Archives of Memories: Presentations of the History of Novi Bečej through Anecdotes, Photographs and Untold Stories

Breathe life into the forgotten stories of Novi Bečej through our rich collection of articles dedicated to people and events from the past. Travel through the ages, exploring the colorful array of historical moments that shaped our city. Here, memories and reality meet, bringing old streets, stories and events to life through interesting anecdotes, untold legends and rare photographs. Experience Novi Bečej from a new angle, through the eyes of the past that shaped our present, while we try to preserve the spirit and heritage that makes our city unique.

The Last Voyage of the Boat that Transported Passengers Between Novi and Stari Bečej
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The Little Boat - The Last Voyage of the Boat that Transported Passengers Between Novi and Stari Bečej

The Tisa River, once the beauty of the Pannonian Plain, still retains its charm despite the current pollution of its waters. Throughout history, it has often shown its temper, especially in "collaboration" with Aeolus, the god of winds. The end of summer in the Potisje region was often marked by various storms, but September 12, 1931, is recorded as one of the most tragic events on the river near our town.

On that day, the boat named "Stari Bečej" departed at 2 PM from the Stari Bečej dock with 28 passengers, including students from Novi Bečej. The boat was operated by the famous and legendary (now deceased) uncle Mlađa. About four kilometers downstream, dark storm clouds gathered over the Tisa, and an unprecedented storm, accompanied by rain and hail, began.

Suddenly, the 22-meter long and 3-meter wide boat, capable of carrying 122 passengers, looked like a walnut shell in the storm. The side wind and large waves tilted it to the right. Water began to flood the interior of the boat, the engine stopped working, and passengers started abandoning it. Non-swimmers attempted to save themselves with the lifeboat, but it capsized due to overloading and the large waves.

According to Žika Kugin's account, recorded by teacher Žarko Čiplić in the Yugoslav Daily, "the waves were over two meters high, and the rescue began only when the boat was about 15 centimeters underwater. Soon the boat sank, and for thirteen passengers, it was their last voyage. They were: Milosava Marčić, head of the Sokol society N. Bečej - Vranjevo, sisters Marija and Vukosava Branković from Vranjevo, peddlers from Imotski, Josif Ledić and Mijo Đaja, market women from Vranjevo Julija Palašti, Russian emigrant Natalija Polovceva, mother of three children, traveling salesman Aleksandar Tanasijević, ship boy Đura Žarković, married couple Molnar Jožef and Klara from Novi Bečej, as well as Mariška Tot and Marko Smiljkić.

Although Mladen Krstonošić demonstrated great skill and bravery by saving three children, he, along with machinist Vinko Virt and the boat's owners Lajoš Ač and Ivan Molnar, was accused of this great tragedy. Thanks to lawyer Milan Matić and the testimony of, above all, merchant Leopold Veljača, who was on the boat and claimed that the boatmen did everything in their power, all, including Mlađa, were acquitted. The owners were charged 47,500 dinars for the retrieval of the sunken boat, and in the meantime, the passenger traffic between the two Bečejs was handled by "Minerva", which passengers boarded with distrust and fear. This prompted River Navigation to deploy a large and modern steamboat "Cetinje", which operated between these two settlements for only a short time, due to financial and other reasons.

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