Opening of the exhibition “On the Trail of the Danube Swabians in Vojvodina” in Apatin

Apatin Cultural Centre, 4 October 2018

After it ‘debuted’ in Belgrade in December
2017, on 4 October 2018, we opened the exhibition in Apatin. The exhibition had
been well received in Belgrade, but we also wanted to put it on display in
Vojvodina as the area most directly addressed by the research and photographs.

Prior to the
exhibition in Belgrade, we were contacted by the Apatiner Gemeinschaft from
Germany, an association of people from Apatin and their descendants. Guido
Stein from the association also spoke at the opening of the exhibition in
Belgrade and we later arranged to organise the exhibition in Apatin in October
this year. It all started with a letter from Germany and developed into a
warm-hearted and pleasant cooperation. It was thanks to this cooperation that
we were able to organise the exhibition together with the Adam Berenc and
Apatiner Gemeinschaft associations. The Apatin Cultural Centre graciously provided
the exhibition space, which was also valuable in signalling the importance of
this topic for the town of Apatin.

The exhibition was opened by Boris Mašić on
behalf of the citizens of Apatin and the Adam Berenc association, and we also
heard from Nedžad Horozović, one of the photographers, Helena Rill, a co-author
of the research study, Dr Zoran Janjetović, a historian from the Belgrade
Institute for Contemporary History who had studied the Danube Swabians, and
Guido Stein and Petar Mijatović from Apatiner Gemeinschaft. Most of the
speakers referred to Apatin and the people who used to live there and those
still living there now. It was as if those who are no longer there were with us
again in Apatin.

The visitors were mostly people with a
personal connection to the Danube Swabians. However, there were also those with
an interest in this topic on account of having come to reside in the area
through colonisation, who had known the Swabians who used to live there or who
remained… One man recognised the gravestone of his uncle on one of the
photographs, after being unable to find it at the Apatin graveyard. People came
from Apatin, Sombor, Subotica, Ratkovo by Odžak, Lovćenac, Prigrevica,
Sanišići, etc. Although some of these places are not located close to Apatin,
there are traces of the Danube Swabians in all of them and people interested
for various reasons to see these traces and learn more about them. It is not
often that an exhibition brings together people from different parts of
Vojvodina.

The visitors had different responses to the
photographs they saw. Some felt they needed to tell their own stories, about
how their parents had been in the Kruševlje camp, some were moved, nodding in
silence. Some could not decide whether to get the book in Serbian or in German.
Some came to get the research study for someone to whom it was important but
who could not attend the exhibition. People talked with each other and
exchanged impressions of what they saw and how the photographs made them feel.

And finally, it was good to have this
exhibition in Apatin, to remember our “neighbours” who used to live there, with
us or by our side, but who were almost completely “erased” by historical
circumstances. It was once the Danube Swabians, and there were also others in
the more recent past… It was also valuable to connect with people from
different sides, with different experiences, and open this exhibition together.

The feeling after the opening of the
exhibition in Apatin reflected the cooperation that led to organising the
exhibition: it was kind, warm, necessary. The impression we got was that what
we had done was important to people who came to the opening and that they had a
strong personal relationship to the photographs, the research study and to what
we were hoping to achieve with these activities.

For more information and if you have not yet read the research study, it is available for download HERE

The photo gallery HERE