A Remembrance of the Past; Building for the Future." ~ Eve Eckert Koehler

Remembering Our Danube Swabian Ancestors

War Years

by Dr. Viktor Pratscher
Translated by Brad Schwebler

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The first point was largely and completely kept, but the second point could not be kept long.   

     Some years after the settlement, the Turkish war happened in the year 1789.  Each half session farmer had to drive his wagon filled with hay and straw twice in the winter to the imperial warehouse in Semlin.  

One of the war's ravaged villages  

     Up to 1851 captive recruits were taken once every ten years.  Court people went out at night with some brave men to capture them.  When they were successful, mortal danger overwhelmed the young man, they put him in irons and dragged him to the community house.  On top of that the captives had to be found suitable by the community, still well bribed.  During the war with Napolean in 1808

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     Our fathers lived from 1866-1914, almost a half century long, in an enviable time of peace, which through the occupation of Bosnians in 1878 it was hardly disturbed.  For a year the reserve was mobilized and had to be called up.  In August the community had about 20 loads which were ordered to be given to Bosnia.  It affected the large taxpayers in turn, yet for a good price one could send a representative.  The wagon was to be divided between the train and the orderly service, but the carriage driver came back all in good condition.  But the horse and wagon suffered many times, or were completely destroyed.  Also the military was already often put up in Feketitsch.  So from September 1877 until July 1878 "the Holoner" were billeted here.  It was this half of the "Eskadron" (squadron) of the "Ulaner" regiment that consisted of 78 men and 70 horses.  In each farmer's house were 2 horses and 2 men.  They did not have their own kitchen so they had to be fed in so far as the housewife prepared the food.  The other half of the squadron lay in Sekitsch.  In 1891 a whole squadron of "Husaren" were billeted here.  Sekitsch received no military at this time.  Allegedly the tenants at the time bought alcohol from the "Arendator" so that the whole squadron came to Feketitsch.  He had certainly made a rough estimate what 140 Husaren on alcohol could demolish in a year.  

     During the World War all men between the ages of 18 and 55 were directly inducted into the military; of the 2000 souls in all, about 450 were armed.  In August Feketitsch already got a sense of a taste and a picture of the war.  A part of "Srem" was evacuated.  The local inhabitants with their belongings gathered together hurried in a wagon or on foot all day long through the main street of the village and their lot aroused general interest.  One group stayed here 10 - 14 days until they went back home again.  It is these "Karlovicer" who are still mentioned some years after the war's end who were billeted in private homes and managed to get along well with the people of Feketitsch.  Because not all of the inductees could be put up in the first days, many went back.  For the first time all the people who normally stayed at home walked to the train station.  The soldiers' trains were almost covered with flowers, fruit, and food.  However the beginning of fall work still needed all the halfway capable working hands on the field.

     The women provided the elders and children with work and refused themselves - as well as they could - because of the war loans and requisitions, which the main task was less relieving.  As aid workers the captive Russians were soon distributed, which has gone very well here.  The Germans of Feketitsch came on all fronts and in all lands leading the war.  In the wilderness of the North and East Carpathians, by all the intertwining swamps of "Wolhinien", in the endless steppes of Russia, in the middle of the bitter cold of Siberia.  On the rough rocks of the "Karstes", on the mortal field of "Piave", in the original German land of "Tirol", in the hell of Albania, on the terrible deadly island of Asinara, Germans of Feketitsch have stood and the best - 54 in number, have not come back.  Today, after almost 20 years, it seems that it was not the cultivated bayonet's, the nerve shattering gunfire, all the strangling poison gas, or the dangling body all day long in a wire enclosure that made the war so horrible and gruesome, but the hunger, which was all gone in a fury.  But not only the hunger, which on the country road of the dead even the flesh of the dying was made desirable, but still much more over the mountain of bodies "Emporwollenden?" and unscrupulous war suppliers.  

     Are human beings really so bad that they can never come to a lasting world peace?  Two highly learned theologians dispute this theme in the setting of a lecture in Feketitsch.  The one, Rev. Berger, read from the Bible where it says that the human being from reason should not be so bad.  The other, Senior J. Jahn, proved that human beings always only brought laws to carry on warlike involvement and that peace on Earth was always promised.  During the war there were often one or two school halls furnished for one unit of convalescing soldiers.  They came for the most part from a hospital and stayed here until their recovery.  The bed linen was set by our women.  

     At the scene of the war are also the missing, which the children of the large city whose care had especially suffered to feel received.  During the war our Germans took in a group of poor undernourished children annually in the summer.  The children were from Vienna.  The village air, the nutritious diet, the many vegetables and fruit - which the supply in the city had suffered mainly because of the shortage of wagons - soon made the pale cheeks rosy.  The newly arrived undernourished children could fully recover in 4 to 6 weeks in Feketitsch.

     At the conclusion of the war the special so-called "Kulner Market" memorial was made in Feketitsch.  Two enormously long freight trains with all the imaginable worthwhile things were frozen on the Kulaer stretch.  Nobody was concerned about the general rashness and the irresponsible elements of the haul.  The Serbian soldiers called here by the village notary brought this to end shortly with their plundering.  In two school halls, one of them was the middle Evangelical school hall, the military was put up for two months at community cost.  To cover the accumulated expenses for the military the community sold the trees on the street.  The village could hardly be recognized after the trees were removed.  This act must one as the last which arise from the warlike mentality, was described.  Slowly the soldiers returned home from captivity in France, Italy, and Russia.  Several in Russia are still missing today.  

     The following are listed as war invalids today: Philipp Häußer, Wilhelm Ortag, Georg Bechtler, Adam Spieß, Fritz Schepp, Johann Arth, Christian Müller, Andreas Bittlingmayer, Gottfried Gerber.  

     Several of them have already died: Philipp Schwebler, Nikolaus Keiper, Peter Ludmann, Adam Willner, and many others.  

     The number of wounded was still much greater.   

     With the ending of the war was the "Eland"? in which the world was plunged, still not long before the end.  The following phenomenon has occurred to a great extent in Germany.  It was the hunger of children after a little bit of bread who were affected by the afflicted fertile land of our ancestors in the years 1923-24.  The echo of the appeal: "Germans in famine" was virtually overwhelming to the Germans in Yugoslavia in general and by those in Feketitsch in particular.  The Swabians………?? 

[Published at 2004 by Jody McKim Pharr]