by Rosina T. Schmidt
It was the
27th of July 1945 when three Department of Interior civilians from
Požega entered the house and asked my father:
aware that your house and assets are confiscated?” His answer:
“No, I did
15 minutes to get packed together with your family and take food with you for
dumbfounded, but there was no other option left for us but to start packing
and to leave.
the wheat was supposed to have been threshed in our yard, everything was ready
for it, as there were three and half jutra of wheat sown. He left behind four
cows, three horses, 20 swine, some 150 poultry of all kinds, all the barrels
and containers for wine making, as he owned a vineyard, all the farming
equipment for plowing, as well as the equipment for the horses and wagons, he
left behind all the furnishings for three bedrooms and for the kitchen.
(1897), mother (1903) and myself were thrown out of the house. They escorted
us that day to the train station of Jakšic. We stayed there for three days
under the clear sky and waited until the cattle train cars arrived, so we
could be transported to the concentration camp (prison). There were about 200
– 300 persons assembled. Once we were in those cattle cars, the train headed
to Osijek and from there right away to Valpovo on the narrow Gutmann train.
arrived in Valpovo, they herded us to the soccer field, which already was
fenced with barbed wire and was prepared for an open-air prison camp. We
stayed there almost for two months, again under the clear sky in the sun and
in the rain. Many of those Valpovo prisoners starved to death.
A month and
20 days later my father, mother and myself were transferred to another prison
camp at the village of Krndija close to Djakovo. From Valpovo to Krndija we
marched on foot. The colon was at least one kilometer long. We went via Koška
and Budimci. Some villagers there wanted to give us bread, but the guards
forbade it. We walked the whole day and arrived to Krndija in the evening.
village was empty, heavily fortified with barbed wire and prepared for a real
prison. Two large lookout towers, at one time one of them was a cinema, and
the other stood towards the cemetery. We were dispatched to different streets.
The middle street on our arrival was already the prison. We slept on the stroh
in the empty houses. Each room had 40 – 50 persons, as many as it could hold.
At first we heated with the fence boards and later with the boards of old
sheds. In the room where we slept an inmate, the priest from Bijelinje, died.
Each morning he took me to mass in Krndija and I was the ministrant. Those of
the inmates who considered themselves superior of refused to obey the orders
had to stand at the shame-post erected were the food was given out. There were
Danube Swabians from Porec, Kula, Resnik, Eminovac, Treštanovac and other
Požega County places. More German than Croatian was spoken at the camp.
Toddlers and small children were plentiful. But most of the inmates were
seniors and children.
agricultural work on the farms was imposed right away. Dismal food, only black
hawthorn tea with a slice of rye bread once a day. My father was responsible
to give out that bread to the inmates, and was identified by a green stripe on
the hand (everyone who gave out the food in the camp had those green
stripes). Mom and myself went begging to Putinci and Satnica. Some gave us
something; the others didn’t depending it they had anything to give. No one
chased us away. We caught pigeons as well as sparrows and ate those too.
arrived. People died like flies of typhus and of hunger. At first they were
buried individually and in the caskets. Later, when the epidemic started, 10,
15, 20 people died daily and they were all thrown in to mass graves. The holes
for the mass graves were full of water and they just threw the dead in to it.
When the hole had 10-15 bodies in it, it was filled up with earth. It was us
children who had to push the carts with the deceased on it to the cemetery.
Adam Stürmer (Štirmer) from Eminovac was responsible for the carts. We started
collecting the dead at the church and went through the entire village.
Bauer from Treštanovac (1945/46) and Elizabeta Horvat, nee Lerman (1897-1946)
from Ciglanka died at the starvation camp. My mother came down with typhus and
spent over a month at the makeshift hospital next to the school. My father’s
half brother, Josip Tomašek, drove over in the spring of 1946 and brought us
some food. After that my mother got better. Father’s brother-in-law Josip
Hajduk also came once for a visit.
father’s half brother came for a visit they hid me in the wagon and covered me
with the sacks. The guard did notice it and asked where I was. When father
admitted the deed, the guard said: he can go! The guards at Podgorac stopped
us. However we made it to Jakšic. Two days later I went to my aunty in
Treštanovac where I stayed for one day. The next day two-militia officer came
to pick me up. Someone reported that I came from the prison. They escorted me
back to Krndija.
thirteenth month in Krndija there was an announcement one day. They called my
father and gave him the exit papers for himself and his family. He could go
home, but not into his house, as that one was confiscated together will all of
his other assets.
Krndija on 13th or 14th of August 1946. On our return to
the village of Treštanovac we found that our house was already occupied by one
of the partisans – a Serb.