SUVAJA, A CRIME SCENE THAT WE MUST NOT FORGET

Datum objave: subota, 8 februara, 2014
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Temple in Suvaja from 1878 – photo 28.5.2012.
Temple in Suvaja from 1878 – photo 28.5.2012.

Srpski

The Ustasha massacre on 1 July, 1941 of the population of the village of Donja Suvaja, located between Srb and Donji Lapac (today’s Croatia) is the largest Ustasha crime over the population of Donji Lapac County before the uprising of the Serbian people in their struggle for survival[1]

Data on the total number of victims also speak about the magnitude of this crime, but also about the crimes closely related to this event, i.e. the slaughter in the villages of Lički Osredci and Bubanj. According to historian Dr Đuro Zatezalo from Karlovac, on that day Ustashas “killed and murdered with knives 243 Serbian civilians, 118 of them were children, 75 women and 50 men”.

[2] According to some other sources, i.e. lists of victims’ names, in these villages, Suvaja, Osredci and Bubanj, there 279 people were murdered in the first three days, mostly women, children and old men, and barely a dozen of men fit for military service.[3]

Donji Lapac County (villages Bubanj, Nebljusi, Meljinovac, Lički Osredci…) in that short time, in several months after the NDH had been established, had lost around 1000 residents of Serbian ethnicity. .[4]

The report of the commander of 3 Ustasha Company, 1 Infantry Battalion reads: “Today I was in the village of Osredci Lički which has been burnt. There are corpses of people all over the place. Terrible stench was coming from the people killed on 2 and 3 July. Dogs and pigs chew on the corpses, and Ustashas were not allowing them to be buried. Those who escaped their homes are now dying of starvation. “

[5]

These crimes are a typical example of genocide over the Serbian population all over the NDH in the first months since it had been formed. During the slaughter of the population of Suvaja, two families suffered the most: the Keča family who lost 45 of its members, and the Ćopić family with 22 members killed.

 memorial plaque on the wall in the Suvaja's basic school

memorial plaque on the wall in the Suvaja’s basic school

For the sake of researching the context of genocide and the role of the perpetrator it is important to stress that the slaughters were led by Maks Luburić personally.  Around 300 Ustasha and Home Defence Guards, who came from Gospić, participated in this mass destruction of the Serbian people in Suvaja. The Ustashas justified this mass crime with the appearance of Chetniks. The statement of the Ustasha police chief in Velika Župa for Gacka and Lika reads: “The bandits fired several rifle rounds at cars with Home Defence Guards from Gospić and the auxiliary Ustasha detachment from Bihać“[6] Besides these units, there is a mention of the involvement of Muslim units from Kulen Vakuf in this crime.[7]

On Luburić’s involvement in this and other crimes, Slavko Goldstein writes: “In the night between 9 and 10 May, 1941, he personally committed murders over a pit in Hrvatski Blagaj, where around 400 Serbs from neighbouring villages were killed; leading the “cleansing operation” in the southeast Lika on 1, 2 and 3 July, 1941, under his leadership in the villages of Suvaja, Bubanj and Osredak there were first mass killings of old men, women and children, with the total number not being less than 279 identified people, which directly resulted in a general uprising in that part of Lika on 27 July, 1941.[8]

The story of the martyr death of Rector Spaso Lavrnja and his family is connected to the village of Suvaja.

“Lavrnja was born in 1912 in Pritoka near Bihać. He finished four grades of a grammar school in Bihać, and a six-year Seminary in 1935 in Cetinje. He was ordained a priest on 18 May, 1936. He served in parishes in Velika Kladuša and Suvaja.

 Spaso Lavrnja – a photo from the MY JADOVNO exhibition
Spaso Lavrnja – a photo from
the MY JADOVNO exhibition

In early June 1941, father Spaso was coming back from Bihać in a bus. Ustashas detained him in Donji Lapac. They kept him there for several days. They forced him to sweep the streets, and in the jail they plucked his beard and put salt onto his wounds. On 19 June, 1941 he was taken with a group of priests to Gospić. Later on, they were then taken to Velebit. He was murdered on Velebit and thrown into one of the pits. (According to the data we have today, the Complex of NDH Death Camps, Gospić-Jadovno-Pag had, along with collection sites, at least 33 karst pits which were used for the killings – note by P.L.) On 1 July, 1941, after the arrest of father Spaso, the Ustashas arrived to Suvaju and immediately started with the arrests. In the parish home they found father Spaso’s wife – Ljubica, who was pregnant and close to her due date. They cut open Ljubica’s belly and took the unborn child out. They shot and wounded the other child, a small boy of four, and then cut his throat.

Italian Carabinieri left a written testimony on this Ustasha crime. It reads: “… On 18 June, Ustashas forced priest Spaso Lavrnja from Suvaja to get off a post office car, and then they took him into woods and killed him… …On 1 July, the Ustashas set on fire the village of Suvaja and burned 25 houses. In the village they murdered women, children and men in the total number of 300 persons, out of which 170 were buried in three pits, and the rest of them were burned. Also, the following occurred in Suvaja: Ustashas took the wife of priest Spaso Lavrnja, who had been killed earlier, and cut open her belly, taking out the living baby, whom they then killed.” [9]

There is also a statement about the martyr death of the Lavrnja priest family in Suvaja by Dane Kosić in his book Donji Lapac County in People’s Liberation War 1941-1945, which, inter alia, reads:

It looked very sad, says Dane Kosić: “As soon as I got into the village, I heard a child’s voice. A child called me: Uncle Dane, uncle Dane! The child knew me and I replied. Soon after, the child approached me, it was covered with blood and you could see a wound around its neck where it was struck by a knife or shot, so the wound was bleeding heavily, so its little shirt was soaked with blood. It was Boško, the son of priest Spaso Lavrnja. I asked him where his mother was. The boy told me she was in the house. I took Boško by the hand and led him home, but his mother Ljubica was lying dead in the house, with her belly cut open. Ljubica was few days close to her due date. The baby was lying next to its mother, taken out of her and then stabbed with a knife. Walking further on, I found my brother’s daughter, Jeka, who hid under a manger.

Only several steps later I met several gendarmes and Ustashas. They asked me whose child it was. I told him it was priest Spaso’s. They took the boy from my hands and killed him as well not far away from there. I could not save him. “I was lucky to stay alive”, says Dane. I was saved by gendarme Marko Čuljat, who called to me and got me away from the Ustashas. That is how I escaped certain death. “

 

Thanks to Mr Petar Bogunović from Leicester (UK) and his many years of research, the Jadovno 1941 Citizens Association brings you the list of names of 256 victims from the village of Suvaja killed in the slaughter in 1941.

 

Surname Name Born Slaughtered Age
ALAVANjA J. DMITAR 1915 1941 26
ALABANjA J. PETAR 1918 1941 23
BOGUNOVIĆ N. STAKA 1904 1941 37
BUZDUM D. ĐURO 1941 1941 0
BUZDUM N. DANE 1864 1941 77
VJEŠTICA P. MARIJA 1937 1941 4
VJEŠTICA P. DUŠANKA 1935 1941 6
VJEŠTICA I. MANDA 1870 1941 71
VJEŠTICA Đ. MIĆA 1870 1941 71
VJEŠTICA M. MIRKO 1918 1941 23
VJEŠTICA M. PAJO 1912 1941 29
VJEŠTICA P. SMILjA 1933 1941 8
VJEŠTICA J. SOKA 1909 1941 32
VJEŠTICA P. STEVO 1939 1941 2
VJEŠTICA P. GROZDA 1937 1941 4
VEKIĆ M. ĐURO 1897 1941 44
DUBAJIĆ N. DAKO 1880 1941 61
DUBAJIĆ N. ĐURO 1898 1941 43
DUBAJIĆ K. ĐURO 1920 1941 21
DUBAJIĆ R. BOJA 1878 1941 63
DUBAJIĆ S. DARA 1917 1941 24
DUBAJIĆ S. DRAGAN 1936 1941 5
DUBAJIĆ Đ. GAJO 1922 1941 19
DUBAJIĆ Đ. KOJO 1898 1941 43
DUBAJIĆ Đ. MARIJA 1901 1941 40
DUBAJIĆ P. BOJA 1902 1941 39
DUBAJIĆ S. MILE 1938 1941 3
DUBAJIĆ S. NIKICA 1937 1941 4
DUBAJIĆ K. NIKOLA 1921 1941 20
DUBAJIĆ J. PAJO 1939 1941 2
DUBAJIĆ S. SMILjA 1920 1941 21
DUBAJIĆ S. SMILjA 1930 1941 11
DUBAJIĆ Đ. ZORA 1929 1941 12
DEKIĆ M. VASO 1932 1941 9
DEKIĆ M. VIDA 1929 1941 12
DEKIĆ J. SAJA 1929 1941 12
DEKIĆ M. MIKA 1904 1941 37
DEKIĆ M. SPASO 1931 1941 10
DEKIĆ M. SOKA 1928 1941 13
DEKIĆ J. PERO 1919 1941 22
DEKIĆ M. DANE 1930 1941 11
DEKIĆ J. DARA 1927 1941 14
DEKIĆ M. DARA 1929 1941 12
DEKIĆ M. DUŠAN 1937 1941 4
DEKIĆ M. PERA 1939 1941 2
DUKIĆ J. RAJKO 1938 1941 3
DUKIĆ M. BRANKO 1933 1941 8
DUKIĆ I. STEVO 1926 1941 15
DRČA J. JEKA 1887 1941 54
ĐAKOVIĆ J. SOKA 1928 1941 13
ĐUKIĆ M. SOFIJA 1933 1941 8
ĐUKIĆ M. MIRKO 1932 1941 9
ĐUKIĆ M. JELKA 1929 1941 12
ĐUKIĆ M. DUŠAN 1920 1941 21
ĆOPIĆ S. NIKOLA 1939 1941 2
ĆOPIĆ N. JEKA 1892 1941 49
ĆOPIĆ M. JEKA 1937 1941 4
ĆOPIĆ B. JELKA 1939 1941 2
ĆOPIĆ P. JOVO 1938 1941 3
ĆOPIĆ M. MARA 1938 1941 3
ĆOPIĆ M. NENA 1937 1941 4
ĆOPIĆ B. DARA 1939 1941 2
ĆOPIĆ P. MILICA 1939 1941 2
ĆOPIĆ M. MILKA 1915 1941 26
ĆOPIĆ P. MIRJANA 1937 1941 4
ĆOPIĆ M. MARA 1939 1941 2
ĆOPIĆ B. GOJKO 1925 1941 16
ĆOPIĆ M. BOSA 1932 1941 9
ĆOPIĆ M. BOSILjKA 1931 1941 10
ĆOPIĆ B. DANICA 1937 1941 4
ĆOPIĆ M. NEDELjKA 1937 1941 4
ĆOPIĆ N. SOKA 1917 1941 24
ĆOPIĆ P. NIKOLA 1941 1941 0
ĆOPIĆ L. PETAR 1914 1941 27
ĆOPIĆ M. SAVKA 1939 1941 2
ĆOPIĆ P. SAVKA 1939 1941 2
ĆOPIĆ R. SOFIJA 1875 1941 66
ĆOPIĆ M. ZORKA 1937 1941 4
ĆOPIĆ M. SMILjA 1935 1941 6
ĆOPIĆ M. MIRKO 1928 1941 13
ĆOPIĆ J. MILE 1888 1941 53
ČUČKOVIĆ D. BOSA 1931 1941 10
ČUČKOVIĆ D. RANKO 1937 1941 4
ČUČKOVIĆ D. MILORAD 1936 1941 5
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. ZORA 1934 1941 7
ČUČKOVIĆ D. JOVO 1933 1941 8
ČUČKOVIĆ M. DRAGO 1905 1941 36
ČUČKOVIĆ M. DUŠAN 1905 1941 36
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. JELA 1934 1941 7
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. JELENA 1931 1941 10
ČUČKOVIĆ D. JOCO 1935 1941 6
ČUČKOVIĆ M. JOKA 1870 1941 71
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. JOVO 1927 1941 14
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. BOSA 1932 1941 9
ČUČKOVIĆ R. MAŠA 1892 1941 49
ČUČKOVIĆ M. MARA 1928 1941 13
ČUČKOVIĆ D. MILE 1891 1941 50
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. MILKA 1926 1941 15
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. MILKA 1929 1941 12
ČUČKOVIĆ P. MILKA 1939 1941 2
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. JOVO 1926 1941 15
ČUČKOVIĆ D. DRAGAN 1938 1941 3
ČUČKOVIĆ D. BRANKO 1938 1941 3
ČUČKOVIĆ D. ĐURO 1890 1941 51
ČUČKOVIĆ D. ĐURO 1903 1941 38
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. BOŽO 1917 1941 24
ČUČKOVIĆ Đ. BOŽO 1925 1941 16
ŽUTIĆ P. JANjA 1908 1941 33
ŽUTIĆ D. MILEVA 1933 1941 8
ŽUTIĆ N. MILICA 1880 1941 61
ŽUTIĆ J. SMILjA 1920 1941 21
ŽUTIĆ D. SOKA 1935 1941 6
MALBAŠA S. DEVA 1908 1941 33
MEDIĆ D. DAVID 1880 1941 61
LAVRNjA S. SAVKA 1941 1941 0
LAVRNjA S. DRAGAN 1928 1941 13
LAVRNjA S. SRPKO 1939 1941 2
LAVRNjA N. LjUBICA 1910 1941 31
JOBANIĆ P. MARA 1921 1941 20
JOBANIĆ P. STEVO 1925 1941 16
JOBANIĆ D. ĐURO 1900 1941 41
JOBANIĆ D. ĐURO 1901 1941 40
JOBANIĆ P. BOJA 1923 1941 18
JELAČA D. MILE 1881 1941 60
RAĐENOVIĆ M. NIKICA 1936 1941 5
RAĐENOVIĆ M. SAVKA 1934 1941 7
RAĐENOVIĆ M. SMILjA 1938 1941 3
RAĐENOVIĆ M. SPASO 1939 1941 2
RAĐENOVIĆ M. DANICA 1932 1941 9
RAĐENOVIĆ P. MILKA 1911 1941 30
RAĐENOVIĆ M. MARA 1934 1941 7
RAĐENOVIĆ M. BOŽO 1939 1941 2
KEČA Đ. DARA 1906 1941 35
KEČA P. BOŽO 1919 1941 22
KEČA J. ŽARKO 1934 1941 7
KEČA M. ĐUKA 1935 1941 6
KEČA B. ANĐELKA 1940 1941 1
KEČA S. ANKA 1934 1941 7
KEČA M. BOŽO 1936 1941 5
KEČA N. BOGDAN 1910 1941 31
KEČA S. BORKA 1914 1941 27
KEČA J. BOSA 1937 1941 4
KEČA M. BOSA 1937 1941 4
KEČA M. ANKA 1933 1941 8
KEČA D. DARA 1937 1941 4
KEČA M. DANICA 1936 1941 5
KEČA B. MILAN 1940 1941 1
KEČA P. MANE 1904 1941 37
KEČA J. MARA 1934 1941 7
KEČA M. MARA 1935 1941 6
KEČA B. MARA 1939 1941 2
KEČA J. MARA 1940 1941 1
KEČA M. MARIJA 1882 1941 59
KEČA R. NIKOLA 1934 1941 7
KEČA M. MILAN 1933 1941 8
KEČA M. JOVO 1937 1941 4
KEČA B. MILKA 1911 1941 30
KEČA J. MILKA 1933 1941 8
KEČA D. NEĐA 1935 1941 6
KEČA M. NEDELjKA 1938 1941 3
KEČA M. NIKICA 1938 1941 3
KEČA M. MILAN 1933 1941 8
KEČA M. ILIJA 1939 1941 2
KEČA N. DARA 1939 1941 2
KEČA B. DRAGAN 1927 1941 14
KEČA M. DRAGAN 1936 1941 5
KEČA S. DRAGICA 1940 1941 1
KEČA M. DUŠANKA 1937 1941 4
KEČA D. DUŠKO 1937 1941 4
KEČA J. MANDA 1872 1941 69
KEČA P. ILIJA 1896 1941 45
KEČA R. JOVO 1937 1941 4
KEČA R. ILIJA 1939 1941 2
KEČA S. JANDRIJA 1936 1941 5
KEČA D. JELKA 1913 1941 28
KEČA P. JOKA 1921 1941 20
KEČA R. JOKA 1941 1941 0
KEČA M. NIKOLA 1938 1941 3
KEČA M. DUŠKO 1938 1941 3
KEČA M. DANE 1897 1941 44
KEČA D. VASO 1936 1941 5
KEČA R. VIDA 1935 1941 6
KEČA J. VLAJKO 1914 1941 27
KEČA M. VUKA 1936 1941 5
KEČA M. ZORKA 1937 1941 4
KEČA-JELAČA N.N. SOFIJA 1881 1941 60
KEČA L NIKICA 1939 1941 2
KEČA D. SOKA 1941 1941 0
KEČA D. JANDRIJA 1900 1941 41
KEČA M. MANDA 1907 1941 34
KEČA S. MARA 1910 1941 31
KEČA J. SAVA 1926 1941 15
KEČA S. SOKA 1902 1941 39
KEČA J. SAVKA 1932 1941 9
KEČA M. NIKOLA 1939 1941 2
KEČA T. OLGA 1910 1941 31
KEČA D. PAJO 1900 1941 41
KEČA M. PAJO 1935 1941 6
KEČA J. PETAR 1880 1941 61
KEČA R. PETAR 1938 1941 3
KEČA R. SPASE 1936 1941 5
KEČA J. SAVA 1933 1941 8
KEČA R. SPASO 1936 1941 5
KEČA B. SAVKA 1939 1941 2
KEČA D. SAVO 1904 1941 37
KEČA M. SAVO 1940 1941 1
KEČA L. SMILjA 1888 1941 53
KEČA D. SMILjA 1915 1941 26
KEČA R. SOKA 1940 1941 1
KEČA D. SMILjA 1928 1941 13
KEČA I. MILOŠ 1906 1941 35
KEČA I. ANĐELKA 1921 1941 20
KEČA Đ. ĐURAĐ 1892 1941 49
KERKEZ S. ĐURAĐ 1894 1941 47
KERKEZ M. ANKA 1896 1941 45
KOLUNDžIJA G. JOVO 1886 1941 55
KUKIĆ P. SMILjANA 1898 1941 43
KUKIĆ D. NIKOLA 1940 1941 1
KUKIĆ I. MILAN 1928 1941 13
KUKIĆ D. KATA 1875 1941 66
KUKIĆ P. JOVO 1933 1941 8
KUKIĆ P. DRAGAN 1932 1941 9
KUKIĆ N. DANICA 1910 1941 31
KUKIĆ Đ. DANE 1905 1941 36
KUKIĆ M. ĐURAĐ 1870 1941 71
KOVAČEVIĆ M. ILIJA 1877 1941 64
KOVAČEVIĆ G. MILICA 1874 1941 67
KOVAČEVIĆ M. PAJO 1940 1941 1
KOVAČEVIĆ P. JOVANKA 1908 1941 33
KOSIĆ R. RADE 1900 1941 41
KOSIĆ R. NIKICA 1931 1941 10
KOSIĆ S. SAVA 1898 1941 43
KOSIĆ D. SAVKA 1933 1941 8
KOSIĆ R. SAVO 1934 1941 7
KOSIĆ I. STEVO 1899 1941 42
KOSIĆ M. MIRA 1933 1941 8
KOSIĆ D. ANĐELKA 1935 1941 6
KOSIĆ M. ZORKA 1936 1941 5
KOSIĆ M. LjUBICA 1902 1941 39
KOSIĆ M. DANE 1937 1941 4
KOSIĆ M. DANICA 1924 1941 17
KOSIĆ T. DRAGA 1907 1941 34
KOSIĆ Đ. DUŠAN 1927 1941 14
KOSIĆ Đ. DUŠANKA 1929 1941 12
KOSIĆ D. NENA 1934 1941 7
KOSIĆ M. LjUBA 1935 1941 6
KOSIĆ M. NENA 1931 1941 10
KOSIĆ S. MARA 1927 1941 14
KOSIĆ D. MILAN 1938 1941 3
KOSIĆ S. MILE 1929 1941 12
KOSIĆ M. MILICA 1898 1941 43
KOSIĆ M. MILICA 1933 1941 8
KOSIĆ D. MILICA 1937 1941 4
KOSIĆ M. DUŠANKA 1935 1941 6
KOSIĆ N.N. ANĐELKA 1900 1941 41
KOSIĆ I. DANE 1914 1941 27

 

Pozivamo sve one koji imaju dodatne informacije, dokumente i sl. vezano za ovaj događaj,  da nas kontaktiraju putem e-maila: udruzenje@jadovno.com, telefonom: 051/333-588,  +387/65/511-130, ili na adresi Udruženje Jadovno 1941.  Kralja Alfonsa XIII 49a, Banja Luka, Republika Srpska.


[1] Milan R. Obradović, “Zločini u kotaru Donji Lapac od 1941. do 1945.”, Kotar Donji Lapac u NOR-u 1941-1945, Karlovac, 1985. str. 832-841. i Đuro Zatezalo „Radio sam svoj seljački i kovački posao“ – svjedočanstva genocida. SKPD Prosvjeta, Zagreb 2005.

[2]Isto str. 355

[3]http://www.novossti.com/2011/07/ratovanje-na-pravoj-strani-s-izrazitim-antifasistickim-karakterom/ Pristupljeno 04.02.2014..

[4http://pravoslavlje.spc.rs/broj/978/tekst/bosanska-krajina-u-drugom-svetskom-ratu/print/lat Pristupljeno 23.01.2014.

[5]Isto

[6]Kotar Donji Lapac u NOR-u 1941-1945, Karlovac, 1985. Str 835

[7http://pravoslavlje.spc.rs/broj/978/tekst/bosanska-krajina-u-drugom-svetskom-ratu/print/lat Pristupljeno 23.01.2014.

[8]http://globus.jutarnji.hr/hrvatska/otvoreno-pismo-slavka-goldsteina-hebrangu Pristupljeno 03.02.2014.

[9]http://pravoslavlje.spc.rs/broj/978/tekst/bosanska-krajina-u-drugom-svetskom-ratu/print/lat Pristupljeno 23.01.2014

[10]Kotar Donji Lapac u NOR-u 1941-1945, Karlovac, 1985. Str 833

 

PREDRAG LOZO

Secretary of Association JADOVNO 1941




Pomozite rad udruženja Jadovno 1941.

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