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Serbia unveils memorial to Germans expelled after World War II

Serbia has for the first time recognized the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Germans at the end of World War II. From a pre-war population of 550,000, only 4,000 remain.

Serbien Donauschwaben-Denkmal in dem Dorf Jarek (picture-alliance/dpa/Regierung von Serbien/S. Vasiljevic)

Serbian Prime Minister Alexsandar Vucic lays a wreath at the memorial to Danube Swabians.

Serbian Prime Minister Aleksandar Vucic on Saturday unveiled a memorial to the hundreds of thousands of Germans who were abused, expelled, and murdered in the former Yugoslavia after World War II.

"Only through respect for foreign victims will we have the right to demand respect and rights for our own victims," Vucic said inaugurating the memorial in the village of Jarek, north of the city of Novi Sad.

There were an estimated 550,000 "Danube Swabians" living in the former Yugoslavia at the time, about half of whom historians say supported Hitler's Nazi Germany and puppet states established in southeastern Europe during World War II.

Tens of thousands were reported to have entered the SS and carried out war crimes against the local population as they fought local communist partisans in a bloody, multi-sided war in the Balkans.

Fearing retaliation, about half of the Danube Swabians left their homes with the retreating German army.

Some 160,000 who remained behind were deemed "war criminals and enemies of the people" by the regime in Belgrade and were expelled, abused, and in many cases murdered.

Jarek detentions 1944-1946

A concentration camp was established in Jarek, where between December 1944 and April 1946 some 17,000 Germans were held. About 6,500 people died at the camp.

In all, tens of thousands of ethnic Germans died in camps of disease and starvation. Many were murdered. The issue was met with silence in the former Yugoslavia.

There are only 4,000 Danube Swabians left in Serbia.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel had personally advocated her colleague Vucic allow the memorial at Jarek.

The Danube Swabians settled in parts of southeastern Europe between the 17th and 19th centuries in lands emptied by wars with the retreating Ottoman Empire.

cw/jm (dpa)

 

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