Surtschin in Syrmien
Ortsbiografie der deutschen Minderheit eines
Dorfes in Syrmien
by the Ortsausschuss der Ortsgemeinschaft Surtschin in 1980
Henry A. Fischer
The first Lutheran settlements in the Military Frontier
District were at Neu Pasua in Syrmien in 1790 and Franzfeld in the Banat in
1793 during the short reign of Leopold II. These settlers came chiefly from
Württemberg, Baden, Briesgau, Baden-Durlach, Alsace and Lorraine as well as
Switzerland. The future colonists in Surtschin traced their origins back to
these two original Lutheran settlements.
The settlers at Neu Pasua endured a great deal in
establishing their community. In 1790 upon the invitation of what would be
known as the Josephinian Settlement a large contingent of German settlers came
down the Danube and disembarked at Peterwardein. Of these settlers, 62
families were intended for the eastern portion of the Slavonian-Syrmien
Military Frontier District to form the Peterwardein Regiment and 26 families
were to go to Semlin, a city outside the jurisdiction of the military. But
they were soon to discover that no one had made any preparations for such a
settlement. The jealousy between the rich noble landlords in Semlin and the
Roman Catholic clergy prevented the settlement of Lutherans in close proximity
to the town.
The larger group of 62 families was then settled in Alt
Pasua, which had been founded by Slovak Lutherans in 1770 and was served by a
pastor who spoke German. A bitterly cold winter, the climate change and the
poor quality of the water led to countless deaths due to swamp fever, which in
all likelihood was malaria. The authorities did not know what to do with the
settlers or where to settle them. Slavonia was out of the question because of
the ban against the settlement of Protestants. The only option was the
Military Frontier District. In the spring of 1791 the order came for them to
establish themselves between Alt Pasua and Batajnica and they took the name
Neu Pasua. It was in the middle of swampy meadows where oxen were left to
All of the settlers came from Württemberg. The 26
families who went to Semiln were from Nassau, the Pfalz and Baden. They were
being cared for in Semlin until May 15th as most of them had come
down with the fever. They were forced to leave the area and found refuge at
Neu Pasua. The number of settlers who died was very high. No wonder Hungary
was called “the cemetery of the Germans.”
A military watch tower known as Tschadake #7 was erected
in the future location of Surtschin in 1745. But for now the area in its
vicinity remained unpopulated.
The tradition among the settlers who would become known
as the Danube Swabians was one in which the oldest son alone would inherit the
family house and land. The other sons were given money or taught a trade at
their father’s expense. Land was getting scarcer and more and more
expensive. The only alternative was buying land in neighbouring Serbian
villages. These new “colonists” lived in mixed communities in terms of both
nationality and religion. Soon even that kind of land was no longer available
in the Banat and the Batschka. In 1859 the prohibition against Protestants in
Syrmien was finally lifted and in 1873 the Military Frontier District was
disbanded and massive settlement followed. This region possessed fertile and
cheap acreage and lots of it. The authorities planned the settlement and as a
result Surtschin became a large Danube Swabian community and had both a
Lutheran and a Reformed congregation. In addition to the farmers who settled
there were also numerous artisans and tradesmen.
In 1864 there were fifteen German families who had
settled in Surtschin; by 1866 three more families had joined them. In 1867
six more arrived and in 1869 ten more. By the outbreak of the Second World
War the population included 2,400 Serbs who were Orthodox, 800 Croatians who
were Roman Catholic and 1,200 Danube Swabians of whom 1,000 were Lutheran and
At the beginning of the 19the century there were less
than 2,000 Protestants in Croatia/ Slavonia. By 1895 the government in Agram
(Zagreb) reported a population of 35,691 Protestants of whom 25,000 were
Lutherans and 10,691 who were Reformed.
The situation and position of the Protestant settlers was
rather precarious and the local populations mistrusted them. The greatest
difficulty was providing pastoral care and schools. All at once it seemed as
if Croatia/Slavonia was being overrun with Protestants whose spiritual needs
were being met by only five Reformed and four Lutheran parishes. The Reformed
congregations in Agram, later Fiume (Rijeka) and Gross Pisanica took all of
the Reformed under their wing. The three Lutheran parishes in Syrmien at Alt
Pasua (Slovak), Neu Pasua (German) and Neudorf served their fellow believers
in the area. That had to do at first. But that would not do in the long
run. Only functions like baptism and marriage could be provided in this way.
The question of teaching the children and nurturing the adults with the Gospel
could not be done from a distance and they could easily become prey to the
many sects that were abounding around them or convert to Roman Catholicism.
As a result a new Mother Church was established at Bingula in 1863 halfway
between Neudorf and Alt Pasua.
With a continuous stream of settlers into Syrmien after
1873 and the disbanding of the Military Frontier District new congregations
were established. In Beschka during the year the Patent went into effect
(1859) 24 families representing both confessions arrived there. They became a
filial of Neu Pasua and Pastor Weber supported the fledgling church. In 1869
the Reformed withdrew and formed a separate congregation and first became a
filial of Neusatz and then in 1878 the Lutherans in the village became an
This freed the Neu Pasua congregation to relate to the
new situation in the area around Semlin. The newly formed Lutheran
congregations at Boljeuci in 1858, Beschanija in 1865, Surtschin in 1869,
Dobanovce in 1875 and Obresch in 1882 had established schools. Neu Pasua
provided pastoral services to the Swabians in the area and Alt Pasua served
the Slovaks. The teachers acted as Levite Lehrers and the
school buildings were used to gather for worship.
By 1879 the new settlements had over 1,000 Lutheran
residents and the Mother Churches could not provide the care they needed. As
a result in 1879 a missionary parish was established and operated out of
As a result at the end of the 19th century
there were twelve Lutheran parishes (excluding Mitrovica) and ten Reformed
(excluding Fiume). The Reformed Mother Churches joined the neighbouring
Seniorats of the Hungarian Reformed Church. The Lutheran congregations were
unable to structure themselves in order to conduct their own affairs for
almost one hundred years and remained part of other outside jurisdictions.
It would only be after the First World War and the
establishment of the state of Yugoslavia when the Lutherans in the various
parts of the new nation came together to form an independent, indigenous and
national church. In electing its first bishop, Philip Popp they elected a son
of one of the parishes in Croatia/Slavonia. While he was bishop he also
served the congregation in Agram and became a senator in parliament during the
reign of King Alexander. Following the King’s assassination things began to
change radically and the situation of the Danube Swabian became precarious as
Hitler came to power in Germany and all that was to follow.
After the incorporation of Austria into the German Reich
in 1938 many Jews fled from Austria where they had first arrived after fleeing
Germany in 1933 and now sought refuge in Yugoslavia. Through the efforts of
Bishop Popp the congregation in Agram provided sanctuary and ministered to
their needs. After the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia by
the Ustasche Fascist allies of the German Reich after the capitulation of
Yugoslavia following the short war in 1941 horrendous times were ahead for the
Orthodox Serbs in Croatia and Bosnia. Many Serbs took to the woods and joined
the Partisans in the fight against the genocide of the Serb population unless
they converted to Roman Catholicism. The struggle became intensified when the
German Army also became involved. Bishop Popp sought to save those who were
persecuted regardless of nationality, religious confession or political
loyalties. He saw them all as his “persecuted brethren” as he put it.
In order to save lives he set no frontiers to the limits
of his love. Through secret contacts and bribes he was able to secure
transportation to assist Serbs flee to Belgrade. To save other Serbs, he
registered them as converts to the Lutheran Church. In this way alone he
saved over 400 Serbian families from extermination by the Ustasche. He also
assisted imprisoned Partisans and people charged with collaboration with them
and condemned to death. He personally intervened with the dictator, Pavelic
and was able to save twenty-two of them. Partisan circles considered his
humanitarian concerns and commitments so highly that the Partisan High Command
twice sent him messages to persuade him to take to the forests and join Tito’s
Liberation Army. The last such contact was in 1944. Bishop Popp’s response
was, “The shepherd must remain with his flock come what may.” He said the
same when the Swedish Consul sent his car to take the bishop to safety as the
Red Army approached Agram. Only his wife and son left.
By the end of 1944 about half of the 600,000 Danube
Swabians in Yugoslavia had left as refugees or were evacuated and Bishop Popp
found comfort in knowing so many had been saved from what he sensed was about
to follow. In Agram itself most of the Lutherans remained and he remained
behind with them. To a friend he sent one last message: It was John 10:11.
“I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
On April 9, 1945 the Second Partisan Army marched into
Zagreb. On May 23rd the bishop was arrested and following
imprisonment for one month he was put on trial by the Second Army Count
Martial under Judge Dr. Brnicic who condemned him to death. On June 28, 1945
the sentence of death was read to him and one day later it was carried out.
Before his execution he was blindfolded and shouted, “God stand with my son
Edgar!” His oldest son Edgar had also remained behind in Zagreb where he
served as a vicar. Even during his time of imprisonment the bishop had the
opportunity to escape yet he did not take advantage of that.
During his imprisonment many Serbs, especially those the
bishop had saved, attempted to have him freed. Over 1,000 Serbs signed a
petition. The Swedish Lutheran Church intervened on his behalf. All of this
was futile. They wanted to make an example of him and condemned the church
leader to death because he was a Danube Swabian. The only church leader in
Zagreb to survive was Archbishop and later Cardinal Stepinac.
His widow and their son Edgar were interned and arrested
on July 16th. Through the efforts of some doctors she was sent
secretly to a hospital where she remained hidden for a year. The son Edgar
was placed in the internment camp for Danube Swabians in Zagreb and then later
in Stara Gradischka and released in May of 1946.
There is a memorial tablet for Bishop Popp in the church
in Geisenfeld bei Ingolstadt where many of the people from his birthplace in
Beschanija were resettled.
Events in the life of Surtschin and its future and the
destiny of its people were shaped and formed by the two cataclysms in the 20th
century known as the two World Wars.
The First World War was fought in their immediate
vicinity. The front lines were only 8 kilometres away along the Sava River,
which formed the frontier between Austro-Hungary and Serbia. The war zone was
20 kilometres deep and enveloped the village. All able bodied men had to
report for military service and horses and wagons were also taken by the
In August 1914 two weak Austro-Hungarian Armies under
Field Marshall Potiorek attacked Serbia. Between the 13th and 19th
of August they crossed the Drina and Sava Rivers. Schabotz was taken,
Ljesnica and Loznica were stormed. From the 9th to the 15th
of September the Serbs began an offensive to take Slavonia. After several
failures around Progar and Pantschevo they were successful in crossing the
Sava and advanced as far as Alt Pasua and Ruma. As a result Surtschin found
itself in the middle of a battle and the Swabian population fled to the
Batschka and Banat. In great haste, clothes and supplies were thrown on
wagons. They fled towards Neu Pasua and were able to stay overnight. The
roads were packed with Austro-Hungarian troops on their way to the front. The
refugees had to wait until the military had moved on. The Surtschin refugees
found refuge with relatives and friends in the Batschka and Banat. But it
lasted only for a short while. The Austro-Hungarian offensive began on
September 20, 1914 and forced the Serbs to re-cross the Sava in retreat and by
December 2nd the Austro-Hungarian Army occupied Belgrade.
From mid to late December the people returned to
Surtschin. They found their homes plundered and virtually destroyed. The
local Serbian population was ordered to return the looted goods to the
schoolhouse but the Swabians lost too much and had a difficult time in
The Second Austro-Hungarian Army was withdrawn and sent
to serve on the Galician front and the Serbs began a counter attack. Potiorek
suffered heavy losses and on December 15th he withdrew his forces
and left Belgrade to the Serbs as they fled to their defences at the Sava and
Drina River line. Here they stood firm and held back the Serbian onslaughts
As the Russian front in Galicia held, troops were
transferred to the Serbian front. On September 6, 1915 in a special treaty
with Germany and Bulgaria ten divisions (six of them Austro-Hungarian and four
of them Bulgarian) would attack on the Danube and Sava front while other
Bulgarian forces would march across the border with Serbia. Because of a
Russian breakthrough in Volhinya only two divisions were sent to Syrmien.
German Army headquarters rushed in troops from the eastern front, four
divisions in all to join the Third Austro-Hungarian Army. By September 16,
1915 they were determined to destroy the Serbian Army and to secure the way
from Belgrade to Sofia and Constantinople. This second campaign against
Serbia put Surtschin in jeopardy again.
Operation plans indicate that on the broad front against
Serbia the assembled Third Austro-Hungarian Army (six divisions) were to cross
the Sava and Danube with their strongest drive towards Belgrade and others to
the west at the Kupinovo crossing. The German Second Army in the Banat would
cross the Danube between Semendria and Ram with their major forces heading
towards Weisskirchen. The operation was to begin no later than October 6,
1915. As the battle raged along the rivers the wounded were sent to Surtschin
where the school served as a hospital. The Sava River was crossed on October
12th during a thunderstorm. The Austro-Hungarian forces molested
the local Serbs and men were taken to the fortress at Peterwardein and women
and children were sent to Vukovar to stay with their own countrymen. When
they came home their houses and property were a mess. This was due to the
quartering of the troops and horses in their homes. But truth be said, some
of the Swabians helped themselves at their Serbian neighbour’s expense. In
the future Surtschin was no longer in danger.
In October 1918 peace came but the future of the Danube
Swabians looked grim. The Austro-Hungarian Empire was no more and Surtschin
was now in the Kingdom of the Serbians, Croatians and Slovenes, which became
known as Yugoslavia. Many took revenge on the Danube Swabian population.
They usually came at night and plundered their homes and beat them, both men
and women. Fortunately this did not last too long and life together between
the Serbians and Swabians normalized. But the right to vote was not given to
the Swabians until 1922.
With the founding of the new state of Yugoslavia the
other minorities sought to maintain some rights of their own. This was
especially true of the Danube Swabians, Slovaks and Hungarians in particular.
The Croat masses were opposed to a “union” with the Serbs, which led to
disputes, threats and beatings in parliament itself. The basis of the
conflict was the aspirations of Greater Serbia that saw the Serbs at the head
of the new state. They used terror against the nationalities that opposed
them. The Croats desired an autonomous state of their own. They pointed out
that they had more rights and autonomy under the Habsburgs than they did in
the new state. The conflict would not be resolved and the other minorities
including the 500,000 Danube Swabians awaited the implementation of the
minority rights guaranteed at Trianon.
The Danube Swabians were given the option to resettle in
Hungary or Austria up until January 22, 1922 and as a result they could not
vote until after that date. Only a few did, often intelligentsia who had
majored in Hungarian as their language of education or commerce. Political
turmoil would follow in the years to come and then Adolph Hitler came upon the
scene and the fate of the people of Surtschin was sealed with no one really
realizing it at the time.
With the start of the Second World War in September 1939
Germany sought to win Yugoslavia as an ally. Yugoslavia sought to remain
neutral and yet maintain its lucrative economic connections with the Nazi
state. But the “nationalities” were restless again.
Yugoslavia built up its border defences during the
non-aggression pact between Germany and the Soviet Union. Bulgaria and
Romania their neighbours had joined the Axis Powers. As the government sought
a re-approachment with Germany and considered an “alliance” the Serb
nationalists were vehemently opposed to it. An agreement was reached with
the Germans on March 25, 1941 in Vienna. Before the delegation could return
to Belgrade the radio reported that Air General Simovic had taken power in a
military coup and King Peter and his advisors had fled the county and Yugoslav
would ignore the recently signed treaty.
The first order of the new military government was the
arming of the Serb civilian population. Extreme nationalist organizations
sent out roving bands into the Danube Swabian areas to terrorize the
population. A general mobilisation was ordered including the Danube
Swabians. Strangely enough the Danube Swabians complied. They did so also in
terms of supplies and requisitions of horses and wagons. There were no acts
of sabotage on the part of the Danube Swabians.
In Surtschin armed Serbian civilians did sentry duty day
and night on the streets where the Germans lived. Curfew was in effect as
well as blackouts. Many Swabian women were afraid to sleep at home alone with
their men gone off to the army. They stayed with friends or relatives. The
old men took turns keeping watch. Pillows were stuffed in the front windows
to cushion bullets. More men were taken as hostages including Pastor Lohmann
and put in jail. The Lutheran church and schools were closed and the
population became more and more afraid of what would happen next. Everyone
breathed a sight of relief when the pastor was released on Good Friday and
allowed to hold a service to comfort and strengthen his flock for what lay
ahead. Another ray of light was that the other hostages remained in the local
jail and were not taken to Peterwardein like the Swabians in other districts.
On April 6, 1941 without a declaration of war the
Luftwaffe bombed Belgrade. The Yugoslavian forces were in disarray. On
Easter Day the German troops passed through Surtschin. It was all over. And
so was Yugoslavia. It was dismembered.
The occupation of Yugoslavia by the Third Reich and its
Hungarian allies gave the Croatians the opportunity to be free of Serbian
control after 22 years. On April 10th the Independent State of
Croatia was declared in Agram (Zagreb). The German Army was greeted as
liberators as they marched into the city. On April 15th Pavelic
returned from Italian exile and was declared “Poglavnik” of the new
government, the minister president.
The new state included: Slavonia, Croatia, Syrmien,
Bosnia and Hercegovina. Most of Slovenia, Istrien, Dalmatia, Montenegro and
southern Bosnia were occupied by Italy. Macedonia was occupied by Bulgaria
and Hungary annexed the Batschka. The rest of what remained was a very small
Serbia to which the Banat was attached. The new “Serbian” government was
under the control of the German military and a military governor.
The Croats began a reign of terror against the Serbian
civilian population. The Ustaschi began to torment the Serbs and deported
many of them to the new Serbia. They were the fortunate ones. The Serbs saw
the Croatians and Germans as their enemy and organized resistance against
them. They fled to the forests and mountains and became Partisans. Soon
Slavonia and Syrmien were insecure as Partisans raided the villages, blew up
train tracks, disrupted communications and shot members of the Ustaschi and
members of the occupying German Army. This led to hostage taking of Serbian
civilians on the part of the Croats and Germans many of whom were executed in
retaliation for Partisan actions. The Partisans responded with rather bestial
reprisals. Slavonia became the scene of bitter warfare. This cost the lives
of many of the Danube Swabians called up to join the Waffen SS and used in the
campaign against the Partisans.
In Surtschin things remained quiet, as the local Serbs
were cooperative and responsive to their Swabian neighbours. In 1944 some
minor shootings took place but there were no casualties. The older Swabian
men who had not been conscripted into the army stood sentry duty at night on
each street. They would have been no match for a Partisan attack. Only two
men were wounded. That nothing worse occurred must have been due to the
Serbian inhabitants of the village. The road to Semlin and Belgrade was open
if flight became necessary.
But four men were missing, kidnapped by the Partisans and
they were never heard from again. In the neighbourhood random killings became
routine and the scattered Swabian population headed for Surtschin and Neu
Pasua for refuge.
As the Russian Army advanced on Belgrade in 1944 the
Swabians wondered if flight would be necessary for them as it had during the
First World War. Many began to bury their valuables just in case. At the
beginning of October there was a canon barrage. Flight was necessary but
where? The Batschka and the Banat had already been penetrated by Russian
troops. On October 5, 1944 the flight began in Surtschin.
With the capitulation of Romania on August 23, 1944 a
catastrophe for the Danube Swabians was unleashed. In the Banat only very few
were able to escape but more were able to leave the Batschka before the
arrival of the Russian Army. In Slavonia and Syrmien the vast majority of the
civilian population was evacuated in October 1944.
The leader of the German Folk Group organization,
Branimir Altgayer asked for information on an evacuation of the Danube
Swabians in Croatia. The Reich ambassador in Agram, Sigfried Kasche spoke
against such a move. He felt the Croatians would get upset and would see the
flight of the Danube Swabians as a collapse of the southeastern front.
Ferdinand Gasteiger was sent to Berlin by Altgayer to ask for clarification of
the possibility of an evacuation. He flew from Semlin to Berlin on September
11th. He was able to gain the support of the Reich government for
the evacuation. He returned home on September 14th. Planning
began for an organized evacuation and orders were distributed to the local
organizations to plan to leave with the assurance that they had the consent of
the Reich government. This took three weeks. On October 3rd the
SS Führer Kammerhofer informed the Folk Group leaders that a telegram had been
received for them to leave. On October 4th at 8:00 a.m. Gasteiger
was in India, at noon in Franztal-Semlin and in the afternoon he was in
Belgrade to arrange for trains and locomotives to transport the city dwellers
in Semlin who were without transportation.
On October 5th the first column of the wagon
trek left Surtschin heading to the west. They passed through Semlin, India,
Irig and Ruma and were under constant artillery attack by the Partisans. They
headed across the Drava River at Esseg on a pontoon bridge and then crossed
Hungary on to Austria.
On their way through Yugoslavia they passed through
Partisan infested areas that attacked the columns both day and night. People
died every day. Almost miraculously 120,000 of them escaped the coming terror
of the Partisans on the Danube Swabians who remained behind or had been unable
to join the evacuation.
The people of Surtschin had no knowledge of an evacuation
plan being prepared by the Folk Group leadership. They paid attention to both
the political and military situation. The frontlines were coming closer and
the sounds of artillery were distinct. Then came October 5, 1944, the last
day Surtschin was the home of its Danube Swabian population.
Early in the morning between 4:00 and 5:00 am people were
awakened by rapping sounds on their windows and told the village had to be
evacuated by noon. Each family was to send one person to the Deustche
Gasse to get more information. They were told to get wagons ready to
head for India or Ruma. There they would be transferred to trains. But no
one knew his or her destination. Families with no transportation would be
provided with wagons. Jakob Klauser, the mayor, was to be in charge assisted
by Andreas Scheuermann. Many Serbs offered their wagons to needy families.
People were to take supplies with them but not to overload their wagons.
Young boys and girls were to herd pigs, cows and sheep to the railway station
in Semlin. People rushed to their houses. Some stopped to find out if some
were staying behind. The old people who had survived the flight during the
First World War counselled the young people to leave the future battle zone.
The fear of retaliation by the Partisans was another incentive to leave.
By noon, 250 loaded wagons assembled on the main street.
Several families stayed behind. They just could not leave their homes. The
trek started out at 5:00 pm and they headed for Beschanija the birthplace of
their bishop. It was damp and cold. Next day they headed towards Neu Pasua.
One of the women died on the way.
It was fortunate that almost the entire community left.
This was not true of the communities through which they passed on the way who
would become victims of the extermination camps of Tito and the Partisans. It
was because of Pastor Lohmann that almost the entire Danube Swabian population
of Surtschin left. In reality he led the trek column. He was an inspiration
to his people and at his urging the local Orthodox priest and his family
joined them. Arriving at both India and Ruma there were no trains to take
them any further and so they had to go on. Somehow they were able to avoid
Partisan raids and entered Hungary. They endured bombing raids and eventually
reached Austria in the Linz area. It had taken four weeks. The trek was most
difficult for infants and toddlers and their mothers. There were over 50 of
them and they had no regular milk supply. Most wagons did not have a covering
and rain was constant. Adults and the older children walked to lessen the
load the horses had to lug.
Arriving in Austria they were met with hostility on the
part of the local population. They were called Gypsies. They were dispersed
throughout the area. After the surrender in 1945 the Austrians were even more
open in their hostility and displeasure at the presence of refugees. They
were not allowed to use buses or trains and in most schools their children
were refused enrolment. As a result many began leaving for Germany. Most of
them registered as Ungarn Deutsche (German Hungarians) and were
allowed to leave Austria.
Those who had remained in Surtschin found the deserted
German quarter of the village unnatural and it made them feel awful. The
livestock left behind bellowed. Cows had to be milked. Cattle and pigs were
in need of pasture and grazing. Abandoned dogs howled in their yards. The
remaining Swabians became more fearful day by day. The few men who remained
and some German troops patrolled the German streets. Few ever slept. On
October 9th six families decided to leave and try to catch up with
the trek from Surtschin. They were successful in doing so at India.
Several old women remained at home along with ten
families who had no wagon or other kind of transportation. Most of them were
picked up a few days later by the German military that took them by lorry to
India and Ruma where they boarded trains for Austria. Some of them ended up
in the Sudentenland while others were sent to Lower Austria. After the
capitulation in May 1945 those in the Sudetenland were forced to leave. They
came back to Yugoslavia by train as far as Subotitza where they were thrown
into an internment camp. After two weeks of hunger, suffering and fear all of
their belongings and other possessions were taken from them and they were
herded on foot towards the Hungarian border. The families scattered to
different villages along the frontier. In March 1946 they joined the Danube
Swabians from that area of Hungary in cattle cars during the expulsion ordered
The families in Lower Austria were forced to leave
following the entry of the Russian Army and were sent to Yugoslavia. They
formed a small column of wagons along with some people from Dobanovci and
headed for home. They had to report to the Russians in every area they
entered. They crossed the border to Yugoslavia at Vilanj and were driven on
foot into a camp. As of June 17, 1945 the Yugoslavian border had been closed
and no one was allowed to enter. That was their great fortune. They escaped
the death camps and managed to save their meagre possessions. On March 12,
1946 they were also deported along with the local Danube Swabians of Hungary
to Austria and finally Germany.
All that remained behind in Surtschin were a few older
women and two families. The two married couples: the Partisans shot Neumann
and Renner. The Renners left five children behind who were sent to an
extermination camp and no trace of any of them has ever been found. Of the
older women, all of them widows, we only know they were shot at some time:
Mrs. Lapp, Spinner, Greilach and Weber. Elisabeth Gayer was also taken to
the internment camp in Semlin along with the five Renner children and was able
to escape in 1946 to Germany to rejoin her family. She came alone.