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My Family: Being German Didn’t Mean You Were Safe

Lori Beckett wants to create her own Web site to commemorate her family.

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I remember when I was growing up and learning about World War II. I was ashamed that I was of ‘German’ heritage. Better to claim Yugoslavian, they didn’t kill the Jews! Truth is, my ancestors were German. Germans that were promised a better life and land, a new beginning. Under the Habsbergs, hundreds of thousands of Germans were promised land and a new beginning, if they would only reclaim the land from the Turks. My ancestors were among them. They settled in the area known as Vojvodina, in Serbia, and were simple farmers, and they built the area up, with others, until it became strong and extremely fruitful, 90+ percent the income of the area. These were VERY hardworking people, and very proud! And they started at a very young age.

My grandmother was brought to this country by her father in 1904, when she was 9. He returned home two years later, leaving her with a Jewish family in New York City, never to know at least one brother and sister born after his return. She worked hard and sent most of her money home, to buy additional land for her family and herself.

It was all lost… In WWI & WWII. Our people were some of the first to volunteer to defend their ‘homeland’ in WWII… and the first to be executed and persecuted because they spoke german, never mind some of them had been there for a few hundred years! They volunteered BEFORE most of the Serbs in the area. What did they get? Their lands taken from them, their fathers,brothers and sons. Their mothers and sisters raped. Their people exiled from the land they fought so hard for!

I never knew any of this when I was growing up. Neither did my mother or aunt. Most of the world doesn’t know about this. Germans that relocated to claim land for the Habsbergs (Germany), who ended up being ethnically cleansed for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were damned from the git-go in WWII!!! The Germans killed them because they were in Yugoslavia, yet expected them to co-operate, because they were German! The Slavs expected them to fight, because they lived in their country, yet killed them, because they were German…and not to be trusted!

My grandparents lost touch with sisters and brothers, not to mention that their parents died during all of this, some in labor camps only to be buried in mass graves, still unidentified . My mother and aunt have cousinsthat they probably will never know, we have no idea where anyone went.

So, we are a small family that wonders. Where are the others? Did they survive the atrocities? My grandfather was one of ten, I only know the fate of one other. My grandmother was one of, at least, seven. I know the fate of one. Abused so severely by her husband that she ended up in an insane asylum.

Perhaps I have rattled on long enough. Perhaps. But I will continue to fight and talk about the fate of those my grandparents left behind.

What a messed up fate!!!


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