Father Adam Berenz 

Written by Boris Masic

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

Father Adam Berenz 

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”. Father Adam 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.
(Hans Kopp,

Published at DVHH.org 08 Oct 2008


Apatin Village Coordinators: Beth Tolfree & Boris Masic

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Remembering Our Donauschwaben Ancestors