Serbian Holocaust

Jozef Baruhović, November 8, 2011, Belgrade

Jozef Baruhović was born in 1934 in Sarajevo.  After the capitulation of Yugoslavia, as a Yugoslav army officer, Jozef's father Haim was taken to captivity.  Mother Sida-Simha (born Israel)  was left alone with children Jozef and Rašela.  Sarajevo was bombed, and the Germans arrived.  Jews were being arrested, and they went to Mostar. Through the terrible war years  Jozef's mother, with courage and resourcefulness, managed to keep her family alive.  From Mostar they went to Priština and then to Shkodr where they were until liberation in 1944.

Interviewer: Jelisaveta Časar | Camera: Milan Džekulić | Editing: Milan Džekulić, Nemanja Krdžić | Transcript: Milan Džekulić | Webmastering: Dusan Gavrilović

Voices of Survivors

English rendition of the interview, paraphrased and abridged:


......The Germans had started to withdraw. The British were already in Italy and every two or three days small fighter plains, Spitfires, flew over Shkodr, strafing the military barracks and German vehicles… I found that very exciting. I watched those tracers…

The Germans were withdrawing and  needed accommodation for the army. They would stay for two or three weeks and then went on. They requisitioned all the apartments in the area.  The Albanians who lived there saw that it was getting dangerous and left town, so many empty apartments remained. In the small two rooms house where we lived, one room was empty. One day some German commission came, sealed the other room, and left. We were in the other room and only a narrow one meter corridor separated those two rooms. After few days three Germans moved in. They broke the seal, dragged beds from somewhere and started to live here. My mother had studied singing in Vienna and she spoke German well. What to do? Should she talk to them or pretend that she doesn't understand what they talk about. But what if she revealed herself by showing that she understands German?  It was such a small house that we could hear them all the time. They spoke very loud. Soldiers, you know. So my mother decided to talk to them. They were delighted to find someone speaking German.  

At that time we hardly had anything to eat. Mother had spent almost all the money we had. Those German soldiers had regular rations so they were bringing us cans of food and mother cooked for them and washed their laundry. 

Everything seemed to be fine until one day a German officer with a dog showed up.  I think he was from their intelligence service.  It was the third critical moment during the war, when we could have lost our heads.  Perhaps not we, but mother certainly could.  He threw me and my sister out of the room. Only he and our mother stayed in the room. We heard mother crying.  They talked and after few minutes he came out with that huge dog.  What had happened?  He suspected that our mother was working for some intelligence service.  She was a woman speaking fluent German, living close to German military barracks while the Germans were withdrawing and trucks, tanks and other arms were passing by…she was very suspicious. Luckily, mother had one of father's letter from captivity. Those letters were written on special form  for German prisoners of war. Mother showed that letter to the German officer. She explained that she is the wife of the prisoner of war, that he is in German lager, that she had to run away and that we are refugees. 

She didn't mention we were Jews, but he could tell from my father's name… he could easily  have pulled out a gun and killed her. Bang, bang and throw her in the field.  It was war time. 

After a month or two, the Germans pulled out and Albanian partisans took over. There were no fighting.