CampsiteJuly 6 in Croatia ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C
After the Independent State of Croatia was established by the force of the Axis powers behind it, the first thing the Croat leaders did was to clear the decks of undesirables: that is anybody who did not agree with them or who posed a potential threat. A number of concentration camps were established, amongst them Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska In a unhealthy swampland conveniently serviced by an existing train line. Whilst they were not extermination camps like Auschwich, the inmates still died, mainly from disease, malnourishment and overwork though plenty were shot, (some whilst trying to escape.) In the museum, a torn scrap of cardboard with "thirsty" scrawled on it records an episode when the notorious camp commandant ordered on section of the camp to be denied food and water - until they were no more.
Stara G soon became a holding facility for women and children. The women were sent on to labour camps in Germany and the children were left behind, soon to die from malnutrition and untreated diseases.
The exact number of people perishing will probably never be known. So far 82,570 have been identified by name: 47,141 Serbs, 16,148 Roma, 13,041 Jews, 4,235 Croats, 1,129 Bosnian Muslims. And of these, about 20,000 were children under 14.
Video testimonies from survivors make it clear that people were not targeted for religious or ethnic reasons but because they were not "People Like Us" and in particular many were communists and actively opposing the State. That's why Orthodox Christian Croats were included as well.
Unlike the German SS with no sense of shame who kept their camps going until virtually until the Allies arrived, the Ustase knew exactly what they were doing and made every effort to destroy the evidence before their enemy turned up. Hence there are no buildings left standing and this memorial flower grows alone out of the fields now returned to hay.
As I left, I could not help but notice the tattooed lightening bolt on the neck of the security guard. It could all happen again so easily.Read more