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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 & Contributed by Henry Fischer. Edited & Published at dvhh.org by Jody McKim, Sep. 2006
Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Syrem, Slavonia, Baranya: The Cauldron

Tito's Starvation Camps

  1. Esseg-Josipowatz

  2. Valpovo 

  3. Djakovo

  4. Pisanitza


     Esseg (Osijek) is the capital city of Slavonia, it is an old military fortress city, and since the expulsion of the Turks had a large German population.  With the passage of time there was a gradual assimilation of the Germans with the Croatian population, but there was ongoing German influence on the life of the city.  But the large increase in the Croatian population also played a major role in lessening the German influence on Esseg.  In the previous decades an important German Catholic weekly newspaper, “Christliche Volkszeitung” had wide circulation both in Srem and Slavonia as well as the Batschka.  A much larger German population could be found in the vicinity, among which were some purely German villages and communities.  After the evacuation of the German troops from the area only a small proportion of the German population in the area remained behind.  But there was actually one transport that was retrieved by the Partisans in Austria and brought back to Yugoslavia.  The minority, who remained behind, still amounted to thousands and ended up in the camps at Valpovo and Josipowatz.  The total number of inmates at the Josipowatz camp began with four thousand persons, mostly women and children.  The youth of the children rich German families in Slavonia was totally annihilated.  Hunger and accompanying diseases made quick work of them. 


      The largest internment camp in Yugoslavia by far was in.  There was a small German population in Esseg along the Danube, where it was almost submerged with the much larger Croatian population among whom they lived. 

     The German population of Esseg and its vicinity, who had not been consigned to slave labour in Josipowatz, were expelled from their homes in May of 1945 and brought to Valpovo.  The number of inmates in the camp at the time was in the neighbourhood of some five thousand.  In the summer of 1945 and frightful typhus epidemic broke out in the camp, and claimed some three thousand victims.  In May of 1946 some of the inmates of the camp were brought to Esseg to stand on trail before the Peoples’ Court and were condemned to prison at Lepoglava for several years, and a smaller number were released.  About eight hundred persons were transferred to Rudolfsgnad and the camp in Valpovo was closed. 

     Like all of the camps in Slavonia, this camp was not exclusively an internment camp. It involved a large number of able bodied workers, who made up at least half of the inmates and who served as slave labour.  As it was true throughout Slavonia, their methods here were brutal, but there was far less in the way of shootings and torture.  Here the objective was the quick death of thousands of persons through hunger to assure there could be no resistance, and make them susceptible to a host of fatal diseases.  The Partisan sentries adhered to the code, “Don’t murder any.  Just leave it to the cauldron to do the work for us.”  After May of 1945 the countless and often daily and weeklong detention in punishment cells, along with torture and abuse no longer took place.  There was only one case where a man was shot in the back of the neck for having left the camp and gone begging for food in the neighbouring village. 

     Nutrition consisted of a breakfast, consisting of tea brewed from various kinds of leaves.  There was no sugar.  For lunch there was soup, in which you meant find potato peelings or the pods from which beans were taken.  Otherwise it was clear water without lard or salt.  There was bread twice a day, about 15 Dekagrams.  It was baked out of barely or oats.  For shelter there were barracks, without windows, without heat, and without light.  Lice and fleas and other insects were everywhere among the three hundred inmates in each barrack.  They were also the cause of many of the illnesses and epidemics which followed and affected all of the inmates at one point or another.  Only after the inmates arrived from the city was there any effort made to control the lice and fleas, without any concern about those who were already ill. 

     Valpovo, Semlin, Mitrowitz and Jarek were millstones whose task was to grind to death as many of the people as possible.  Once you were caught in it, few would be able to come out of it alive.  This quartet made complete and quick work of its victims.


    Only a few Germans lived in the Episcopal city Djakovo.  But in its surrounding territory there were a large German population.  The evacuation of the scattered German populations in Slavonia had been a difficult undertaking.  It is no wonder that in the area around Djakovo there were large numbers of Germans who had remained behind.  They were all taken to Krndija.  From among all of the camps in Slavonia this one earned its reputation for brutality.  Thousands of people were here on the shortest way to death, through hunger and disease.  From among almost four thousand inmates, after a short period of time, only eighteen hundred remained. 


     Even in central Croatia, the Partisans established their extermination camps for the Germans.  In Pisanitza by Bjelovar they held thousands of them in a concentration camp.  The inmates came from Croatia, Slavonia and Srem.  Most of them had been evacuated but after the war was over they had returned home.  Among them were also families from the Wojwodina (Batschka).  On arriving in Agram (Zagreb), everything they had was taken away from them.  They had been given provisions and food from UNRRA and other relief organizations for their journey “home.”  This was all booty from the point of view of the Partisans who were only too happy to take it.  The treatment of the people in Pisanitza was such that one thousand persons died of hunger or its consequences.  In September of 1945 all young women and girls were ordered to report for assembly.  They had to submit themselves to an examination by the Partisans to determine whether they were carriers of sexually transmitted diseases and in the process sexually abused many of them.

Last Updated: 04 Feb 2020

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