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Treatment of the Germans in Feketitsch by the Serbs, simply titled....

"Documentary"

by Mr. Jakob Göettel
Born on February 2, 1895, a building contractor, lived in Feketitsch at
193-94 Martin Luther Street, in the Batschka-Topola  District of Yugoslavia.
In time he lived in Waiblingen at 52 Staufen Street.

Translated by Brad Schwebler

   On the 18th of October, 1944 the first Russian troops came into our village of Feketitsch.  During the stay of the Russian troops we had peace from the partisans.  The Russians told us that we should hide or bury our valuables because the partisans would plunder us.  On the 15th of November, 1944 the partisans who took over the power were the rabble of the area.  First they went from house to house and took hunting clothes and suits for the time being which they put on immediately.

   On the 17th of November, 1944 in the evening 8 partisans came into my house with machine guns and ordered me to come with them.  Along the way they took the men out of several homes and led us to the “Gutwein” Restaurant.  As we arrived there even the pharmacist Heinrich Kloss was interrogated by a female partisan and several other partisans.  The female partisan ordered that pharmacist Kloss lay on the table.  His jacket was taken off beforehand.  A partisan sat himself at the head of the pharmacist, he had his hands under his face, two other partisans held him at the feet, and a fourth beat him with the horse whip from the ankles to the neck.  Already at the first dreadful beating the pharmacist cried out loud.  I saw him after he received 45 such blows.  Then I was called to the interrogation and also had to take off my jacket and lay on the table whereupon they started to beat me.  From the ankles to the neck and back down again.  I was unconscious and only by the beatings on the kidneys did I jerk awake again.  When it was over a fellow countryman told me I received 120 lashes.  After the lashes on my body one could see the swellings and bruises.  Each spot was completely black.  There were 55 of us men who were all beaten in this way, as well as three girls who were also beaten and their abdomens were stepped on. 

  After we were all given a good beating we were locked up in the community detention (in a room 9 square meters for 58 people).  We stood pressed close together so that we and the walls sweated.  Again and again the partisans came and opened the door and struck us and walked on our heads.  I stood by the door there, a partisan struck me on the hands so that I could hardly feel them for a long time.  The girls who were with us had to wash the blood off the next day in our room and also in front of the prison where they gave a Hungarian a dreadful beating while we were locked up.  On the second night as the partisans mistreated us again, a Russian officer came who saw this.  It was a Mongol and he inquired why we were locked up.  The partisans said we were the Fifth Column and had shot at the Russians.  The Russian officer replied that that was not true and we were locked up in the cinema for it.

   At the time, as we were in the community prison, we received nothing to eat or drink.  If we had to go to the bathroom, we had to wait until there were 10 people.  Then when we were first allowed out we had to line up in rank and file.  A partisan commanded and we had to do exercises.  Not all of us understood Serbian, so if we made a mistake we were again beaten.  Then if anyone was beaten, we were not allowed to go to the bathroom at first.

   When we were still in the prison the partisans dragged two old men into the prison.  It was 81 year old Jakob Weissmann and 70 year old Jakob Hoffmann.  They were so beaten beforehand that they could no longer walk, so they had to be dragged to the prison.

   Next to the cinema there was guestroom in which the partisans had their dining room.  During the whole day we had our rest.  It was dark in the cinema hall and in front of the entrance door a partisan sat constantly with a weapon.  Sometimes he let us out during the day to go to the bathroom.  But that always depended on the guard posts concerned.  Sometimes they did not let us out and that compelled us to do it in the hall in the corner.  We slept on the floor without straw or covers.  We received something to eat for the first time on the third day when our relatives were allowed to bring us something.  The partisans ate each evening in their dining room next to the cinema and as they ate the drinking binge started.  Around 9 or 10 PM, as the harmonica player started to play, we already knew it was our turn.  Before they dispersed they came in to see us.  They always took pharmacist Heinrich Kloss first.  They did it in an especially sadistic way.  They said that he was the first to receive a beating yesterday and he is a good man and was never to be blamed and stroked his face.  At once they began to curse him and punch him in the face, and then thrashed him with the batons where they always struck him.  Then came our turn.  We had to line up and then they beat us until we were tired.  Then they went home.  Our lathe master Andreas Riesz was mad from the many beatings and from a gun butt blow to the ear.

   On the fourth day the partisans led us to the cinema.  A passing Russian general stood and asked what they held on to us.  They partisans said they wanted to shoot us.  The Russian general said that was out of question, they should put us to work somehow.  As a result the partisans led us to Topola to the district prison where we stayed overnight.  There were over 100 men from Feketitsch.  The girls who were with us were kept back in Feketitsch.  In the Topola prison the partisans stood at the door and as we entered they hit us with gun butts.  We had to sleep on the cement floors.

   Through the whole night the partisans opened the flap on the door and demanded watches, rings, and money from us.  Those who came to us in the cinema later still had their watches etc. with them.  The next morning we had to leave the prison and there again stood the partisans at the door and struck each of us.  We were led into the artillery depot on Bajscha Street.  In this depot there were 179 of us men, which also brought us together with Hungarians who came from Feketitsch.  There were also Sekitsch and Bajmoker Germans under them.  In the depot we lay on the cement floors for the first four days and then we received a straw sack for every 8 men.  We were in the depot for 10 days.  During this time we did not work, but we did do exercises.

   The food consisted of cooked cabbage broth.  On the 10th day we had to break corn in the snow at the Falcione Manor with 101 men.  There we remained for a month and then went back to the depot in Topola again.  There we Germans were divided into three groups.  The first group was men up to 45 years old who went to Kula on the 26th of December and from there (80 men altogether) were transported to Russia.  The second group went to Mitrovica on the 29th of December 1944 and the third group of about 100 men from Sekitsch and Feketitsch went in the woods to Radonovac near Pallitsch.  In the woods we had to dig up and fell the acacia trees from the frozen earth to cup up for wood.  It was decided by the Russians that they were forbidden to hit us.  At this work Josef Paul died by accident.  Peter Freitag broke an arm and a foot and I broke two of my ribs and the shoulder blade we were brought to the city hospital in Subotica and a Jewish doctor treated us.  He said that I actually had to be laid in plaster, but if a plaster cast was put on I could not work for about 3 months, and we should and must work, because we deserved nothing better.  This accident happened on the 20th of March 1945 and on the 31st of March everyone who worked on felling trees came to the Mitrovica Camp. 

   I was in the hospital for a month and after that I went to the camp in the starch factory in Subotica.  Here 16 and 17 year old partisans were also guards.  It was strictly forbidden for the men and women to speak to each other and if someone was caught they were given a good beating.  Each morning we had to line up in the camp yard where those capable of working went with the Russians each day to work.  We had to cut up wood for the Russians, do cleaning in the hospital and in their quarters, as well as load the train locomotives.

   We received breakfast and dinner in the camp.  For breakfast we received a water soup, which one might better call warm water, and in the evening they alternated peas, beans, potatoes – or cabbage soup.  The vegetables pods were so always so hard that we could not eat it.  In the camp 3 tier plank beds were put up on which we slept on the boards without straw and without covers to cover up.

   On the 5th of June 1945 I came to the camp by Sekitsch from the Subotica Camp in a transport of 250 men and 250 women.  In the transport there were only war prisoners and those not capable of working.  In the Sekitsch Camp I found my family again, who were there since the 16th of January.  On that day when the partisans in Feketitsch led us to the cinema they had also driven together all the remaining man and women from 16 to 60 years of age.  They were apparently also supposed to be shot with us, yet the Russian general intervened.  The partisans said to the general that the women and girls were also coming to the camp when he asked, what’s going to happen to the children and old people.  The partisans said there was not so much room, so the general ordered that the women should also stay at home with their children.           

   In Sekitsch we were put up in homes that were completely cleared out.  Even the oven and stove were destroyed so we couldn’t heat or cook anything in addition.  In the camp there were some partisans whose task it was to observe where it smoked and go immediately to the house and beat those concerned and lock them in the cellar for a few days.  The partisans then also often went from house to house and searched for food, articles of clothing and wash.  If they found something anywhere the people were also beaten and locked up just like those who had two shirts, pants, etc.

   Those capable of work had to work daily in the plant nurseries where about 200 people worked and in the field.  They also had to carry together the furniture and home appliances to the empty standing homes, pick the corn and take it away.  The food was very weak, without fat or salt.  The breakfast consisted of water soup, noon alternating pea soup, potatoes, moldy barley soup, and hard worm eaten beans.  In the Sekitsch Camp the death toll was small because we received food from the neighboring Hungarian villages that was smuggled in.  Besides that we had many medicines here that the partisans knew nothing about.  The medicines came from Dr. Tauss who had this hiding place and I had found it.

   Each day the announcement was given by the camp commandant and the deputy how many camp inmates had died.  He said, too few have died, at least 30 to 50 people must die daily.  The deputy of the commandant was a Serb named Desko from Sid who had been Kaufmann’s apprentice with Dietrich in Feketitsch.  Because too few died in the Sekitsch Camp, a higher command moved it to Gakowa and Kruschewlje.  The children went to Kruschewlje and the old, sick and people not capable of working went to Gakowa.  Those capable of working were sold from the Sekitsch Camp.  I was sold to the “Orient” Wine Cellar for 1800 Dinar per month, my wife for 1500 Dinar.

   The deputy camp commandant, called the “Red”, beat the camp inmates a lot.  Adam Leibesperger and Adam Schwebler both from Feketitsch had once crept from the camp and went to Feketitsch begging.  The deputy commandant caught them nearby and led into the cellar of the commandant’s camp for it where they were locked up and beaten daily so dreadfully that their bawling was still heard.  If they fainted they were brought to the yard and cold water was poured on them.  When they came to they were put down on a concrete pillar lying in the garden with the head in a certain square and were always beaten for it. 

   If they fainted again, they again had cold water poured on them.  If they were placed on the cement pillar in the desired place, they had to be put back down on the old place.  We could not bear the cries of the victims and also went far away from our homes.

   One day a young attractive woman from Syrmia was so beaten because she did not want to go in the high corn with the deputy commandant.  Once he also beat the cook from Apatin so bad that he collapsed into unconsciousness.  Ms. Bender from Feketitsch was also beaten because they once found three onions on her.  He beat her with the knife , dripping with blood, and her head full of wounds.

   Once as we sat in the yard a person from Apatin who worked in the kitchen peeling potatoes was shot by a partisan.  The commandant asked afterwards how it had happened and the partisan answered that his weapon simply went off.  The the deputy commandant said, “Look you Swabians, we can shoot all of you so.”

   On the 26th of August 1947 we fled from our workplaces from Gakowa Camp, where we fled over the Hungarian border, and on the 31st of August 1947 we arrived in Baja (Hungary).  From here we fled further to Austria where we arrived on the 21st of September 1947, and from there we went further to Germany.  Certain faithful have made it.  I am gladly prepared to confirm it with my oath.  Waiblingen, the 15th of February 1952.

[Published at DVHH.org by Jody McKim Pharr, 2003]

 

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