Three years ago, on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the municipality of Arad in the Romanian part of the Banat decided to rearrange two cemeteries of Serbian internees who have died from 1914. to 1918. The camp in Arad fortress, where Serbs were detained by the order of the Austro-Hungarian authorities, was primarily intended for Serbs expelled from the territory of the former Austro-Hungarian province of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kingdom of Serbia and other Serbian regions, and there were about 15 000 of Serbs imprisoned.
Among the captives, there was a smaller number of Russians and other Slavs.
– The Arad camp was a part of the vast genocidal system conceived and applied by the Viennese establishment with clear intention to physically liquidate and eliminate the Serbian people. Headquarters of the entire system for the mass extermination of ethnic Serbs run a network of concentration camps in Bosnia and Croatia, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Slovenia, Austria and Romania. From this irrational hatred of the dual monarchy emerged the camp in Arad fortress as an imperial institution for displaced Serbs – Vladimir Ćorović wrote in his ” Black Book ” where he describes the guidelines of the Viennese Plan.
Serbian Pow’s and captured civilians arriving to death camp Arad.
Here are just a few of implemented ” guidance ” of the monstrous plan: – Just before and during the First World War, through military courts, numerous Serbian civilians have been sentenced to death and killed in huge numbers; while soldiers were killed without trial.
On August 14, Near Foca, modern Bosnia and Herzegovina, 126 local Serbs were killed;
In Trebinje, in Austro Hungarian barracks, in the presence of the commander of the garrison, 79 of the most prominent Trebinje Serbs were hanged including two Orthodox priests.
ARAD: Prisoners from Doboj, Banja Luka ” still in clean and undamaged clothes” – quote
Real pogroms took place in Srem (then – Austro Hungaria, modern Serbia) In Zemun near Belgrade, 50 people were hanged without trial. The gallows were erected in 27 villages of Srem. A lot of innocent men and women were killed.
Forced displacement of population from the Serbian border regions of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Montenegro toward the interior of the Empire is another measure brought to punish Serbian people. At that time, ” the wise Western democracy” didn’t even think of applying the term “ethnic cleansing ” for these ‘measures’ the Viennese rulers applied to Serbs.
Austro Hungarian troops executing Serbian boys
Before and during the First World War Austro Hungarian military courts sentenced to death and killed a large number of Serbian civilians, while their army executed thousands of Serbs without trial. General Oskar Potiorek , commander of BiH , a frustrated Slovene and huge Serb-hater, has established by order of Vienna auxiliary militia the infamous Schutzkorps. The Schutzkorps units consisted of Bosnian Muslims and Croats. They had unlimited freedom to attack Serbs, to humiliate, right to looting, burning their houses, to desecrate and burn their (Orthodox) churches and monasteries, and even to kill them without any consequence nor responsibility.
Austro Hungarians killing Serbian women in Macva region, Serbia
The Serbs were brought to Arad by train and thrown into prison cells. During one Sunday afternoon, as it is written, Austro Hungarians ” brought 274 Serbian political prisoners from Dubrovnik, Sibenik, Split and Zadar .” In the beginning, they were placed in the military facilities as much as 80 persons per room. As the number of prisoners grew, they were transferred to the basement to sleep on the straw-covered benches. Due to the desperate living conditions and starvation, the variety of infectious diseases erupted: fever and tuberculosis finished off what sadistic conc camp keepers didn’t:
few dozens of Serbian people of all ages ( children, women, adults) died daily.
Serbian journalist Radivoje Markovic, whose uncle was killed in the Arad Fortress’s torturing facilities, wrote:
– Compressed in damp and clammy underground corridors where light never reaches, the internees were suppressed in the unbearable stench. They suffocated in an unbearable odour. In winter, Austro Hungarians kept them almost nude and barefoot in icy areas on the concrete floor so their feet were freezing. Due to that torture, the amputation of limbs crippled many inmates, especially juveniles. They were tortured by thirst, tied around a stick and beaten to death, put in iron chains; women and girls were mass raped until death.
For those who speak Serbian and wanna know more about Arad and Serbian inmates, there are several sources, for ex:
About Arad, but also other WW I conc and death camps for Serbs (Doboj, Foča) and their sufferings in Bosnia and Hercegovina, by Vladimir Ćorović (1885 – 1941) :
Crna knjiga, patnje Srba Bosne i Hercegovine za vreme svetskog rata 1914 – 1918.