Donauschwaben in den USA

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The History of the Danube Swabians

By Hans Kopp

from the book “The Last Generation Forgotten and Left to Die” The History of the Danube Swabians”.

All Rights reserved. ISBN No. 0-9701109-0-1  



The History of the Danube Swabians as presented below was inspired by my wife Annemarie, daughter Birgitt and son Robert during the ceremonies of the world wide observance of the “50th Anniversary of the expulsion of the Danube Swabians” in September of 1994 in Cleveland, who till then, had very limited knowledge about the history of youngest Germanic Volksgroup “The Danube Swabians”. My work was first published in the “Heimatglocken” a biannual publication of Batschsentiwan, my place of birth, in 1995 and in 28 continuations in the publication of “Der Donauschwabe” during 1996 under the title “Von Sentiwan nach Ohio”. When Franz Awender of Ujwar, a prominent Danube Swabian in the Danube Swabian community of Cleveland and officer of the Danube Swabian Society USA, approached and asked me to translate my work into English for our children and promise to make it available for all Danube Swabians. It was a great honor for me to be approached by such a distinguished Danube Swabian personality and yet an even greater challenge. I have lived up to the promise to make this document available to our children and their descendants, so that they may learn about our history and who they are.


What made me go more into details of our history as originally planed, was an American woman of German descent interested in what I had to say about the demise of the Danube Swabians during the post war year of WWII. When she returned the script, she struck me with the question: “Who is Tito”. Now I realized that there was a lot more work be done and writing this detailed script was the result. As a matter of fact the more I did get involved in our history the more fascinated I became with it and established contact with various notable “Danube Swabian Historians”. Soon I found, that it was not enough to discuss important issues over the phone or in a letter and decided to take a trip to Europe and meet with these personalities in person.


One trip however, proved not to be enough and I decided on a second and third trip. Some of the notable personalities I met during these trips were Hans Gassmann of Batschsentiwan in Regensburg, Stefan Nuber of Gakowa in Blaubeuren, Eva and Josef Frach of India and Slankamen, both towns of Syrmia living in Braunau, where they furnished a Museum a “Heimatstube” you can visit on request. Among others were Matthias Wanko, in Salzburg who had studied the history of the Danube Swabian refugees after the war and the effort of notable Danube Swabians to get quotas and permits for our people to immigrate to the United States, Dr. Georg Wildmann of Filipowa, who resides in Linz, where he is a professor at the University of Linz.  Dr. Georg Wildmann is co-author of  “Der Leidensweg der Donauschwaben im Kommunistischen Jugoslawien 1944-1948” is one of the greatest authorities on the political situations and development, between the times of WWI and WWII, as it relates to the Danube Swabians. At a meeting in Traun at the home of Kasper Burghart with Dr. Wildmann I was able to finalize the definition of the Danube Swabians and the portions of the political situations during those years between the wars. I also need to mention Michael Bresser a retired professor from the Rutgers University in Arizona, although I have never met him, for his contributions with “Coming to America”. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to them, for without their help I would not have been able to bring these historical events to you.


One of the most difficult historical events and situations in Europe is the German Nation and the “Holy Roman Empire of German Nation” (also refer to as; “Empire of German Nation”) which is a union of German Nations first instituted by “Karl dem Großen” better known as Charlemagne of the Franken Empire, whose western regions created today’s France, Germany Italy and Switzerland as well as Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, part of Hungary even some parts of the Slavic nations. The motivation of Pope Leo III to crown Charlemagne in the year of 800 in Rome is quite clear, by crowning him as Roman Emperor he insured the Catholic Church’s interests and provided protection and more important missionary work throughout Europe. Other notable emperor who are wearing this crown were Otto I who defeated the Magyars at the Lechfeld in 955, Emperor, Friedrich I, also known as Barbarossa (Redbeard) leading a crusade in 1190 but drowned while bathing in a river, Karl V and Leopold I whose generals defeated the Ottoman Empire on Hungarian soil. You will find an elaborate and interesting “Time Line” I compiled for you, leading you through time in the historic jungle of the development of German Nations.  

After a careful study of time, you will find that the European nations are not nations of one or the other nationality or culture, but are nations of many cultures welded together over a period of time. The most influential empires molding the cultures in Europe, are the Roman Empire bringing their culture as far reaching as England. The greatest leader perhaps of all times in Europe; “Karl der Grosse” better known as Charlemagne of the Franken, whose far reaching thinking and reforms brought education, art and agricultural advances. Other cultures are the Celtic Kingdoms, the Nordic tribes such as the Gothics, Lombard’s, Vandals or Gepiden who migrated from their ancestral grounds all over Europe, the Slavic and the Asiatic tribes and the “Holy Roman Empire of German Nation” during the Habsburg dynasty





The writing of the memoirs about my life in a Yugoslavian extermination camp from 1945 to 1947 was inspired by my children at the 50th anniversary commemorating the expulsion of the Danube Swabians. During the procession of the crosses bearing the names of the extermination camps, my children were extremely shocked and moved, when I broke out into tears. One of the crosses bore the name Gakowa, the camp in which I had to suffer through hunger, disease, and famine for two years of my young life. Sadly my memoirs could also be the memoirs of any child exposed to the cruel treatment of the Communist Regime of Yugoslavia and the Tito Partisans during the post war years of World War II.  

My memoirs are written as seen through the eyes of a ten-year old child during those years. Events are presented with nothing added to make them more appealing or more dramatic than they were. My intention is to take the reader back to relive these moments with me, the moments I had to live through in the early years of my childhood. They are written as truthfully as remembered, for the sake of truth and historic documentation. They are written without any underlying political motives. These memoirs however, do not look kindly upon the Yugoslavian Communist Government and the Yugoslavian Partisan soldiers.


The memoirs of my parents could also be the memoirs of any Danube Swabian parents deported to Russia as slave laborers. My parents’ memoirs and the memoirs of relatives and friends were carefully written to reflect what they told me in their own words, again without political motive and as accurately as possible. It is also a privilege for me to share some memories of my last years in Batschsentiwan, which are memories typical to a child growing up in a Danube Swabian community, and reflect our lives and our culture. Historic data and statistics, in particular from Batschsentiwan, were researched carefully by the people of Batschsentiwan and are compiled in the book Heimatbuch Batschsentiwan from where these records were taken. They are, unfortunately, true historic facts.


The English version of this book is not a true translation of the German version word for word. Several additions in the English version were made to clarify traditions and customs of the Danube Swabians the English speaking reader may not be familiar with. The contents however are the same.


I am dedicating my memoirs to my parents, to my children, Birgitt and Robert, and to the generations to come, as a lasting document of the suffering and hardship their ancestors had to endure after World War II before they could reach freedom. I hope that they will understand the value of freedom and uphold it should it ever become necessary. I dedicate these memoirs to my wife, Annemarie, who helped me with her love and understanding while I wrote of these painful memories. I dedicate these memoirs to all the survivors of this genocide. In particular, I dedicate these memoirs to all the women, especially to the grandmothers, the real heroines of the death camps who carried all the burdens. My admiration goes to all of them. Last but not least, I dedicate these memoirs to the innocent victims, among them my grandmother, who were forgotten and left to die merely because they were Germans.


During the desperate period of World War II, there were many gruesome atrocities committed by numerous societies against one another, none of which were justified or excusable. What is also inexcusable is that some of these atrocities have been de-emphasized, ignored or forgotten, as in the case of the Danube Swabians. This book is intended to serve as a reminder of what their families had to suffer because of politics. There is no greater crime than shattering the life of a family.


The crime against the German population in South East Europe, during which twenty five percent of the Danube Swabian population perished, must also be considered among one of the worst crimes against humanity in the 20th Century. What saddens and disturbs me is that none of the war criminals that were responsible for the atrocities were ever brought to justice for their crimes, including Marshall Tito and his advisors, who signed an agreement into law that all Germans must be eliminated, an agreement in short known as “AVNOJ”, that took all of our rights to exist. What is even more disturbing is the fact that this agreement still exists in the Yugoslavian laws of today. It is imperative that we look at all cases of genocide regardless of who committed them or upon whom they were committed, so that we may be able to avoid such tragedies in the future. Life is too precious to waste and no man has the right to assume he has the right to take another man’s life.






Illustrated History of the Donauschwaben

Donauschwaben Village Helping Hands

Project Website

Go To: illustrated-ds-history



 Genocide on the Ethnic Germans in the East and South East 


Published By:

Association of Ethnic German Organizations in Austria

(Click on Link)


Landesverband der Donauschwaben-USA Link to VOL News

Courtesy of

Dr. Peter Wassertheurer, Author



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