Introduction of the project
The Importance of Archival Documents from the F.183 Fond and the Newly Found ''Reports'' as Important Historical Sources for Studying War Crimes Committed Against the Slovaks During the Second World War
Among the large number of important fonds located at the Archives of Vojvodina there exists a fond F.183 which has the name: Commission for Investigation of Crimes Committed by the Occupiers and their Collaborators in Vojvodina – Novi Sad (1944–1948), 1941–1950. This fond is comprised of 81 books and 593 archival storage boxes whose length in total is 73,7 m. The archival documents from this fond are among the most important archival holdings that are stored at the Archives of Vojvodina, or more precisely, they are historical documents of utmost importance for studying the period of the Second World War on the territory of the AP Vojvodina. With regard to the importance of the archival documents of which it is comprised, the fond has been categorized as a cultural heritage of exceptional importance.
The Commission for Investigation of Crimes Committed by the Occupiers and their Collaborators in Vojvodina (henceforth: the Commission) was founded at the Second Session of the Anti-Fascist Council for the National Liberation of Yugoslavia (AVNOJ/AFCNLY) held in Jajce (today Bosnia and Herzegovina) from the 29th to the 30th of November 1943. The AVNOJ session had a very important role to play in terms of forming, or rather constituting the Federal People's Republic of Yugoslavia (FNRJ/FPRY). The main Declaration was accepted at the session upon which decisions would be made, whereby some had constitutional characteristics. Among them was a decision that made AVNOJ the ''main legislative and executive authority'', whereby the National Committee for the Liberation of Yugoslavia (NKOJ/NCLY) was also introduced as the executive branch of AVNOJ which had ''all of the markings of a national government''. Apart from the aforementioned, a decision was made by the Presidency of AVNOJ, under the serial number 10, according to which the State Commission for Investigation of Crimes Committed by the Occupiers and their Collaborators was formed via the Presidency of NKOJ. This Commission was formed with the goal of ''determining responsibility, finding and punishing all individuals responsible for committing and who still commit atrocities via the occupying forces and their collaborators in Yugoslavia for the duration of the war''. Seeing as how by the decisions of AVNOJ the new Yugoslavia was constituted as a federal state, gradually from February to November 1944, after the State Commission, local commissions were likewise founded which were responsible for each of the federal states. The local commissions functioned under the supervision of the State Commission. Likewise, apart from local commissions, a provincial commission was also founded whose seat was in Novi Sad later on. To this day the exact date of its founding has not been determined, although the Main National Liberation Committee of Vojvodina began working on the 21st of November 1944 when a decision, under the serial number 30, was passed that had ten articles of the Provincial Commission.
With regard to the Provincial Commission's organizational structure, it had correspondence with local commissions as well as the State Commission. When taking into account the ethnic composition of the AP Vojvodina, the Provincial Commission had certain specific traits which made it different from local commissions as well as the State Commission. Likewise, these specific characteristics of the Provincial Commission came as a result of the fact that, during the Second World War, the territories of Vojvodina were divided into three occupational zones, whereby the territories of Bačka were incorporated into Horthy's Hungary, Srem was under the control of the Independent State of Croatia, while Banat was under German control. The internal structure of the Commission was conceptualized in a way whereby it was supposed to consist of several departments all of which had certain tasks in their designated fields. The work of the Provincial Commission partially followed the separated occupational zones during the Second World War whereby they functioned based on territorial principles. This means that the entire area which was under the supervision of the Commission was divided into district administrations that had seats in Novi Sad, Sombor, Subotica, Zrenjanin, Pančevo, Sremska Mitrovica and Zemun. In addition to that, a certain number of municipality statistics councils comprised each of the district administrations, whereby the municipality statistics councils themselves were comprised of a larger or smaller number of local community administrations.
Information about the atrocities was gathered by local community administrations via submitted reports. It was required to fill in each report with information concerning the perpetrator and the victim as well as the crime itself: place, description, damage, evidence etc. Reports, together with their lists, were sent to the statistics councils by the local community administration that was located in the territory of a certain district. Upon arriving at the councils the reports were then further arranged in order that, based on their information, other records could be made. Via district administrations, the final destination of all of the gathered and arranged material was the Commission in Novi Sad. Based on the gathered material, decisions were made to determine the crime, culprit, victim and damage. The Commission was obliged to store the original material in its archive, while the copies and its decisions were delivered to the State Commission in Belgrade, and the decisions themselves were sent to public attorneys.
Apart from the aforementioned organizational units, the Commission was also comprised of special survey commissions. In simple terms, the task of the survey commissions was to ''conduct a survey of all major atrocities committed by the occupiers and their collaborators during the occupational period and the processing of the information via reports''. Namely, the Commission, while taking into account the aforementioned circumstances concerning the occupation of Vojvodina, classified all of the atrocities according to the corresponding areas, while inside those areas they were classified according to their specific groups. Survey commissions would then, for each of the areas and groups pertaining to the crimes, gather the available evidence whereby the end result of their work would be the ''reports'', or to be more precise, detailed accounts concerning the crimes that were committed in relation to their respective groups. The survey commissions according to their corresponding areas were: 1. The Survey Commission for Bačka and Baranja; 2. The Survey Commission for Banat; 3. The Survey Commission for Srem.
Each of the commissions had several municipality branches. Along with the ones that we already noted, there were also commissions that supervised the entire territory of Vojvodina: 1. The Survey Commission for the ''Sajmište'' concentration camp (located in Zemun); 2. The Survey Commission for Germans (Volksdeutsche); 3. The Survey Commission for Investigating Crimes Committed Against the Slovaks; 4. The Survey Commission for Investigating Crimes Committed Against the Jews.
The series of documents that comprise the F.183 fond mostly follow the organizational structure and work methods of the Commission. Among them, however, there are no special groups that are separate from the rest nor are there records concerning the documents of the Survey Commission for Investigating Crimes Committed Against the Slovaks. The documents that this Survey Commission has acquired are located within different groups in the fond. In the AK INV group is a whole host of records pertaining to the testimonies by Slovaks that were victims of the crimes. The records are in shorter form, ranging from half a page to two pages. Apart from information about the victim, they contain accounts about the crime itself. They were written in the Slovak language and there are in total 1728. They were recorded in the last book in the series of groups.
In the group that contains lists of victims and those wronged by the war crimes there are also lists of the Slovak victims categorized according to the crimes. There are three in total: 1. Forceful recruitment into the Hungarian Army, consisting of 85 pages; 2. Forced labor, consisting of 123 pages and 3. Forced membership in the ''Levente'' organization, consisting of 89 pages. Documents with information relating to the crimes committed against the Slovaks are also present among the reports by the Commission's local community administrations. The total number of reports that have Slovaks as the main victims is currently hard to pinpoint seeing as how research into this part of the fond is still being conducted and some of the reports are not physically located in the Archives of Vojvodina. With that in mind, there are indications that a large number of archival records is located among the reports by local community administrations from places where Slovaks lived in larger numbers in the territory of Vojvodina.
Special historical significance is given to the so-called reports that have been compiled by the Survey Commission for Investigating Crimes Committed Against the Slovaks in Vojvodina, whose existence was unknown up until mid-2020, where they were found during research which was being conducted as part of the project activities. The reports deal with Banat, Bačka and Srem and are composed in two languages, Serbian and Slovakian, whereby they were presented in its entirety as a special part of this internet-presentation. The importance of these documents is enormous, seeing as how they represent an account of the war crimes that the occupational forces and their collaborators committed on the territories of Banat, Bačka and Srem, or more specifically, they describe in detail the war crimes committed against the Slovaks during the Second World War. Its content gives insight into facts that were unknown until recently and has a crucial importance with regard to the focus of the research of this project.
Bursać, Aleksandar.2018. „Građa o Holokaustu u Fondu F. 183 Arhiva Vojvodine”. Arheon – Časopis Arhiva Vojvodine (1): 289–300.
Vukliš, Vladan. 2016. „Završni izveštaj dr Dušana Nedeljkovića o radu Državne komisije za utvrđivanje zločina okupatora i njihovih pomagača”. Topola: časopis JU Spomen-područja Donja Gradina (2): 164–243.https://www.arhivvojvodine.org.rs
Dr Nebojša Kuzmanović