Heimkehr. Return of the Slavonian Germans from exile into their native land after the World War II and their destiny Cover Image

Heimkehr. Povratak slavonskih Nijemaca nakon Drugoga svjetskog rata iz izbjeglištva / prognaništva u zavičaj i njihova sudbina
Heimkehr. Return of the Slavonian Germans from exile into their native land after the World War II and their destiny

Author(s): Vladimir Geiger
Subject(s): History
Published by: Hrvatski institut za povijest
Keywords: Germans; Yugoslavia; Slavonia; Second World War; exile; return to native land

Summary/Abstract: By the end of the World War II, the majority of the Yugoslav Germans (Volksdeutscher) had been displaced and forced to leave their homes. Most of them found refuge in Austria and Germany, but also on the territory of Czechoslovakia, Poland, Hungary and Italy, where they stayed until the war was over. Many had decided to return to their native land after the war. Since the Allies considered the banished and displaced Yugoslav Germans in Austria, Germany and elsewhere to be Yugoslav citizens, they sent them back and facilitated their return to Yugoslavia. At the end of May 1945, the Yugoslav authorities made a decision according to which the Germans were prohibited from returning to Yugoslavia. Many Slavonian Germans, exiled around the end of the war, shared their destiny. They were stopped at border crossings between Austria and Yugoslavia and between Hungary and Yugoslavia, where they were prohibited from entering their native land and were sent back to refugee camps in Austria and Germany. Chiefly in 1945 and despite everything many Slavonian Germans succeeded in crossing the borders between Austria and Yugoslavia and Hungary and Yugoslavia. Still, many never reached their homes but instead they were stopped on their way through Slovenia (Prekomurje and Styria regions) and Croatia (Međimurje, the Podravina and Baranya regions). As a rule, their property was taken away from them and they were consequently sent back, or exiled again from Yugoslavia across the Austrian or Hungarian border. In spite of all efforts by the Yugoslav authorities to prevent them from returning to Yugoslavia, many Slavonian Germans managed to return to their native land right after the war. Soon afterwards, they were arrested and put away in the camps. They were dispatched from the local assembly centres to camps in Josipovac near Osijek and to Valpovo, from where they were, together with other Germans, expected to be sent back to Germany or Austria. The transport of Slavonian Germans (and other Germans from all over the territory of Yugoslavia) to Austria was organized by trains. At the beginning of July 1945, a large group of detained Germans from the camp in Josipovac was exiled, among them many who had only just returned to their native land. Since the Allies closed the borders towards Austria and Hungary in July 1945 and thus made the crossing impossible, many Germans were detained in labour camps in which many lost their lives. Many stayed there until 1946 or 1948 and were finally released. Given that most of their property was confiscated and they were denied fundamental ethnic and civil rights, the majority of Germans emigrated in the 1950s and 1960s, predominantly to Austria and Germany.

  • Issue Year: 2003
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 521-547
  • Page Count: 27
  • Language: Croatian