Central Civilian Internment and Labor Camps
Neusatz/Novi Sad -
Already in November 1944, the notorious central camp Neusatz was the first of its kind established
on the swampy banks of the Danube River in the South-Batschka.
In the Batschka
Palanka/Backa Palanka -
The central camp Palanka was set up in November 1944, containing 14-15 year old boys and 60-70 year
old, able-bodied men from its surrounding area. Eventually it grew to an average of 600 internees.
The town of Sombor, as already mentioned in a previous chapter, turned out to be the "turn-table"
for the persecution, internment and murder of the Germans in the West-Batschka. It was established
in November 1944 and also had jurisdiction of the central camps Hodschag, Apatin and Filipowa.
Initially it contained able-bodied men and women from the South Batschka
region. After additional central camps were created, it became the main "trading center" for this
modern slave-trade and engaged in a continuous exchange of inmates with other central and
liquidation camps. The sick ones were shipped to the liquidation camps and exchanged for still
somehow usable workers. From here, many were selected for the deportation to Russia at Christmas
Even though the camp had a steady occupation of 2,000, it consisted only of
two windowless barracks and a notorious "bunker" of six square meters. For even the slightest
trespass, inmates were thrown into the waterlogged structure. For many the long ordeal of standing
in the water was fatal.
The numerous mistreatments and murders without court proceedings, even
though the war was over, induced Dr. Wilhelm Neuner, formerly Oberlandesgericht Präsident
(equivalent to president of a state appeals court) and also internee at the camp, to send written
complaints to the ministry of the interior at Belgrade. These complaints were secretly smuggled out
of the camp. For his courageous actions he was locked into the "bunker." He then was passed from
camp to camp, but continued his written complaints and was eventually expelled to Hungary. The camp
is said to have been closed during the last days of March 1948, when its occupancy was down to about
400. There are no records of how many of the inmates perished.
Apatin - This town was originally inhabited by 12,000 Germans.
During the winter the local camp, under the overall jurisdiction of Sombor, suffered from
starvation. The camp commander, Mito Volic was particularly cruel. His deputy, Milivoj Beljanski
from Sombor took girls from the camp into his apartment and raped them. Later he was demoted and
dismissed. His successor tied women to trees, whipped them until they became unconscious and threw
them naked into the cellar. His specialty was to electrify naked women's breasts and genitals.
This camp too, fulfilled its purpose, particularly in the investigation and persecution of members
of the "Kulturbund" (cultural society). Those arrested were never seen again.
Filipowa/Backi Gracac -
Because the liquidation camps Gakowa and Kruschiwl were overflowing by mid-1945, this camp was
opened between mid-June to mid-October 1945 for able-bodied, as well as those unable to work, of the
Hodschag area. In this short time about 250 perished due to starvation and epidemic diseases. By
about October 1945, about 2,000 had died of starvation at Gakowa and since there were now openings
those unable to work at Filipowa were shipped to Gakowa.
Seidenfabrik at Werbass/Vrbas - Towards the end of 1945 this former silk factory was established as a central
camp for the Germans of the Middle-Batschka. It also had jurisdiction over the relatively large work
camps at Tschervenka, Kula and Weprowatz. The conditions there were worse than in a prison. Since
there was no more work to be done in the fields as of December 1946, the camp commander made the
inmates stand in formation from 5 to 11 o'clock during the bitter cold winter mornings. Then he let
them sit till evening in the court yard. The camp was most likely dissolved the beginning of 1948.
This used to be an entirely German community at the eastern edge of the German settlements and in
January 1945 was transformed into a central camp for about 6,000 Germans. In October 1945 it was
reduced to 1,500 inmates and was functioning as a work camp. Most of the rest were taken to the
liquidation camps of Gakowa and Kruschiwl at about the time their inmates were dying in great
numbers. Before they were shipped they were searched once more and deprived of their last miserable
belongings. They even had to exchange any still somewhat useful clothing they wore for torn rags.
Stärkefabrik at Subotica -
This former starch factory was most likely converted into a central forced labor camp by the middle
of November 1944. The 4,000 inmates were mostly Germans who earlier had fled to Hungary but tried to
return to their homes after cessation of the war. Upon crossing the border from Hungary they were
immediately robbed of all their belongings. According to reports, devastating typhus epidemics raged
throughout the camp. It was most likely dissolved in January 1948.
Thousands of ethnic Germans were stuffed into the lice-infested barracks,
often mistreated, insufficiently fed and forced to work weekdays as well as Sundays. Whoever became
sick was immediately sent to the death-camp Gakowa which was established on March 12, 1945. The
first camp commander was Rajko, the second one Dusan Kurepa. Both were cruel sadists, the second one
even worse; he personally committed at least thirteen murders. He sent for his vietims, nearly beat
them to death and then cut their throat. The camp was one of the last to be closed sometime in March
[Published at dvhh.org by Jody McKim, May