[The Dachau Reporter – Newspaper of the Yugoslavian National Liberation Army in Dachau].
Collection of 18 mimeographed newspapers (of 30 issues in 31 volumes, with no. 18 issued as 18 and 18a) – all 4° (30 x 21 cm / 12 x 8 inches), mimeographed with a stamp in the shape of the red star in the title left, stapled in the upper left corner. No. 11: 2 pp. No. 12: 6 pp. No. 13: 4 pp. No. 14: 4 pp. No. 15: 6 pp. No. 16: 4 pp., inserted a narrow stripe of paper with mimeographed text. No. 18: 8 pp. No. 18a: 6 pp. No. 19: 4 pp. No. 20: 6 pp. No. 21: 6 pp. with a mimeographed portrait of Tito on the cover. No. 22: 4 pp., 3 pp. No. 23: 6 pp. No. 24: 6 pp. No. 26: 4 pp., . No. 27: 4 pp. No. 28: 4 pp. No. 30: 4 pp. (Good, all newspapers toned with some small light stains and small marginal tears, a few entering printed area but with no loss to text, original staples rusty, some staples missing with small losses of paper).
This extremely rare and historically important collection features the first eight issues of Dahavski Poročevalec [The Dachau Reporter], a newspaper printed within the Dachau Concentration Camp, near Munich Germany, issued in May 1945, only days after its liberation from the Nazis by American forces. Yugoslavian Partisan survivors of the camp, who were given access to paper and mimeograph machines by the Americans, issued the newspaper. The respected Slovenian journalist Ludwig Mrzel edited the series.
Dahavski Poročevalec primarily focuses on reporting external events, notably the momentous conclusion of World War II in Europe, although some important details regarding the Dachau camp are included. The external information would have been supplied by American papers, newsreels and radio reports. Reading the pages, one can palpably feel the sense of elation that the survivors must have felt, hearing that the war was finally over and that they would soon be returning home. While the newspaper is primarily written in Slovenian, its features some sections, words and phrases that would allow it to be understood by Croatian and Serbian speakers. Dahavski Poročevalec was produced in 30 numbered issues, with number 18 printed in two issues as 18 and 18a, between May and June 1945. Amazingly, the first issue appeared less than 72 hours after Dachau was liberated from the Nazis by the U.S. Army, on April 29, 1945. Under the circumstances, this must have entailed an extraordinary amount of effort and concentration on the part of Mrzel and his comrades.
It should be noted that while the Americans went to great efforts to dramatically improve the conditions of Dachau’s residents, most of the former prisoners were obliged to remain in the camp for some weeks until being processed out. Not only did the Americans need to screen the rolls for people who were potential security risks to the Allies, but it was also considered unsafe, or very difficult, for many of the internees to return home. Moreover, there were issues of infectious diseases within the camp, and doctors mandated a quarantine period. Time was required for all the appropriate arrangements to be made, and so thousands remained in Dachau.
The Americans facilitated activities and diversions for the internees as they awaited their release. A small number of residents requested, and were given, the resources to publish newsletters and small visual works, giving rise to the present works. Like other existing works printed by survivors in Dachau, the Dahavski Poročevalec is mimeographed on relatively small sheets of cheap wartime paper, from stock that was probably left behind by the departed German staff.
The content of the present eight issues is remarkable, and captures the survivor’s excitement upon hearing about the final events of World War II in Europe:
Issue No. 11, May 13, 1945: Liberation of Trieste; Correspondence between Tito and Stalin; American attacks on Japan to finish the war.
Issue No. 12, May 14, 1945: News from all over the World; report on the conference of imprisoned reporters, organized in the Dachau concentration camp the previous day; a short story in Serbian language; a report on the burial site of the victims of the concentration camp on a nearby meadow with a description of an American and Jewish ceremony held there after the liberation.
Issue No. 13, May 15, 1945: Articles in Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian languages; a report on the concentration camp and mass graves in Maribor, Slovenia.
Issue No. 14, May 16, 1945: Statistics on the dead in the Dachau concentration camp.
Issue No. 15, May 17, 1945: Life is returning to Slovenia; a report in Serbian on the life in the barracks;
report on the American-Yugoslav relations; description of the beginnings of the evacuation of the concentration camp.
Issue No. 16, May 18, 1945: reports on the human experimentations, including unnecessary infections with malaria, blood infections, killing people with gas and experiments on people with mental illnesses; inserted leaflet, that Japan is ready for a peace treaty; a short story on a German Nazi guard dog, who stayed at the camp after the liberation and made friends with the prisoners.
Issue No. 18, May 20, 1945: On Trieste with a mimeographed map of the city; appendix to the previous report on the number of killed in the camp; extended report on the human experimentations such as castration and experiments on disabled, and a first-hand account on the freezing experiments, reports on the typhus.
Issue No. 18a, May 22, 1945: Various news from around the world, mostly concerning the problem of Trieste and the correspondence between the world leaders; a short story about the cruelty of a Nazi employee in the warehouse in the Dachau concentration camp, Georg Lindner, who, an unnoticeable grey little man, walked out after the liberation, “a wolf in sheep's clothing“.
Issue No. 19, May 23, 1945: Various reports from around the world in Serbian, Croatian and Slovenian; a demand for better living conditions at the camp; a report on a torture of a man in a Maribor prison by Gestapo; a description of people going through clothing and property of the deceased at the concentration camp.
Issue No. 20, May 24, 1945: Articles on Yugoslavia; A report on the female prisoners of the Auschwitz Concentration Camp; Approaching trials of the Nazis.
Issue No. 21, May 25, 1945: Cover with a mimeographed portrait of Tito and a dedication for his birthday; Relations with the Soviet Union; Messages from the prisoners of the Buchenwald concentration camp to Tito.
Issue No. 22, May 26, 1945: Further congratulations for Tito’s birthday; A first-hand account on the human experimentations, on the people infected with typhus; Appendix on report on Triest.
Issue No. 23, May 27, 1945: Further reports on Tito’s birthday; Soviet relations.
Issue No. 24, May 29, 1945: Further reports on Tito’s birthday; A first-hand report on the Flössenburg concentration camp.
Issue No. 26, May 31, 1945: On the talks between Harry Hopkins and Stalin; Appendix on the development of evacuation of the concentration camp.
Issue No. 27, June 1, 1945: On the situation of war prisoners in Germany; News of Ljubljana and surroundings.
Issue No. 28, June 2, 1945: Reports on Trieste; Reports on moving back home; Looking for witnesses for the trials against war criminals.
Issue No. 30, June 5, 1945: Exceedingly enthusiastic articles on returning home; A retrospective of a day in the concentration camp; An article in Italian.
Dahavski Poročevalec’s editor, Ludwig Mrzel (1904-71) was a journalist and dramatist, and later the director of the National Theatre in Ljubljana, as well as a prolific translator of books. In 1949 he fell afoul of Marshal Tito and was imprisoned on the notorious Croatian penal colony of ‘Naked Island’, under the preposterous charge of being a Soviet collaborator, after the Tito-Stalin fall-out in 1948. In so called “Dachau Processes” in the late 1940s, the inmates of the Dachau concentration camp, many of which have been imprisoned for being members of the Communist party, were re-tried in Yugoslavia for being the Soviet sympathisers. He was subsequently released and continued his career. Importantly, Mrzel was the editor of another Yugoslav Partisan newspaper printed in Dachau, Jež za žico [Hedgehog behind Barbwire], which appeared as a single issue on June 1, 1945.
All issues of Dahavski Poročevalec are, not surprisingly, exceedingly rare. The paper would have had a very small print run, and the survival rate for ephemeral works made under such extraordinary circumstances is incredibly low. The newspapers were circulating around the camp and some random numbers were usually brought home by the prisoners. After the Stalin-Tito fallout in 1948, when the Dachau prisoners were re-tried as Communist sympathisers, owing such newspapers could be incriminating.
We can trace only 4 sets of the newspaper in institutions, although the degree of completeness of each is unclear.
References: V. Branica M. Pajković, [et al.], Bibliografija izdanja u narodnooslobodilačkom ratu 19411945 (Belgrade: Vojnoistorijski Institut, 1964), nos. 8395 and 8396.