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.    

23 Responses to “ Franzfeld in the Banat ”

  1. Margaret Redler Bures says:

    This information is so important to me. Thank you so much for providing it. My grandmother Katarina Rödler died in one of These camps. How, when, and from where is so important to me too.

    My parents and sister came to
    Cleveland in 1921 from Cervenka . Jacob and Margaret Redler .

    How do I find the Fransfeld pages 426-437?

    Thank you.

  2. Marijana says:

    Nach dem, was sie sagt, es stellt sich heraus, dass während des Zweiten Weltkrieges waren die Deutschen Opfer des Partisanen! Liebe Freunde, wurden Opfer von Hitler und seinem Regime die Deutschen … Es ist traurig, dass so viele Menschen starben. Ich lebe immer noch in der ehemaligen Franzfeld.a Kačarevo heute, und heute gibt es die Eingeborenen von hier lebenden Deutschen, noch bevor derugog Weltkrieg, und ich weiß sicher, dass wer auch immer Sie

  3. André Eberle says:

    My great-grandparents left of Baden-Württemberg Reutlingen and went to Franzfeld (Kačarevo) …
    I’m having a hard time finding my family (Eberle family), if anyone has any information to help me …

  4. Erna Becker says:

    Andre Eberle,
    The person to contact about ancesters is

    He is listed on the Franzfeld German web site.
    You might want to check out my book FROM FRANZFEL TO MANSFIELD.

  5. Ingrid says:

    My father, Martin Schmidt, his mother, Anna Babeo, and younger sister, Elizabeth, we three that made it out of Franzfeld on the first airlift. This is an excellent account. Thank you.

  6. My name says:

    Hi Andre

    My family is from Franzfeld and now live in Reutlingen. My gran and great grant parents are Eberle.
    Let me know if I can help.

  7. Biba says:

    My great-grandmother, Josephine Radechny, was born in Franzfeld. Her father was Wilhelm Radechny. She was married Mihailo Heck in Zemun. Her husband and son Nikola were executed in November 1944 in Zemun. She survived camp Mitrovica. Does anybody know about family Radechny? Thank you.

  8. André says:

    Hi “my name”,I seek the lineage of my relatives, I know my great grandmother Eva Karlistchek (geb.Eberle) has lived in Rommelsbach, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany.
    Please contact by my email “”.
    Thank you!

  9. Mirko Heimann says:

    Dear Friends,
    I know very well how was be a Germans in Yugoslavia after the WW2. I saw that on my father when I was a kid.
    I’m looking for my origin for a long time. I believe that my ancestors originating from Franzfeld. One part of the family Heimann has settled in Bosnia 1886 in the Franzjosefsfeld village. The rest of the family stayed in Franzfeld. If anyone has any information about Heimann’s I would be grateful.
    All I know is my grandmother’s name Gottliebe Heimann, my father’s mother. She was born in Franzjosefsfeld in Bosnia 1894.

  10. Looking for any information about our family. Their last name is Hoff. They escaped to Mansfield Ohio. Thank you for sharing this past history. Grandpa had a hard time talking about how life was for them. I can understand why now. My email is

  11. Christopher Zimmer says:

    4x Great Grandfather
    George Jakob Brandner
    born 1-13-1800 Franzfeld Banat, Hungary
    died 11-13-1865 Marienfeld, Russia

    3x Great Grandfather
    Johann Phillip Brandner
    born 10-9-1829 Franzfeld Banat, Hungary
    Immigrated to the Dakotas 1885
    died 1-29-1912 McIntosh County,North Dakota

  12. Eric Kuehfuss says:

    Would like information about my family, last name Kühfuß. My father was a baker and born in Frnazfeld. My grandfather died of starvation on Rudolfsgnad in 1945. I was born in Pancevo. Our family ws able to get out Pancevo in 1952 and we moved to Germany and then to the US in 1956. I am trying to reconstruct family tree, so any information will be appreciated.

  13. ERNA BECKER says:

    So many of you are looking for ancestors.
    Please note
    on “Franzfeld” website.
    He understands English.

  14. ERNA BECKER says:

    I need to correct the address above.

    Sorry about that

  15. ERNA BECKER says:

    By the way,

    I wrote a book about my childhood in the camps in Yugoslavia, FROM FRANZFELD TO MANSFIELD.

  16. George Dragicevic says:

    My mother (maiden name Djuga or Djuka) lived in Franzfeld until about 1941. I’m looking for family connections with names Abelovsky, Scheurer, Schutz,Schaber, Muller, Sebastian, Rapp, Bogert.
    I understand my grandmother’s uncle? who was a Schutz migrated to Mansfield Ohio around 1901 with about 10 children. I am particularly interested in this branch of the family. Any information appreciated.

    Melbourne Australia

  17. Brian Zahn says:

    Looking for information about Michael Martin Hallabrin and family, who was from Franzfeld and came to Mansfield, OH, about 1908. What is the address of the Franzfeld website mentioned above?

  18. Terry Lenick says:

    To: George Dragicevic

    George, my grandfather came to Mansfield around 1900. He is known as Conrad Scheetz. However, it shows up as Schutz on the Ellis Island registry. He married Katherine and had a very colorful life. There were 15 kids but only 9 survived. He was born 1878. We might be related.

  19. my grandfather conrad sheetz born 1878 imigrated to united states in 1908 with 2 of his sons, conrad born 1903 and jake born 1905
    he was married to katherine wilnor who arrived later and they raised 10 children in mansfield,ohio
    the surname was mis spelled as shutz by immigration..see sheetz family tree on ancestry..

  20. Christopher Zimmer says:

    My 6 times Great Grandfather was Paul Brandner (1756-1802), who came to settle Franzfeld from Lagensteinbach, in Baden-Wurrtemburg in Southwest Germany. Before that they had come from the Tyrol region of Austria in the late 17th century.

    Paul was a Grenadier in the Baden Regiment
    in Neureut, Baden, Germany.
    Occupation: Master Tailor and Grenadier.

    Then in 1884, his grandson, Johann Phillip Brandner, immigrated to the Dakotas with his wife and kids, like many Swabian Germans did, along with the Black Sea Germans from Odessa who they eventually married into. That side were original from Prussia in what is now Poland.

  21. Linda Eichinger says:

    The first real shock to the villagers was the “execution” of 36 year old Eva Eichinger who was shot in front of the church rectory…..

    Through my research, I have discovered that this poor woman was my grandmother.

    I am hoping to gather more information about her…. thank you

  22. Karen BAUER Foss says:

    iI have a family tree leading back to Konrad Bauer (father of Peter), born approx. 1845 in Franzfeld.
    The Franzfeld community, however, has the Franzfeld parish records available from the mid 18th century until 1835.
    So, unfortunately, there is a gap of some years that does not allow a precise connection to my family branch to the existing records.
    But it seems that the choice of possible matches is quite limited.

    The possible parents for Konrad Bauer. I have added Konrad’s father as unknown and has put him as a brother next to the potential candidates (being Johannes (* 1805), Philipp (* 1808), Fridrich (* 1813), Peter (* 1817),

    Can anyone help me to fill in the possible connections between 1835 to 1845?

  23. Melinda A Henke-Krohne says:

    I am looking for birth records for Wilhelm “Vilmos” Henke possibly born in Franzfeld around 1850. Is there a website to read records?

    Thank you!
    Melinda Henke-Krohne

Trackbacks & Pingbacks:

Leave a Comment