Croatia: A Nation’s Unrelenting Grief and Suffering On 29th Anniversary of Serb Aggression

Zeljko Glasnovic (Top centre), Jure Buric (bottom right corner), Tomislav Mercep (bottom right centre), Mato Mostarac (top right)

It has been a balmy breeze I stood in all this poignant week in Sydney, Australia, as I watched and participated in the profoundly moving emotions of the grieving Croatian nation. It was a week of the 29th anniversary of the blood-soaked fall of Vukovar in 1991, of bestial massacres of Croatians by Serbs in Skabrnja, of the death of widely revered hero who tried with all his might and unstoppable courage to prevent the Yugoslav and Serb aggressor decimating the Croatian people – Tomislav Mercep (according to multitude of credible claims, convicted by Croatian courts of war crimes on basis of trumped-up charges) and the death of dr. Anto Kovacevic, political prisoner of former communist Yugoslavia and a fearless activist for democratic and independent Croatia. I faced and saw multitudes of inconsolably sobbing widows, widowers and grown children, brothers, sisters, neighbours… of those Croatians whose life was brutally and cruelly cut short in the 1990’s during the Serb aggression against Croatia.

To make matters horribly worse and to keep the Croatian nation in perpetual grief (and anger) Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic and his government, which comprises of Serbs associated with 1990’s bloody aggression against Croatia, in this same week announces a new law that would provide war pensions even to the Serb civilian victims of the 1990’s in Croata! The agony Plenkovic and his government are inflicting upon Croatian victims of Serb aggression has no bounds it seems.

This Croatian government’s mindset is deplorable and depraved.  

As far as I can see that new law does not even take into consideration the fact that most Serb civilians in the rebel-Serb areas of Croatia brutalised, ethnically cleansed of Croats, occupied for years by those Serbs, would not satisfy the definition of civilians because they were complicit in one way or another with the aggression, tortures, banishments of Croats, murders … any so-called Serb civilians participated in Serb hostilities against Croats in Croatia before and during the Homeland War and the new law and its regulation does not appear to provide measures of essential proof as to who was a “true” civilian and who was a “civilian combatant”, helping willingly the anti-Croat Yugoslav and Serb military on their path of destruction, murder, genocide, torture, rape, ethnic cleansing.

I did not see during this week of mourning in Croatia either the Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic or the President Zoran Milanovic summon the people of Croatia to look beyond grief, to believe that the deaths they mourned had not been in vain. The President Zoran Milanovic laid a wreath in Vukovar’s Ovcara memorial field where the Serbs in 1991 slaughtered hundreds of Croatian wounded and sick, carting them off to their execution at that spot from the devastated Vukovar Hospital but je said not a single word while or after laying the wreath; his lips did not move, not even in silent prayer for the slaughtered victims. Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic walked with the procession from Vukovar’s hospital to the Ovcara killing field, saying that “it is important to pursue information about those still missing,” from the Homeland War. But in that procession of remembrance he took with him his deputy prime minister, Boris Milosevic, a Serb, who came to Vukovar to lay a wreath for the aggressor and murdering Serbs who died during their bestial attacks against Croatians!

Speaking about the presence of Croatian Deputy Prime Minister Boris Milosevic in the procession of remembrance in Vukovar, Plenkovic said that “Croatia won the Homeland War and thus extended a hand for coexistence to minorities… These are the messages of the future, focused on the values we share…” To add salt to the wounds of the atrocious attempts to equate the victims with the aggressor in Croatia, the Special Envoy of the President of Serbia for Resolving the Issue of Missing Persons with Croatia, Veran Matic, also huddled in Vukovar with a wreath for victims. His presence is mockery of Croatians, both fallen and living – both he and Serbia’s President Aleksander Vucic have and had means to access information about the missing Croatians from the days of aggression and still after almost 30 years they all keep silent with that information, hiding it on purpose.  And there are no messages to that effect coming from either the President or the Prime Minister of Croatia!

As to Serb civilians being “civilian combatants” in aid of Serb aggression against Croatia I am reminded this week of the heart-wrenching story of a Croatian man from Croatia’s Vukovar who ended up in Sydney, Australia, to recover from unspeakable tortures by the hand of Serb “civilians” during the 1990’s after the International Red Cross had come across the Manjaca concentration camp in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mato Mostarac told his harrowing story in 1995 to the ABC TV documentary program Four Corners, which was producing the award-winning documentary film “The Coward’s War”, headed by Australia’s renowned investigative journalist Chris Masters. I myself assisted as psychologist and interpreter in the interviewing for the documentary film of the deeply traumatised survivors of Serb aggression.

Mato Mostarac’s Serb neighbours in Vukovar broke into his yard in late August 1991, beat his wife who cowered in pain and was paralysed from it, and forcefully took him with other Croats in a truck to the Begejci concentration camp in Serbia, for a while in Begejci and then transferred to the Serb-held Manjaca concentration camp (Bosnia and Herzegovina); a death camp of brutality unseen since WWII. Serbs cut and chopped Mato and the other Croatian victims with a razor blade over their bodies and faces, tortured and raped or forced them to watch a detainee father rape his detained son and vice versa… Many indications show that Serb civilians were largely not civilians but cruel torturers and murderers of Croats, in aid of the communist and Serb aggression against Croatia. When I met Mato Mostarac, his whole face and body were marked with numerous thin and long scars from razor blade cuts… Here is a bit of what Mato Mostarac told us at the shooting of the 1995 Australian state television documentary ABC “The Coward’s War”:

„After they (Serbs) took their turns I was completely covered in blood. I had a white jumper on, and everything was soaked in blood. I ate all my blood, dried blood, it dried all over me. I’d pluck it together with the fibres from the jumper and all that. I’d eat all that event the blood from my hair. I ate everything … hungry…hungry…and they just give you water…“

As to the passing of Tomislav Mercep and on the fact that some consider Mercep a national hero while others (mainly die-hard communists of former Yugoslavia) consider him a war criminal, here is what, according to Fenix Magazine, Croatian newspaper base din Germany, dr Jure Buric (wartime Mayor of devastated Dubrovnik, former member of Croatian Parliament) said this week:

„Tomislav Mercep – for some a hero, for others a criminal. The latter have a court verdict they can wave around for something like that, and the former have common sense and a good memory of his heroic deeds at a time when a rifle and a cannon and a pencil and a bad word attacked him and his homeland. Is it heroism to defend his home? It is! Is it heroism to defend your people? It is!

And? – there is further and no further. There is no further, because when a man defends himself, he can do something dishonourable, but even that dishonourable deed should be viewed through the prism of reality and the moment when we cannot all control our emotions and actions, because it is not a ballroom dance with pleasant music and chess. The buzzing of bullets and destructive grenades are the music here, and on the board are living, not wooden figures. So who is who ?! A punishment is enough for an honest man if he realises that he did something dishonourable, because he has to live with it. He doesn’t even need a punishment that will make the other side happy and drive him to the grave ahead of time.

For such a thing, courts and court scales are needed, on which everything should not be thrown in order for the desired party to prevail.

With Tomislav Mercep, the court scales tipped against him and it was not easy for him or us to watch the hero rot, like my friend the late prefect Đuro Brodarac (who died in prison), who was met by the same fate.

Only you, the latter, rejoice in his death, but know that there are infinitely many more of the former – those who mourn him and pray to God for his soul!“

As to Veran Matic’s visit to Vukovar this week representing Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic, retired general and former Member of Croatian Parliament, Zeljko Glasnovic, summarised so clearly and aptly the widespread sentiments across Croatia and its diaspora in his Facebook status:

„Veran, continue to be “faithful to your fatherland” and do not tell empty stories once a year when you come to Croatia. What kind of reconciliation are you talking about, what kind of cooperation and search for the missing are you talking about? You know where they went missing, why don’t you tell us Veran? You come to worship falsely and provoke false sympathy. Did you lay a wreath in the centre of Vukovar where in April, 45 years ago, 200 most prominent citizens of Vukovar were killed by the army that fought under the same five-pointed star under which Vukovar was destroyed in ’91? Did you lay a wreath at a mass execution site near Vukovar where 400 Croatian soldiers were killed by the same communist villains at the same time?

You will show the true respect you are talking about only when you say ‘SORRY, WE HAVE COMMITTED AGGRESSION AGAINST CROATS, we killed you, we raped your wives, we killed your children, we looted and burned your homes, we demolished your churches, we took out eyes, cut off hands, ears and fingers of your defenders, we buried them in pits, because of us mothers do not know where the graves of their children are, we have turned your people into refugees, we killed civilians and the wounded, we massacred them, we abused them, we are still silent today about where your missing are, SORRY WE REPENT.’

The persistent equating of the victim with the aggressor does not make your kneeling credible, Veran, no matter how much you cause your knees to bleed in Ovcara and other execution sites, you and those who will come after you. Veran, what kind of delay in normalisation and the search for the missing are you talking about? There is no delay, WE do not know Veran where our people disappeared to, YOU know and are silent. Who’s at a standstill here?

Tell us, Veran, who carried out the aggression on Croatia – we defended ourselves, and died while defending our country for the freedom of our people. After your ‘pal’ Sljivancanin (Veselin) was released from prison (after serving two-thirds of 17-year sentence for ICTY war crimes in Vukovar conviction) he gave a statement that ‘he did not finish his job in Vukovar’, and you would like to reconcile? You are covering up crimes against Croats just as all Croatian governments are covering up the communist crimes from World War II.

Veran, until the last bone is found, until you all kneel and cry over your crimes, until all your war criminals are punished, until you pay the last penny, until you admit aggression, until you open the archives, NONE of you need to come to any of our anniversaries. ALL of you, Veran, are persona non grata in Croatia for me. And not only you, but also half of our government that cooperates with you as the UDBA (communist Yugoslavia Secret Services) did to cover up and forget as many crimes as possible. A prime example of this, despite all the relevant evidence, is the honourable man Nikola Kajkic, who exposed you and was no longer suitable for our institutions while in the case of the betrayal and surrender of our generals to The Hague they were very expeditious and quick: “Locate, identify, arrest, transfer “. You just continue kneeling, Veran, our killed people also knelt before you as you (all)  brutally executed them – but they received no mercy.“

No memorial or monument to Croatian suffering such as Ovcara/Vukovar and Skabrnje during the 1990’s Homeland War should be a diving board for politics and especially not the politics of equating the victim with the aggressor. This is unacceptable, cruel and designed to keep the Croatian people who fought for and defended Croatia and Croatians for independence. Perpetual grief for the sufferings Croatians endured or fell victim to has not yet steeled the Croatian people for the future they lost rivers of blood for in the Homeland War. Grief should unite towards building a better future but, alas, the Croatian government and leadership continue interrupting that positive outcome from national grief…their sights are set on diminishing the value and the direction Croatian people took at the risk of their own lives from the very bloody dawn of Serb aggression. Time to put the foot down against the thugs in Croatian government and leadership who equate brazenly and cruelly the victim with the aggressor. Ina Vukic

Remembering Vukovar And The Smut Of Erdut Agreement

Ivo Lucic
Photo: screenshot

This is the week we remember the victims in the November 1991 fall of Croatia’s Vukovar (and all the victims of Serb aggression against Croatia), brutally attacked, destroyed, slaughtered and tortured by Serb rebel paramilitary as well as Serb-led Yugoslav Army forces. This is the week that in our mind the thoughts of forgiveness and reconciliation inevitably intrude upon those of profound sadness for the victims and the search for that light of justice due for all. Forgiveness, though, is only truly earned by those that repent. This, though, is not the case for the Serb who are, these days, on an accelerated and noisy rampage of trying to justify the crimes because of which Croatia was put into the situation of having to defend the self-preservation of its own people and land from the onslaught.

While the Erdut Agreement reached on 12 November 1995 for a peaceful reintegration into Croatia of its Serb-occupied territory in the vicinity of Vukovar, the region of Eastern Slavonia, Baranja and Western Sirmium established all transitional arrangements, including a transitional administration that would facilitate the return of refugees in the region, the protection of refugees and their property rights, and the deployment of an international force to maintain peace and security in the region, Croatian Serb leaders including member of parliament for Serb ethnic minority Milorad Pupovac, undoubtedly propped-up by Serbia’s support, are resurrecting these days the Erdut agreement as though it was a permanent fixture in the way independent Croatia should proceed to develop itself as a sovereign democratic state, and as though it gave the Serb aggressor absolution for its crimes and rights to go on with life as though no aggression, murder, ethnic cleansing of Croats from the region, torture – occurred back then! Pupovac said this week at the marking of the anniversary of the Erdut Agreement that the agreement would be satisfied in full when there is Serb representation in all municipal councils of Croatia, in all government ministries, in all institutions…!

Whether the Erdut Agreement had in fact clauses or addendums that stipulate any such representation or not, is beside the point as in fact and de jure agreements have a life span that cannot be extended or shortened without due legal processes. The Erdut Agreement had the life span of transitional nature and if anyone has issues with its implementation the world of judicial pursuits upon which any “complaints” should be adjudicated in democracy is open to all, including Serbs. But I somehow doubt Pupovac has a leg to stand on in the scheme of things that occurred with Serb aggression and their tremendously destructive consequences for the Croatian citizens and the development of the democratic state.

Erdut Agreement was largely a brainchild of Peter Galbraith, US Ambassador to Croatia, who along with Russian Ambassador Leonid Karestadjians and German diplomat Geert-Hinrich Ahrens, concocted in January 1995 the so-called Z-4 Plan for Croatia where autonomy (to Serbs) would be given on a significant part of the occupied Croatian territory! It actually planned for a legal Serb state within Croatia! There’s more than one way of succeeding in extending the borders of Greater Serbia, it seems – if Croatia’s leaders permit Pupovac and his followers the reign of drunken, hateful, disrespect for the victims of aggression and Croatia’s victory of independence as a sovereign state. There was not a single word of remorse for the genocide committed against Croatian people, across Croatia. Pupovac made the point of saying that Erdut Agreement brought peace to the region but failed to address why it was essential to bring peace and what was behind it (Serb aggression).

The fact that Pupovac rhetoric regarding infiltrating public administration and decision making with members of ethnic Serb minority brings about torrents of traumas to the Croatian public because, among other disquieting thrusts that suggest Serb victory within Croatia, it represents the notion that all crimes of aggression against Croatians and Croatia should perhaps be erased as acceptable and forgotten as if nothing happened! Pupovac move here is a clear example of attempting to solidify the equating of victim with the aggressor.

That which medical doctors did in Vukovar hospital in 1991, healing all patients, even those belonging to the enemy, is something that is rarely seen and we can be proud of that. With this book I wanted to tell that relatively unknown story because we know quite a bit about the battles for Vukovar and about defending it but the story about the heroic doctors has remained somewhat in the shadows,” said dr. Ivo Lucic in Zagreb, Croatia, on 14 November 2014 at the promotion of his book “Vukovar hospital, the lighthouse in the historic storms of Croatia’s East” (“Vukovarska bolnica svjetionik u povijesnim olujama hrvatskog istoka”).

The hospital was also a warning for those who approached, and who has destroyed Vukovar just before that. The hospital sent the message to watch how they approach the institution marked with a red cross and protected under international laws. However, they did not accept that message and ran aground the cliffs of crimes, did everything that is already known to us, in Ovcara and other places, murdered the wounded and civilians and that is something that will remain in their conscience forever,” dr. Lucic emphasised.

By the end of its three-month siege at the hands of Serb forces in November 1991, Vukovar had become utterly devastated and its Croatian and non-Serb population ethnically cleansed. The capture of the town was an important strategic objective for the Serb-dominated Yugoslav army. It was designed to consolidate Serb control over the region of Croatia known as Eastern Slavonia.

When the Serb forces took control of Vukovar on 19 November 1991, several hundred people took refuge in the town’s hospital in the hope that they would be evacuated in the presence of neutral observers. But instead of the hoped-for evacuation, about 400 individuals – including wounded patients, soldiers, hospital staff and Croatian political activists – were removed from the hospital by Yugoslav army and Serb paramilitary forces and taken to Ovcara farm near Vukovar. The detainees were beaten up. Some died of their injuries and approximately 260 of them were executed and then buried in a mass grave.

Lest we forget!

Ina Vukic

Picture of Croatia: Vukovar 2012 – 21 years on

Paying respects to the victims at Ovcara, Vukovar
Photo: Barbara Matejcic

To mark the 21st Anniversary of the Fall of Vukovar into Serb hands I have translated most of the dialogue in the above documentary film by Karolina Vidovic-Kristo. The film is notable especially because it covers Vukovar today – it’s children of today, its victims of war, its school system that separates Croatian and Serb children.

Ethnically cleansed of Croatian and non-Serb population Vukovar was returned to Croatia in 1995, but Croatian refugees only began returning to it in significant numbers in 1999. Perhaps this is the reason why Vukovar’s school children don’t attend classes together and mainstream education is not in the Croatian language? Perhaps Serbs had their children attending classes in Serbian language between 1991 and 1999 and once Croatian refugees began returning, new classes – in Croatian – were set up separately. A sad reality, indeed! How are all the children these supposed to feel and say: this is Croatia! How are they supposed to grow up without confusion of belonging and with feelings of equal rights?

Respect of ethnic minorities, to my view, cannot compromise mainstream services in a sovereign country. If it does, the sovereignty and the national interests of a country are practically minimised, which leads to confusion and troubled allegiances. While ethnic minorities should have the opportunity to maintain their specific language and culture on personal preference basis they should in no way be placed in situations that question their full belonging to a country’s mainstream establishment. What seems to be happening in Vukovar is a continued smoldering of ethnic differences rather than citizenship commonalities, and this to my view cannot be a healthy way to build a future of complete peace, reconciliation and coexistence. Having children in separated mainstream education classes maintains the culture of separation. It would seem that Croatia has accommodated international pressure for rehabilitation of refugees in an extreme, damaging to its mainstream national identity way. I wish Croatian governments have been stronger and modeled ethnic minority life on Western democracies rather than caving into pressures of political biases which, I dare say, often came from the same Western countries that enjoy mainstream services and education, with “extracurricular” provisions for all ethnic minorities.  Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd).

Below: Karolina Vidovic-Kristo HRT film: “Vukovar today” and translation into English of dialogues in it:

Karolina Vidovic-Kristo:  “Welcome to Picture of Croatia, the occasion is the 18th November, anniversary of the Fall of Vukovar, day of remembrance of victims of Vukovar, victims that brought victory to Croatia.

We are in the church of St Philip & Jacob in Vukovar . The hole is in the church’s wall. After the liberating battle Storm in August 1995 and the Dayton agreement in November 1995, the Serb aggressor withdrawing from occupied Vukovar wanted to leave behind them an even greater havoc. Hence, they dug 22 holes across the church in every bearing wall to place in them explosives, with the aim of blowing up the whole church building to the ground.  Holes like this one were dug into all bearing walls of the church and explosives placed into them…”

At 2.47 minutes Child Care Centre “Joy”: “Are all children in your centre of Serbian nationality? Slavka Loncar: Mainly yes, but there are children of other nationalities but in a lesser number. But we don’t divide the children according to nationality but according to geographic principle, because this is an educational organisation and there are no politics here. The specificity of this organisation, that is its educational program, is that work is carried out in the Serbian language with mandatory learning of the Croatian language 2 hours per day. Is it not important that a child in its early years learns its mother language? Yes. It’s important.

But isn’t the reverse system perhaps more logical. I. e. that parallel to regular State program, which is offered to its children, to offer extracurricular teaching of mother language? Yes that can be too. But in this moment, where we live and where education is registered in accordance with Croatian law, in accordance with Constitutional law and law on ethnic minorities, and law on pre-school education, which enable learning, that is work of children in Serbian language “.

At 4.30 minutes: Primary School Nikola Andric, Vukovar.  Zeljko Kovacevic: “These are all Croatian Schools, where lessons are carried on in Croatian language and Latin writing, that’s half the pupil population, and the other half of pupil population receive all lessons in the Serbian language and Cyrillic writing”.

At 4.53 minutes – interview with school children. “Children, were you all born in Vukovar? Yes. Do you love Croatia? Yes. When you grow up – I’ve noticed that a lot of young people are leaving Croatia because they consider that one cannot live well in Croatia – do you have a plan to leave Vukovar when you grow up? (Children’s responses are various)Yes…Canada…America…Zagreb…some larger city in Croatia where there are maybe better jobs and better wages and bigger opportunities… no, I’ll stay in Vukovar. Now, imagine that you have a magic wand and that you are in a position of power, and that you are the ones who decide what needs to be fixed in Vukovar? Help the poor, that there are no more poor people, fixes houses for the poor, that Croatians and Serbs are not separated, that we all attend the same classes together, and that there are no differences between people. But regardless of nationality you are all Croatians? Yes, because we live in Croatia. ‘Mr Mayor’ what would you ban in Vukovar? I would prohibit cigarettes and alcohol.

At 6.50 minutes – interview with school children. “You’re all from Grade 7a in this school, do you all attend classes in Croatian language? Yes. Do you intend to stay in Croatia? Yes. Are you aware of the fact that your peers who are of Serbian nationality are not to blame for what had happened in the Homeland War, or are you nevertheless a little bothered by that, that they belong to the ethnic group which attacked Croatia then, that you nevertheless have a bit of a distance from them?  Well, I’m troubled by that a bit, I don’t feel good about it. Why? Because they destroyed our school and houses and that a lot of people were killed. But children of your age weren’t born yet, can you separate that fact? Well yes I can.  How do you feel? Well, bad, because they killed my grandfather and that, and the fact that children of Serbian nationality go to school with me it doesn’t matter, they’re not to blame for that. I play with them and all that. Are they aware that they belong to an ethnic group which perpetrated evil but that they themselves are not to blame for that, or do you feel they’re troubled by that a bit? Well, judging by the ones in my school I don’t think they’re troubled by that.

At 9.15 minutes. “Snjezana Karaula Maljak: In the homeland War, in 1991, I was raped, I was a member of Croatian Army, sanitary unit, I was raped in October, I was taken prisoner in September 1991, 14 October first rape, after a couple of days second, and so on, and so on. The rapists are free, one fled to Serbia and I don’t know the whereabouts of the other. I think the first one fled in 2002 when his trial began, he sold his house and fled and the other one was here in Vukovar until September last year, I used to come across him, he fled when his sentencing hearing was on. There were too many victims in this city, too many dead, killed, too many were abused, and today they want to put all that under a key lock, into forgetfulness, to finish as if nothing ever happened and the foundations of this country were built on each and every one of these victims. And that, I think, is a moral mistake of the State and its institutions that they remember we exist only on days of commemorating the Fall (of Vukovar).”

10.34 minutes, “Velepromet” Hangars, Vukovar. “Fanika Janko. And here I remember when I saw the light of day for the first time …here in front of the second or third hangar stood some fifteen of our people, maybe twenty, with their hands up, their backs were turned so I couldn’t recognise them, but I recognised three people who were local Serbs, all the more they were neighbours from the street where I used to go every day, Rajko Smiljanic was dressed in civilian clothes, Mile Ikac and one in uniform with a Kalashnikov on his back. I think his name was Boca or his nickname was something like that. Those men, except the one in uniform, are still here today. The one dressed in uniform had fled to Serbia, and that Smiljanic is still here today, a big business man who even today uses this space as his warehouse”.

At 12.13 minutes. Interview with workers at “Veleporomet” Hangars. “Do you know what these hangars once were? I have no clue… no, I’m not from Vukovar …I have no time, I have to work… Do you know that here in 1991 there was the largest concentration camp since WWII? No, no I don’t know anything”.

At 13.06 minutes: Fanika Janko: “Not only Croatian, but everyone who was non-Serb…and Vukovar is a city where the biggest number of minorities lived, 21 minorities before this war, which means that all those who stood on Croatian side were imprisoned here, and regretfully most did not survive this camp. You survived, you’re a witness and you and your husband were imprisoned here? Not my husband, just me, he as member of the National Guard in this region earlier fell into Serb hands – Chetniks and local Serbs from Vukovar –   that day they maltreated him and his friends in all possible ways, he was crucified against a wagon … they shot him the next day at 11 o’clock, his body was blown apart only his hands remained…  On the 18 November the members of Yugoslav Army gathered us here, the young, 14 or 15 years old, they took them …no one returned, we heard gunshots… we heard cries for help, screams…I mean a horrible night when you heard their wild reveling when they’d kill someone… barking of dogs, screaming and cries for help…can anyone imagine a more horrible scene.

At 15.50 minutes. Fanika Janko. “I came to Zagreb…and the next day the woman found my children and brought them … that moment I shall never forget … when I saw my girls…we just cried. .. Did they know what had happened to you? No, it’s hard to talk about it because horrors occurred here it’s too horrible, I admire all the women who gathered enough courage to say what had happened to them. Because when a woman is humiliated in that most callous way I think that that’s worse than any murder.  I believe that many women will take that to their grave. .. I believe that it is too horrible to leave that realization to ones’ children, so that they don’t live in hate … let them grow up healthy for their future and the future of their children. Because, the price paid for that freedom is big.”

At 18.40 minutes “ You’re at Hangar on Ovcara which was used as warehouse before 1991 … this Home of Remembrance arose as a donation from city of Zagreb and from the idea of Croatian Concentration Camp prisoners with its seat in Vukovar… after three months of grenade shelling and street battles Vukovar fell on 18 November 1991. And Yugoslav Peoples’ Army had soon after that occupied the Vukovar Hospital. In the Hospital, on the 20th November, they gathered all the wounded, all the civilians and hospital staff, 261 of them were brought here to this hangar. Here, Chetniks and regretfully quite many of local Serbs from Vukovar and the surrounding places, among which was the pre-war Mayor of Vukovar, waited for them. All those civilians and wounded were brought here first so they could be tortured, four prisoners died the first day from beatings, the rest of them, on the same night – which is the reason why there’s always darkness in this room – were taken by army wagons 2 kilometers from here and murdered there and buried there in one pit. 200 bodies have been discovered in this pit and the search continues for the remaining 61 bodies…the youngest victim was only 16 years old, the oldest 72, and among them were 3 women, one of whom was pregnant…

At 21.50 minutes:   Ivana Kedmenec   “Ivana, how is it to live in Vukovar today? Well good. My husband and I are a young family with three children, we both work and we’re satisfied.    Apart from unemployment what would you say is the biggest problem today in Vukovar?   (Tihomir Kedmenec) “Well I haven’t noticed any larger problems but economic situation would be one of them … I have the fortune of not having lost anyone from my family in the war , my immediate family that is, so I’m not carrying that painful burden like a good part of Vukovar’s citizens are … so my view and my thoughts are perhaps different to theirs…

At 23.24 minutes: Karolina Vidovic-Kristo: “Dear viewers, Petar Baric, otherwise HRT war correspondent, and I have with this film have made an effort to show you at least a part of the picture of Vukovar today, in 2012. And all of you who are in a position to come, come to Vukovar, stroll through the city, have a coffee with Vukovarans and walk the paths of great heroes. Every Japanese child knows what Hiroshima is, it is up to us that every Croatian child knows what Vukovar is, every Croatian child regardless of nationality. We end this Picture of Croatia in Zagreb, Vukovar is Croatia and Zagreb its capital city, this church was built in celebration of freedom, Holy Mother of Freedom, the last words belong to the heroes whose names are engraved here and who say to us:

If the mast of dignity is heavy for you, drive it into the earth where our bones rest, we will hold it.”

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