The Volksdeutsche of Rudolfstal and Windthorst
A story of the villages of Windthorst and Rudolfstal, the villages I have always known as Nova Topola and Aleksandrovac.
The title for this post might seem a bit, "non Balkany", but please bare with me.
I can't tell you how many times over the years, I have travelled along the road from Gradiška towards Banja Luka, passing through the villages of Nova Topola and Aleksandrovac.
I would never have thought back on those trips, that for some 65 years at the end of the 19th and start of the 20th centuries that these villages were actually German.
I also had never stopped at the Catholic church of St Joseph’s, otherwise I would have.
For me, this "Hidden History" lesson, started when Tamara and I hosted the Otto Family from Baden Würtemburg in Germany.
The two Otto brother's (along with their wives), came to the area near where we live, to see where their ancestors were born and lived.
Their family story told of the villages of Windthorst and Rudolfstal, the villages I have always known as Nova Topola and Aleksandrovac.
Apparently Windhorst was the given name when in fact it should have been Windthorst.
A spelling error omitting the “t” in official documents is the reason.
In 1897, German settlers arrived in what is today's northern Bosnia and Herzegovina.
They were farmers.
Some 6 families arrived initially and by the time these families were evacuated to Germany in 1944, there were some 2,000 people.
The Otto's relatives left earlier for Germany for education in the 1930s, and never returned.
A World War intervened.
I am still investigating, or rather slowly researching, this fascinating story.
For the Otto's, they found family graves, still being cared for by today's population and seeing where their family lived.
The inside of St Joseph’s
For me, as someone who gets excited by history, it's a very exciting micro project.
So what's next?
These past few days Tamara and I drove around the Nova Topola area, and found evidence of German settlement at the Catholic convent and 2 locally produced information signs near the village of Trošelji.
For those who can't read or understand Serbian in either Latinic or Cyrillic, then you can find out more about this story at this WikiLink.
Bosnia and Herzegovina. A country that never fails to reveal it's uniqueness in so many ways.