|Tibor Cseres: Serbian Vendetta in Bacska|
At the beginning of the 1940s, seven Serbian men from Szivac were imprisoned and investigated by the Hungarian counter-intelligence. Szivac was inhabited by three nationalities, who had lived together in peace for centuries.
"...I am determined to send you a roll including the names of those who were executed (annihilated) in the morning, on November 1, 1944, because I have been a victim of atrocities myself. It is true that because of the repeated threats all this has been taboo for me, and I did not dare to tell anyone but my family. Honestly, the fear is still alive in me. It is true that newspapers are beginning to publish data concerning these events gradually, but the survivors still do not dare to speak, give their names, or make exact data known, because there is no "democracy", no human right to freedom. Only the name has changed, the power has remained the same.
I was born in February 1923, in O-Szivac (now Sivac). Then the village was part of Zombor, now it is attached to Kula.
Before and during World War II, the composition of the village was approximately the following: O- and Uj-Szivac was one at that time, but 95% of the inhabitants in Uj-Szivac were German, and O-Szivac was mixed. The entire population came to 14,000 among them 8,000-8,500 Germans, 1,200-1,300 Hungarians, and about 4,800 Serbs.
When the Hungarian troops withdrew from the village on the 12th and 13th of October, 1944, the "communist" commando was formed at once, and they began arresting people (men) on the 15th. Two armed so-called "partisans" carried off my father and me on the 17th. I was led to a many-storied barn in O-Szivac, where they had already arrested 40-50 local Hungarians and some Germans. My father was driven to Uj-Szivac, where there were only 10-12 men at the village hall, since the partisans did not take any more people there.
Where I was, additional people were brought in. A couple of us were let free, but on the 1st of November, at nine in the morning a group of strangers, called "partisans", burst into the house. They told us they were from Csurog, and that they would shoot, but they just beat us. Most of them struck us with rifle butts, in the head, in the shoulder, up and down. I lost consciousness because of the blows, and recovered my senses in the afternoon, but I was unable to move even then. The barn (magazine) was at the end of the garden of the Serb school. The Serb teacher rushed to my mother and told her that I was dead. My mother was running to and fro, and tried everything to get me out of there. At last, with much difficulty, the doctor came to see me. I received an injection from the village doctor, at least I was told so, and regained my consciousness at about five. But I still was not able to move. At six an official came with the doctor and with another injection. They put me on a stretcher, and handed me over in the street to two youngsters. They carried me home, but my mother was not allowed to see me. I could get home only this way, with a fracture of a rib, unable to see, to hear, or feel anything. By the next morning the ten people in the barn in Uj-Szivac had all disappeared. On November 2, we learnt that they had all been executed on that night. My father was among them.
Two months later we found out that my cousin had escaped from the Serb cemetery, where all the others were massacred.
At the end of December, I was driven to a private infirmary in Hodsag, now Odzaci. I was treated so efficiently that in two or three months I could get about again. I stayed in Hodsag till 1955, when we moved to Szabadka, I still live here. I don't own a thing at home, in O-Szivac, they confiscated all I had. My mother was interned in a camp (lager) without a proper judicial process, and released after half a year. She was allowed to live in our house until her death, that's all they permitted her. Later on she moved in with us in Szabadka.
It was only the two of us who escaped from the barn, where 73 men were locked up. My cousin still lives in Moravica.
Dear Mr. Cseres, if you make use of anything written down here please do not mention my name, and burn the letter. I would like present-day generations to be aware of what happened to innocent people who were not even interrogated or sentenced. All that took place then is still considered taboo by the authorities.
The roll of the executed victims,
Ferencz Alfoldi, Lajos Bacso (innkeeper), Janos Baka, Janos Balogh (wool spinner), Istvan Bocskovics, Jozsef Bodis, Lajos Bodis, Istvan Breznyak, Jozsef Breznyak, Andras Buza, Peter Czifra, Andras Czifra (lumberman), an unknown male from Csurog, Janos David, Janos Daruhalmi (tanner), Mihaly Domjan, Istvan Dragity (tradesman), Istvan Drobnyik, Janos Farkas, Janos Farkas, Lajos Farkas, Pal Farkas, Istvan Farkas (bricklayer), Jozsef Horvath, Andras Horvath, Antal Juhasz, Istvan Klebecsko, Andras Lavro, Mihaly Mandity, Janos Mezei (cartwright), Mihaly Merkel, Mihaly Merkel, Jeno Mero, Ferencz Molnar, Antal Mudri, Jozsef Nagy, Jozsef Nagy Jr., Ferencz Nagy, Imre Nagy, Jozsef Papp (corn buyer), Mihaly Pavlik, Sandor Racz (Chubby, musician), Istvan Racz (musician), Peter Rigo, Peter Siflis, Istvan Siflis, Karoly Skorutyak (tailor), Antal Skorutyak (owner of a small dairy), Adam Strikovics (joiner), Imre Szalai, Janos Szalai, Istvan Szabo Peter Szobek, Istvan Toth, Mihaly Tokodi, Mihaly Tokodi Jr., Peter Turi, Peter Uglik, Janos Varosi (deputy clerk), Istvan Zseller - all Hungarians.
An unknown man from Cservenka, Jakab Burger, Johann Gubola, Anton Hunsinger, Anton Modritsch (tradesman), Ferdinand Stieb, Anton Teehr, Heinrich Winterstein - they were the German victims.
Pero Czigany, a Serb horse-dealer.
The people in Szivac were, and still are, so frightened that they did not dare to celebrate a mass for their dead, or to bring some flowers to the mass grave.
No one knows for what capricious reason the killers had by forcing the men dig the large common grave in the shape of a "M" (for abbreviated Magyar in Hungarian), in an area between the Catholic (Hungarian) and the Serb cemeteries.
In the large village barn the murderers treated their victims in an oddly ambiguous way. Beside torturing and beating people severely, they allowed a doctor to go and see a young boy who was supposed to be dead. They are said to have let the captured teamsters go home for one or two days to provide for their horses, though these men were looked after strictly, and were ordered to return.
Those who were willing to join the Petofi Brigade and fight against the "fascists" were released and directed to the organization center, Topolya. On the other hand, the partisans cut off all fingers of Jeno Mero, the veterinarian's son, with an axe, just because he did not want to join them.
Sandor Simo, the ranger, did not accept either alternative, and
ran away at the right moment, unarmed, squeezing out the eyes of his armed partisan guard.
Our correspondent's cousin reports on his daring escape as follows,
"Stripped to the skin, wired together in pairs (I was tied with my father), we were led to the cemetery, and ordered to stand with our backs to the graves, so that they did not have to bother to put our corpses there. It was pitch-dark, only the barrels of machine guns told us that behind each barrel a partisan was standing ready to kill. I whispered to my father, "I will undo the wire and we can go!" My father nodded affirmatively, but he surely did not believe that he could be as youthfully brisk as I was. Having my wrists set free, I knew the partisan officer would order fire in an instant. With a swift movement I signaled my father to escape, and shoving aside the gun pointed at me I punched the partisan on the cheek with my free right hand (I was in good shape then). He tottered and was so astonished that he failed to fire his gun. For a few moments, the others did not comprehend what had happened. I could easily find my way about in the cemetery, so the rare pursuing rifle-fire hit only tombs and possibly my slower father. I was running toward the farm where my father-in-law was a lease-holder renting the land from a German farmer. Though naked, I was recognized by the dogs, and I got a change of clothes from my father-in-law . Trying to avoid being found, I left the farm for Monrovia. Feeling secure, I returned to Szivac on New Year's Eve.
Soon there was a rumor going about that I had escaped and returned home. My mother, a widow by then, was unable to keep the secret.
Two weeks later, Branko Bikicskics, then the chief communist in Szivac, ordered my arrest. I got a heavy beating because I had escaped from the cemetery. Being considered a deserter, I was escorted to the military authority in Zombor. I acknowledged being a deserter, as I fled from the Hungarian army in September. They enlisted me in the Yugoslavian army, that is how I became a Serb "volunteer". However, in my dreams I keep running. I dream that I grab my father's hand, separating the two closest partisans with kicks, I thrust aside the gun pointed at my father, and he runs away with me. By the time I wake up, my forehead is beaded with sweat."
ADORJAN, NADRIJAN, THE UNFORTUNATE
The village of Adorjan was given a new name signifying "unfortunate" by the Serbian administrative authority in memory of the events of 1918.
On a pleasant morning during the takeover, two easy-going Serbian soldiers on a spree, took a short trip from Kanizsa to well-known, prosperous village of Adorjan. They had a little food and drink, for free of course, and probably also happened to meet some waitresses who were happy to satisfy their desire for women without violence. They were occasionally firing their weapons into the ceiling of the bar, for the sake of maintaining their reputation.
The two heroes' bullyboy notoriety had spread in the village. The bar-owner heaved a sigh of relief, when at dusk the two tipsy soldiers made ready to set out for Kanizsa by carriage. They found a man keeping horses and frightened him after his initial refusal to lend them his horses. It was late and he was afraid that his horses would be stolen, they might even shoot him on the way. In the end, however, a very different result transpired. He hitched the horses to the carriage for the benefit of the two drunks. The carriage was standing in the yard and the two "travellers" climbed on board, keeping their guns between their knees. The horse-owner was an ex-serviceman and kept a gun at home under the crib. Mortally afraid of being killed by these drunks on their way to Kanizsa, he shot his boisterous guests in the head. That night, with the help of his neighbors and ex-comrades-in-arms, he took the two bodies to the Tisza river and threw them in.
Within the next few days, the Serbian military commander ordered his men to try to find the two missing persons. What had taken place at Adorjan somehow came to light. The army burned several parts of the village. The villagers were prohibited from dousing the flames. When five of them ignored this command, the soldiers shot them in cold blood. Furthermore, fifty men were taken away from the village.
"In 1941, two "dobrovoljacs" were captured in this village by Hungarian soldiers. The two unfortunate men were on their way home from the Serbian army, probably to Velebit. A third, a Jewish physician, was also captured. They wanted to shoot the three men then and there. My father warned the sergeant that he should do everything legally and before a court. The Hungarian officer went to him and said, "You, why are you defending them?
Are you a Jew too?" The three men were executed. This was the only bloody event in Adorjan in 1941.
In November, 1944, the relatives of these two dobrovoljacs may also have returned to revenge the spirits of their fallen dead.
On about the 30th of October, terrible Serbian and Hungarian cries could be heard coming from Banat on the opposite bank of the Tisza."Get a boat! We want to cross the river!" They were partisans. No one moved because there was shooting everywhere around the river. The bullets were hissing and fizzing over our heads. As yet, no one told them that the fishermen had knocked out the bottom of the boats to prevent the use or theft of them by the opposing armies.
Our house looked out over the main street and our garden, which was long and quite large backed onto the Tisza river. Rifle fire from the opposite side was whizzing over us, whenever I could pluck up enough courage to look out for only a short time, I was almost able to see the firing partisans. They were shouting for more than an hour. When the shooting was at its height two Cossacks came on horseback and shouted "cease fire". It was obvious that they were afraid of losing their horses, and spiced up their order with some Russian curses. The Banat people, however, did not cease fire and so the Cossacks set up their machine gun and started to shoot at the partisans from the end of our garden. Seeing this, the partisans held their fire and set out on foot for Kanizsa.
The next day a body of partisan troops arrived from Kanizsa. They announced immediately that everyone had to gather in the market square. Two or three hundred of us had gathered there at the appointed time including a lot of women and children. This surprised the partisans who encircled the crowd. My understanding was from what they were saying that they had planned to execute the men in front of the church then and there, but now they seemed to change their minds and they blithely announced that everyone had to continue with their daily routine. They shot dead the village idiot in the cemetery because he couldn't answer their questions as they wanted. After that they were shooting around on the church square aimlessly and later started to go from door to door.
Jurisics Miso from Kanizsa who we knew came to our house and told us or rather whispered to us briefly:
"The farmer must hide", so my father disappeared immediately.
Then a stranger came in looking for the farmer. We told him that he had gone to work in the fields, as had been ordered. Then he sat down and asked for a drink. My mother sent me to the bar to
get half a liter of rum. When I came back and gave it to him, he took a swig from the bottle and offered some to me. I told him that I didn't want to drink, especially not rum, but it was no good saying anything, finally I had to have a drop. He said that someone had fired at one of their commanders and that his left hand was hurt, and that our village would have trouble because of it. "The wounded man" was our partisan, Jurisics, whose left hand was wrapped in a white handkerchief soaked with the village idiot's blood.
The stranger left us without taking anything.
From the barn, where I had hidden myself, I could see that the shopkeeper, Antal Laczko had been out of his shop, taken to the the market square in the company of several others. Almost all of the farmers had been driven out of their houses by partisans into the square in front of the church.
After an hour I could see fifty or sixty men from Adorjan marching in pairs accompanied by the partisans towards Kanizsa. These were mostly from the end of the village. There my Uncle Gyula Miluticsovics, despite his Serbian name and Mr. Bakota, the village teacher. Someone, perhaps trying to escape wanted to open the small gate but it was locked.
There were seventeen partisans who passed in Indian file along the side of our house ready to shoot if necessary.
As they passed by, I tried to follow them from our garden. Soon I realised that they were not going towards Kanizsa. They were going to the bank of the Tisza River. I was afraid of being spotted, so I carefully made my way back among the corn stalks and finally I jumped into the ditch dug on the ridge by my father to protect our garden from the roots of the trees in the neighbour's garden. I was about two-hundred metres away from the Tisza while the wild firing continued. It could not have been more than half an hour later, when the partisans came back in groups congratulating themselves in very loud voices, enthusiastically praising each other for their impressive "shooting". All night long we could hear cries for help becoming weaker and weaker from the river, from the farm which stood twenty metres away from the river, none of us was brave enough to go there.
I could hardly sleep that night, but at dawn I took courage and walked through our garden down to the Tisza. I saw pieces of clothing, clogs, short overcoats, fur-caps, hats and caps on the ten metre high bank. Then I looked down to the hole by the water and I saw four bodies half-sunk. I only recognized my Uncle Gyula Miluticsovics and Antal Bakota, the teacher, from their clothes.
Then from the farm, Marta Felho ran up barefooted and began to wail in a dreadful way, when she found her husband Lukacs's hat. Lukacs Apczi's nickname was Felho (Cloud).
Uncle Pista Gubec (also a nickname) had looked on from the corn-field while the massacre took place. The men were lined up in twos on the bank of the river and the partisans had taken aim at their heads in this way, that was why they had to remove their hats and caps.
At about noon a lot of women set out with food in baskets to try to find their starved loved ones as soon they knew where their men had been taken. I was the only one who could tell them that it was no use going there.
I have never heard, before or since, such heart-piercing wailing as when these women found the clothes of their husbands, sons or fathers.
That same afternoon we pulled the corpses out of the water. The third whom I was able to recognise was Uncle Pista Ladoczki, another one of my relatives. The fourth was Istvan Tandari, a wealthy farmer. Not all of the four men died immediately after the firing, three of them bled to death in the shallow water.
The next day saw the five dead bodies still lying in the cemetery, since there were no coffins. The fifth unburied body was the village idiot, the "faulty" Antal Bakota left five orphans behind him. The top of his skull was missing and I had to shoo the hens of the grave-digger away because they were picking at the bloody brain.
The partisan commander who we knew, warned Firanyi, the parish priest in front of the church,
"If you love your life, get out of here!", the priest ran away to his house and hid as quickly as he could, probably in the loft.
Janos Bicskei, the thirty-two year old teacher, was lined up because his hands were too white and clean. Although he had been educated in Belgrade and could speak Serbian quite well, it didn't help. He was suffering from tuberculosis and had not served as a soldier.
The unluckiest of all, however, was Sandor Lukacs, who had been taken prisoner by the Russians falling behind the retreating Hungarian troops, but had somehow managed to escape. He had just arrived home after three years of war. He was just about to take a bath and shave, when the partisans took him away.
Because of the chaos and the bombing, Mihaly Radak, a 65-year-old teacher from Szeged, had moved in here with Apczi. He was destined to die here on the bank of the Tisza also.
One of the victims of Adorjan had got stuck nearby in some roots under the water. Istvan Bacskai, his body turned up in the Tisza six months later. He was identified from his leather belt.
Of the fifty-six victims of Adorjan only one, Imre Csanadi was who could be regarded in any way as guilty. He had participated in the execution of the two dobrovoljacs and the Jewish physician in 1941.
Jurisics Miso, the commander warned Uncle Gyula to hide away. Gyula Miluticsovics followed his advice, but when a partisan turned up looking for the farmer and was on the point of shooting the snarling guard dog, my uncle Gyula came forward to protect his dog.
Later we asked this commander why he had participated in the massacre. He replied that if he had not, then he would have been executed too. The following year the commander of the massacre in Adorjan, Radakovics from Kanizsa, was accused of the massacre of 56 innocent men. He was entenced to forced labour for twelve months. A rare example. One of his fellows, Knjezevic, got off with six months forced labour. That's how cheap the Hungarian lives were worth.
At the beginning of December, all young men over eighteen years of age were summoned before the recruiting commission in Kanizsa. From there through Kishegyes, we marched in ranks of four accompanied by armed partisans towards Topolya to join the Petofi Brigade to fight for communist Yugoslavia.
In Kishegyes, a young wife caught up with us bringing some food. She approached her husband marching in the ranks and wanted to pass the food to him. A vigilant partisan shot her.
I escaped from Topolya, because I didn't want to die as a member of the Petofi Brigade. I crossed the Hungarian border at the end of December."
Another man from Adorjan, remembering these events, says that in the high bank of the Tisza the "holes" are now totally different from those of that time, because rocks have been put under the bank against the ravine.
As far as he knew, not everyone that lined up for execution received a mortal wound. Some were even able to jump into the water uninjured. The partisans, however, jumped down into the tied-up and half-sinking boats and shot them from there No one was able to count how many men from Adorjan were shot into the Tisza river.
Only the postman in Oromhegyes (Tresnjevac) could provide any facts He had heard a partisan calling to his fellow in Adorjan,
"We sent the birds to the Tisza."
The partisan in Tresnjevac had asked,
"How many birds were there ?"
"There were about fifty", answered the other Serb partisan from Adorjan.
Mention must be made of a number of events of 1941, which may be regarded as having preceded what took place in Adorjan. At the end of March or the beginning of April a Serbian river gunboat moored near Adorjan. A Serbian officer went often to the village to drink and to get to know the people. It was known in the village that the Hungarian occupation is impending. This friendly officer was eventually invited to a party, where they got him drunk and then confined him for several hours or perhaps even days, then the warship was ordered to sail. The hosts released the Serbian officer who was now sober and he began desperately to run after the warship which was now going away from the bank. It is said that the Serbian partisans spoke of this event as a crime.
It is also said that the teacher from Adorjan begged for his life desperately, because of his five children. No pity was shown to him, however, as he was told that at least now he would not be able to increase the number of Hungarians.
The following 56 men were executed on the bank of the Tisza in Adorjan,
1. Lukacs Apczi, 33
Jozsef Porzsolt, 33
2. Antal Bakota, 44
Mihaly Radak, 69
3. Miklos Banszki, 38
Jozsef Hemete, 38
4. Janos Bicskei, 32
Ferenc Rozsa, 24
5. Jozsef Bicskei, 41
Istvan Sarnyai, 44
6. Jozsef Bicskei, 19
Istvan Sandor, 42
7. Istvan Bicskei, 38
Geza Sandor, 35
8. Sandor Bognar, 36
Lukacs Sandor, 24
9. Istvan Borsos, 22
Janos Setai, 61
Jozsef Borsos, 22
Istvan Sindeles, 30
Lajos Dukai, 38
Ferenc Szabo, 44
Lukacs Dukai, 45
Pal Szabados, 34
Vilmos Gandis 30
Jakab Szecsei, 39
Gyula Horvath, 40
Lukacs Szecsei, 56
Orban Kis, 25
Ferenc Sziveri, 19
Janos Kocsis, 63
Pal Takacs, 36
Ferenc Kovacs, 27
Istvan Tandari, 46
Gyula Kormoczi, 23
Istvan Vajda, 66
19. Simon Kormoczi, 23
Jakab Vajda, 42
Antal Laczko, 24
Karoly Varga, 31
Istvan Ladoczki, 62
Miklos Vajda, 23
Pal Lengyel, 37
Ferenc Voros, 36
Peter Magda, 37
Ferenc Zoldi, 29
Kelemen Filiszter, 39
Janos Nagy, 37
Zoltan Kocsis, 38
Janos Nemeth, 37
Istvan Balassa 27
Janos Pasztor, 32
Imre Csanadi, 32
Jozsef Pasztor, 34
Albert Gazdag, 50
|Tibor Cseres: Serbian Vendetta in Bacska|