poppy image  Lest We Forget! poppy image

Prior to World War II there were about 650,000 Danube Swabians (ethnic Germans) in Yugoslavia. By 1948, a few years after the Tito regime took power, there were practically none!

Many managed to flee to safety in the West, but the majority of those who remained in their homeland perished. Loathsome, heavily armed partisan bands who followed the Red Army into neat German villages, towns and cities wreaked havoc among the utterly defenseless populace.

People were driven from their homes, knifed, bludgeoned and shot to death. The able-bodied of both sexes were deported to slave labor camps in Russia and Yugoslavia. The physically handicapped, mothers with young children, the aged and others who were unable or unwilling to flee, were herded into partisan concentration camps where they died by the tens of thousands from summary executions, maltreatment, disease and denial of medical aid.

The final irony for a providential rural people was to die a slow death from deliberate state-enforced starvation. When the regime closed the camps in 1948 for lack of potential victims, the Tito regime had effectively wiped out the largest non-Slavic ethnic community in the country.

This, despite the fact that the Danube Swabians had harmed no one, had been among the first settlers in this former Hapsburg territory at least 200 years before the Yugoslav state even existed, had lived in peace and harmony among some of the most diverse and volatile peoples in Europe, and were invariably regarded by these as moderate, industrious, law-abiding people!

by Frank Schmidt
Copyright: Heimat Publishers

Reprinted with permission of the author

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