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Archeologist dr Robert Rudolf Schmidt in Croatia

Ante Grubišić ; Muzej Slavonije Osijek

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 22.031 Kb

str. 107-131

preuzimanja: 209



This work has been written based on the material from Schmidt inheritance (eight archive boxes) which is a part of Documentary collection in the historical department of the Museum of Slavonia in Osijek. It's about R.R. Schmidt, German archeologist whose name is known to archeological public mostly by his excavation of the locality Gradac at Vucedol near Vukovar in 1938. i.e. Monograph Die Burg Vucedol (Zagreb, 1945.) where he exposed the results of excavation.

His excavation of Vlastelinski brijeg in Sarvas near Osijek from 1942. and 1943. is not known well, and the other important events are almost completely unknown. As Schmidt and his work in Croatia have a great significance for Croatian archeology, we first gave basic information about his work before arrival to Croatia. Here we mention his excavations in Germany and other countries, his merits for better knowledge of European Palaeolithic and Neolithic, as well as his merits for establishing the Institute for the research of prehistory at Tübingen University, and finally his biography.

Schmidt knew Vucedol culture from textbooks. Dr. Viktor Hoffiler, director of Archological museum in Zagreb also wrote about it. Hoffiler and Schmidt met in 1923. in Tübingen during 48 th congress of German anthropological society.

Schmidt came to Croatia in May 1938. at the invitation of countess Sofia Eltz from Vukovar, who he met in Germany. She helped him a lot to perform excavations near Vukovar. He intended to find metropolis. After he toured the ground, he chose the locality 5 km south-east of Vukovar - Vucedol. He hoped to get financial support for excavations from Belgrade, but he only got free ticket for touring Yugoslavia and a student of archeology to help him. That student was Vladimir Milojcic, who became a professor of prehistory in München Saarbrücken and Heidelberg after the Second World War. Vucedol, a locality witch he chooses for excavation was in charge of Archeological museum in Zagreb. Thus, Smidt signed an agreement whit the Museum to send all the finds to it, but whit the rights to publish everything. Hoffiler, director of the Museum, send to assistant to Schmidt - dr. Antun Bauer and dr. Josip Klemenac. They were chosen for several reasons: they should have learned something, supervise the excavation and help in profile drawings and diarykeeping, etc. They were both very suspicious toward Schmidt. Bauer, born in Vukovar, thought Schmidt was trying to organise Volksdeutchers and create a network of illegal organisations. Clements even suspected
Schmidt's identity. In the end conflict between Schmidt and Bauer got enraged and Bauer was recalled. But the real reason for they conflict was the fact that Bauer was introducing him self as the leader of excavations in Vucedol, had public lectures and wrote articles about excavation, which was all contradictory to the agreement. Schmidt intended to excavate at the rate and method applied earlier in Germany. He used to say that it was the first systematic prehistory research in Yugoslavia, which is in accordance with later opinions. He managed to explore Gradac (a hill at Vucedol) of 600 m2 and excavate fantastic finds, the most beautiful ones from prehistoric cultures.

As the state discontinued subventions, the Eltz family took the financing in charge completely. After excavations they demanded back less then half of the invested money and thus became benefactors of Arheo-logical museum, i.e. Croatian culture. Archeological museum got from Schmidt 84 cases with renovated find and prepared an exhibition in Zagreb straight away.

Hoffiler helped Schimdt to get honorary fee, as he had bin working without charge for two years. He also helped a lot in publishing the monograph Die Burg Vucedol. This is a fundamental work in European terms for comprehension of Vucedol culture.

As the text for monograph was written in 1940. he intended to continue archeological explorations in Yugoslavia. He suggested establishment of State Institute for Yugoslav Prehistory in Belgrade with co-operation of museums from Ljubljana, Zagreb, Sarajevo and Belgrade. The idea wasn't realized as in the meantime the war broke out. When German army attacked Yugoslavia, Schmidt was in München, where he went to ask for support of his further archeological explorations he addressed Walther Wüst, indoiranist and rector of München University, but also administrator of Exploration society Ahnenerbe. Schmidt explained to Wüst that his work was important as it explained cultural connections of old-Nordic culture and pre-Hellenistic Greece in context of which Vucedol culture has mediating role. He presented further exploration plan in tree places: the Drava river area near Osijek, the Sava river area near Zemun and Morava and Vardar area near Nis. At the meeting with Wolframsievers, Reichsgeschaftsführer for Ahnenerbe in Zagreb in October 1941. financing of his project was approved.

He also got strong support and help for further work from German national group (Deutsche Volksgruppe)

in Osijek. They also give him a house in Osijek at disposal, were here established Institute for prehistory and planned to restore the finds.

In December 1941. he divorced his first wife Klara, and married Franciska Nothing, a governess in Eltz family from Vukovar. She helped him a lot during excavations at Vučedol. She helped him draw, type, restore the finds, and as an interpreter.

He received permission to excavate on the locality Vlastelinski brijeg in Sarvaš. But under condition to hand all the finds to City museum in Osijek and to let V. Hoffiler be supervisor of excavations, who send a student of archeology Ivan Marović, later on a famous Croatian archeologist.

Excavations lasted from 1942. to 1943. (28 weeks). He had then workers to help him, who were Germans from Sarvaš. Excavation was mush bigger job then the one at Vučedol. The area was larger, and depth of layers was supposed to be 10 m. The whole area was divided by a co-ordinate net, with 1 m2 large quadrilaterals. Thus, every find could be registered by its horizontal and vertical position.

As Ahnenerbe doesn't send the full amount of money in the beginning, he received some money from German national group and Archeological museum in Zagreb. A month after he began excavations he was out of money and started to doubt Ahnenerbe's readiness to finance his further work and stay in Osijek. He invites Sievers to come from Berlin see for him self how serious everything was. In July 1942. Sievers and dr. Herbert Jankulm a famous German archeologist arrived. After they had seen Schmidt's work, they immediately pleaded for further financing of excavation. It is a bit strange that Schmidt addressed this organisation for help and not Hans Reinerth, his former assistant at Tübingen University, who was leading person in Berlin concerning archeological explorations in and out of Germany.

Schmidt just breaks in excavations for studying prehistoric finds in the museum of Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The aim was to study the expanding of Vučedol culture. He excavated eight settlements in Sarvaš, from all prehistoric cultural periods, which were one above each other, and explained prehistoric chronology of the Danube-valley. He was lucky, because every period was rich in finds. But, the excavated part of the hill was just a small part of the total area of historical Vlastelinski brijeg.

He was informing Ahnenerbe about his work through German Embassy in Zagreb. German ambassador Siegfried Kasche pleaded for him due to good relations between Reich and Nezavisna Država Hrvatska (independent state of Croatia). During his work Schmidt used to write newspaper articles and publish
them unsigned in the papers printed in German and Croatian.

Ahnenerbe was supplying him with scientific literature from German publishers, as his was destroyed in München during bombing.

German national group planned to established German homeland museum (Heimatmuseum) in Osijek were objects connected to German culture of this area would be gathered. They managed to gather quite a lot, together with numerous objects taken away form Jews. The museum also intended to house archeological finds from Sarvas and thus get around a contract according which the objects fro Sarvas were supposed to be in Osijek city museum. Schmidt him self was one of the establishes of Heimatmuseum. Director of German museum was a historian dr. Rudolf Schmidt from Novi Sad. The same family name of this two will cause many confusions and false accusations later on.

R. R. Schmidt was also active in the work of German national group. Thus he organized a visit to Osijek with lectures of his old friend Hans Krieg, director of Zoological state collection in München. He lectured on his explorations of South-American wilderness. Collin Ross, another writer and globe-trotter, also visited Schmidt. But Schmidt him self also gave lectures on the results of his work in Sarvas.

Due to the war circumstances the range of excavations was falling down, and thus in 1943. Sievers called Schmidt to come back to Germany and give the results of his work It didn't suit him at all because he didn't have a job and accommodation in Germany any more.

Altough he was planning excavation of the larger part of the hill with 40 workers or even the whole hill with 100 workers, he realized he would have to interrupt till end of the war or forever. Thus in 1943. he was only completing what he had begun the previous year. To improve his status he went to München to talk to Wüst about the possible professorship at one of German Universities, but unsuccessfully. He couldn't find a flat either. He comes back to Osier and decides to remain there till spring 1944. The other reasons for postponing the return to Germany was Francesca's pregnancy. In March 1944. she gave birth to a baby-girl, Reingart Maria.

Great air raid forced to the move from Osijek to Germany, although they hadn't solved the housing problem. They intended to ask for accommodation in München in one of wooden houses maid for homeless. They packed archeological finds and gave them to German national group. The finds were supposed to be transported to Germany together with other objects from Heimatmuseum.

Schmidt settled down in marquarts tein near Austrian border. By the end of 1944. most of finds were transferred to Styer (upper Austria) and placed in Lamberg palace. It was supposed to be temporary solution. The finds were taken care of by Rudolf Schmidt, director of Heimatmuseum, who arrived to Lamberg to look after 107 cases full of finds. After the war everything was repatriated to Yugoslavia.

Further destiny of finds was influenced by various machinations and only a part was returned to primeval place. Most of the documentation on a Sarvas material disappeared forever. Franciska Schmidt hunded a smaller part to Vladimir Milojcic in Vienna. R.R. Schmidt died in Marquartstein on 14th March 1950.

In 1960. Klara, Schmidt's first wife, visited Museum of Slavonia in Osijek. Danica Pinterovic, director of the Museum, showed her the collection and material from Sarvas, and asked her for help in gathering further information. She didn't know much and wanted to connect Danica Pinterovic with Franciska, but never managed to do it.

R.R.Schmidt was the one of the best German archeologist, and not an amateur archeologist and quack as A.Bauer wrote in his article "R.R. Schmidt at Vucedol in 1938." from 1988.
Although Bauer and other associates at Vucedol insisted on strict contract observing, he himself badly violated it and didn't hand the finds to Osijek city museum, but stole Croatian cultural possession and joined those who transported the finds to Austria. This cannot be justified by the fear of Germans from breakthrough of Red Army and partisans units from the East in autumn 1944. Schmidt probably feared more the situation from the World War I when he lost archeological finds from Crimea and Caucasus, but it still doesn't justify him.

We should conclude that his archeological work at Vucedol, which we can hardly find any objections, brought a great benefit to Croatian archeology and enriched knowledge on Vucedol culture by discovering of its metropolis; Vucedol culture became established in European archeology and left basic elements for future archeologist to make a more precise chronology of the Danube-valley. His "Die Burg Vucedol" is still one of the fundamental works for learning about the Vucedol culture. On the other hand, results of the excavations on the location Vlastelinski brijeg were never published, while processing of Sarvas finds is a hard work for today’s-arheologists because documentation is missing. Work in Sarvas during the World War II make Schmidt more controversial then during his whole career that.

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