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Tomo Lučić

He was born on 1 March 1931 in the village of Bistrica, Žepče County.

He says:

My parents’ names were: Lučić (Tomo) Pero (1910), a worker and Aleksić Bosiljka, a housewife, born in Brezovim Danama.

My father lived in a common household with tha uncle Dušan, who was born in 1911 and worked as a clerk in Žepče district. The parents lived in the common household with the grandmother Lučić Vasilija, who was a widow of a killed Lučić Tomo. He was an ex farmer from the village of Bistrica, the regional unit of Drina (ruled by the a ban). Since I am the oldest grandchild, I was named after my grandfather. I completed the primary school in Žepče County. I attended the third grade when the war broke.

As far as our property was concerned, it was a modest one. The deceased grandmother was receiving the pension. The uncle and father were employed.

We built a new house in 1939. We possessed the outbuildings too. As far as the cattle was concerned, we used to have: two oxen, four cows and a horse.

We lived in the common household: my parents, father Pero and mother Bosiljka; brothers Dimitrije and Milan; sisters Mileva and Mara; grandmother Vasilija, uncle Dušan and his wife Mara. I was the oldest child.

My village was a mixture of the Serbs and Croats. Aproximately, there were fifty percent of the Serbs and fifty percent of the Croats. The Croatians accepted the Independent State of Croatia straight away. Many of the joined as the volunteers in the Croatian military. I remember well Britvar Jozan (Jozo), who was visiting us for the Christmas and Slava (Serbian family feast, for its patron saint). He used to go hunting with my uncle. Whe the Independent State of Croatia was established some people were sent to the East front, such as: Jurić Anto – Antelja and others.

I remember that uncle Dušan was immediately fired from work. After some time, my uncle went to district in order to take his earned salary. Asoon as he got ther, the Croatians imprisoned them. When the grandmother found about that, she went to the forester (Croat) Stjepan Hristić, who lived in Kiseljak. She begged Stjepan to urge for the uncle to be released from the prison. Stjepan attacked her then and told that there was a picture of the king Petar in her house. The grandmother said that it wasn’t the true. There was only the icon of St. Jovan hanging on the house wall. St. Jovan was our Slava. The forester told to grandmother to give him a cow, and he woul release the uncle. She accepted the offer. The forester kept his promise and released the uncle. He came home. The father and uncle mustn’t sleep anymore in the house, but in the nearby forest.

It was a Sunday in the month of June 1941, when were having dinner. My father told to the uncle: “We will not go tonight“. We knew where the would not go. The same night, around 11 o’clock, the Croatians came to our house. The grandmother opened the door. They ordered us to leave the house and give them the house keys. Anto Dragičević, who was born in the village of Lovnica, told us that. He worked for the grandmother’s brother, Dabić Luka, who was a scribe in the town of Kamenica. When Anto told us to leave the house, grandmother said: “Don’t Anto – please!“ Then, Anto hit her in the chest with the rifle butt. The grandmother fell down. We, children, lay over the garndmother in order to protect her. The Croatians expelled us fromm the house and took the house key.

Then, they escorted us on the road wher the animal-driven vehicles were waiting for us. They escorted us to Žepče. Our neighbours, the Croats, we keeping their eyes on us. They didn’t want us to escape. In Žepče, we went boarded in the railroad cars. They dove us off to Zavidovići where they imprisoned us in the school.

We were kept imprisoned aroun a week. Our neighbours, Lučić Gospava, Čošan Anđa, Stanković Simuna, Dabić Mara, were bringing us food. The Croatian soldiers didn’t allow them to hand over it to us. Then, the starvation and thist racking toook over the rule. We had neither food nor water. The nuns were giving a spoon of porridge to children every day. Since I was the oldest one, I used to go to take the food. The nun asked: “How many of you are there?“ When I told her how many of us were there, she she hit me across the ear. Then, my middle ear raptured, and the bloob started to flow down my face. I almost deafened in this ear. I possesss only 10% of hearing in this ear. I still have consequences. This ear begins to leak sometimes. I have to take the medicine Gentokulin – gentamicin 0,3% constantly.

One day, at dawn, in June, we were taken to the railway station in Ukrina. From here we were transported to Bosanski Brod, where we arrived at 3 P.M.. When we got to Brod, they chased us across the bridge which was damaged. We hardly crossed over it. It was raining constantly, and we had no umbrella.

As we were passing through Slavonski Brod amd moving along the street, we were hit with various subjects from the houses around. They were swearing, mentioning Serbiam mothers and shouting: “Kill them all and throw them to the river of Sava!“ There were slogans written on the houses, such as: “Long live Ante Pavelić and the Independent State of Croatia!“ On my way back to the home place in 1946, I saw that it was written on the town’s houses: “Long live Communist Party and comrade Tito!“

As we arrived to the railway station, being wet, hungry and exausted, we went boarded to the railroad cars. They closed the door. It was very suffocating inside. The families of Ursinović Đorđe, Ursinović Mane, Veselinović Simo, Veselinovic Luka, Braničković Blagoja, Čošan Nedjeljka and others were in our railroad cars.

We were travelling to Slavonska Požega concentration camp all night. The concentration camp was settled in the barracks of the ex JNA (Yugoslav National Army). It was enclosed in barbed wire which was two metres high. The guardhouses were set next to the wire at every corner.

Before we were placed in the barracks, they searched us and tok away all the valuables we brought from our houses. They used to take off the wedding rings. Before they took away the valuables, they asked my father if he wished to convert to the Catholic religion. The father said that neither he wanted nor his family. They were beating my parents. The Croatian women were beating my grandmother, mother and uncle’s wife.

I remember well the man called Todor Veselinović. When they found the metal badge of Petar Karađorđevic face on it, they forced him to swallow it.

After the searches and taking away of the valuable subjects, they took us to the barracks which had no floor. We were lying next to the barrack’s walls on both sides. We were lying on the straw. There were neither blankets nor pillows. The straw was full of excrement. Some people had diarrhea. We were eating corn flour broth that had no salt and fat inside. We weren’t given bread. We were bearing hunger and lost the weight.

Since we were tortured by hunger, I used to buy the refuse which the peasants were throwing nearby the concentration camp wire on their way back from the market place. When the peasants noticed that we were using the refuse, they stopped throwing them.

When it was raining they used to expel us from the barracks in order to become sour in our clothes.

I memorized a little Ustasha, who was perhaps aged 10. He was uniformed and had a pistol aroun his waist. He called our priest and started pulling out his hairs on the beard. When the priest started to defend, the small Ustasha took the pistol and shot him in his head.

The pus mixed with blood and compost were oozing from my ear. I didn’t have absorbent cotton to put in my ear. The flies were attacking me constantly. I was afraid that my ear might become worm-eaten. One day, thw nurse came asking if there was anyone sick. I was the only in the barracks who replied. She told that she would come after me later on. (The International Red Cross came into the concentration camp.)

She came around 2 o’clock P.M. and took me to the barrack where the doctor was. They asked what it hurt me. I told them – the ear. (I must not tell them that the nun hit me). When I sat on the chair, a uniformed guy sood behind my back and cought me by the hair. “He said: “When I say 3, I want this heah to be cut off!“ The Ustasha started to count: “one, two, ….“ When he said two, I screamed. He stood behind holding my head twisted. He lifted me up from the chair and punched in the back with his leg. I landed on the wall. The Ustashas were laughing loudly. The doors were opened. I was striding along the corridor being afraid that they would soot me in the back. I came to my barracks crying.

I became mute out of fear. I couldn’t speak at all for a month.

The camp was overcrowded. ( I think of the state of the concentration camp after the International Red Cross inspection.) There were hundreds of us. One morning, they told us to get out of the barracks and line up. The line set off toward the railway station. When we came to the railway station, a train was already boarded and set into motion. We were sorry because we weren’t in that train. Later on, we have found out that that train set off toward Jasenovac concentration camp and that all of them were killed there.

They boarded us in other railway cars and directed in other direction. We did not know where we were going. The train arrived aproximately around 4 o’clock P.M. The Ustashas opened the door shouting to get out of the train. The led us ahead where the passanger’s train was parked. We got in that train. The place where we got in the train called Zemunski Usijek. When we entered the train, the Ustashas gave us big cans that contained the tea. We were afraid to drink that tea. We signaled each other with the eyes.

The train came to Zemun. When it arrived at the railway station, the Ustashas got out of the train. The soldiers of Nedić were lined up in front of the train. The Ustashas hand over the list of us to Nedić’s men who were asking us what was in the cans. We replied that it was the tea. They told us to pour out the tea throughout the window. They said: “The white bread and Milka are waiting for you in Serbia“. Will it be so?

The train moved toward Belgrade. We arrived quickly. They placed us in reception barracks which were for the expelled Serbs from the Independent State of Croatia. The doctors and nurses came to examine and give us instructions. They told us to eat bread and milk, because we were exhausted. Then, the train set off for Smederevska Palanka. We were given food every two hours in the train.

As we srrived to Smederevska Palanka, they placed us in the school building. We had a good lodging there. They supplied us with the mattresses, blankets and pillows. We had the doctor’s care too.

We were kept for a month there. When we recovered well, they directed us to the villages Vodice, Mramorac and Gusadak where we stayed until the end of the war.

My parents stayed alive. Brothers Dimitrije and Milan and sisters Mileva and Mara returned to our village in 1946. We found the burnt house. All the outbuildings were destroyed. We found no cattle and furniture. We started over.

I completed the lower grammar school in Zavidovići, then teacher’s school in Sarajevo, teacher’s college in Sarajevo and faculty of mathematics and science in Novi Sad. I completed the postdegree studies in geographic sciences. I worked as an advisor for the subject of geography. I was working as a professor at the teacher’s college in Banja Luka.

I am a pensioneer now. I am very sad and melancholic when I am thinking of my childhood.

< Stojan Stojaković                                                               Up                                                                                  Đuro Savatić >

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