Krndija in Slavonia


  The following information is a summary of portions of the Krndija Heimatbuch by Matthias Stolz published in Graz in July 1987.


  Slavonia is the eastern portion of Croatia between the Drava and Danube Rivers with Esseg (Osječke-Baranjska) as its chief city.  In the far distant past it belonged to the Roman province of Pannonia and Esseg was then known as Mursa.  It was the capital of Lower Pannonia and founded in 8 B.C. by Caesar Augustus.  Slavic tribes entered Slavonia in the 7th Century after the defeat and expulsion of the Avars.


  Germans settled in the towns during the Middle Ages:  Esseg, Zagreb, Warasdin, Vukovár, Slavonski Brod and Poschag.  These communities were all but destroyed by the Turks as a result of their conquest and occupation.


  In Slavonia east meets west and that was to prove to be its tragedy.  It was the scene of conflict between Hungary and the Turks and then later between the Habsburgs and the Turks.  It would lead to Christian and Muslim crusades and holy wars.  In 1526 Suleiman the Magnificent crossed the Sava River from Bosnia with a mighty host and the resistance of the Christian forces was futile.  Many of the Slavonian towns fell into the hands of the Turks.  On August 15th the Turkish Sultan began to construct a bridge across the Drava River in the vicinity of Esseg.  It was completed in six days.  He took 200,000 men across along with 300 canons to fight and defeat the Hungarians at Mohács on August 29th.  Croatian and Serbian refugees fled to Zagreb as the Turks overran and occupied Slavonia.  Those who remained behind were slaughtered or died of plague.  Others were sold into slavery or were resettled elsewhere within the Ottoman Empire.  While there were others who fled and hid in the mountains to escape the Turks.


  Valpovo was threatened by the Turks.  (Naschize (Našice) was in close vicinity and Krndija lay just south of it.)  The church and monastery in Valpovo had existed since  1373.  The church was put to the torch by the Turks but the monastery survived.  The Knights Templar also owned a monastery and estates in the area as well.  When Pope Clement V abolished the Templars in 1312 he gave their property to the Knights of St. John.  A Turkish Pasha resided in Djakovo and Turkish nobles took over the estates in the area.  Esseg developed into a Turkish city surrounded by a series of walls.  In the 1580s Esseg was the centre of Slavonia in terms of the economy and its strategic military location.  The eight kilometre long wooden bridge across the Baranya swamp joined it to Darda.  Next to Belgrade it became the chief assembly point for the Turkish army preparing for the attack and siege of Vienna.  Their army was mixed in terms of nationality.  It had Hungarian contingents commanded by Tӧkӧlly who had allied himself and his troops with Sultan Mustapha who promised to make Tӧkӧlly king in Vienna.  The Hungarian units left Esseg on June 14, 1683 and were later followed by another 20,000 men.  The Turkish Army struck out for Szekésfehervár and were strengthened with troops from the Crimea and moved on to Raab (Gyӧr) and Komorn.


  At the end of 1682 Emperor Leopold of Austria began to build up strength to face a Turkish invasion.  The president of the War Office, Margrave Hermann of Baden, was in charge of the defence of Austria.  Through the efforts of Pope Innocent XI talks were undertaken with Poland.  An alliance was struck with Jan Sobieski III of Poland.  The agreement called for Leopold to provide 60,000 men to face the Turks and the Poles in turn promised 40,000.  But the Austrians would be forced to wait for Polish assistance.


  Initially the Emperor had to rely on his own troops.  Karl (Charles) V of Lorraine who was his brother-in-law was his Commander.  In April 1683 a great war council was held.  Their strategy was to simply avoid battle as long as possible because the Turks vastly outnumbered them.  The crossings over the Raab River were strengthened from Raab to St. Gotthard to prevent a takeover of the Hungarian cities by Tӧkӧlly.  The defence of inner Austria was left to the troops of the Ban of Croatia and Count Herbertstein and they were put into position.  Mustapha’s army was on the way to Esseg and 4,000 farmers had to dig wells for them.  Word of this came to Vienna and the Austrians knew the Turks were moving up on the right bank of the Danube.


  Along with Tӧkӧlly’s contingents the Turkish host numbered in the neighbourhood of 400,000 men.  Karl of Lorraine was not strong enough to face the Turks because his cavalry needed open countryside to work effectively.  On July 1st the Turks stood before the gates of Raab.  The city was defended by infantry and the local population while Karl retreated with his cavalry across the Leitha River to defend Lower Austria.  A week later the Emperor was informed that a siege of Vienna was imminent.  The news led to the Emperor’s flight from Vienna to Linz along with his Royal Court.  The last one hundred and fifty years had been used to build and strengthen the defences of Vienna, especially its walls and fortifications in the inner city.  Thousands of citizen helped to build batteries and palisades for the coming siege.  The city outside of the walls was set on fire and went up in flames.  By July 17, 1683 Vienna was surrounded and its defence was in the hands of its commander, Count Starhemberg.  The situation of the city worsened daily.


  A united army consisting of Austrian Imperial forces, German contingents from the Reich and Polish troops arrived and that would make all the difference.  On September 12, 1683 the major battle for Vienna was fought in the fabled Vienna Woods and Vienna was relieved and the Turks fled the scene.


  In 1684 the war against the Turks in Hungary got under way.  Karl V of Lorraine stood at the head of the Imperial Army and its allies.  In 1685 he captured Gran (Estergom) and in 1686 Ofen (Buda) fell.  In 1687 he defeated the Turks at Harsany.   This victory resulted in the destruction of the Turkish Army in Hungary and their occupation of Hungary ended forever.  Under the command of General Dünewald and Count Leslie the greater part of Slavonia was liberated along with Esseg and Djakovo but it would take thirty years to free the land between the Drava and Sava and Danube from the Turks.


  The first concern of the Emperor’s commanders was the redevelopment of the lands recovered from the Turks that had been devastated.  The borders had to be made secure and a new economy had to be put in place.  The administration and governing of the newly won territories had to be set in place.  This was not to be a simple task.  There were national, political, military and imperial interest groups working at cross purposes.


  The first step was the establishment of a fortified frontier and secure border.  The old defensive fortifications of Esseg were torn down and the construction of new ones began in 1702.  The major task of the military frontier was to ward off attacks by the Turks from Bosnia and Serbia which were both occupied by them.  Many Serbian refugees had joined the Imperial Army’s retreat out of Serbia and in response to their loyalty, the  Emperor Leopold I he had granted them religious freedom, freedom from serfdom, the election of their own commanders and settled them as “Grenzers” (border guards) in the Military Frontier District.  Other Serbs settled in southern Hungary and some settled in Slavonia.  These Grenzers were soldier-farmers who campaigned both offensively and defensively as required.  The Military General Council was established in Esseg (1745-1783) and the commanding general resided there.  The officials of the army, most of whom were Germans were in charge of both the military and civilian government and administration of the District.


  The major military headquarters were in Esseg.  Peterwardein, Brod, Dadischka, Babina and Greda were the regional equivalents.  There were four divisions in the Military Frontier District:  Croatia, Slavonia, Banat and Transylvania.  From 1849-1866 the zone was an Austrian Crown Land and subject to the War Office.  In 1851 and then in 1872 the Banat and Transylvania Districts were annexed to Hungary.  In 1881 the Croatia and Slavonia Districts became part of Croatia.  With the borders now secure, the economic development of the region became a priority of the State.  The land itself was the property of the State and was given as grants to military commanders, diplomats, high churchmen and the nobles or they were purchased by the them.


  The city of Esseg was raised to the status of a Royal Free City in 1809 by Francis I for its unfailing support during the Turkish wars and was now occupied by the Hungarians.  It was later put under siege by the Austrian Imperial Army in February 1849 during the Hungarian War of Independence and was taken and occupied by them.


  But earlier in 1745 the provinces of Slavonia and Srem became part of the Kingdom of Croatia.  During the 150 year occupation by the Turks, the Roman Catholic population left Slavonia.  They were followed by Serbian Orthodox refugees who fled across the Sava.  With the setting up of the Military Frontier District new settlers arrived and among them were Germans.  They moved into towns and were skilled tradesmen, merchants and construction workers.  From 1690 to 1740 settlers arrived from southern Germany and Austria and settled in Esseg, Poscheg, Slavonski Brod and Gradischka.  In Esseg these immigrants came from Upper and Lower Austria, Bohemia, Moravia, Bavaria, Carinthia, Silesia and the Steiermark but also from Pécs, Buda, Szeged, Peterwardein, Marburg, Grosswardein and Pressburg.  Esseg became a German-speaking city and its clergy were German as well and until the end of the 19th Century it retained its German character.  The Jesuits established a German Gymnasiumn (Junior College) in Poscheg.


  Individual nobles and estate owners began to resettle their unpopulated lands.  In 1700 there were less than 150,000 inhabitants in Slavonia.  The priority of the landowners was economic.  They preferred the cheap labour of serfs but had to take on free peasants as well.  As a result some Germans settled at Retfala (1750), Sarvas (1760), Kravic (1770) and Kula (1785) and in Esseg the “new town” (1792).  This private development differed from the State sponsored immigration programme in the Banat, Batschka and Baranya.  The rights of these peasant settlers in Slavonia were restricted by the nobles.  They were not allowed to own the land they developed and worked.


  The Counts of Prandau had their origin in Vienna and controlled the Valpovo estates in Slavonia (1721-1885).  They were the richest and largest landowners by 1880 and there were four market towns and 41 villages on their domains with 38,409 inhabitants.


  After 1820 there were very few groups of settlers from the German lands who arrived in Slavonia and as a result there were only a very few German villages established.  In their place there was a rather steady migration of Swabians (as the Germans were now called) from the Batschka and Swabian Turkey (Tolna, Baranya and Somogy Counties in Hungary) into Slavonia.  At first they strengthened the existing German communities and then formed “daughter” colonies in villages with Slavic populations.  With the breakup of the estates and the emancipation of the serfs in 1848 large portions of Slavonia were parcelled out for sale.  This led to an increase of “daughter” colonies where Germans formed a minority.


  The low price of land in Slavonia beckoned the poorer farmers and agricultural labourers in the north to seek their fortunes here.  The local Croats and Serbs still mostly engaged in livestock herding and agricultural skills among them were limited.  Nor did they have the capital to pay their taxes or purchase land from the nobles.


  In the Djakovo area Germans began to settle during the early 1800s.  First in the town itself and by mid-century Swabian settlers mainly from the Batschka settled in the nearby villages of Gorjani Tomašanci, Slatinik, Vučvci, Viškovci, Mandičevci and Drenje.  Many of the Slavic inhabitants sold their houses and land to the newly arrived Swabian settlers.  All of this was a slow process of redevelopment.  Much of the land was swampy and thickly forested.  The Sava, Drava, Vuka, Ilova Rivers flooded the valleys year after year.  Robbers infested the area.  Theft, murder and hostage taking were rather a daily occurrence.  The State had to intervene and take control of the development of Slavonia.  But there was opposition from the nobles and estate owners who still wielded a great deal of power at that time.  An Imperial Regulation of December 23 ,1858 that applied to Hungary, Croatia and Slavonia stipulated certain conditions for new settlements.  For example, housing for at least fifty families had to be erected before a community was recognized as such by the government; settlers in such new communities all had to be of the same nationality, religious confession (denomination); were given exemption from  taxes for six years and fifteen years of exemption on paying taxes on their houses; exemption from providing robot (free labour service) to the State for fifteen years.


  Croat nationalism that emerged in the 19th Century increased in its strength in the area around Djakovo.  Their goal was not to allow the establishment of entirely German communities.  Although of German origin on his father’s side, Joseph Georg Strossmayer (1849-1905) the bishop of Djakovo was the driving force of Croat nationalism and led the Croatian People’s Party in the Landtag  (1860-1873) and was its chief spokesman.  At the First Vatican Council he opposed the doctrine of the Infallibility of the Pope but accepted it in 1872 in order to maintain his bishopric.  The bishop had a greater loyalty to his political and Croatian nationalist interests than his spiritual calling.


  In 1882 Bishop Strossmayer had forests cleared to establish three villages at Josipovac, Jurjevac and Krndija.  Josipovac had Slovak settlers.  Jurjevac was settled by Czechs and Krndija was settled by various nationalities in May of that year.  By 1900 the Germans were the majority in the village.  It was not easy for them to be under the jurisdiction of Strossmayer and had no church or school.  The colonists received one Joch of land for house and garden, ten Joch of meadow and agricultural land.  These lands were covered by thick oak forests and had to be cleared within ten years.  For every Joch of cleared land the settler had to provide 3.4 meters of wood and could keep the rest.  For each Joch not cleared the settler was fined 3 Gulden.  From the left over wood, the settlers could build a house and other agricultural buildings.


  The first Swabian settlers came from Nemetker, Kanizia, Tolna (Hungary) and Ganth, Borzowar and Sokolovac.  The first families included:  Német, Mireiter, Kerper, Cigler (Ziegler), Natachlich, Kilbinger, Ivanovič, Heragovič and Donoslo.  Thirty of them came from Herzegvalfa and Németker in Hungary and set out in covered wagons that had been sent for them and arrived in Krndija with just a few belongings.  Important tools such as saws, axes, shovels and mallets for construction were given to them as well as weapons to fend off the wolf packs that were prevalent in the area.  Wood huts were built for every 20 to 30 persons and a fire was lit in front of each hut to provide warmth for the inner rooms; while on the other hand it would help to keep the wolves at bay.  Within three years they were able to change from common quarters to single and family housing.  This provides a short glimpse into the life of the settlers.


  Krndija is 17 kilometres north west of Djakovo and 32 kilometres south of Esseg.  A steady stream of Swabian families continued to settle in the community, chiefly from the Batschka:  Filipowa, Kolut, Batsch, Bukin, Paraput, Palanka, Obrovac and Batsch-Sentiwan.  In the village dialect the name of the village was corrupted to Kerndia.  Eventually it would become a German-speaking community and very few non-Germans lived there.  In the census taken of the Djakovo District in 1910 Swabians made up 20% of the population.  In 1890 the Swabians accounted for 63.5% of the population of Krndija.  In 1900 the village population was 916 and the Swabians numbered 779, Magyars 69, Slovaks 15 and Czechs 14.  When asked their places of origin, 408 claimed Slavonia and Croatia, 14 were from Austria and 494 were from Hungary.  By 1910 the population reached 1,016 and 953 were Swabians.  It was the largest community in the area, while the town of Djakovo itself had 843 Swabian inhabitants.


  The census of 1931 reported that Krndija counted 1,400 inhabitants and the number who were Swabian stood at 1,345.  In Djakovo the number of Germans stood at 1,597.  In the mixed villages in the District there were 77 Swabians in Garnjani, 643 in Tomašanci and 58 in Ivanovči.


  The first major pressures the Swabians in Slavonia experienced in terms of a forced assimilation by the Croats began after the Compromise of 1868 between Hungary and Croatia.  They fared much better after the founding of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia following the First World War which recognized their minority rights in terms of language in their schools.  Throughout Krndija’s history the Roman Catholic clergy were the strongest political force in Slavonia.  But Krndija was always on good terms with the neighbouring Serbian villages.  The radical Croatian nationalist ideology and power of the Ustaša (Translator’s Note:  The Fascist Croatian Party) would lead to tragedies in the future and when their dream of an independent state of Croatia became possible with support of the Nazi occupiers of Yugoslavia, the Swabians in Slavonia would be sold out by the Ustaša and their men would be handed over to serve in the German armed forces.


  The Chetniks (Royalists) and later Tito’s Partisans (Communists) were the opponents of the Ustaša and the German and Hungarian occupation forces.  The men of Krndija served in the German or Croatian armed forces but chiefly in the German Waffen-SS.  As the Chetniks backed off in their campaign in Slavonia the Partisans came to the fore.  The leadership of the recently created Swabian Volksgruppe (Nazi Front Organization) in Croatia got into the act to take action against the terrorist attacks of the Partisans.


  Members of the German Brotherhood (local defence force) were to defend the German communities in Croatia from Partisan attacks.  These rather weak units were abolished in 1942 when it was obvious that they could not carry out their mandate.  In the Spring such a force had come into existence in Krndija consisting of able bodied men of the village.  Their training was rather limited.  Their weapons were mostly old with some new guns including a single machine gun.  Bunkers and barricades were set up on the streets of the village.  Lodgings for the Croatian Home Defence Force were in nearby houses and buildings.  The local men worked in their fields during the day but as soon it was dark they went on duty at the bunkers or carried out a night patrol on the streets of the village.     The Partisan attacks became more frequent and they were much better trained and armed.  Most of the Partisans in Slavonia came from the area where they operated and worked as farmers by day and took up arms at night.


  The outlawed Communist Party began to re-form in the Djakovo District after the collapse of Yugoslavia in April 1941.  Their forces were often badly beaten by the Croat security forces.  This led to more brutal actions on the part of the Croats.  More and more units of Partisans were formed and their forces became stronger primarily due to the brutality that the Ustaša unleashed against the Orthodox Serbian civilian population in Croatia and their forced conversion to Roman Catholicism.  The first major Partisan operation was in Bosnia in April 1942 at Windhorst followed by attacks in Slavonia; at first in the mountains of western Slavonia and then later in the eastern plains.  


  Their first large scale attack in the area was against the German installations at Slatinik on July 27, 1942 and on December 23, 1942 at Trnava.  Other raids took place at Podgorac, Caglin, Orljevac and Kula where some men from Krndija lost their lives.  With the German defeat at Stalingrad and their retreat on the Eastern Front in 1943 the Partisans increased their attacks and eventually it became Krndija’s turn.


  On August 16, 1943 the neighbouring village of Gerjani was overrun by the Partisans and on August 26th they launched raids and occupied Drenje, Pridvorje, Mandecevci and Tomašanci without firing a shot.  On the evening of the next day, August 27th, the attack on Krndija would shortly be under way.  Partisan units gathered throughout the District while the men of Krndija were working out in their fields unaware of the approaching Partisan forces.


  On the afternoon of August 27th many of the villagers left for Esseg including whole families who felt uneasy with the situation.  The men continued with the threshing in the fields until early evening.


  When night arrived a moist wind swept across the village.  There was distant thunder.  Men were on sentry duty all around the village, on its streets and at the community centre.  Many of them had their dogs with them and they too were unaware of the approaching danger.  Shooting broke out just shortly before midnight.  The Partisans had encircled the village and attacked from every side.  The alarm bell was tolling and in some places fire was being returned.  They were no match for the Partisans in numbers, training or weapons.


  Soon there were only isolated shots, the barking of dogs, Partisan commands and the cries of frightened civilians.  The Partisans broke into homes in search of weapons or men of the Home Defence Force who were hiding there.  Phase two of the attack now followed:  looting.  This group had no weapons and included many women and youth.  Those men found in their houses were ordered to hitch up their horses.  Fifteen to twenty loot-loaded wagons and horses and as many drivers headed west in two columns. 


  About thirty houses and buildings were put to the torch, including the hemp factory with thousands of tons of flax.  The flames could be seen in Srem and the Batschka, Hungary and Zagreb.  This attack and destruction was much more severe than those on the nearby mixed-nationalities villages.  Four men had been killed and one man died of his wounds later.  Most of the villagers fled to Esseg the next day in total panic.  The military relief force sent to Krndija could not prevent them from leaving.  The elderly and children would remain in Esseg and family members brought food and supplies to the city as it was needed after the others had returned to Krndija.


  By the end of August 1943 only the District towns of Našcice and Djakovo in the vicinity of Krndija had not been under attack by the Partisans.  The railway and main highway along the Drava and Sava Rivers were both controlled by the Germans and the Croats.  To all intents and purposes all of western Slavonia from Poschega and Podgarac and Krndija was in Partisan hands.  The military outpost in Krndija was expected to defend the inhabitants of the District.


  In their propaganda distributed among the Slavic population the Partisans claimed that only members of the Volksgruppe were their enemies and all others would be spared.  That had not been the case in the attack on Krndija on August 28th when indiscriminate arson had taken place all of which bonded the villagers to one another.


  A defensive position was erected in the centre of the village as there were not enough soldiers to defend the perimeter.  It was surrounded by numerous bunkers and palisades.  A unit of the Croatian Security Police were the backbone of the defences.  Local men who belonged to the Home Defence Force joined them.  There were about 250 men in all.  By the beginning of 1944 the only strong military strong point in the District was at Krndija.  The Partisans roamed around the entire area at will.  The local men continued to work in the fields and farms and were always accompanied by a military escorts as they did so during the day.  By the Spring and later in the summer of 1944 it was only safe to walk in a few fields.  At night the men sought safety behind the fortifications when their work was done.  The morale of the Croatian forces was very low.  Many went over to the Partisans.  Trips to the city were dangerous.  Kidnappings followed by murder began.  Military escorts accompanied all travellers.


  Repeated raids and infiltration by the Partisans did not result in taking the strong point.  A major offensive would have to be launched.


  The strong point was reinforced by troops and officers and the strong point in Podgarac was also strengthened.  In June 1944 many women and children returned from Esseg because of the first large scale bombing raids.  On Wednesday, June 22nd the strong point at Podgarac fell and the telephone system in the District was out of operation.  The situation in Krndija was perilous.


  There were 12,000 Partisans being stationed for the upcoming attack.  An attack brigade of 2,000 men threw themselves at the bunkers.  The main attack began at twenty-two hours.  The major push was at midnight with grenades and mortar fire.  By noon of the next day the Partisans realized the defenders were out of ammunition.  But a relief force arrived and air craft came to their defence.  Anyone who had fallen into the hands of the Partisans was murdered.  Forty men had fallen and lost their lives which included two fifteen year old boys from the village.


  By the Fall of 1944 all of the area around Krndija was in the hands of the Partisans.  Both the troops and the civilians feared the destruction of the strong point and the annihilation of the defenders and the local civilian population.  The Partisans were moving artillery into the area they had just received from the British.


  Hearing of the speed of the Russian advance into the Banat and the failure of Janko and his cohorts in the Volksgruppe to evacuate the Swabian population but had managed to arrange for their own escape, the Volksgruppe leadersip in Croatia planned and organized an evacuation of the endangered Swabian civilian population.  It began in the east in Srem where the planned evacuation was set into motion.  In Krendija the evacuation began on October 27, 1944.  It was carried out secretly and their convoy was defended by soldiers.  Unlike what took place in other settlements, the men of Krndija who were not drafted into the German Army could not join the evacuation but remained behind to defend the strong point.


  Two hundred truck loads of women and children and a few belongings were escorted by soldiers to Esseg.  They crossed the Drava, went across Hungary and into Austria where a few families stayed in Burgenland.  Most of them were housed in the Steiermark around Voitsburg.  Others went by train to Upper Austria, Silesia and the future D.D.R.  (East Germany).  Some of those who fell into the hands of the Russians were sent back home to Yugoslavia in May 1945.  They ended up in Tito’s extermination camps at Gakowa and Kruschivlje were many of them perished.


  The men left behind in Krndija faced a different fate.  A breakout was too dangerous.  At the beginning of December 1944 Soviet and Bulgarian Divisions moved forward into Srem.  Armed by the Soviets, several Partisan Divisions joined in the attack.  In Gorjani the nightly drunkenness and celebrations of the Partisans got out of hand.  Morale was low in the strong point and men were still dying daily.  On December 12, 1944 after eight days of total encirclement of the strong point the defenders abandoned Krndija.  From December 13th to the 21st those who got through the Partisan lines were assigned to the strong point at Bizovac.  From there they were eventually transferred to Zagreb where they went through a mustering process into the armed forces.  The younger men, mostly born in 1927 (17 year olds) were assigned to the SS-Handschar Division.  The greater portion of the men were assigned to police units and some of the older men were sent to Austria to rejoin their families.


  After the strong point in Krndija was abandoned the Partisans moved in and the looting began.  The only people left were Serbs.  The houses were torn down and materials were used to enlarge houses in neighbouring villages.  At the end of the war in May 1945 this was stopped by the Partisan officials.  Only 60 of the 324 houses were still left standing.


  A portion of the urban German population in Croatia decided to remain and did not participate in the evacuation.  Their rationale for doing so was “after all we never fought against the Partisans.”  An internment camp for Swabians was set up in Krndija from mid 1945 to the summer of 1946.  Those in the camp were mostly from Zagreb, Vinkovci, Djakovo, Slavonski Brod.  They were later joined by those Swabians who had returned from Austria and Germany in their desire to return home or went sent to Yugoslavia by the American, British and Russian occupying forces.  There were approximately 4,000 Swabians imprisoned in the sixty remaining houses and the school.  An estimated 1,000 of them perished there from overwork, starvation and disease.  Three families from Krndija survived and escaped to the Western Zones of Germany.


  There were a total 152 villagers who lost their lives in the Second World War and in what followed.  A total of 96 men were killed in action or declared missing during the war.  There were 19 men and young boys died defending the village.  Six men were carried off by the Partisans and murdered.  An additional 25 persons died in transit or at various extermination camps in Yugoslavia and 6 persons died in the firebombing of Dresden where their refugee train had brought them on that fateful day.  



25 Responses to “ Krndija in Slavonia ”

  1. I was born in Krndija the son of Georg and Teresia Baudendistel. I don’t know a lot about the town as my mother, younger sister Maria and I fled to Germany on a train. My father was killed in Italy.My mother is still alive today (although suffering dementia). I find this story very interesting.

  2. Lisa Mausser says:

    Reading this has helped me tremendously to understand my mother’s childhood recount of Krndija.
    She was one of those children who evacuated by wagon train to Austria in Oct. 1944 when she was about 11 years old.
    Her father was shot and killed soon after she, her brother and sisters were told to run and hide in the woods. Their house was torched after it was looted.

    I’ve only heard this story from her frightened child’s perspective. And always with her quickly changing the subject as she began to choke up in tears for her father (my grandfather), Anton Tremmel.

    I would ask her so many other questions now if she were only still alive. She passed away last year from cancer at 78.

  3. Robert Dobler says:

    My Father Paul Dobler was born in Krndija and my Mother Anna Schwab in Djakovo. An Uncle Martin Ruterschmidt jus passed away Only recently have I been told stories by my uncle about all this. I was totally amazed and will continue my research Very Helpful Thank you all

  4. Kristal Milo Ross says:

    My grandmother “omomi'” Maria Puhl was born in Krndija and I believe I am related to you Mr. Robert Dobler since I know your father Paul Dobler.

  5. Kristal Milo Ross says:

    Sorry my computer hit submit too fast. My mother is Elisabeth Puhl. I am trying to put together a family tree and this information was very valuable. I know that I am related to the Puhl, Pful, Grosseible, Seiple, Dobler and Beinhardt families. If anyone has any information please feel free to contact me at I currently live in Pittsburgh PA, USA . I am just amazed at this story! My grandparents and mother had a terrible time in the city of Krndija— one could only imagine! I am so thankful for the sacrifices that the ones before me have done!

  6. Joseph Gurdon says:

    My Father, Josip Gurdon and his family were born in Krndija. He did not talk much about his life there before the war. My grand father was a wagon maker and died when dad was about nine, then at about sixteen dad joined the German army, I was never sure whether this was voluntary or not but his sister, my aunt, once told me that the family was happy for him to be in the army as it was much safer there. Dads family was split up during their escape from Yugoslavia towards the end of the war. They met up again a couple of years later and then migrated to Australia.

  7. Walter Bock says:

    Stefan,Johann, Georg,Madelene,Bock…Anna Mireiter…Josef Gruber
    Were all my immediate family

  8. Robert Hoffmann says:

    The Beinhart family are my cousins and reside in Ohio. I am a Hoffmann and was born in France after my mom fled to Austria with my siblings. I was born in France where my parents were reunited.

  9. Albert Beinhardt says:

    Yes, MY family was there too. God bless Mr. Paul Dobler’s soul He was my friend and neighbor too.

  10. Carl Richter says:

    I grew up hearing these stories. My Father Johann Richter (son of Karl Richter) was born there in 1930.

  11. Hello. I think we might be related. My family ancestors left Krndija , Yugoslavia in Oct. 1944. They were escorted , by German soldiers to Austria. In 1951 they took a ship to America. My grandmother`s brother was Johann(Hans) Richter. He was killed as a soldier, June 26 1945.,in Gmunden, Germany. The way we have this figured is : Your grandmother , Karl`s wife , ( Rosalia Feldi(Foldi), is my grandfather`s(Ignaz Feldi(Foldi) sister . Also, Your grandfather(Karl Richter) was brother to my great grandfather(Anton Richter). My son is very much into tracking our family tree, and those are his results. It would be great if you had some information to add. Marco Feldi 5/28/2018

  12. Debra warhurst says:

    My grandparents and my mother were born in krndja. Anna Gurdon married Josef Toth and had my mum Rosa. I’ve heard the stories from my grandparents many times and this article supports what happened there

  13. Magdalena Gruber says:

    Walter Bock do you read this? Can you tell me more about Joseph Gruber? Magdalena Gruber was my grandmother.

  14. Josef Bock says:

    Magdalena, Hi, Walter (Wally) was my brother. He died two years ago. Josef Gruber was my grandfather and was killed during the war. My grandmother (Magdalena), mother (Helene), and father (Johann Bock) came to America in Nov, 1951, from Austria, where I was born. I live about 25 miles north of Philadelphia, PA. Please let me know if you got this so we can talk some more.

  15. Johann Stolz says:

    I was born in Krndija and am now living in Canada.
    I found all this very interesting and informative.

    Thank you

  16. Karl Tremmel says:

    My father is Karl Tremmel Sr. His parents are John and Maria Tremmel. My dad was born in 1933 so he was only 12 when the war ended. I have always heard stories of his youth and the families hardships. This is very helpful information. There was a mention of a Anton Tremmel. I will have ask my dad who that is.

  17. Ann-Margaret Greif says:

    My father & his parents lived in Krndija. He is Josef (Joseph) Greif and his parents were Michael & Kathrina Greif, younger sister Rosie. They left during WWII. My dad was born in 1938.

  18. Gerlinde Tremmel says:

    Es gibt einen Anton Tremmel, der hatte 11 Kinder und 11 Morgen Land. Dieser Anton Tremmel hatte auch einen Anton Tremmel als Sohn. Dieser starb beim großen Angriff der Partisanen in Krndija in der Feuernacht. Kinder Tremmel Anna, Katharina, Eva, Anton. Alle verstorben. Danach folgte die Flucht. Meine Tante Tremmel Theresia (verstorben) behauptete, der Herr Hittler hat das Dorf nach Voitsberg geschickt.

  19. ALBERT MAUSSER says:

    Karl Tremmel if you see this my mother was a Tremmel and was born in Krndija in 1933. I think her fathers name was Anton and her brother was Anton Tremmel Jr. I remember my mother saying she had lots of uncles so I’m thinking we might be related. If you would like to email me at maybe we can see if we are related or not??

  20. Lisa Coppola says:

    To Gerlinde Tremmel, Are you Eva Tremmel’s daughter? With a son named Michael? Michael that visited New York and stayed at my house many times? If so, I don’t know how you forgot to mention my mom as one of Anton’s children, your aunt Helen Tremmel/Mausser, born in 1933 in Kerndia, Anton’s youngest daughter and the only one to move permanently to America. That Gerlinde knew Helen in person. We never met, but I do remember Eva well from my childhood when she worked in NYC on 5th Avenue before going back to Germany.

  21. Alexander Dusleag says:

    Very exciting to read here about my grandmothers family. My grandmother was Katharina Tremmel, born 1925 in Krndija and daughter of Anton Tremmel.
    Not quite sure for now, but could be that there exists a genealogy record of Anton Tremmel at rootsweb.

  22. Michael Schmitz says:

    Hi Lisa Mausser and Albert Mausser, if you are still viewing this website I could share further information with you about your grandfather. My grandmother Elisabeth Hanich (formerly Erl) told me about her neighbour Anton Tremmel. You could email me at

  23. Irene Mireiter Ruppenthal says:

    My Father, Karl Mireiter, was born in Krndija and my mother, Eva Stampfer, lived there as well. Other families I am related to are Stollar and Röttenbucher. I am very interested in the history of Krndija and have visited there a couple of times, 2015 & 2019. Only about 10 houses still stand and some are lived in. The church, school and Gemeinde still stand. I only wish I had asked my parents, before they died, more about their lives there.

  24. Karl Steiner says:

    My Mother’s family was from Krndija. Anna Klettlinger. Brothers Hans and Josef. Sisters Elisabeth (Bauer), Teresia and Marie. Grandmother Maria (Stumpfl sp?). All went to Austria and then resettled in US NY Metro area early to mid 1950’s. Most of the offspring born in Krndjia or Salzburg. I recognize some of the names mentioned above from conversations with my grandmother and rest of family. I’ve done some research in the past but this was by far the most informative.

  25. Alicia Brucker says:

    My Grandfather, Anton Bruker was born in Djakovo in 1912. He & his wife, Anna Pavicic were forced from their home in Djakovo by German Army in May 1944. They made their way via train, to Austria thru Hungary. They were ethnic German.
    After staying in various DP Camps, they were able to immigrate to America in October 1951, despite not having family here.
    If you have any further info, I’d love to hear from you!! Email me:

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