Đorđe (Đoka) Vukosavljević was born in Kragujevac in Šumadija, Central Serbia. According to his Serbian exhumation report he was a non-commissioned officer of the 3rd Company, 1st Battalion in the 12th regiment infantry when he was serving his country. It is still unknown when he was born exactly.
According to the Dutch civil registration of the city of Apeldoorn, he died around 02h30 AM, 22nd January 1919 in a Prisoners of War camp in Nieuw-Milligen municipality of Apeldoorn. According to the exhumation report (which you will find below) from 1938 from the Kingdom of Yugoslavia he was exhumed in Garderen on the 13th of May 1938 and transported to Jindřichovice (nowadays the Czech Republic), where he found his last resting place.
Below a picture of Đorđe Vukosavljević taken 15th or 22nd July 1917, with a kind permission of Zorica Jelača, Đorđe’s great-granddaughter. It was taken in the POW camp, possibly Soltau (Germany).
From Serbia to the Netherlands
So far it has been unknown where and how Đorđe was captured and how he was transferred to Germany and arrived in the Netherlands where he died. His letters (which you can find below) came mostly from a Prisoners Of War (POW) camp in Soltau, near Hannover (Niedersachsen) in Germany. There is also one postcard which was received from Hameln (Nordrhein-Westfalen). The book “Barbed Wire” from Henri Habert describes the way, via different camps, about 38 Serbian POW’s who ended up in the Netherlands. It cannot be (scientifically) confirmed that Đorđe took one of these roads, but most likely he followed the same way as his comrades described in the book, but there is no second source which can confirm this.
The routes described in this book are:
The first route follows the following camps: A. Temeskubin (Kovin) – B. Temesvár (Timişoara) – C. Arad – D. Braunau (Broumov) – E. Hameln – F. Bühnerbach
A smaller group transited via Heinrichsgrün in Böhmen (Jindřichovice, CZ) and Soltau to Langenmoor (at Heinfelde, Edewecht) or Emden, from which they were sent to farms to work on the land or to bogs to harvest peat moss.
This second route brought them to the following camps: A. Zimony (Zemun) – B. Temesvár (Timişoara) – C. Heinrichsgrün (Jindřichovice) – D. Soltau – E. Langenmoor
It can be confirmed that he was in Hameln and Soltau, because of the letters he wrote to his wife and also the stamps on these letters. When the First World War ended Đorđe was transferred to the Netherlands (possibly he entered the Netherlands via Oldenzaal) with many of his comrades and arrived in a Prisoners of War Camp in Nieuw-Milligen.
Below you can find a map of the confirmed places, a direct link you will find here.
Burial and exhumation
Đorđe died on the 22nd January 1919 in Nieuw-Milligen (a village which is a part of the municipality of Apeldoorn) of Spanish flu. His death was registered by the municipality of Apeldoorn (act 78, date 23rd January 1919, which can be found here). His death was reported by Jan David Mathias Schlaepfer, 49 years old Sergeant-Major in the Dutch army. Hendrik Muis, 45 years old civil servant, was the second person who registered his death.
Below you can see the autopsy report of the doctor who confirmed his death on the 22nd January 1919.
On the 24th January 1919, he was buried in Garderen (municipality Barneveld), on the graveyard where the actual monument for the fallen Serbian WWI soldiers is. On 13th of May 1938 he was exhumed and transported to Jindřichovice. The exhumation report can be found below.
Thanks to Đorđe’s great-granddaughter Zorica Jelača we could have a small view inside of Đorđe’s life as a Serbian Prisoner of War in Germany. The letters speak for themselves.
All the letters we could get are online now and translated and can be found on the following page: Đorđe’s letters
One of these letters you will found below.
We are grateful to Zorica Jelača, Đorđe’s great-granddaughter, who sent us a message on our facebook page about her great-grandfather. Thus, we could get more information about Đorđe Vukosavljević and and we could publish his story. The letters she shared with us are valuable sources which give us an insight of his life as a Serbian WWI prisoner of war.
Danas published an article on the 11th February 2014, it can be found here.
Unfortunately, his remarkable journey ended in Nieuw-Milligen, in the Netherlands, where he has not been forgotten: His name is written on the monument for the Serbian WWI Prisoners of War in Garderen, where he was buried at firstly. His sacrifice for his country will not be forgotten, either in Serbia or in the Netherlands.
Eternal glory to him!
Sources / Special thanks to
The following sources were used:
-Personal archives of Zorica Jelača (letters and pictures)
-National Archives of Serbia : http://www.archives.org.rs
Exhumation report , no K. Br. 84024/XII)
-Gelders Archief (Archives of the province of Gelderland): http://www.geldersarchief.nl
Civil registration Gemeente Apeldoorn January 1919 No 69
– HABERT, Henri. 1919. Binnen het prikkeldraad : naar verhalen van uitgeweken Serviërs (Entre les fils barbelés : D’après les récits des évadés Serbes). Amsterdam.
– The Austro-Hungarian POW Camps: http://www.scribd.com/doc/143942165/Austrian-Army-1914-1918-POW-Units-doc
– Prisonniers de guerre 14-18: Les lieux de détention: http://prisonniers-de-guerre-1914-1918.chez-alice.fr/leslieuxdedetention.htm
Special thanks to:
-Vova Pomortzeff (for the photo from the Mausoleum in Jindřichovice)
-Slavisa Jovanović (http://www.pravoslavlje.nl/monument/djordje_vukosavljevic.htm)
Tanja Raković, Fabian Vendrig and John Stienen.