Captain Branislav Z. Obrenovic
On 28 August 2002 we received an e-mail from Mr. Aleksandar Obrenovic from Miami Florida. Aleksandar told me that his father was a Serbian Captain and POW in OFLAG XIII-B at Hammelburg. He sent us some 30 photos from his father which were never published and they show the daily live in OFLAG XIII-B. I would like to use this opportunity to thank Aleksandar for his cooperation and assistance.
This page is dedicated to the memory of
Captain Branislav Z. Obrenovic
who died 7 February 2001
Miami, September 11th, 2002
Dear Hammelburgers of Oflag XIII B:
My name is Aleksandar Brana Obrenovic son of Kapetan (Captain) Branislav Z. Obrenovic POW # 541 Oflag XIII B.
Born September 30th, 1911
Died February 7th, 2001
I dedicate this brief memoir of his life to my father and all of you that were there at that time in history, suffering on your mission to accomplish your duties as military officers and the freedom of the world.
All of this memories I have from my teenager days when my father and I spent long hours at bed time listening to his life history. I remembered from Hammelburg the following, any mistake or error on my behalf is maybe to my mind fading sometimes as you all know, so please accept my apologies.
He was captured in NIS Serbia in 1941 and went through various POW camps; he arrived in Hammelburg in 1943 from Biberach.
I remembered him telling me about the bad food and the cold barracks, the black bread and the very little charcoal they received from the Germans as little compressed bricks for 3 days supply and it was so cold that the majority used in one night, the potato skin soup, that everybody watch the one serving was stirring good and catching some of the pieces in the bottom, also when they cut the bread, they needed a ruler to evenly cutting the portion, also he remembered that in the camp the fence was made of 2 lines with barbwire in between and that in the front of it about 2 meters a small little stake with a single wire, if you cross this one or got to close to it the guards will shoot.
I remembered him telling me that in order to forget that he was a POW he worked in all the camps as the adjutant of the Serbian camp, organizing a library, theater and other leisure activities, also he was the translator from German to Yugoslavian and vice versa for all the correspondence received and sent by the Serbian officers, he spoke 6 languages.
The Serbians were about 4.000 when captured but in Hammelburg about 2.000 left, as the end of the war approached, they use to receive flying pamphlets (fliers) dropped by allied planes telling them about the war and Germany loosing, also that the Germans put an order that they could only have 2 blankets and the rest will be confiscated by them, he supposed this were sent to the Russian front.
In 1944-1945 the American soldiers began arriving to the camp, he told me that he learned English with the prisoners he became friends with through the fence, specially with Captain Carl J. Helton, he always remembered that they use to cross under a loose wire in the fence, always watching not to be caught by the guards and visited each other. He mentioned that with the tin cans they received in the packages he managed to make a little stove with 2 burners and a very small oven that he lighted with small pieces of wood and paper balls to cook, this way one day he invited Carl for dinner and collecting the potato pieces of the soup, a can of corned beef (SPAM) received by the Americans, powder eggs and powder milk he made a Serbian dish “Musaka”, in retribution to this the Americans invited the Serbian friend for dinner to and serve them spaghetti and grape jam, he said, well when you are hungry everything is gourmet food.
He also mentioned that General’s Patton son in law was at he camp and in March 1945 a small group of tanks attacked the camp, with the confusion and chaos created by the attack he remembered that some prisoners escaped, the Serbs remained at the camp, when the attack was over he told me that the Germans destroyed a tank with a Panzerfaust and left the dead soldiers there for days to lower the moral of the POW showing them the defeat and not to have hopes of freedom, as the days went by the corps start smelling and as my father was the adjutant of the camp he had access to talk to the commander of the camp, he went and told them that brave soldiers like those there that died with honor fighting in the battlefield do not deserve to be treated like that and if they were not going to bury them, to give the Serbians permission to do so, they granted the petition and the soldiers were buried by them.
As he told me General Patton himself after this big lost sent a bigger group in April a few days after the raid to free the camp. When the tanks arrived, they drop some of the towers and knock down the fences in the camp; the American tankers gave him a big rifle they carry on the tank and as they were week and the rifle heavy they needed somebody’s shoulder to use it. He also mentioned that in the middle of this attack one German sergeant surrender to my dad asking him to tell the Americans that he was good to the prisoners and to please help him as he was a friend of the Americans, my father turned him over to CIC.
A few lieutenants from the Serbian Army left with the American tanks volunteering in the 12th Armored Division the last months of the war until they were sent to Austria Salzburg St Johan Pongau U.N.D.P. Camp # 18 were he worked in the civil service.
My father never wrote his war memories and he used to tell us all of this always making it look like funny stories and anecdotes not to make us feel the real suffering he went through, I think that you that were there could understand this.
GOD BLESSES YOU ALL.
Aleksandar B. Obrenovic.
("In memory of Branislav Z. Obrenovic" your son Aleksandar)
2002 © Copyright Peter Domes - Date of last change: 2005-03-19