Kruševlje (Крушевље) is a small settlement (hamlet) in
Serbia. It is situated in the Sombormunicipality, West Bačka District, Vojvodinaprovince. It is mostly populated by Serbs.
In Serbian, the village is known as "Kruševlje" or Крушевље, in German as "Kruschiwel" or "Kruschiwl", and in Hungarian as "Körtés" or "Bácskörtés". Its name derived from Serbian word "kruška" ("
pear" in English). There were also some other, less used names such as "Kruschewlje", "Birndorf" (German translation of its original Hungarian name), "Krušovje", "Körtvélyes", etc.
Officially, Kruševlje is not classified as a separate settlement, but as part of the village of
Gakovo. It is located near the border with Hungarybetween Riđica, Stanišić, Gakovoand Rastina.
It is about 2 miles northeast of the neighbouring village of Gakovo and about 2,5 miles west of Stanišić. About 5 miles to the north is the village Riđica and the nearest town is Sombor, about 12 miles to the South.
The whole area surrounding Kruševlje is a flat ground, with many swampy meadows, fens, bad-fruitful salt-spring fields. The villagers had some fruitful gardens, corn fields, hamp-and wheat fields, vineyards a few miles to the North. The village is about 305 feet (93 meters) above the sea level. There are no hills, woods or rivers.
The earliest appearance of this settlement is recorded by Hungarians in 1520 as "Körtvélyes", and again in 1598 as "Kruševlje" in some Turkish lists, but it is certainly evident that it existed even earlier. During the Late
Middle Ages(14-16 Century) it was populated with Serb nomads and cattle-breeders, many of whom lived there only temporarily and built a few small wooden-or mudd-cottages and huts.
During the Ottoman rule (1541-1687) the village of Kruševlje was populated by ethnic Serbs and the nearest Turkish stronghold was in
Sombor, about 12 miles to the south, but living there was very hardly and dangerously, because the Turks were very cruel and ruthless to all those who did not or could not pay all the taxes, that they demanded. All the Hungarian and a lot of Serb population of all southern parts of the Pannonian Plainthat were administered by the Kingdom of Hungaryfled to the north before the Turks arrived and Kruševlje was also deserted by the time. It was eventually soon resettled by a dozen or so Serb cattle-breeders, but they again had to flee in 1598 when the whole area was devastated by the Tatar forces, arriving there as Turkish vassals. It was then, in 1598 that the village of Kruševlje is recorded for the first time, mentioning its inhabitants as Turkish serfs and tenantfarmers who fled with their village-leader named Mihajlo to the town of Esztergomin the northern part of Hungary.
It was resettled again some years later, and in 1633 it was recorded as a small Serb village. It was mentioned also in 1650, when the inhabitants of Kruševlje were paying some 12 Forints taxation to the Archbishopric of Kalocsa. In 1654, it is written, that the Hungarian Palatinate, Count Wesselényi rewards
Jovan Dervašwith the Kruševlje estate to be his beneficiary for life, as he was the Serbian vice-mayor of the Hungarian town of Nagradnear Pest. Again in 1659, there is another mentioning of Kruševlje benefactors, Peter Patayand Đuro Dulo. In 1658 it was György Szalatanyi. Everything was of course, only symbolical. The Turks were banished from most of the Pannonian Plain during the Great Turkish War(1683-1699), and Kruševlje itself came under Habsburgrule with the complete Bačkaarea in September 1687 by the victorious troops under the Imperial Prince Eugene of Savoy.
In the early 18th century Kruševlje was again abandoned, and later mentioned in 1740 as a part of county named "Somborski Šanac" (English:" The Trench of Sombor"). It was noted down as "puszta", meaning in Hungarian wasted, deserted, empty land. It is similarly recorded again in 1746 on the landmap made by Anton Karlschmidt. It is possible however, that some Serb soldiers of the military border have been living in Kruševlje between 1720 and 1746. As the military border was abolished in 1746, they moved away and in 1746 it was called "puszta" again.
The new page in the history of Kruševlje came up with the German colonization of the southern Pannonian Plain administered by the Habsburg Monarchy. It was well planned and organized by the state officials in
Viennacourt. The newly conquered lands had to be populated, this time by German colonists. During the rule of Empress Maria Theresa of Habsburg there was a great colonization in this great Danube area between 1762 and 1768 and again during the rule of her son the Emperor Joseph II between 1784 and 1787. More than 20 settlements were populated only in this area. Kruševlje was settled with German colonists mostly during the first colonization, although some families came later as well.
Anton von Cothmann, the Director of the Imperial Estates in this area and the Chief-Commissioner for colonization visited this land in 1763 and ordered "Puszta Krusivle" to be settled as soon as possible, as well as the neighbouring "Puszta Gakova". The villages of Gakovo and Kruševlje were settled in 1767, though Gakovo was built greater, settling down about 230 families and Kruševlje only about 70. Even later, many families from Gakovo were initiated to settle down in Kruševlje, because there was more free site. German colonists used the name "Kruschiwel" for the village, which was modified version of original Serbian name.
The majority of those colonist families came on floats called "Ulmer Schachtel" by the river
Danubetravelling about two or three weeks from the German Imperial town of Ulm, where they were called to gather mostly from the Imperial estates in Lorraine, Alsace, Rhineland, and the Palatinate(German: Pfalz). There were also some families who came from other parts of Southwest Germany, mostly from County of Baden, Württemberg, Bavaria, Swabia, Bohemiaand Moravia, as well as from some decades earlier established colonist villages in Pannonian Plain administered by the Habsburg Monarchy, like in the Counties of Tolna, Pest, Buda and Baranya. They all were gived some food, cattle, tools and instruments for living and lately some lands, all this for free, as it was a state organized colonization.
In later years (especially in the 1780s and in the early 1800s) more German families moved to Kruševlje from the neighbouring villages of Gakovo, Kolut,
Csátalja, Gara, Katymár, etc, but it remained a mostly conservative society. The greatest group came in 1780 from the French-speaking part of Lorraine, and were soon Germanized in Kruševlje. These are the French families like Depre, Settele, Schira, Lewang, Gosse, Frantzem, Lattele (all their family names are here spelled in German). There were later also some Hungarian family names like Wirag, Kerescher, Lombocs and Ujwari and Bunjevac like Kusanitsch who all were Germanized as well. "It is recorded in 1936, some 156 years after their arrival, that the family of Gosse still kept their Bible written in French, although they didn't speak French for generations."
Some families from Kruševlje resettled later into Stanišić, Gakovo, Baja or Sombor. There were more than 140 family names in Kruševlje. The first Jewish family was recorded in 1779 and they were, as usual, shopkeepers and merchants.
During the 1760s and the 1770s the Kruševlje people built their new village in their own German style: long, wide main street, called in German: "Die Kirchengasse" or "die Hauptgasse", three short "Kreuzgassen", and long, but narrow family houses, always whitewashed, including two rooms, a kitchen, a stable (stall) and a shed. All the houses were thumped with mud and roofed with cane. About 120-130 years later all houses were remodelled, enlarged and made of bricks with fine facades and ornaments. Behind the houses were the family gardens, and every home had its own well or pump later. As they all were very religious people, they built a small Catholic church in the middle of their main street as early as in 1770. Their priest and their religion acted one of the most important roles in village life. Every Sunday almost the complete population was gathered in or round the church for the morning mass. Since 1785 Kruševlje had its own Catholic parish. The village school was also soon built, and in 1789, it is recorded, the schoolteacher was János Szikra. After him, as the Kruševlje teachers served Jakob Kirstner, Simon Scheidler, Ferdinand Klemm, and from 1888 Franz Schamberger. There was always only one teacher, even if there were more than 150 pupils in the end of the 19th century.
Kruševlje was developing very fast during the end of the 18th and at the beginning of the 19th century. More German families were settled down, new houses were built, the streets were lengthened and planted with mulberry-trees. In 1818 a new, larger church was built, and later a small cemetery chapel. In 1822, in Kruševlje lived 803 Germans and 6
Jewsin more than 150 houses. The main preoccupations of Kruševlje villagers were agriculture (mostly corn, wheat, maizecalled there "Kukrutz" in German), cattle-breeding (mainly live stock - cows, pigs, oxen, bulls and some poultry), silk-worm raising, later also hemp cultivating and manufacture. Of course, many men were craftsmen (mainly bricklayers, blacksmiths, rope-makers, joiners, etc). The village was rich and wealthy. Every family also kept horses, carriages, carts and later tractors and threshing machines. Some families had also a house in its fields, called "Sallasch". There they kept more live stock and some serving-men. Many families from Kruševlje possessed their fields and vineyards to the north, towards Riđica, because all the other landparts were pasture-grounds, grassland, fens, or saltfields unsuitable for cultivation and tillage. Saltpetreexcavating was also one of Kruševlje's main jobs. It was used instead of oily soda for soap-making. Along all the village and field streets thousands of mulberry-trees were planted and the silk-worm breeding was a very profitable job for the entire region as well as the hempcultivating and selling to the hemp factories in Stanišić or Prigrevica.
The railroad was built in 1895 connecting Sombor and
Bajaand it passed Kruševlje for about two miles from the south. In the beginning, the inhabitants of Kruševlje had to go to Stanišić or Gakovo railroad stations, both in distance about 3 miles. But, in 1912 a small station was built south of the village, so that the inhabitants had their own station, which was later in 1924 connected with the village by narrow railroad-track. It was originally built for cargo-waggons, but it was used also for civil traffic. The waggons were pulled by horses and later by a locomotive to the main railroad where the travellers had to waite the train. The narrow railroad was removed in 1948, and the main railroad was used for passengers until 1979 and for cargo-transport until 1991, but was never removed. Kruševlje was electrificated in 1925 from Stanišić, had a steam-mill, a library, a four-class primary school, a nursery-garden, a silk-manufactory and was a fairly prosperous community.
The population number was increasing very fast, and by 1878 Kruševlje had 968 inhabitants, by 1890 1,092 inhabitants, by 1910 976 inhabitants, by 1921 935 inhabitants. There would have been even more, but there were certain demographic changes. In the 1830s and in the 1870s there were outbursts of
cholera, dysenteryand feverand many people died within a few days. By the year of 1831 there was even a plague in Kruševlje which returned again in 1868 killing some families as well.
In the 1890s and especially between the years of 1900 and 1914 dozens of families emigrated to the
USA. In 1940 in Kruševlje was 907 inhabitants and in 1941 about 940, what's about 150 people less than 50 years before. There were 172 houses in 1890, about 200 in 1921 and 225 houses in 1940. During the World War Imore than 250 men from Kruševlje participated as soldiers in Austro-Hungarian army, and more than 150 were killed or wounded, mostly in Galicia on the Eastern front.
Between two wars
In 1918, the village became part of the newly formed Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, called Yugoslavia since 1929. The border with Hungary was just about 5 miles to the north. In common life, there were no major changes. In 1924, rich landowners were deprived from their estates according to the new reforms. The Germans founded their cultural society called later "Kulturbund" and during the 1930s some minor families were sympathising the
Nazi Party. As Kruševlje was mainly populated by Germans, there were no national problems as it was in other parts of Yugoslavia in those years.
World War II and aftermath
During April 1941 , when the
World War IIstarted, Yugoslavia was occupied and Bačka was annexed by Hungary. Since 1942 some inhabitants of Kruševlje (less than 50 men) joined the SS-troups and went to the Russian front. In 1943 more young men were mobilized and almost all men in 1944.
The villagers also sent some aid in food and clothes to the Eastern front and Germany, and there was no other role in the war campaign. When it became clear in October 1944 , that the Soviet Army and the Yugoslav partisans will be soon there, and that the war was lost, many German village populations were forced to evacuate by German military commanders. But, many wanted to remain because they felt not guilty for any crimes. Only several families fled from Kruševlje in October 1944 before the Soviet Red Army came. The last German chairman of the village council was Franz Peller.
October 20, 1944the partisans came from Stanišić and entered into Kruševlje. The next day, October 21arrests started. Almost all remaining men were taken prisoners. The whole village became soon a camp and under constant watch guards. The houses were plundered and sacked, all food and live stock was taken away. The entire German population was proclaimed collaborator of the Third Reichand deprived from all their civilian rights and property. Some men and woman were taken prisoners to the labour-camp in Sombor. Others were sent to labour in the fields around Kruševlje. Those who refused to work all day, wanted to go or flee, were beaten or starved to death. Near the village church, two civilians were simply shot, namely Anna Depre, aged 44 and Karl Frantzem, aged 66, just because they wanted to return home. Many old people, who couldn't work, were left to die from hunger and fear. Some of them were: Emilia Bauer, aged 96; Dominik Depre, aged 93; Margareta Matz, aged 89; Franz Depre, aged 85; Melchior Pentz, aged 85; Salomea Wolf, aged 84; Mathias Schauer, aged 82; Rosalia Wolf, aged 81; Margareta Schauer, aged 81; Christine Pentz, aged 82; Franz Jung, aged 81; Margareta Schnatterbeck, aged 79; Melchior Brandäcker, aged 78; Barbara Keil, aged 76; Elisabeth Bergmann, aged 76; Georg Zettel, aged 76; Karl Bihn, aged 75; Heinrich Steinfeld, aged 75; Rosalia Weber, aged 75, etc. On Christmas Day 1944, about 60 young men and women were taken to Siberiato work in Russian mines. The hard work during the winter was bearable, but more difficulties came in the spring of 1945.
As the new communist government deprived all the German population of Yugoslavia (estimated in 1941 to be about 570,000) of all their citizen and civil rights and of all their property, as a
collective guiltfor German war crimes and devastating occupation from 1941 to 1945 they had to be put by force into the labour camps. Beginning from October and November 1944 the Kruševlje and Gakovo (as well as in the other German-populated villages) people were forced to work in the fields under very harsh and unhuman conditions and could not leave the village, even though they were not participating in the war. Kruševlje and Gakovo were determined to be the camps for German population (also Jarak in Bačka and Knićaninand Molinin Banat and Svilara near Sremska Mitrovicain Syrmia). During the end of March and beginning of April 1945 almost all remaining German civilian population of the following places was put in Kruševlje or Gakovo prison camp: Kolut, Riđica, Apatin, Krnjaja ( Kljajićevo), Prigrevica, Čonoplja, Novi Sivac, Stari Sivac, Odžaci, Filipovo ( Bački Gračac), Karavukovo, Srpski Miletić, Sombor, Parabuć ( Ratkovo), Crvenka, Veprovac ( Kruščić), Deronjeand lately from Stanišićin August 1945.
In Kruševlje and Gakovo were imprisoned Germans from about 120 places in Yugoslavia. Towards the end of summer and autumn of 1945 all camps in these villages were closed and the prisoners were removed to Kruševlje and Gakovo, as well from other places in Yugoslavia. Other prisoners came also from some other places in Bačka and
Banat. At the beginning both camps were force-labour camps, but as many of the prisoners got weak, ill and unfit to labour, most of them were transferred to Kruševlje. All those who could work were transferred from Kruševlje to Gakovo at once. Some people were also moved to Bezdan, one of them has been killed there. In 1946 the complete village of Kruševlje became a camp for unfit-to-labour prisoners, including small children, sick children, children without parents, invalids, old men and women, sick persons. About 220 houses were filled at instance with about 5,000 people (4 times greater population of its own) and every day there were more prisoners who were coming in. Each house had 20 to 40 people, some greater houses even to 50 people. There were periods when more than 7,000 people were placed in Kruševlje. The living and hygienical conditions were very bad and the nutrition very poor consisting only from some unfresh bread and water, rarely some meat. As more and more people became sick in Gakovo, Kruševlje had more and more prisoners. The main sicknesses and epidemics were typhoid, dysenteryand high fever. Many died also from hard labour, spare died, fragility, exhaustion, hunger, torture, and delicate medical help. More than 30,000 Germans bypassed these two prisoner camps, of whom at least 12,000 died there. Every day there were mass-burials, no less than 5-10 people a day, but there were also days when more than 20 people died. The highest death-level was 42 deaths in one day in Kruševlje and 96 in Gakovo. There were also no burial records or grave marks at the village cemetery. In Gakovo camp was never less than 12,000 or more than 18,000 people and in Kruševlje less than 5,000 and more than 9,000 people. About 8,500 people died in Gakovo and about 3,500 in Kruševlje camp. The camp in Kruševlje existed officially from March 12, 1945till December 1947 and about 11,000 - 12,000 Germans bypassed it. The camp in Gakovo was dissolved in February 1948 and about 18,000 - 20,000 people bypassed it. The prisoners were left to go to work on farms for living, and in 1951/52 were permitted to buy new passports and were allowed to leave Yugoslavia. Most of them did so.
Of the total Kruševlje pre-war population which numbered about 940 people, only about 250 (25%) outlived the war and the prison camp in the village. About 250 men were taken into the Hungarian army, of whom at least 40 have been killed or missed on the front-lines, and of about 650 people who remained in the village as the Partisans came in, about 60 young men and women were taken prisoners to
Siberia, about 110 died in Gakovo and 220 in Kruševlje camp, and only about 250 were still alive in December 1947. The total number of the Kruševlje civil victims might be around 350 and about 50 more killed in the war, resulting in about 400 deaths during the war and post-war times. All the Kruševlje families were cut in two or even more, many were still missing reuniting in Germany many years later. For some of them everything was lost, the entire families, cousins, friends, homes and all estates and the whole property. They all had to began a complete new lives in Germany and many emigrated soon to the USA, Canada, Australia, South Africa, South America, etc. The new generations of Kruševlje inhabitants live today all over the world. Some of them have visited Kruševlje in 2004 and 2005 for the first time since the 1940s. Of course, by that time, most of the survivors were already on safe land for them in Hungary or Austria, and about 50-100 still in Serbia. By 1952, only about 20 were still listed as labours on farms surrounding Kruševlje and Gakovo. Many of them also soon migrated to Germany.
About those prison camps was not much spoken or written in the post-war Yugoslavia. The theme was opened only in 2000, and in 2004 a memorial monument was erected in Gakovo and in October 2005 a memorial place in Kruševlje dedicated to all the victims. Many of the outliving members of the Kruševlje and Gakovo families were present, as well as the Serbian officials and new inhabitants. But, there is still no official rehabilitation, no signs of recognition of the responsibility nor of punishment of those who imprisoned the complete German population just because of their identity. There are only signs of some symbolical compensation for confiscated property.
As empty villages in 1948, Kruševlje and Gakovo were repopulated with Greek and Macedonian refugees of the Civil war in
Greecewhich ended in 1946. They were all communist families and were settled down in former German-populated village of Maglić in Bačka, but were resettled to Gakovo and Kruševlje in 1948 and 1949. They numbered about 4,000 people, but were again resettled 1951-52 to Macedonia. Kruševlje and Gakovo became again empty villages. However, Gakovo was soon settled by some Serb and Croat families from the neighbourhood, and Kruševlje too. All were farming families. In Kruševlje, there were about 280 people in about 70 houses by 1953. All other houses, about 150, were sold and pulled down between 1951 and 1960; even the church was pulled down in 1958. The population soon began to move away, and by 1981 Kruševlje numbered only 150 inhabitants living in about 25 homes. Other houses were pulled down, and there are no marks today that there was a nice village in the past. The remaining 17 houses are in ruins.
Kruševlje was separate settlement until 1971 when it was officially joined to the village of Gakovo. Nowadays Kruševlje is mostly deserted village, with only 14 homes and less than 30 inhabitants.
*1765-67: about 80 German colonist families settled, cca. 400-500 inhabitants, all German
*1780: cca. 600 inhabitants, all German and some newly French settled families
*1800: cca. 700 inhabitants
*1822: 809 inhabitants, 803 Germans, 6 Jews
*1878: 968 inhabitants
*1880: 952 inhabitants, 863 Germans (90.6%)
*1890: 1,048 inhabitants, 172 houses, 1,024 Germans (98.2%), 14 Hungarians, 10 Jews
*1910: 976 inhabitants, 200 houses, 954 Germans (97.8%)
*1921: 935 inhabitants, 210 houses, 920 Germans (98.4%)
*1940: 907 inhabitants, 225 houses, 895 Germans (98.7%)
*1941: 950 inhabitants, 936 Germans (98.5%)
*1948-51: cca. 4,000 Macedonian and Greek refugees
*1953: 282 inhabitants, 50 families,
*1961: 253 inhabitants, 45 families, cca. 50 houses, about 170 razed 1951-61
*1971: 211 inhabitants, 40 families
*1977: cca. 150 inhabitants, 35 families in 27 houses (Families: 28 Serbian, 3 Hungarian, 3 Croatian, 1 German)
*1991: cca. 35 inhabitants, 17 families in 17 houses
*2002: cca. 30 inhabitants, 13 families, 17 houses (4 abandoned)
Family names of the villagers
Family names of Germans who lived in the village in 1764-1948:
*Family names recorded in Kruševlje in 1772: Oswald, Klein, Effinger, Thomas, Welff, Letscher, Bauer, Lutz, Maxler, Schweiger, Honn, Matheis, Wingarth, Korn, Litzinger, Keller, Lamberg, Merle, Osser, Lewang, Wolff, Loring, Rimpt, Lauth, Rimpter, Roth, Batin, Sehn, Pling, Peller, Filion, Schweitzer, Minch, Vilberth, Müller, Pondecker, Nöckl, Poss, Folmer, Parper, Woletz, Prung, Lombocs, Magin, Schlosser, Osmann, Pless, Selbin, Muhl, Jung, Kraus, Baumgarth, Hesmer, etc.
*Other German family names recorded later: Albrecht, Angebrandt, Bauer, Bergerstock, Bergmann, Bihn, Brandacker, Brautigam, Denzinger, Depre, Deutsch, Dinjer, Effinger, Eifried, Eimer, Einser, Engardt, Faltum, Feurer, Fieder, Flasch, Folz, Frantzem, Fokl, Geczi, Gerber, Gosse, Haberbusch, Haberstroh, Hengel, Hintersehr, Hoser, Hutflus, Jennewein (Jannewei), Jung, Kaltner, Katzenberger, Kehl, Keil, Kerescher, Kusanitsch, Lackner, Langbein, Lattele, Laubach, Lauth, Lederer, Lewang, Locher, Lotscher, Matheis, Matz, Mayer, Merkler, Monich, Neuberth, Nipert, Peller, Pentz, Pest, Pfarr, Pootz (Potz), Praschlinger, Purin, Rath, Rettig, Richter, Schauer, Scherk, Schira, Schlemmer, Schnatterbeck, Schneiderbeck, Schwemmlein, Sehn, Settele, Steinfeld, Striegel, Thoberth, Tiller, Ujwari, Wirag, Weber, Weiner, Wohlfahrt, Wolf, Zettl (Zettel). List of family names is not complete because family names of temporary residents are not listed.
Family names recorded in Kruševlje in 1982: Barušić, Bogdanović, Komazec, Mišković, Perić, Prišto, Schnaderbeck, Slavović, Vuković, Miljković, Milosavljević, Lacmanović, Pantić, Veselinović, Špoljarić, Berić Subašić, Fekete, Fabian, Lončar, Kovačević, Gajić, Milenković, Mikić, Delić, Jovanović, Munižaba, Đapić, Milić, Cupać, Pejić and Garajski. The family names like Brančić, Korolija, Kurta, Krumerac, Živković, Dedić and Mićić, which were listed in 1977 existed no more in 1982.
Slobodan Ćurčić, Broj stanovnika Vojvodine, Novi Sad, 1996.
Milenko Beljanski, Drugi zapisi o Somborcima i okolini, Sombor, 1978.
István Iványi, ´´Bácskörtés´´, 1895.
*"Stattistische Daten von Kruschiwel" 1859.
Jakob Brandecker, "Geschichte von Kruschiwl", Budapest, 1912.
List of places in Serbia
List of cities, towns and villages in Vojvodina
* [http://www.fallingrain.com/world/YI/2/Krusevlje4.html Kruševlje]
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