The History

   Beginnings and Development

Bronze objects, jewellery and weapons from excavations indicate that this area was inhabited in the Bronze Age as well as the 3rd and 4th century after the birth of Christ.

During the Ottoman era, the village named Hoca (Oca) thrived and then vanished. Oca is mentioned as existing in 1764 by writers that have researched the settling and development of the Banat region.

After the Turks broke through the Austrian Military Border, the area suffered huge losses. Vast areas of arable land were laid waste by war. Meetings held within Vienna's Court of War on September 17, 1800 concluded that new settlements should be established. One settlement was located in a meadow of Podbrestije, not far from Mali Alibunar and Oca. Catholic German colonists from the Baden District declared their intention to live in that settlement.  They arrived in the summer of 1802, having come down the Danube River by boat, and were temporarily accommodated in the facilities belonging to Pancevo Company because their houses weren’t built yet.

At the General Headquarters’ suggestion, the settlement was named Karlsdorf after the Grand Duke Karl (Carl), The Minister of War and Navy. The house plans were decided by a specific Order given on July 10, 1802. Each house had to have the gables turned toward the street and they were to consist of a room, a kitchen and a pantry.  The foundations were made of stone, the walls were made of compacted soil and the roofs were thatched with reeds.

The village consisted of four streets with community wells dug at each crossroad.  8 acres of military training-grounds occupied the village center. A church, a parsonage, a school, barracks, officer's lodgings and a hotel were built around the outside of the military training-ground between 1804 and 1810.

In the spring of 1803 the first colonists moved into their houses. Each household received two horses, a cow, a harness, a plough, a harrow, a considerable amount of tools and plain furniture at a cost of one hundred and eighty Guldens, which was a credit that had to be paid back later.

Slavic colonists of the Catholic faith came from the Banat communities of Karasovo, Lupak and Klokotic in 1803.  Each household of these colonists received either thirty-five, seventeen or twelve acres of land.

If a household, including the available border guards (that boarded with the household), did not have enough workers, that household would be joined to another household or extra workers would be assigned to them.

This alliance composed the so-called ''House community'' in which they had to live in peace and harmony, depending on each other and cultivating the soil together.

Nobody was entitled to live by his or her own rules. The bond between the household and its land was unbreakable. The ''House community'' representative was responsible to the Military Command and all the members of that “House community” obeyed him.

This was the Slavic way of life but it was also an integral part of the strict military administration.  The very advantage of such an administration was that nobody was abused. The prices of goods were pre-determined and clearly posted.  Any irregularities in this were punished immediately by the local Company and criminal offences were punished by the Regiment.

Tremendous care was devoted to keeping the houses and the streets clean. They were obsessive about cleanliness, but luxury was not allowed. Luxury goods, such as a parasol, were forbidden.

The market place was in the town of Vrsac, where the settlers bought their medicine until 1868. Once a week or sometimes more often, a local inhabitant was chosen to go to Vrsac to take care of business for himself and the rest of the community.

During the Revolution of 1848, two battles were fought in Karlovac. On December 12, 1848 twenty-three civilians were killed and nine houses were burnt to the ground. After the Revolution, new and stricter laws came into being. However, they did not have a harmful effect on Karlovac residents' behavior.  They were trained to be obedient.

In 1868 the Brickyard Kalitowitsch was built and the pharmacy and the post office/telegraph office were opened. These made an enormous contribution to the development of the town. After the Military border was opened up, rapid economic growth of Karlovac took place. One hundred and fifty parcels of land and shortly thereafter fifteen new parcels were issued to the residents to build new houses. The old houses were overcrowded with too many people.

In 1873 the Salami Factory, ''Herz and Son'' (''Herz und Sohn'' in German), was founded and in a short time became well known all around the world. The municipality obtained a permit to hold three open markets per year and soon thereafter a fourth. Buyers and vendors came from afar: from towns like Kikinda, Timisoara and Karansebes. The park is thought to have originated at that particular time and the area in front of it was developed for the Sunday market.

In 1894 the Railway Vrsac-Kovin was opened. The municipality of Karlovac owned sixteen thousand Guldens worth of shares in the Railway.

In 1896 the new City Hall (today’s Local Community - Mesna Zajednica) and a kindergarten were built.

In 1902 the school was built. It was considered the most modern school in the district for decades. The school quickly became well known throughout the nation. That same year the town’s name was changed to ''TEMESKAROLYFALVA''.

In 1910 a cadastral survey of the land in the area around Banatski Karlovac made it an eminent prototype for older and bigger municipalities. Again, its name was changed to ''NAGYKAROLYFALVA''. The town had three thousand eight hundred and thirty-five inhabitants. Plans were made to bring in electric lights and to drain the Rit (swampy ground) in cooperation with neighboring municipalities in order to reclaim sixteen thousand acres of arable land. But the outbreak of war made the plans impossible.

In World War I, six thousand five hundred and four local residents were mobilized. One hundred and twenty-five of them were killed or disappeared and sixty-seven were disabled.

After the war, the constitution of the new state was accepted peacefully. Only a few local residents were arrested and punished because they declared that they did not understand Serbian during a public speech.

In 1921 the town's name was officially changed to ''KARLOVO SELO'' (Carl's Village) and a year later, after many objections and requests, the previous name of ''KARLSDORF'' (German word for Carl's Village) was restored.

Several years of depression followed but prosperity returned once again.

In 1923 the Stock Company ''Electric Power Station'' was built and the whole village was supplied with electricity, which was then available only in cities. A furniture factory and a screw factory were opened up, but closed during hard times.  A corn-drying facility, a hairpin factory and a fruit juice factory were opened up.

In 1926 the Ministry of Internal Affairs issued a decree changing the name of the settlement to ''BANATSKI KARLOVAC''.  That same year, the first library was founded and a memorial to the Serbs who died in the Revolution in 1848 was built.

After a deep recession, prosperity returned again. The “Herz” Company added new items to their product line and also increased the amount of each product they manufactured. The Hoffman factory of Alcoholic Drinks introduced the latest manufacturing methods using steam engines. They began manufacturing liqueur and they also produced vinegar. Craftsmen modernized their stores and installed machines run by electricity. Trade and craftsmanship thrived vigorously.

Soon after, war came again.

Out of six hundred and sixty-five mobilized local residents of Karlovac, one hundred and eighty-nine were killed or disappeared.  Two local residents were killed as a result of the Allied bombing raids. The Allies did not cause a lot of material damage due to bombing errors.

On the evening of October 2, 1944 the Russian Army and Tito's Partisans occupied Karlovac. On that occasion one child was killed by shrapnel.  All Private property belonging to Germans and others who were considered as collaborationists was confiscated as punishment for collaborating. Confiscated property became public property controlled by the Administration of Public Goods. The Colonization Law and the Agrarian Reform Law came into being creating favorable conditions for people from different parts of Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro to colonize the vast grassy plain.

Six hundred and fifteen families, totaling three thousand, seven hundred and seventy-five people, were moved to Banatski Karlovac. Most of them came from the towns of Uzice and Cacak. Karlovac received the largest number of these residents on March 1, 1946. One hundred and eighty families arrived during the summer of the same year while smaller groups came during 1947 and 1948. Some of these colonists were not satisfied with the portion of land they were given nor the living conditions. So eighty families moved back where they came from.

That’s how Banatski Karlovac was colonized. Most of the natives were deported from Karlovac to work in camps throughout Yugoslavia rebuilding the country. Some of them were sent to the Soviet Union. The life and working conditions in those camps were extremely hard and many of them died or were killed. The largest and the most notorious of the camps was Telecka near the town of Titel (Rudolfsgnad). In the beginning of the 1950s the Red Cross made it possible for these original inhabitants to immigrate to West Germany. Today, their descendants live all around the world.

After the colonists were provided with houses, the Commission for Colonization, through the Administration of Public Goods, supplied them with wheat, corn and other staples. Subsequently they were provided with cattle and equipped with the necessary tools. Last of all the colonists were provided with land. The amount of land given to each family for farming and living was determined by the number of household members.

The colonists found themselves in new and unfamiliar surroundings completely different from what they were used to. They had no knowledge or experience of this type of climate and landscape nor were they used to the air and the water. The colonists, especially the older ones, found it very hard to adjust to their new living conditions.

Eventually, hardships were overcome by working together and life slowly returned to normal. The new colonist’s first children were already being born. Alongside the German cemetery, the first burial mounds of the deceased were growing in number, far from their native land. But life had to go on. People were faced with the future and important business that could not wait. The land laid waste.  It had to be ploughed, sown and the harvest had to be safely gathered. There was no time to lose and no time for sadness. The colonists of Banatski Karlovac slowly got used to their new way of life.

From 1949 to 1956 the settlement was called ''Banatsko Rankovicevo'' but after that the old name of ''Banatski Karlovac'' was returned and it has remained the same up to the present.

Today, Banatski Karlovac is a town with six thousand, one hundred and thirteen inhabitants, according to the 1981 census, and it is the largest community in the area. A new census was taken in 2001.


1. BILDBAND Karlsdorf/Banat und Umgebung 1802-1982  -180 Jahre Karlsdorf-
   Josef Bleichert, 1982.( uvodni tekst napisao Hans Volk)
2. Banatski Karlovac, monografski prikaz  -  grupa autora , 1986.

Branislav I. Bjelić , Banatski Karlovac
Zvonko P. Djurić , Auckland , New Zealand
Banatski Karlovac , decembar 2000.

© James Consulting