Lazaret in Turski Bečej during World War I (1914-1918): A Chronicle of the Red Cross Branch and Dedicated Hospital Staff

Explore the significance of the Lazaret in Turski Bečej during World War I, uncovering the Red Cross branch's role and the dedicated efforts of the hospital staff. Journey through history with authentic 1915 photographs

Review

After the Sarajevo assassination on June 28, 1914, in which Gavrilo Princip killed the Austrian heir Franz Ferdinand and his wife, the ambassador of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy delivered an ultimatum to Serbia in Belgrade on July 23, 1914. This ultimatum led to a partial mobilization two days later (July 25), followed by general mobilization on July 31. The onset of war initiated mechanisms that inherently followed, starting from farewells and goodbyes to soldiers, through training and involvement in military actions, to the rear support of the wounded.

Introduction

Introduction

It has been one hundred years since the beginning of the First World War, one hundred years since the reopening of the Red Cross Branch, and one hundred years since the operation of the Lazarus1 hospital in Tursko Bečej. Let this centenary serve as an opportunity to remember all the fallen victims of the Great War, as well as the dedicated members of the Red Cross Branch in Tursko Bečej, and the selfless and devoted staff of the Lazarus hospital.

ICRC – International Committee of the Red Cross

The President of the Geneva Society for Public Welfare (Societé d'Utilité Publique), Moynier Gustav, and the Secretary of the society and Swiss, Dunant Henrik, the author of shocking reports from the Lombardy battlefield, successfully initiated the organization of a world conference. Specifically, on October 20, 1863, in the presence of 36 delegates from 16 countries, the Geneva decision was adopted, leading to the establishment of the International Committee of the Red Cross, known as the Comité International de la Croix Rouge, the next day. At the diplomatic conference held on August 22, 1864, representatives of 12 countries ratified the Geneva Convention with their signatures, and in 1866, the Austro-Hungarian Empire also joined. The recognized international symbol of the Red Cross organization is the red cross on a white background.

Branch of the Red Cross in Turski Bečej in 1914.

The branch of the Red Cross Society of the Land of the Holy Hungarian Crown in Turski Bečej was established on October 8, 1914, in the Municipal Building, as evidenced by the minutes. Among the founders were Baron Čavoši Ignac with his wife, Dr. Tot Bela, Mrs. Dr. Grin Mora, renowned municipal doctor, Dr. Pivnički Janoš, lawyer, Mrs. Dr. Samek Gustava, Dr. Samek Gustav, lawyer, Dr. Davidović Bogdan, lawyer, Ambruš Artur, the Catholic priest of Novi Bečej, Sivčev Partenije, Orthodox priest, Garai Ižo, president of the Novi Bečej Savings Bank, Mrs. Pulai Romana, landowner, Milan Nićin, merchant, Mrs. Šlezinger Geza, Turinski Svetozar, trader, Ranković Steva, judicial executor, Mrs. Katona N-a, Mrs. Vajs Adolfa, Halmos Lajoš Sr., and Senji Mikloš, a host in Novi Bečej.

Branch of the Red Cross in Turski Bečej in 1915.

Branch of the Red Cross in Turski Bečej in 1915.

Members of the Red Cross Association and the staff of the infirmary, dedicated to caring for the wounded and oblivious to the alternation of night and day, quietly entered the war in 1915. It began with three fatalities: Lajoš Kiš passed away on the 13th, Pal Sabadoš on the 14th, and Janoš Katona on February 22nd. The three were members of the team that built a bridge over the Tisa River in January and February. The first two were buried in the Turkish-Bečej Catholic cemetery, while the relatives of Katona Jožef transferred his mortal remains home.

Branch of the Red Cross in Turkish Bečej 1916

Branch of the Red Cross in Turkish Bečej 1916

During January of 1916, the suspension of hospital work continued, so alongside administrative tasks, the Turkish Bečej branch of the Red Cross worked on its reorganization. At the request of the royal supervisor for education, the central board negotiated with the association's management for the release of space in the Elementary School.

Branch of the Red Cross in Turkish Bečej 1917

Since I couldn't find documentation on the operation of the infirmary in the parish archive for 1917, I assumed its operation had been suspended, and when I read the minutes from the annual meeting of the Red Cross Branch held on February 17, 1918, I was convinced of that. The main topic of the minutes was the year 1917, discussing the cessation of the hospital's operation as well as the continuation of the Branch's work. The minutes were taken by Salma Jožef, the temporarily elected secretary. Quotes from the report of Ambruš Artur:

The branch of the Red Cross in Turski Bečej in 1918

The population of Turski Bečej, as well as the entire Monarchy, became terribly tired and impoverished during the three-year war that reached world proportions19. In addition to material impoverishment, the most painful and irreparable were certainly human losses. After the conclusion of peace in May between the Central Powers and Romania, hope for a victory appeared in the Hungarian and German circles of the population, which was short-lived.

Closing Words

Closing Words

I am quite certain that this was the final annual assembly of the Red Cross Society, as the pages of the minutes remained blank thereafter. Until when the Society carried out its humanitarian activities and when it disbanded, my previous research and knowledge have yet to find the right answer; but I have encountered the names of its members in the lists of Hungarian, Serbian, and Jewish women's associations, formed in the last years of the 19th century.