He was born in 1934 in the village of Klekovci, Bosanska Dubica County, a high school teacher.
I am writing this truthful and sad story in order to reveal the truth regarding to the sufferings of the members of my household in the World War II. I don’t want to compete with those who cares for the glorifying of the numbers of their victims.
I felt that I, as the only survivor, had the moral obligation to tell how and in which way my dearest lost their lives. The members of my family were: mother Stanka, father Spasoje; brothers: Miloš, Mihajlo, Sreten, Rajko, Mirko, Boško, Uroš and Stanko; sisters: Vukosava, Milka and Nada.
After all I went through, I would be the luckiest if thne war never and nowhere happened, even in the children’s games.
My brother Mihajlo was the first one who was killed on 15 January 1942. It happened in the village of Draksenić, near Bosanska Dubica where he worked at the property of some wealthy local resident. The Croatian soldiers took into the Orthodox church 360 men, women and children, deceiving them. They were the Serbs who were tortured brutally, and killed at the end. The church walls were in blood. In the spring of 1942, the Croatian soldiers killed my father and his brother Nikola. They went to the mill in order to grind some corn. The people from the village used to gather in the mill and talk about various things.There were six more people in the mill that day. It was suspious to the Croats. They surrounded the mill, cought the people, took them to the rise above the mill and killed them all.
Then, they came to our village where they were collecting people: women, children and old men.
After the killing of our father, the Croatians drove us away to the village of Lipova Greda which was located before Draksenić. From there, they took us to the village of Uštice. They took away the all cattle we had there. Then, they transported us to the other bank of the river Sava. The transportation mean was scaffolding. We found ourselves residing in Cerovljani. That was the temporary concentration camp which was enclosed in barbed wire. It was collective concentration camp from where the prisoners were taken on different sides. We stayed here for 10 days. The food was very poor. We used to get some liqiud where we could find some bean.
The state was unbearable. Many children cries. The Croatian soldiers behaved brutally. They raped one girl. From here, we were transported to Jasenovac. We were settled in the railroad cars which were next to the concentration camp. These raiload cars were used for the cattle transportation. We were kept in these cars for two days and nights without food and water. There were rumours then that they were deciding what to do with us, to kill or transport us to Slavonia. I remember well this situation, because my mother was very scared. She was afraid because she thought that they would take her older son, Sreten. Then, they were collecting the adults (men) and taking them to Jasenovac concentration camp. They took away brother Sreten too. He never returned. Mother was probably feeling strongly that something would happen to him. She pleaded him to dress the women dress, but brother didn’t want. She had a strong maternal instinct and felt the evil.
I saw for the first time how Croatian soldier was killing a woman. Both she and her family was settled in the same railroad cars where we were too. A child, she was holding in her arms, was constantly crying. It was probably thirsty. She asked a soldier, standing beside the railroad cars, to grab her little water from the gorge. When he refused, she got down the car and moved toward the water puddle. The soldier killed the woman without warning. The child continued crying.
We were on the accessory track. The river Sava was flowing next to us. We were so thirsty, but could not drink.
We set off, but nobody knew where. We didn’t care about that then as much as we cared for the fresh air that was hardly coming in from the latticed car window which was very small. We could bare that somehow, but we were greatly tortured by the cry of the poor littlenuts.
We came to Pakrac. They gave us some speech and set us off toward the mountain of Papuk. The soldiers were escorting us there. Miraculously, the soldiers left us and went away. After long and tiring journey, we came to the village of Velika Vrijeska which was located in the vicinity of the town Daruvar. There were more than a hundred of who came to this village. The others were taken to the other side.
We stopped by some house where the local residents were giving us food. After that, we were disposed to the houses. The nine of us, the ones who remained alive, were disposed to four families. After two months spent here, my mother gave a birth to our sister. We named her Nada. Unfortunately, the troubles didn’t stop here. Nada was remembered by her brother who was the only survivor.
During our stay in this village, we were doing jobs according to our possibilities. The adults were doing field works, while the children were guarding the cattle. It was more peaceful here. The village was blocked by the Croatian soldiers once, but withot greater consequences.
As the days were passing by, we were feeling homesick. This wasn’t the fault of our hosts. It was something in us, in our soul, that was invisible and stronger that anything else. The returning home, that we wished so much, happen in the autumn of 1944. When we returned home, we found empty and robbed house. We were happy that our house wasn’t burnt. We should start over, but how and with what. Mainly, everything would’ve been borne, if the Croatian and German soldiers hadn’t been frequently trespassing in the village. In one of the last attacks on our village, the members of our remaining family (mother and nine of us) took refuge in the nearby village called Gunjevac. From there, we included in one of the refuge of the people which was located on the mountain of Prosara. The village of Gunjevci was the village where my mother was born. Two sisters of hers lived there. We stayed on the mountain of Prosara for a month. It was the February of 1945. The nights were cold. We were sleeping on the dry leaves, having almost any cover. W were squated next to each other. There was the lack of food. Everything became unbearable. The question was: “How to endure all of this“? Sister Nada was only a year old. The mother was encouraging us, saying: “Hold out, my dear children, everything will pass“. When the food reserves were eaten, the older sister Vukosava suggested that brother Rajko, she and I should go to our village to bring some food or anything what left in the house. It was pretty risky to go there, but we didn’t have other choice. On our way there, we should cross the river of Rakovica, which was unofficially considered as the limitation line between two villages. We were passing by the mill where our father was killed. We felt awful. We approached the front part of the house, very near to the old hornbeam. That tree was famous, because the travellers who were travelling to Bosanska Dubica used to rest in the freshness of this hornbeam.
Being amazed, we saw two Ustashas in black uniforms running out under this tree. They were running toward us. I was scared, and I stopped. My brother and sister realized the danger they were exposed to and started running toward a forest that was called Ostina forest. The soldiers started shhoting and running toward them. That was a sign for me too. I had to run somewhere. Iwas running toward the village of Gunjevci. The soldier who was standing next to the hornbeam was shooting at me. I got at the bottom of the field. It was a real wonder that I wasn’t shot then.
My brother and sister were wounded. and caught. They took them to Bosanska Dubica. On the way to Dubica they were tortured. Then, they were throwing them tied into the river of Una. Later on, some people told me that. Running, I got to the village of Rakovica. I was lucky because the thick willows that were stretching along the river of Rakovica were protecting me.
I was so exhausted that I was stumbling. I could hardly reach the refuge. I found my mother there. When I told her what happened to us, she fainted and stayed fainted for a long time. Later on, she was telling that Vukosava and Rajko were probably alive and that they would return. I think that she herself didn’t believe in that.
The life on the mountain of Prosara was harder and harder. We didn’t have any food. We lived in great fear. Days and nights were long as years. Then, the Croatian Army that came from Jasenovac surrounded us at the very dawn on 19 February 1945. They were shouting: “We see you! Get out! Surrender!“ After a moment, they surrounded us from all sides. Two young men tried to escape. They were killed. The young aunt of mine was there as well. She was holding her child in the arms. When they started leading us, she suddenly ran out the line. She started running toward the forest. We thought that soldiers would start shooting at her, but they didn’t. They were running after her in order to catch her alive. She was moving slowly because she had the child in her arms. When she was grabbed by the coat, she dropped the baby, escaped from the soldier’s hands and managed to run away.
Maybe, for a moment, the Ustasha was confused by the child. After the end of the war she got sick of epilepsy, like many other survived Serbs.
We were forcefully taken to some village and to some Božo Vukmir house. Because they were very rough, we couldn’t expect anything good. I remember how they put the machine gun in front of the entrance door of the house. It was like a terrible dream. The mothers were the first who recognized the danger. They started crying and begging the soldiers, saying: “Kill us! Leave the children, we are begging you as we would be begging God!“ The children were screaming. My little sister Nada was holding tight to our mother. She was crying too. It didn’t help. The soldiers started shooting across rhe children and mothers.
Even when the were finishing off the victims with the second burst of fire, they didn’t hit me. I fell beside my mother who was deadly shot.
She was standing beside me. Her lifeless hand, which was hugging me so many times and now saved my life, was under my head. The Croatian soldiers killed my juvenille brothers too. Their names were: Stanko, Marko, Uroš and Boško. The sisters, Milka and Nada, were dead too.I was lying, hearing some soldier asking from the soldiers to bring tha straw. They put it across us and burnt. I don’t know how I got out from this house. Luckily, the soldiers left as soon as they burnt the straw. They didn’t notice me. Moving next to the fences of the village pasture, I found myself on the mountain of Prosara again. But, I was all alone now. I could see the flame from the house where I had been a little while ago. The flame was becoming greater and greater. The other Serbian house were burning too. The whole village was in flame. I was getting scared more and more. I was thinking that, maybe, it would’ve been better, if I had burnt too. Where could I go? I was alone and only eleven.
A women with the knife was running towards me. I stopped thinking. It was a tall and strong woman from Krajina, like all women from Krajina. Being scared, I started running deeper into the forest. She reached me and said: “Darling, don’t be afraid, I won’t harm you!“ I retold her shortly what happened. After hearing the story, she started crying, telling me that her two sons were killed too. I thought that her sons could’ve been the ones who tried to escape, but didn’t manage because the Croatian soldiers killed them. We hid behind the toppled peach, looking around. The danger was still present, because the soldiers were still both in the forest and the village. When they did their “bloody feast“, they left the village and went out.
After the end of the war, the victims were counted. There were 96 of them. 68 victims were in the house of Božo Vukmir, and 28 of them were in the hamlet of Brezine. There were fourteen children among them, 44 young men and girls, 34 women and 4 old men.
The time for separation with my aunt, her daughters and a few neghbours of ours came. The rumour that the orphanage was opened in Bosanska Dubica was heard one day. It was supposed to be opened for the children whose parents got killed during the war. The aunt took and left me there.
On our way toward the orphanage, we dropped by the house where I was born. We sat under the apple tree in the yard. We were silenced for a long time. In the meantime, my uncle’s wife Mileva came to us. She started crying when she saw us. She approached hugging and kissing me. Crying, she told me: My darling, I heard everything and I shall not ask you anything“.
I was looking at the fire sites of the house, not believing that it really happened to us, because we weren’t culpable for anything. I was overcome with a great sorrow, and I asked aunt to move. We came to Dubica. We were standing before the bridge over the river of Una which was the place from where the Croatian soldiers were throwing the wounded and exhausted into the river. My sister Vukosava and brother Rajko were thrown too. I started crying.
I completed the primary school in Dubica, and the secondary school in Tuzla. Then, I completed the teacher’s college and the school of electrical engineering and physics.