Oral history interview with Mara Vejnovis
Mara Vejnovis, a Serbian born in Novska, Croatia in 1923, discusses her deportation to Stara Gradiška, a camp within the Jasenovac concentration camp complex, where she was put in an area reserved for Croat leftist women; her involvement with the clandestine communist organization in the camp; her work assignment to children deported from Serbia in Summer 1942; her witness to the murder of children by "four Catholic nuns" who wiped the mouths of the children with a poison and to the murder of a group of children by Ustasa (Ustasha) with poisonous gas in a barrack; her witness to the murder of the Jews from her home town of Novska, who were forced to ingest caustic soda (Sodium hydroxide); her memories of mass murders on the banks of the Sava River near Stara Gradiška; her release from Stara Gradiška in an exchange of leftist inmates for German and Ustasa officers captured by partisan resistance fighters; how after liberation she became a teacher and worked for the communist Central Committee in Croatia; and her relationship and work with Croatian president Franjo Tudjman. Vejnovis continues by discussing and rejecting allegations against the Jews in Jasenovac concentration camp.
Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
- Vejnovis, Mara
- Almuli, Jasa
1997 July 17
3 sound cassettes (74 min.).
- Credit Line
- United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, courtesy of the Jeff and Toby Herr Foundation
Record last modified: 2022-06-24 20:09:43
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn505928
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Bozo Svarc, born in 1920 in Zagreb, Croatia, discusses his arrest by the Ustasha in May 1941; his time in Jadovno concentration camp in the Lika region; his escape from an execution with the help of a Croat classmate from Zagreb, who was a member of the Ustasha unit carrying out the executions; his deportation to Jasenovac concentration camp in August 1941; his escape from Jasenovac in the fall of 1942 with his friend, Pavel Lev; his affiliation with Josip Tito's partisans in the mountains of Slovenia; how he learned of mass murders of Serbs and Jews in Krapje camp and a "death run" from the Krapje camp to Jasenovac; how he found a friend and fellow Macabee (Maccabi World Union) sports club member, Pavel Lev, from Zagreb, and how Pavel told him of the atrocities in Krapje camp; and his witness to gruesome atrocities by the Ustasha. Bozo Svarc also discusses and refutes allegations that Jasenovac was a working camp and not a "liquidation camp." He goes on to say that most new deportees never entered the camp itself, but were taken across the Sava River on the Bosnian side and massacred near the Serbian village of Bosanska Gradiska.
Josip Erlih, born in 1927 in Yugoslavia (present day Croatia), in discusses his deportation to Stara Gradiska concentration camp, a former prison and part of the Jasenovac concentration camp complex; how he was beaten by Jewish members of the camp administration in Stara Gradiska; his time working in the tailor shop making uniforms for the Ustasha guards; his transfer to the main camp in Jasenovac in 1943 where he worked in the brickmill; how he found out that his mother and other relatives and friends were killed on the banks of the Sava River near Jasenovac before his arrival there; his experiences with a Kapo named Ilija Paripovic; how he and a friend, a Bosnian Jew, had their work detail changed from the brick mill to the tinsmith shop to avoid death; his memories of the "apelos" (Appel) in Jasenovac and how the Ustasha used the Appels as a time for public executions; the execution of members of the illegal communist organization in Jasenovac; and his memories of the prisoner revolt in Jasenovac on April 22, 1945.
Eduard Sajer, born in 1922 in Avtovac, Yugoslavia (Bosnia and Hercegovina), describes being an Ashkenazi Jew raised in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina; his involvement with a union sports club and the Communist Youth before World War II; his imprisonment by the Ustasha in August 1941; his deportation by train to Jasenovac concentration camp in November 1941; the separate barracks for Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews and Serbs in Jasenovac; his work as an electrician in the camp; his participation in digging graves for prisoners who had been executed by a blow to the head with mallets by the Ustasha guards and his witness to the execution of his younger brother, Albert, by the same means; his memories of Danon, the "head Jew" in the grave diggers group, who managed to escape from Jasenovac, but was captured and executed by partisans for his alledged mistreatment of prisoners in Jasenovac; the relationships among inmates in Jasenovac; the illegal communist network in Jasenovac and his own involvement with a small solidarity group with other electricians in the camp; the scarcity of food and water in Jasenovac; the prisoner revolt in Jasenovac on April 22, 1945; and how he joined Josip Tito's partisans and fought in the resistance after his escape.
Cedomil Huber, born in Bosanska Gradiška, Bosnia and Hercegovina and president of the Belgrade chapter of survivors from Jasenovac concentration camp, discusses how he was imprisoned as a young communist and supporter of the Liberation Front in May 1943; his deportation to Stara Gradiška, a fortress prison within the Jasenovac camp complex; his activities with the illegal communist organization in Jasenovac and his position as Chief Quartermaster in the camp's internal administration (Logornik) where it was his responsibility to steal food for inmates; his relationship with fellow Jasenovac prisoners, Vlah Romeo, Dijamanstajn, and Viner, all of whom were a part of the internal administration of Jasenovac; his memories of the mass murders in Jasenovac by the Ustasha guards; and his participation in the prisoner revolt at Jasenovac on April 22, 1945. Huber continues the interview by discussing a book by Franjo Tudjman entitled, "The Wilderness of Historical Realities." In this book, Tudjman accuses the Jewish prisoners of wrongdoings, especially the mistreatment of Serbian prisoners in Jasenovac and seizure of strict control of the internal administration. Huber refutes Tudjman's allegations that Jews created "self-management of inmates" in Jasenovac and states that the negative generalizations made in Tudjman's book are a "blatant antisemitic declaration."
Mihajlo Maric, a Serb from a village near Bjelovar, Croatia and born in 1918, discusses his imprisonment by the Ustasha in April 1941; his time in the Krapje concentration camp, a part of the Jasenovac concentration camp complex; his transfer to the brick mill at the main Jasenovac camp in August 1941; his time working in the chain and metal shop (Lancara) and hospital for Ustasha guards; his memories of "apelo" or Appels convoked by the Ustasha for executions or public punishment of Jasenovac prisoners; his memories of Jasenovac prisoners being taken across the Sava River for execution near the village of Gradina; the scarcity of food and how he received food packages from his mother; his memories of the actions of Jews in the internal administration of the Jasenovac camp; and the involvment of Jews and Roma in the executions of other prisoners.
Ado Kabiljo, born in the Bosnian town of Visoko in 1915, discusses his imprisonment in Jasenovac concentration camp in October 1941; his work on an earthen dam in the "Lonjsko Polje" area of Jasenovac; his transfer to the main camp, Jasenovac III at the brick mill, in November 1941; how the Ustasha guards in the camp used the furnace of the brick mill as a make shift crematoria; how Ustasha executed members of his immediate family and burned them in the make shift crematoria; his memories of seeing his mother in the Stara Gradiska part of the Jasenovac camp complex on the day before her execution; his escape from Jasenovac in September 1944; how he found his way to join partisan fighters through the aid of Serbian villagers; his days as a soldier in the Yugoslav army; and his life after World War II. Kabiljo continues by refuting the antisemitic generalizations about the treacherous behavior of Jewish prisoners in Jasenovac.
Sava Petrovic, a Serb from the village of Veliko Nabrdje in Slavonia, discusses a roundup on August 11, 1942, and his deportation to Jasenovac concentration camp; how a Jew named Polgar kept Sava hidden in a barracks during his bout with typhus so that the Ustasha would not take him to the hospital and kill him; his memories of mass murders of forestry workers from Jasenovac and how the Ustasha executed them by cutting the prisoners' throats and throwing them in the Sava River; his memories of the different types of jobs held by Jasenovac prisoners; his escape during the prisoner revolt in April 1945; and his involvement with Tito's partisan fighters. Petrovic also discusses and refutes claims from Franjo Tudjman's book, "The Wilderness of Historical Realities," that Jews monopolized power in the internal administration of the camp and committed atrocities against Gentiles, Serbs, and others imprisoned in Jasenovac
Ljiljana Ibvanisevic, born December 22, 1937 in Novi Sad, Serbia, discusses living with an aunt in Veliko Nabrdje; her deportation to Jasenovac concentration camp at the age of five; her time in Stara Gradiska camp, part of the Jasenovac camp complex; how her parents joined a partisan group before deportation and left her and her siblings in the care of an aunt; how her eight-month-old sibling disappeared in Stara Gradiska camp; her means of survival by eating grass; the poor sanitary conditions under which she lived; her witness to children being separated from their mothers and sent to various fates by the Ustasa (Ustasha) guards in the camp; the care she received from a Jewish woman named "Bendl;" how she was rescued from Jasenovac by a Croatian man named Grga Zlatar; and how Zlatar and his wife healed her and cared for her after her time in the camp. Ibvanisevic continues by discussing and refuting the allegations made by Franjo Tudjman and Jovan Prnjatovic, a Serb and prisoner from Jasenovac concentration camp, that Jewish prisoners in Jasenovac committed atrocities against Serbian and other prisoners.
Milo Despot, born in 1924 in a the village of Jemema near Belgrade, Serbia, discusses his involvement with partisan resistance fighters; his imprisonment in "3 C" of the Jasenovac concentration camp in September 1942; his memories of working on the river near the camp with a Jewish man named Minc and how Minc was killed with other Jewish camp chiefs (Grupnici) on April 21, 1945; his memory of the mass murder of 100 Serbian girls on a barge on the river near Jasenovac and how the Ustasha cut the girls' throats and threw the bodies in the river; and how the Ustasha preferred methods of killing prisoners were by mallets, hammers, and knives, not by shooting