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Central Civilian Internment and Labor Camps

  The imprisonment of the Danube Swabians in internment camps began in December of 1944 and was completed by April 1945.  There were three kinds of camps: 

  1. Zentralarbeitslager “Central Labor Camp”

  2. Ortslager “Regional or District Camp”

  3. Konzentrationslager fuer Arbeitsunfaehige “Concentration Camp For Those Unable to Work” 

     In the Central Labor Camps most of the inmates were men who were put into work groups and put to hard labor.  In the District or Regional Camps, the local Danube Swabian population was interned, often in their own villages as a stopgap method.  The Concentration Camps were for women, children and older men unable to work.  But in some cases, mothers were separated from their children and teen-agers were later taken to the Labor Camps with them as well. 

Locations: Yugoslavia Banat | Batschka | Syrmia


Central Civilian Internment and Labor Camps
In the Yugoslavia Banat:

Milchhalle at Gross-Kikinda/Kikinda - Already by the middle of October 1944, immediately after the take-over by the Russians and partisans, it became a torture and murder camp for over 1,000 defenseless civilians. Subsequently, it was the central camp for the northern part of the Banat until the end of 1946.

The Northern Banat "Where the lust for murder raged": Kikinda

Alte Mühle at Gross-Betschkerek/Zrenjanin - It was probably the most gruesome execution camp for the Germans during the bloody autumn 1944 and then used as a central camp until May 1947.

The North Eastern Banat "The Hunt for Danube Swabians": Betscherek Grossbetscherek

Stoikowitch-Telep at Werschetz/Vrsac - The town Werschetz, in the South-Banat was also notorious for the murders committed there. After the killing-orgies of the "bloody autumn 1944" came to an end, it served as a central camp.

The South Eastern Banat "Crimes of Horror": Werschetz

Stockhaus at Weisskirchen/Bela Crkva - This building too, was used for the torture and executions of hundreds of victims before it was transformed into a Southeast central camp of the Banat.

Schuschara/Susara - On December 24, 1944, the whole village was declared a central camp for the German civilians of the surrounding area. For a time, children, old and ill civilians were housed there as well. It existed until spring 1947.

Karlsdorf/Banatski Karlovac - Established April 27, 1945; it also contained children and old people until October 1945, when they were transferred to the liquidation camp Rudolfsgnad. At Karlsdorf 1,000 occupants, including 400 documented by name, died of starvation.

The South Eastern Banat "Crimes of Horror": Karlsdorf

Fischplatz at Pantschowa/Pancevo - This camp was established November 1944 and dissolved February 22, 1948. The conditions in the overcrowded barracks were horrible and led to diseases and epidemics. The commander, a cruel female named Radojka, indulged in torturing the defenseless victims.

South Western Banat "Wholesale Murder": Pantschowa

Banat-Brestowatz/Banatski Brestovac - November 1944 - early 1948. This camp contained, among many others, several thousand inhabitants of the city of Pantschowa, unable to work, until October 1945, when they were shipped to the liquidation camp Rudolfsgnad.

South Western Banat "Wholesale Murder": Brestowatz

Seidenfabrik at Kubin/Kovin - Towards the end of 1944, after termination of the murderous "Aktion Intelligenzija," this silk spinning mill was made into the central camp for the surrounding communities. It contained about 600 detainees.

The Southern Banat "A Bloodbath Without Borders": Kovin

Mramorak - By the end of April 1945, all those inhabitants of Mramorak not yet interned, were put into several houses, together with children, ill and old people from the surrounding area. Beginning November 1945, they were all shipped to the liquidation camp Rudolfsgnad.

The Southern Banat "A Bloodbath Without Borders": Mramorak

Children's camp in the Banat:

  • Banatsko tovo Selo (Banater Neudorf)

  • Debeljaca (Debeljatscha)

  • Jabuka (Apfeldorf)

  • Kacarevo, vorh.Kraljevicevo (Franzfeld)

  • Vlajkovac (Wlajkowatz)

Sick Patient Camps in Banat:

  • Banatski Karlovac (Karlsdorf)

  • Ravni Topolovac, vorh.Banatski Topoloyac (Kathreinfeld; Katarina)

  • Zitiste, vorh. Begejski Sveti Djuradj (St.Georgen)


Central Civilian Internment and Labor Camps
In the Batschka:

The systematic liquidation program of the Danube Swabian population in the Batschka closely followed the parameters of the governmental districts into which the Batschka was divided for administrative purposes.
  1. North and Middle Batschka
  2. South and South West Batschka
  3. West and North Batschka

Each of these districts had a central Slave Labor Camp, countless “working stations”, and internment and concentration camps for those unfit for work. The original internment and concentration camps were closed as the inmates were sent to the chief district camp.

North and Middle Batschka consisted of the communities in and around Kula and Subotitza and the villages scattered in the remaining eastern Batschka.

South and South West Batschka covered the areas around Neusatz and Palanka.

West and North West Batschka consisted of the regions of Hodschag, Apatin and Sombor.

Neusatz/Novi Sad - Already in November 1944, the notorious central camp Neusatz was the first of its kind established on the swampy banks of the Danube River in the South-Batschka.

Initially it contained able-bodied men and women from the South Batschka region. After additional central camps were created, it became the main "trading center" for this modern slave-trade and engaged in a continuous exchange of inmates with other central and liquidation camps. The sick ones were shipped to the liquidation camps and exchanged for still somehow usable workers. From here, many were selected for the deportation to Russia at Christmas 1944.

Even though the camp had a steady occupation of 2,000, it consisted only of two windowless barracks and a notorious "bunker" of six square meters. For even the slightest trespass, inmates were thrown into the waterlogged structure. For many the long ordeal of standing in the water was fatal.

The numerous mistreatments and murders without court proceedings, even though the war was over, induced Dr. Wilhelm Neuner, formerly Oberlandesgericht Präsident (equivalent to president of a state appeals court) and also internee at the camp, to send written complaints to the ministry of the interior at Belgrade. These complaints were secretly smuggled out of the camp. For his courageous actions he was locked into the "bunker." He then was passed from camp to camp, but continued his written complaints and was eventually expelled to Hungary. The camp is said to have been closed during the last days of March 1948, when its occupancy was down to about 400. There are no records of how many of the inmates perished.

Palanka/Backa Palanka - The central camp Palanka was set up in November 1944, containing 14-15 year old boys and 60-70 year old, able-bodied men from its surrounding area. Eventually it grew to an average of 600 internees.

Sombor - The town of Sombor, as already mentioned in a previous chapter, turned out to be the "turn-table" for the persecution, internment and murder of the Germans in the West-Batschka. It was established in November 1944 and also had jurisdiction of the central camps Hodschag, Apatin and Filipowa.

Thousands of ethnic Germans were stuffed into the lice-infested barracks, often mistreated, insufficiently fed and forced to work weekdays as well as Sundays. Whoever became sick was immediately sent to the death-camp Gakowa which was established on March 12, 1945. The first camp commander was Rajko, the second one Dusan Kurepa. Both were cruel sadists, the second one even worse; he personally committed at least thirteen murders. He sent for his vietims, nearly beat them to death and then cut their throat. The camp was one of the last to be closed sometime in March 1948.

Apatin - This town was originally inhabited by 12,000 Germans.  During the winter the local camp, under the overall jurisdiction of Sombor, suffered from starvation. The camp commander, Mito Volic was particularly cruel. His deputy, Milivoj Beljanski from Sombor took girls from the camp into his apartment and raped them. Later he was demoted and dismissed. His successor tied women to trees, whipped them until they became unconscious and threw them naked into the cellar. His specialty was to electrify naked women's breasts and genitals.

Hodschag/Odzaci - This camp too, fulfilled its purpose, particularly in the investigation and persecution of members of the "Kulturbund" (cultural society). Those arrested were never seen again.

Filipowa/Backi Gracac - Because the liquidation camps Gakowa and Kruschiwl were overflowing by mid-1945, this camp was opened between mid-June to mid-October 1945 for able-bodied, as well as those unable to work, of the Hodschag area. In this short time about 250 perished due to starvation and epidemic diseases. By about October 1945, about 2,000 had died of starvation at Gakowa and since there were now openings those unable to work at Filipowa were shipped to Gakowa.

Seidenfabrik at Werbass/Vrbas - Towards the end of 1945 this former silk factory was established as a central camp for the Germans of the Middle-Batschka. It also had jurisdiction over the relatively large work camps at Tschervenka, Kula and Weprowatz. The conditions there were worse than in a prison. Since there was no more work to be done in the fields as of December 1946, the camp commander made the inmates stand in formation from 5 to 11 o'clock during the bitter cold winter mornings. Then he let them sit till evening in the court yard. The camp was most likely dissolved the beginning of 1948.

North and Middle Batschka "Where the bloodletting raged" Werbass

Sekitsch/Lovcenac - This used to be an entirely German community at the eastern edge of the German settlements and in January 1945 was transformed into a central camp for about 6,000 Germans. In October 1945 it was reduced to 1,500 inmates and was functioning as a work camp. Most of the rest were taken to the liquidation camps of Gakowa and Kruschiwl at about the time their inmates were dying in great numbers. Before they were shipped they were searched once more and deprived of their last miserable belongings. They even had to exchange any still somewhat useful clothing they wore for torn rags.

Stärkefabrik at Subotica - This former starch factory was most likely converted into a central forced labor camp by the middle of November 1944. The 4,000 inmates were mostly Germans who earlier had fled to Hungary but tried to return to their homes after cessation of the war. Upon crossing the border from Hungary they were immediately robbed of all their belongings. According to reports, devastating typhus epidemics raged throughout the camp. It was most likely dissolved in January 1948.


Central Civilian Internment and Labor Camps
In the Syrmia:

Kalvaria at Semlin/Zemun - After the murderous stations in the villages India and Ruma were transformed into work camps, the central camp established on the Kalvarienberg (Kalvarien mountain) was apparently the only one of this kind. According to Hans Volk, it was a barracks area 100m x 200m, fenced in by high barbed wire. The inmates were Germans from the town of Semlin and the few Germans that did not flee from the eastern part of Syrmia. They had to sleep on bare wooden cots and forced to perform hard labor from 3 a.m. till late at night. They were repeatedly and mercilessly beaten. The food was hardly any better than in the death camps. In the morning watery soup with some ground corn (maize), at noon soup with a few rotten potatoes or wormy peas and evenings whatever was left over from noon, with a slice of corn bread, without fat or salt - the same fare as in other camps. The central camp Semlin was evacuated in August/September 1945. As Hans Volk recalled, there were only about 150 men and 60 women that survived. These were shipped to the work camp in the nearby Beschania and in November 1945 after this one was also shut down, transferred to the death camp Mitrowitz.


Bibliography

  • GENOCIDE of the Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia 1944-1948. Published by the Danube Swabian Association of the USA
    2001. ISBN 0-9710341-0-9

  • Volume III of the documentation Leidensweg der Deutschen im kommunistischen Jugoslawien, 1995; respectively in the Weissbuch der Deutschen aus Jugoslawien. (The Tragedy of the Ethnic Germans in Yugoslavia).
  • "Völkermord der Tito-Partisanen" 1944-1948 "Genocide Carried out by the Tito Partisans" Österreichische Historiker-Arbeitsgemeinschaft Für Kärnten und Steiermark, 1992 (Austrian Historian Working Group for Kärnten and Steiermark). Translated by Henry Fischer, 2006

[Published at dvhh.org by Jody McKim, May 12, 2010]