I was born on 6 May in 1927, Starčevica, Banja Luka.
Father Teodor, born in 1902; mother Cvijeta, maiden surname Zubović, born in 1907. (Father died in 1961 and mother in 1994). Father Teodor was a worker of the tobacco factory in Banja Luka. Mother was a housewife.
We had a constructed house of 140 square metres surface. The stable was of 150 square metres surface. It had the partitions that were used for the settlement of the cows, horses ans sheep. We possessed barn, pigsty, kosana? and chicken coop too. The cattle consisted of: a horse, two cows, ten sheep, two pigs and 20 hens.
Our household was consisted of: father, mother; children: Đuro, born in 1927, Mirko, born in, Rajko, born in 1931, Savo, born in 1933; sister Ljeposava, born in 1935 and Milorad, born in 1937. (Mirko, Rajko and Ljeposava died).
When Yugoslavia and its military capitulated in April 1941, the German soldiers came to Banja Luka first and then prolonged for the town of Celinac. The arrival of the German troops had a cordial reception by the Croats and Muslims. After the departure of the Germans, the military of the Independent State of Croatia was formed. After that, the soldiers started to go around the Serbian villages looking for the Chetniks. Our father and a few of the local residents were arrested and imprisoned in the cinema ”Vrbas” building in June 1941. There were 20 of Serbs in the basement of the cinema. My father was imprisoned around a month. Then, he was released on bail. We paid 150.000 dinars. They ordered that he mustn’t leave town.
However, on the basis of the solution of the Police Management from Zagreb, the Management of the Banja Luka Police Station brought the order on 13 August 1941 according to which my father and the members of his household should move out to Serbia, and that they would be transported to Serbia on 23 August 1941 at 7 o’clock A.M.
Acting in accordance with the order of the Police Station Management, our father reported to the responsible person in the tobbaco factory and handed over the house key. They placed us in a railroad car which was consisted of a lot of Sebian families. We arrived in Caprag (nearby Sisak) in the morning of 24 August 1941. A lot of the Independent State of Croatia soldiers were waiting for us in Caprag. We were placed in a larger building where they defined where would lie each family, on the gound or on the straw. They gave us neither blanket nor bedspread. Our parents brought two blankets. Eight of us covered with these blankets.
98 of Serbs lived in the Starčevica colony at that time. There were two Catholic families living in this part of Banja Luka (Grgić Iveka and Žabo).
The authority of the Independent State of Croatia took over the arresting of the Serbs. One part of the arrested Serbs was deported to the concentration camps. They started to collect the birth registries from the churches, publish various proclamations and frightening of the Serbian people. The personal weapons were confiscated, though many Serbs had the permits for these weapons. They confiscated the hunting rifle No: 16 and a pistiol of 7,65 mm caliber.
The first arresting started in the first half of August in 1941 as soon as the Independent State of Croatia was established. My father and uncle Aleksa Zubović weren’t the only Serbs who were arrested then. Other Serbs were being taken into the custody. I know that there were a lot of arrestings in Banja Luka. There were cases that some individuals were shot in front of the fortress ”Kastel”. Then, they were being thrown into the river of Vrbas.
Later on, we found out that our house, stable, barn, chicken coop, corn warehouse and pigsty were demolished. It can’t be known where the certain buildings were, except for the house and stable. All the other property was robbed.
All the members of our family and the family of our uncles Savatić Božo, Savić Mlađen and Lazo, Antonić Simo, Antonić Niko, Branko and Vaso, Jovanović Dušan and Branko and others were expelled to the Croatian concentration camps.
In the concentration camp of Caprag (Sisak), they placed us in some military buildings (barracks) where there were six buildings which had two stories. Every building was long around 20 – 25 metres. We were travelling to Caprag from 10 – 12 hours. The transport was consisted from common railroad cars. On our arrival to Caprag, we were disposed to the rooms. Our family and others were placed on the second floor of the first building, where 50 – 70 families could be placed. Before we settled, they took the watch, gold rings and money out of my parents. The quantity of food we brought on us was a small one. They didn’t took it away. After the arrival, the following day, they convoked the meeting of all the families that were deported from Banja Luka. They carried out the separation of males and females aged from 17 to 80. The children aged from 7 to 16 were separated on the other side. The adults, men and women, aged from 17 to 80 were taken to the farms outside the concentration camp. They soldiers of the Independent State of Croatia were escorting them there. The working hours were from 7 o’clock A.M. to 4 o’clock P.M. The children, aged from 7 to 16, were taken every day to the preconscription training.
The water pipes and the guards (before every building) were set in the barracks circle. The kitchen was there too. The food was very poor. We were getting some stew that was supposed to be consisted of cooked vegetables, such as: carrot, beans and potatoes, but there was none of this inside it. As far as bread was concerned, we were getting a thin slice of it. We had two meals, lunch and dinner. The broths weren’t garnished with browned flour. They resembled on slops.
We were deported to Serbia from this concentration camp. The ones who accepted to be converted to the Catholic religion were returned to Banja Luka, while the others, including our family, set off for Serbia. We were escorted to Zemun by the soldiers of the Independent State of Croatia. We continued on our own from Zemun to Belgrade railway station.
We returned to Banja Luka in the September of 1945. On our arrival to Banja Luka, father went to see our property in Starčevica. It was in ruins. None of the property left. The land that had been cultivated before the war, it was planted with pine trees now. So, we couldn’t cultivate it anymore.
We decided to settle in a rented flat at Bulajić family. We were paying the rent until we built the house of our own in Braća Vidić Street. We loaned 350.000 dinars from the bank. We haven’t been paid anything for the ruined property in Starčevica so far. The other households from our home place haven’t been paid too. The Croatian State was blame-worthy for destroying and taking away of their properties.
I am a qualified management technician. I worked at different duties in the various institutions and firms. The last firm where I was employed was ”Kosmos” firm in Banaj Luka. That was the firm where I retired.
The order directed to Todor Savatić. It dated from 13 August 1941, and it was stamped with the official seal of the Independent State of Croatia. According tothis order, the Croatian authority ordered forceful moving out to Serbia
BANJA LUKA POLICE
Banja Luka, 13 August 1941
B A N J A L U K A
Starčevica No.: 30
According to the Managament of Restoration in Zagreb and the Usatasha’s Center in Banja Luka, you and your family members are about to be deported to Serbia by a transportation.
This transportation leaves on 23 August 1941 ……………………………………………………..
You and your family members are invited to come on the track of the tobacco factory ………. on Banja Luka field on 23 August 1941 at 7 a.m., where you will be boarded on the train. You can have on you the luggage weighted 5 kg, all the objects made of gold, valuables and cash, and the food for you and your family, which may last up to 8 days. You must close the windows on your house. The house should be locked. You are about to give the key to the official on the occasion of the transportation departure. You must neither sell nor give any of the things you possess. Otherwise, you will be the most strictly punished.
If you try to avoid this transportation, you will be the most strictly punished or set off for concentration camp on the forced labour.
THE POLICE STATION MANAGER
/the signature is illegible/
S e a l:
THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF CROATIA
THE USTASHA’S MANAGAMENT
IN BANJA LUKA
/the coat of arms in the middle/