Have the concentration camp staff ever shown mercy?

The future needs memories (ZbE)

The "Balkan Auschwitz"

Map of the so-called "Independent State of Croatia" (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH)

"Jasenovac and Gradiska Stara / Maks' butchers are at home there" (Jasenovac i Gradiska Stara / to je kuca Maksovih mesara) - with such and similar songs from Croatia's darkest past, the young Croatian singer Marko Perkovic, who calls himself “Thompson”, is still enjoying great success with his compatriots: They are the songs of the “Ustasa” movement, the Croatian counterpart of Mussolini's fascists, and in them the Jasenovac concentration camp and its commander Vjekoslav “Maks” Luburic (1914-1969) are glorified.

It all began when the Kingdom of Yugoslavia was attacked on April 6, 1941 by troops from Germany, Italy, Hungary and Bulgaria and defeated after a short campaign. The winners divided the country among themselves and created on April 10th from Croatia and

The nationalist ideologist Ante Starcevic (1823-1896)

Founder of Ustasa-Movement Ante Pavelic (1889-1969)

Bosnia the so-called "Independent State of Croatia" (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska, NDH). The proclamation of the NDH “was greeted with indescribable enthusiasm by the overwhelming majority of Croatians”. 1 But in this structure, by Hitler's and Mussolini's grace, there were about 3.5 million Croats and around 2 million others, mostly Serbs. And how you wanted to deal with these was explained in Ustasa- Songs that the aforementioned “Thompson” sings to the enthusiasm of the Croatians today clearly proclaims: “O Neretva, flow out of the country and wash the Serbs into the blue Adriatic”.

The UstasaMovement was founded in 1929 by the Zagreb lawyer Ante Pavelic (1889-1969) and now held sole power in the NDH. The Ustase were even described by pro-fascist contemporary witnesses as uneducated and incompetent guards who, however, “measured patriotism according to the number of Serbs and Jews killed”. 2 Pavelic was a loyal adept of the “father of the fatherland”, the nationalist ideologist Ante Starcevic (1823-1896), of whom Croatian radicals boasted early on that his “ideas were completely identical to all the main principles of fascism”, especially “those Race idea on which Adolf Hitler based his program for rebirth and the organization of German national life ”. 3 This was true insofar as, soon after the NDH was proclaimed, provisions were enacted that completely resembled Nazi models: "Law for the Protection of People and State" (April 17), "Law on Racial Affiliation" (April 30), "Law on the Protection of the Aryan Blood and the Honor of the Croatian People" (April 30th) etc. With regard to the "methods", however, it did not apply: The Ustase (plur. v. Ustasa, literally "insurgents") came with their systematic extermination of Serbs, Jews and Roma - in that order! - always without poison gas and often without firearms.

General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau (3rd from left, next to Pavelic)

What they did with knives, hatchets, rifle butts, etc., brought top German emissaries such as General Edmund Glaise von Horstenau (3rd from left, next to Pavelic) and Ambassador Dr. Hermann Neubacher on this, in their reports to Berlin against the “crazy frenzy” and the “Croatian crusade of destruction” on the part of the Ustase to protest. The Italian army, which took possession of Hercegovina again on September 5, 1941, reacted even more directly to protect the Serbs and Jews there from the terror of the Ustase to protect 5

Mile Budak (1889-1945)

How to deal with minorities, Mile Budak (1889-1945) - a celebrated poet in the NDH, next to "doglavnik" (deputy of the Führer) and minister of culture in the NDH - explained in a speech in Gospic on June 6, 1941: "The Ustasa movement is based on religion. For minorities - Serbs, Jews, Gypsies - we have three million cartridges. We will kill a third of the Serbs, deport another third and force the last third into the army of the Roman Catholic religion and thus make them Croatians. In this way, our new Croatia will stamp out all Serbs from us and be one hundred percent Catholic within ten years ”. After the end of the war, Budak was tried in Zagreb on June 6, 1945 with nine co-defendants in Zagreb and sentenced to death. In post-Yugoslav Croatia streets and squares were named after him.

One of the earliest laws of the Croatian regime was one in May 1941 that provided for unpopular people to be placed in camps, and in early September 1941 the camp was established about 100 kilometers south of the capital, Zagreb Jasenovac opened. This camp quickly developed into an extensive complex of five larger and three smaller camps, which together covered an area of ​​over 240 square kilometers. Above the main gate there was a coat of arms “Everything for Poglavnik” - Pavelic bore the title Poglavnik (Führer) - including the inscription “Labor Service of the Ustasa Defense - Assembly Camp No. III”. Glaise von Horstenau visited it once and characterized it as the “peak of repugnance”.

Entrance to the warehouse Jasenovac

In 1946 in Zagreb a "Croatian National Commission to Establish the Crimes of the Occupiers and their Helpers" published a 50-page report on Jasenovac. Many publications have appeared on Jasenovac in Yugoslavia and its successor states, but the 1946 report remains a prime source. This introduction is to be followed by an abbreviated translation of the main part of the report, i.e. only the passages that characterize the structure, function, prisoners and guards of Jasenovac. The entire report is structured in a highly unsystematic manner and overloaded with testimony, and it is also written in an intentionally emotionless “bureaucratic” language. In order to capture its substance after almost 60 years, a few "lines" were necessary, which are marked with (...) in the translation.

Calling Jasenovac to mind is necessary because for decades it has been in danger of being forgotten, falsified, talked to death and ostensibly instrumentalized. As a phenomenon in Croatian history, Jasenovac still raises (at least) three fundamental questions:

  • Camp commandant Dinko Sakic

    Have crimes occurred in Jasenovac and can those responsible be brought to justice? The question sounds blasphemous, but it was very topical in Croatia in 1999 at the latest: At that time, the former camp commandant Dinko Sakic (on the picture in Ustasa-Uniform) in Zagreb was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment, which for many Croatians was a violation of the national "honor". 7 As early as May 1990, Sakic had a Ustasa- Meeting in Austria - in which prominent Croatian politicians such as Marko Veselica, Dražen Budisa and others also took part - his view of things spread: “I am proud to have been a Ustasa. Everything we did during the war was in line with Croatia's interests and with my Christian conscience. We only did our Croatian duty and defended ourselves against an invasion from the other side of the Drina (= Serbia, W.O.). I would do anything again if I had the opportunity. My only regret is that we did not do everything for which I am accused, because if we had done that then, Croatia would have no problems today, no one could write lies ”. 8 It is guaranteed that President Tudjman met Sakic in Argentina in 1994 and later signaled to him that he had the “right” to return to Croatia because he was “a victim of historical circumstances”. 9 At least Tudjman didn't go as far as he did with Ivo Rojnica (* 1915), the former Ustasa-Chef of Dubrovnik, whom he wanted to make the “Ambassador of the Republic of Croatia for Argentina and all of South America”. This unique “career” of a war criminal on record could only be prevented by domestic and international protests.

  • Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (1922-1999)

    How many victims did Jasenovac claim? Nobody can answer this question, but many have tried to deny it from the ground up. Sakic has repeatedly claimed that Jasenovac was a "labor camp" in which there were no attacks and the prisoners led an orderly and tolerable life. On the other hand, numerous publications appeared in Yugoslavia, beginning with the report of 1946, which assumed at least 600,000 victims and with international institutions like that Simon Wiesenthal Center matched. Croatian President Franjo Tudjman (1922-1999) calculated radically differently: He devoted long passages of his anti-Semitic pamphlet 10 “The Wrong Paths of Historical Reality” to this problem and came to the conclusion that only around 30,000 people had lost their lives in Jasenovac. 11

  • Is Jasenovac comparable and can therefore be put into perspective? For decades in Croatia, opinions were divided in such a way that the majority simply denied or played down Jasenovac, while a minority perceived and treated it as "Balkan Auschwitz". Between these extremely divergent positions, Tudjman attempted a “balancing act”, which was disavowed from the start by the person who came up with the idea: For Tudjman, “the NDH was the fulfillment of the historical longings of the Croatian people” 12 in early 1990, and he confessed at later rallies that he was "happy that my wife is not Jewish or Serbian". 13 In a speech to Croatian editors-in-chief in April 1996 he came up with a bizarre idea: “For historical and current political reasons, the Jasenovac Memorial Center should be changed so that it becomes a memorial center for all Croatian victims. I am in favor of the bones of every Croatian being in the Croatian state ”. 14 The President was thinking of those above all else Ustasewho got involved in fighting against British troops and Yugoslav partisans in the Austrian town of Bleiburg in mid-May 1945 and perished in the process. This insignificant incident was completely unknown in old Yugoslavia - in the sovereign Republic of Croatia, which was established in 1991, it was blown to the last glory of “Croatian heroes” and honored as the “second Jasenovac”. This unbelievable equality of murderers and victims provoked furious protests by Croatian anti-fascists 15, but that did not prevent Tudjman from making the above-mentioned proposal and presenting it as a “reconciliation of all Croatians”. 16

The Jasenovac Memorial by Bogdan Bogdanovic

The Jasenovac Memorial, the so-called “Jasenovac Flower” (Jasenovacki cvet), was designed in 1966 by the world-famous Belgrade architect, politician and civil rights activist Bogdan Bogdanovic (* 1922), built by the Zagreb construction company “Tempo”, and in September 1991 and May 1995 almost completely destroyed by the Croatian army. Reconstruction began in July 2003 and was completed in March 2004. On this occasion the new Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, formerly a loyal colleague of Tudjman, visited the place and gave a speech. Of course, he condemned all forms of racism and extremism, but specifically on Jasenovac he only uttered failures that could also have come from his mentor Tudjman: “The lies of the 700,000 Jasenovac victims and the thesis of the genocidal nature of the Croats served as a Basis for the aggressive policy of enforcing Greater Serbia ”. Nobody, not even the most stubborn Serbian nationalists, has ever accused the Croats of a collective “genocidal nature”. Such a thing only exists in the minds of Croatian yesterday, whose imagination, especially with a view to Jasenovac, is constantly blossoming: Tito never visited Jasenovac - because he felt complicit? Jasenovac was owned by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) continued to Croatian there Ustase and detain soldiers, which is where the real crimes of Jasenovac happened. And more similar nonsensical lies.

There are many reasons to remember Jasenovac again, and these reasons do not only exist in the immediate ex-Yugoslav circle. After the end of the war, the Croatian war criminals fled in droves to Western Europe and America, where they mostly lived undisturbed. By the end of 1948, the Tito leadership in Yugoslavia had submitted 1,828 extradition requests to the Western powers - only 208 were approved, the rest rejected or ignored.

The 1946 Jasenovac report

1. The Jasenovac camp

Before the war, near the confluence of the Una and Sava rivers, there was a large and well-developed village of Jasenovac. The population was predominantly Serbian. The place is on the Zagreb-Belgrade railway line. There were some industrial companies here even before the war, e.g. the “Ciglara” brickworks and the small ironware factory “Loncara”. Since the Strug and Lonja rivers flowed into the Sava from the east side of the large Jasenovac basin, the whole region was hit by floods every spring and autumn.

Even before their return to Yugoslavia, the leaders of the Ustasa terrorist organization knew very well that they had no supporters among the masses of the people and that they could only stay in power by means of terror. When Yugoslavia collapsed, they returned behind fascist tanks, and their criminal gangs, which they had formed with fascist money before the war or trained in various Italian centers for terrorist acts, started doing so immediately in the first days after the occupation the protection and with the active help of German and Italian troops to implement the plan drawn up in advance for the arrest and murder of Serbs, Jews and unpopular Croats. (...)

The Ustasis also set up camps in other places, e.g. in Ðakovo, Sisak, Stara Gradiska, Lepoglava, Lobor etc., but these were smaller camps. Jasenovac became the largest and most important concentration camp in the so-called NDH. 17 (...)

On November 25, 1941, the so-called Poglavnik (= Leader, official title of Ante Pavelic) of the NDH the "law order" No. CDXXIX-2101-Z-1941, which his justice "minister" Dr. Mirko Puk 18 had signed. This regulation provided for the unpopular to be forcibly sent to labor camps. (...)

To go to Jasenovac was to be at the mercy and disfavor of Ustasa butchers, to go to an agonizing death. The dark history of the Jasenovac camp has shown that the Ustazes sent all elements there that they considered undesirable “for racial, religious, national or political reasons”. Today it is clear that the Ustasis divided all prisoners into two categories: 1. The first category included all prisoners who had been punished for a period of less than three years in a collective camp. The intention of the Ustasis was to exploit the labor of these prisoners to the maximum and then to kill them to make way for new prisoners. Very few of these prisoners have been released after surviving this sentence, and many of these have died at home as a result of their imprisonment in the camp. 2. The second category included those prisoners who had been sentenced to three years or more in a camp. As a rule, they were liquidated immediately upon arrival at the camp. (...)

2. The camp complex

Plan of the Jasenovac camp

Camps I and II only existed for a few months, while Camp III was in operation for almost four years. The Ustasis set up many workplaces in it and built barracks to house the prisoners; the entire room was surrounded by a three-meter-high wall. (...) All camps could accommodate up to 7,000 prisoners, but mostly no more than 3 to 4,000 were “active” in them, even in the times when there were numerous different workshops in camp III. (...) This camp itself was located on the immediate outskirts of Jasenovac. The main entrance to the camp was on its west side on a path that led along the Sava from Jasenovac to the village of Kosutarica and on to Stara Gradiska. The entrance gate made of light wood was inserted into the high wall that surrounded the location on three sides and was three meters high. The wall extended for a length of 420 meters to the north, then turned off parallel to the railway line to the east for a length of 1,300 meters. In doing so, she crossed the path to Kosutarica. The so-called "East Gate" was located here. On the bank of the Sava, the rest of the wall extended to the west for a length of 1,290 meters.The southern border of the camp was formed by the river Sava as a natural obstacle to the escape of prisoners. In total, Camp III covered an area of ​​one and a half square kilometers.

The guards and the camp management were located at the western main entrance, where the newly arriving prisoners were registered and instructed. A lookout tower 24 meters high stood by the building. All of these buildings blew up the Ustasis when they escaped from Jasenovac, so that there are only a pile of ruins left there today. To the north of the building was the refinery that destroyed the Ustasis, but the underground petroleum containers remained undamaged. About 150 meters from the surrounding wall are the remains of a building that was 150 meters long and eight meters wide and ran in a north-south direction. This was the "main warehouse" for all manufactured products. (...) The southernmost building was the infamous "Bell House" (zvonara). This was a shed where the Ustasis initially stored the destroyed bells of Orthodox churches. They later removed the bells and stored coal dust in their place, unless they turned the “bell house” into a torture chamber for the prisoners whom they had sentenced to starvation. (...) 19

Camp IV was located in Jasenovac itself, on Dimitrijeva Street. The Ustazi had cordoned off the industrial buildings for leather processing there with multiple barbed wire, so that a separate camp was created in which technicians, merchants, specialists and workers were held prisoner. The entire small colony became a "leather workshop" (kožara) called. The prisoners there got better food and the Ustasis treated them better than the prisoners in Camp III, because they wanted the "leather workshop" to work well for the army. (...)

3. The Ustasa camp management

The supervisor of all Jasenovac camps, Maks Luburicvac

The Poglavnik had given the supervision of all camps from Jasenovac to Maks Luburic, who was solely responsible for them. Before the war, Luburic was known as a common criminal convicted of numerous crimes. (…) His real name was Vjekoslav, and he got the name Maks from his Ustasa buddies out of joke. Luburic was an ordinary drifter and shirked any honest work. When Pavelic emigrated, he went with him and trained the killer trade in various Ustasa camps in Hungary and Italy. (...)

Luburic only came to Jasenovac two or three times a month and stayed only a few days, but in this short time he committed so many crimes that the prisoners trembled as soon as they heard that he was "returning" to Jasenovac. (…) On October 9, 1942, Luburic hosted a celebration in Jasenovac at which he presented the Ustazi gold and silver medals which Pavelic had given as a reward for “merits”. At this ceremony Luburic - drunk like all the other "officials" - said literally the following, according to a witness: "In just one year we killed more people here in Jasenovac than the Ottoman Empire during the whole time it was present in Europe". (...)

Camp III commander Miroslav Filipovic-Majstorovic

Miroslav Filipovic-Majstorovic (picture) towered above all others in terms of cruelty. He was the commandant of Camp III and for a time also of Camp Stara Gradiska. Filipovic-Majstorovic was originally a monk, a Franciscan. At the beginning of 1942 he was sent to prison on Sava Street in Zagreb to serve a sentence, and later transferred to Jasenovac. Here he soon became a “freedman”, but then the Ustasa leadership discovered certain skills in this Franciscan, accepted him into their ranks and made him an “officer” for personal surveillance. (...)

The commander of the labor service in Jasenovac was Ing. Hinko Dominik Picili 20, who was the absolute ruler over the entire “labor force”. (...) Picili was primarily targeting sick prisoners who had been prescribed restraint in the hospital. But he broke into their barracks and chased them to work with an iron hook. He ordered blueprints of German crematoria and had a furnace built at the “Ciglara” in which men, women and children were burned for three months. (...)

4. Arrival in Jasenovac

Arrival of prisoners in the Jasenovac camp

For four years, transports of prisoners arrived in Jasenovac, some in railroad cars, others on trucks, some on foot. Not a week passed without smaller or larger groups standing in front of the "camp administration", where the Ustasa guards handed over the transport escort to the camp commanders or their deputies. On the way to the camp, the prisoners were exposed to hunger, discrimination and torture. (...)

The picture shows the emblem for Jews used in the NDH, "Z" stands for "Zidov" (Jew)

Seldom did Luburic, Milos or Matijevic, the worst butcher among the commanders, let some senior Ustasa officer take over the prisoners. They would rather take over the mustering of the newly arrived victims and their classification into groups: Serbs in the Serbian, Jews in the Jewish 21 and Croats in the Croatian group. Luburic addressed each group with a "speech" that was full of insults and the most vicious insults, with the bull pizzle or another percussion instrument constantly falling on the heads and backs of the prisoners. Then it came down to the theft. The Ustasis took all things from every prisoner and appropriated them, for example watches, pocket knives, purses including money, jewelry, books etc. Every prisoner had to declare that he had given all his money and all valuables and letters and that he had not hidden or concealed anything . For every, even the smallest violation of this rule, whether intentional or unintentional, the Ustasis immediately punished the “guilty party” with death. (...)

The prisoners who had brought the Ustasis alone to Jasenovac for liquidation left them naked for hours and hours, sometimes even days, and just waiting in the building of the “main depot”, the “tunnel” 22 or in the open air until they finally went to Granik or Gradina, a village on the other bank of the Sava, and killed there.

(Translation: sender prisoner: group Women's camp | First and Last Name: Doruc Žatija, Jasenovac-Mlaka | My dear! I am healthy. Got the pictures - happy. How are you Take care of the children. Take care and send as much as you can. This is what your (signature) wishes | Day August 10, 1944 | Writing is a reward for good work and behavior and it creates the right to receive parcels.)

The prisoners were not allowed to receive any parcels or letters until mid-1942, and if mail came to Jasenovac, the Ustazes opened them and distributed the contents among themselves. Only then could the prisoners, who, according to the Ustasis, be calm and hardworking, write postcards home. They were allowed to write that they were alive. However, the camp management ordered several times that the entire camp would be punished in such a way that no letters could be sent home for a certain period of time and no parcels could be received from there. (...)

5. Food and housing

In Jasenovac, the prisoners' diet was very poor and inadequate. They were given something to eat two or three times a day. In the morning they were given warm water with cornmeal floating in it. At noon a soup made from cabbage, beans or potatoes, but with only a few vegetables, beans or potatoes, and in the evening a soup of the same kind. The prisoners called this soup "Pura" (= turkey). The prisoners received bread very irregularly. Often months would pass during which they did not even see bread. And when there was bread, it was black, with some residue from the meal, and there was never more than an eighth of a kilo a day. There was no fat whatsoever and very little salt in the food that the Ustasis gave the prisoners. The aim of the Ustasis was to weaken the prisoners' organism with the poor and inadequate food and to make them helpless against physical exertion and illnesses which inevitably had to occur as a result of such a diet. On top of all that, there was dirt, and especially in the summer diarrhea, typhoid and other diseases were rampant, from which 1,800 prisoners died in one month of 1942 alone. (...)

The accommodation options were just as bad and unbearable. As long as the barracks had not yet been erected, the prisoners slept in the "tunnel", in the porch of the brickworks, under the tables of the workshops and depots or in the open air. When the barracks were up, the prisoners slept in them. Each barrack was a large wooden building, 24 meters long and 6 meters wide. In the middle of each barrack there was a passage room, from which the two-story sleeping boxes (celijice) were. Up to 6 inmates could sleep in each box. If a new transport came and there was absolutely no more space, the Ustasis crammed so many more into it that the prisoners had to lie on top of each other. When everything was overcrowded, many still had to spend the night at different points in the camp.

The beds in the boxes were very hard, the prisoners covered themselves with blankets. On arrival at the location the ustazi had taken away all the better blankets and gave them old and bad ones in return. All the sleeping boxes were full of vermin, lice and fleas, and all cleaning, taken care of by the prisoners themselves, did not help at all. Since the prisoners were only allowed to send their soiled laundry to the laundry for cleaning once a month, it was clear that it was never cleaned. So it was natural that contagious diseases raged throughout the winter, that typhus was endemic and that only a few prisoners did not suffer from it. (…) Doctors and pharmacists who looked after the prisoners were prisoners themselves, but they sacrificed themselves and tried to help their unhappy comrades. However, since their aids were very primitive, help was limited and major surgical interventions could not be carried out. Every seriously ill person died quickly, and if the death went too slowly, the Ustasis would break into the barracks at night, drive the prisoners out of their camps and drive them to Gradina or other places for liquidation.

6. Work of the prisoners

As mentioned, the construction of the actual Jasenovac III camp began at the end of autumn 1941. In camps I and II, the Ustasis mainly housed Jews who they had arrested in Zagreb, Osijek, Sarajevo and other large cities, as well as Serbs and Croats who had been apprehended in various NDH regions. There were many intellectuals among the prisoners, with whom the Ustas were extremely brutal: they stole their shoes and clothes, gave them the worst food, and forced them to do the hardest physical work all day. They had to build barracks and dikes to protect the camp from the Strug and Sava floods. At work, the prisoners were beaten with sticks and rifle butts, forced to dig and carry more quickly, and immediately beaten for every little break. (…) On one such occasion, Ljubo Milos 23 told the guards not to shoot, because every Ustasa had a knife and could stab any prisoner unwilling to work. Under such circumstances it becomes clear why after the dissolution of Camps I and II, only a few hundred of the original several thousand prisoners came to Camp III.

The work of the prisoners in Camp III was divided into work inside and outside the camp. Work was carried out in various workshops in the camp: brickworks, bakery, electricity, gas, farm buildings, etc. Worked at least 10 hours a day without a break, because the goods produced were urgently needed by the occupation troops and the Ustazes. Above all, railway wagons, trucks and ships had to be loaded and unloaded on the Sava. There was not even a break from work on Sundays and public holidays; it was not until 1943 that a Sunday break from work was introduced, but only for hard-working prisoners. The Ustasa guards went through the workshops and made sure that no one rested, did not stay too long in the toilet and that everyone worked non-stop. If a Ustasa found that any prisoner was "sabotaging" the work, he would beat him up or kill him on the spot. The doctors have often given sick, old and exhausted prisoners "sparing", but the Ustasis did not adhere to that much and still drove the unfortunate to work.

The work outside the camp consisted of erecting barbed wire fences on the small and large dykes, building the great wall (and this work lasted until the end of 1942), building numerous bunkers and defenses around the camp, cases and Cutting trees etc., even from activities in neighboring Jablanac. Here, too, Ustasis were always there to accompany them, forcing the prisoners to work quickly with rifle butts, knives or firearms. Many, many thousands of prisoners suffered as a result of this external work, and it often happened that entire groups were no longer able to return to the camp. In such cases, the Ustase guards simply said that they wanted to flee and that they had to be shot.

7. Ustasis and prisoners

Every prisoner knew after his admission to the camp that a certain and terrible death awaited him here. It was only unclear how long his torment would last in the camp. (…) Every Ustasa, from Luburic to the last guard, was overpowering towards every prisoner, master of his life and death. At any time, day or night, work or rest, any Ustasa could kill any prisoner without being accountable to anyone or even registering the incident. Thanks to a testimony of the witness Danon Jakob, z. For example, the following case is known: On December 23, 1941, Ljubo Milos ordered an appeal, a so-called assembly (zbor) of all prisoners. He briefly mentioned that one of the prisoners had tried to kill one of the Ustasa guards, but did not mention any names. Then Milos called 25 prisoners forward, took a rifle, and shot them all. Then he called the doctor Dr. Gusti Leindorfer, so that he could determine death, then the gravedigger, so that they could remove the corpses. When it was all over, he remarked as a joke: "Oh, I didn't ask you for your name at all". (...)

Public punishments were very common, and the reasons for them were insignificant, insignificant, fabricated, or for no reason whatsoever. (...) In addition to such “appearances” for participating in public punishments, there were also “appeals to reduce the number of prisoners in the camp” in Jasenovac, as well as appeals to which those who were going to work in Germany, in another camp or in wanted a hospital for "healing". (...)

Liquidations in Gradine or Ustice were initially carried out solely by the Ustasis, later Gypsies were added to the auxiliary services. The victims had to dig long and deep pits themselves, then all clothing was stripped from them and gold teeth were knocked out. Afterwards everyone had to jump into the pit, where a Ustasa or a gypsy was already standing, in order to hit the head with a hammer or cut the throat with a knife. (...)

This account would be incomplete without mentioning the worst forms of torture and killing of prisoners. It is starvation to the point of death. As will be mentioned later, the liquidation of the entire camp III-C was carried out in this way. Here only the Bell Hall can be described as the torture site set up solely for that purpose. It was a small, windowless barrack, to which a glass front door led, through which one could see from the outside everything that was going on inside. Here the Ustasis locked up their victims and denied them all food and drink. Their torments were terrible and desperate cries for help resounded from the barracks: “Get us out, kill us”. The Ustasis (...) enjoyed this torment, walked in front of the Bell Hall around and laughed. Since the Bell Hall was small, it held no more than thirty prisoners. When new victims arrived, the old ones had to give way to them. The Ustasis then brought the former group to “Granik” and killed them there. As if the agony of hunger and the impending killing did not satisfy the sadism of the Ustas, they beat victims as they marched off and beat them with knives. (...)

As the hour of liberation approached, the Ustasa butchers feared that the truth would come to light.In order to erase the traces of their countless crimes, in April 1945 they began head over heels to open the graves, to retrieve the corpses and bones of their victims and to burn them at the stake. For days and weeks the flames of these pyre burned, and when the work was done they killed all the prisoners who had done the work, kissed one another and got drunk.

8. Spies and free-riders

Witness statements often mention "informers" (dousnici) and "free riders" (slobodnjaci) the speech, and to avoid misunderstandings, these terms need to be explained. Spies were various Ustasis who had committed any disciplinary offenses or serious crimes and had therefore been sent to Jasenovac as a punishment. (…) The Ustasa Command accommodated these offenders in a special building, gave them good food that corresponded to that of the guards, and gave them the supervision of the prisoners while they were working or resting. These informers - as the prisoners called them - were able to move around freely in the camp and even leave it. They were always on the prisoners' heels, they carried sticks or clubs with which they beat the prisoners and drove them to work. They were particularly cruel to the prisoners and were able to beat them in such a way that many later died from the injuries they suffered. (...)

“Free prisoners” were prisoners who were so distinguished by their compliance with the Ustasa guards that they were given a certain degree of supervision over prisoners. These outdoor prisoners received better accommodation and food, they were allowed to receive letters and parcels from home, write home and move freely around the camp.

9. How many victims did Jasenovac claim?

Propaganda poster: Croats of the Bosnian Hercegovina! The great leader Adolf Hitler and the Poglavnik Dr. Ante Pavelic call you to defend your homes. Join the ranks of the Croatian SS Volunteer Units.

At the end of April 1945, during their panicked escape from Jasenovac, the Ustasis destroyed or burned all material that could contain statistical information on how many prisoners perished in Jasenovac. All registers, lists of names, index cards, business books, also official files were destroyed, which - although according to testimony of witnesses they were inaccurate, untidy and unsystematic - could have given us certain clues. It is therefore not possible to answer the question of how many victims perished in Jasenovac. There are very few prisoners who spent some time in the camp and were subsequently released, and there are fewer than a hundred who managed to escape from the camp in the final stages. (...)

The hardest Ustasa-Terror and most of the killings occurred in the years 1941 and 1942. The whole of 1943 and half of 1944 were relatively calm, i.e. mass murders of prisoners did not occur as often and to the same extent as before and after this period. From September 1944 to April 1945 again large transports came to Jasenovac and the massive liquidation was repeated. Prisoners who were in the camp in the first or fourth year reported very high casualties, while in the statements of those who were in the third year of the Ustasa-Terrors in Jasenovac, the number of victims is lower. There were about 50 mass murder actions that the Ustase in Jasenovac, and if the numbers of prisoners who perished in these actions and the numbers of prisoners who perished outside of such actions add up, then we arrive at a figure from about 500 to 600,000. But, as already said, it will never be possible to determine the exact number of victims that Jasenovac devoured, but on the basis of all investigations carried out by the State Commission, one can come to the conclusion that the above number is true. Not a single criminal in history has killed a tenth of a people as Ante Pavelic did with his own people.

Author: Wolf Oschlies


Kamber, Dragutin: Slom NDH - Kako sam ga ja proživio (The collapse of the NDH - How I survived it), Zagreb 1993

Orth, Karin: The concentration camps of the SS. Social structural analyzes and biographical studies. Goettingen 2000.

Orth, Karin: The system of the National Socialist concentration camp. Hamburg 1999.

Schwarz, Gudrun: The National Socialist Camps. Frankfurt am Main 1996.

Sofsky, Wolfgang: The order of terror - the concentration camp, Frankfurt a.M. 1993

Gutman, Israel / Eberhard Jäckel / Peter Longerich (eds.): Encyclopedia of the Holocaust. The persecution and murder of the European Jews. Munich 1998


1Dragutin Kamber: Slom NDH - Kako sam ga ja proživio (The collapse of the NDH - How I survived it), Zagreb 1993, p. 5
2Kamber, Slom NDH ... loc. Cit., P. 12
3 V. Bogdanov: Ante Starcevic i hrvatska politika (A.S. and Croatian politics), Historija za svakog vol. 1, Zagreb 1937, p. 10 ff.
5Chronology of the NDH at: www.pavelicpapers.com/timeline/ndhtimeline.html
7 Karl Pfeifer: Freedom for the comrade, in: Jungle World 16.6.1999
8 Report in: Glas javnosti No. 257, February 26, 1999
9 Heni Erceg: Slucaj Sakic (Der Fall S.), in: Feral Tribune 23.6.1998, pp. 4-5
10Joseph Fitchett: Croatian Leader’s Writings Raise Specter of Anti-Semitism, in: International Herald Tribune 10.1.1992
11Franjo Tudjman: Bespuca povijesne zbilnosti (wrong ways of historical reality), Zagreb 1990, p. 309 ff.
12 Before Butkovic: Hrvati su politicki sazreli (The Croatians have matured politically), in: Nedjeljna Dalmacija November 7, 1991
13 Report in: Der Spiegel No. 22/1994
14 Collection of Tudjman quotes in: Feral Tribune 12/13/1999, pp. 6-7
15Wording in: Hrvatska ljevica 1.-30.6.1996, pp. 16-17
16 Zorica Stanivukovic: Rasizam na vagi (Racism on the scales), in: NIN May 15, 2003
In June 1945, at the trial of Mile Budak (and other NDH functionaries), other NDH camps were listed, for example Jastrebarsko, Koprivnica, Kruscince, Rab, Pag, Vir, Molat, Kraljevica, three camps in Zagreb, plus further “an many other places ”, see the report in: Informativni prirucnik o Jugoslaviji Vol. I (1949), p. 159
18 Dr. Mirko Puk, 1884-1945, Minister of Justice and Cults, presumably killed by suicide
19We will ignore the description of other buildings here, but add that part of Complex III as a whole was separated by barbed wire, which was called "Camp III-C" and where women were apparently housed, W.O.
In the Jasenovac literature as well as in this report, Picili is often mentioned as the inventor and builder of the so-called “Picili-Oven” (Picilijeva pec), an imperfect copy of German concentration camp crematoria that was installed in Camp III at the “Ziegelei “Was built and demolished after three months.
21The picture shows the emblem for Jews used in the NDH, "Ž" stands for "Ž idov" (Jew)
The prisoners named 22 “tunnel” (tunel) for an underground storage hall in camp III, in which a branch of the railway line from Jasenovac ended; here newcomers had to wait until they were either housed in the barracks or taken for liquidation.
23Ljubo Milos, born in 1919, cousin of Luburic, deputy commander of Jasenovac. After the war he was one of the leaders of the anti-communist organization "Križari" (Crusaders), of whose members 96 were arrested in Slavonia in August 1947. In a subsequent trial before the Supreme Court of the People's Republic of Croatia from July 12-17 and August 10-20, 1948, Milos was sentenced to death by hanging. See the report in: Informativni ... loc. Cit., P. 165