|Tibor Cseres: Serbian Vendetta in Bacska|
"I deserted the Hungarian army. In October there was still a German Tiger tank in front of our house. When the Germans left, an executive committee was formed. We gathered in old Kalmar's Restaurant. In a day or two the Partisan Punitive Company arrived in the village. We thought we were going to be punished, because we had not hindered the deportation of Jews that summer.
A decree was issued ordering all the men between sixteen and sixty to go to the churchyard with a shovel and sandwiches for a day.
The commander knew Hungarian. he said he lived in Zenta. There was a short man from Ada and a Jew in police uniform among the partisan troops.
The men reported to the churchyard and were ordered to line up. An officer of the partisans stood in front of them with a list in his hand. He had a machine gun on his shoulder and a partisan cap with a red star on his head.
The armed Partisans arrived in four or five horsedrawn carts from Novi Sad, all of them armed. There were no women among them. Everyone obeyed the call, since the Partisans said that whoever was found at home would be shot. Those who had carts and horses had to take them, but they all had to get off and join the others in the line, except for the few who had to carry firewood to the parish hall.
We thought we would have to join the army, but those who were called forth by the partisan officer had to go to the convent. Our line stood between the church and the convent. I became suspicious when one of the guards said to a man whose name was called, "Pass me the shovel, you won't need it any more."
I didn't know any of the partisans. The commander made it clear they had come to collect the guilty, while the rest would go to
work. They did not say that they were looking for the names of those who had participated in the raids in Csurog or Zsablya. They didn't care that the person had left the village. they gathered their namesakes in the convent.
They also tried to find the police officer of Nagyada, but out of fear he had hidden in a stack of straw and cut his throat with a razor. His relatives who had to pay the price for him.
Jozsi, the leader of our committee had arranged a dinner with the commander early that morning, but when he entered the convent, he came out crying laudly about that he would not take these bloodstained partisans to dinner, after seeing bloody corpses and villagers writhing in agony.
Many were taken to the graveyard to dig graves. In the convent, the Partisans burnt the suspects with cigarette butts to make them confess they had been in Csurog and Zsablya. They were beaten to death even if they did not admit to anything. Someone was beaten to death in the parish hall for not being willing to spit at the Hungarian flag. Those who were not killed in the convent were driven to the cemetery in pairs.
Those who were beaten to death in the village were loaded on a cart by Andras Komenda, this drove him mad. By the time the procession reached the cemetery, the machine guns had been set up facing the victims. Everybody had to undress and then they opened fire. The town crier ducked into the pit in time unhurt, and later pushed his way through the corpses and went home. His wife kept him hiding in the attic for a long time. When he finally appeared, the "resurrected" was summoned to the village hall and was given a job there."
Horvath the town crier told Sandor Illes, who included this incident in one of his writings. Horvath was exasperated. The town crier bears a grudge against Sandor Illes, because he asked the writer not to mention his name in his writing. It still appeared in Illes's book "Lament" along with the story of his escape, and his indignant Serbian adversaries spread excrement on his walls.
Sandor Illes's account of Temerin in Lament can be regarded as a documentary source, since the village was his home. Now that Horvath is dead his name and case can be made public.
Several of the partisans from Csurog and Zsablya were responsible for the slaughter in Temerin. They wore civilian clothes and had moustaches. They came. It was they who did the bloodiest "work" in the convent building and at the Scale House.
It was they who drove hundreds of Temerin people to the
Danube bank at Novi Sad to do away with them since they considered the common grave dug at Temerin not sufficiently large enough.
"It was late night when they reached Novi Sad. the streets were quiet, as if the town was deserted. They turn in the direction of the Liman, the Danube bank. Will the terrible massacre of Novi Sad be repeated? Will they take revenge? These simple good peasants had nothing to do with Novi Sad. "Everybody turn to face the Danube", the order was passed by word of mouth. When they turned towards the Danube, the men heard a machine gun being set up behind them. There were several hundred men waiting for death
They were made to throw their belongings from their pockets on the ground. There were lighters, pocket knives,wallets.
There was complete silence except for the rolling Danube River. the trobbing of our heart, and the loud sobbing of one of the men. We could feel rather than see the tall tower of the medieval fort Petervarad with the bastions and high walls.
As we waited, instead of the machine gun, the noise of a car motor and slamming of the door broke the ghastly silence. Someone started running toward the Partisans, they could hear his shouting in Russian: "Who is the commander?"
The armed civilian reported to the major. "What unit, what company?" the major asked. No unit and no company. He was from Zsablya and had brought the Hungarians from Temerin. "Why did you bring them? What do you want to do with them? "I lined them up for execution. they are Fascist Hungarians." "Let me see the sentence. Show me their sentences of death.", the Russian shouted sharply. Then he tore the gun out of the civilian's hand with a single movement and sent for the commander of the partisans. He arrived and fell into a violent rage, "Private action! Shameful gang! Who are your companions?" The Serb said they had stayed in Temerin. They'll settle the others there." "Arrest all of them.", the partisan captain ordered. "You take these people over," he said to his troops," and make a list of them. No one can lay a finger on them. So to Temerin for the rest of them."
These memories were passed down to the writer, Sandor Illes from his father. What concerns the arrests in Zsablya, and the ban on "laying so much as a finger on the Hungarians," was the creation of old Andras Illes's conciliatory memory.
The remaining hundreds of Temerin people not yet exterminated
by the commandos from Csurog and Zsablya, were ultimately carried away by the partisan commander despite all his "merciful inclinations". The group of several hundred people was then forced to work at the rebuilding of the railroad at Ingyija on the right bank of the Danube. Executions came later, a few at a time, mainly on the elderly.
No one has counted yet how many were executed on the spot and how many died out of the hundreds that were driven away.
The location, size and numbers in the various mass graves is uncertain. The survivors laid a concrete frame over the largest that could be located with certainty, but according to reliable eye-witnesses this frame only comprises the lesser part of the actual huge pit of corpse. Those who still wanted to erect markers or monuments over the greaves were hindered by the Temerin authorities in their reverent intention until the last few weeks.
There was so much blood that flowed from the bodies of men driven out of the Scale House to the market place, that the appointed hearse drivers gathered the rivulets trickling towards the cesspool by the barrel. The ditch, which carried the blood of the dying Temerin men to the market, was dug by careful predecessors to carry the urine of the animals to be weighed. About eight to ten corpse were thrown on each cart, some with their legs hanging out. Some of the bodies were carried to the cart with their trousers down to the ankles and their penises cut off by the murderers. The hearse drivers could not give any reason for the exceptional cruelty.
In Temerin, many can remember the three Hungarians from the Air Force who, were attracted by the girls they met earlier. They hid in Temerin instead of marching away with their unit from Novi Sad in September. They were waiting for the appropriate time to marry their fiances. It was angry partisan women who executed the three fine young men in the cemetery.
The following report was written by the brother of Corporal Jozsef Fogarasi, Royal Hungarian Air Force, who was murdered in the Temerin Church Yard: He was stripped, then made to dig his own grave, then machine gunned into a common grave with their hands wired together.It was lucky for the unknown murderers, since the people would have torn them to pieces.
Nationality of murderers: Unknown sadists lacking any trace of humanity called: partisans."
The brother got the information from the female teacher trainee who was bound to Jozsef by affections of premarital tenderness.
We are not authorized to mention the name of the girl, a woman over sixty and most probably married.
Temerin is a Roman Catholic village. Religion holds importance and special significance is attributed to the sacraments from Baptism to Extreme Unction, the sacrament of the dead.
Father Koppany and his two curates left Temerin in the fall of 1944, but the parish was not left without a priest after all. The Rev. Jozsef Toth was deposited in Temerin by the last train that left from Novi Sad, and he provided the spiritual needs of the parishioners. He was not harmed and was allowed to hear the confession of the people taken to the convent and intended for execution. He was not given the opportunity to administer Extreme Unction, as it would have been his intention. The number of the mass graves and corpse lying in Temerin has not been ascertained. No accurate data is known about the number of those who were driven away and died. After several months, a man walked down a street in Temerin children, who had not seen an adult man for a long time, pointed at him saying,"Look! A man!".
According to the church registry, a source we believe to be reliable, the total loss of Temerin was 480 people in the fall of 1944.
The reentry of Hungarian troops was not approved by the Dobrovoljacs, therefore twenty-two of them died April 1941 in the ensuing battle for the town..
On October 10, 1944 the partisans arrived, and sacked the church, the convent and the parsonage in the first few days. The parish priest, Istvan Viragh, was not arrested then. Some of the Serbian settlers from Montenegro, who had just returned, remembered that the eighty-one year old parson celebrated Mass in the camp of the Hungarian troops stationed in Horgos. In his sermon, he gave great thanks to the Lord, "God of the Hungarians", for the end of the rule of the barbarians. The 84 year old priest had to be arrested, but there was much debate about what to do with him beyond the usual tortures of captivity. About sixty people, including women, were collected to be victims of the vengeance. Istvan Viragh was still able to celebrate Mass on November 10th.
The bloody day of collective punishment dawned on Horgos on November 20th. The captives were forced to go seven kilometers on the international highway. The sick parson was allegedly tied to a woman. The captives were made to dig their own graves by the road. The Priest was granted the favor of being allowed to watch the grave diggers' work, while he was disgracefully tied up. Then they were slaughtered by their guards.
Legend has it that when Istvan Viragh collapsed, there appeared a bright cross above his figure, and he disappeared in its glow.
This vision was spread by the peasants, who were brought there from the nearby farms to drag the sixty corpses, some of whom they knew well, to the much too shallow grave and bury them.
The corpses were covered by a thin layer of soil. Within a few days arms and legs appeared out of the shallow grave, where stray dogs began to dig up the already decomposing bodies. The taciturn inhabitants of the pit had to be moved to another mass grave. The mass grave was found in 1964, when the former sheepshed was turned into an inn. The mass grave was revealed during the excavation for the drain pipe. The nature of the grave was proved by the fact that there was black cassock fabric among the rags that were unearthed, along with buckles, belts, and other
personal objects and bones.
They say that the members of the firing squad were punished by God. they died hideous deaths. The leader of the squad hanged himself in the woods of Szelleveny following the murders. Some of the other murderers died of cancer or ulcerous diseases, and most of them committed suicide.
The Red Army occupied Martonos on October 8th. October 11, the local Serbs had organized themselves and worked up enough courage to ravage the Roman Catholic parsonage, ruin the archives, and the library. They could not have had a reason for bearing grudge against the Roman Catholic Church except for simple religious aversion. They smashed most of the furniture and broke the till open, and took 17,840 pengo cash. a third of the total expense of the church of Kispiac, that was being built. They also dragged the Rev. Mihaly Werner along with 23 other villagers.
On November 21, 1944, after more than a month of continuous torture, the priest and his fellow sufferers were loaded on a truck at night and taken to the trenches by the Tisza River, although they had not done anything to qualify them for capital punishment. There had been no atrocity committed in the village against the Serbs in 1941. The majority of the arrested people were perfectly innocent, altough some of them offended Serbs in 1941, but in no way to the extent that would have called for death.
Let us consider the case of Ferenc Hollo for an example. When the last German soldier had left the village, Hollo, standing in his yard, remarked to his wife, "They won't come back, will they?" This was overheard by his Serbian neighbor, who denounced him for waiting for the Germans to come back. This is why he was arrested and executed.
The tailor Karoly Jozsa was, at the instigation of a rival Serbian tailor named Congradas Dusko, charged with making a suit for the village notary, Matyas Feher, and was finally slaughtered for it. Policeman Janos Varkulya was executed because he had given warning to a Serb for illegally driving a wheelbarrow on the sidewalk. The same was the case with Ferenc Fejes, Gergely Horvath, Janos Keri and Antal Szabo, who joined the police department to support their families. They were of a gentle nature, who did not harm anyone.
Some of the captives were not hurt, while others were terribly tortured. The Rev. Mihaly Werner whose genitals were lacerated with pliers day by day by immature Serbian youngsters.
Policeman Sandor Soros' skin was torn with the bead of a gun. He was skinned alive so that he could not even walk and had to be carried to the execution on a stretcher. The captives were informed by some more humane Serbs that they were to be executed that night, as there had arrived at the village a partisan commando to cover the executions. Mihaly Werner, titular Abbot granted absolution to the men in extreme peril. Antal Lendvai confirmed atheist, would not accept the absolution but abused the priest.
Peter Safrany, a farmer who had formerly been mayor of the village, knew himself to be guiltless. Nevertheless, he took leave of his wife Klara Csonka. Harnessed their two horses. stashed food for a couple of weeks on the cart. and joined the line of fugitives on October 5. He was warned by his Serbian friends from Martonos. He returned from the Transdanubia at the end of April, when the foam of revenge had evaporated. No harm was done to the former mayor except for a few summons.
The massacre of the Hungarians of Martonos originated with Zivojin Putnik, Mita Grubanov, Duric Beljin, Ljubomir Congradac, a butcher called Milo and others. It was carried out by Dusko Petric, Svetozar Bajic and his son Miles, Vlajko Kretin, Dragomir Kojic and a number of young people. One of them had a heart attack, because of the dreadful sight of the execution. Some of the slaughtered were not killed immediately by the bullets, and tearfully begged their executors to kill them and not to bury them alive. This massacre was evidently a war crime like the ones at Adorjan, Temerin, Mohol and Bezdan, although neither the originators nor the executors were called to account for the murders.
Some irresponsible Serbian elements planned a large scale massacre at Martonos too, since they considered the 24 dead to be insufficient. The male population was forced to go and work at the ferry crossing on the Tisza, so that after completing a certain amount of work they could be shot into the river.
There were some Russian soldiers at the crossing also. Laskovicz, one of the Martonos residents was ordered there. He had been a prisoner of war in the Soviet Union during World War I, and came back with a good command of Russian. He started talking with the commanding officer of the Russians. The officer asked him why the Hungarians working in front of his eyes were so downhearted and sad. The man said that his fellow workers believed, and not without any grounds, that their guards planned to machine-gun them into the river as soon as the work was finished.
At first, the Russian officer would not believe this explanation
for the sadness. Talking with armed Serbians later, he understood that the fear of the Hungarians was not groundless. He then ordered the leader of the Serbians not to do any harm to the Hungarians of Martonos. He obliged the Serbian nachalnik (commander) to report to him concerning the safe arrival of the Hungarians to their homes or else he himself would be shot.
Thus, the mass massacre did not happen at Martonos after the small scale butchery. This is the list of the 24 martyrs of Martonos:
1. Ferenc Barany, farmer
2. Ferenc Fejos, policeman
3. Lajos Forro, butcher
4. Janos Gruik, police sergeant
5. Ferenc Hollo, joiner
6. Gergely Horvath, policeman
7. Miklos Horvath, agricultural worker
8. Karoly Jozsa, tailor
9. Janos Keri, policeman
10. Istvan Koncz, agricultural worker
11. Antal Lendvai, worker
12. Gabor Nagy, village cashier
13. Peter Ozsvar, worker
14. Janos Puspok, farmer
15. Kalman Safrany, policeman
16. Janos Soros, village mayor
17. Sandor Soros, policeman
18. Antal Szabo, policeman
19. Peter Szarapka, farmer
20. Laszlo Takacs, basket-weaver
21. Istvan Torok, farmer
22. Janos Torok, fisherman
23. Janos Varkulya, policeman
24. Mihaly Werner, Titular Abbot
|Tibor Cseres: Serbian Vendetta in Bacska|