Jasenovac Introduction: Jasenovac was the largest concentration and the deadliest extermination camp on the territory of ex Yugoslavia. It was in fact a complex of 5 subcamps (Kraplje, Brocica, Ciglana, Kozara and Stara Gradiška) very close to each other, about 100 km southest of Zagreb, the capital of Croatia. The first two subcamps: Kraplje and Brocica were dismantled in november of 1941. The Infamous camp was established in August 1941 by the authorites of so called Indipendent state of Croatia, nazi puppet state on the territory of ex Yugoslavia. Management and supervision of the camp were entrusted to Department III of the Croatian Security Police (Ustaska Narodna Sluzba; UNS), headed by Vjekoslav (Maks) Luburic. The primary mission of the camp was the elimination of as many nonchatolics and regime oppositors as possible, Serbs in the first place. Living conditions in the camp were horrendus; prisoners recived minimal food, they had to eat water from Sava river with "ren", sanitary facilities were tottaly inadequate, and Ustashi guards behaved in an unbelivably cruel and animalistic way with their prisoners. The conditions improved only for short periods during vist of the press delegation in February 1942 and a Red Cross delegation visit in June 1944. Prisoners were marked in the similar way as the innmates in the nazi concentration camps; yellow for Jews, blue for Serbs, while Gypsies had no marks.
The view of the camp
Mass murder and cruelty: Murder and cruelty acts culminated in the late summer of 1942, when tens of thousands of Serbian villagers were deported to Jasenovac from the area of Kozara Mountain (in Bosnia). Most of the men were killed at Jasenovac. The women were deported as a forced labor to Germany, and the children were taken from their mothers; some were murdered, the others were dispersed in orphanages.
"Srbosjek", the Serbcutter knife Bodies of the murdered prisoners thrown into river
On the night of August 29, 1942, high rank officers of the camp ordered the mass executions. Bets were made as to who could liquidate the largest number of inmates. Peter Brzica cut the throats of 1,360 prisoners with a specially sharp butcher's knife(srbosjek). As a winner he was elected King of the Cuttroats. A gold watch, a silver service, and a roasted sucking pig and wine were his other rewards Sadly Jasenovac also distinguished itself because of the number of young inmates sent there. Children and baby concentration camp eexsisted as a separate subcamp . Babies were burned like animals. Children were murders one by one manualy with "malj" mallet in head. Germans many times stated that Ustasha solders were the most horrendus and cruelest murderers on the whole world.
The liberation: The partisans arrived there in the late April of 1945. Wanting to erase the testemonies of their atrocities, Ustase destroyed all the installations and killed most of the internees. About 50,000 prisoners who remained and were able to walk were led from the camp. Victim counts: The Jasenovac Memorial Area keeps a list of 69,842 names of Jasenovac victims: 39,580 Serbs, 14,599 Roma, 10,700 Jews, 3,462 Croats and others .The Belgrade Museum of the
Holocaust keeps a list of 80,022 names of the victims: around 52,000 Serbs, 16,000 Jews, 12,000 Croats and nearly 10,000 Roma. Estimations: No one can say precisely the exact number of Jasenovac camp victims, mainly due to lack of sources and records, and because of various interests involved in estimating them. The figures vary a lot. Report made by the Tito’s government, the National Committee of Croatia for the investigation of the crimes of the occupation forces and their collaborators, stated that 500,000600,000 people were killed at the Jasenovac complex. The world's eminent authority on Holocaust victims, the Yad Vashem Center, reported a number of 600,000 victims, mainly Serbs. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the victim’s figures are as follows: Serb victims. Between 25.0001.000.000 Jewish victims: between 8.00020.000 Rom victims: 8.00015.000 Croat victims: between 5.00012.000 Many German generals had written about the number of victims on the NDH territory as the war was progressing: 400,000 Serbs (Alexander Lehr); 350,000 Serbs (Lothar von Rendulitz); between 300,000 (Edmund Glaise von Horstenau); more than "3/4 of million of Serbs" (Hermann Neubacher) in 1943; 600700,000 until March 1944 (Ernst Fick); 700,000 (Massenbach). Commander of all the Croatian camps, Vjekoslav Luburić once proclaimed the great "efficiency" of this camp. It was a ceremony on the 9th October, 1942. During the ceremony, he reported with pride: "We have slaughtered here at Jasenovac more people than the Ottoman Empire was able to do during its occupation of Europe." Some consider these statements to be pronunced under the influence of alcohol, and because of that it’s not considered as a valid historical testimony.
Rab The beginings: Rab was an Italian internment camp on the nowdays Croat island of Rab, in the northern Adriatic. It was established in July 1942, primarily for the internment of the opponents of the Italian occupation regime mostly from the Slovenia. Living conditions in the Slovenian part of the camp were very difficult. Of the approximately fifteen thousand prisoners who passed through the camp, some four thousand died, mostly because of the difficult living conditions during the winter and the summer. In 1943, Italians decided to build another camp next to the first one, for all the Jews in the Italian part of Yugostavia who were dispersed all over it. The camp was operable from the 20th May and it terminated on July 10 of the same year. Italian reports state that there were 2,700 Jews who were brought to Rab; the precise number, however, was 3,577( there were also 500 children who were under 15) Conditions in the Jewish Camp Local Italian command made great efforts to maintain decent living conditions in the camp. The food was all right, school was established and youth movements were very active. There were also activities like choir, a drama circle, and study circles.The underground network was established by the prisoners of the camp as an answer to the possible Italian retreat. Jews soon made contact with the Communist underground in the Slovenian camp. Liberation and Aftermath Italian goverment proclaimed capitulation in 1943. Not long after that the Rab camp was completly liberated by it's own prisoners. Prisoners quickly established contact with the local partisans. In just a few days, most of the camp inmates were taken to the areas secured by the partisans. Healthy men joined the partisans, the old people, the women, and the children found refuge among the them, Jewish youth from Rab wanted to join the partisan units as a unique Jewish military unit , but their recquest was rejected by the Communist leadership. Several hundred Jewish inmates of the camp refused to leave for the liberated areas, or to join the partisans, with the rest of the inmates. Later, some of them menaged to reach liberated southern Italy. But about two hundred, who were captured by the Germans in March of 1944, were deported to conc. camps, where they were eliminated.
This commemoration to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust is located inside the Dubrovnik synagogue.
Prisoners after the liberation of the camp
Sajmište The camp: Sajmište was established in Zemun, back then suburb of Blegrade. It was an internament camp for the Serbian Jews . The autumn of 1941 meant death for most of male Jews iliving in Serbia. They had been executed by German firing squads, as the most convenient way of »solving the Jewish question«. Women and children were interned in there until they could be deported to the camps in the east.
Solving the Jewish »question in Serbia« In the spring of 1942, Germans decided to free the Gypsy prisoners, and not to deport Jews to the east as planned earlier. Local German had constantly complained about a lack of assistance from Berlin in the task of removing the Serbian Jews, and in early March, a gas van arrived from motherland as a solution to their problem. Over the period that goes from March
to May, Jews of Sajmiste were loaded by groups into gas van under the excuse of being relocated, gassed as the truck drove through Belgrade, and burried at Avala, mountin near Belgrade. It's estimated that about 7,500 Jews lost thier lives at Sajmiste 6,280 in the gas van and the rest from bad living conditions.
Late period After eliminating all the Jews, Nazis filled Sajmiste camp with political prisoners. Although Herman Neubacher, the German plenipotentiary to the Balkans complained, that the continuing existence of the camp "before the eyes of the Belgrade people was politically intolerable for reasons of public feelings, " it remained in use for detaining political prisoners throughout the German occupation, and at the end of the war, there were about 47.000 human victims produced by this camp.
Writen by: Luka Zaro, Marko Novak, Katarina Srnovrsnik, Pavle Pavlovic, Sara Barut, Monica Santin, Vito Gregorich, Janz Gornik, prof. Marco Apollonio (Ginnasio "Carli" di Koper Slo) Progetto Fenice Europa 2007