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"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 & Steiermark) 
Translated by Henry Fischer. Edited & Published by Jody McKim, Sep. 2006
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3

Chapter 3

Genocide In the Yugoslavian Banat
"This is where innocent blood flowed like a river" 

(After World War I, the Banat was divided between Yugoslavia & Romania, with two thirds going to Romania & one third annexed to Yugoslavia)

The South Eastern Banat
"Crimes of Horror"

Werschetz

  In the famous wine producing city of Werschetz in the Banat until the end of the last war there were twelve thousand Serbian inhabitants and large numbers of Hungarians and Romanians alongside of sixteen thousand Danube Swabians.  By the end of 1944 after the Partisans took over power after the Russian military left individuals and groups of Danube Swabians were liquidated by shootings, beatings, deportations and other measures estimated to number six thousand victims.  In addition to this, countless Swabians from the surrounding numerous Danube Swabian settlements in the vicinity of the city were brought to Werschetz to be exterminated. 

  Beginning on October 3, 1944 the new police authorities carried out mass arrests of Danube Swabian men in Werschetz.  About four hundred of these men simply disappeared without trace.  Every night an always increasing number of people were taken out of the jail and taken to a cellar or another place by the police and were beaten, shot or put to death in some other manner.  Among these victims were also Swabian refugees from Romania who were in flight of the advancing Russian army, but had been unable to leave Werschetz before the Russian troops arrived and were taken prisoners by the Yugoslavian Partisans.  The corpses of the victims were buried in a variety places in the city, including the yards of some of the victims. 

  On October 10th, 1944 there were one hundred and thirty-five Swabians, including a teenage boy and one woman that were forcibly assembled by the Partisans on one of the main streets of the city and shot in public in broad daylight.  They had to kneel down in rows and received a shot in the back of their heads.  Whoever refused to kneel was thrashed and brutalized, stabbed, had their teeth knocked in, shot several times and only after suffering for some time were finally killed.  The woman, Viktoria Geringer was the mother of the teenage boy who was also put to death.  The others were vineyard owners and workers on their way home from work after gathering in the harvest, with grapes piled high in their wagons when the Partisans simply took them and killed them.  When all of them were dead the Partisans brought other wagons and loaded the corpses on them and took them to the dump.  But the body of the woman had a rope tied around her neck and they dragged her body behind the wagon through the city.  On top of the bodies of the dead Swabians sat jubilant Partisans and Gypsies.  They did gross things to the bodies as the wagon moved along, made music with an accordion and sang Partisan songs. 

  On October 23rd the leading Swabian citizens of the city, some thirty-five of them, were taken from their homes and put in the city jail.  They were gruesomely tortured there for the next two days.  Some of them were already killed then.  On October 25th early in the morning they were tossed on a truck and driven out of the city.  They disappeared forever.  The well known teacher, Nikolaus Arnold and the lawyer Dr. Julius Kehrer were among them. 

  They also imprisoned two hundred and fifty German prisoners of war in the city jail at that time.  They were taken away in groups at night around 10:00pm after being brutally abused before they were led away with their hands bound to the open fields around the dump.  Each time a huge ditch had been prepared.  The intended victims were placed in groups of twenty after being stripped naked and were forced to walk to the edge of the pit and each one was shot in the back of his neck.  But the sounds of the shooting could be heard in the whole city.   

  On October 25th the former Swabian mayor Geza Frisch and five other leading Swabian spokesmen were also shot at the dump.  These men had been imprisoned for several days in a room in the mayor’s office and on the evening of the 15th they were fettered and driven through the streets of the city.  The Partisans followed behind them on wagons.  The men had to shovel and dig their own graves and take off all of their clothes and stand naked before their executioners.  Then each of them was shot in the nape of his neck.  Almost the next day Partisans could be seen walking around in the city wearing their clothes. 

  Particularly gruesome was the treatment of countless Swabian women and young girls of Werschetz.  Hundreds of them were dragged away by Partisans and were never heard from again. 

    On October 27, 1944 all of the remaining Swabian men in the city were taken from their homes and brought into the recently designated concentration camp for Danube Swabians.  They also brought in the Swabians from the district and crushed them together in the camp numbering about five thousand.  The camp consisted of five barracks, which could not at first accommodate all of the people.  But soon the camp was empty.  In the evenings trucks arrived day after day.  Groups of one hundred men who had been previously chosen were loaded on the trucks and driven away into he night.  All of these people disappeared.  The routine of first undressing and then being shot was carried out, and all night long the shooting could be heard in the city.  As a result the numbers in the camp gradually declined.  By December of 1944 there were only three hundred and fifty men left of the thousands who had been brought there.  These survivors were sent to forced labor at Guduritz doing forestry work and later were sent to heavy labor in Semlin where the majority of them perished. 

  But many of the Swabians also died inside the camp as a result of abuse, starvation, torture and individual executions.  This treatment was especially designated for the well-to-do and educated Swabians.  Hundreds of them were buried close to the camp.  These actions were carried out on official orders from the highest authority that were well aware of the atrocities taking place. 

  On November 18, 1944 after most of the men had been liquidated, the Swabian women and children of Werschetz were imprisoned in the almost empty camp.  From here thousands were sent to other camps where the women had to do heavy labor in winter and many of them perished.  Large groups were sent to Mitrowitz, Schuschara and other camps.  There were also large groups of men from Weisskirchen in these labor units.  The majority of those who lived to the end of 1945 were brought to the large concentration camp in Rudolfsgnad.  Most of the people from Werschetz died of hunger here in the winter of 1945 and 1946.  There were only a few individual survivors. 


Karlsdorf

  Three thousand Danube Swabians lived in Karlsdorf.  It was occupied by Russian troops on October 2, 1944.  The Partisans appeared right afterwards and set up their Military Government.  By October 5th they were already arresting large numbers of Swabian men and women.  Every night people were arrested and taken away.  The nights during this period of time were especially dangerous for young women and girls.  Russian troops were always on the prowl in search of women to rape.  One seventy-three year old woman was the victim of three Russian soldiers.  Both men and women were soon considering suicide.  On October 9th there were twenty-eight men who were locked up in a tiny room.  On November 6th their torment began as they were abused, beaten and tortured.  The most horrible torture included knocking in a man’s teeth, plucking out an eyeball, cutting off their penises, breaking ribs and other bones.  As a result many of them died and were shot later. 

  On the 4th and 8th of November thirty-eight Swabians including six women, one of whom was in the final stages of her pregnancy were dragged off to Uljima.  On November 9th four of them who had been brutally tortured returned home.  As for the others, there was never any word at that time.  Later it was learned that they had been shot in Weisskirchen on the night of November 9th and 10th

  On November 12th all of the men from the age of sixteen to sixty had to report and were imprisoned in the deserted German air force barracks.  It was surrounded by barbed wire and now served as a slave labor camp.  But here mistreatment and torture continued.  One of the most feared of the Partisans was Livius Gutschu, a man who had murdered his own father, but who boasted of it until he himself was arrested and disappeared.   On November 18th the Swabian women and children and all of the others who were unable to work from Alibunar were brought to Karlsdorf.  They were quartered in the Swabian houses.  Some two hundred men were taken out of the camp a few days later.  They had to chop wood at Roschiana some twenty kilometers distant until the spring.  They lived there in earth dugouts.  One of the men from Uljma fell out of favor with the commander who had him so badly beaten and tortured that he collapsed.  He was forced to take off his trousers and they tied a brick to his genitals and with thrashings and whippings they encouraged him to dance.  In December these brutalities intensified and many died as a result of them. 

  At year’s end, two hundred and eighty persons from Karlsdorf were deported to Russia.  When the wood felling brigade returned in the spring, two hundred men were again immediately sent to Semlin.  Most of the group came from Karlsdorf (one hundred and thirty-two), Weisskirchen (twenty-seven), Schuschara (fifteen), Alibunar (ten), Uljma (six) Ilandscha (four) Jasenova (three) Seleusch (one) and some from other communities. 

  On February 12th six hundred men from the camp in Semlin (including ninety from Karlsdorf) were sent to Mitrowitz, where they joined four hundred men from Apatin and its vicinity.  When the group was brought back to Semlin on May 25th, there were one hundred and twelve fewer men who had died building the railroad or as a result of being shot to death.  Of the ninety men from Karlsdorf, twenty-one of them had died there.  In May of 1947 of the one hundred and thirty-two Karlsdorf men in camps, only sixty-six survived.  When the camp in Semlin was dismantled in September and the surviving inmates were sent to Mitrowitz there were still seventeen men from Karlsdorf who were still alive.  Next March there were only four. 

  On April 27, 1945 all of the remaining Swabians in Karlsdorf were driven into the camp.  They remained there for four weeks while their homes were being emptied of their possessions.  After a period of four weeks the Swabians were quartered in homes in one section of the village.  During the summer all of the able bodied had to work.  All of those not able to work at Karlsdorf were sent to Rudolfsgnad at the same time as the inmates from the Kathreinfeld camp.  Some four hundred and fifty persons arrived in Rudolfsgnad on October 30th, including two hundred and sixty-four persons from Karlsdorf.  By April half of them had starved to death.  In March of 1948 only eighty persons from Karlsdorf were still alive.  In the summer of 1946 more and more people attempted to escape to Romania and then headed for Austria through Hungary.  Many of the people from Karlsdorf were successful, but many others were apprehended, captured, robbed and often tortured and shot by the Partisan heroes who received medals for liquidating the “German criminals." 

  In mid April of 1946 and later over a period of time larger groups of inmates were sent to Guduritz and Werschetz.  In Guduritz escape and flight into Romania was unofficially tolerated so that those who were there were able to save their lives.  Later, that is, in the spring and summer of 1947 there were large groups organized at Gakowa that crossed the border into Hungary.  There the planned escapes were also unofficially tolerated because of the money payments involved. 

  Today Karlsdorf is known as Rankovicevo named after the commander of OZNA (Secret Police) and became the last station on the road of suffering of the Yugoslavian Danube Swabians who ended up at the camp there which became known as the “old folks home” describing the condition of the survivors of the holocaust who had nowhere else to turn or go when it was finally over.


Alibunar 

    The center for the extermination of the Swabians in the vicinity of Alibunar was the town itself.  In November 1944 the mass shootings of men had taken place.  The victims always had to take their clothes off first.  Later the Swabian women in the camp in Alibunar had to wash the clothes that had been distributed among the Partisans.  This is one of the ways that the Swabians knew who, when and how many of the men had been killed. 

  On November 18, 1944 all of the women and children, and all others unable to work were taken from Alibunar to the Karlsdorf camp.  The able bodied were sent to various slave labor camps in the area.  Whoever could not keep up with the pace of the marching column was shot and the bodies were thrown into the roadside ditches. 

Klara Knoll of Alibunar writes: 

  “Alibunar was a regional center with a mixed population, mostly Romanian and Serbian.  Of the five thousand inhabitants there were two hundred and twenty Danube Swabians.  Most of the Swabians were merchants, tradesmen, artisans and craftsmen. 

  On October 3rd, 1944 the Russian troops arrived in our town.  Only two days later the Serbian Partisans put in their appearance and took over the local government.  The first Swabian men and women were arrested around the 15th of October.  Prior to being shot they were tortured, thrashed, beaten and abused.  Their toenails were torn off, the Partisans had poured gasoline between their fingers and set the gasoline on fire.  Following the shooting some Swabian women found their toenails wrapped up in the wash that the Partisans brought them to do.  News of the victims and their deaths was first brought to the Swabians by some Hungarian women who had been responsible for bringing them their food. Wives were not allowed to bring anything to their husbands or come near the building where they were imprisoned.  One of the Partisans known to me through a friend told me that after the torture my husband was no longer recognizable. 

  On November 17, 1944 all of us who were still alive were taken to Karlsdorf.  Swabians from other villages in the area who were a small minority were also taken with us.  Before we were marched out of town the Partisans held a speech in which they said that not all of us would be shot, but we would be their slaves for the rest of our lives.  The Partisans who accompanied us were told to shoot anyone who was unable to keep up with the marching column.  Three of the people from Alibunar were shot, including my own eighty-six year old father, Edmund Bauer on the outskirts of Alibunar along with two women. 

  We arrived in Karlsdorf that evening.  All of us had to stand up against a wall.  We thought that we would be shot.  The children began to cry.  We were divided up into groups of ten and quartered in various houses.  The owners of the houses, women whose husbands were interned or doing slave labor, still lived in their own homes and were threatened with shooting if any of us was missing the next day.  For that reason I did not leave the house where I was assigned and I only became aware of my father’s death some three days later. 

  In Karlsdorf we had to work in the fields and do other heavy labor, but we had warm houses to sleep in and we could dry our wet clothes or borrow clothes from the Swabians of Karlsdorf. 

  After a week of being in Karlsdorf, on Saturday November 25, 1944 sixteen men and women from Alibunar were shot in our town, including my forty-three year old husband Franz Knoll.  In addition to the men and women from Alibunar there were eighty other persons from other villages in the area who were also shot and most of them came from communities where the Danube Swabians were a small minority.  They were shot and buried at the so-called cemetery dump.  They had to dig their own graves and were bound together in groups of ten and had to stand on a plank across the grave and then were shot and fell directly into it.  The first to fall in dragged in all of the others and then they were shot again for good measure as they lay in the grave.  All of the men and women were forced to undress completely and were shot naked.  Because the women hesitated to undress gasoline was poured on them and their clothes were set on fire and then they were shot.  On their way to execution the women had been told: “We are taking you to your Hitler.”  On their way to the shooting place the women’s hair was shorn. 

  For several days no one was allowed to go near the mass grave.  The dead bodies were covered with only a thin layer of earth and soon dogs unearthed some hands and feet.  As a result aged men from Alibunar who were unable to work in the forest had to walk back home to Alibunar that was five kilometers away and cover the grave with sufficient earth." 


[Edited and Published at DVHH.org by Jody McKim Pharr Sep 2006]