Memories of September & October 1944
by Alex Leeb
No one in our village
had a radio, nor was there a telephone, except
for the Post Office. We were isolated from
other surrounding villages. When someone came
back from visiting other villages, they would
inform us the occurrences from the villages.
The village of
Billed, being 99.9, per cent German. As the
German Army were retreating, they made Billed
their headquarter for a short time. As Nick
stated, the Germans were retreating from Greece,
and held themselves on the main highways. The
road from Temeswar to Tschanad into Hungary was
a high-quality road to travel with trucks,
tanks, automobiles, especially when it rained.
With the German headquarters being in Billed,
our villages (Knees) was also occupied by German
soldiers. They commuted back and forth between
the two villages. For over a year, we
witnessed German uniforms, Hungarian and
Romanian, uniforms. We had no problem
distinguishing the uniforms.
In mid September, 1944, for three days
Hungarian, soldiers passed through our village
toward Temeswar. Heavy rainfall, soldiers were
walking in water and mud, and exhausted.
On the fourth day, three horse-pulled-buggies,
full with soldiers, entered our village.
Their uniforms looked strange to us and they
spoke a language which we never heard before.
About 12, of us children, played soccer on the
street, as we observed the strange uniforms
enter our village. One of my cousins was grabbed
by one of the men with the strange uniform. They
regimented him to take them to the city hall.
The German soldiers had occupied the city hall.
When they turned the corner heading towards the
city hall, my cousin pointed out the city hall
mystery uniform men, dismounted from the wagons,
positioned themselves for combat against the
Germans in the city hall. Once the shooting
began, my cousin came running home exhausted and
told us about the episode. While this was
happening, we went and told our mothers and
grandparents, what happen.
When the soldiers retreated, we discovered they
were Russian, soldiers.
The casualties in the battle were, one German
soldier and four Russian soldiers.
Grandfathers, women and the children, were the
only German habitants left in the villages. Some
people built bunkers in the gardens, to hide
from the Russians.
We sensed that day, the Russians would return to
our village the same night.
The city hall was still occupied by the German
soldiers. Our grandfathers hid themselves in the
bunkers, while the women and children, were
hiding in the basement in a house nearby. There
must've been about 10-12, women, (including
grandmothers) and 18-20, children, ages from
2-16, hiding in the basemen.
We were whispering to each other, in scared
voices. At 3 AM, men's voices were heard outside
in the court-yard. The lady of the house, asked;
"should I open the door and see who it is, it
might the men from the bunkers.?" She was
outnumbered, everybody voted against her. The
voices, became louder and louder. We heard
knocks, at the main door of the house. There
were knocks on the basement door but the it was
locked. We could hear them talking in Russian.
With force, the Russian, soldiers broke through
the door and swarmed down the basement with
their machineguns. For us children, it was a
nightmare. The Russian soldiers, beating up our
grandmothers, and we watched, while our mothers
and the young girls were raped by the Russian
soldiers. The next day, the Russians came back
to the same place, they took the lady's father,
who was in his mid 70's and crippled, tied him
to the post in the barn. They brought his
daughter in the barn, about 10, Russian soldiers
raped her in front of her father. Her father was
helpless - the only help he could give her was,
the tears from his eyes.
For the next three days, our village was
surrounded. The Russians on the NE side and the
Germans on the SW side. Nobody could leave the
village or they would be shot.
After three days, the Germans, retreated back to
Billed. The Russians moved into our village.
When leaving our village and go to Billed, you
had to cross a bridge.
One German soldier held the Russians back from
the other side of the river.
When he couldn't detain the Russian any longer,
he retreated himself back to Billed. While entering Billed, he was shot by a
was just the beginning of our fate, in September
of 1944. Comparing to what our Donauschwaben cousins in
Yugoslavia experienced, ours was just a drop
in the bucket.
[Published at DVHH.org 2004, by Jody McKim Pharr]