WHAT WAS JASENOVAC?
From August 1941 to April 1945, hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Romas, as well as anti-fascists of many nationalities, were murdered at the death camp known as Jasenovac. According to Dr. Milan Bulajic, Director of the Museum of Genocide Vitcims in Vilius, Lithuania, of the 77,743 victims of Jasenovac 56,277 were Serbians. And yet, despite the scale of the crimes committed there, most of the world has never heard of Jasenovac.Following the Nazi invasion and dismemberment of Yugoslavia in April 1941, the "Independent State of Croatia" was established as a pro-Nazi government. It was dedicated to a clerical-fascist ideology influenced both by Nazism and extreme Roman Catholic fanaticism. On coming to power, the Ustashe Party dictatorship in Croatia quickly commenced on a systematic policy of racial extermination of all Serbs, Jews and Romas living within its borders.
Jasenovac was actually a complex of five major and three smaller "special" camps spread out over 240 square kilometers (150 square miles) in south-central Croatia. Along with hundreds of thousands of Serbs, some 25,000 Jews and at least 30,000 Romas were murdered in these camps. The names of some 20,000 murdered children of all three nationalities collected thus far by historians provides only a hint of the scale of the crimes committed there against children. Jasenovac is also known for having been one of the most barbaric death camps of the Holocaust for the extreme cruelty in which its victims were tortured and murdered. Jasenovac was not the only death camp in fascist occupied Yugoslavia, but it was by far the largest and the one in which a majority of the some one million victims of racial genocide in World War II fascist Croatia were exterminated.
But its significance also lies in the way in which the crimes have been concealed. Historians have called Jasenovac "the dark secret of the Holocaust" and "the suppressed chapter of Holocaust history." Public recognition of the tragedy that occurred there has been suppressed either partially or completely by governments and institutions for a variety of reasons. Today Jasenovac is located in the newly created state of Croatia, whose government has vandalized the site and refused to acknowledge the horrors that took place there. The failure of some leading Western academic and humanitarian institutions to fully recognize the historic dimensions of Jasenovac is a shameful omission that will tarnish their reputations forever. But the enormity of the crimes committed at Jasenovac, the fact that the majority of the victims were Serbs who were killed simply for being Serbs, and the fact that the perpetrators included the Catholic Church, have made it an extraordinary and explosive issue that Holocaust deniers and historical revisionists cannot successfully manipulate for long should we focus all of our energies on bringing the truth to light. In doing so, we shall also unravel the whole ball of lies told about the history of Yugoslavia.
From the Brochure of the Jasenovac Research Institute,
written by JRI Research Director Barry Lituchy, (c) 2000.
Jasenovac was established in August 1941 and was dismantled only in April 1945. The creation of the camp and its management and supervision were entrusted to Department III of the Croatian Security Police (Ustaska Narodna Slu?ba: UNS), headed by Vjekoslav (Maks) Luburi6, who was personally responsible for everything that happened Some six hundred thousand people were murdered at Jasenovac, mostly Serbs, Jews, GYPSIES, and opponents of the USTASA regime. The number of Jewish victims was between twenty thousand and twenty-five thousand, most of whom were murdered there up to August 1942, when deportation of the Croatian Jews to AUSCHWITZ for extermination began. Jews were sent to Jasenovac from all parts of Croatia-from Zagreb, from Sarajevo, and from other cities and smaller towns. On their arrival most were killed at execution sites near the camp: Granik, Gradina, and other places. Those kept alive were mostly skilled at needed professions and trades (doctors, pharmacists, electricians, shoemakers, goldsmiths, and so on) and were employed in services and workshops at Jasenovac. The living conditions in the camp were extremely severe: a meager diet, deplorable accommodations, a particularly cruel regime, and unbelievably cruel behavior by the Ustase guards. The conditions improved only for short periods during visits by delegations, such as the press delegation that visited in February 1942 and a Red Cross delegation in June 1944.
The acts of murder and of cruelty in the camp reached their peak in the late summer of 1942, when tens of thousands of Serbian villagers were deported to Jasenovac from the area of the fighting against the partisans in the Kozara Mountains. Most of the men were killed at Jasenovac. The women were sent for forced labor in Germany, and the children were taken from their mothers; some were murdered and others were dispersed in orphanages throughout the country.
In April 1945 the partisan army approached the camp. In an attempt to erase traces of the atrocities, the Ustase blew up all the installations and killed most of the internees. An escape attempt by the prisoners failed, and only a few survived.
Romans, J. Jews of Yugoslavia, 1941- 1945: Victims of Genocide and Freedom Fighters. Belgrade, 1982. Sindik, D., ed. Secanja Jevreja JasenovacBelgrade, 1972.