Rade Gavrilović

Datum objave: sreda, 9 februara, 2011
Objavljeno u en-lat
Veličina slova: A- A+

He was born on 10 May 1933 in the village of Kadin Jelovac, Dubica County.

He testifies:

My parents were farmers. Our household was consisted of: father Teodor, mother Milka, both born in 1888; sister Mileva, born in 1925; brother Milan, born in 1927; Rade, born in 1933; Anđa, born in 1935; and Draginja, born in 1937. There were four children who died before the war

As far as the property was concerned we used to have: a house, a stable, a corn crib and few small outbuildings. The cattle was consisted of: two oxen, a cow and a calf, one-year old heifer, then three pigs and a lot of poultry.

In 1941, we had everyday fear of the Ustashas. We weren’t afraid of the Germans. The authority of the Independant State of Croatia was established in Bosanska Dubica. Suddenly, the Ustashas moved from the town. In the general chaos, the Serbian people started to run from the villages that were close to the town.. The parents gathered the small children and, running, managed to climb up the mountain of Kozara. Shouting and shooting, the Croatians were burning our villages. Especially, the houses which were near the road were ruined the most, and those that were isoleted too. The general chaos was rulung on the mountain of Kozara. The women were screaming for help. The children were crying. The roaring of the cattle the people were driving in front of themseves was heard too. As far as the clothes was concerned we dressed quickly what we could find.

When Croatian soldiers cought us and our cattle, they were pursuing us toward Dubica. A soldier hit a peasant with the rifle butt. The peasant fell. It seemed that he died. The closest relatives tried to approach him, but the soldier returned them to the line. The place where we were cought was distanced 27 kilometres from the railway station in Cerovljani. We walked on foot. They were pursuing us across the fiels, thorns and blackberries. We came to Dubica with the wounds on our legs. In Dubica, the ones who were loyal to new authority were standing on the wooden bridge and separated from the line their relatives and friends. The soldiers were allowing that. A lot of us (the ones who were cought) had bad shoes. Mostly, we put on peasant shoes from which the fingers were sticking out. A lot of children were bearfooted. For them, the road from Dubica to Cerovljane was filled with blood. An older man complined that he couldn’ go further. The soldier approached and hit him in the chest. The old man rolled down the ditch which was next to the road. The soldier approached him again and fire few bullets at him.

The freighted cars for transportation were placed on the railroad tracks. The screamings and cryings were heard when the separating of the families started. The Croatians used the dogs for separation of the people. The separation was the most painful. They drove the peopleforcefully into the freighted cars. They didn’t take care of the fact how many of people could fit in the freighted cars. They pushed in so many people, They could hardly close the door. The people were grabing for the latticed window in order to breath in the fresh air. Many of them chocked.

My father Teodor and brother Milan were killed in Zemun (one transportation was deported there). The neighbor Lazo Konjević informed me about that. After the end of the war, he returned home. One transportation was separated and decided to go for Germany.

During the separation they were drving girls into one freighted car. That car went to Germany. After the end of the war, the sister Milka returned very exhausted. The soldiers pushed in the freighted cars my mother, two sisters (Anđa and Draginja) and me, and drove us off. We get down the freighted cars shouting and swearing. In remember very well a great and immense plain where a lot of people was gathered. They drove us in the wooden barracks. There, the screaming and crying of mothers and children was heard. In the Cerovljani forest, across the railroad tracks, the shootings were heard. We knew that Germans and Croats were killing the prisoners.

In the barracks, we were lying together on the straw and some rags. There were many of us and we were tightened.

We didn’t count days and months. When we found ourselves enclosed in barbed wire (in some orchard) some organization helped us to get out of Jasenovac concentration camp. That’s how we were told by our mother. Later on, we found out that the concentration camp was overcrowded. She told us that we stayed there for two months.

We spent a week in Grubišno Polje. I remember one detail. A little further from the barbed wire, a boy was sitting and eating the apples, laughing and throwing us the scrap which all of children were grabing for. He threw some apple which was whole, still laughing at our behaviour. He obviously enjoyed in that.

One day, thay released us out opf the barbed wire, saying: ”Women and mothars on one side, and children on the other side”. The mothars were afraid for their children. They brought us into some graet one-story house and ordered to take off our clothes. It seemed to us that people over here were the better ones. At least, they were takong care of us. We noticed the persons with the tapes of the Red Cross. In a graet classroom, they took off all the clothes we had on us. The small girls were turning to walls, being ashamed of boys. We were only kids who didn’t know anything. Our clothes were taken away. We were full of lice. I remember how some one-eyed man was sprinkling us with the liquid that was scorching our eyes.

Some people from the village of Đakovac and Turčević Polje located under the mountain of Bilogora came. They took us to the villages and disposed in the households.

Both sister Anđa and I were assigned to some Milan and Dragica. The mother and a little sister Draginja were placed in Turčević Polje at some Pemac home (I don’t know if that was his surname).

We served them and guarded their cows. We had a good time with Dragica and Milan. They had a daughter and a son. Their names were Milka and Lazo. Lazo cought cold on the mountain of Bilogora, got sick and died.

Both me and my sister were in Đakovo. When Lazo died, I went to my mother. Little sister Dragica came to sister Andja and Milan. I guarded and groomed two big cows at Pemac place. He had two sons, aged 14 and 16.

Since I was short I had to go up the chair in order to e cow with the currycomb. The owner’s sons were abusing me often, pulling my ear towad the cow tail,saying: ”You didn’t clean it well. Next time, you will lick it.” They used to rattle with me, meeting me with their legs. On one occasion, the owner hit my mother, pushing her against the wall. Then, my mother went to Milan’s home where were my two sisters were.

After a year abnd a half spent in Slavonia, we were returned our homes at the beginning of 1944. The war was still lasting. Though ill, mother had to take care for the children, and to run away with us. We found the half-burnt house. Somebody manged to extinguish the fire, or the fire extinguished itself. We settled in the corner of the house. We were shivering from the cold. We had no food. A few hens,which became wild, were jumping from one branch to another, being afarid of our presence. There were some chickens which runthrough the grass.

One forenoon, some women were yelling while running: ”The Ustashas are coming!” We looked in the direction of some hill and saw that some soldiers were coming. Mother told us: ”Run, children!” We were drawing her to some hollow where we found a bush. We hid there. We were shivering of cold and fear. The Ustashas came to our house and burnt it again.

They were moving in line toward the mountain of Kozara. I recognized the German soldier who was standing few metres away from us. It seemed to me that he saw us. He was waving his hand so that the others could be passing. He turned to us on more time, lifted a hand. It seemed to me that he was saying hello to us. We thank to this unknown soldier who saved us from the certain death.

When we returned to a site fire of the house. On our way we saw gruesome sight. InLazo house, the wife of his was lying dead across him. That was Lazo Konjević who spent some time in Germany. Her legs were across the doorstep, and the lower part of her body was uncovered. Her head was cut off and thrown in the corner of the room. Later on, I found out that the name of that women was Marija Kukić.

The war was coming to its end. Mother got sick and died. The authority took care of us, deviving us on three different sides. I was deported across Zagreb and Zidani Most to Kamnik (Slovenia). There were many orphans. They were disposing us across the villages. I got in the village of Šanternej, then to Čadreže village that was located near the river of Krka. I was in some Franc Rešelić family. It was my first time to go to school. I studied in Slovenian language. I was there when the war stopped. I was returned to the burnt village. The People’s authority placed me in the orphanage ”Kasim Hadžić” in Banja Luka where I completed the primary school.

At the end of 1947, I went to Sarajevo where I was working as a shop assistant. As the events turned out, my uncle’s son helped me to go and learn a trade there. I completed the car mechanic trade. Then, I was recruited. As I left the Army, I went to Zagreb and got employed in Trešnjevci Military Headquarters.

Two sisters of mine were assigned to the households. When our older sister returned, we all gathered.

I live in Banja Luka since 1957. I am a pensioneer.

Tragically interrupted childhood and forceful death of my father and brother, and the early death of my mother burdened me for whole of my life.


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