also began to arrive from the district.


  On the next day, a Sunday, the second trek of 140 wagons left under the leadership of Johann Schollenberger, the custodian of the orphans.  As they wagons left the bells in the church tower tolled and the church doors were wide open and the fleeing villagers could hear the teacher, Wilhlem Heinz, at the organ playing, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” “Befiehl Du Deine Wege”, “Harre Meine Seele” to encourage the weeping people.  The teacher sent his family with the trek but remained behind with those who had no transportation.  All of the livestock were then set free to pasture.  As the trek left it was passed by streams of Hungarian refugees from Temerin.  The inhabitants of both villages were experiencing a second flight together almost a century apart.


  After the departure of the two large wagon treks there were still many loaded wagons that belonged to poorer people who had no draught animals that were standing in the streets and the people were getting more and more anxious about leaving.  They looked for tractors that had been left behind but there were only a few available and these hitched up a few wagons and drove off towards Novi Sad.  As there were no tractors or horses that were available, army lorries arrived in the evening.  Now the people could only take the most necessary items from the wagons and load them on the army trucks which took them until midnight.  They left for the docks at Novi Sad and were then to travel up the Danube.  They travelled to Vukovar and then on to Mohács but could not go on because the Russians were already approaching the Danube from the north and east.  They were assigned to railway transportation to Germany.  They were joined by refugees from Palanka and Cservenka and then went on to Szigetvar, Nagykanisza and Sopron and entered Austria arriving in Vienna on October 28th.  They then went on to Salzburg and  some went on to Munich.


  Plundering began as the evacuation was underway in spite of the continuing presence of German troops and engaged in sexual orgies with Hungarian girls and paid them off with clothes, bedding and furnishings from the Swabian homes.  The livestock were stolen or confiscated by the retreating German Army.  Some of the Jarek villagers returned home.  The local Serbs welcomed them and promised to protect them even though they were afraid of what might happen themselves when the Russians and Partisans arrived.  Most of the looters came from Temerin and they came in droves and carted off their plunder.


  The last German troops left Jarek on the night of October 22nd and 23rd.  The villagers who had remained gathered together for protection.  The Russian troops who arrived a few days later were well disciplined.  As they passed through the village they kept asking, “Which way to Berlin?  How much farther is Berlin?”  They thought it would be twenty or thirty kilometres away.


  On November 25, 1944 the National Committee of Liberation decreed that all Swabians had lost all of their rights of citizenship and were enemies of the State.  The remaining Swabians of Jarek were expelled from their homes and the “abandoned” community was turned into an internment camp.  On December 3rd the Swabians of Budisawa were delivered to Jarek and quartered in the lower part of Ochsengasse.  An order was also issued that all of the Swabians of Jarek were to be interned in the camp as well.  But fifty able bodied persons, both men and women, were taken to labour camps in Novi Sad and Schowe.  Three thousand Hungarian civilians were brought to Jarek from Zabalj, Curug and Mosorin charged with treason for their activities during the Hungarian occupation.  The Partisans robbed them of their possessions even tearing gold earrings from the women’s ears.  They were to be followed by thousands of Danube Swabians in the coming weeks, months and years. 


  Jarek would become one of the most notorious of the death camps in Yugoslavia where thousands of the elderly and children perished until it was closed down in August 1946 and the survivors were sent to meet their final fate at Gakowa and Kruschivilje.

Franzfeld in the Banat


  The source of the information in this article is “Franzfeld 1792-1945 Geschichte einer donauschwäbischen Grossgemeinde im Banat” published in Reutlingen in 1982 by the Franzfelder Kulturelle Interesssengemeinschaft e.V.


  Franzfeld’s origins as a Danube Swabian community begins with the arrival of settlers from Baden, Württemberg, Alsace-Lorraine and Switzerland on June 24, 1792.


  Franzfeld was founded under the direction of Leopold II in May of 1791 and was named after Archduke Franz (Francis) who later succeeded to the Habsburg throne following Leopold’s death.  The name was changed by the Hungarians when the Banat became part of their jurisdiction and then again when the Yugoslavian authorities were in control after the First World War while Franzfeld would emerge again briefly from 1941-1944.  The present name is Kacerevo.  Franzfeld was in that portion of the Banat that was ceded to the new nation state of Yugoslavia in the Treaty of Trianon in 1919.


  The village is ten miles north east of the town of Pantschowa in close proximity to Belgrade placing it in the south western Banat.  It consisted of 4,680 Katastral Joch of land.  Neighbouring Danube Swabian villages included Alt-Seldosch, Apfeldorf (Jabuka) and Neudorf.  By 1944, Franzfeld consisted of 1,117 houses with 5,300 to 5,400 inhabitants almost all of whom were Lutherans.


  After the Peace of Passarowitz with the Turks, the Habsburg Emperor had a virtual swamp and wasteland on his hands:  the Banat.  Eugene of Savoy placed the colonization and redevelopment of the Banat in the hands of Field Marshall Count Florimundus von Mercy.  He ruled the Banat for the next fifteen years like a virtual king.  He was in charge of the first Schwabenzug (the Great Swabian Migration) that occurred 1722-1726 under the Emperor Charles IV.  Mercy governed the Banat as a royal crown land that was under Habsburg jurisdiction and not subject to Hungary or the County system.  He appealed for settlers from among the Holy Roman Empire’s German states and principalities.  The Banat was returned to Hungarian jurisdiction by the Empress Maria Theresia in 1778 over the objection of her son and heir, the future Joseph II.  Maria Theesia did so in order to win the support of the Hungarian nobles in her conflict with Frederick the Great over Silesia.  But the Military Frontier District in the Banat was excluded.  Franzfeld would be located in this area and thus outside of Hungary.


  In the time frame from 1749-1772 the second major phase of the Schwabenzug under Maria Theresia’s auspices took place.  These settlers were all recognized as “free peasants” and were not serfs.  The Repopulation Patent also stipulated that only Roman Catholics need apply.  Included in their freedoms was the right to migrate if they so desired.


  The Emperor Joseph II’s Repopulation Patent of October 1, 1781 also included an invitation to both Calvinist and Lutheran settlers.  With the issuance of this Patent and its special terms by the Imperial agent in Frankfurt-an-Main it was publicized throughout the south western German principalities.  The response was a virtual avalanche of settlers far beyond the scope of the other two large scale migrations preceding it.


  Throughout its history no group seems to have been able to last and reside in the Banat beyond two centuries without being replaced by another.  The Swabians would discover the same thing.


  The Military Frontier District where Franzfeld would be located was constantly being put to the torch during Turkish incursions into the area.  The onslaught that took place in 1738/1739 was so destructive that the entire southern Banat was devastated.  Settlements were burned.  Settlers were killed or carried off as slaves or were forced to flee and abandon their settlements.  That was especially true around Weisskirchen.  A final Turkish War took place 1788-1791 and resulted in the final liquidation of Turkish power in the area as settlement after settlement were retaken.  Belgrade fell to the Emperor’s forces on October 8, 1789 and the Peace of Sistow signed on August 4, 1791 formally ended the Turkish War.


  When the area was stabilized, plans for a massive colonization began.  The target set was 100,000 persons.  They did not only hope to resettle the depopulated settlements but to establish new ones.  The construction of new villages began under the direction of Gruber:  a construction engineer.  Each settlement would be designated on the basis the confessional (denomination) allegiance of the settlers.  Franzfeld was designated for Evangelical Lutherans, adherents of the Augsburg Confession.


The Emigration from Baden


  One of the major reasons for emigration was the lack of land especially with respect to the younger generation.  The land under cultivation could not support the growing population.  The constant conflicts and wars from 1679-1748 created insecurity and unrest among the population.  Consistently bad weather ruined crops.  Hail, floods and severe winters were often followed by famine.  Cattle could not endure the elements either.  The public relations officials and the sales pitch of the Habsburg agents met a ready response.  Key events in the history of Baden proved to be the impetus for emigration most of which were related to French invasions and the destruction visited upon the peasantry who were left at their mercy.  The major emigrations took place in 1712, 1732-1736 and 1770-1771.  The largest emigration by far was a result of the Toleration Patent of 1781, and 1785-1786 after a ruined harvest and 1798 and 1804 as a result of war with France.


The Emigration from Württemberg


  Emigration for the Evangelical Lutherans in Württemberg, Baden-Durlach and Ulm had been next to impossible until Joseph II’s Patent of 1781.  (Translator’s Note:  There were substantial settlers who came from these jurisdictions who arrived in Hungary during the first phase of the Schwabenzug and settled in the area that in the future would become Swabian Turkey.)  The Prince of Württemberg, Karl Eugene (1744-1793), was bitterly opposed to the emigration and attempted to curtail any attempts of leaving his domains but with very little success as his subjects exercised their right of migration.  About all the authorities could enforce was the payment of all debts by would-be settlers and obtain a promise that they would not do anything that would lessen the value of the land they worked to the detriment of their noble landlord.  The more the nobles were opposed to the emigration, the more resolved the people were to leave.  Many had no land and were simply agricultural day labourers with no future.  They had nothing to lose so they left.  Peasant boys married early and there was a fantastically high birthrate due to a long period of sexual activity and fertility.  Only single men were conscripted into the army.  The rights of nobles to ride roughshod through the peasants’ fields and gardens while out hunting and destroying their crops angered the peasants.  The sixth and last war of the Turks ended on August 4, 1791 and became the end of a chapter of history.  Now emigrants were on their way down the Danube streaming into the Banat even though their Prince opposed their emigration at every turn and set obstacles in their way.


Church Life and the Settlers


  To understand church life and faith in Franzfeld means to be aware of the church life and traditions of the lands from which the settlers came:  Baden, Alsace, the Pfalz and Württemberg.  Each group was only familiar with the life and faith, church customs and traditions of their own village.  This all changed overnight.  When they reached the Banat in 1790 the Evangelical Lutherans were billeted in Roman Catholic villages for one year while Franzfeld was being built in Brestowatz, Glogon, Homolit, Jabuka, Kubin, Pantschowa and Startschowa.  Others lived in Orthodox villages among Serbs and Romanians.  At the same time Hungarian and Slovak Lutheran villages were also under construction.  They learned to live together because they knew it was only temporary.


  When they settled in Franzfeld it became time to share the faith they brought with them which was expressed in their Bibles, hymnals and Luther’s Small Catechisms which they brought with them.  At the outset there were problems with the hymnals.  There were different words, different tunes and different melodies.  Added to that, in the first year there was no pastor.  Perhaps that was a blessing.  The people had to find a common church life together and sought to find the best.  This was necessary because of their diversified backgrounds:  58 families from Baden and Württemberg, 8 families from Switzerland, 6 families from Alsace, 4 families from the Pfalz, 3 families out of Hessen and one family each from Bavaria, Prussia and Saxony.  They had to learn to tolerate and appreciate one another’s differences.  That was easy for most but was most difficult for the Swiss who had no altars at home, no host for communion and no pictures in their churches.  No compromise was possible for the Swiss who left the settlement for Russia where they named their new village along the Volga none other than Franzfeld.


  They were what in the vernacular would be called “a mixed bag”.  Baden was Lutheran.  The Pfalz used the Heidelberg Catechism which emphasized the similarities between the teachings of John Calvin and Martin Luther and not the differences.  In Alsace and in Switzerland the emphasis was on the teachings of Ulrich Zwingli and John Calvin.  Those from southern Württemberg were staunchly Evangelical Lutherans in the classic sense while those in the north leaned towards the teachings of the Reformed.  The one thing they all had in common was that they had been touched and transformed by Pietism which had worked to blend the two major traditions.


  Even though they were without a pastor they elected two Church Väter (literally fathers: elders), Merkle and Haid.  One was from Baden and the other from Württemberg, the two largest groups.  They held their offices for eight years during pastoral vacancies, the great famine of 1794 and the death of their first pastor in 1800.  It was only after a new pastor arrived in 1801 that new Church Fathers were elected but now it was an expanded Church Council with one man acting as the President.


  A secondary settlement of Franzfeld occurred in 1801.  The War Ministry in Vienna ordered the recruitment of 500-600 families for settlement in the Banat on September 17, 1800 and sought them from Austrian fiefdoms, Switzerland and neighbouring states.  The settlers were invited by Count Colloredo on behalf of the Viennese government and he indicated that Protestants would be acceptable.  The emigrants’ travel costs would be paid.  They arrived in droves.  By the end of 1801 there were 400 families at the border awaiting settlement.  Because of the response the invitation was withdrawn on December 17, 1801 and the would-be settlers who were on the scene were settled.  But still other families kept coming.  They were already on their way when the cancellation of the Patent was announced.  They had sold everything back home.  Sixteen such families from Württemberg arrived and four of the families, numbering thirty persons, were sent to Franzfeld.


  The southern Banat was still part of the Military Frontier District.  All of the inhabitants were Austrian subjects.  But in terms of religion they related to the Hungarian churches.  This was difficult for the German Lutheran colonists to deal with as they were unable to get a pastor from their homeland.  Most of the German-speaking pastors in the Hungarian Lutheran Church came from Zips (Slovakia) or the Burgenland.  Most of them preached in three languages:  Magyar, Slovak and German.  The Franzfelders spoke a common dialect but found it difficult to deal with the Hungarian or Slovak accent of the pastors.  He was therefore a stranger to them.


  In 1791 the Protestants of Hungary were granted religious freedom and self government.  This was to be put into effect in the Banat as well.  Religious freedom was tolerated but not self government so that the Hungarians had a great deal of influence in attempting to assimilate the German congregations and their members.  Up until now the German congregations had been able to go their own separate way.  That would continue.  But in all major matters the Roman Catholics and Orthodox had more clout.  Only a small minority of the Germans in the Banat were Evangelical Lutherans or Reformed.  That meant any man could become a Roman Catholic priest, Serbians could have one Orthodox priest for every existing congregation, but no one could become an Evangelical Lutheran or Reformed pastor in the Military Frontier District.


  The Franzfeld Evangelical Lutherans appealed for a pastor, wrote letters, presented petitions and sent delegations to the military authorities but were without one for three years.  Both pastors and congregations were subject to the will of the military authorities.


  Franzfeld had only seven pastors in the congregation’s 154 year old history.  The first pastor, Karl Gottfried Ritter arrived on January 19, 1793.  He came from Modern in the Zips and was both a pastor and teacher.  Daniel von Sonntagh became pastor and teacher on February 20, 1801.  He left in 1803 to serve a congregation in Austria.  He was also from the Zips.  Samuel Banyasz was the third pastor.  He served the congregation for 47 years.  He also came from the Zips in Slovakia and was born there in the village of Neusohl.  He had been a private tutor to the family of a baron and had trained as a pastor and teacher.  The next pastor was  Johann Frint who came from the Burgenland and was succeeded by Karl Bohus from Pressburg, then Julius Mernyi from the Burgenland and finally Franz Hein from the Batschka who would eventually become the one and only Lutheran Bishop in the Banat.


  At the time of the secondary settlement of Franzfeld in 1802 there were seventy Reformed families from Switzerland among them.  The military promised them a church and pastor but with the outbreak of the war with France there were no funds made available.  They, like the other Reformed settlers in the Banat and Batschka, had a difficult time establishing themselves.  They were always a minority among Lutherans.  This was not only true in Franzfeld but in Torschau, Cservenka, Werbass and other communities.  In the later established villages the settlers were all one confession.  Lutherans were in Kleinker, Sekitsch, Bulkes and Jarek and the Reformed in Neusiwatz and Neuschowe.


  There were also Separatists active in Franzfeld who were of a pietistic persuasion but became radicalized by their leader, Kühfuss, who had been placed in stocks and whipped in Neu Passua and eventually separated himself and his followers from the congregation and became the pastor of his own clientele.  It must also be noted that the emphases of the Pietistic Movement such as mutual support and loving service, mission to the entire world that was un-evangelized and bible study were well represented in the church life of Franzfeld’s Evangelical Lutheran congregation.  The small fellowship circles established by Michael Hahn were in their hey day at the time of the founding of Franzfeld.  This movement was particularly strong throughout Württemberg.  These groups continued to flourish in Franzfeld.  The participants were called “Stundenleute” (People of the Hour) because not only did they worship on Sunday but assembled in the afternoons in private homes.  This was also common in all Srem, Slavonia and later in Bosnia.


  At the time of the partition of the Banat in 1919 the western Banat of which Franzfeld was a part was ceded to the new state of Yugoslavia.  Of the 25,000 Evangelical Lutheran Germans in the Banat, 9,000 of them in seven congregations became part of Romania.  The remaining 16,000 in nine congregations and seven filial mission stations became part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Yugoslavia.  In addition there were 10,000 other Lutherans primarily Slovaks and a Hungarian minority in the Yugoslavian Banat.  The greater part of the membership of the German Lutheran congregations in the Yugoslavian  Banat lie buried in the mass graves at Rudolfsgnad along the banks of the Danube.


  Holy Communion was celebrated for the last time in Franzfeld at the Easter service in 1945.  The “Stundenleute” continued to meet and worship in private homes when the church was no longer open to the populace.  On April 26, 1945 the total population was placed in internment and labour camps.  That ended church life in Franzfeld but not its Christian witness.  The ministry of the care of souls was carried on clandestinely.  Hans Poglitsch, the vicar, and son of a “preacher” was given this ministry.  He took over the care of the sick and dying in the camp.  With the help of the youth group and others they ministered to the needs of all as well as they could.  It was all part of what was to come.


The Second World War and Its Aftermath


  The Banat was occupied by German troops in April 1941 facing virtually no opposition.  The Swabian population was held in suspicion and looked upon as a fifth column.  Thirty to thirty-five inhabitants of Franzfeld were taken to Pantschowa as hostages by the Serbs to terrify the population so that they would not aid the invaders.  They would take seven of the hostages with them when they retreated to Belgrade and shot them in the process.  In reprisal the German troops shot and hanged some thirty Serbs in Pantschowa at the Serbian cemetery.  None of these Serbs from Pantschowa had been involved in the hostage taking and this instigated feelings of hostility towards their Swabian neighbours.


  By the summer of 1944 an evacuation of the Swabian population in the Serbian Banat was no longer out of the question in light of the rapid advance of the Red Army in their direction.  The Banat Beobachter (Observer), the official Volksgruppe newspaper in its September 21,1944 edition bore the headline:  “Wir Bleiben!”  (We will remain!).  The inhabitants of Franzfeld breathed a sigh of relief as did all of the Swabians.  None of them wanted to have to leave “home.”


  They were badly informed and misled about the conditions on the approaching front lines and they were taken completely by surprise when the news came that relatives in Birda in the Romanian Banat were already in flight and had crossed the frontier into Yugoslavia in wagon treks.  They were already in Zichydorf.  From there some of them came to their relatives in Franzfeld for help because they were not able to move fast enough because the Romanians had kept their best horses and wagons and they were being slowed down.  By September 27, 1944 some of the families reached Franzfeld and “stayed over” until they could return home.


  As the front drew neared the people of Franzfeld had to make a decision.  Their day of decision was October 1, 1944.  Shortly before nine o’clock in the evening the order was given to prepare for evacuation.  The order came too late.  The only safe highway out of the Banat was no longer passable.  The order was cancelled.  The German Air Force personnel stationed in Franzfeld volunteered to fly out older teenaged girls, women and children.  When this became known in the village more and more people urged that an evacuation be carried out.  On October 3rd the last flight left and a total of 376 women and children from Franzfeld had been airlifted to safety.  On the 4th the evacuation was to continue but as the planes attempted to land at six o’clock in the morning they were fired upon by Russian troops who had surrounded the village during the night.  All hopes of evacuation were dashed.  Only a handful of teenaged boys left on October 3rd with the retreating German troops onboard some of their vehicles.


  People were uncertain as to whether to flee or stay.  The elderly in particular did not want to have to leave everything behind.  Some left for the sake of their children and especially their young girls and many left with “heavy” hearts.


  At nine o’clock on the morning of October 4, 1944 the cry was heard, “Die Russen sind da!”  (The Russians are here!”)  All was quiet in the village and then shots were heard in the outskirts as retreating Germans and Russians engaged one another.  They came from the direction of Pantschowa.


  The Russian troops entered the village and were relatively well disciplined.  They took horses and helped themselves to food.  But they did not molest or threaten the villagers.  A field kitchen was set up in the community centre and women cooked day and night for the Russian troops passing through on their way to the battle front.  The food supplies were confiscated from the farmers.  The attitude of the villagers was simply, “Just give them whatever they ask for as long as they leave us alone.”  But some people began hiding and burying valuables, food and clothing as a precaution.


  Then the Serbian Partisans arrived from the neighbouring villages and district.  They took over the administration of the village.  Under the pretext of fearing reprisals from the villagers they began house searches.  They took whatever they wanted.  Some took entire wagons filled with goods as well as the horses.  And often during the search the Swabians were molested and beaten for no reason at all.  All documents and records, even the parish register were burned.  Late in the evening of October 11, 1944 eleven men and three women were taken from their homes and were never heard from again.  The fact that there were no mass executions in Franzfeld as there were in other communities is attributed to the fact that the inhabitants of Franzfeld had opposed the conscription into the Waffen-SS and some men had been beaten for their obstinacy.


  Each day houses were plundered because only old people and children were at home at the time as the others were all at work.  The plunderers, both Serbs from the vicinity as well as the Partisans stationed in the village, also came at night.  In this way they could take the shoes and clothing of the workers who were away during the daytime.


  Rape was a daily occurrence  but no one said anything about it out of fear and shame.  The men had to work under armed guards.  Often their clothes were better than the guards…that soon changed as the guards forced an exchange.  The worker came home in rags and the attendant lice.  There was no sense in protesting.  They did heavy farm work without any machinery and few horses.  Some men were harnessed to pull the ploughs.


  At the end of November 1944 instructions were issued that sixty men and boys from 15 years of age to men as old as 60 years were to report for work in “another district”.  They were assembled and led away.  They were not informed where they were going.  They were told to take enough food to last them for a few days.


  On December 8, 1944 with the beating of drums in front of the community centre all remaining men 15 to 60 years of age were ordered to report.  They were to bring three days supply of food with them and assemble at the community centre.  Anyone who failed to report and later found would be shot along with all the members of his family.  Once the men were assembled body searches were conducted for money and watches.  By noon the search ended and they were led to Pantschowa under guard.  An occasional shot was fired over their heads to discourage any break out on their part.


  As the column of 380 to 400 men were led down the main street, silent tear-eyed women stood along the roadside watching as they disappeared from sight.  The church bell began to toll.  Everyone wondered if this was a portent of things to come.


  The men arrived totally exhausted in Pantschowa that same day and stayed overnight in a camp located in the old fish market.  During the night they had a medical examination.  The doctor who was from Franzfeld cautioned everyone not to report any sickness because the sick would be shot.  The tradesmen and farmers were separated from one another.  The 80 to 100 tradesmen remained in the camp while the others were marched to Kubin the next day.  Those who remained in Pantschowa were distributed to a multitude of labour camps where many if not most met their deaths.


  The other 300 in Kubin would remain together longer.  The first five days were awful.  The only food they had is what they had brought and the only water available was the rain water from eaves troughs.  They were kept in the upper story of a silk factory.  During the five days the Partisans deliberated on whether to shoot them or not.  One woman Partisan was opposed and she saved their lives.  Conditions improved a little in terms of the water supply and two weeks later they could send word home to notify their families where they were.


  On December 28, 1944 the deportation of Swabians to Russia began.  They selected persons in all of the camps for this purpose for the convoys heading to the labour camps in the Donets Basin…


  On the same day, all older teenaged girls and women of Franzfeld from eighteen to thirty-five years were ordered to report to the community centre.  There were 150 women and girls who were taken away that day.  Along with the men in the Kubin camp and many other Swabians from the district they were packed into cattle cars in Pantschowa on December 31, 1944 and left on New Year’s Eve for Russia.  A few managed to escape.  On January 3, 1945 an additional 25 persons, both men and women, were rounded up and taken to Russia.  Only tradesmen and industrial workers were exempted.  Everyone now tried to pass as one.  The inhabitants of Franzfeld were blessed in having factories and were able to keep back many of their people to work at silk weaving, in the flour mills and furniture factories.


    Life was almost normal.  There was no news of the war.  People were butchering pigs and milling grain for flour.  They could take laundry, food and clothing to the remaining men in Kubin.  It was done by wagon but under guard and took two days.  The women had to work in the fields every day.  All social and cultural life ended.  Services were held by the cantor (organist and choir leader) Joseph Poglitsch and his son, Vicar Hans Poglitsch.  The last service with Holy Communion was held in the church on Easter Sunday 1945.  The church was packed to the rafters.


  On April 26, 1945 all the Swabian inhabitants of Franzfeld were interned.  Two weeks prior to that the people had been forced to leave their homes and take up residence in a constricted area of the village.  Old people and children were accommodated in doors while all others slept outside or in outbuildings.  Then the registration began.  It took three days.  It was done “by family”.  Under armed guard the family along with other families were taken to an empty house and assigned room on the floor…hay or straw was also provided to sleep on.


  The first day in the newly established “camp” was a Sunday.  All those who were sick, too old to work and the children were separated from those who were able bodied.  They had to leave the camp and were directed to the assembly point by the Partisans.  The two groups stood across from each other with the Partisans standing in the middle keeping them apart.  No one who survived would ever forget the trauma of mothers being separated from their children.  Over 700 children were taken from their mothers that day.  The mothers had packed for their children and had to watch the Partisans load the wagons.  The confusion and agony was terrible and despite the heavy guard some of the mothers managed to smuggle themselves on the wagons with their children.  When the person count did not jibe the Commander of the camp simply let it go by.  The sixty wagons loaded with children and the elderly were taken to Jabuka.


  Those who remained worked with the livestock and horses.  The dogs were all shot or beaten to death.  The women and old men worked in the dairy and the other men worked on the land.  At first the camp inmates lived in the hope that things would eventually get better.  Instead their situation worsened.  The “camp” was encircled with barbed wire with a gate that was nailed shut.  All windows in the houses were screened with wire.  The tradesmen worked 8 hours a day for 6 days a week.  Everyone else worked from early morning to late at night.  In the summer they worked on Sunday as well.  The food gradually deteriorated in quality and became less and less.  The Vicar and the midwife, Elise Mueller, cared for the sick with no medicine available to them.


  By order of the Partisan Command in the Banat, all Swabian children up to ten years of age and all old people over sixty-five were to be sent to the newly established “starvation camp” of Rudolfsgnad in the fall of 1945.  Some others who wouldn’t leave their children or aged parents accompanied them.


  The “camp” in Franzfeld now became physically smaller.  The people had to move into even closer quarters.  Control at the main gate was “beefed up” and stricter.  It became even harder to smuggle in food and punishment became more severe.  The women found ways however with extra pockets in their work aprons worn under their wide skirts.  They kept the camp as clean as possible to avoid sickness and vermin.


  In May 1946 another convoy of old people was taken to Rudolfsgnad from Franzfeld.  Only a few of those who arrived there would survive.  What they endured before they died is almost unimaginable.  It was also that May that the circumference of the camp was made smaller again.  A sign that was placed in front of the gate indicated that Franzfeld was no more.  It was now Kacarevo.  The new camp was fenced in again and attempts at security were installed but the guards were now district recruits and not the fanatic volunteers of the past.


  In the fall of 1946 the first attempts at escape were made.  By May of 1947 large groups of inmates successfully made their way to the Hungarian and Romanian borders from where they made their way to Austria and Germany.  But some were not that fortunate and were sent to work in the coal mines and those who survived later ended up in the camps at Gakowa and Kruschivilje which were both close to the Hungarian frontier.  Flight from there was made easy especially if money was available to bribe the guards.  Many of them were caught the first time.  They would simply try again.  Desperation drove them.  Flight was on foot and they always faced the danger of capture and punishment.  They begged their way through Hungary or worked for a day or two and then moved on.  But the old were too weak to attempt it and remained and starved to death.  Because of letters the camp inmates received they knew they would be received as refugees in Austria and that became the impetus to attempt escape.


  To get out of the camp in Rudolfsgnad was another matter because the inmates were the elderly, a few mothers and countless smaller children.  Some men and women were able to rescue their family members personally.  Others died in the attempt as was the case of Barbara Morgenstern of Franzfeld.


  The camp in Franzfeld was officially closed in the spring of 1948.  When the last of the survivors were leaving the Camp Commander told them, “You are free and you can go.  But you must go like your forebears came as beggars to this land.”


  In May of 1945 new colonists from Bosnia, Montenegro and Macdeonia arrived in Franzfeld.  They had no agricultural experience and things deteriorated quickly.


  Franzfeld’s losses as a result of the Second World War include:


    135 men killed in action in various military formations

    292 men missing in action

      17 men died as prisoners of war in the Soviet Union

      12 men were executed by the Partisans

        2 women were executed by the Partisans

        1 teenaged girl was executed by the Partisans

    525 persons died in the camp at Rudolfsgnad (including 70 children)

      65 persons died in the camp  in Jabuka (including 14 children)

     55 persons died in the camp in Franzfeld (including10 children)

     20 persons died in the camp at Mitrowitz (including 1 child)

     17 persons died in the camp in Pantschowa

       4 persons died in the camp at Semlin

     37 persons died in other camps (including 2 children)

     19 persons died in labour camps in the Soviet Union*


  There were a total of 1,221 inhabitants of Franzfeld whose deaths can be verified who were victims of the Second World War and its aftermath.


  *There were 11 men and 8 women who died in the labour camps in the Soviet Union.  The last of the survivors were released from captivity in 1949 and all of them were sent to the then DDR (East Germany) and did not return to Yugoslavia.


  The publication also includes the names and places of origin of the original settlers in

Franzfeld on pages 426-437.    

Betschmen in Srem



  The following is a summary and partial translation of the village Heimatbuch published in 1984.


  The Military Frontier District was a defensive system the Habsburgs established to hold back any future attacks or invasions by the Turks after the liberation of Hungary.  The first settlement in this territory took place in 1687 in Croatia with the arrival of 284 Slavic families seeking asylum from the Turks and numbered 2,784 persons.


  In 1690 a large portion of the Serbian population under Turkish rule attempted to flee.  It was a well organized flight.  The Serbian Orthodox Patriarch Arsenje Carnojevic was at the head of the escape network.  The Orthodox clergy had been the bulwark against conversion to Islam and the preservation of Serbian culture, identity and language.  Smaller groups also numbering several thousand had led the way and crossed the Drava River to the Austrian side in 1686 and 1687.  A fair estimate of the number of Serbs who undertook this escape from the Turks is 350,000.  Most of them settled in the Batschka, the Banat and Srem.  Vienna assumed this was a temporary move on the part of the Serbs and many of the Serb refugees were of the same opinion.


  The Emperor Leopold assured them that when Serbia was liberated they were free to return home.  The depopulated and “orphaned” estates in Slavonia and Srem as well as the Batschka and the County of Arad were settled with Serbs.  They were citizen-soldiers, farmer-militiamen, Eastern Europe’s version of the Minute Men.  They were responsible to the military and independent of County officials and had the free use of the land they farmed, the forests and freedom of religion.


  The Military Frontier District began at the Adriatic, went across Croatia, then along the Sava River and the Danube to the Carpathian Mountains in Transylvania.  It was a military “corridor”.  A watch tower stood every three kilometres along the border (half an hour apart from one another).  In 1702 the Sava River frontier had 1,500 sentries and 950 cavalrymen plus 3,200 infantry.


  The first Germans in the District were veterans from the War of Liberation in Hungary and arrived in 1766.  They were looked upon with favour because of their agricultural ability and skills.  There were 1,280 men, 1,105 wives and 1,011 children.  In 1769 an additional one hundred German families arrived to the settle in the Military Frontier District.  The settlers in the District were known as the Grenzers (people on the border) and included Serbs, Croats, Germans, Hungarians, Gypsies, Romanians, Albanians, Jews, Italians and Greeks.  In 1776 there were 62,000 troops and their families defending their homes and the frontier.  The cost of their upkeep was less than a third of that of the regular army.  Their villages were small, compact and isolated and located on the basis of a defensive strategy.  There were brigands, robbers and deserters on the prowl in the area.  School and church life were at a minimal level due to the lack of clergy and teachers.


  Near the end of 1790 large numbers of families from Alsace and Lorraine, Baden and Württemberg, Basel and Hessen Nassau arrived.  This was the result of the Emperor Joseph II’s new immigration polices in terms of permitting Protestants to participate.  In 1784 the first Protestants settled in the Batschka.  After 1789 a large scale immigration from the Pfalz (Rhine Palatinate) got underway as invading French armies advanced on the Palatinate.  Three convoys of settlers arrived in the Military Frontier District.


  Shortly before the Military Frontier District was disbanded in 1872 the vast majority of the Grenzers were Serbs and Croats (650,000 Orthodox Serbs) (520,000 Roman Catholic Croats) and 35,000 others.  They included Greek Catholics, Lutherans, Reformed and Jews.  At that time 80% of the land was under cultivation.


  All of the cities and towns of Srem were originally Roman settlements with the one  exception of Ruma.  Today’s Mitrowitz is on the site of the largest city (200,000) between Rome and Constantinople.  The Romans drained the swamps and cleared the forests and began agricultural cultivation in the area while the local Celts herded cattle.  The canal system that exists to this day was built by them.  It was also the Romans who introduced vineyards and fruit orchards.  It was part of the Byzantine Empire and had to fight off the invasions of the Huns and the Bulgars in Srem as well as the Germanic tribes which followed after them:  Goths, Vandals, Lombards.


  The first German settlement was established by Franconians.  They arrived at the time of the Crusades to protect the borders of Hungary.  The Germans settled in the towns of  Semlin and Vukovár.  In 1210 they were populated by Germans, Saxons, Hungarians and Slavs.


  In 1526 Srem became a Turkish province.  In the next two centuries most of the region was left in ruins.  Those who did not flee the Turks or were killed in the war or became victims of the plague were sold into slavery.  Most villages simply “disappeared”.  Weed infested prairies and swamps dotted the landscape.  The region between Peterwardein and Semlin-Belgrade was totally devastated.


  By 1686/1687 there were 11,000 Serbs in the eastern part of Srem.  In 1690/1691 some 36,000 Serbian families crossed the Sava River into Srem.  Following the Peace of Passarowitz (1717) much of Srem was sold or awarded to nobles by the Habsburgs.  For example an Italian Prince Odescalchi was awarded Fruschka Gora; Semlin and the surrounding villages were granted to the Franconian Count Schӧnborn.


  The German settler families in the Batschka were very large and land soon became unavailable for further division and distribution and they began to buy land in neighbouring communities only to soon face the same problem all over again and the next generation had to move on.  As a result of the Revolution of 1848 and the break up of the landed estates along with the Protestant Patent of 1859 it became possible for Lutheran and Reformed families to settle in Croatia and to add to the existing populations and villages.  Most of the land was not under cultivation which drove down the price immeasurably.  A Joch (1.4 acres) in Croatia sold for 100 Gulden compared to 1,000 in the Batschka.  They sold their land in the Batshcka and headed to Srem and Croatia.


  The original settlers in Betschmen were Serbs and by 1766 there were 63 houses but by 1795 the village consisted of only thirteen families.  In 1867 the first German settler arrived.  He was Karl Sarg who was a bricklayer by trade and came from the Batschka.  All of the five original families that came from Torschau, Kucura and Neusiwatz were Reformed.  As the village grew the Reformed were joined by German Lutherans from the Batschka but the Reformed were the majority and accounted for 75% of the German population.  The Lutheran minority formed a congregation and were served by the pastor in Surtschin and built a prayer house while the Reformed built a church and school.  The Reformed refused to allow the Lutheran children to attend their school forcing them to go to the “public” school and were taught only in Serbo-Croatian.  The Lutheran families had been willing to pay to have their children attend the Reformed private school and be taught in German.  After being turned down, two of the Lutheran men, Johann Bauer Sr. and Peter Kinkel Sr. provided several hours a week of German instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic.  They were simple farmers and not professional teachers but left a lasting impression on their young pupils and helped them maintain their German identity.


   During the First World War, Betschmen’s location which was only 8 miles from the Sava River frontier that separated Serbia and Austria-Hungary placed it in a precarious position.  In August 1914 the Serbian Army occupied all of eastern Srem and a twenty kilometre strip of land along the Sava River became a battle zone.  Austria-Hungary called upon its Serbian population to support their war effort but most sympathized with the enemy.  The German population in Serbian occupied territory were faced with very difficult choices.  Flight became the only option.  A planned flight got under way in Betschmen early one morning as the villagers left by horse and wagon.  As soon as the column of wagons got under way a barrage of artillery fire from the nearby Gibowatz Woods bombarded the village.  In the midst of the panic that ensued the wagon trek hurriedly continued towards Dobanovci and then Neu Passua.  They were able to remain there overnight.  The next day the refugees proceeded on to Peterwardein.  There the  streets were jammed with Austro-Hungarian troops on their way to the front lines.  They had to wait for the army to pass through and then they headed towards Torschau, Kucura and Sekitsch where many stayed with their relatives.


  After a few weeks they were able to return home because the Austro-Hungarian Army had driven the Serbs out of the area and it was now declared safe for them to return. On returning home they discovered that the Germans who had remained and not fled with them had suffered a great deal at the hands of the local Serbs (none of whom had fled) and the Serbian military forces.  They learned that German hostages from other villages had been taken to Serbia by their retreating army.  During the Serbian occupation all of the Germans homes had been plundered and looted and their livestock were driven off.  The troops were joined in this by the local Serbs.  Some of the Serbs later returned furniture and clothing, claiming they had saved them for their German neighbours.  There were few who believed them and were simply relieved to have something of their own returned to them.


  All of the Serbs in the village, whether guilty or innocent, had to report to the Hungarian “battle” police.  They punished those who had welcomed the Serbian armed forces to the village as “liberators” as well as those who participated in the looting of the German homes and plundering their property.  Some of the innocent had to suffer along with those who were guilty.  The Serbs were ordered to surrender everything they had stolen and deliver everything to the town hall.  The Serbs arrived with wagons loaded down with goods and furniture.  It looked like market day.  The Germans came and picked out their belongings.  All of this led to a lessening of the tensions between the two groups.


  The war went on in Serbia as the Austro-Hungarian advanced into the interior.  At Crni Vrh they were stopped and forced to retreat because of heavy losses on both sides.  The situation became very dangerous as the Austro-Hungarians pulled back to the Sava and expected an invasion of their own territory.  The whole debacle was blamed on General Potiorek and the Austrian High Command.  It rained for several weeks that Fall of 1915 which prevented an orderly retreat and ended in  catastrophe.  There was a shortage of pontoon bridges to cross the Sava which was in flood and as a result there was a heavy loss of life and material.  All of the villages along the Sava were jammed with infantry, artillery and cavalry units.  The German population of Betschmen and the neighbouring villages prepared to flee again when reinforcements arrived and halted the retreat.


  The billeting and care of the troops in Betschmen was a major problem. The number of troops to be quartered in each house was set by the military.  Most families were confined to one room of their houses and the soldiers took over the rest.  The barns and stables were requisitioned for the artillery and cavalry units and their horses.  It lasted for only a month but they had to give up their grain and hay for the horses.  All of the fence posts and picket fences were used for camp fires.  Many orchards fell victim to this need as well.  Many of the troops were Germans from Srem and Romania who were then shortly transferred to the Russian front.  After they left for the first time German units passed through who were part of General Mackensen’s German Wehrmacht to join forces with the Austro-Hungarians and proceeded to invade Serbia again.


  The local Serbs, consisting mostly of women and children were interned  at Vukovár along with others living within 20 kilometres of the Sava River.  The men were taken prisoner and taken to Peterwardein and jailed in the fortress prison.  The women and children lived with Serbian families.  This would last for two years before they would be allowed to return home.  This resulted in repercussions for the German population after the war on the part of both the local Serbs and the government itself until things settled down in the early 1920s.


  In 1941 Betschmen had a population of 1,137 of which 800 were Germans, 237 Serbs, 3 Slovaks, 43 Gypsies and 54 others.


  With the invasion of Yugoslavia by the Third Reich in April 1941 the region of Srem became part of the Independent State of Croatia under Pavelič and the Ustasčhi (Croat Fascists).  In response to the Croat atrocities committed against the Serbian civilian  population many of younger men and women joined Tito’s Partisans and carried out attacks on the local German population as well as German and Hungarian military units and their installations.  Things deteriorated so badly in Slavonia that the entire German population was evacuated in 1941/1943.  It never dawned on the Betschmen Germans that the same might happen to them.  And that when it did, it would last forever.  After the First World War the local Serbs had often taunted the German population, “If you’re not happy here go back to Kurcura or wherever you came from…”


  By the end of 1943 as things became worse on the Eastern Front these taunts seemed about to be fulfilled but it would be taken a step farther and it would take them back to the homeland of their ancestors.


  At the beginning of October 1944, the German occupation forces began to withdraw.  With little time to think about it the German population of Betschmen had to chose between flight or living under Serbian oppression.  With Partisans in the area and the Red Army on its way there was really no choice but to flee to Germany.  The retreating German forces unofficially encouraged them to join in their retreat and evacuation.  “Whoever can save himself must do so.  Farmers who have horses and tractors pack some food, hay and feed for your horses.  Take bedding and clothing on your wagons. Join the trek leaving Semlin shortly…”


  The Serbian villages all around Betschmen were already occupied by Partisans.  The Betschmen trek had to avoid them and detoured around Semlin.  The trek went through Indija and Ruma towards Esseg.  The roads were dangerous to travel on and were open to Partisan attacks for which they could offer little resistance lacking both weapons and men as mostly women and children and the elderly were in the convoy.  From Esseg they were escorted by German troops and then headed for Hungary and went across it for Austria.  Some had to abandon the trek and make their way to safety by train.


  Only a few families remained behind in Betschmen.  After brutal treatment by the Partisans and the confiscation of all of their property and possessions they were interned and some managed to make it to Germany after the war.  One woman remained behind with her sick mother unable to join the trek.  She was brutally murdered by the Partisans soon after they arrived.  Her husband and children were with the trek and eventually emigrated to the United States.  The Reformed Church was torn down by the Partisans shortly after they occupied Betschmen.


  There were eight families in Austria who sought to return home to Yugoslavia when the war ended.  They were unsuccessful and were robbed and half starved by the Partisans before being release and they managed to return to Austria.


  The evacuation took place on October 5, 1944 following a hurried order from the German military.  The area around Betschmen was teeming with Partisans and there were daily attacks.  The hatred between the Serbian and German populations was so great that remaining in Betschmen did not appear to be an option.  Only two families were prepared to remain but some Serbs joined the evacuation for reasons of their own.


  Those who remained behind were the Kinkel and Hoffmann families and Elisabeth Sarg and her mother.  The two women were put to death and the others suffered greatly and became victims of Tito’s extermination programme. 

The Evacuation of the Children of Alt-Futok


  The following is the translation of an article of the same title in German that appeared in the Donautal magazine.  Atl-Futok was a community in the Batschka.


  Romania’s capitulation on August 23, 1944 finally awakened the Swabian community leaders in the Batschka to the danger approaching and initiated what would become  “The Great Escape” of the German population of Yugoslavia in October 1944.


  It was Saturday, September 30, 1944 and at ten o’clock in the morning the sound of salvos of artillery fire began and lasted for half an hour coming from the direction of Novi Sad (Neusatz) and could be heard from a distance.  The population assumed that German troops were dealing with a Partisan attack or military manoeuvres were taking place in Peterwardein.  The firing started up again on the morning of October 3rd…a Tuesday.  The population knew nothing of what was occurring nor were they aware of the threatening danger they were in because they had no news of what was happening on the Eastern Front.  For the inhabitants of the village of Alt-Futok the battlefield was still somewhere way out there far to the east of them.  The German Army was retreating for tactical reasons they were told.  Yet despite that, Swabian refugee treks from the Banat had passed through the village on September 3rd.


  On the day of the great fire when sixty houses had gone up in flames, the Banat refugees challenged the villagers asking, “What are you waiting for?  Get going!  The Russians are already in Romania.”  Few people took them seriously.


  Two days later on October 5th the community officials had the drums beaten on the street corners and the town crier read out the last official decision of the Alt-Futok village Council.  All children between the ages of six to fifteen were to be prepared for an emergency evacuation to be set in motion on Sunday, October 8th.  They were all to assemble next to the inn in upper Alt-Futok and every child was to bring sufficient food to last for ten days.  By noon most of the wagons were already crowded with children.  The convoy of wagons and trucks headed out for Palanka at three in the afternoon.  The evacuation of the  184 children was now in the hands of a group of women from Futok.  The leader of these care givers was 23 year old, Käthe Einz from Torschau, who was the Kindergarten teacher.


  The convoy consisted of two groups.  A motorized bus group with 40 children led by Eva Mülbi and the wagon trek with Käthe Einz with her 145 children.  They also had a military escort.  The men were from Neutsatz (Novi Sad) and other parts of Hungary and  had been billeted in Futok.  The wagons that transported the children to Palanka had been requisitioned from the Serbian inhabitants of Futok.  The children were unloaded in Palanka and boarded ships and barges while the military returned with the wagons back to Futok.  Palanka was already evacuated and the two barges the children boarded had been meant for 200 children from Bulkes.  They arrived too late.  The ships and barges had left with their jam packed cargo.  The children of Bulkes had to return home where disaster awaited them.  Almost all of them died in the death camp in Jarek.

Siwatz in the Batschka


  The following article is a condensed version and translation of various portions of “Siwatz 1786-1944” published by Pannonia Verlag, Freilassing, 1963 on behalf of their Village Association.


  Siwatz, which was also known as Neusiwatz, was established in 1786 in the Batschka as part of the settlement programme of Joseph II which officially allowed the settlement of Protestants.  As a result the following villages were founded:  Torschau 1784, Cservenka 1785, Neuwerbass 1785, Kischker 1786, Bulkes 1786, Neuschowe 1786, Neusiwatz 1786, Sekitsch 1786 and Jarek in 1787.  What distinguished Siwatz from most of the others is that it was a Reformed settlement.  There were other Reformed colonists living in the Lutheran villages but they were a minority but in several cases they later formed Reformed congregation if and when their numbers warranted it.  That was not the case in Siwatz that was almost exclusively Reformed during the settlement period and after.


  The Immigration Patent of Joseph II was promulgated in 1783 and was soon publicized in the regions along the Rhine River especially the upper Rhine, the Pfalz (Palatinate) in the Zweibrücken area and Hessen.  The circulars and leaflets urging emigration appeared everywhere.  Whole districts were eager to respond.  So-called agents appeared claiming to have special “connections” in Vienna.  Two in particular were Peter Decker (a teacher) and Konrad Bauer of Duchroth bei Kreuznach in the Palatinate.  They recruited over one hundred families living between the Mosel and Rhine Rivers each of whom paid them 1 Florin and 30 Kreuzer.  The two agents left for Vienna with a list of names of the perspective emigrants and these self-proclaimed “deputies” had an audience with the Emperor Joseph II and handed over the list to him.  The Emperor was impressed and agreed to provide for the emigrants on their arrival.


  They returned home in April 1783 and informed their recruits of the arrangements they had made and many well-off families and others now sought to join them.  As the word spread, the country roads and village streets in the district were clogged with would-be emigrants from the whole district because of Decker’s propaganda efforts.  The Palatinate governing authorities ordered him to appear for questioning but he fled and joined his recruits and made it safely to Vienna.  They were all settled in Galicia along with Decker.  The other “deputy”, Bauer, blamed everything on his fugitive companion in crime and nothing every happened to him because they considered Decker was the mastermind.


  At first the German princes tolerated Joseph’s recruitment of their subjects from their domains but soon began to set up barriers and hindered the massive exodus that was taking place.  In some locales it was completely forbidden.  The people simply left secretly by night and once they were outside of their master’s territory they felt free to move on.  In order to travel unhindered by officialdom they needed a travel pass issued by the Commissar of Emigration in Frankfurt if possible.  For most families it was not possible to get to Frankfurt and instead got false credentials and papers along the way.  Once they got to Regensburg they could not be turned back and “papers” were not essential.  It was there were they received an Imperial Passport.  On arriving in Vienna they had to decide on settling in either Galicia or Hungary and go to the appropriate consulate and register with them.  The emigration to Galicia was so massive that by the end of summer of 1783 all of the available land was settled and all of the rest of the would-be colonists were sent to Hungary.


  On arriving at the Hungarian Royal Chancellery the family pass was surrendered and the entire family was registered and each person received 2 Gulden for travel expenses along with a settler pass to be surrendered at Buda at the Royal Hungarian Commission there.  At their arrival at Ofen (Buda) the pass was marked with the name of the place where the family was to be settled and where they were to report.  Those going to the Batshcka would have to report at Sombor.  For the journey from Ofen to Sombor each person was given 1 Gulden.  In this way 3,500 families would arrive in the next eighteen months and others would continue to come up until 1789.


  Much of the early settlement of Siwatz is known as a result of the book “The German Colonist” written by Johann Eimann who provides the information on the places of origin of the first settlers and the early colonial history of the community.  He later became the notary of Siwatz.  His book became a best seller throughout the Batschka and in Germany.  He had attended four years of Latin school and at the age of 21 years he left the Palatinate illegally in 1785 and went off to Hungary.  As one of the few educated men in the settlement he became a leader in its community life.  He would hold the position of notary until his death and the position would remain in the hands of his family from 1793 to 1920!  In his painstaking research he was able to identify the places of origin of all of the families in Siwatz who came from the Pfalz (Rhine Palatinate) along with information on the family members.  They are all listed from page 17 to 40.  There were initially 135 families but others came from other communities in the vicinity or from Hungary.


  Those coming from Hungary had previously lived in Bonyhád, Vádkert, Morágy, Harta, Zsibrik, Bátaapáti, Gyӧnk, Hidas, Zips County (Slovakia) and Alsónána.  The majority of these communities had sizable numbers of Reformed inhabitants and several of them had a Reformed majority.


  As the settlement expanded and its population grew the lack of available land forced many young families to leave and find their fortune and future elsewhere.  In 1802 many of them moved into the adjoining village of Altsiwatz and by 1832 they had established a filial Reformed congregation there that eventually was able to support itself in the future. Not only was there a shortage of arable land the cost of land became exorbitant and poorer families sold their land and bought land in Srem and Slavonia where it was much cheaper and in many cases had not but cleared or had never been cultivated. Many families from Siwatz settled in Beschka, Velimirovac and Cacinci.  In fact the majority of the families in Velimirovac came there from Siwatz.


  As the houses were being built and the village laid out the colonists from Germany were billeted in homes in nearby villages.  In most cases they lived among Serbs as the men began to build the first primitive huts with reed roofs and did so hurriedly anxious to be on their own.  Once they were settled the land was designated and distributed among them.  They also discovered that they had Serb neighbours who were cattle herders and cared nothing for agricultural work. Once the fields were ploughed and sown the cattle ran rough shod over the crops that led to open disputes between the colonists and their predecessors in the village.  It led to the colonists sending two deputies to represent them to complain to the Emperor.  They chose Philipp Grossmann and Philipp Werner.  They asked that the two nationalities be separated in their settlement which the local officials were slow to do and in light of recent Turkish incursions back into the Balkans it was not considered that important to their way of thinking.  The situation deteriorated between the two groups which was detrimental to the growth and development of the community.  In October of 1796 they petitioned various levels of government to order a separation which was finally granted by Emperor Francis I.  It was ordered to be carried out in 1797.  The German colonists paid the costs of a surveyor to carry out the land separation.  The results were the two villages of Alt and Neu Siwatz with Hungarian and Serbs in the older village and the Germans in the new settlement.


  In 1936 the population of Neusiwatz was 2,526 of which 2,386 were Germans who were Reformed and 98 Hungarians and 42 Slavs (Serbs and Croats).  There were 510 houses in the community.


Church and Religious Life


  Friedrich III, also known as the Pious, was the Prince Elector of the Palatinate and brought his former Lutheran territory into the Reformed camp and had the Heidelberg Catechism published for use in all congregations and attempted to suppress Lutheranism but was unable to convert all of them.  The Thirty Years War had a devastating effect on the Reformed in the Rhine Palatinate.  The armies of the Palatinate were defeated and Roman Catholic troops occupied the territory and were quartered in homes.  All of the Protestant churches (both Lutheran and Reformed) were handed over to Roman Catholic priests and monks and Protestant clergy were driven out of the land.  Although the Religious Peace of Westphalia of 1648 was to guarantee religious freedom the Reformed in the Palatinate continued to be oppressed by their now Roman Catholic sovereign and were persecuted up to their emigration to Hungary in 1785.  Because of the ongoing religious persecution and the oppression by their landowners they left house and home in the hope that in the new homeland they sought they would be free from feudal lords and practice their faith freely.


  From the research work done by Johann Einmann we know that Siwatz was settled by Germans of the Reformed faith who had come from the regions along the Rhine.  Up until the expulsion and evacuation of its population in 1944 it was and remained the only entirely German Reformed community in the Batschka.  The founding of Siwatz was synonymous with the establishment of a Reformed congregation.  Along with their Bibles and hymnbooks from the Pfalz, they brought the Heidelberg Catechism that shaped and formed their church and community life.  No pastors accompanied the Reformed settlers or followed afterwards from their homeland and as a result the various new Reformed congregations approached the Hungarian Reformed Church for support in terms of pastoral leadership and had Hungarian pastors who spoke German.  The first Reformed pastor in Neuwerbasss, Johann von Buzás was one of them as well as Stefan Gozon who served as the first Reformed pastor in Cservenka.  It was due to them that the settlers maintained their German identity and operated German schools for their children.


  From the very beginning of the settlement–without the benefit of a church, school or even a house–first services were held in the out-of-doors that consisted of prayers and hymns on the site where the church would one day be built.  Once a few of the houses were built services were held in them in which sermons were read from a book.  At the time of the evacuation in 1944 the book of sermons was still extant.  Services were held in the home of Katharina Hoffmann and from November 1786 until the Spring of 1787 they were held in Abraham Krob’s house.  In the Spring of 1787 the government erected an orphanage that also served as a school and was used as prayer house.  In the same year the government erected a lovely prayer house which was fully furnished within that was used until 1810.  A tower with a bell was erected next to this reed roofed structure.


  The construction of a new church began in 1810 and it was completed n 1811.  Its cost was estimated at 17,000 Gulden.  In 1836 it was in need of a major renovation..


  From May 1786 until August 1788 the community was without any pastoral leadership.   Christian Lüch provided the leadership at the first simple services.  After his early death he was succeeded by Kaspar Schäfer who was also called upon to conduct funerals.


  On November 20, 1786 the newly arrived Reformed pastor at Neuwerbass, Johann von Buzás was brought to Siwatz and held a service in Katharina Hoffmann’s house and celebrated Holy Communion.  On that occasion two elders were elected along with a teacher for the school.  It was from then on that Abraham Krob held services in his house, conducted funerals and baptized many of the infants.


  In the Spring of 1787 he was elected the schoolmaster in Neuwerbasss and he was succeeded by Heinrich Schenkenberger from Cservenka.  He carried out his role of teacher and lay worship leader in the orphanage schoolhouse until the arrival of the first resident pastor Samuel Szelle on August 11, 1788.  He would serve here for the next 23 years.  He was succeeded by a series of Hungarian pastors in the decades ahead until 1882 when Josef Poor, who had been in neighbouring Torschau, was called to be their pastor.  Prior to coming to Siwatz he had been the Reformed pastor in Gyӧnk where he had married Katharina Simon.  His successor was Karl Glӧckner who was from Hungary and had studied in Bonyhád and Budapest.  At the time of the evacuation in 1944 he was still in office in Siwatz.  He remained behind and died a year later well into his eighties.


  With the need for expansion because of the need for more available land families began to buy land in the neighbouring community of Altsiwatz.  By 1820 there were fifty German Reformed families living there and the original families from Neusiwatz were joined by others from Torschau, Neuwerbass and Cservenka.  Within fifteen years there numbers rose to two hundred and fifty.  In 1855 they separated from the congregation in Neusiwatz and formed a new congregation of their own but did so on good terms.  The major problem they sought to address was that of distance.  There were one hundred and fifty and boys and girls in the school and the new congregation purchased a house and turned it into a school.  A prayer house followed soon to be followed by a church as the congregation grew to a membership of over one thousand by 1858 and became a Mother Church with their own pastor and in 1893 they reported a membership of 1,400 members.


  There is little evidence available about the beginnings of the German Roman Catholic Church in Altsiwatz and the arrival of the original settlers.  When the German Reformed settlers arrived in Serbian Siwatz large numbers of German Roman Catholic settlers from the adjacent areas also appeared on the scene.  Because the Reformed were the vast majority of the German settlers, the Roman Catholics wanted to separate themselves from them and moved on to Altsiwatz with the Serbs when they left.  There were also Hungarian Roman Catholics who did the same.  The first documented reference to them comes from 1794 noting that a Roman Catholic parish of Germans and Hungarians had been formed with 272 souls.  It was a filial of Kula and later belonged to the Kernei parish.  They appealed to Emperor Joseph II for a church and priest.  Their request was granted in 1797 and by 1800 they had 526 parishioners.  In 1859 there were 1,255 souls.  At the time of the evacuation in 1944 about 1,500 of the German-speaking members of the parish fled while many of those who remained behind perished in the death camps.


Hungary and the Minorities


  Following the failure of the War of Independence in 1848 under the leadership of Louis Kossuth the new Hungarian Constitution of 1867 strengthened the forces of Hungarian nationalism that sought to assimilate and incorporate all of the minorities into what they called the “Hungarian nation”.  The first attempts were made in the closing years of the 19th Century in terms of education in the schools of the minorities.  All children had to study and learn Hungarian in all of the schools.  Those pupils who went on in school beyond that of their village school had to take all of their classes in Hungarian and became quickly assimilated in the dominant culture.  Propaganda was directed at the children and the parents.  This Maygarization programme suffered a setback with the outbreak of the First World War.  The local German men served in the Hungarian Army and the Austrian Imperial Army.  At war’s end as a result of the Treaty of Trianon in 1919 Siwatz and the rest of the Batschka became part of Yugoslavia, a new Slavic State and they could leave the attempts to Magyarize them behind.


  In order for them to preserve their identity and culture the Swabians as they were called by Slavic neighbours formed the Swabian-German-Cultural Association in Neusatz on June 20, 1920.  The Yugoslavian government accepted this and maintained friendly relationships with the organization but in the future it would be seen as a menace to the State.  They wanted to wean the Swabians from all things Hungarian and brought about some measures against the Swabians who were seen to be pro-Hungarian.  To protect themselves the Swabians formed their own political party.  The German Party ran candidates in the 1929 election and three representatives were elected in the Sombor district and served in the parliament.


  The local branch of the Kulturbund ( the recognized short form of the organization) was formed in Siwatz in 1920.  The aggressive policies of Nazi Germany would have an effect on the association and their ideology infiltrated the Kulturbund.  One’s German-ness became the watchword among the young.  In the Spring of 1941 Yugoslavia was quickly overrun by the German army and the Hungarian army occupied the Batschka claiming it as their territory and part of Greater Hungary.  They offered no resistance to the Kulturbund nor interfered in its activities.


  As a result of the change in government there was a large increase in the membership of what was now the Volksbund connected to the same movement in Hungary and a front organization for the Third Reich.  In 1942 the local chapters of the Bund carried out a recruitment drive among the German-speaking population for volunteers to serve in the German and Hungarian armed forces and the SS.  Most of the young Swabians who grew up in Yugoslavia had little or no exposure to Hungarian and chose to enlist in the German forces.  When the SS enlistment commission made up of Bund leaders came to Siwatz to carry out the recruitment drive there were few volunteers.


  The local Bund  saw its best days between 1941-1944 both organizationally and in terms of membership growth.  Unfortunately, all of this set the German population apart from the other nationalities among whom they lived.


  As conditions worsened for the German Army on the Eastern Front, the population became agitated.  All of the young men from 18 to 35 years of age were already serving on the front lines.  In the summer of 1944 as Germany’s allies, the Romanians and the Bulgarians capitulated, it was obvious to the population that the situation was dangerous.  Yugoslavia was about to become a theatre of war once again.  The Front moved closer from the south-east.  Temesvár had already fallen.  The first refugee treks from the Banat passed through Siwatz.  Anxiety was palpable everywhere.  No one seemed to be able to grasp the fact that they would have to leave.  The last of the men were taken into the army, fathers and sons to hold a disintegrating front.


  In October 1944 the news that the enemy was at the Tisza River frightened the populace of Siwatz.  The Volksbund leaders gave the order to pack for an evacuation.  After a false alarm on October 4th a second order went out on October 8th.  The Russians had crossed the Tisza River nearby.  The population was ordered to flee across the Danube.  Even though the covered wagons were packed they were ordered to feed their abandoned livestock first.  After taking leave of those staying behind the first column of wagons headed for the Danube.  Numerous columns of horses and wagons followed in the next few days.  Women and children waited along the streets and were loaded onboard horse drawn wagons or tractor driven ones.  It became impossible to cross the Danube and the treks drove alongside the river to Dunafӧldvár in Hungary.  Many others were able to escape down the river in ferries.  The wagon convoys were sent in different directions through various regions of Hungary.  The treks were bombed and strafed by fighter aircraft.  Their horses were requisitioned by the military.  Many of the refugees from Siwatz had to pass through Czechoslovakia and fled to Silesia.  They would have to flee west when the Russians began to stream across Poland and the eastern German provinces.


  About 90% of the population of Neusiwatz and most of the German population of Altsiwatz left on the refugee treks.  The livestock left behind bellowed for food, cats and dogs howled and then the looters came.  The mayor, Ferdinand Stieb stayed behind and organized the feeding of the cattle and set up a night watch to prevent more looting.  Caring for the livestock took most of the time of those who had remained until October 20, 1944 the day the first Russian troops came and assembled all of the livestock, slaughtered all of the animals and transported their carcasses away.


  Slavic inhabitants of the area accompanied the military who allowed them to loot and plunder the Swabian homes at will.  Both  the troops and civilians sought wine as their first objective.  The barrels were dragged out of the wine cellars.  They became drunk and fired their rifles to scare the Swabians.  Four days after the arrival of the Russian troops who were moved on in the direction of the Danube, Partisan units came to replace them.  They were the new lords of the land and would set up a government.  But there first task was a rather gruesome practice they had initiated in the south in Srem and the southern Batschka against the Swabian civilian population which had remained behind and not joined the evacuation and flight.


  Sixteen persons were ordered to report to the town hall and then other hostages were taken and imprisoned.  After four days all of the 73 who had been arrested disappeared.  The powder magazine where they had been locked up was bathed in blood.  Out in the cemetery there was a large long recently dug grave that was guarded by the Partisans for over a week.  The mayor was among the arrested.  They had also arrested 67 Hungarian men who were included in the bloodbath.


  Seventeen divisions of Russian troops passed through Siwatz.  The abandoned Swabian homes were totally looted and nearly destroyed by the military and the Slavic population at large.  The few Swabians assembled together in homes for mutual protection and consolation.  By the end of November there were fewer troops passing through and several of the Siwatz evacuees crossed Hungary and returned home to Siwatz.  Even some of the soldiers from the village managed to work their way home and everyone hoped things would become normalized soon.


  Individuals simply disappeared.  Others were taken away.  Some were beaten to death or taken away to Sombor and never heard from again.  There were those who were shot in their own homes.  In the midst of the terror there were some who took their own lives.  The village was a total mess.  Horses were stabled in people’s houses.  All the windows in the houses were broken and the doors battered down.


  On December 26, 1944 all German women between the ages of 17 to 35 years and men from 17 to 45 were assembled throughout the Sombor District and were delivered to the artillery barracks in Sombor.  Several others from Siwatz were brought to join them there on December 29th.  On December 31st all of them were loaded on cattle cars and sent to Russia and after sixteen days arrived at Stalino in Ukraine and sent to the coal mines.


  On April 4, 1945 Siwatz was surrounded by Yugoslav military personnel.  All German women, children and the elderly were given ten minutes to take leave of their homes and then were force marched to the railway station and sent to Gakowa…the death camp.


  Another group of able bodied older men and one younger man who had returned to Siwatz were selected for a punishment detail and sent to Srem to work on rebuilding the railway and were gruesomely tortured by the sentries and eventually martyred.  Only a few survived the cruelty and torture.


  Of those who remained behind to face the wrath of the Partisans, five men and three women of the fifty-five persons taken to do slave labour in the Soviet Union died there.  Two men and five women were killed during the flight.  Fourteen men were executed or murdered by the Partisans.  The number who perished in the camps at Gakowa and Jarek from Neusiwatz included 53 men, 69 women and 3 children for a total of 125 persons.  Those from Altsiwatz included 33 men, 47 women and 1 child for a total of 81 persons.  In addition there were 81 men from Neusiwatz and 68 from Altsiwatz who lost their lives on the battle front or in Russian prisoner of war camps after the war.

Kucura in the Batschka



  The panic stricken German population of Kucura joined the wagon treks fleeing from the Batschka on October 8, 1944.  This included 164 males and 315 females.  A total of 497 persons.  There were five men who had remained behind in Kucura who were later deported to the Soviet Union four of whom perished there in the labour camps.  In addition there were 53 men and teenaged boys and 102 women and teenaged girls who were interned by the Partisans in various camps throughout Yugoslavia such as Jarek, Gakowa and Rudolfgnad.  Only 15 of the men and teenaged boys survived and only 24 of the women and teenaged girls were spared.  The total German population of Kucura had been 823.  There were 126 men in the German Armed Forces and 4 men were serving in the Hungarian Honvéd.


  Many of those who remained at home and did not join the evacuation appear to have been elderly.  Some of the evacuees were taken by military transport vehicles.  This was for protection against the ravages of winter…at least you had roof over your head.  The others left during the week in horse drawn wagons.  They travelled through the central region of the Batschka between the Danube and the Tisza River and along the right bank of the Danube through Swabian Turkey in Hungary and then went through Austria, Czechoslovakia to their final destination in Silesia.  Their wagons were not equipped to handle the rough terrain and mountains they passed through and the teams of horses were handled by old Opas, teenaged boys and young women in terrible winter weather often seeking shelter in the out-of-doors.  Finally finding a place to stay and stop moving.  Only having to flee the oncoming Red Army advancing across Poland once they entered Silesia.  They ended up resting there for only one week.  Then they pushed westwards until they were finally allowed to stay in Bavaria.



  The origins of Kucura are the various establishments and travel stations found on the main roads to provide food, shelter and lodgings in an otherwise rather uninhabited area.  This “inn” was located on the Kula Road.  It was known as Kodzura and is of Serbian origin.  During the Hungarian era (up until 1918) the town was called Kutzora.  It was during the Yugoslavian period after 1918 that it became Kucura.


  On the day that the German population fled and joined the evacuation the town had a total population of 4,050 persons.  The three major nationalities were the Ukrainians who made up 66% of the population, the Germans who made up 21% and the Hungarians whose numbers accounted for 10%.  In addition there were also Serbs, Jews and Gypsies who lived there.


  The Ruthenians (Ukrainians) were the first to settle in Kucura.  When they arrived is not known.  In all likelihood they came after the Battles of Zenta and Peterwardein.  They came from the Carpatho-Ukraine and were Greek Catholics.  Their ancient Ukrainian language served as the language of worship.  Their dialect was heavily interspersed with Serbian and Hungarian words as well as some German.  Some no longer had any command of their former mother tongue.  Many of them had Hungarian family names.  It appears they had been given those names by Hungarian officials.  At the time when the settlement took place many Ukrainians had no family names.  Another version of the story is that those with Magyar names came from the area around Mako famous for the onions raised there that had found their way to the Batschka.  


  When and from where the Hungarians came from is also unknown.  They just seemed to appear on the scene.  It is difficult to ascertain just how Hungarian they actually are.  In fact they appear to be Magyarized Ukrainians.  The only difference between them and those who called themselves Ukrainians is that they were Roman Catholic.  This forced  assimilation of the Ukrainians had begun prior to the First World War.


  The Germans made their appearance in the Batschka after the 150 year occupation of the Turks was ended.  The leading commander of the liberation was a Frenchman, Prince Eugene of Savoy who was in the service of the Austrian Habsburgs.  The depopulated territories recently won were in need of settlers and a large portion of them were Germans from the regions that were constantly under attack or invaded by the French.  Alsace, the Saar, Palatinate, Baden, Württemberg and Hessen.  Along with the German settlers there were also Slovaks and Ruthenians.  But the Serbs had been here before them as refugees from the Turks and were protected by the Habsburgs who settled them in the border and frontier areas to ward off future attacks and incursions by the Turks.


  There was the assumption that the Germans that settled here migrated from Torschau or Werbass that had been founded between 1784-1786.  In fact, they arrived here two decades later than the original Germans colonists.  Their migration from the other communities was primarily due to overpopulation in the original settlements in the Batschka and the lack of additional farming land for young families to be able to support themselves.  The only land that was then available was in Slavic communities like Kucura, Altker and others like them.


  The first Germans to settle in Kucura came from Harta in Pest County in Hungary.  The Listmaier and Haass families are examples of that.  (Translator’s Note:  the Listmaier family were the Lisztmeyers from Heideboden in Western Hungary and were not from Germany.)  The Kuhn family later came from Mezӧbereny and the Schmahls came from Vadkert.  They were followed by the Gӧttel and Reister families who came from Torschau, the Reidls from Sekitsch. the Albus family from Werbass and the Lautenbach and Lauterer families from Bulkes.  There is strong evidence to suggest that the Harta settlers came in 1790.


  In 1972 when the community proceeded to tear down the abandoned Lutheran Church a crane was used to knock down the tower.  A small lead box was discovered beneath the cross in which there were a variety of documents.  Unfortunately the documents had been damaged and portions of the writings were not legible.  All kinds of attempts were made to decipher the documents but without success.  That was until mid-February a year later when Mrs. Susan Roth was able to take on the task.  The following are portions of the document:  “The early beginnings of the Evangelical Lutheran congregation in Kucura belong to the first years of this century (1800).  In 1803 the first Evangelicals came to Kucura.  They were of both Protestant confessions, the Augsburg (Lutheran) and Helvitic (Reformed) from Kiss Harta (Small Harta) and Vadkert in Pest County and were shortly joined by others from nearby communities, Torschau in particular.  Their numbers increased so quickly through the ongoing migration that by 1804 there was the need for a schoolmaster that they would be able to support.  Adam Hütter from Torschau was called to this office.  In 1805 this small congregation bought a house to serve as the school as well as some land to support the school and teacher.  The numbers continued to increase and more land had to be purchased.”


  In October 1811 the congregation called Josef Nagy from the Banat to be both pastor and teacher.  Up until then the congregation had been a filial of Kiss Ker.  Two years later he returned to his former parish in the Banat.  Michael Koschina arrived in November 1813 to replace him as pastor and schoolmaster for the eight three years.  In May of 1821 he resigned his position and went to Meschez in Thuró County where he lived without a church office or position in the future.


  On November 24. 1821 Samuel Borovsky came to serve as the pastor but accepted a call to Neu Schowe in July of 1824.  In August Paul Makonyi was appointed pastor and remained until April of 1826 when he accepted a call to Neusatz. In the month of July 1826 Professor Georg Jessenly who taught at the Bacs-Srem Gymnasium (Junior College) in Werbass operated by the Seniorat (Church District or Deanery) served as the interim pastor until October of 1827 when he was called to serve as pastor at Kisatsch.


  In 1818 the congregation had been visited by the Superintendent (bishop) Adam Lovich.  A prayer house and school had been built and he was present for the consecration of a 140 pound bell.  In 1828 a new cemetery was dedicated.  In 1828 a new house and courtyard had been purchased to house the pastor and his family.


  Up until June of 1837 the Lutherans and the Reformed formed a “united” congregation but in that year the Reformed formed their own congregation as a filial of the Reformed congregation in Torschau.


  In 1843 and 1844 a new parsonage was built.  When the debt was retired yearly subscriptions were undertaken to finance the building of a church because the narrow and damp prayer house needed to be replaced.  The new church was completed in 1861.


  All of these major undertakings were accomplished during the pastorate of Daniel Stur who would serve in Kucura from 1837 to 1887.


  According to the census of 1891 the total population of Kucura was 4,072 and the census indicated the nationalities and religious persuasion of the inhabitants.


  Lutherans                           1,007                              Germans

  Reformed                              151                              Germans

  Roman Catholic                    563                              Hungarians

  Uniat Greek Catholic         2,267                              Ruthenians (Ukrainians)

  Orthodox                                 37                              Serbs

  Jewish                                      47


  Up to the end of 19th Century the Lutherans of Kucura never had a German pastor.  All of them had been either Slovak or Hungarian.  After Daniel Stur’s retirement a pastor Müller was called by the congregation.  He did not remain very long.  The congregation felt rejected.  Pastor Lanyi was called in order to bring peace.  He was replaced by Daniel Hinkel from Alt Werbass.  He was to be the last pastor of the Lutheran Church in Kucura.


  At the turn of the 19th Century the German population levelled off due to emigration to the United States, Canada, Argentina, Srem, Slavonia and Bosnia.




  The vast majority of the Germans that remained behind died in various camps in Yugoslavia but the largest number died at the camp in Jarek which ironically was once a picturesque Lutheran village known for its singular beauty.  The following breakdown presents a picture of who the victims in Jarek were:


  1   14 year old boy

  1    1 year old boy

  4   men over 80 years of age

  4   men in their 70s

  8   men in their 60s*

  1   man in his 50s

  6   men with no age listed


25   men and boys died at Jarek                              *Pastor Lanyi was 63 years old


 1    11 year old girl

 1      2 year old girl

 5    women over 80 years of age

11   women in their 70s

19   women in their 60s*

  3   women in their 50s

17   women with no age listed



57    women and girls died at Jarek                         *Pastor Lanyi’s wife was 61 years old


  There were also 5 men and I woman who were shot by the Partisans.  One woman died at the camp in Rudolfsgand.  Two women died at the camp in Gakowa and one man died at the camp in Mitrovica.


Bonyhádvarasd in Tolna County


  This article provides a summary of some of the information provided in Heimatbuch von Bonyhád/Warasch published in Budapest in 1995.


  As the Habsburg rulers responded to the need to resettle, cultivate and develop the wastelands of Hungary after the defeat and withdrawal of the Turks from the scene after their 150 year occupation, they really saw this as investing in their own family estate as well as the Kings of Hungary.  This huge undertaking would require the efforts of three generations of Habsburgs and masses of people with a pioneering spirit.


  For this purpose the Habsburg identified the German peasantry within the Holy Roman Empire, that provided a reservoir of population and economic and technical potential.  The decree of the War Department in Vienna on September 16, 1686 to repopulate Hungary gave birth to the so-called Danube Swabians.  The Commission Neo-Acquistica was established in 1688 by the Emperor Leopold to carry out the repopulation and placed Cardinal Leopold Count Kollonics (1613-1707) at its head.  This Prince of the Church was a clever politician and a Croat who served the Habsburgs well and was unable restrain his hostility towards the Hungarians which was part of his Croatian heritage and his Roman Catholicism’s bitter hatred of all forms of Hungarian Protestantism.


    The Commission had to have an overview of the whole operation.  Not only did they need to settle colonists in the wilderness and devastated land but to determine what lands and estates still had an owner and which land had to be expropriated.  To claim any estates in liberated Hungary the former owner was required to present documented title to the lands in question.  Estates that were not claimed or the owners could not validate their claims became the personal possession of the Crown.


  The largest part of Hungary came into the possession of the Crown and the Emperor gave the largest estates to his many army commanders and trusted courtiers either as a gift for services rendered or allowed them to purchase them.  In this way the loyalty of the nobles to the House of Habsburg was strengthened thereby.  A large portion of what would become Swabian Turkey (Counties of Baranya, Tolna and Somogy) fell into the hands of veteran military commanders and officers of the Army of Liberation and the Hungarian nobles who had remained loyal to the Habsburgs.


  Prince Eugene of Savoy came into possession of the estates of Bellye, Promontor and the island of Csepel, while General Veterani received the estates of Dárda.  The Governor of Croatia a loyal supporter of the Emperor, the Hungarian noble Count Batthyányi made Némétbolly his own principal possession and General Capara set himself up in Siklós.  Count Claudius Florimundus von Mercy purchased Hӧgyész.  The dean of the Cologne cathedral, Philip Ludwig Count Zinzendorf was granted the monastery of Pécsvarad, Count Styrum-Limberg was granted Simontornya, Johann Joseph Count Trautsohn had the abbey in Székszárd from 1718-1757.  Joseph, Count of Hessen, became the Abbot of Fӧldvár, Wilhelm Count Nesselrode became the Bishop of Pécs, and the Counts Wallis had their Tolna estates in their possession.  In addition the Roman Catholic Church and its bishops and abbots were given estates.  Many of the owners sold their landholdings at a very cheap price but seldom found willing buyers.


  As far as the new owners were concerned their estates were dead capital and of no value.  They were extremely interested in securing workers to develop their holdings.  They were the most zealous in promoting the government’s “Re-Population Patent”.  Close behind them were the nobles and the churchmen.  The number of private landowners who recruited German settlers was sizable.  This stretched out for several years even in the midst of the government’s own immigration programme.


  Much of the unsettled land remained in the hands of the Crown.  These empty and vacant lands were referred to as Prädien, Puszta or Kameralgütter that were administered by the Royal Chamber in Vienna.  The activities of the private landlords were overseen by the Hungarian Royal Chamber.  The largest portion of the Crown Lands were in the Banat and the Batschka where private landlords were few and far between.


  The large scale government programme of settlement of Germans in Hungary began after the Peace of Passarovitz in 1718.  The Sava and Danube River formed a natural defence and boundary between the Austrian Monarchy and the Turks in the south.


  The Hungarian parliament passed Law 103 in 1723 to invite free peasants to settle in the unpopulated areas of Hungary and would provide a house lot and land with an exemption from taxes for several years and the Emperor was requested to issue a decree to encourage a massive immigration into Hungary.  The handbills and flyers described the possibilities of a new prosperous life in Hungary with the proviso…”and primarily Roman Catholic people will be accepted.”


  After the liberation of the Banat it was a sparsely settled wilderness covered with swamps, marshes and bogs.  There was little land dry enough to erect a house or shelter of any kind.  The vast stretch of land between the Tisza and the Danube and Morasz Rivers was all Imperial Crown Land.


  The Governor of the Banat, Count von Mercy, had been a Field Marshall in the Army of Eugene of Savoy who earned great honour in the War of Liberation.  He was in charge of the resettlement of the Banat.  The first step for the planned economic development of the land was the draining of the swamps.  The next step was canal building along the Bega and Temes Rivers.  Then settlers were brought in.  They were Germans, Serbs, Croats and some Italians, Spaniards, French and Romanians.  Many died of swamp fever and others left to go back home but despite that fifty settlements were established.


  Von Mercy also brought miners and tradesmen into the Banat.  Silk worms and rice were also cultivated.  Von Mercy put magistrates in place as well as local administrators and good roads were built along with schools in each of the villages.  Temesvár became known as “little Vienna”.  The land was made secure against robbers and brigands.  Border posts were strengthened as well as fortifications against Turkish incursions.


  A renewed Austrian-Turkish war broke out in 1737-1739 and much of the Banat was destroyed and the Habsburgs had to start all over again under Maria Theresia and her chief advisor Anton von Cothmann who worked extensively in the Batschka which would become the richest of the Danube Swabian settlement areas.


  Slavonia was liberated from the Turks by Imperial troops during the 1687 campaign.  On October 5, 1867 Esseg was taken and in 1688 they moved on into Srem.  The Peace of Karlowitz ceded Slavonia and Croatia to Austria.  Later in 1718 Srem was ceded to them in the Peace of Passarowitz.  These lands were also ruled from the Royal Chamber in Vienna.  The nobles had to prove their ownership of their estates.  Few responded.  Many families had died out.  Many were bought out.


  In 1700, Slavonia had a population of 140,000 and Srem was unpopulated.  With the retreat of the Turks most the cities lost a large portion of their population.  As a result tradesmen were invited first and then the farmers.  Peterwardein and Esseg were the first new towns to be re-established.  In 1718 colonists established Semlin.  The area was deeply forested with marsh lands that bred swamp fever.


  The original name of the future Bonyhádvarasd was probably of Serbo-Croatian origin and then was modified into a Hungarian sounding name.  The name itself may be related to the Croatian town of Varazdin on the Drava River or the small Croatian village of Apatvarasd in Baranya County.  Among its future German inhabitants it would be known as Warasch; the closest they could come to pronouncing the Magyarized Slavic name.  In 1900 it was to be renamed Tolnavarasd but ever since the end of 1903 it has bourn the official name of Bonnyhádvarasd.


  Bonyhádvarasd was founded in 1732 and by 1941 it could boast of 140 houses and a resident population of 720 all of whom were German-speaking Roman Catholics.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves.


  During the Turkish occupation of the region many of the nobles who owned estates either fled or the family died out without an heir.  The only exceptions in the area was the Morágy family and former owners such as the Szakadáty, Kalaznay, Csefӧy and Berencsy who were replaced by the Bokta, Bezerédy and Székely families and others.  The Habsburgs took over the “liberated” lands as their own personal estates on the basis of having taken them by “force of arms” which the Neo-Acquistica Commission they had established officially recognized.  If one of the former owners could provide the necessary documentation to regain his estates he had to pay a special fee to cover the costs of “liberation”.  If he could not pay the estate reverted to the Crown.  This was a two edged sword.  Either way the former owner was placed in a precarious position.


  The various owners of the domains that included Varasd were as follows:  the Botka family from approximately 1596 to 1700; Count von Sinzendorf from 1700-1722 and known as the Apar Domain; Count Claudius Florimundus von Mercy and his heirs from 1722-1773 and Count Apponyi and his heirs from 1773-1927.


The Botka Estates


  At the end of the 16th Century, a mercenary soldier serving at the border fortress of Pápa, János Botka von Sléplak founded a new estate-owning family dynasty.  He and his heirs, all of whom were in the military, expanded their estates from Pápa to Batáapáti.


  The most important role in the life of the family was that of his son Ferenc (Francis) who had a good relationship with the Turkish Begs (governors) during the occupation.  While all of the other Hungarian nobles lost their landholdings Ferenc kept his estates and with Turkish support help expand his cattle ranching activities.  The actual running and administration of the estates of the Botkas was carried out by stewards.


  János Botka married the daughter of Peter Huszár, the Commander of the fortress at Pápa which gave him title to numerous villages in Tolna County.  These holdings would be expanded by his offspring.  His heir was his son Ferenc who like his father was a soldier and served at Pápa.  In 1647 he was a representative at the Landtag for Zala County and in 1653 he was the Vice-Governor of Zala County.  He too expanded his land holdings.  He died shortly before 1680 and his three sons divided his estate among themselves.  János, László and Ferenc divided up 25 villages, pusztas, mills and small landholdings in the Counties of Fejér, Somogy and Veszprém as well as in Tolna.  After László’s death his holding were again divided among his brothers.


  The following villages and pusztas (undeveloped open prairies) were ceded to János:  Ban, Reketye, Hӧgyész, Dúzs, Mucsi, Nagy and Kis Vejke, Izmény, Kismányok, Varsád, Závód, Apar and the pusztas known as Kistormás, Udvari, Berény, Papd, Bolyata, Mucsfa, Batáapáti and Vaskapu.


  Ferenc received:  Kis Székely, Egres, Sár Szentlӧrinc, Csefӧ, Püspӧk (Nagy Székely), Alapsa, Pálfa, Varasd, Felsӧ Nána and the pusztas known as Nagy Tormás, Csetény, Szakadát, Kalaznó and Kӧlesd.


  In 1685 only Ferenc was still alive and he inherited all of the combined estates.  These lands would later become the Hӧgyész Domain.


  In 1696 only Kis and Nagy Székely, Mucsi, Závód and Apar were inhabited.  The other villages had been abandoned or destroyed by the Turks during the War of Liberation and the population had fled or been dispersed.  With the depopulation of the region the life of the Middle Ages ended.


  In 1697 Ferenc died and his widow began to sell off the estates and ran into problems with the Neo-Acquistica Commission.  Ferenc’s son, Adam, was a follower of Rákóczy the leader of the Kurucz rebellion against the Habsburgs.  Adam was accused of treason and along with his brother-in-law was beheaded at Sarospatak in 1708.  Only a sister survived and the management of the estates was taken over by Counts Dӧry and Nádasdy.  On April 17, 1700 the widow of Ferenc sold everything to Count Johann Weinhard Wenceslaus Sinzendorf who was a treasury official and royal falconer to the Emperor.


The Sinzendorf Estates


  Little is known about the estates during Sinzendorf’s period of ownership.  In a document dated April 27, 1717 the steward of the estate, Georg Wolfart indicated he wanted to settle the villages of Mucsi, Papd, Csefӧ and the puszta of Dúsz.  Nothing is known of any follow up.  Sinzendorf’s sister, the wife of Count Anton Berchtold, was his heir and she sold the estates claiming they were too far away from them to administer.


Count von Mercy’s Apar Domains


  On April 24, 1722 the Emperor Charles VI validated von Mercy’s purchase of the entire estates of Apar at the Landtag in Pressburg.  The purchase price was 15,000 Forint.  The following villages and pusztas in Tolna County were included:  Nagy Székely, Kiss Székely, Mucsi, Závód and Apar and the following pusztas:  Pálfa, Egres, Sár Szernlӧrincs. Ban, Udvari, Kӧlesd, Kistormás, Nagytormás, Felsӧ Nána, Batátapáti, Kismányok, Izmény, Alapsa, Mucsfa, Varasd, Hӧgyész, Szakadát and Kalaznó.


  They were officially turned over to Count von Mercy on May 7, 1722 by the Sinzendorf’s steward and administrator.


  On June 30, 1722 Count von Mercy’s adopted son and his heirs were made his legal heirs.  Following the validation of the purchase by the Emperor there were numerous protests and complaints lodged against it but none of them reached the courts.  One of the Botka heirs had a good case but von Mercy settled out of court in 1727 before it ever went to trial.  The Count paid up to 6,000 Forint (almost half of the purchase price.)


  Regardless of the documentation of the sale, Kiss and Nagy Székely, Ban and Udvári never became part of the von Mercy Hӧgyész based domains.  A month prior to the agreement between von Mercy and Sinzendorf a side deal had been made with Count Maximilian Styrum-Limburg who provided him with a gift of 1,700 Forint for these communities that became part of his Simontornya estate.  He had been one of the Commanders of the army of Ludwig of Baden during the War of Liberation.


  The Counts von Mercy would become the major colonizers of Tolna County in the decades ahead.  The third and final Count was a diplomat and wanted nothing to do with the military unlike his two predecessors. Nor were his estates in Tolna County of any interest to him.  As a result he sought to sell them.  Maria Theresia initially opposed the sale but was eventually won over and on June 12, 1773 Count Georg Apponyi purchased the Domain for 700,000 Gulden.


  It was shortly after the purchase of the Domain that the settlement of Varasd had its early beginnings.  A document compiled by officials in the administration of Tolna County reports the following in the year 1732:


  “The newly settled village of Varasd first began with the arrival of Johannes Spill who had previously been registered at Lengyel and Niolaus Muttz who arrived earlier in Kiss Dorog in 1724 and had been registered there for taxation purposes.  Michael Spann and Georg Rell from Mucsi who were both registered there in the conscription records and Jacob Plumoschain who came to Hungary from Germany in 1729 have lived here ever since.  In April of 1732 Conrad Jacob, Michael Krajtess, Peter Rass, Ludwig Jacob (a shoemaker) Matthias Piegle and Jacob Szaor (Sauer) came from Germany.


  A later document in the Tolna County archives lists the colonists in Varasd in 1770 as follows beginning with those with sessions of land:  Carl Walter, Peter Windischmann, Christian Hainzler, Matthias Rapp, Johannes Majer, Joseph Schunkarth, Joseph Tressler, Christian Schaub, Peter Morian, Marcus Lill, Joseph Fajerstadler, Jakob Keller, Adam Windischmann, Johann Georg Fajerstadler, Wilhelm Jung, Johannes Feirstein, Nicoalus Miller, Nicolaus Roth, Mathias Rang, Theobald Saller, Heinrich Aibeck, Theobald Lill, Heinrich Majer, Peter Hammer, Johannes Szaller, Antony Aibeck, Thaddeus Rapp, Johannes Walter, Sebsstian Czinner, Franciscus Guth, Sebastian Faczi, Johannes Bengh, Michael Lill, Baltasarus Potsli, Simon Koller, Michael Pelcz, Jospeh Tobler, Philip Wolcz, Wilhelm Peringer, Jakob Marschall, Martin Frey, Heinrich Ponner, Johann Georg Schmidt, Peter Aipeck, Johannes Czinner, Philip Thall, Laurentius Thebes, Georg Czinner, Ludwig Hepp, Andreas Kaiser, Thomas Thall and Erasmus Roth.


  The cotters (tradesmen with house but no land) included:  Michael Stainer, Johannes Marx, Andreas Kupfer, Gaspar Brandt, Johannes Gottlieb, Antonius Kuhl, Johannes Keller, Johannes Ernhauser, Nicolaus Pell, Jacob Lehmann, Franciscus Pereth, Johannes Keller, Johannes Kaiser, Nicolaus Miller, Nicolaus Strasser, Peter Riegert, Johann Georg Plesz and Joseph Marschall.


  The day labourers:  Michael Miller, Antonius Entz, Adam Becker, Michael Lauffer, Johannes Pell, Johannes Faczius, Fiedelius Schutz, Martin Wesser, Bernhard Pauer, Christoph Schmitt and Michael Treger (community miller).


  The question with regard to the places of origin of the settlers is difficult to determine but some research has discovered that some of them came from Württemberg:  Johann Hilarius Walther from Dormettinger, Martin Walther from Erlaheim, Simon Koller from Seitingen, Martin Reich from Erlaheim, Gregor Seeburger from Egesheim, Michael Krumm from Wurmlingen and Jacob Streicher from Denkingen.  It has also been established that the Lill family came from the Rheinland-Pfalz (Palatinate).  There were also families from the Black Forest, Franconia, Fulda and Hessen.


  What was important for the successful colonization of Swabian Turkey during the 18th Century was that private settlement was left in the hands of the nobles and estate owners.  They turned over their land to the colonists to develop an economic base for their estates.  At first they received a share of their crops and incomes and later monetary equivalents.  They also had a work force to cultivate and harvest their own crops and herd their swine and livestock.  The population increased rapidly and land began to run out and it was no wonder that the earlier settlers complained when newly arrived settlers appeared on the scene.  In fact, they made official protests.  More and more petitions and protests were made with no real results.  Dissatisfied settlers left and sought a better deal elsewhere.  A large scale migration into neighbouring regions began.  The quarrels between the peasants and nobles grew in their intensity.  Violence broke out in some cases.  The major issue for the peasant farmers was the fact that they had to carry the whole burden and weight of taxes from which the Hungarian nobles were exempt.


  The difficulties of the peasants were recognized by the Empress Maria Theresia after countless protests brought the matter to her attention.  Against the wishes of the Landtag she proceeded to implement regulations that were biding on all agreements between peasants and landlords.  Swabian Turkey was the initial target of her regulations that went into effect in 1767.  She sought to stabilize a volatile situation.  The new agreements identified the duties of both the peasant and the landlord in order to protect the peasants from the nobles.  The peasants now had a right to the land they worked and could not be driven off of it by the landlord nor could the landlord determine what crops were to be planted or what use the peasant put to the land.  On March 21, 1767 representatives from the village of Varasd appeared before the County Administrator and were granted an audience but were threatened with bodily punishment if they did not sign the contract  that had been issued to them with its nine points.  To all intents and purposes their agreement of 1736 still remained in effect.  The following representative signed the Urbarium:  Carl Valter, Theobald Lill, Matthias Rang, Michael Pelcz, Anton Ajpek and Remigius Wolfer.  Carl Valter was identified as the Richter (head man in the village).


  Before the emancipation of the serfs took place in Hungary as a result of the Revolution of 1848, there were additional changes in the lot of the peasants during the reign of Joseph II.  In 1785 he granted the right of all peasants to migrate and move without the consent of their landlords.  The peasant no longer required the consent of the landlord to marry and he could chose whatever occupation he desired without the need for the landlord’s approval.  In terms of any complaints about his position as a subject of his landlord the peasant could appeal to the Emperor directly or the County officials.


Religious Life


  The occupation of Hungary by the Turks was seen as a punishment from God.  With the liberation of Pécs, the Bishop of the city and diocese, Padanaj, ordered the conversion of all of the local populations.  He brought in Jesuits for this purpose and countless individuals were baptized in the area around the city which included 44 villages.  It is estimated that 15,000 were brought back into the Church of Rome.  (Translator’s Note:  They were primarily Hungarian Calvinists (Reformed) and Serbian Orthodox.)


  On March 13, 1714 the Bishop of Pécs, Wilhelm von Nesselrode ordered all of the clergy in the diocese to report to his palace in the city for a Council.  He sought to determine the numbers of priests in the diocese, the number in training, the parishes with priests and where ruined churches were located.  The names of all of the participants are listed as well as those who had absented themselves.  There were 17 parishes and priests and 5 seminarians most of whom were in Baranya County.


  But there is also a note to the effect that one priest was present from Tevel in Tolna County, Heinrich Mak, who had no church.  The area had been abandoned but German settlers from Swabia were arriving and had brought their own priest with them and were now building their houses.


  According to local researchers the first church built in Varasd was wood in construction with a reed roof and was erected in 1755.  It was dedicated to St. James.  In 1793 at the personal cost of the villagers and some financial support of Count Apponyi a new church was erected as well as a rectory.  The village congregation became a recognized self sustaining parish in 1804.  The first resident priest was Johann Néméth.


World War II and Its Aftermath


  The villagers were divided in two camps and of two opinions.  Those who belonged to the Volksbund (Translator’s Note:  Nazi front organization) and those whose first loyalty was to their Hungarian homeland.  There were ten families of this opinion and belonged to the Loyalty Movement:  Treu zur Heimat.  The two groups avoided public quarrels as much as possible in light of the political situation in Hungary.


  With the full co-operation of the Hungarian government a first recruitment drive for volunteers to serve in the SS was carried out by the Volksbund in 1942.  There were six volunteers from Varasd.  In the second recruitment drive in 1943 there were two.  These were meagre results after a massive propaganda campaign by the Volksbund and its leader Franz Basch.  All of the volunteers came from poor families.  They were promised economic benefits and they knew they also faced a call up to serve in the Hungarian Army.  They would rather serve under German leadership.  It was unthinkable that a farmer’s son would volunteer to go to fight in a far off war when there was ploughing to do, crops to plant and a harvest to bring in.


  After the German occupation of Hungary in March 1944 the third SS recruitment drive go under way.  This was not a voluntary recruitment.  All men between the ages of 17 to 62 years were conscripted into the Waffen-SS.  On August 10, 1944 the first of the young men were called up to report for duty.  During August there were 72 young men who were called up  and on October 1st 20 older men received their orders.  As one of these older men put it:  “We old monkeys are Hitler’s new fangled secret weapons we always hear about.”  There were a few men who managed to be accepted into the Hungarian Army.  In all 32 men from Varasd lost their lives on the front in the Second World War.


  The Russians arrived in Varasd on November 30, 1944.  The day before Pécs had fallen.  At the beginning of December, Kaposvár fell next.  By mid-December Budapest was surrounded.  The ancient capital of Hungary, Szekésfehevár, would hold out until March 22, 1945.


  November 30, 1944 was a Thursday when the Russians arrived.  There was a light rain.  Low dark clouds.  Individual Hungarian soldiers passed through the village heading for Tevel.  They yelled:  “Hurry!  Hide yourselves!”  While they shouted they shot off their rifles into the air.  The villagers hid in their cellars.  No fighting took place.


  Varasd was spared the deportation to slave labour in the Soviet Union, although men and women were taken to Kisdorog on January 2, 1945.  They were taken there by horse and wagon.  Arriving at the town hall they waited for an hour when they were told to go home because the Russian officer in charge of the operation had been called to serve on the front.  In returning home they had no idea that they had missed the convoy of hundreds of young German men and women from the area who were being transported to the labour camps in Russia.


  On April 26th Varasd was surrounded by Hungarian police from the neighbouring villages.  The entire German population was forced to assemble at the outdoor stations of the cross on a prominent hill by the village cemetery.  The Volksbund members were segregated from the others and taken to Lengyel and imprisoned there in the Apponyi castle.  On the next day April 27th the first of the Csango families from eastern Hungary arrived and took over their homes, livestock and property.  This was also happening in the ten other German villages in the vicinity where 1,500 of these families were resettled.  In May more of them arrived.  New lists were drawn up with the names of those to be dispossessed of their property not only some remaining Volksbund members but all of those families who had claimed German was their mother tongue during the nefarious  Census of 1941.


  During Mass on Ascension Day, the Hungarian parish priest warmly welcomed the Csango who were now the “new owners” of Varasd.  “My brothers, the Lord God has given you a new home and houses all of your own.”  But he offered no word of comfort for those Germans in the parish whom he assumed must have deserved to be thrown out of their homes.


  On June 6th the village was surrounded by Hungarian police again.  All of the remaining Germans were assembled and about forty were taken and interned at the Lengyel castle.  After five or six days most of them returned having found it easy to escape from there.  Despite all of what was happening the Germans continued working their fields.  The harvest began in July and so did the quarrelling with the new residents.  


  Seventeen of the men had managed to return home after the war.  By September there were fifteen more who had returned.  Many of them were among those who had been interned or had to report to the police each week.  They were often arrested at night and were charged with whatever they wanted and were put in jail for a few days.  During October, November and December the Csango went berserk.  They got drunk, looted homes, robbed people on the streets, threw people out of their houses and beat them.  On All Saints Day they priest remembered the dead in Bukovina at Mass but he did not acknowledge that any of the local Germans had died in the war.  By the end of the year 48 men had returned home from the war.


  In January 1946 the local German population were told that all of the Germans in Hungary would be driven out of the country.  In the neighbouring villages all former German soldiers were assembled and interned.  The Csango went wild again.  In April the first survivors from the labour camps in Russia from the neighbouring villages came home and the numbers that had died were astounding.  In June the expulsions began.


  On July 3, 1946 the Germans in Tevel were loaded onboard cattle cars.  They went as far as Linz in Austria where the American military refused to accept them and they were sent back to Hungary.  But they did not return home.  They were taken to Hajos, then to  Bacsalmas and on to Nemesnadudor.  They were in transit for a month.  Then the expulsions ceased.  There were 23 more men who returned home from the war as more and more people were driven from their homes.


  During 1947 and 1948 the Hungarians who had been expelled from Slovakia took up residence in the remaining homes of the Germans.


  On August 19, 1947 the beating of drums on the street corners in Varasd announced the expulsions would begin again.  They had two hours to pack.  They were taken to Hidas in open trucks to the railway station.  They headed for Pirna in Saxony.  Of the remaining German population in Varasd, 320 had been sent into exile.  The second group of expellees from Varasd would leave on February 29, 1948.     

Mágocs a Market Town in Baranya County


  The following information finds its source in “Mágocs Markt-Gemeinde in der Branau/Baranya” by Franz Teufel published in Gӧppingen in the winter of 1991/92 and portions of it are my translation of the text.


  During the 13th Century the monastery of Mágocs was established with St. Peter as its patron in 1251.  By 1333 it was part of the diocese of Pécs and during the episcopate of Bishop Klimo (Gyӧrgy) documents were sent to the Vatican with regard to Mágocs along with an interest payment.  In 1355 we learn of a dispute over a small parcel of land between Mark the Abbot of Mágocs and a rival Abbot of Abram that was settled by the Superior Court Judge of Tolna County.  Mágocs lost the case.


  The oldest known feudal nobles in the late Middle Ages who owned land in the area were the Hungarian noble family of Bodó.  Their rise to power began with the settlement of Gyӧrgyi.  In the reign of Matthias Corvinus (1458-1490) Gaspar and Gregor were the head of the family and were known as Bodós after 1455.  The family was awarded land grants by King Ladislaus in 1510 that included Gyӧrgyi, Hajmas, Egyhazakozár, Varjas, Olaszfalu, Hab, Geréngyes, Tӧttós, Konyafalu and Vaszvár.  In 1518, Louis II signed the verification of their title to the lands.


  In 1526 young King Louis II lost his life at the Battle of Mohács with the Turks.  Now began the most tragic period in Hungarian history.  The Hungarian nobles rallied around John Szaplyai, the Prince of Transylvania and elected him king.  He was crowned on November 11. 1536 as John I.  At the Conference of Hainburg (between Pressburg and Vienna) the widowed Queen Maria of Hungary and her brother, the Archduke Ferdinand of Habsburg agreed that he would support her claim to the throne of Hungary on the basis of her marriage agreement of 1515 even if armed force had to be used to assert the Habsburg rights to the throne.  John I had no real claim to the throne.  The Pressburg Landtag (parliament) elected Ferdinand as King of Hungary on December 17, 1526 and was crowned on November 3, 1527 in Hungary almost a year later.


  On January 27, 1528 the Turkish Sultan, Suleiman, recognized John I as the King of Hungary and promised him assistance against the Habsburgs.  Two hundred years of tragedy would now follow.  The current head of the House of Bodós, Francis ensconced at Gyӧrgyi sided with John I.  He suffered personal defeat at the hands of the Habsburgs and he was forced to give up his title and lands to his son Wolfgang (Farkas).  His estates were devastated in the ensuing warfare and his income decreased annually.  In 1544 the last of the Bodós fled from their fortress of Anyavár that was besieged by the Turks.  He found refuge at Gyӧrgyi the ancient seat of the family estate.  Nothing is known of his death.  His oldest sister, Anna, inherited what remained of the family estate.  She was married to Bendedict Bajoni of Bihar.  She arranged for their oldest son, John, to serve in the border region with Somogy County.  He was to benefit from his mother’s new estates inherited from the Bodós.  In 1560 he came to Szigetvár to join and serve under Zrinyi Miklós in his tax revolt.


  As a result of the peace treaty between the Habsburgs and the Turks, Tolna County had to pay taxes to the Turkish Sultan but private taxes still had to be paid to the nobles.  The Hungarian nobles could continue to demand taxes of their serfs even if they had fled their domains and were now under Turkish rule.  Often force and brutality were used to raise these taxes while Turkish and Hungarian brigands roamed the countryside and plundered the peasant  population to an utter state of degradation and poverty.


  The occupiers of Szigetvár also carried out these kinds of raids.  They put Esseg to the torch as well as Pécs and the area all the way to the Danube and devastated and looted the estates of Battai and Székszárd abbeys.  At this point young John Bajoni came into his own.  The many rewards, captured women, the fiery wine of Srem, the freebooter life of soldiery, the hunt, the booty suited him well.  He soon forgot his own interests were at variance with the interests of the revolt and Zrinyi and his ally Allia Matyas.  He was forced to sign an agreement whereby he gave up half of his estates to Allia Matyas and the second half as well after his death.  He later said the agreement was null and void because duress was used and his married sister Szafia was his heir


  On September 8, 1566 the fortress of Szigetvár fell to the Turks and Zrinyi, Allia and Bodós perished in the siege.  The estates of Bodós went to his sister Szafia.  Because the estates were located far away and in Turkish held territory and there was little contact between the owners and the subject tenants their ongoing neglect hastened the estates in becoming a wasteland.


  Bosnyak Tamas, the Vice Governor of Hont County and commander of the fortress at Fülek, married Szafia’s daugher Maria.  On studying the documentation of his wife’s dowry he became aware of the sizeable estates he could claim if the Turks were ever driven out of southern Hungary.  He was determined to regain the estates.  He sought the aid of men of importance who “owed” him.  He sold Gyӧrgyi and its filial communities to Turós Miklós, who was commander of the fortress at Kiskomarom for 100 Thaler.  This was sold with the understanding that the estate could not be sold to anyone else except Bosnyak and for the same price of 100 Thaler.  He also tried to do the same with his Tolna estates approaching Zichy Pal, the captain of the fortress at Veszprem.  In 1623 the captain replied:  “I would like to meet your wishes but what can I do?  The Turks have blocked all of the roads.  You can judge for yourself that there is no real value to be gained by such a “takeover” on my part.”  Bosnyak’s death occurred prior to the liberation of Hungary.  He had no male heir.  His daughter, the wife of the very rich Balassa Imre had no interest in the Bodós lands.  Turós Miklós then sold the Gyӧrgy estate with its filials:  Hajmas, Varjas, Olaszfalu, Hab, Gerényes, Konyaflu and others to Laskay Andras the second in command of the fortress in Pápa.


  The area around Gyӧrgyi was a wasteland.  The small surrounding settlements were destroyed.  Some of the inhabitants had fled.  The greater part of the population had died as a result of the warfare and the plague which followed.  This situation would last until the liberation in 1683 that began with the Turkish defeat at the siege of Vienna and then their headlong flight back into Hungary pursued by the Imperial Army of the Habsburgs.


  On September 2, 1686 Buda was liberated by forces led by Margrave Louis of Baden and on September 23rd his forces captured Simontornya and moved on into the area of the Bodós estates and took Pécs on October 14, 1686.  The army remained there in winter quarters and in the Spring of 1687 the campaigned resumed.  With the siege and battle of Harsany on August 12, 1687 under the command of Charles of Lorraine all of Swabian Turkey (Tolna, Baranya and Somogy Counties) was liberated.  The second Battle of Mohács followed under the command of Maximilian of Bavaria and Prince Eugene of Savoy and in the future all conflict would be to the south and south east.


   Now it was time for peace in the beleaguered land but not yet!  The Imperial War Office was in control but the County administrations would soon be re-established.  The presence of the military slowed down normalization.  Their need for provisions and supplies to continue their campaign against the Turks was expensive.  The wasteland in which they were quartered could not provide for their support.  The surviving population had to bear the burden.  There was simply no opportunity to make a new beginning and redevelop the land.  From the tax records dated 1542 it can be estimated that there were about 110 families in Mágocs and the surrounding villages at that time.  Whether the decimation of this population was a result of death or flight is unknown.  During the Turkish occupation they were replaced with Orthodox Serbian settlers.  Dӧbrӧkӧz became the centre of Orthodoxy in the area.


  The tax lists from 1542, 1559 and 1565 identify the existing communities in the area.


  In 1542 there was Magocz, as it was then called, and the ancient abbey which had two full sessions of land.  The houses were all abandoned by the former residents who had fled out of fear of the Turks.  In Gyӧrgy the 29 houses had also been abandoned for the same reason.  Bekatho was abandoned.  Konyafalva was abandoned and would become the future Csikostӧttӧs.  Hab, Kapas, Naaghag (Nagy Ág), Gherenyes (Gerényes) and Thelkes (future Tékes) were owned by the Bodós and had also been abandoned.


  In 1559 there is only mention made of Macochi (Mágocs) and Hagmas (Nagyhajmas) while in the tax list of 1565 there is only Naghagh (Nagy Ág) and the owner listed is Wolfgang Bodós.


  Following the expulsion of the Turks a registration of villages was undertaken in 1695 and 1696 by the Imperial Government working out of Pécs.  In 1696 the following villages were listed:  Mágocs was owned by the Paulist Fathers of Pápa.  All of its inhabitants were Serbs and belonged to the Orthodox Church.  There were 13 families. Mocsolad’s owners were unknown.  Serbs lived there having come after the Turks had occupied the area.  There were four families.  All of them were Orthodox.  Ráckajmas was owned by the Karachicks from Tihany.    The village was inhabited by Croats who were Roman Catholic.  There were 8 families.  In all likelihood this is an error and they were probably Serbs and were Orthodox.  Bikal was owned by the Bishop of Raab and all of the inhabitants were Serbs who were Orthodox.  There were 6 families.


  Peace was an illusion.  The chief areas of renewed military conflict were along the Danube.  The ancient highway–Via Begia–leading to Buda from Esseg made its way through Mohács-Pécs-Magyarszék-Dombovár and Szekésfehervár.  The population in Swabian Turkey consisted mainly of Magyars and several Slavic groups.  But there were also Germans in eight districts.  In Babarc there were eight families, Szajka had twenty-seven.  Lovaszhétney had seventeen families and in Pécsvár there were nine.  Siklós had one and Szabar had twenty-two.  Varkay had four families and in Pécs there were seventy-nine.  There were a total of 185 German families.


  The losses that resulted because of the war and the economic situation led to hostility between the Hungarians and the Slavs.  The Slavs had played an important role in the Imperial Army that carried out the liberation.  The Habsburgs sought their future military support in the Balkans and they would become their allies against the Rákóczy rebels between 1702-1712 as well as against Thӧkӧly during the uprising he led.


  During the liberation, Hungarian units plundered and damaged Slavic villages at will.  In addition there was also the Roman Catholic-Orthodox issue that fuelled the animosity between them.  The Orthodox Patriarch, Csernovics Arzen, arrived in Hungary with 30,000 Serbs fleeing the Turks.  On August 2, 1690 he received an imperial letter that granted his people freedom to practice their religion and this was a thorn in the flesh to the newly reorganized Roman Catholic bishopric of Pécs.  All of this would lead to the expulsion of the Serbs from Dӧbrӧkӧz in 1699.  Not long afterwards, the Bishop of Pécs, Radonay Matya, ordered the expulsion of all the Serbs in the city in 1700.  It was the same year that the plague broke out in the settlements of southern Hungary.  The People’s War of Liberation broke out against the Habsburgs led by Rákóczy Francis II who left exile in Galicia on June 16, 1703 and returned to Hungary.


  He named Karolyi Sándor, the former Sheriff of Szatmár County, as the commander of the uprising in Swabian Turkey even though he had fought against him previously.  The Kurucz sought freedom from the Habsburgs but their secondary motive was booty.  There was a lack of any real discipline in the rebel army.  Military operations were sporadic with no major planning involved.  It was guerrilla warfare.   They destroyed the village of Nyhilas on the estates of Paul Esterházy.  It had been settled by Germans and Hungarians who they drove out of the area.  On January 11, 1704 the rebel army crossed the frozen Danube at Dunafӧldvár.  They took the road to Dӧbrӧkӧz, past Dombovár to Pécs.


  At the end of January the city was sealed from the outside world under the command of Sándor Laszlo.  The citizens of the city had attempted to remain neutral.  The rebels demanded a ransom to be paid and several hostages.  The city refused.  The rebels stormed the walls of Pécs on February 1, 1704 and began a day long series of slaughter and savage butchery.  The tragedy that took place was pieced together by seventy eye witnesses.  Sixty of the Hungarians in the city were killed.  The forty citizens who made up the City Council were killed in the town hall.  Its members were Germans, Hungarians and Serbs.  In total there were 700 victims in the city.


  At the end of March the Austrian troops in the area were joined by units of Serbs who served on the frontier.  Under the leadership of their officers they attacked Pécs and murdered the citizens and plundered the city.  As a result of the latest massacre the blame for it was attributed to the Orthodox clergy.  The surrounding vicinity suffered the same fate as the city.  In the census of 1712, Pécs reported a total of 119 citizens and 84 cottage owners.  That was only ten per cent of the population that had been previously recorded.


  The Peace of Szatmár signed on April 30, 1711 ended the tragic war.  Rákóczy fled to Poland.  The House of Habsburg was now declared the perpetual heir to the throne of Hungary and Charles VI was crowned Charles III of Hungary.  During the next decades there were disputes between the counties of Tolna and Baranya over their jurisdictions and boundaries and some communities were assessed taxes by both.  Mágocs was eventually declared to be part of Baranya.


  On June 19, 1719 a superior of the Pécs abbey proceeded to Pressburg to lay claim to the estates of the monastery in Gyӧrgyi which at the time was the Puszta Gyӧrgen, the estate of Mágocs and the pusztas of Nagy Hajmas and Hossziszo.  Approval was quickly forthcoming and the Emperor Charles VI signed the decree on September 1, 1719 and the estates were handed over to the Paulist Fathers of Pécs.  The Baranya County assembly validated the decree a year later.  The estate had no real economic value or much in the way of a population.  In 1716 it had still been designated an unpopulated puszta.  In 1718 there were seven Slavic families in Gyӧrgyi.  Hosszinszo was abandoned.  There was a need for settlers to develop the estates.  Special concessions were made to would-be- settlers such as a reduction in the amount of robot (free labour) they would have to provide and four years of exemption from taxation.


  All of the first settlers were Hungarians except for Johannes Albert.  Their former home communities are unknown to us.  But the names are related to the western Tolna and Lutherans in south eastern Somogy County.  Many of the original settlers later moved on in search of “a better deal” being offered somewhere else.  There was no resident priest or church but there was a lay preacher, Stephen Deák, who was probably Lutheran or Reformed.  When monks came they celebrated Mass in homes.  A congregation evolved as a filial of Bikal.  In the canonical visitation of the area in 1721 Mágocs is not even mentioned.  In the visitation of the Vasardombo parish in 1729, Mágocs was visited on March 29, 1729.  There was a local teacher, Gregor Miskloczi.  He was 35 years old, a Slovak and spoke Latin, Hungarian, Polish, Slovak and German.  His handwriting was average.  He was convert from Lutheranism and taught in Mágocs for one year.


  On the basis of the records he kept by 1730 there were additional German families who had settled in Mágocs and included Johannes Heil and his wife Catharina, Johann Adam Trapp, Carl Trapp,  Anna Catharina Trapp, Johannes Melter and his wife Catharina.  Others soon followed.  1734 Michael Hop.  1736 Hilarius Gruler and Catharina Sterz, Valentine Csais and Maria, Ignatius Rotter and Julianna and Nikolaus Martin.  1739 Joseph Martin and Maria Magdalena Zinzendorf, Peter Henner and Barbara, Johannes Henner, Catharina Henner, Friedrich Hamm and Elisabeth and Johannes Wolfgang Hamm.  The following arrived in 1740:  Johannes Higele, Heinrich Resch and Christina, Johannes Huck and Elisabeth Bair, Johannes Adam Sipl and Catharina Maurer, Johannes Klotz and Anna Fronler, Johannes Richtebald and Margaret Schneider, Matthias Trautner and Salome, Joseph Trautner and Catharina, Johannes Heinrich Kollmann and Catharina, Valentine Streit, Maria Magdalena Streit, Caspar Johannes Stegner, Adam Pidner and Elisabeth, Gabriel Paumann and Margaretha Streit.


  Those who arrived in 1741 were Philipp Nusspam and Anna Barbara Till, Georg Thuren and Catharina, Jakob Henn and Catharina, Georg Matthias Niedermaier and Regina, Bartolomeus Turchlholtz and Maria, Matthias Gartner and Anna, Anton Gartner and Agnes, Johann Adam Hohmann and Christina Hartmann, Caspar Michel and Elisabeth, Johannes Stumm, Carl Stumm and Anna Maria. 


  The new arrivals in 1742 included Heinrich Essinger and Christina, Johannes Schneider and Maria Magdalena, Valentine Halker and Magdalena, Adam Corneli and Anna Margaretha, Balthasar Hoff, Andreas Paur and Franzsika, Adam Hartung and Margaretha and Johannes Totenbir.


  Another group arrived in 1743 and included the following:  Dominik Czimmermann and Magdalena, Hans Georg Czimmermann and Catharina Matris, Nikolaus Pan or Pon and Maria Catharina, Johannes Heinrich and Anna Maria Kollmann, Georg Heinrich and Margareth Trapp, Johannes Adam Schlegl and Anna Maria, Johannes Schmitt, Sebastian Schmitt, Joachim Schmitt, Anna Maria Hoffmann, Johann Matthias Hoffmann, Nikolaus Hoffmann, Balthasar Inhof and Elisabeth.


  There were the following who settled here in 1744:  Martin Pronner and Agatha Sauter, Johann Michael Pronner and Margareth Stengl, Michael Eisenach and Anna Reder, Johannes Aicher and Catharina Carl, Laurentius Kirsch and Catharina Friedmacher, Johannes Kolber, Matthias Kolber and Anna, Sebastian Edelsesser and Elisabeth, Joseph Eczel and Maria Jacobi, Johann Georg Eczel and Anna Maria, Jacob Sauter, Joseph Sauter and Margareth, Hans Georg Sauter and Clara, Laurentius Schumann and Margareth Dietrich.


  There were an additional seven families who arrived in 1745 and included:  Johannes Hartung and Apollonia Stock, Johann Heinrich Michl and Maria Higeli, Georg Genczler and Elisabeth Wittinger, Johannes Foregger and Helena Sauter, Hans Maier and Elisabeth, Leopold Saitel and Catharina, Antonius Gartner and Agnes.


  The vast majority of these settlers had their origins in the Schwarwald (Black Forest) region of south western-Germany in proximity to Oberndorf, Schӧmberg, Fridingen, Tuttlingen, Villingen and Schramberg in the vicinity of the town of Rottweil which was the major population centre.  They came from  33 communities spread across this region. 


  Masses were irregular.  The function of baptism was carried out by the teacher because of the distance to the nearest priest.  He could also marry, as long as half of the fee went to the priest in Bikal.  He also did funerals.  The congregation consisted of Germans, Croats and Polish-speaking people in addition to the Hungarians.  They were registered in the parish records in Bikal  beginning in 1729.  By and large it appears that the different nationalities lived separately.  The Hungarians lived in Mágocs, the Croats were in Bikal, the Serbs in Hajmas and mainly Hungarians in Mocsolád.  After 1730 there was intermarriage between the Slavs in Bikal and Hajmas.  According to the visitation of 1733 the two towered church in Mágocs is fully described and it is reported that there were thirty-three married couples living in the village.


  1735 was an important year for Mágocs and its development.  The new Urbarial contract with their landlord, the Paulist Fathers, was signed.  It had thirteen points to it.  They dealt with robot, hunting, rents, cutting the landowner’s grass, providing horses for his use, providing one ninth of crops and produce from gardens, free access to acorns in the forest for forage for swine, the operation of a butcher shop and pub and division of their profits and fines for various infringements on the rights of noble are listed.


  In October of 1740 Emperor Charles VI died and was succeeded by his daughter Maria Theresia who was crowned in June of 1742.  The settlement of the estates of the Paulists now proceeded much more rapidly.  This included Hungarians and large groups of German colonists who settled in Mágocs.  A resident priest was assigned in 1742 by Bishop Sigismund Berenyi of Pécs.  There were confrontations with him followed by a  quick succession of other priests due to the demands of the landlords (the Paulist Order) to which the settlers refused to comply.  There was one priest sided with the people and was quickly despatched to Paks by the head of the Order.


  In 1756 a canonical visitation was carried out on September 13th by the diocesan ordinary, Bishop Georg Klimó.  The population had increased to 1,500 but the church was a mess.  It looked like a sheep stall according to the Bishop.


  On December 29, 1766 the Empress Maria Theresia decreed that official Urbarial contracts be developed in the counties of Vas, Zala, Sopron, Somogy, Tolna and Baranya.  The nobles and Landtag (Hungarian parliament) were opposed and tried to stall the Empress.  Complaints from the peasants flooded the offices of the Empress and the peasants became restless and threatened the nobles.  The Empress proceeded with her plans in 1767.  The Urabarial contract in Mágocs involved over 100 German and 66 Hungarian families.  By 1785 there were 363 houses in the village with 2,394 inhabitants.


  At the turn of the century there was a mobilization ordered by the County to defend the frontiers of Hungary against the French.  Many of the villagers answered the call to arms.  They returned home in the Spring of 1801 following the signing of the peace treaty with Napoleon and no major military conflict had occurred.  In 1807 inflation was on the increase across the Empire.  Drought that summer resulted in a poor harvest and then cholera raged from December to March of the next year.  All of this had very serious consequences for the families in Mágocs.


  In 1809 another French threat loomed on the horizon and another mobilization was ordered which the people resented because of the loss of young workers in the fields.  Napoleon occupied Vienna in the Spring and set up his headquarters in the Emperor’s palace at Schӧnbrunn.  His troops invaded Hungary and took Pressburg and the subsequent Battle of Raab resulted in another Habsburg defeat.  Napoleon occupied Gyӧr on September 1st.  In the subsequent Fall a peace conference in Vienna ended the conflict and the soldiers from Mágocs came home once more.


  In 1848 as revolution broke out across western Europe, Hungary was not immune but with it there was also an outbreak of anti-Semitism in Baranya County.  Revolutionary mobs in the streets forced the City Council of Pécs to expel its Jewish population on March 27, 1848.  They were given three days to leave.  There were forty families involved.  They closed their stores and shops and withdraw from public view.  The Vice- Governor of the County rescinded the order on the basis of the Law of 1840 which had guaranteed government protection to the Jewish population.  He hoped to stabilize the situation and threatened to punish anyone who disobeyed the law.


  The dissatisfaction and hostility of the mob now turned on the nobles and estate owners.  In April local elections were held and 3,000 gathered at Mágocs to do so.  The electoral district of Mágocs included 58 communities with a population of 31,430:  Mágocs 3,525, Bikal 1,042, Gerényes 569, Csikostӧttós 937, Hajmas 1,077.  They elected Valentine Perczl as their representative.  He ran unopposed.


  In July the National Guard (Honvéd) was recruited by the revolutionaries now in control of the government in Budapest.  The County administration called for 900 men from the  Mágocs district.  On July 4, 1848 the recruits marched through the streets of Pécs to the accompaniment of music and much fanfare.  There would be no major military actions in the area in the ill-fated revolution against the Habsburgs which led to the repressions that followed while the Hungarians smarted under the loss of their attempt to secure their independence from Austrian and Habsburg rule.


  In the official government census of 1857 there was a total population of 3,570 in Mágocs of whom 3,278 were Roman Catholic, 83 were Lutheran and 209 were Jewish.  Later in the census of 1884/1885 Magocs had a population of 3,620, Nagy Hajmas 1,092, Bikal 1,145, Gerényes 696, Csikostӧttós 1,319, Nagy Ág 527, Tékes 573.  Another census taken in 1870/1873 in Baranya County reported that there were 191 communities whose population was entirely Hungarian; 72 communities were entirely German; 15 communities were entirely Croat and 73 communities had a mixed population.  The census of 1898 indicates that of Mekényes’ population of 1,244 inhabitants, 1,180 were German.  In Nagy Hajmas of its 1,161 inhabitants, 887 were German.  Racozar reported a population of 1,447 of whom 1,400 were German while in Nagy Ág there were 570 inhabitants and 454 were German.


  When the First World War ended in 1918 there were a total of 124 men from Mágocs who had fallen in battle, were missing or died as prisoners of war in Russia.  The Treaty of Trianon would dismember the ancient Kingdom of Hungary and it would remain a “rump” of its former glory.  The internal conflicts this caused gave birth to the Red Republic under Béla Kun in 1919.  At the end of March the first “Red Regiment” of the new regime was mustered in Kaposvár in nearby Somogy County.  This 1,200 men force was also known as Klumpa’s Ezred (wooden shoe regiment) by the populace because the soldiers wore their own private footwear.  And the German population was known for their Klumpen that had been adopted by the Hungarians over the years. Many of the men from Mágocs just recently home from the war had to serve in the regiment.


  On June 10, 1919 in the city of Szeged the “White Guard” was formed led by Admiral Horthy.  He and his troops soon overran the area all the way to Siófok by August 9th.  There were no battles in Baranya and the men returned home but shortly afterwards the “White Terror” began throughout Hungary.  Mágocs was spared much of that except for its Jewish population who were the special targets of Horthy’s death squads.


  In 1920 the Town Council in Mágocs responded to the intensified efforts of the Horthy government to assimilate its remaining minorities who were primarily those who were German-speaking.  Special language laws were passed and others were forthcoming when the Council claimed the right to call its own parish clergy and in effect actually elected one, Joseph Leh who was German-speaking.  The Bishop of Pécs refused to comply and sent them another priest who was Hungarian-speaking.  On his arrival he was met by a mob of over five hundred and he soon left town.  He was followed by seven others in quick succession until the arrival of Stephan Braun.  But there was a negative reaction to him as well because they had not been involved in the process.


  The issue of the “minorities” or “nationalities” as others put it, effected all aspects of political life and national development after 1920 with the accession of Horthy to the position of Regent of Hungary.  The chasm simply widened and give birth to a German “nationalist” movement which was identified by the notary in Bikal who recognized that it was apparent throughout the whole district.  This was the reaction of the Hungarian nationalist’s to the Treaty of Trianon and their identification of the minorities as traitors and undesirables in Hungary.  Hungarian would now become the language of instruction in all schools regardless of the wishes of the pupils’ parents.  But this stood in the face of Hungary’s acceptance of the minority rights guaranteed in the Treaty of Versailles.  Jakob Bleyer who served in Horthy’s administration as the Minister of Nationalities raised the issue in parliament and he was dismissed from his position.  A wave of hatred erupted.  The message was clear and simple.  If the Germans were not prepared to become Hungarian they were free to go back to Germany.  Hungary for the Hungarian-speaking.


  This in effect was the ideology of Horthy’s followers, a rampant racist nationalism undergirded with a deep religiosity and anti-Semitism.  So that the perpetrators of what followed was the joint effort of the state organization and the churches, the spiritual and political swords in public life.  On February 26, 1921 the Ministry for Minorities’ Issues that had been led by Jakob Bleyer was made a department of the Ministry of the Interior.  The only voice of the minorities in the government had been silenced.  In the years ahead the issue was now experienced as the “the school question.”


  A new school regulation, Law 4800, was passed by the Bethlen government in 1923.  In the future there were three types of schools that were possible for the minorities.  The parents of the children were to be consulted by the decision makers as to which type would apply in their case.  If there were 40 pupils belonging to a single minority in a community the parents could choose one of the following:  Type A:  the mother tongue was the language of instruction and Hungarian was a compulsory subject.  Type B:  in which both languages were used in instruction and Type C:  in which Hungarian was the language of instruction and the mother tongue of the pupils was a subject.  In all three types of schools religion would be taught in the mother tongue of the pupils.


  The local decision had to be made by September 9th of the school year 1923/1924.  The implementation of the regulation was often hindered and sabotaged by the authorities as well as by the teachers and clergy.  It was common practice that whenever the parents opted for the Type B school the Type C school went into effect.  In many communities the officials made the decision without the involvement of the parents.  The government quietly accepted the situation.  The Type A school was the choice of the parents in Mágocs but the priest overrode them and they ended up with the Type C school.


  On June 15, 1923 Jacob Bleyer founded the Ungarländischen Deutschen Volksbildungsvereins (UDV) as a cultural and educational society to preserve and maintain the language, heritage, customs and traditions of the German-speaking population of Hungary.  Local chapters were formed to carry out the objectives of the organization and the first local groups were formed in southern Baranya and gradually moved northwards.  One of their crowning achievements was the development of local German libraries and singing groups and  brass bands which led to a mass music festival held in Mágocs on June 20, 1934 with well over 15,000 participants.  It had taken a year to get permission to hold it from the suspicious national government and wary county officials.  Apparently singing was subversive if done in another language.  Each local group that was represented wore its traditional village costume and carried a banner with the name of their village such as some of the following that took part:  Nagy Hajmas, Hidas, Ráckozar, Mekényes, Izmény, Nagy Ág, Kéty, Majós, Kalaznó, Bikal, Zsibrik, Kismányok, Gerényes, Mucsfa, Keszӧhidegkút, Kaposszechcsӧ, Varsád, Tófü, Batáapáti, Csikostӧttós and Felsӧnána as well as countless others.  The speech made at the event by Dr. Gustav Gratz emphasized the need to work for harmony between the Hungarian and German populations.  He did not deny there were problems and much misunderstanding but at least some progress was being made.


  This so-called “nationalist movement” among the Germans of Swabian Turkey was closely watched by the authorities and regular reports were sent to Budapest.  After the death of Jacob Blayer in 1934, Franz Basch appeared in the County as the General Secretary of the UDV and held various events in the district.  At the end of 1934 the Chief Justice of the Mágocs District reported that the UDV members in his area were distancing themselves from the new General Secretary and his leadership.


  There was a movement to support Basch to become the head of the organization.  There were inner tensions among the leaders and they all emerged at a conference held in Mágocs on January 20, 1937.  The central leadership of the UDV sent representatives to the conference.  Several years previously these men had left the association because of the political role Basch sought for the organization but with the ouster of Basch and his cronies from the UDV they had returned and were in leadership positions.  There were 200 participants at the conference who responded to their presentations with cold silence.  Their arguments went unheard and the honorary chairman of the event, Stephan Schuster,  thanked them for their presentation and informed them that the local organizations sided with Franz Basch and his followers.


  In 1938 the First Vienna Accords were awarded and Hungarian troops marched into Slovakia with Hitler’s support and blessings and some men from Mágocs were involved.  Prime Minister Imredy then gave his  permission for the founding of the Volksbund der Deutschen in Ungarn (VDU) under the Führer Franz Basch and became the official representative of the Germans of Hungary in their dealings with the Horthy government.  It was officially founded in Budapest on November 26, 1938.  Stephan Schuster of Mágocs was elected to the governing board and the VDU of Jacob Bleyer was relegated to the backwater and seen as a tool of the Hungarian state and went out of existence less than a month later on December 23, 1938.  The dye had been cast.


  On January 1, 1939 the Chief Justice of Baranya reported to the County administration that the Pan-German movement as he called it was very much alive.  Agitators were at work because they were unafraid of the Hungarian government because Hitler would speak on their behalf and they assumed that Hitler would soon incorporate Swabian Turkey into the German Reich.  Another Anschluss just like Austria.  Stephan Schuster received an anonymous death threat calling him to desist from his Pan-German activities.  The letter was published in the Volksbund newspaper.   On March 26, 1939 he received a second threatening letter and that same night his front window was smashed.  The guilty were never apprehended.


  Once the Articles of Incorporation of the Volksbund were ratified by the Hungarian parliament local branches of the organization were then organized.  With regard to Mágocs the Chief Justice of Baranya County reported the following on September 2, 1939:  “It appears that a division has occurred among the youth over the extremes being advocated by the “German Movement”.  As a result the youth loyal to Hungary and the youth members of the Volksbund hold separate dances.  It was said that a map had arrived from Germany that showed the new proposed borders of the German Reich.  The new frontier would be at Dӧbrӧkӧz.  Stephan Schuster, Michael Hirth and Joseph Schreck are organizing a local chapter of the Volksbund.  They do so secretly.  About 80 have signed up.  The population as a whole is standing back from doing so.”


  Word had also come to Mágocs about the founding of the Treu zur Heimat Movement (Loyal to the Homeland) in opposition to the Volksbund on April 13, 1939.  A local branch was organized in Mágocs in July of 1940.


  During 1941 the battle for the loyalty of the Germans of Hungary was underway.  The local priest opposed the Volksbund, especially because the young men in it avoided Mass and the young women attended dances, festivals and other events instead of church.  The official Board of the VDU in Budapest appointed Hans Christ of Mekényes as the District Führer and he moved to their headquarters in Mágocs.


  On March 15, 1939 the Carpatho-Ukraine was annexed by Hungary and northern Transylvania was occupied by Hungarian troops on September 5, 1940 and on April 11,  1941 the Batschka and Lower Baranya were also annexed.  With this expansion of the territory of Hungary there was also a sizeable increase in the number of Germans now part of “Greater” Hungary.  Each of these German groups experienced different developments since their separation from Hungary after the First World War and all of them had to be integrated and were placed under the jurisdiction of the Volksbund.


  The notorious Census of 1941 which would have tragic consequences for most of the respondents was carried out by the Hungarian government in Mágocs with the following results:  There were 2,837 inhabitants who claimed German as their mother tongue out of a total of 3,703 persons.  105 others claimed to be Jewish.


  The Hungarian government in conjunction with the German Reich agreed upon the first voluntary recruitment drive for Germans in Hungary to serve in the SS in February 1942.  An intensive campaign was carried out in Mágocs and the district.  In the Spring the men from Mágocs who were recruited were called up to serve in the Waffen-SS.  What was also noticeable was that anti-Semitism was on the rise.


  In 1943 on May 22nd the second “voluntary” SS recruitment was agreed upon by the two governments.  The rumour that families of volunteers would be deported to Germany had an adverse effect on recruitment.  Despite that there were another twelve volunteers from Mágocs who joined the Waffen-SS.  While the recruitment took place the windows of Jewish homes were smashed and 81 grave markers were overturned in their cemetery.


  On March 19, 1944 the German Army occupied Hungary and a new puppet government was set up under Stojay and his Arrow Cross Party (Nazi).  Then on March 29, 1944 the order for all Jews to wear the yellow star of David was decreed; Jewish homes were taken over and the Jews were sent to Ghettos in the major towns at the end of April.  This was carried out by local authorities and the police.  The local anti-Semites looted the vacated Jewish properties.  The Jews of Mágocs were driven from their homes and taken to Mohács where they were robbed and then driven into the Ghetto.  They were hidden from the outside world and under heavy guard.  The deportations from Mohács occurred from June 30th to July 9th, 1944.  Destination:  Auschwitz.


  On April 14th the final and third SS recruitment began.  This was a compulsory draft and membership in the Volksbund played no role in it all, except that all men in positions of leadership locally, in the district and central office were excluded.  They were the only exemptions.  During the last week of June the first 40 conscripts were sent to East Prussia for training.  The much larger group of men left in July and the older men left in August.


  As autumn began there was great unrest.  With the advance of the oncoming Red Army  columns of refugee treks passed through Baranya and Mágocs in the face of constant rain and cold temperatures.  At the beginning of November the Klein Richter  (a local official who announced important news to be conveyed to the population) beat his drum at the various intersections of the village and informed the villagers of how close the Russians were.  Most of the population and the authorities preferred to remain and take their chances with a Russian occupation than to risk flight.  Only fifteen families decided to evacuate.  They left on November 11, 1944.


  The II Honvéd Army Corps were quartered in Mágocs.  They left in mid-November.  The last German troops left at night on November 30, 1944.  Shortly after midnight on December 1st the Russian troops marched into Mágocs without meeting any opposition.  They remained about a week until troops from Sásd joined them to occupy Dombovár.  The defence of Dombovár by Hungarian and German units lasted for some time and men and women were taken from Mágocs to dig trenches and repair roads.


  On Christmas Eve after midnight Mass, the priest was forced to announce:  “Everyone go home to your houses and pack all of your necessities and wait for orders.”  Everyone thought that an evacuation was imminent because they had heard of a new German counter offensive having begun that day.  Later in the night accompanied by the beating of drums a list of names was read and those who were included were to prepare food for fourteen days and dress in warm clothing and assemble at the market place at 9:00 a.m.  All of those on the list were members of the Volksbund.  In the morning the market place was empty.  After repeated drumming and the threat made that entire families would be taken most of those on the list began to assemble.  They were loaded on horse drawn wagons and headed in the direction of Sásd but half way there they turned around and returned home.  For many it would be their last night with family and friends.


  On the morning of December 27, 1944 the wagon column left again for Sásd.  Some of the people were released.  After a short pause the rest set out on foot to Magyarszék, Manfa, Pécs and the Lakics barracks.  Their marching column had been guarded by Russian soldiers and they had walked for four hours.  They were quartered in the horse stables of the Hussar barracks which they first had to clean out.  Most of them thought they were being taken to the Batschka to bring in the corn harvest.  After two weeks they were loaded on cattle cars with the doors nailed shut behind them and the train travelled across Hungary into Romania and on to Russia.  They passed the network of labour camps at Stalino and went on to Odessa.  They finally arrived in Grosny in the Caucuses.  Later some were sent deep into the Ural Mountains.


  Early in January 2-06, 1945 a second convoy was assembled in Mágocs.  They were brought to Dombovár where everyone spent the day in a school.  They were taken by horse and wagon to Tófü and spent the night in Mӧcseny.  The next day they reached Baja.  On January 12th they were loaded onboard trains and a three week journey locked in cattle cars began.  On February 3, 1945 they reached Schachty/Dombas in Ukraine by Stalingrad.  There were 900 persons both men and women in the convoy.  They had to build their own barracks.  Women were given injections to prevent menstruation.  One young girl died as a result.  They worked in the coal mines.  Many died of typhus and dysentery.  Half of the survivors returned to Hungary in 1948.  The others left late in 1949 and would end up in Debrécen for six months and on May 5, 1950 they were sent to the Russian Zone of occupation in Germany.  Others who returned to Mágocs discovered that their families had been deported to Germany.


  The third convoy from Mágocs who were sent to Russia left on January 22, 1945.  There were about thirty persons involved.  This group arrived in Voroschilovgrad and the camp at Verchy-Krivogra.  There they worked in gravel pits and coal mines.  Some of them returned to Hungary as early as 1947 and when they arrived in Debrécen several were sent to Budapest as “politicals” and sent to the Tolonchaz prison.


                               The first convoy                103 persons.

                               The second                          22 persons

                               The third                              26 persons


  There were a total of 151 persons.  82 women and 69 men.  There were 43 of them that died in the labour camps.  8 women and 35 men.


  After war’s end in May of 1945 German families were dispossessed in order to make room for “new” colonists.  Most of them were Hungarians expelled from Slovakia.  The German population were forced to find a place to live and many left for Somogy and Tolna County.  In the end 1,800 German inhabitants of Mágocs were expelled from Hungary on the basis of the Potsdam Declaration on May 4, 1948 and were sent to the Russian occupied Zone of Germany passing through Pirna on their way to Saxony.


  It is not known if any of the former 105 Jewish residents of Mágocs survived the war.  There were 217 German men who lost their lives on the frontlines.  From among those who were prisoners of war in the Soviet Union there were ten men who were sent to forced labour at Tiszalok after arriving in Debrécen on their way home.  They were all released in late December 1953 and were sent to Camp Piding in Bavaria.

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