Father Adam Berenz
Translated by Rose Vetter
Adam Berenz was born in Apatin on September 19, 1898. His father
was a basket maker. He attended grade school in his hometown and was taught by well-known
teacher-principal Josef Keiner. Following his high school education by the Jesuits in Kalotscha, he
completed his theological studies there at the archdiocesan seminary.
As chaplain, Adam Berenz temporarily served in Batschka Palanka and
Bukin. In September 1922, he was appointed as administrator of the parish of Nova Gajdobra, from
where he was subsequently transferred as chaplain to Kupusina, Stanischitsch and Apatin. In 1932 he
served in Kernei, then returned to Apatin in 1933, where he was named chaplain at
the main church in
Apatin and parish vicar of the new church of The Sacred Heart of Jesus. He
held this position until May 1, 1944, at which time he became administrator of
the main parish of Apatin, after the appointment of Abbott Dr. Egerth as canon of Kalotscha. Three weeks later Adam Berenz was arrested,
never to return to Apatin.
Adam Berenz was arrested because of his involvement as editor in
charge of the Catholic weekly paper “Die Donau”. In his columns, he had waged an unyielding
resistance for almost a decade against National Socialist neo-heathenism and against the arrogant,
senseless conduct that National Socialism had given rise to. For years he was at the center of
an excessive battle, at times fought with rather questionable, unclean methods.
One night, the word “Volksverräter” (Traitor of the People) was
smeared on his front door. The outside wall of the rectory was scratched with swastikas and
derisive caricatures. Such methods were used to foment hate against him. On March 16, 1944,
Hungary was occupied by the German military, and on May 22, 1944 at 9:30 p.m., the Gestapo arrested
him. He was taken to Sombor in an automobile and locked into a jail cell, from where he was
transferred to a Gestapo jail in Szeged a week later. After being “sentenced” for being a
resistance fighter against Nazism, he was transferred to the concentration camp in Batschka Topolya,
where Jews and Communists were being detained. Archbishop Grosz interceded on his behalf with the
Interior Minister of Hungary and received permission to release Berenz from the camp and take him to
Kalotscha. On May 23, the Archbishop drove him to Kalotscha in his car.
In 1957 Adam Berenz was named preacher of the cathedral in
Kalotscha. He joined the Franciscan Order together with Abbott Dr. Egerth. Berenz died a lonely
death on October 21, 1968 and is buried with Dr. Egerth in a crypt in Kalotscha.
Until the day of his arrest by the Gestapo, Berenz fought against
National Socialism through his weekly paper “Die Donau” and thus has documented the resistance
movement of the Donauschwaben. He also protested against the thesis of collective guilt, which was
attributed to the Donauschwaben after the war.
Unfortunately the documentation of the resistance movement of the
Donauschwaben against the brutal National Socialist regime has not and is not being reflected in the
media or publications.
The citizens’ association “Adam Berenz Apatin”, under the direction
of Boris Masic, fosters the memory of Adam Berenz and regards itself as the custodian and preserver
of his legacy, his personal items, books and issues of the weekly paper “Die Donau”.
What others had to say . . .
"In 1920 most of the Donauschwaben were anxious to prove themselves good citizens of Hungary,
Romania, or Yugoslavia, while hanging onto their German language and customs, but this was not
an easy task. When a linguistics professor in Budapest, Jakob Bleyer, coined the term "Danube
Swabian" in 1922, he could not imagine the larger events of the Nazi disaster that would sweep
away his Landsleute. He was concerned, instead, with the smaller but still nasty effects of the
Treaty of Trianon and Magyar nationalism, as his fellow former Hungarian-Germans reacted to
Romanian and Yugoslav (primarily Serbian) nationalism. Although Bleyer's efforts in
post-Trianon Hungary and those of like-minded moderate conservatives, such as Kasper Muth and
Andreas Nagelback in Romania and Father Adam Berenz in Yugoslavia,
have gone unheralded, they have not gone unrecorded."
(Foreword XV from book: Casualty of War: A Childhood
Remembered By Luisa Lang Owen, Charles M. Barber, 2003)
The propaganda by the
NS-movement for the “New German view”, created a strong opposition among the Catholics,
especially the farmers, in the “spirit of Catholic actions”.
Berenz writes in his weekly newspaper
“Die Donau” articles against the NS-movement up to 1944. This was absolutely courageous.
He was convinced one could be German without being a follower of Hitler or a National Socialist.
Published at DVHH.org 08 Oct 2008