Ustasha Survivor, Ljubica Vucic

(Pronounced LyOObeetsa VOOtsets)

Republished from Srpska-mreza.com with permission, which republished material from the book “Friars and Ustasha are Slaughtering” by Lazar Lukacic. Published in Belgrade, 2005 by Fund for Genocide Research, Belgrade. Translated by Petar Makara with permission from the author. Copy edited by Wanda Schindley, PhD. Testimonies of survivors of Ustasha (Catholic Nazi Croats) atrocities

[Note: The events recorded in these stories are essentially the same as those documented as having happened to my own Roknic family in VrginMost in 1941 — those who died in their village.  Many others were also lost in death camps, or as Partisans. I have not finished with machine translations, but it appears at least 50 Roknic were lost to this violence, those being the only relatives in the area I currently can identify — Linda Carter.]

Motike slaughter survivor, Ljubica Vucic Photographed by the interviewer-author, Mr. Lazar Lukaji?
Motike slaughter survivor, Ljubica Vucic. Photographed by the interviewer-author, Mr. Lazar Lukacic

“I was born in 1929 in Vasic. That was a pretty hamlet in Donje Motike [village], where Serbs and Croats lived together. Motike [village] is close to Banja Luka and you could easily get to [that] town by foot–in no time–then and now.

“Vasic [hamlet] is close to the road that goes from Banja Luka toward Motike’s school. That road then goes through Motike and connects to the road that goes from Banja Luka to Bronzani Majdan [means “Bronze Mine”] and further to Sanski Most [another town in Bosnia]. The roads join some 12 kilometers [8 miles] from Banja Luka. Our houses were on a hill, a bit elevated and facing the road on the right side when you go from Banja Luka toward the school. At that time, it was a macadam [paved road]; now it is asphalt.

“Our soil is good and fertile. Everything grows well–wheat, fruit and vegetables. There are also–I do not know how many–lots of forests. Nowhere is it steep. All the hills have mild slopes.

“In my village, before the war [WWII], we lived nicely. Vasi?i had no rich people, but there were also no poor ones. Every family lived a decent life–a life of [decent] culture. The town is close, the dirt is fertile, there was plenty of everything both to consume and to sell. Every day you would go to the town to work, to buy or sell something – especially on Tuesdays. That was a market day in Banja Luka–a fair.

“We lived in peace and–I would say–happiness.

“On Sundays and on holidays everyone would dress well, especially the young–young boys and girls. So, they would get together to tell stories, to joke, to sing and dance. That was a common thing to do.

“As a child, I was healthy and happy. Later, when all of that disappeared, I would always remember the happy life in Vasic, in Motike.

“In our village the Serbs and Croats lived in harmony. [Throughout the testimony Ms. Vucic uses a non-derogatory nickname for Croats (Catholics): Šokci].

“The daily life and work was the same for both of us. The only difference was the one relating the faith [to the brand of Christianity]: the Baptism, the church [Croat altar faces West, the Serbian one faces East], [different dates for] Christmas, Easter, [the way] the marriage [ceremony was conducted] and celebration of Saints with Serbs. [The Serbian families would have a Saint protector and celebrate their Saint’s Day as a holiday]. Everything else was the same. The [difference in] faith was respected, and no-one was touching [ridiculing] other people’s customs. No one was even thinking that other [disrespectful] way. Everyone was minding his/her own business. No-one was bothering anyone. The Serbs and Croats did not intermarry, though. A Serbian woman would marry a Serb and a Croatian one a Croat. As far as I know it was always like that. But our hamlets were intertwined and at some places even houses in the same hamlet. The Serbian hamlets in Donje Motike were [all named after family’s last names] Vasici [meaning Vasics], Maleševici, Todic, Brkovici, Kovacevici and Šešici were completely intermixed with Croatian hamlets of Josipovici, Martinovici, Ljevari and Batkovici.

“Intermingled also were their forests, paths, people and cattle. Only right before the war was there any avoidance of one from the other, but I can hardly remember that. I only remember that there was some cooling off [of the relationship] and it was not as happy and open as before. Most of my memories are tied to my family and other families from Vasici.

“In February 1942 before the slaughter, there were nine houses in Vasici. Those were our house ([my father] Milan’s), houses of my uncle Cvijan and uncle Ilija, then the houses of Mikajlo, Lazar, Ilija, Stanko, Djoka and Risto Vasic [for whom the hamlet was named].

“On February 7, 1942, Ustashas slaughtered 77 [seventy seven] members of the Vasic family.

“I am the only survivor of the slaughter in Vasici”

“There were six of us in my [immediate] family: my father Milan, 42 [at the time], my mother Danica ([age] 32), brothers Mladjen (9), Stojic (7) and Miroslav (5), and me. I was 13 [thirteen] years old. Before the war, my father Milan worked as a road worker. With the formation of the Independent State of Croatia, he [lost job and] started working in the Rakovac mine, close to our village. Ustashas killed him there the same day they also slaughtered in our house–on February 7, 1942. So, father was not at home when Ustashas were slaughtering us.

“Actually, when Ustashas came to our house, only my mother Danica and my brothers Mladjen, Stoji? and Miroslav were at home. That morning I was visiting a neighbor’s house, and they stabbed me all over in that other house.

“That February 7 [1942] was a Saturday. I remember it well, and I know it for sure. We all got up round 7 in the morning. Mother started the fire, and we children got dressed, put our shoes on and washed up. I had my breakfast and soon afterwards went to a neighbor’s house–to the house of Mihajlo Vasi?. The house was close to ours, on the right side of the road. My mother sent me to get some flour from them.

“While I was approaching Mihajlo’s house, I saw old Mihajlo, who was around 60 years old, as he climbed to the roof and was taking snow off his house. There was lots of snow on the roof, and it had to be taken off so it [its weight] did not collapse the roof. The snow was some 1.5 meters [about 5 feet] deep. It fell recently, so it was still fluffy.

“I passed by him and entered his house. I took a dish with flour and immediately started to go back toward my house. You could not simply sit when your mother sent you for something and was waiting for you. As I was near a well that was between Mihajlo’s house and ours, someone called me two times.

“‘Ljubo [nickname for Ljubica], come back! Ljubo, come back!’

“I do not know who called me. I looked around, but I did not see anyone. I went back to Mihajlo’s house. Mihajlo was continuing to take the snow off the roof. Outside, around the house, there is no one. As I entered Mihajlo’s house, Mihajlo’s family asked me why did I came back. They see that I am holding the dish with flour in my hands. I told them that someone told me to come back. Who told me to come back? I look through the window to see if there is someone outside.

“They stabbed old Mihajlo all through”

“At that instance, three Ustashas [Croatian Catholic Nazis] appeared in front of the house. They have rifles on their shoulders and bayonets [knives] on the rifles. They have helmets on their heads.

“I did not know those people. They were not from our village. All three were young and dressed in crisp new uniforms. We are looking through the window as they are ordering Mihajlo to get down from the roof. He got down. They ask him:

“‘Do you have any money? Where are your horses?’

“He says: ‘I have no money, and the horses are there – in the stable.’

“An Ustasha says: ‘Take off the jacket!’

“Mihajlo had on a short jacket of thick cloth. Old people had that while the young ones would have coats. He takes it off and puts it next to him on the snow. One Ustasha takes the rifle off his shoulder, comes closer to Mihajlo, and pierces him with that knife that is on the rifle – into the back. Mihajlo drops forward on his face. He is twitching and making a gurgling sound just like a slaughtered lamb. While he is lying down, the Ustasha is stabbing him in the back. Only one is doing the stabbing; the other two Ustashas are just watching. They are not moving at all.

“We in the room pile on the windows and watch all of that in fear and confusion. The one [Ustasha] who was doing the stabbing uses his finger to take the blood off the bayonet and licks it [his finger]. Then, all three of them took Mihajlo by the arms and legs and threw him into the uncleaned [not cleared away] snow, off the path. They threw his jacket on top of him. The blood flows on the snow where Mihajlo was lying.

“We have time to see it all. The Ustashas are not in a hurry. They do not even know that we are watching what they are doing. All of us in the room grow pale from fear. We are moving from wall to wall and watching through the windows.

“The old Vaja, Mihajlo’s wife, was sick. She was lying on a straw mattress that was put on the floor. As she heard that Ustashas are stabbing Mihajlo in front of the house, she got up and joined us at the window to see. She then went back to the mattress, got pale and died. In a second. She was not showing any signs of life. She was lying on her back–calm. Dead. She said nothing.

“Beside dead Vaja there are seven of us – alive: Mihajlo’s daughter-in-law Draginja, wife of his son George, who was 35 years old at the time; her children [son] Boško ([age] 15), [daughter] Ljubica (12), [daughter] Danica (9), [son] Petar (8) and a smaller child, very small child, whose name I do not remember; and me.

“The Ustasha pierces a mother and a child, naked on the snow”

“When I entered Mihajlo’s house, [his daughter-in-law] Draginja was bathing her child. She warmed water in a small pan, and she was holding her child with one hand while with the other she would soap and wash it. She was still washing the child when I returned to the house and when Ustashas came. It all lasted only minutes. As Draginja saw how Ustashas stabbed Mihajlo, she started to walk round the house while holding that naked child in her arms. She was the oldest one present [and still alive] in the house, but she was telling us nothing. She is not trying to console us. She is only walking around the house without aim, and she is sighing – as if she lost her mind. The rest of us are also walking fast around the room – just like sheep would walk in a pen as the wolf runs around it watching and trying to find a way to enter and slaughter them all. Boško [a boy, age 15] is looking through the window as if he would jump out somewhere. There is NO way out! Ustashas are standing next to the window. The doors of the room are opened. We see both doors to the house. One Ustasha is entering one, another the other one.

“The Ustasha who was stabbing Mihajlo is entering the room. The knife on his rifle is covered in blood. He is ordering us all to get out. Draginja is the first to exit – with her child in her arms. Right behind her are Boško, Petar and Ljubica. Draginja’s younger daughter Danica was sleeping all this time in her bed in the room – during the time when I came, as Ustashas came, and now. The Ustasha does not even pay attention to her or to [old] Vaja lying close to the floor. He is only looking at me. He sees that I am not moving. I am not going out with the others. He is ordering me to get out. I will not. He is not addressing me any more. Instead, he went toward those who were already outside. He knows that I am left in the room. Three of us are in the room: myself, Danica–in her bed, still asleep–and dead Vaja. I am waiting for the Ustasha to come back and order me to get out. He is not coming back. I go to the window to see what they will do with the ones who went outside. The Ustashas were standing on the same spot where Mihajlo was stabbed to death. They are standing on the path covered in blood – Mihajlo’s blood. Mihajlo’s corpse is under his jacket a step or two into the untouched snow.

“[Mother] Draginja jumped and started to run down – toward the road. She clutched the naked child on her chest with both hands. She made four or five steps. An Ustasha started running after her. He got to her and stabbed her in the back with the knife on his rifle. He ran after her and got her. She immediately fell on the path, on the side, while the child flew whole into the snow next to the path. The naked child is waving arms and legs in the snow as if in the soap in the house and screeches [screams]. It was only six months old. It was still nursing. I think that [mother] Draginja, quite consciously dropped it on the side so she would not crush the child as she was falling. Maybe she threw him into the snow aside from the path. Who knows? Maybe it was mother’s instinct – a wish to hurl the child away from death.

“The Ustasha goes closer to the baby and stabs it, too, with the bayonet. He carried it on the bayonet and then threw it onto the path. The child immediately stopped crying.

“While the Ustasha was murdering Draginja and the baby, Boško and Ljubica tried to run away behind the house. They ran next to the house where there was no snow because of the roof overhang. The second Ustasha caught up with them though and killed them. I only saw as they started to run–Boško first, followed by Ljubica, and then the Ustasha after them, but I did not see how they were killed as they turned corner to the other side of the house that could not be seen from the window. The next day, I noticed their bodies all stabbed through on that side of the house. Petar [8 years old boy] was stabbed in front of the house at the same spot where Mihajlo was [murdered].

Slaughter in the room

“After that, the three Ustashas entered the house. Two came right into the room, and the third one remained at the room’s entrance door. He is not entering. One of those who entered swung the rifle that had a bayonet covered in blood on it and immediately cut the neck of the old woman Vaja. She was laying with her head twisted backwards so that her neck was completely exposed. The head rolled off the pillow under the bed. Vaja was lying on a straw mattress that was put on the floor next to a bed with her head on a thick pillow. Not even a drop of blood rolled from the severed neck. None. Only the blood vessels and the nerves protruded. They are sticking out of the slashed neck and wiggle. She died not long ago, and her body was not cold yet.

“The second Ustasha approaches the bed. Danica is still sleeping on it. I have no idea how come she did not wake up in the commotion, but those of us who were [at some point] in the room were not talking. There was no noise. It was silent all the time. We were only roaming round the room without a word uttered. The Ustashas were not talking either. Maybe a word or two. By the way, all of this lasted a very short time. It was better for Danica that she was so firmly asleep. She did not see the evil in the house. She did not have to feel fear before her death. She was calmly lying on the bed, on her back with her face turned upwards. She was covered up to her head. I was two or three steps away from her. Everything is happening in front of my very eyes.

“The Ustasha lifts his rifle with the bayonet and lands it suddenly on Danica. The bayonet cuts Danica’s face across the forehead, sideways to the half of the head. The blood spilled across the face and the pillow. Danica did not make a single move or made a single sound. The Ustasha slashed her only once.

“I was voiceless. I am walking through the room away from the two of them. It was as if one was to catch a chicken in a chicken coop. They are coming toward me, after me. They are not in a hurry. They go slowly as if they were just strolling. One comes from the direction of the door, the other from the bed on which Danica lays. The one who holds in his hands the rifle with the blood-covered bayonet turned toward me.

“I jump over grandma Vaja, but I have nowhere to go. I crunch myself in a narrow corner behind the stove. The stove is next to the wall, but its back part — used to make bread — was a bit moved from the other wall. I am barely fitting in the corner. I can not turn. I am only stiff and standing. I watch the Ustashas. Both come in front of me. One says: ‘You are not from this house. I know that. Where are you from? Whose [child] are you?’

“Our neighbors, Croats, as I later learned from many people, knew full well which Serbian family had how many children. They knew the age and sex of the children and also knew where the children would usually be at [this hour] seven in the morning and what they would be doing. The Ustashas that were slaughtering us were not from [the village of] Motike. It was said that they came to our village from somewhere for the first time that day. The Croats from our village would bring them to the Serbian houses and would inform them, in detail, how many children lived in which house. Those [Croat] neighbors would stay outside, in front of the house or hidden behind it. They were not entering the rooms in which the slaughter was perpetrated. That is how the Ustashas knew that I was not from that house and that the house of Mihajlo Stijakovi? does not have two girls with almost the same age — as my name sake Ljubica and I were — but only one – and they killed her next to the house. Probably up next to the house, there was a neighbor Croat who brought the Ustashas – but I did not notice him. He could not see me, but he could know that I was in the house if the Ustashas told him that [there is one more girl in the house] when they were outside. The Ustashas knew, right away, that I do not belong in that house. That is why they were not in a hurry to kill me. They were not clear about something. They did not know whether I was a Serb or Croat. The Croat children were coming to our neighborhood into our houses as we were into theirs. That is what confused them.

“I told them: ‘I do not know where I am from or whose [child] I am – when you are doing this!’

“The nails on both my hands and turned black and blue from fear. What do you think – would I die [of fear] if they did not stab me?

“They tell me: ‘Recite ‘Ave Maria!’

“‘I can not recite or even talk as I see what you are doing.’

“One Ustasha asks: ‘What shall we do with her?’

“The one at the door says: ‘Pierce!’

Seven wounds on Ljubica

“The one in front of me immediately stabs me in the front side, next to the chest bone [sternum]. As he is bringing the bayonet toward my chest, I see that it is covered in blood. I immediately fell on the floor and lost consciousness. Just before I lost conscience, I remembered one stone on our field where I used to play with my brothers Mladjen, Stoji? and Miroslav. That stone just appeared in my mind with the knowledge that I will never, ever again go to it. That is the last I remember.

“The Ustashas then stabbed me six more times – while I was lying unconscious–two times on the left side and three times on the right side – all into the central part of my body. They also stabbed me into the left arm biceps. The biggest wound was the one at chest bone.

“I still have scars from all seven wounds. Each scar is easily visible, even though 58 years passed from the time. One of the scars on my left side is 5 centimeters [almost two inches] long. The others are shorter. look at this one on my arm. You can clearly see. That one is reminding me of the slaughter the most as it is on my arm so I can see it all the time.

“Some time late at night I gained consciousness. I became aware. First, I felt great thirst. I crawled along the room in search of water. It was too dark to see. It is night. In crawling from the corner of the room, I got to the middle. I crawled over grandma Veja who was laying on the straw mattress that was on the floor between the stove and the bed. She was cold and stiff. I felt [with my fingers] a small pan with water. That pan was filled with water as Mihajlo’s daughter-in-law stopped washing her child because of the Ustashas’ arrival. It had been filled as the Ustashas arrived at the moment when she started to wash the child. I still remember well that pan. It was blue on the outside and white inside. It was actually a bit deeper, large pot with a handle made of wire so it could be easily hung. We call that kind of handle – “povrazac.” That kind of pot was also used to warm milk or water or to cook food for a few members of the family.

“I drank water from the pan. [Suddenly] a huge heat wave came over me even though the night was cold. I was putting my head into the pan all the time and drinking water in sips until morning. As it dawned, I noticed that both doors and windows are open. But I had no fear. I saw that nothing was left of me.

“Grandma Vaja is [still] lying on the bed but has no head. There is her head under the bed. There is no blood on her. Her pillow is clean. Her neck is short. Gone.

“As it got brighter, I got up a bit by leaning on the wall and the bed. Danica, age 9, is on the bed and is giving no sign of life. Her face is cut. You could see coagulated blood and [inside] the bones that were cut. Her blood was frozen on the pillow. Only now do I notice that I am covered with blood myself.

“As I started school that winter my father bought me new good and heavy-duty shoes. They were all covered in blood. Both my hair braids were in blood. The blood soaked in them and coagulated and froze, so the braids are hard as if they were sticks. Everything was frozen and stiff. I do not remember how cold I felt, but I was stiff myself. Only the wounds were making sound as I breathed. I went into ‘the house’ — that is what we call the top room where a common fire place is. There I found grandpa Mihajlo’s cane, which was bent on the top. I took the cane and started walking home while leaning on the cane. It is hard to walk. I go slowly. I stop at the [snow] path. I somehow manage to get to the first [house], to a neighbors’ house, which was not far. That is the house of Joka [nickname for Jorje – Serbian name for George] Kostic. I enter the house to rest a bit and to see what happened there. I found no one in the house. The Ustashas had chased them all out and murdered them. I can not go on.

“The room has a bed, one made of wood. There is a wooden box next to it. I climbed into the box, and, covered with blood as I am, I lie on the bed. There is some cover on it. I am starting to loose consciousness. The wounds feel cold and hurt a lot. God, do not give anyone [such pain]! I was afraid that they will start slaughtering us again.

“I was lying in the bed. I did not sleep. There is nothing left of me. I am waiting to die.

Saved by Croatian neighbors – the thieves

“Then Sunday came, and they [local Croats] came to pillage. They do not know that I am in the room. I covered all of myself, over the head. My body sank in the straw bed and some clothes that were on top of it. I am quiet, and I wait. I hear them as they talk: ‘Here is this; Here is that; Take this; Carry that; Give me this.’ They are searching for money, and they are collecting things. I do not know who they are. I do not see them. Some one pulled the pillow under my head but is not seeing me still. I peek. There are two of them. I do not know them.

“Not even ten minutes passed before another two came. One says: ‘Is anyone alive!?’

“They lifted the cover as if one would lift a cover on a child. I see who they are. One was Božo Josipovi? and the other one Mirko Josipovi? my school-mate. Both are Croats from the neighboring hamlet. Božo is an adult, a married man. Mirko recognized me. Božo knows me too.

“Mirko says: ‘Ljubo [nickname for Ljubica], is that you?’

“I say: ‘Yes. I am all stabbed through!’

“He asks: ‘Do you want to go with us?’

“Božo is standing quiet.

“I say: ‘I will go if you are not going to kill me. If you want to kill me, kill me here. Do not take me to your side of the brook.’

“Božo says: ‘Do not be afraid! Nothing will happen to you. I’ll carry you.’

“He takes me on his back and starts carrying me. Mirko is watching. As he lifted me, he covered me completely with some old coat. Some old, ripped coat was on the bed. It has holes. I can see through one hole, so I peek. I put my head so I can see better through that little hole. My arms are stretching over Božo’s shoulders. They are hung as if dead. Božo is carrying me to toward the house of my uncle Ilija. That is some fifteen, twenty meters [yards] away from Djoka’s house in which I was lying all stabbed. There is a flat place in front of Ilija’s house. That is the place where we used to gather to sit or play. The Ustashas forced Todi? and Vasi? families onto that flat area and killed them all there. Many of them are lying on the snow. I see it all through that hole in the coat. Some [bodies] are still moving even though 24 hours passed since the slaughter. A body would only twitch or stretch and then be calm again. I hear as someone gurgles [makes death noise]. They fell over each other all different ways as they were chased and murdered. On the snow path and on the uncleaned snow – blood is everywhere. Frozen. Everything looks ripped away. Some have their mouth open; others have their eyes bulging out. Some were pressing the snow with their faces. Bodies are turned in different directions. Clothes on many are covered with blood — as if they were twitching and rolling on the snow before they would pass away and get motionless. There were some 150 souls on that spot. In some houses of Todi? and Vasi? families, there were ten even fifteen children. Here is where two entire hamlets were collected and killed off – Todi?i and Vasi?i. The snow is compressed and red. That’s where they were murdered. Some tried to run, but no one ran away from there. They were all caught. Some [death] sounds are heard – sounds I am not able to describe. Non-dying people can not make such sounds. I do not know how they did not become completely frozen during the night.

“Božo and Mirko stopped. They are watching the corpses. This is why I could observe them for a long time. They are not paying attention to me – as if I do not exist. Nothing is hidden from my eyes, and all those dead are not bothering me–as all of it was not horrible. I am not afraid. With exception of the three of us there, is no one alive on this plane. The three of us are silently watching. It seemed to me that it lasted for a long time. Then I said: ‘If you are to kill me – kill me here – where these ones are [killed]. Do not take me to the your side to kill me there!’

“They are telling me not to be afraid and that they will not kill me.

“”Božo tells Mirko to take off the shoes from one of the slaughtered men. It is an adult man, so the shoes would be a good size for Božo. Mirko went to that dead man and started to untie the shoes. They were deep-side shoes. They look good – like new. Mirko is trying to take them off. Božo is just standing and carrying me on his shoulders. We are both watching as Mirko is trying hard and suffering as he is pulling a shoe off the dead, frozen man. Suddenly, he dropped the leg of the dead man got up and said: ‘It can not be taken off. The feet are frozen inside the shoes. It is not going. Let us go!’

“Božo says: ‘OK. Let’s go.’

“We are going toward the brook [that separates Serbian and Croatian hamlets]. As we approached it, I saw on the other side of the brook, from Croatian houses there was a column of people approaching. The column contained all kinds of people – Domobrani [Ustasha “Home Guards”], Ustashas, village militia, guards, civilians. They were coming toward our [Serbian] side, toward our houses. Soldiers are carrying rifles, and they are without mounted bayonets. They are coming to finish off the wounded and to pillage.

“I am telling them [Božo and Mirko]: ‘Do not carry me to them! Don’t you see how many of them there are? They will kill me.’

“‘Do not fear! Just be quiet,’ says Božo.

“He wrapped me even better with the coat. We passed by them. No one is asking anything. Maybe they did not see a child underneath the coat on Božo’s sholders. Maybe they thought the bundle was containing pillaged goods. Maybe to keep killing was already forbidden, as I heard at some point later.

“Mirko is walking behind us. We crossed on their [Croatian] side. Mirko asks whether I want to be taken to Božo’s or to his – Pejo’s house. Pejo was Mirko’s grandfather. Mirko’s father was Marko Josipovi? but the head of the family was the old Pejo. I told him to take me to Pejo’s house. I went with the children from the house to the same school, and I was playing with them. So, Mirko said that we should go to his house.

Croats are curing the wounds

“Božo took me to Pejo’s house. He and Mirko told him how they found Milan’s Ljubica alive. Their house had 70-year-old Pejo, his two daughters-in-law — Janja and Jela. Janja died [by now] and Jela is still alive.

“Pejo told them: ‘Take her and bathe her!’

“They washed me. I do not remember them giving me the bath. As soon as they poured warm water on me, I lost consciousness. They [later] told me that they took me to the school in Motike. The order was that all who survived be brought there. I can not remember any of it. I was not conscience until the next morning. As I woke up the next morning – they say that I said: ‘Mama, give me some water!’

“Janja gave me warm milk. I got conscious. I looked around, and I see that it was not my mama, my mother. Then I remembered that Božo and Mirko brought me in. I am looking around. I see that I am lying in a room on a straw mattress next to a stove.

“They are asking me: ‘Are you in pain Ljubo? Do not be afraid.’

“The wounds were hurting me since they washed me. I said: ‘It hurts.’

“I could not move any different way.

“Peja’s son Ilija went to the town. That is not far away. He bought grease and alcohol. They washed my wounds and put grease on them. After that I was unconscious for 24 hours. They called a neighbor, Anto Martinovi?, a Croat, to be present so no one could say that they killed me. It was already forbidden to kill any more. [Translator’s note: When the German occupiers learned of the massacres at about 2 p.m., they intervened and stopped the massacres. Those who were killed were killed between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.] He spent the night there. Janja says that I got conscious once: ‘You were to die, Ljubo. You were not giving any sign of life. Only the pulse was visible on your neck.’

“The second day, after [applying] alcohol, they put me in a sitting position. They propped me with pillows. I was sitting like that a bit. There came Ilija Josipovi?. He was a Croatian policeman. He told me: ‘Your sister Bosa is in her house. She is sitting in her bed and is not talking. She does not want to go anywhere. No one is forcing to. Everything is taken from the house. They took the cover under her so she sits on the straws.’

“Bosa was my “sister” on my uncle’s side. [Actually a close first cousin in Serbo-Croatian is called a sister or a brother with a description on what side. Here, Bosa was Ljubica’s father’s brother’s daughter – thus “sister on the uncle’s side”]. She was 5 or 6 years old. Ustashas killed all in her house. Bosa hid under the bed, and that is how she remained alive. Maybe her mother pushed her under the bed. I do not know. She was alone in the room for two days. Before Ilija, no one else found her.

“I told Ilija to bring her to me. Later he told me that he found her on the bed and called her to come with him. She just said: ‘I won’t.’

“Only when he told her that I am also at the other house did she agreed. So he brought her to me. He carried her to the door and then put her down. She started crying and ran to me. She toppled me down. I lost consciousness.

“Bosa was not even wounded.

“I was lying in Pejo’s house for two months. I was lying on my knees and my forehead until my wounds closed. I could not lie on any side of my body. My wounds would hurt. During a day, they would lift me to sit as long as I could endure. I lost consciousness every time they dressed my wounds. Janja and Jela would dress my wounds.

“I started to eat. For a whole month, I could only drink milk – one glass three times a day. I could not have anything else. They would always offer to me [other food] – but how could I eat?

“Both of us [girls] were with them [the Croat neighbors]. The old one told [the rest of his family] that no one should mention us [to other Croats] until an order came that we should not be killed, that is, that those who survived should not be killed. Some say that such an order came a few days later [when it was clear that almost no-one survived]: ‘Those who survived should not be killed.’ The old man did not trust that. He kept hiding us for a long time.

“We were in the house of Pejo Josipovi? from February 8, 1942. Bosa stayed until June [1942], and I stayed until St. Peter’s Day – July 12, 1942. Peja’s family were taking care of us as if we were their own family. I have only good, only pleasant memories about them.

“Some two weeks before me, Bosa was taken by her aunt Milica Savi? to the nearby village of Rami?i. That is where she remained until the end of the war [WWII]. She then got married into the Todi? family. She has a family of her own and she lives in Todi?i [hamlet].

“On Sunday, St. Peter’s day, July 12, 1942 my aunt Vida, sister of my father Milan, took me to her house in Macanovi?i, a village next to ?okore village. She sent a message to the Josipovi? family to bring me to [the town of] Banja Luka, supposedly so I can identify our cow, so the Josipovi? family could take the cow to their house. In Banja Luka the aunt and I sneaked out and ran to [her village] Macanovi?i. I lived there until the end of the war and a bit afterwards. After the war I married Gojko Vu?i?, a young man from the nearby [hamlet] of Vu?i?i (which is also a part of ?okore [village]). With him, I went back to my father’s property in [the village of] Motike, where we had children and grandchildren. Even today, I live on my father’s property, in Donje Motike…

Lived to see Freedom

“Our [aunt’s] place, after the slaughter, was frequented by Domobrani [Ustasha Home Guards] and village militia. Many of those were Croats from Motike. They were snooping on us. They would come to binge [at our expense]. We would give them the best we had – just to keep them happy. After they ate and drank enough, they would tell us that we have nothing to fear.

“They would always ask where the men are. Did they leave somewhere? They feared that they [the Serbian men] would leave for the forests and join the [anti-Nazi] resistance. Before the slaughter no one from our village was in the resistance. Everyone [was a peaceful citizen and] stayed at home. The [Croat] policemen and [Croat] village militia were always checking us. They knew exactly how many family members each Serbian family had, and they would check whether everyone was present. If someone was absent, they would search until they found that person – no matter how young or old the person was. That is how, on February 7 [1942, on the day of the massacre] they could take the Ustashas [the Croatian Catholic Nazi elite] to every single Serbian house and help them so that every single Serbian soul could be found and – be murdered. They [the local Croats] were guarding the Serbian houses – so no one ran away. Later, they would go from house to house to finish off those Serbs who survived and to pillage the Serbian property. But they were not the only ones who participated in the pillaging. All other Croats joined – our neighbors but also those who were not. They took everything away. They took wheat from our silos.

“The family of Pejo Josipovi?, the one that took care of me and Bosa, took some of the wheat. Other [Croats] gathered everything before they could. All cattle was also stolen. I do not know who [did it]. I could not find out who even though I went back to Motike after the war and I lived there with Croats ever since. I only learned, later on, that my brothers Mladjen ([age] 9), Stoji? (7) and Miroslav were slashed in front of [our] house. My mother was murdered inside the house. My father was murdered the same day in the Rakovac mine [the other mass slaughter of the Serbs done by the Ustashas – on the same day], not too far from our home. In the springtime, when I felt better, I would leave Peja’s house and visit our home often. The walls in our home had traces of blood. That is where they murdered my mother Danica. I heard that our boys tried to run away, but our Croat neighbors would ambush them and kill them with knives, axes and wooden spears. There was very little [rifle] fire. Just a few [shots].

“Later, I heard what happened to my aunt Dosta Todi?. She was about to give birth. Ustashas toppled her on her back and then put a plank on her belly, using it as a pivot for a see-saw. They [the Ustashas] were then riding the “see saw” and watched as Dosta was “giving birth” – until they pushed baby out of her. They did not pierce her or slaughter her. They tortured her as [described] above and then finished her off with an axe.

“My sister [cousin] on my father’s side, Bosa, Ilija’s daughter, the one who survived the slaughter and who was brought to the house of Peja Josipovi? where we were together for a while, told us how she went out of the house after the Ustashas left. On the snow, in front of the house, she found her mother Cvijeta. She was pregnant. She was about to give birth. Bosa tells: ‘My mother is lying and stares. I call her – ‘Mama, mama!’ – She only stares.’

“She left her mother and returned to the room, to bed. She covered herself and stayed. From time to time, she would get up and try to find something to eat. She remembers how policeman Ilija Josipovi? asked her to come with him and that she did not want to. She said that she would stay at home and wait for [her] dad. Her father was also murdered at Rakovac mine.

“In the room where Bosa was remained a crib with a 24-hour-old baby in it. It was the newborn child of my and Bosa’s aunt Stana, wife of our uncle Ilija. Stana was from the nearby village of Pavlovci, from the Štrbac family. The Ustashas ordered her out [of the house] and the baby remained in the crib in the room. Alive. No one noticed it. When, after the slaughter, the baby started to cry, [5 or 6 years old] Bosa tried to feed it by putting bread in its mouth. She saw how her mother was feeding other children. The baby died.
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“Right after the war, a policeman from SUP [Ministry of Internal Affairs] came to see me and asked me couple of questions. He ordered me to keep silent: ‘Do not tell anyone about the slaughter. Do not tell anyone that I talked to you. What happened – happened. Do not tell to anyone!’

“I told almost no one about the slaughter of my family. If I did, it was in secrecy. I was afraid. I am still afraid that [new] Ustashas or Turks [Bosnian Muslims] will slaughter us all. What do you think? Can it happen? God forbid!

[End of Ljubica Vucic’s testimony. The Author continues with aunt Vida Macanovic’s testimony.]

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Aunt Vida found Ljubicaplum-blossom

[Author’s note:] Vida Macanovic was born in Motike in 1912 and died in Cokori in 1999. In 1932 she married my uncle Gavro Macanovic from Cokori. Despite her advanced age of 87, she could see and hear quite well and she was regularly performing her daily house chores. Until her death she vividly remembered the events of the war [WWII] to the last detail. She told me how, during the war, she brought to Macanovici her thirteen-years-old niece Ljubica from Motike.

[Beginnig of Vida Macanovic’s testimony:]

“I was born before World War One in Motike, in the house of Vasa Vasic. I do not remember my father Vasa. He left for the First World War, and he perished in the war. My mother Stoja died close to the end of the war in 1918. There were four of us children [siblings] – my three brothers and I. The brothers partitioned [father’s] property before WWII, and I married in 1932.

“The oldest brother’s name was Milan. His wife Danica was from Gornje Motike. Before the slaughter they had four children – three sons (Mladjen, Stojic and Miroslav) and daughter Ljubica. [The second brother] Cvijan’s wife Ljubica was from Ramici [hamlet]. They had two children, Nikola and Bosa. [The third brother] Ilija and [his wife] Stana (who was from Štrbac’s in Pavlovac) also had two children – [a girl] Gospava and newborn son in the crib.

“All of them were slaughtered on Saturday, February 7, 1942, with the exception of Milan’s [daughter] Ljubica, Ilija’s [daughter] Bosa and that newborn son in the crib that they barely saw and who–being abandoned–perished.

“We, living in Macanovi? [hamlet] knew – the same day – about the slaughter [perpetrated by Ustashas] in Motike. We immediately ran to [the hamlet of] Mati?i, in [the village of] Bistrica. With us were [Serbs] from Pavlovcani near Banja Luka who ran to [the village of] ?okori when Ustashas burned Ninkovic’s house in Pavlovac. Families of Vasilije and Simo Štrbac found refuge at our house in Macanovici. We were related. Their sister, Stana married my brother Ilija in Motike.

“A few days after [the mass slaughter], I heard that in my hamlet of Vasici two children survived. My brother-in-law Nikola who was a miner in the Rakovac mine told me that. He did not go to work that Saturday, so he remained alive. I do not know how he heard about it [the surviving children]. I immediatelly thought that the surviving children could be my brothers’ children. And it was so. The two that remained alive were [my brother] Milan’s [daughter] Ljubica, age 13 and [my brother] Cvijan’s [daughter] Bosa, age 5.

“It was forbidden to enter Motike until summer 1942. After that you could risk it. They were not killing women and children [there] any more. Adult males would not dare go. I dared. I went to Motike. I was avoiding the main road. I knew quite well all paths and short-cuts. I was born and I grew up in Motike. At Dvori [hamlet], one Croat woman noticed me. She knew me. She asked: ‘Where are you going? Why are you in black?’ [Black is the traditional color of sorrow for the Serbs.]

“I answered her: ‘Well, I just came.’

“‘Okay, then,’ [she said].

“Even Croatian God is slaughtered.

“I did not meet anyone until I got to the house of Pejo Josipovi?. There were no [Croatian] guards on the road. I was alone in the Ustasha village. I was the first [Serbian soul] to walk through their village after the slaughter. I am afraid but I am walking.

“I got to Peja’s house. It was Sunday. They left for the church. I found Ljubica and Peja’s wife Ruža alone at home. Ruža was a bit silly even before [the war]. She would carry a load of stones on her chest. She knows me. Immediately she started crying about my slaughtered family. Ljubica was alone at home with her and with Marko’s child. Marko was Peja’s son. Ljubica started screaming and crying: ‘Oh, aaauch, aunt! Are you alive? They told me that you were killed.’

“I did not dare cry [myself], so they would not kill me. [As a Serb, she did not want to make noise to draw attention to herself in the Croat village].

“We are both shivering [in fear].

“‘Dear aunt, run. Run to your children. They will come from church any moment.’

“I was not afraid being with Ljubica. She was stiff from fear. It was Sunday morning. The old lady [Pejo’s wife] was crazy and was outside. She was much older than me.

“I spent two hours with Ljubica. We were alone. I had nothing to eat or drink. Bosa was already taken by her [other] aunt to Rami?i. She [that aunt] converted to Catholicism, so she dared come earlier and take Bosa. I did not dare do it earlier. Ljubica told me how she survived in the house of Mihajlo Vasi?. She was just there to borrow some flour from them. As soon as she got there, the [Ustasha] soldiers came. They slaughtered Mihajlo and chopped off the head of his wife Vaja in the room. They stabbed Ljubica in seven places and left her. They thought that she was [already] dead. After that, Croats took her to their house and adopted her. Pejo’s son Marko wanted to adopt her as his daughter so e could take possession of her property. Vasi? family was wealthy. They had lots of fertile lands. The other of Pejo’s son wanted to adopt Bosa so he can take her property. Those were good, large properties. Fertile lands.

“I left before they came back from the church.

“When I returned to Macanovi?i, I sent a message to Marko Josipovi? to give me back the child. He did not want to. I did not dare come back to Motike, but I dared go to [the town of] Banja Luka. I sent Marko a note that I found Ljibica’s cow in [the hamlet of] Pavlovac and that I will bring it to Banja Luka. He should send Ljubica to identify the cow. They can then take the cow to [their family at] Josipovi?i. He replied that they will come.

“Krsta Mirnic, wife of Lazar Mirnicc and I then went to Banja Luka on St. Peter’s Day, July 12, 1942. Mirni?i [hamlet] is close by. We take water from the same well. Krsta was also born in Motike as I was. Marko’s wife, Janja brought Ljubica. We met at [Muslim] Imza Kaduni?’s, close to Feradija. That was a place where the villagers would usually gather. We gave Imza some gift and we stayed in his store and we waited there. That is the first time after the slaughter that I saw my neighbor Janja. She waited at Imza’s while Ljubica left with Krsta and me, supposedly to identify her cow and to take it to the Josipovi? family.

“It is good that [Josipovi? family] were so greedy to get the cow.

“Krsta and I took Ljubica and instead of going toward Pavlovci and Motike [as expected] we went the opposite direction, next to the Vrbas [river], then toward Gornji Šer, through Krcma, Gaji?i and Surtelija to Macanovi?i. While walking I told Ljubica: ‘My dear child, I am taking you to my place.’

“She was silent. Only when we were to enter Macanovi?i, she said: ‘My dear aunt! What the evil people have done! They slaughtered our entire family!’

“She was dressed in some common clothes, but still quite a bit better than our children. They [Josipovic’s] were closer to the town. Ljubica was third grade of the school then.

“We notified Josipovi?’s that we took the child. They were not angry as they knew that the child is more important to me. Later, after the child [Ljubica] was with us for a while, Krsta and I went to Motike. First we entered the house of Krsta’s parents. The house was closed. We opened it. It was empty. On the walls, we saw traces of dry blood next to the bed. We were crying. Her old parents were slaughtered in their bed. We went to Vasici [hamlet]. All of the houses were standing. People were killed in houses or in the yards; some were burned in stables. We were passing by Maleševici [hamlet]. Pejo Maleševic had seven sons and seven daughter-in-laws who had lots of children. All slaughtered. The only remaining survivor was Pejo’s youngest daughter-in-law Ljubica. She was washing clothes at the brook. When everything was calm again, she went back to the Maleševi? household. She cleaned one of the rooms, and she lived there. She opened a store. She would give us anything we needed. We would not eat or drink at her place though – she was always dressed in black. [She was always in mourning.] She carried a pistol. She was ready to shoot.

“‘Do not worry, Dear’ [we would tell her]. ‘There will be no more slaughtering.’

“It was my brother Milan’s wife… After some time when it was [supposedly] calm again, they killed her one night – most probably – Ustashas. They butchered her. They cut off her breasts.

“After we saw Ljubica Maleševi? the two of us returned to ?okori. We would bring Ljubica to Josipovi? family so they could see her. I took nothing from them but Ljubica’s clothes. She even got married from our house. She married into Vu?i? family, also from ?okori. She is living now on her father’s property in Vasi?i [hamlet] of Motike.

[End of Vida Macanovic’s testimony.]

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Here the author adds his own recollections.

I remember when Ljubica came to Jokori in the summer of 1942. Her aunt Vida brought her to Macanovici [hamlet]. Her aunt [on her father’s side] was my aunt [on my mother’s side]. She was the wife of my uncle Gavro Macanovic, brother of my mother Jovanka. Macanovici was close to Lukaji?ci. Our fields and our forests were intermingled as well as our cattle on the grazing grounds and the children who were guarding the cattle. Our field “Brdo” was some 100 meters [yards] away from the house of uncle Gavro and aunt Vida. Other than them I had three other uncles in Macanovi?i – Nikola, Mladjen and Drago. Nikola was a miner in the Rakovac mine but, on the day of the slaughter [at the mine, also], he did not go to work because of all the snow that fell. We loved our uncles and they loved us, [their sister] Jovanka’s children, even more. They had lots of children of their own, so we frequently spent time together and socialized. Aunt Vida died in 1999. She was always such a smart and noble woman and she was always good to us, Jovanka’s children.

As Ljubica appeared at her aunt Vida’s place in Macanovici – everyone in the entire area knew it immediately. Everyone came to see her or to ask her something. I remember it well. I was fully eight years old then. Mom and I would go to visit Ljubica and to hear her tell us how she survived. The slaughter in Motike and the survivors were our constant subjects. Ljubica already recovered when she came to Macanovici. As I saw her then, she seemed to me to be the prettiest girl in our village. She was clean, with combed hair, dressed like a town girl, blonde and serious. She somehow looked to be above us.

That summer, she was guarding cattle with us in Brdo, Brankovac, Metaljci, Viškovac, Korita and other places. We played together. We all had a special respect and took special care of her as her entire family was killed.

Ljubica lived at my uncle Gavra’s place until 1946 when she married Gojko Vucic and left for Motike to live on her father’s property.

Ustasha Survivor, Dragan Stijakovich

(Pronounced DrAgon SteeYAAkoveech)
From A book by Lazar Lukajich:

“Friars and Ustashas Are Slaughtering”

Original title: “Fratri i ustaše kolju
Published in Belgrade, 2005
by Fund for Genocide Research, Belgrade
Translated by Petar Makara with permission from the author.
Copy edited by Wanda Schindley, PhD.

Drakulich slaughter survivor – Dragan Stijakovich 

Mr. Stijakovich’s story was presented on pages 307-310 of the book.

Translator’s note: The Catholic fanatics known as Ustashas converted the entire “Independent State of Croatia” (ISC) into a slaughterhouse. Everyone, including children, born as a Serb, a Jew or a Gypsy was marked for death. Entire Serbian villages and entire regions of Bosnia and Krajina were slaughtered or machine-gunned. Dragan Stijakovich, nickname Drago, was one of the rare survivors of the Ustasha slaughter perpetrated in his village of Drakulich. It is a Bosnian Serb village near the majority Serb populated town of Banja Luka. The author of the book, Mr Lukajich, is born in a nearby village.

The mass murder of the innocent civilians was perpetrated by an Ustasha military unit [so-called bojna] from Zagreb [capital of Croatia] with help of the local Ustashas, all of which were lead by [Catholic] Friar Tomislav Filipovich Satan. [Filipovic was nicknamed by victims “Father Satan.” At Jasenovac, he used the alias Miroslav Majstorovich.] They were aided by Croatian farmers, the neighbors of Serbs, from those villages.

Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs – both Christian people – stem from the same roots and speak the same language: Serbo-Croatian. This is a telling story of the amount of hatred and disregard for human life the Catholic Church was able to install in their followers.

This testimony was collected by Ostoja Ljubich.

The subtitles are ours.

[Beginning of the translation]

Author’s note: Mile Stijakovich was a well known and respected family man from Drakulich. He had a large family. His three adult sons Ilija, Simo and Dragan [nickname Drago] were married men. The three survived the February 7, 1942 [Ustasha] slaughter [of Serbs in Drakulich and neighboring villages].

Drago told his memories of the slaughter.

The Croatian “friend”

“Our normal, daily life was interrupted by the war [WWII]. In Drakulich [village] we heard that Ustashas are slaughtering the Serbs [us]. We started to fear. [Our] father Mile was sighing [in frustration] the most. He would spend entire nights listening and peeking through the window. His belief was that Ustashas were murdering only adult, fighting-age men, so they would not join the [anti-Nazi] resistance. This was why he was most concerned for us, the three grown brothers. Whenever he would spot Ustashas passing on the Prijedor road, he would tell us to hide in the corn field, in the stable or some other place from which we would be able to flee if some danger came. He did not worry about his own safety, thinking that because he was old, no one would hurt him. He also thought that Ustashas would not hurt any other member of the family simply because they were so young and could not be guilty [of anything]. Local Ustashas and our Croat neighbors knew about such mindset.

“He only worried about us, his sons.

“Some three weeks before the slaughter, on January 14, 1942, our [Serbian] Small Christmas and a Serbian New Year, the President of the [Croatian, Ustasha] County of Budžak, [Croatian neighbor] Mr. Andrija Golub visited our house. He came to be served roasted meat, brandy and [milk] cream, which we always kept for Small Christmas. He was our usual guest in earlier [pre-war] years on Small Christmas as well as on other occasions. We [the two families] knew each other from the times immemorial. We were a well off family. Before the war, we lived in harmony [with Mr. Golub’s family]. My father Mile [an Eastern Orthodox Serb] always considered the [Catholic] Croat Andrija Golub as his close friend. Now [under conditions of war and fear], he [Mile] was happy to see Andrija, especially as he was in the Ustasha Government, so Mile believed he [Andrija] could help protect [our family]. Who will help if not the best of friends? [Our father] Mile, our mother and all the rest of us [in the family] greeted Andrija Golub as a dear guest, and we showered him with the best of hospitality. We were as hospitable as we could be. Only the children feared the man in an Ustasha uniform.

“After a variety of unimportant topics of conversation during the lunch, father Mile started talking about the situation [the state of fear] in the village. He tried to get some [any] information from Andrija. Mr. Golub was in the position of power, in the [Ustasha] Government – and my father believed the Government knew. As he was served good food and good plum brandy, [the Ustasha neighbor] Golub mellowed and said, ‘To all you Serbs in these villages, the days are numbered.’

“We turned to stone [with fear]. The entire house [filled with people]. Some [members of the family, probably] thought that he, being drunk, was probably joking or that he was simply boasting, being in the Ustasha uniform [the uniform of temporary power], but my father Mile was immediately struck with fear for [brothers] Ilija, Simo and me. The rumor was that the Ustashas were collecting and taking the adult Serbs somewhere – supposedly so they would not join [Serbian anti-Nazi resistance] the Chetniks. Those who were taken away would be gone for ever. This was why father feared for us [sons]. He was also in fear for our other numerous family [members]. That was why he addressed Golub, ‘Andrija, brother, you know I have those two good oxen, the ones that are considered the best in the village. You take them. Please do not let my sons and my family be persecuted [maltreated] by the Ustashas.’

“That was how my father begged him, not having even a hint that we could all be murdered.

Author, Mr. Lukajich’s note: Mile [Stijakovic] was offering the Ustasha the most precious and [to a peasant] the most dear of all possessions – the oxen. To a peasant, the cattle were very important and dear property, horses and oxen in particular and especially if they were good [of good breed]. The peasant would guard them as if they were his own children. When I was a teacher in Bosnia [after WWII], in the village of Imljani on Vlašic [mountain], one peasant said during a PTA meeting, “Our teacher is like a mother [to our children]. I love him as my own cattle.”

Mile Stijakovich was offering Ustasha his cattle in order to save his family.

“[The Ustasha neighbor] Andrija answered, ‘Mile, why would I take the oxen? Let them stay with you. We will take the oxen when we kill you all off.’

“Mile fell silent. He was staring at Andrija. He could not believe his own eyes and ears. Is he really thinking that, or is he just boasting? Maybe the brandy got him so hard that he was just clumsy [insensitive] in his jokes? Was it possible that Andrija would say such thing – no matter how drunk he may be? They were friends for decades! He just could not believe it, so he geared the conversation toward the weather, the large pile of snow and other unimportant, everyday things.

“The drunken Ustasha left. What he said put apprehension into our house. From that moment on, no one in our house smiled or made a joke. We were all talking with a soft voice. The children were playing quietly next to the stove and whispering. While playing, they did not quarrel any more. The fear got to them, too.

Jovanka Stijakovich
[Sister dies to save brothers]

“That morning my sister Jovanka shouted, ‘They are coming here!’

“We all ran to the window. It was true. A group of Ustashas was approaching our house through a path in the snow. [Ustasha County] President Andrija Golub was among them. We barely recognized him in the morning fog. Even though his presence calmed us a bit, my father told Ilija, Simo and me, ‘You go to the stable. Quickly!’

“He then tried to calm the rest of the family, ‘They will not do anything to us old or to the young [in the original literally: weak] ones. They are looking for the males. Young men. Andrija is with them. They will not harm us…’

“The three of us [brothers] left through the back door toward the stable. Our sister Jovanka joined us. She was 17 or 18 years old. The Ustashas did not notice us. We got under the cattle feeding crib. Jovanka covered it with straw and hay and then returned to the house. The stable was made from wooden logs so you could see the yard and the house [through the gaps] between the logs. I was watching under the crib toward the house. There was a path in the snow between the house and the stable. No one can see me from the outside.

“As soon as Jovanka entered the house, Andrija with three Ustashas reached the [front] door. Other Ustashas remained outside a bit further away. The door on the house remained opened. Everyone in the house is standing. The [other] Ustashas are standing in front of the house. They are saying nothing. [Father] Mile exits in front of the house and says: ‘Good morning, people! How are you, Andrija?’

“[Andrija answers] ‘No matter, Mile… But where are your sons? Tell us that one!’

“[Father Mile says] ‘Ilija and Drago went to the town. Simo went to Chota, to the store to buy salt. There is a shortage of salt. You can not find it anywhere, so he went to see if some came in [to the store].’

“[Andrija shouts] ‘You are lying, you old corpse! You are lying! You should all be brought for questioning – you, Mile will be the first [to be questioned]!’

“One Ustasha grabs Mile under arm, closes the house door and takes him behind the house. A moment later, another Ustasha enters the house and takes our mother outside. Then they started taking children, one by one, in thin clothes [as they were] and in the order as they were standing next to the stove. None of them knew where they would be taken. None of them shed a tear. Obediently, they left for “questioning.” I did not know where they were taken. I could not see what was done to them behind the house. Later on, I could see how Ustashas conducted the “questioning” on the snow behind a wooden hut. They were hitting them with axes to the head. Common axes. All their heads were split. No one made a sound. After that they slashed their throats – so no one remained alive. I saw all of that when the Ustashas left.

“The last person they took out [of the house] was our sister Jovanka. They stopped her in front of the house. All [Ustashas] gathered around her. An Ustasha said, ‘President Golub says that you have brothers. Where are your brothers?’

“Jovanka was silent. She was standing with her arms limp with a stare fixed above their heads.

“Golub yells, ‘Talk, you fool! It is better for you. Why are you quiet?’

“The Ustashas were rushing her, ‘Come on, Girl – talk! We do not have time [for this].’

“From the back, another Ustasha hit Jovanka’s arm with the sharp part of an axe. The arm fell into the snow. The blood was gushing along her body. Jovanka turned pale and said through clutched teeth: ‘I do not know!’

“Then she screamed. The Ustasha cut off her remaining arm. ‘Do you know now?’

“She screamed again. Through clutched teeth, she shouted, ‘I don’t know! I know nothing. Nothing, nothing…’

“Then she dropped on the snow. The Ustashas lifted her up, unbuttoned her shirt and started throwing snow on her naked chest and to her mouth. They were laughing. She started to cry. An Ustasha cut her across her breasts and shouted, ‘Tell about your brothers!’

“‘I don’t know!’

“She fell to the snow. The Ustashas pierced her and left.

“I saw all of this through the dry, crooked logs. Simo and Ilija could not see anything. The logs were close together in front of them. They only heard the conversation held in front of the house. It was quite close–maybe some 20 meters [yards] away. You do not dare move. If any of us coughed, they would find us and kill us all.

“When everything quieted down, we went out of the stable. We went to the front of the house. Jovanka was lying there. The snow was red around her. The blood coagulated. We went to the hut behind the house. Next to the hut was a pile of bodies with split heads. They were slaughtered, too. The snow around them was also red. It even melted a bit from the hot blood. No one was away from the heap. How did they get to the heap?

“The three of us were stunned. No one said a single word. It was as if we were mute. We were just looking at each other.

“Right away, we let the cattle out of the stable. We spilled the wheat. We spilled the brandy and lit the house and the stable [on fire]. Then we went to the forest. No one saw us. [Later] Andrija Golub took our oxen – just as he said to us on January 14, on our New Year [celebration] in our own house. He was the one who was leading the Ustashas to the Serbian houses, and he had the “right” to choose what to take for himself from the Serbian houses.

(End quote)

Author’s note: All three Stijakovich brothers – Ilija, Simo and Dragan – joined [anti-Nazi] Partisan movement. They were fighters of the First Krajina Batallion. All of them died fighting. [With their death] their [Stijakovich] household forever perished…

Srpska-mreza.com note: Most accounts presented in Mr. Lukajich’s book were collected by Mr. Lukajich himself as he interviewed the survivors who are still alive (and live in Republika Srpska, the Serbian part of Bosnia.) This story is an exception. We thought it worth presenting this story to the English speaking audience for two reasons:

1) The story is illustrative of the desire of the Serbian people (through ages) to make friends with other South Slavs. It is the Serbs who, in their immense capacity to forgive, were able to unite all South Slavs into one country – Yugoslavia. The Serbs were always hoping (beyond hope) that their “South Slav brothers” would stay united in a common front against any foreign intruder into the Balkans.

The Serbs were counting on many years-long friendships, as seen in the above story

2) When the newest “Independent State of Croatia” unhurled its old Ustasha flag in early 1990’s, the Western media portrayed the Serbian resistance to the old Ustasha symbols and ways as some kind of Serb-specific illness. As a paranoia.

Well, despite the Nazi-like, anti-Serbian propaganda stemming from the West, the Serbs were once again right to doubt the intention of their Croatian and Bosnian Muslim “brothers.”

When America and their obedient Western allies decided to follow in Hitler’s footsteps and divide Yugoslavia along ethnic and religious lines, the history repeated itself one more time. The Croats and Bosnian Muslims immediately betrayed the common goal of the South Slavs, “forgot” the old friendships and, eager to once again enjoy Serbian property, sided with the foreign intruder.

Examples are the cases where Muslim “friends” from around Srebrenica found it their duty (!!!) to kill first their Serbian friends of many years. Follow the link to the United Nation Report which describes the cases.

Other excerpts from the book:

Instead of introduction: Testimony of Radomir Glamochanin

The list of 2,315 Serbs slaugtered on February 7, 1942 in the three villages

Motike slaughter survivor – Ljubica Vuchich

Piskavica massacre survivor – Danka Milakovich

Drakulich slaughter survivor – Dragan Stijakovich

Father Satan loved slaughtering children

Jasenovac survivor – Borislav Ševa

MORE EXCERPTS from the book… to come.
 

More about the book.

Other survivors of Jasenovac speak

What was Jasenovac?

Who were Nazi Croats – the Ustashas?

More on WWII Yugoslavia

Nazi Croatia TODAY!!!

The excerpts from Mr. Lazar Lukajich’s book are presented on Srpska-Mreza.com with explicit permission from the author.

Mr. Lukajich’s worked very hard in interviewing survivors. His main wish was for the entire world to learn about Jasenovac and other Ustasha-perpetrated atrocities in Bosnia and Croatia, for which Jasenovac has become a symbol, so that this sort of horror will never, ever be repeated anywhere in the world.

The author, Mr. Lukajich lives in Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia.

Transcendence

It’s been fifty, maybe sixty years since a number of American white ladies began being absorbed into the African American population, and despite whatever contributions we’ve made that may be of some relative value (or did you vote for McCain?) we have no voice whatsoever, no standing whatsoever, it’s as if we aren’t even here.  It’s as if we’re invisible.

But an impulse to find invisibility was not what motivated me.  Transcendence. That’s what was going on that brought me here — pulled that little alleged white girl across that color line to the black side all those years ago, in the Sixties.  But it went back further than that.  Way back.  Even further than 1912 when grandma came to America and passed for white, or I should say, passed for poor white trash, all that being uncannily analogous to passing for Croatian. It all translates to perfection.  That was such a huge step up for her. You can’t even imagine.

I know what village we came from.

I know where we got our name.

There are none of us left there.

They’ve finally cleansed themselves of us.

I don’t know any more specifics, insofar as my own family goes. The one person who could tell me is either dead, or I’ve shut her down asking about it.roknicboyfortiesI have a picture of some cousin. My father’s first cousin. A very, very handsome boy. Not to be boasting, but he is an incredibly similar iteration of my son. My son’s biracial and only 1/8th Serbian, but now we know he could have just gotten off that boat. Something about conquered remnant Illyrian women with dominant head shapes. Watch out for those remnants.

Great Aunt Sarah had 15 children and lost eight of them in WWII. We were Krajina (pronounced krayina, j’s are always y’s) Serbs living in Croatia. Before that war we were 18% of the population.  Afterwards we were twelve.   Since the war in the 90’s we’re only four.

Some of us escaped, on our very own Trail of Tears.  You may have caught some of it on the evening news.

That’s what the 20th century was like for us in our very own Serbian Holocaust, a mil or so obliterated as racial undesirables every 30 years, starting with WWI when a mil disappeared and the popular rhyme, “SRBE NA VERBE!” was coined.  (You must write that in all caps with an exclamation point, or it’s considered misspelled in Serbia.)  That’s “Lynch the Serb from the willow tree.” There must be a lot of willow trees over there. It’s still a popular rhyme.  You can buy coffee cups with it online.

So our cousin is wearing a Croatian WWII uniform. Over there it was always incredibly easy to pass. All you had to do . . .  why am I using the past tense? Nothing has changed. The US is backing a Croatian government that’s revived the Croatian Nazi flag, and swallowed a whole lot of propaganda generated by neo-fascists amongst them. Anyway, all you have to do is convert to their religion — and the difference between Catholic and Serbian Orthodox churches would seem trifling to us — all you have to do is convert, and then, if need be, betray your own flesh and blood to the point of genocide, and you’re in. The Founding Father of Croatian genocidal hatred of Serbs was half Serb. Under that Klan hood was a mulatto. There are statues of him all over Croatia.

So what was my cousin doing, wearing a Croatian uniform? The Croatian military had a Master Plan for us ethnic Serbs well before they ever hooked up with Hitler. Germans approached genocide as an industrial science. Croatians approached it as an art form. Auschwitz commandants called for an investigation of their Croatian colleagues. I guess they were appalled with Croatian crimes against humanity.

Things like beheading people with saws, or cremating people alive.  I’m sure you don’t stay alive long inside a brick kiln inferno, maybe just ten, twenty seconds, as your subhuman ass is sucked up into the white hot glow of a kiln, be you a man, woman, child, infant, but still, that’s what came first, the cremation.  That’s the kiln’s chimney pictured in the banner.

The plan was to outright kill two/thirds of the Serbs living in Croatia, and convert the rest to Catholicism, thereby making them Croatians. Sounds like that handsome boy was on the smaller A list. How many of his siblings were on the other list? What was the story for them? For him?  What was he sucked up into?

But wait up. All this happened after grandma left. So what I want to know is, what was happening to her family?  Her husband was an ethnic Hungarian.  It was Austro-Hungarians enslaving Croatia.  So why did my grandparents have a marriage basically identical to the type found in the Upper South for the past several hundred years well into the 20th century, wherein a white man had two wives, one white, the other a wench?

So why was grandma a wench? I guess all you really have to do is google ‘Ottoman abuse of Serbs.’ That was for 500 years till just before the 20th century, a generation before she was born. In 1389 we got kidnapped to another Continent and held captive by people who did whatever they wanted to us.  Actually we hadn’t gone anywhere, the border had just shifted and we weren’t in Europe anymore. We were at the bottom of the Ottoman Empire. The rock bottom. And since we refused to convert to Islam, though I doubt they ever asked us nicely — after all they did need some untouchables — that’s where we stayed for 500 years. So we were the natives in a primitive Third World Colony. And the longer that went on, the more primitive we got.

And honestly, it wasn’t any better for the Croatians. There are stories of Hungarian (really Austrians lord, the Hungarian people were going through their own hell)  chasing naked Croatians with dogs for sport. What later became Croatian hatred of us Serbs, was really self-hatred. They went through the same kind of process immigrants to America went through when the first word they learned was the word, ‘nigger.’  The only real difference between them and us is that they were owned by Europeans, and we weren’t. So, of course, that just made them infinitely better than us. So who would know better than they how disgusting we are? Who else would want to kill us with such a passion?

And that’s why it’s been so much worse over there. It’s the people who are the most like you who are going to abuse you the most. It’s only when they can see themselves in you that they become irrationally hateful. Serbs know about that real good.

So what’s that about transcendence?

We were cut adrift over here. Grandma, at grandpa’s behest I’m sure, said we were Croatian, and said nothing about what was happening to her family. In the remote district we lived in, there were about 5,000 Serbian souls.  In the course of the war, 1,200 of them were lost to fascists, most in unimaginably sadistic ways.   I know of four Roknic cousins who perished at Jacenovac.

Being Croatian meant that we were superior people, but all the while, we could tell from the way grandpa treated grandma and the way she resigned herself to it, that she was most certainly not one of them. Neither was my dad. And dad was making sure I wasn’t either, imparting his daily catechism on how stupid and worthless I was. A standard to bear.

White America tried to convert him, seducing him with the illusion that if he pointed his finger at somebody else, and called them the nigger, he’d be free. And he worked so hard at it, rehearsed it over and over and over again throughout the waking day. LOL. He had such an incredible hot button going that any child would irresistibly push it. And all I had to do was make one smarmy comment about nice colored people, what was I, six or seven? And it was like a shot had gone off that reversed the polarity of the planet. Me and my imaginary friend, Martin, had a field day with that man.

He transcended himself. There was one moment in every one of those dreary days, while I endured that insipid catechism, when he’d stand me up on that stool, so he could see me from over the top of that podium, when there it was in his eyes again. I saw it, I saw it, I saw it. He thought I was awesome.linda4yoEvery day it would be the same thing, the same argument, with him ranting about the Negroes, and me getting the last word with the same rebuttal, “That’s not true! We’re perfectly nice people!” Every day he refused to believe it, argued against it vehemently, but he wanted to hear it said again and again, addicted to the identification I’d made, that reversed the projection he’d made, thereby negating our own inferiority.  He kept pushing me further and further out, till by adolescence he’d pushed me into a proper Serbian Nationalist remix — his genuine, if unconscious, political stance. It’s true. That old bigot raised me to be a black militant. But it wasn’t until I was grown and gone and had run that gauntlet in the real world, had gone all the way with it, that he believed me.

And found peace.

So that’s how I ended up crossing back over that color line to where I belonged. Although it was just like before in the Old Country. I hadn’t gone anywhere, the borders had just shifted again. And I found myself in a minority population of Serbs, at just the right density, totally in my element. Who says you can’t go home again?

And no matter how ill a relationship might go, how bitter I might get, when I cry out from the depths of despair, “Is this all I get for all my trouble?  For all the rascist persecution I’ve endured for breaking that taboo and crossing that line, what do I have to show for it?” to which there is only one answer, which reduces me to a fit of abject hilarity. I got a bunch of Serbians — exactly what I was looking for, worth absolutely anything.

That all happened because me and dad, and it was surely dad setting me up for this, saw something going on over here that would slam take your breath away like nothing else possibly could.

People getting themselves emancipated instead of exterminated.

What a concept. What a beautiful, brilliant concept that would require an unimaginably magnificent master stroke to pull off. Nobody on the planet can possibly appreciate African Americans the way Serbians innately do. Definitely not African Americans, LOL. Some days they get down-right Croatian. Never mind, I didn’t say that.

So, it’s like the lion’s share of an adult lifetime and I’m still wondering, where’s this transcendence?  In my time, which is considerable, giving away my age, I’ve had a relationship or two that was just like the one my grandma had.  Somebody went Croatian on me.  Why’d I let that happen? How did it happen?

Truth be told, we just hook each other by our patterns and we run with them. Or rather, they run us. Like me, seriously, I mean seriously, underestimating my worth, and feeling like I was lucky with crumbs. Giving everything I had, I mean, it didn’t matter at all how downright genius I might be about something, it had no value.

That’s the Serbian national spirit — despair — sheer, blinding despair. It doesn’t matter what you do. You can suffer horrible abuse like a saint for centuries until you finally break down and lash out during your gangsta’ phase, and that’s all anyone will hear about, care about, or judge you by. It doesn’t matter what happens, no one will ever care. You’ll never be worth anything.

This has to mean more than that. It does mean more than that. It means the world to a whole world. Everybody who’s been a child has belonged to a social class whose rights can be horribly mangled.  How do you know what that child is seeing in you?

Tell me, how many times, in the history of the world, has it happened that anyone serving as a symbol of rank inferiority turns that symbolism around 180 degrees, without becoming oppressors themselves?  How often has a pure transcendence like that occurred?  If you can’t see it, you’re just too close. The rest of the world sees it, except maybe a few fools who don’t count. And if you can’t see that, you’re still too close. And that’s the point. There’s a position to respect. An incredible position. It exists in the world, in public.

When is it coming home?

An African Esthetic — a Meta Beauty

The timing of my grasp of the esthetic was historic. It came in 1969, some months before the phrase, “Black is Beautiful” was coined. I was 16. I think it was mostly the change in hair styles, to naturals and Afros, that triggered the perceptual change. Facial planes that seemed, no, actually, were out-of-place before, suddenly made perfect visual sense, and sometimes, stunning visual sense.  But it was way more than that for me.

Continue reading An African Esthetic — a Meta Beauty

What it is

I’m sure I couldn’t recall all the times I’ve been confronted, either directly, or indirectly with disdain over what was imagined to be what was there for me in a mixed relationship. What I wanted. What I saw in ‘them.’ Everybody knows already what a white female like that wants. There isn’t any point saying anything.

I always knew that what was really there for me was extremely important. I didn’t know what it was. But I knew it was important. I couldn’t begin to explain why I felt that way. But I knew that feeling was inescapable.

But now it’s so simple, so obvious.

We were Serbs. We’d lived through five centuries of incredibly analogous shit. We had no awareness of any of it, had been lied to about who we were. All we had was the way we felt about ourselves. We thought we were stupid, ugly and worthless. And guess who the most interesting people were over here, to us?  It started with my dad, who was drowning in the worthlessness and spewing it onto everyone around him. He had a very strong need to berate niggers. Who knows? Maybe it diverted him from berating us as much, we who were also clearly niggers, at very close range and extremely vulnerable.

The same man who was clearly mesmerized with the little girl who called him out and told him that none of that was true. The same man who provoked her every day into saying it again, and then rewarded her every day with unmistakable, if inadvertent, admiration.

So that’s the back story, the context to the girl who came of age and had a crush on a boy the very same summer that phrase, “Black is beautiful” was coined, but she hadn’t needed to be told. That fact had already leaped out at her.

Do you have any idea what it’s like to see this person, who’s supposed to represent everything stupid, worthless and ugly and see him transformed, by his own will, into the opposite? What that means? It’s like something you’ve been waiting hundreds of years for. Some miraculous thing that makes the world right and means everything you could yearn for is within reach.

That’s the rush. That’s still the rush. It’s just the deep sense of joy that the world can be right.

I’ll never really see it for myself. He can’t see it either, in himself. And rarely has even a glimmer of understanding of what I’m seeing. And if we were to plumb the depths of what he sees in me, I probably wouldn’t want to know. After all, he does think, incongruously, that I’m white. That’s the pity of it. So much precious emotion so poorly expressed, so poorly communicated. And never, ever reciprocated.

A White Woman’s Attraction to Black Men

Nice MouthWow, that feels really ridiculous. Saying that. Why would I want to tell this world what I really think or feel when it already knows EVERYTHING on that subject? There’s no curiosity. Except maybe a prurient interest.

Yeah I’m pissed. I’ve had a lifetime to think about what was really going on with me and how drastically it differed from what the world thought. And I had to think about it because I was constantly under attack. Everybody knows what IT is I want. What my fetish is. Shut up.

Continue reading A White Woman’s Attraction to Black Men

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