A Croatian Reprimands EU’s Impudence For Supremacy Over National Laws Of Member States          

Earlier this month of October 2021 Poland’s constitutional court ruled that parts of EU law are not compatible with the Polish constitution, which Poland evidently and, as far as many are concerned, rightfully places above the EU constitutional charters. This has developed in a dramatic escalation of a battle between Warsaw and Brussels. The EU disagrees with the Polish court rule and this disagreement has sparked questions about Poland’s long-term future in the EU, with the government’s critics at home and abroad accusing it of setting the country on course for “Polexit” while the government at the same time enjoys enormous support and agreement with the constitutional court rule at home and internationally.

The battle and disagreements between the EU and Poland overshadowed the EU summit of the 27 member states in Brussels this week. The summit opening day media spotlights flickered between Poland’s prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki, president of the European Commission Von der Leyen, Germany’s exiting Chancellor Angela Merkel, prime minister of Hungary Victor Orban and several others, giving a clear picture that not all is well with the union and harmony regarding embracing the “Union” that would homogenise member nations into a concoction similar to former federation of communist Yugoslavia as opposed to retaining national identity and sovereignty of each member state. The political pull for the EU to be a federation of sovereign states has certainly gained momentum this week largely due to the ruling of the Polish constitutional court, placing Poland above the EU in certain matters of law.   

Whether money will talk is a matter of Poland’s response to Brussels’ moves that look terribly like blackmail:  EU officials have said that the Polish court ruling constitutes breaches of EU values and has now commenced withholding approval of Warsaw’s application for €36bn in Covid-19 recovery funds. The European Commission is also under increasing pressure to deploy powers that would allow it to hold back Poland’s regional development funds worth up to €121bn over the next six years.

European Union officials have late this week left us with a clear impression that the EU is facing an unprecedented situation in which a member (Poland) is directly challenging a founding principle of the bloc (EU): the primacy of EU law over national legislation. Some analysts also argue that Poland’s refusal to change its views may pose a bigger threat than Brexit.

EU President Ursula Von der Leyen described the Polish tribunal’s ruling as “a direct challenge to the unity of the European legal order”.

“E.U. legitimacy is at stake: if there’s no primacy of European law over national laws, what’s the point of having a union?” said Sophie Pornschlegel, a senior policy analyst at the Brussels-based European Policy Centre.

Didier Reynders, the EU’s justice commissioner, said after the ruling that Brussels would act to protect the primacy of EU law over national law and the binding nature of the European Court of Justice’s rulings on national governments.

“We are very firm on the different principles, and we will use all the tools at our disposal to be sure that it is possible to protect them,” Reynders added.

As far as Croatia’s input or opinions with view to this escalating battle for supremacy of EU laws one does not expect to hear much from the official government at this stage. That is evidently because the ruling HDZ (Croatian Democratic Union) is a member of the European People’s Party/EPP bloc that is said to have pioneered the EU project and whose current president is none other than Poland’s former prime minister Donald Tusk, also ex-president of European Council, whose political party now represents one of the strongest oppositions to the ruling PiS party in Poland. We have seen protests in Poland recently and we are sure to see more as Tusk calls those who will listen to rise and help save Poland (against Morawiecki of course). In his day of power Tusk fumbled through European Council’s corridors like a man who has grown too big for his boots, and he continues stirring fear among the Polish people. Thankfully those that listen to him are fewer and fewer by the day. In people’s mind, surely, there is nothing wrong with fighting to retain one’s sovereignty. Tusk is a “Yes” man for EU, while Morawiecki is evidently not. With this battle to retain superiority over EU laws having arisen in Poland so strongly next general elections due late 2023 will show for certain where most Poles stand on this if matters don’t progress to a resolution.        

It was very interesting and confidence-boosting to see that Croatian members of the European Parliament did have a say on the topic of Poland and its insistence on the supremacy of its national laws over the EU. The independent Member of the European Parliament Mislav Kolakusic called out, loud and clear, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her administration at a European Parliament session this week on October 19 for constant baseless attacks on sovereign EU member states: ” Poland has always been in the heart of Croatian citizens and we have always shared the same sense of law and justice. The fact is that those who govern the European Union today want to impose their ideologies on all sovereign states behind that illegitimate goal. The only goal of this Kafkaesque process is to overthrow the legally elected sovereign government and bring in a puppet government. Do not forget that the Polish people fought against every oppression, both against Nazism and against communism, and they will certainly not bow their heads now against these new forms of committing (oppression). The European Union must become an equal community of sovereign states, or its future is more than questionable. Stop dishing out lessons to the proud Polish people with no real arguments. Thank you,” said Kolakusic and his speech can be followed in this video record from EU Parliament:

EU Parliament 19 October 2021

EU’s insistence that its laws have supremacy over national laws of its member states has existed always but this time the issue is catapulted into the public arena with escalated vigour, leaving multitudes in various EU member states perhaps more than ever inclined to consider who and what they are, where are they going as a distinct nation – into strength or oblivion. Certainly this whole issues brings back bitter memories for nations made subservient to communist regimes of former Yugoslavia and USSR where individual nations and states had to conform to a federal ideology and practice that did not recognise or uphold their individual values and worth. During the time for former Yugoslavia the regime came up with a nationality called Yugoslav that people were expected to embrace and abandon Croatian, Serb, Montenegrin, Slovene, Macedonian…nationality. It was individual national pride and protection that eventually made Yugoslavia a failed experiment in unity. Similar in USSR/Soviet Union where all members of the union had to comply with what Moscow says and does and collapse was imminent as was for communism that bases its ideology on equality of people but riddled with rotten human ego that builds terrible inequality instead of equality.

The fatal flaw of EU’s idealism within a “Parliament of Nations” that would work towards lasting peace within and among nations was and is its false assumption that national identities and nationalism are toxic, in need of institutional guard rails to check their dangerous rivalries. Perhaps and as planned by some by giving up some national sovereignty to the bureaus and agencies of the E.U., a more efficient and just political order could be achieved. But it hasn’t worked out that way. First, even though the EU boasts that it has values to which all member states should adhere, it has not been clear what the core beliefs are that could unite such diverse and various cultures, histories, folklore, national interests, and customs tightly enough to ensure efficient functioning and cohesive loyalty. Europe was created in the first place by the Greco-Roman and Christian civilisation. With religion fading in much of Europe, and patriotism looked down upon, the love for one’s own people, language, and culture demonised as incipient fascism, what’s left to unite the peoples under the E.U. banner into a cohesive people who are willing to fight together and die for their European identity? Nothing much! When the member states filled with people that are patriotic to their individual nations experience being labelled as nationalistic fascists because they are a patriot you have a big problem! People will rise in one way or another, sooner or later, to defend their personal honour of belonging to a particular nation.

Hence, in many ways the issues developing along the question of EU supremacy over individual member state’s ability to bring decisions and make laws that suit its own local (national) needs without regard to compliance to EU laws will more likely than not provide a fertile ground for decisions and contemplation about EU membership in several countries. As Croatian government intends introducing the EU Zone common currency – euro – soon, the enormous adjustment costs in this process will highlight the bad side of the EU concept and create greater poverty than what there is now. In former communist Yugoslavia the “big pot” of money into which each member state of the federation contributed reminds one of the EU “big pot” of money and the flaws and resentments that arose in relation to the “big pot” operational undercurrents in former Yugoslavia are surfacing in the EU. The EU is starting to blackmail or threaten its members states with cut or withdrawal or redistribution of funds if a member state misbehaves or does not comply. The member countries that contribute more to that “big pot” than other member countries are already behaving as having a political or decision power advantage over others. Such union that creates politically elitist echelons is already on life supports – unless of course the sovereignty of each member states is respected and upheld particularly in dealing with local welfare, laws and economic development. Ina Vukic   

Croatian Academy HAZUDD To Jerusalem Post

Dear Sir/Madam,

Your editorial from August 22 and the reactions of Dejan Ristic and Ivo Goldstein and Efraim Zuroff to the article by David Goldman, which you in the meantime withdrew from your website but left the above articles, prompted us to this reaction, hoping for at least some balance, which in fact represents the reality on the world stage of opinions and historical facts discovered to date, on this topic in your newspaper.

There is no need to fear that the Holocaust, as a unique form of collective persecution of the Jewish people, will fall into oblivion, as long as children are taught about it in school history classes. Anyone with a modest knowledge of foreign languages ​​and history today can access information about the results of the census in Central and Eastern Europe and be convinced that during Nazi rule, Jews disappeared in large numbers as well as their religious and cultural objects (synagogues, schools, etc.). If not killed or destroyed, any reasonable person would wonder where millions of people and their places of worship could have gone?

This applies both to both the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which existed in 1941-45 and included the territory of today’s Croatia (for the most part) and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as Serbia. The fact that many more Jews survived the Holocaust in Croatia, in both number and percentage of the Jewish population, than in Serbia, is the result of continuous, extensive rescue operations by the domicile Croatian population and the Catholic Church led by Archbishop Stepinac of Zagreb. While for Archbishop Stepinac, saving Jews was a daily task of caring, the heads of the Serbian Orthodox Church praised Hitler and openly sided with the Nazis against the Jews. If it wasn’t for the works of Esther Gitman, a Fulbright Scholar, (sources: “When Courage Prevailed – rescue and survival of Jews in the Independent State of Croatia 1941-1945” 2011 and “Alojzije Stepinac: Pillar of Human Rights” 2019), which are hardly mentioned in the press, the significant actions of rescuing Jews in the NDH would remain almost completely silenced. The efforts of many Jews to achieve the proclamation of Archbishop Stepinac as Righteous Among the Nations have so far been futile, thus creating a large stain on the reputation of the state of Israel among Croats. There were not many individuals in the enslaved Europe who, like Archbishop Stepinac, dared during the war of 1942 to declare publicly that there was only one race: the race of God (Esther Gitman research).

Despite the facts, the Serbian side on one hand expands the term Holocaust without foundation and thus dilutes it to the suffering of Serbs (Croats), and on the other hand narrows it to the Jasenovac camp, which is thus given mystical properties. An uninformed reader of the Serbian press could conclude that World War II took place mainly in the Jasenovac camp, where Croats killed 800,000 to a million Serbs, and that the Holocaust was a minor side event.

For many years, the number of 5 million non-Jewish Holocaust victims has been bandied around worldwide, and Israeli Gideon Greif, in his work entitled “Jasenovac, Auschwitz of the Balkans”, published by Knjiga komerc Serbia in 2018, claims by pure speculation of other speculators of history, and without exact evidence, that one million, if not more, Serbs lost their lives as victims of the Holocaust in Croatia! So, in such dark alleys along which Greif evidently also moves, a fifth of all non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Europe were Serbs! This is the number of victims without scientific basis, and the well-known Nazi and their collaborators hunter, the late Simon Wiesenthal, once said that this number of non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust was “intended to increase sympathy for Jewish suffering but is now more used to obscure it.” Sure, there were many non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust, but inventing the magnitude of that number, as has been done for decades for Serb victims, evidently seeks to diminish or dilute the severity of the tragedy experienced by the Jewish people in the Holocaust.

The bigger tragedy in this prevailing modern world ping pong game about which Holocaust victim was a bigger victim, Jew or non-Jew, lies in the fact that Serbs, with the help of people like Efraim Zuroff and Gideon Greif, seem to have managed to cleanse Serbian hands as the culprits for the extermination of 94% of Serbian Jews in World War II and by August 1942 achieving the status of one of the first countries in Europe to be “Judenfrei” (Jew-free). It is clear to all but Serbs and their political friends that the Serbs and their government of Milan Nedic, not the German Nazis, attached the “Star of David” to Jewish chests and painted it on the facades of Jewish homes, thus marking Jews for extermination.

It is precisely for the removal of this systematic, long-standing blurring of facts, mentioned by David Goldman, that a thorough, multidisciplinary investigation of the events in the Jasenovac camp is necessary as this in itself is indicated by very diverse findings:

1. According to Ivo Goldstein and others, the Jasenovac camp did not cease operating on April 22, 1945, but served as a camp for internment of opponents of Tito’s Yugoslav communist regime to at least May 1951.The Bjelovar Divisional military court findings on 8/28/1946 regarding detainee escape from the camp on 28.08.1946 (source: Croatian State Archives), as well as a 1951 CIA report, serve as evidence of that fact. It is not known that, to date, anyone has systematically deal with research of the victims of the Jasenovac camp after April 22, 1945. Perhaps there were Jews among them also?

2. Analysis of the official list of victims of the Jasenovac camp, managed by the state institution JUSP Jasenovac, using Data Science methods, showed that the list is for the most part (89% of entries) unreliable. The current census, for example, lists victims born in 1969 and 1975, respectively.

3. Contrary to the testimonies of the alleged mass executions in the Jasenovac camp in the period 1941-45, there are also testimonies of men who were boys of that time, who attended trade classes in the camp, that there were no such events.

4. When Bosnian Serbs had to leave the conquered territories around Sarajevo in 1996 as a result of the Dayton Accords, they exhumed the remains of their loved ones in front of TV cameras and took them to their new places of residence. With these acts they strongly showed their stand that remains of their loved ones should not remain in enemy territory. It is interesting that no such request for exhumation of post mortal remains was requested for the Jasenovac camp, which is located on the territory of Croatia.

5. Prompted by the above facts, forensic experts (e.g. letter from prof. dr. sc. Simun Krizanac published in “Hrvatski tjednik” weekly magazine on 12.07.2018 ) already contacted authorities and requested the search and exhumation of the human remains in Jasenovac, believing that firm conclusions about such a camp must be based on forensic medicine research methods.

6. The general progress of science has led to the fact that reconstruction and identification can be carried out for centuries-old human remains.

7. World War II archives are gradually opening up and, hence, opening up space for new insights and new interpretations.

It is clear from the abovesaid that the actual Holocaust on the territory of the then Independent State of Croatia, for which the NDH authorities are co-responsible, is clouded and confused by Serbia’s attempts to portray the course of World War II in Croatia primarily as genocide against the Serbian people. They are wholeheartedly helped by the descendants of the Yugoslav communist rulers (the so-called Red Nobility), who still rule Croatia today, who in this way want to cover up the crimes of their ancestors perpetrated immediately after World War II and during the 45-year reign of fear over Croats until 1990. If it is shown that Croats committed collective genocide during World War II, then by that same logic it would be correct for the Yugoslav Communists to commit comprehensive and protracted revenge and re-education, right?

Let’s finish with Croatia. In the very centre of Zagreb, in Praška Street, there is a parking lot on the site where the synagogue demolished in 1941-42was. This is the simplest proof that the Holocaust took place in Croatia as well. Tito’s Yugoslav communist government, hostile to Jews and Israel, not only did not rebuild it, but demolished the remaining synagogues and many Jewish cemeteries, and built a department store on the site of the Zagreb synagogue, which burned to the ground in a mysterious fire in 1980.

From President Tudjman onwards, the Croatian authorities proposed to the two Jewish communities the reconstruction of the synagogue, which has not happened so far, because the Jewish communities could not agree on the basic parameters. Ivo Goldstein, who never declared himself publicly as a Jew or a believer during Yugoslavia, also plays a not insignificant role in that community. At that time, neither his late father Slavko nor he condemned the demolition of synagogues, for example in Rijeka in 1948, or the anti-Semitic attitude of Tito’s regime, and such dishonourable conduct is not mentioned even today. In addition, the so-called scientist opposes both questioning and further research on the topic of the Jasenovac camp, thus violating the foundations of scientific methodology, to which, as a university professor, he should be deeply loyal.

In Croatia, and especially in Zagreb, there are many valuable real estates, which were taken from the Jews during the Second World War and were never returned to them. They are now inhabited by members of the “red nobility”, who, like Ivo Goldstein and Ognjen Kraus, invent fascism in Croatia, and have never advocated for the correction of injustice against Jews by returning stolen Jewish property.

From all of the above said it follows that the state of Israel, the Jewish people and their reputable media such as the Jerusalem Post, should devote themselves to a detailed investigation of all potential execution sites of Jews during the Holocaust. But if researching the execution sites of Jews during the Holocaust is an area that newspapers like the Jerusalem Post cannot deal with, because such an activity is not on their list of activities for which they are legally licensed, then those same newspapers should contribute to the research of truth and facts by also publishing written articles in relation to all research on the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust in Croatia (eg Esther Gitman) and on Jasenovac after the Second World War (eg Blanka Matković, Stipo Pilić, Igor Vukić, etc.). It is unworthy of the oldest nation in history to be represented in any part of the world by individuals like Ivo Goldstein, ready at any moment for an anti-scientific invention like the notorious bone crusher. This achieves the exact opposite effect, which Goldman rightly observes. Namely, the suspicion that Israel and Serbia have a joint propaganda venture of exaggerating the victims of World War II is completely unnecessarily fuelled. While Serbia abuses victims tenfold (and more) as a justification for hegemonic action in its neighbourhood, it is unclear why the state of Israel clearly does not distance itself from such dishonourable actions.

And even if Ivo Goldstein is completely right with his claim about the bone crusher, which the Ustashas would use just before the end of the war to remove the remains of their victims, (and it cannot be, because neither he nor anyone else mentions it in his and other authors’ numerous books!), then it would be a huge challenge for scientists in the field of forensics and forensic medicine to use the territory of Jasenovac as a testbed for methods of identifying post mortal remains originating in particularly difficult conditions. Judging by his publications and public appearances, Ivo Goldstein has never met a forensic expert or does not know that such a profession exists at all.

A scientist who, in today’s age of reliable analytical and diagnostic methods, claims that everything has been researched and should no longer be researched, recalls into memory the embarrassment of Thomas Watson, the former head of IBM, and thus disqualifies himself in scientific and professional circles.

The diametrically different attitudes towards the smouldering Israeli-Arab conflict, which escalates every now and then, in the successor states of the former Yugoslavia clearly shows which nations, states and political currents are turned to Jews with fraternal respect and understanding, and which with intolerance prone to totalitarian movements and parties. It would be nice if the Jerusalem Post devoted more space to such differences and reflections, instead of history innovator Ivo Goldstein or Dejan Ristic and their collaborator Efraim Zuroff, who present themselves as Holocaust investigators while denying the genocide in Srebrenica, which the Serbian army perpetrated 26 years ago literally in front of TV cameras.

With regards

Dr. sc. Josip Stjepandic, President, Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in the Diaspora and Homeland / HAZUDD

 Mr. sc. Ina Vukic, Vice President, HAZUDD

Keepers of Communist and Serb Crimes in Croatia Suffocate Progress

Croatia is surely one of the most fertile grounds in the world for historians, political analysts, social psychologists, and those in fervent pursuits of truth to study and stand back cringing in disgust at the open and palpable tactics utilised by former communists (under the mask of antifascism) in the prostitution of transition from a totalitarian regime into a democratic one. If we adopt the position of labelling the hiding or desecrating the truth about crimes committed as a wicked act (if not criminal), then the coalition of Croatian HDZ and SDP governments in the past decade or so with the SDSS Serb minority in parliament reminds us of a joint wicked enterprise. A kind of a political joint wicked enterprise that strips the dignity off the defender of Croatia from brutal aggression. The joint wicked enterprise whose task manifests itself in the hiding, in the twisting, in the distorting of truth of countless crimes perpetrated by Yugoslav communists/Partisans against the Croatian people seeking independence in both World War II and by Serbs in the Croatian Homeland War of 1990’s as well as in Bosnia and Herzegovina.  

A normal, compassionate government would not even contemplate on forming a coalition with those who attacked its people from inside, like rebel Serbs living in Croatia at the time and their family members, joined in these crimes by Serbs from Serbia. A normal government of Croatia would know what it meant for its democracy-loving people in early 1990’s when the Serbs engaged in relentless and brutal campaigns of ethnic cleansing, expelling Croats (in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina) and other non-Serbs from their homes, wreaking mass murder, rape, torture and devastation.  

This type of government coalition is much about blaming the victim – freedom loving Croat in this case – and justifying or shutting a blind eye at mass crimes perpetrated by communist Yugoslavia partisans during WWII and after it, as well as multitude of those committed by communist Yugoslavia nostalgics during the 1990’s war of Serb aggression. This type of government by participating in and tolerating such distortions and belittling of the historical truth of the territories populated by communist agendas and the agenda of Greater Serbia stifle and suffocate true democracy. It is in their interests to do so, otherwise the acknowledgement of communist crimes for the depravity they represent would sink them utterly and completely into the garbage bin of history, where they belong. The pursuits of secession from communist Yugoslavia in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina during 1990’s aimed to achieve exactly that: dump communism and its totalitarian regime into the garbage bin of history. While these pursuits were successful militarily and with heroic gumption of Croatian independence fighters, they encountered monumental failures after the War ended. The communist mindset grew wings in its efforts to redeem the unredeemable monstrosities of Yugoslav communists and their Serb echelons. Anyone attempting to show the truth, to research the truth, to lift Croatia where it should have been decades ago after the Homeland War ended, well rid of the communist mindset and its stinking corrupt heritage, finds himself, or herself, labelled revisionist and still fighting for dignity of the good fight it fought when seceding by the will of the people from communist Yugoslavia.      

 Given that such government coalition in Croatia has also scooped under its wings the mainstream media, the truth and horror of Yugoslav communist crimes in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, of Serb-perpetrated crimes, suffers deeply. It’s difficult to say how long the truth-loving people will need to keep investing their energy in disputing the communist filthy mantra that communists liberated Croatia in 1945 and showing-up Serb denials of depravities they committed against Croats during 1990’s. The strong communist mindset thriving within such government coalition in Croatia has placed often insurmountable barriers on the road of achieving full and functional democracy since the Homeland War ended completely in late 1990’s.

The month of July is as telling as any month of the year where we see examples of such despicable approaches to historical truths.

The historical village of Srb belongs to the Boricevac parish in Croatia that in Spring of 1941 saw, at the hands of communist partisans, great human and property suffering and destruction of Croats. Their houses, church, parish residence, were burned and destroyed. All the Catholic faithful of this parish, about two thousand of them, had to leave their centuries-old homes, and unfortunately, to this day, their descendants have not realised the right of return. The inhabitants of the village of Ivezici, 37 of them, failed to escape and all were murdered and thrown into a pit, near Brotnja, on Dabin peak. In 2017 their exhumation was carried out and they were buried in the Catholic cemetery in Boricevac. And yet, one will not find this historical truth in any Croatian mainstream media. What one will find there in relation to the historical village of Srb is the Serbian National Council of Croatia, supported by the government, holding a commemoration dedicated to the so-called first antifascist uprising (against the fight for independent Croatia). The fact that horrific crimes were committed by anti-fascists against local Croats during the uprising is not mentioned anywhere where the Croatian Serbs in coalition with the government have a say. The pure truth is not a pastime the so-called antifascists of Croatia have any time or will for.

A sad state of affairs in Croatia, indeed!

This day (24 July) in 1992, the village of Brisevo in the municipality of Prijedor, became a torture and hell for the Croatian people, wrote retired General and former Member of Croatian Parliament, Zeljko Glasnovic (pictured above), on his Facebook page last week, 67 Croats were brutally killed. Everyone to the last was a civilian. The Serbs beat the killed Croats to exhaustion, cut the tendons on their arms and legs with knives, cut off their flesh from their bodies, slaughtered them, stabbed them in the body, cut off their noses, ears, genitals, ripped their bellies, broke their ribs, bludgeoned them with clubs and hoes, forced mothers, wives and children to observe the brutality and abuse of men after which women and girls were raped. You will not hear about this monstrous crime in the Croatian media. Brisevo has never existed for the Croatian media! For, the people need to be kept in ignorance, in guilt and obedience of every kind. This is the testimony of one girl (Helena Komljen, from the book on Brisevo victims by Frano Pilipovic and Ivo Atlija) who survived this horrific massacre:

“I was 13 and I remember everything well. I know we couldn’t escape anywhere, we had to stay at home and wait for our fate. As a child, I didn’t understand it all, although I used to hear Mum and Dad talk so I was scared I was also afraid that the infantry would destroy and kill us all, and I had no idea what infantry was. I thought about how we could hide and run away somewhere, although all that when I think about it now was impossible. So, the days passed in fear that some grenade may hit us, because they also shelled us sometimes as well. Then came the worst day of my life, July 24, 1992, when I was left without everything by Serbian soldiers. No family, no friends, no childhood. Only my little brother was left with me. I don’t know what it would be like if he wasn’t with me afterwards. It was morning and we all got up, Nedo Mlinar passed by our house and told us that we had to hang a white sheet on the house and that no one would touch those houses. It was then that all of us with white sheets perished. Everything was the other way around.

Around 12 o’clock, exactly what we were all afraid of – happened; the infantry entered the village. We were in the house when they threw a Zolja rocket on the roof, I was in the bathroom, I could only feel the pieces of the ceiling falling on me and the dust and hissing in my ears. We all ran outside in panic to hide in our grandparents’ basement because we didn’t have a basement in our house. My brother managed to run to my grandparents, my mum and dad managed to hide under our house, and I stayed in the middle, neither here nor there. They started firing at me in bursts, I saw bullets near my feet crashing into the ground and raising dust, cutting down plum branches and then suddenly, I fell. As I fell bullets flew over me. God was with me and saved me, that’s what I felt then. Dad thought I was hit, he called me from the side and when he saw me looking at him, he told me to get up abruptly and run to them as fast as I could. That’s what I did, and they didn’t shoot then. Then they called from above from the hill that we should all come to them otherwise they would come and kill us all, even the children they emphasised. Then my dad said, there’s no life here anymore. And of course, to save ourselves since we couldn’t escape anywhere, we went to them.

My dad immediately recognised a man who went to school with him, told him you could have killed my daughter. The same man and a few others took my dad, my grandpa and my uncle somewhere. My grandmother, mum, brother and I stayed there with the others. There were about 20 of them on that road. Grandma told them she would bring them food and water and they told her she was talking too much and that she wanted to poison them. Then one completely young man, maybe 16 years old, came to me and played with a knife in front of my face. Grandma said nothing more, she was afraid he might kill me. I was in shock, I no longer felt or feared, I didn’t care, like in a movie, in fog and I don’t know where. We were all silent, mum was holding my brother and me and grandma were sitting next to each other on the ground. Then again one of the Serb soldiers started shooting near my ear in the direction of the forest. Mum and grandma begged him, don’t, then one came to mum and said, ‘how about we kill your son, he will kill us when he grows up.’ She told them in a sad voice, don’t please, he won’t kill anyone. At that moment, 4 or 5 of them were returning, taking my dad, grandad and uncle, bloodied pants, and shoes. When grandma saw that she just cried and told her my kids are dead. They came and showed us their legs how they were wounded, how the Ustashas wounded them and that the blood on them was from the Ustashas. I will never forget my grandmother’s and mother’s face, that fear and that sadness, and they kept silent because every word could mean death for them.

Memorial to victims of Serb crimes in Brisevo

They told us to go to the weekend cottage nearby. As we were going up the one that killed my dad, grandpa and uncle said grandma stays because she talked a lot. We went on and entered the cottage. After 5 minutes two shots were heard. At that moment, I felt that my grandmother was dead. Mum looked at me and that look of hers full of fear confirmed once again that grandma was dead. She was holding my brother in front of her, and I was about 2 meters away from her. They told my brother to come to me and my brother came to me. Then, a Serbian soldier slapped my mother across the face and told her that she was a whore and that she was giving birth to Ustashas. Then, I noticed right across from me one person I knew, it was M.I., and I was hoping he could help us. I begged him with my eyes to do something or say something, but he just kept quiet. Even in his eyes there was fear. He later told me that he tried to tell a soldier, but he told him to keep quiet, otherwise he would kill him if he tried to save someone. Then they told my brother and me that we had to get out of the cottage because a soldier was waiting for us on the main road to take us to the command. We went out and I thought it was our turn now. The one who said that to us came out with us, drew his gun, and told us to run. We did that, we ran lightly, waiting for the bullet to pierce our backs, but it didn’t fire. Good luck again and God’s help. As we moved running like that, we passed our grandmother lying dead on her back, her arms folded beside her head as if praying to God. Blood was still dripping from her forehead, her eyes closed as if asleep. My grandmother, whom I loved the most in the world and without whom I could not sleep a single night, now I look at her dead in that worst way. We passed by that too and down the road a man was waiting for us. He told us sadly, oh dear children this is a war, and I will take you to safety to the command. I don’t know who that man was, I never saw him again. We went that way and then he left us with Dule in the command. So, it was a command for them.

They kept us in the attic for a few days to survive somehow, gave us food and water. There were, I don’t know anymore, exactly, maybe about 15 people. I just cried and cried day and night. In order for a group of Serb soldiers to pass, they would enter the house near Dule, and they wanted to inspect the whole house in case anyone hid. As for my mother, she was left alone in the cottage, she was taken back with 4 soldiers to the house, they raped her, bit her, tore pieces of flesh from her chest and then took her out from under the house and shot her in the head. Everyone heard her cries and moans. A few days later, my mum was buried by her brother himself and he confirmed it all. Later, my brother and I were in Ljubija with Ned Dimac and Nada and their children. They helped us a lot, they fed us and took care of us for 2 months, for sure. After that, my brother and I went to Croatia by bus. It was very difficult, years of fear and bad dreams, a big black hole in my heart and a broken childhood.”

Ina Vukic

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