Escape from Yugoslavia & Coming to America

by Hans Kopp

Hans was born in Batschsentiwan, near Apatin (in Hungary prior to 1914), in Batschka, one of the regions where the Danube Swabians settled. As a child in 1945, he became a post World War II victim of ethnic cleansing in Communist Yugoslavia.

After his escape in 1947, he fled via Hungary to Austria and from there he came to the United States in 1956. After he served a tour of duty in the United States Armed Forces (1958-1960), studied mechanical engineering and worked as a machine design engineer in the machine tool field and later as an engineering consultant in the steel mill industry.

His involvement in the German-American community of Greater Cleveland began in 1957, when he became a founding member of the “GBU Soccer Club” the forerunner of the “Sport Club Donauschwaben” and in 1958 a founding member of the Donauschwaben dance group. In 1964 he became one of the first youth soccer coaches of the “Sport Club Donauschwaben” and in January of 1965 he became one of the founders of the first youth soccer league in Ohio. During the late 60’s and early 70’s he was named head coach of the youth program of the Club, during which time the program with ten youth teams and more than 150 youth players experience its largest expansion. His involvement in promoting youth soccer, led to the appointment as the first president of the “Ohio Youth Soccer Association-North” in 1974, a position he held for 10 years. As such he became instrumental in the soccer development within the State of Ohio.

His involvements with soccer led to the appointment to the “National Soccer Coaches Committee” in 1975, and became a founding member of the National “Soccer State Coaches School” in the United States and the first state coach of the OYSA-N. In 1977, he was named as the first director for the “Midwest Olympic Soccer Development Program,” a position he held for seven years and thus became a founding member of the “Selective program” the “US National Olympic Soccer Development Program,” a name he created for the program which was adopted in 1983.

His contributions as a youth soccer coach and administrator of 25 years prompted the OYSA-N to name the U-16 State Youth Cup in Ohio “Hans Kopp Cup” in his honor and being inducted him into the “Ohio Youth Soccer Hall of Fame.”

He believes that it is not a right to become citizen of the United States, but a privilege which must be earned. Hans has earned that privilege as an educator giving young people a greater propose in life and adults a better opportunity to make a better live for themselves and their families. He is a certified instructor in the machine and machine tool and die design engineering field in the State of Ohio, a national licensed soccer coach and a certified “Ski Instructor of America.” His involvement in teaching spans close to a half a century. His love for teaching benefited thousands of school children of all ages, as well as adults, even today.

He has been a delegate to the “Federation of German-American Societies of Greater Cleveland” on and off, since 1972 and is a member of several branches of the Society of the “Donauschwaben’s German-American Cultural Center” since 1958. Hans was a passionate soccer player, he is still a passionate skier and gardener. Since his retirement he has assumed the responsibility of planting and caring for the flowers at Lenau Park, Donauschwaben German-American Cultural Center and is part of the crew to care for the German Cultural Garden at Rockefeller Park in Cleveland.

Hans has authored many short stories, technical papers on skiing and soccer, news reports for the "Wächter und Anzeiger" the "Germania" and several other publications in the German and in the English languages in Germany, Austria, the United States and Canada. Perhaps he is best known for his book: “The Last Generation Forgotten and Left To Die," "The History of the Danube Swabians in Word and Pictures,” written in German and English under one cover, framed by more than 1,400 pictures, documents and maps, copyrighted in 1999 and published in 2003. With this book he leaves behind valuable information on the historic events that led to the expulsion of the Germans from Southeast Europe and the genocide on their German citizens, perpetrated during the post war years of WWII by Communist Yugoslavia.

Since his retirement, Hans has is also taken on a mission to make the descendant of the Donauschwaben, as well as the general public, better aware of our history. He has done this by writing a book and by writing the chronicle of the German Nation published on the Donauschwaben-USA.org website. This should help to place events into the proper historic time frame which are often confusing and as a result erroneous statements are often made by our writer who do not find the correct sources or do not research our history well enough.

He recently translated "PEOPLE ALONG THE DANUBE,” by Nenad Stefanovic, a priceless contribution to our history for the Donauschwaben in the former Yugoslavia by a Serbian young author. The book is extremely educational and a wonderful opportunity to grow in knowledge throughout his presentation of the historic section. It is also very enlightening to learn that the children of our former Serbian fellow citizens acknowledge today that wrong was done to us.

The author also included true stories from survivors of the death camp of Rudolfsgnad. It was an extreme challenge for Hans to relive their stories in one language and translate them into another language so that you may be able to read and better understand the faith and suffering of our innocent children, the stories relate to in this book.

His most recent contributions are made to the DVHH and with his presentation “An Illustrated History of the Donauschwaben,” (which is not published as a book yet), but all rights are served to do so in the future. The DVHH website is certainly the path to take to reach out to our children in the present and the future; and as such Hans said: “It is a priceless contribution by the men and women volunteering their time to make it happen, my congratulations.”

[Published at www.dvhh.org, Nov 2006]


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Last Updated: 01 May 2013
Keeping the Danube Swabian legacy alive