THE WITNESSES OF HELL
t came the end of silence about the sufferings of the Serbs. In the context of changed historical circum stances and in accordance with the direction of new winds, many truths, including the truth about the sufferings in the concentration camps in the Independent State of Crotia, are becoming known more and more. Though, it lates much, it is never too late for the truth
People have been always leaving the testimonies about their lives and the happenings, which indirect or direct, active or passive partcipiants they were. Dušan Bursać, who contradicted to the changing of the truth, gathered a few testimonies and put them between the bindings of the book ”Angels in hell”. Those are infriquent individual cases, because those people who survived the Croatian concentration camps of death are rare. Many of them are gone now. So, there are no those who can testify. The ones who are testifying in the book are speaking on the behalf of all others. If the author had not gathered their statements, the destiny of the ex war concentration camp prisoner, who are still alive, would’ve stayed unknown to the wide punlic. This is not the only reason why this book is a very significant contribution to the history of genocide over the Serbian people. Can you imagine the destiny of the children who are finding out that they are the concentration camp prisoners earlier than what are their names!
Dušan Bursać ”called” the direct suferrers to confirm with their testimonies and statements what he had been geathering, analyzing, preparing and putting between two bindings. That is why the statements of the paricipiants about the blackest pages of the black book about the dark history of the concentration camps are of priceless benefit. The concentration camps are the black history of the human kind, and the Croatian concentration camps, the terrible factories of death, are included in the blackest pages of human history.
But, it should be underlined that the Serbs are not the only people who are testifying. There are many names, their statements, letters, trial statements, commission reports, memoirs citations and other written sources… Therefore, everything that author could get to in order to confirm powerfully what it was wanted to be said by the book.
It is not unknown that disintegrating of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in April 1941 caused one of the hardest periods of the Serbian people history. The way, which the Independent State of Croatia took up the solving of ”the Serbian question”, is not unknown. According to that, one third of the Serbs should be killed, the other third to expel, while the third which would remain should be converted to Roman Catholics and Croats. It is not unknown that the author analyses and documents in detail the fact that the Catholic church was directly responsible for the thought – out and organized extermination of the Serbs from the Independent State of Croatia beside the official authority organs of the Independent State of Croatia. (The majority of the Roman Catholic priests were inducing their believers in the killing of the Serbs; it participated in converting of the Orthodox Serbs to Roman Catholicism; they were very active in the implementing of the order ”Be Catholic, or die!”)
Therefore, all this is known, gathered on one spot, between the bindings of the book and got another, wider and more significant dimension. This book tells a lot when it is closed. The title is sufficient – the angels are on one side, while the ones who prepared in the most monstrous not the hell but the purgatory of Serbian nationality are on the other side.
The ”Angels in Hell” are the truthful confessions of those whose growing – up was stopped and whom it was much difficult to survive than to die and suffer than to remember the wounded childhood. These are the remembrances of those who omitted unwillingly the joys of play and those who had the tears for the breakfast, screams for the lunch and cries for the dinner… the bitter memories of those who were, dreaming the freedom, calling the Heaven, mothers and fathers in vain with their wilted looks,… those who turned their glancess from the blood puddles of their relatives (let us not forget that the whole families were killed in the concentration camps)… the statements of those who looked the cut breasts of their mothers and the parts of their brothers’ bodies in the hands of the evildoers; the words of those who are stll carrying the silenced pain; those whom the fear made stronger and uncerainty strenghtened… These are the confessions of those who were both little and helpless; little, but who grew up for memories before the time; helpless, but who were mature for the life before the time; the confessions of those innocent, little and weak (desirous of life), and those, who were on the opposite side, who had brains witout minds – and were full of the great and powerful hatred (desirous of Serbian blood). While the memories are reviving the experienced and lived things, we should ask ourselves how did they endure such suffering in the factories of death, when the time lost every sense in the sensless course of their destiny?
A small pert of the historically significant and documentated testimonies about the sufferings of the Serbian children in Croatian concentration camps was written in this book. It is dedicated to those who did not find their members of the family and relatives, but, in spite of all, they found the sense in the days which are lasting! It is dedicated to those who were killed unborn, to unknown ones, to those for whom nobody will cry (or almost no one). He past is judged or sang. Judge this past by yourselves!
The writing is the warning to disappearance, and the book is a revenge to salvation! Though, there are no words of revenge for the crimes in this book, it is, yet, the bitter revenge to the salvation, a documentated trace about the horrible tortering of the children in the concentration camps, when the days became nights, and when the general dark was rulling. It is a significant monument to one (bad)time. If anything else does not approve it, these are sufficient reasons for the recommendation to the publisher (which I am doing with the pleasure) to publish and let the wider public have insight it.
It came the end of the silence about the suffering of the Serbs on the behalf of some missed goals, but the end of the persecutions of the Serbs did not come. Will it come and when, it is unknown.
THERE ARE NO FUTURE WITHOUT LOOKING INTO THE PAST
There are those books which simply has to be written, because this kind of reality would be poorer for a truth, which is trying to find its way toward the orbit of eternity, without them. And, today, that truth, which was being hidden and changed for years on the behalf of some false ideals, is needed nore than ever. Because, at least with us, there are no furure without looking into the past. Dušan Bursać wrote a such book, facing the problems with the title of this book at the very start (and, maybe at the end), which he managed to solve in the best possible way. Namely, this author himself confessed that he had troubles with his earlier title: ”Croatian genocide over the Serbs from 1941 to 1945”, which he believed will evade him today and here. Taught by that experience, he named this manuscript ”Angels in hell”, which gives to the future book an artistic dimension regardless the fact that this book is a supplement to Croatian genocide over the unprotected Serbian inhabitants, especailly over the children.
If we believe in the saying ”It is never too late for the truth”, these testimonies have found their time, and if they had been published twenty years ago, the author would have not been the only who would’ve felt the bad weather. Every individual confessor would’ve felt if not tornado then, at least, the storm. By the way, this might be the last moment of the concentration camp prisoners to evoce ”in live” their sufferings, because the youngest among them is an old man, who will be aged eighty soon, which neans that the time is not working for them. It is interesting to notice that even today when their sufferings are not taboos and when the are stepping deeply into the late fall of their lives, some ex concentration camp prisoners are talking with a great caution about their golgotha (about the sufferings of their family, friends and acquaintances), being afraid of some invisible hand that was holding the sword for years in these areas and dispensing the unjustice. It can not be believed that the very testimonies are shocking and that they will certainly make the sensitive readers cry, what, maybe, was not the intention of the author, but it was the intent of the truth. In such a way, the destinies of those who were lucky (or unlucky) to survive and who (it is interesting) do not blame anybody for their fate but who want to show (because of the future generations) on which bases was once built and thanked the brotherhood and unity are coming one after the other before us as on some ” kaleidoscope of horror”. All those, whose stories are gathered in this book, are painfully aware of the fact that if their stories had miraculously seen the light of the day, the recent sufferings from the same hand would have not happened. But, those are our mistakes. The thing common to all the stories is that the narrators were the most innocent God’s creatures during the sufferings, who were not aware what was happening becaise of their youth and led by some instinct managed to survive.
The author should be given credit to the way he imagined this book. Regardless the fact that the part of the book ”Testimonies and narrations” is taking the central part of the book, yet, it can be taken as a supplement to his basic thought, which concerns the fact that he wanted to explain why the things happened in the way they did in a research way. That is why the preface, where he explans a few important things connected to the manuscript, is followed by the logical sequel, titled ”The genesis and output of the crime.”
In this chapter, the writer is calling our attention to some dilemmas of his own: ”There were dilemmas about the the way how to separate out of the abundance of the material those contents which would credibly present the real personalities burdened by the wounded childhood. Their shocking stories should be testifying about the time and people who marked that time with the blood, tears and tortures of the Serbian children, who found themselves in the claws of a newly found state ,which bestialityof that time (1941-1945) wasn’t recorded in the history of human kind.” Bursac tried and pretty much managed to explain us the roots of the crime, its main idea, and the main ideologists of a such politics, approaching analitically to the topic through the volumnious datae, which he collected a few years in various books, magazines, dayly papers, radio and TV shows …, and in direct contacts with the victims. His assertions are backed up with the citations of the chief ustasha’s murderers, the kler members, the German commanders and some communist leaders. Further, he is trying to show in this part some errors, then falsifting of the history, then why it never occurred to anybody to try to research impartially the real volume of the certain genocide over the Serbian people. The author is pointing to some famous communist historical personalities who tried to minimize the proportions of the crime done in the various ways, looking for the paralel between the Chetnicks and the Ustashas, equalizing the Ustashas and them. Then, he is trying to point to the active role of the complete Catholic church in the crimes and converting to the Catholicism.
The writer is asking himself, looking from the perspective of Croatia, if it is, maybe, worthwhile to perform the crimes. This question was aasked at the end of this serious, general and succeesiful analysis, which brings us some datae he acquired during his long-term research, disappointed with the relation of the authority (the authority of both oppressors and tormentors) toward the happenings in Jasenovac.
There is one more extremely important part of the book called ”The servey of the datae”, where author is giving the official datae about the number of the killed that various commissions, formed by the ex Yugoslav authority, acquired and which reports were only because of the very reports and the dayly political points.
The very reports could be so different that the readers themselves will soon realize that the work of some commissions was far from the reality and honest intentions.
Bursać’s author’s work ”The resposibility for the genocide” should be especially thanked, where he is trying to clarify who is and in which way responsible for that what happened to the Serbs during the World War II in the Independent State of Croatia. In this chapter, the author explains the shocking role of the nuns, who were only the instruments of the Catholic church regardless the fact if their main center was on Captol or in Vatican. There are many of those who are testifying in this book about the shameful role of the nuns. Since he possesses an immense material on this, it may be that the author himself could write an interesting reading selection about that in some future. He could do that because that topic is poorly researched, but that will be the matter of his choice.
There is the ”Summary” at the end of the book, the one as it can be found at the end of every serious researching. It is a kind of author’s conclusion, formed on the basis of of all the facts which are presented in ”Angels in Hell”, but not only in this manuscript. He is aware that the Independent State of Croatia and its instruments (military, political, chuch…) are not the only factors that are responsible for the genocide of such proportions, but the mistakes and indifference of the Serbian commanders and units, regardless the fact under which flag they were fighting. The author is trying to correct what can be corrected in this time by giving the proposals. Surely, in his final though, he does not spare the present Serbian politicians, pointing out their mistakes and trying to raise himself above every politics.
Like in everything else, there are many answers to a great many questions. The author replied on some of them, while the answers to some of them might ne written between the lines. Bursac left some of the questions to the readers so that they could judge them, what may be the best solution, drown out of the corner of such a great topic.
I would not comment on some problems of the work, such as: mixing of ekavian and jekavian dialects, unclear local speech and etc. I believe that he left them consciously because he wanted to keep the authencity of the sufferers. At the end, that is why I am suggesting this manuscript with pleasure for the printing, which will, if it is not about to be included as the obligatory school’s reading to the generations to come, certainly help to the future researchers of the genocide over the Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia toarrange all the mosaic dices, which are becoming less unknown and reduced in number. It must be done in the most time, because of the truth and unrepeating. The innocent victims deserve to be counted at least.
Banja Luka, Miladin Berić
29 October 2006 writer