His Experience During the Second World War,
always with Branko Kramberger, his second cousin
Interview by Jim Dangel with assistance of Janez's son in law, Srdan
Mohorič in February 2002 in Podvinci
Janez Kramberger died in Ptuj 22 October 2004, aged 78.
This is his last photograph with his wife Ljudmila.
In 1943, Janez (born 24.11.1925)
and Branko (born 9.1.1925) Kramberger, at the age of about 17, when Štajerska
was Lower Styria, (because Hitler had incorporated the area into the Third
Reich in 1941) were too young for the German Army, so they were sent to Slovakia
as young boys to prepare for the army. They were promised after three months
they could go home and be finished with training. Of course instead they were
mobilized and sent to a barracks in Austria near the Swiss border on the
Bodensee (Lake Konstanz or Kostansaus Bode Se). They were there three months
and received no special training. They were then relocated to France at Épinal
on the Moselle in Lorraine. There they were trained in a big exercise for
three months as ordinary soldiers. After they were sent to Brest in Brittany.
There they awaited the invasion of the allies for several months. At the
invasion on 6 June 1944 they were near Brest.
Members of the division had bicycles.
Their job was to go to the front where they were for two weeks. He and Branko
slept together. Branko was first gunner and Janez was second gunner with the
same machine gun -- a two person model.
After two weeks in bad conditions
and afraid of always present death, they decided, with Ivo Kajžnik from Ptuj,
to escape. They did not know where was the front. They were careful to keep
their plans secret. They prepared a plan to escape at the front at a point
where both lines were close. At dawn when more soldiers were asleep. They
started to run, in one moment all around them (the three of them) were English
soldiers, they held up their hands with a white flag, then laid down on the
ground and they smiled because they knew they were saved. Immediately when
caught by the English a Jeep came and the soldier in charge removed them behind
the lines some kilometers.
There was no propaganda to suggest
surrendering. They decided themselves it was best to surrender.
After they were removed they
were interrogated about weapon positions, number of soldiers, everything
okay, more wanted to surrender, etc.
They waited for transport and
could move freely, they were not in jail or barracks -- for 14 days. Many
more captured and surrendered joined them; same treatment for captured or
surrendered. After two weeks a ship came and transported them to England and
then they were sent to Scotland, to a guarded camp in Edinburgh.
The food was good but small in
quantity. The British asked for volunteers to help harvest potatoes and other
farm work. The farmers gave them food and cigarettes but not all farmers.
In November of 1944 came soldiers
from the Yugoslavia Army and to explain they could become members of the Yugoslavian
army from King Peter; also, after came officers from the Partisan army (communist).
The kings officers explained that it was important that Yugoslavia be free
and enemies to go out of their territory. Partisan officers said the food
was better in Scotland but if they decided to come home and fight the life
would be difficult (no mention of communism). The King's navy was in Alexandria,
Egypt, so they would have to go there for the Yugoslav army. So instead they
chose the Partisans because they would go home to Yugoslavia immediately.
They new nothing of the policies or politics. Each party came only once and
they decided alone. All three of them and most others chose the Partisans.
They had to sign which way they decided.
After, they were taken out of
the camp and into private houses to wait for about two weeks for a ship. They
were in empty houses and were given new uniforms and coupons for food. It
was an excellent life for dress and food. They were transported in a large
ship in a convoy to the Italian front. The convoy ended at Calabria at the
toe of Italy (south). They were seated on trains going east in Italy till
they joined the Partisans in a town on the Adriatic coast where there were
lots of wounded soldiers. There was a short wait for a small boat going to
Split, in the south of Croatia or Dalmatia. In Split there were lots of army
and they were organized into battalions and given direction what to do. They
were sent in the direction of Gospič in Croatia in the hills near Velenit.
Around Gospič they had a hard battle not with the Germans but with the Ustache
(Croatian army supported by Germans). They finished there and were send in
the direction of Slovenia. They entered in under the river Kolpa at Vinica
na Kolpu and had a hard battle with the Belo Guarda (White Guards -- also
supported by the Germans). On the 9th of May they finished with all battles;
it was the German capitulation. Janez was sent in the direction of Ljubljana
and Branko to Trst (Trieste, now Italy).
In Split their unit was named
5. Primoroska brigada -- people who came from the other side of the sea and
there were four brigades before them.
Janez did not see Branko again
until they were in Ptuj. The third friend, Ivo Kajžnik from Ptuj, was also
in Ljubljana where they were in barracks and were sent out into the surrounding
area. Janez was in Ljubljana as a soldier from the capitulation until April
1947. He could not go home to Ptuj but could write -- from England or anywhere
he could write.
His parents stayed in the home
in Podvinci near Ptuj in the same house he is living in now, despite the worry
of retaliation. The post from Scotland arrived before their home was liberated
from the Germans. The Germans were still there a year and of course the mail
was read by the German authorities, and they and their families were worried,
but nothing was done to their families.
Branko came back a different
time, maybe later, and Janez and Branko had a lot of contact after they returned
home. Angela Tement said her brother Branko and Janez looked alike when they
were young, and Janez agrees they looked alike.
The house of Janez at Podvinci
6 (now 99) belonged to his father and grandfather Josef Kramberger, because
it was the family home of his grandmother Treza BRUNČIČ.
Jim needs to interview or ask
questions of Anica about her husband Branko, also of Angela about Branko and
her other brothers, especially the one in the SS. Janez heard of German authorities
coming to the barracks and ordering individuals to come with them to the
Anica said Branko had surrendered
in 1944 to the British at St. Lô (which is between Brest in Brittany
and southwest of Le Havre in Normandy, or just east of the Channel Islands).
Anica and Branko intended to go there after the war but did not. That location
had been very dangerous because it was saturation bombed during the liberation
of France. They were very lucky to have survived.
Pictures from the book Liberation World War II,
by Martin Blumenson,
Time-Life Books series. (In Sitka 940.5421)
At the Aluminum company Kidričevo,
Janez, Branko, and Feliks Kramberger all worked. Janez and Feliks did not
determine a family connection when they talked about it. The same as from
the papers Jim got from Feliks, Feliks did not know andy relationship. Yet
Janez and Branko knew they were cousins, and Branko and Feliks must have known
they were cousins because Angela took Jim the first visit to meet both Feliks
Joseph KRAMBERGER Josef
3.3.1829, Janežovci 13 -- 18.1.1889, Rogoznica 2, age: 59
| Josef KRAMBERGER
| 20.1.1857, Rogoznica 2 -- 2.8.1917, Niš, Serbia, age: 60
| | Franc KRAMBERGER
| | 5.5.1888, Podvinci 6 -- 1947, Podvinci 6, age: 58
| | | Janez KRAMBERGER
| | | 24.11.1925, Podvinci 6 -- 22.10.2004, Ptuj, age:78
| Franciscus KRAMBERGER Franc
| 6.3.1866, Rogoznica 2 -- 20.12.1925, Rogoznica 2, age: 59
| | Franc KRAMBERGER
| | 7.2.1891, Rogoznica 2 -- 17.7.1972, Rogoznica 2, age: 81
| | | Franc KRAMBERGER Branko
| | | 9.11925, Rogoznica 37 (2) -- 8.8.1991, Ptuj, age: 66
So Janez and Branko have fathers with the same name that were first cousins
and therefore they are second cousins. Their fathers were first cousins of
Jim's grandmother and Feliks Kramberger.
| Gertrud KRAMBERGER Jera
| 20.3.1870, Rogoznica 2 -- 4.6.1896, Dayton, Ohio, age: 26
| | Josephine (Marie) VERSIC
| | 3.3.1896, Dayton, Ohio -- 20.5.1993, Lakeport, Calif., age: 97
| Mihael KRAMBERGER Miha
| 30.9.1875, Rogoznica 2 -- 29.12.1965, Rogoznica 19, age: 90
| | Feliks Mihael KRAMBERGER Srečko
| | 21.5.1909, Mitterdorf, Austria -- 5.5.1998, Ptuj, age: 88
The above are just selected descendants as there are many.
James R. Dangel
1504 Sawmill Creek Road
Sitka, Alaska 99835 USA
Hiding my address underneath to avoid getting spam and unsolicited viruses
has not worked very well. You will have to type in my email address from the
picture file above.
Please make sure you include a subject line that means something
I get so much spam that if you are unknown to me and leave it blank or it
looks like typical junk I will never see it nor answer you. Put some family
names or something useful in the subject line!!!
Return to Jim's Home Page