|The Journey of a Village from Creation to Destruction
|Beginning in 1689, settlers from various parts of the Austrian Empire, at the invitation of the
monarchy, began settling the basin of the Danube River, turning it from an overgrown swamp into
productive farmland. They left their homes for an opportunity for a better life for themselves and
their children, free of the oppression of regional princes . The story of the Danube Swabians (a
name coined in the 1920's) is a little told and tragic chapter of history. Donna Kremer's Krndija,The
Journey of a Village from Creation to Destruction , reflects in a larger sense the story of all the
|The story begins as The Leissners leave lower Hungary for the newly formed village of Krndija in
Croatia in 1903. In following their lives, and the lives of the Hendricks, Webers and Kiellers and their
complex relationships, Ms. Kremer has painted an extraordinarily vivid picture of everyday village life.
These people worked extremely hard from early youth well into old age. Families lived together, often
several generations, in small houses with little in the way of conveniences.
|Against a confused political backdrop, hard work pays dividends and Krnkija begins to prosper. The
Swabians are not a political people and want nothing more than the opportunity to work and live their
lives in peace. When the second World War begins, the old hatreds between the Croats and the
Serbs comes to a boil. Some of the Croats even welcome the invading Hitler, seeing it as an
opportunity to repay the Serbs for years of oppression. Because of all the different factions,
including Tito and his partisans, neighbors who have lived together for years as friends are afraid of
each other, not knowing the faction with which they are allied.
|For the Swabians, these are extremely dangerous times. Neighbors who had resented their
prosperity now look at them with open hatred. Because of their German heritage, they are held
responsible for the evils of Hitler. Finally, those who survive do so by escaping Krndija in 1944,
with what they can carry and an uncertain future facing them.
|Ms. Kremer has written a gripping book, one I found it hard to put down. Her narrative style is
straightforward (with a brief excursion into a romantic novel early in the book in describing the love
of Rosalia and Paul) and her characters real and well defined. Dare we hope for a sequel to find
out what happens to them after the war?
|Quote from the author Donna Kremer:
|Having first started my writing career at the age of forty-seven, the creation of Krndija,
The Journey of a Village From Creation to Destruction has not only been a learning
experience but also one of personal discovery.
|Though I had never considered becoming a writer, a desire to preserve the details of
the life of a relative-in-law named Rosi, and the intriguing events that molded her life,
led me to a career that has since become a huge part of my life.
|It has also introduced me to a little-known people called Danube-Swabians or
Donauschwaben. Originally of German descent, these early settlers helped tame the
remote Danube Valley of Eastern Europe. Krndija, is but one of many villages created
by these courageous and hardworking people during the seventeen and
|Though representative of all Danube-Swabian villages of the central and lower Danube
basin, Krndija was unique in the fact that it was one of the few in what is present-day
Croatia. It is also different in that it was one of the later villages to have been
|I have been fortunate to have visited what remains of Krndija as well as existing towns
in the surrounding area. I have also been blessed enough to know some of those
who were born in and lived in Krndija and who were fortunate to have escaped before
it was taken over by Tito's Communists.