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The Fate of the Donauschwaben 'January 14, 1945'

by Alex Leeb

          The Second World War didn't end until the spring of 1945, but the fate of the Donauschwaben people already began on January 14, 1945. It was evident then already that Germany would lose the War. Most of the younger Donauschwaben men were serving in either the German or the Romanian Armies. Ninety nine percent of them never did return home to their families.  As soon as the Russian soldiers invaded Czechoslovakia, Josef Stalin, leader of the Communist Party, ordered all the Donauschwaben men and women between the ages of 16-35 to be send to Russia and help to rebuilt Russia.

          On January 14th, some of the local communist people were celebrating their victory and the defeat of the Donauschwaben people. You could see it in their eyes, the enjoyment and pleasure they are going to have with the Donauschwaben people.

          The Donauschwaben people were put on freight trains and transported to the Russian camps, where they worked underground in the coalmines. Some had to leave their little children, parents and grandparents behind. Some of the children had nobody to turn to for protection.

          Here is an example where fate hit families in this village. The village is Gross-und-Deutschsanktnikolaus.  This is just one of the many Donauschwaben villages where families suffered deeply.  In eight families, were two sons who died in the war. In one family, two sons were deported to the Russians camps.

  • Family H. Filipp; sons Hans and Franz, died in the German Army.

  • Family M. Lawatowitsch; sons Karl and Michael, died in the German Army.

  • Family J. Oster; sons Hans and Martin in the German Army.

  • Family P. Roos; son Franz, in the Romanian Army, son Peter, in the German Army.

  • Family J. Schmidt; sons Jakob and Peter, in the German Army.

  • Family H. Schmidt; sons Hans and Jakob, in the Romanian Army.

  • Family F. Tinnes; sons Filipp and Franz, died in Russia in the coalmines.

  • Family J. Witte; sons Jakob and Josef in the German Army.

          Family Hans Mueller, had five children: Hans; Elisabeth; Eva; Katharina and Rosina. In January, 1945, four of their daughters were forced to the coalmines in Russia. One of their son-in-law, died in the Romanian Army. Six children, all under the age of five, were left to stay with their grandparents. The daughter Elisabeth, married a Gerbl, she died in Russian and her husband Gerbl, died in the Romanian Army. Their two little children were left behind as orphans.

          The family Jakob Schulde; had four children, the ages between 5-9, Jakob Schulde, died in 1941, by Odessa, Russia, while serving in the Romanian Army. His wife Anna was forced to the coalmines in Russian, in 1945. The four children were left with their 73, year old grandparents at that time.

          Family Jakob Witte; had six children, Elisabeth; Jakob; Anton; Hans; Josef and Eve. They were a happy family until the fate struck them. The sons Jakob and Josef died in the German Army. Hans and his wife Elisabeth (nee, Kaufmann) both were forced to Russia and died in the coalmines. The husband of Eva, died in the German Army. That's how fate hit the Witte family, during the war and after the war.

          January 14th, was not a jubilant day for the Donauschwaben. A day they would rather forget, but for some, memory disappears slowly.  To some of us, such incidents have no meaning, no feeling to us. To us, they're just ordinary names which we might hear on a daily bases.  To some of us, we feel the fate for the people and their families.  For some of us, they were our relatives, - our grandparents, - our parents and our children.


[Published at DVHH.org 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]