Co-editors: Seán Mac Mathúna • John Heathcote
Consulting editor: Themistocles Hoetis
Field Correspondent: Allen Hougland


The Massacre at Koritska Gorge, Bosnia-Hercegovina, 1941
Vladimar Dedijer

Essential reading for those investigating the role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust/Porajmos: Vladimar Dedijer's The Yugoslav Auschwitz and the Vatican (Prometheus Books, USA/Anriman-Verlag, Freiburg, Germany, 1988). The following is from the introduction to the book:

In this collection we are publishing documents that testify to the fact that the highest dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church gave their blessing to Ante Pavelic at a time when the so-called independent state of Croatia was proclaimed, i.e., at a time when the Yugoslav state and its army still existed.

Roman Catholic priests and monks organized mercenary troops that attacked the Yugoslav army units while the latter were also severely pressured by Hitler's divisions. Throughout the whole war in more than 150 newspapers and magazines, the church justified the fascist state under Pavelic as the work of God.

Many Roman Catholic priests served the Ustasha state in high positions. The pope appointed the highest military vicar for Croatia. The latter had a field chaplain in every unit of the Ustasha army. The task of this field chaplain consisted among other things of repeatedly goading the Ustasha units in their mass murders of the peasant population. High dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church and of the Ustasha state together organized the mass conversion of the Orthodox Serbian population. Hundreds of Orthodox churches in Serbia were plundered and destroyed; the three highest dignitaries and two hundred clerics were murdered in cold blood; the remainder of the clergy were driven into exile. In the concentration camp of Jasenovac, hundreds of thousands of Serbs were murdered under the command of Roman Catholic priests.

The papal emissary Marcone was in Croatia during this entire time. He sanctioned silently all the gory deeds and permitted pictures of himself with Pavelic and the German commanders to be published in the newspapers. After the visit to Pope Pius XII, Ante Pavelic exchanged Christmas and New Year's greetings with him that were published in the Ustasha press.

In mid-year 1986 the government of the United States released documents of their counter-espionage agency. These reveal that the Vatican had organized a safe-flight route from Europe to Argentina for Pavelic and two hundred of his advisors known by name. The fascists hid frequently during their flight in cloisters and in many instances disguised themselves as Franciscan monks.

Ante Pavelic was a man of great piety. In his palace in Zagreb he had a chapel built; he had two confessors. Shortly before his death in Madrid in 1959, Pope John XXIII granted him his special blessing; on his death bed, Pavelic held a wreath that was a personal gift from Pope Pius XII from the year 1941.



SS wartime propaganda poster from the Ustasha regime in Croatia. It shows a German SS solider (left) and standing beside a Bosnian Muslim SS soldier on the flag of Communism.

The SS Handschar division like the SS Skanderbeg Division participated in many war crimes in Yugoslavia in the second world war. Along with with the Ustashe, the SS Handschar divsion took part in the massacre in the Koritska Jama Gorge in Herzegovina during May/June 1941. Such war crimes were not isolated in wartime Yugoslavia, and the pro-Vatican Ustashe regime were not the only ones carrying them out: General Milan Nedic, who had been a Minister of War in the pre-war Royalist government of Yugoslavia, led the pro-Nazi quilsing state of Serbia during the war. Like in wartime Croatia, Nedic presided over a regime that particpated in the ruthless exterminated Serbia's minority Jewish and Roma populations.

The purpose of this article is to document the war crimes of the Bosnian Muslim SS Handschar division. The events at the Koritska Gorge are one of sveral alleged to have been carried out by this unit. A merchant Milija Bjelica escaped alive from Koritska Gorge. The following is his account of the massacre (From Dedijer, p155-164). I have footnote before you read this account: A reader of Flame in Bosnia has kindly supplied me with information which calls into question the accuracy of some of the detail in this article. He told me that there were no families called Glavinic was living in Kljuc, and that he has visited that village "a million times" and there are families such as Mehic, Custovic, Skaljic, etc but not Glavinic. Why is this important ? Because Dedijer claims that the order to carry out this massacre was signed by a member of the SS Handschar division called Muharem Glavinic, the Hodza "from the neighboring village of Kljuc".

Anyway, here is Dedijer's account of the Massacre at Koritska Gorge.

At the end of May 1941, a truck carrying 30 to 40 armed people stopped one day in front of the elementary school in the village of Korita. One could see right away that this was no regular unit of the army of the newly founded NDH, about which there were terrible reports in the air. They wore very colorful paramilitary suits, but wore a Fez as a symbol of the membership in Islam. Soon we were sure that these were mainly our neighbours - Muslim's from Kula Fazlagic, Gracanica, and Gacko, who called themselves gendarmes.

At first they chased the children out of the school so they could have the place for themselves; then some of them went to the house of my father, Mihajlo Bjelica; back then we had a shop and a cafe on the street that led from Bileca to Gacko. I worked in the shop, my brother Adam (Golub) worked in the cafe.

The unwelcome guests entered the two shops in a gruff manner and posted on the door an order that we were not to sell alcoholic drinks to anyone but them and threatened that any contrary behavior would be punished on the spot with death. The order was signed by their commander Muharem Glavinic (so they called him), the Hodza from the neighboring village Kljuc.

The next two or three days were spent in anxious expectation. We lived the first of June of this terrible year of war in uncertainty. It was Sunday, a beautiful sunny spring day, which I will never forget. On this day, the Ustasha horde of the Hodza Muharem Glavinic arrested two young men, Boro and Andrija Svorcan above the village Korita in Pitoma Gradina near the border of Montenegro. They bound them with their hands at their backs and drove them to Gacko as they mercilessly hit them with their fists and the rifle butts and kicked them with their feet. On the morning of the 2nd of June, on the next day, the Ustashe got some back-up from Gacko with the Gauleiter Kreso Herman Tonagal at their head. In addition to the above mentioned young men that they had driven to Gacko on the previous day, they were carrying more people arrested along the way. Shortly thereafter Ustasha patrols appeared throughout the whole village and demanded that all men between 16 and 60 come to the Sokolski Dom [=community house, translator's note] to a meeting at which the chief of the Ustasha government in Zagreb would explain who would be permitted to cross the border into Montenegro and whose permission would have to be obtained, and would tell them other regulations of the new government. They especially emphasized that hidden weapons and military equipment had to be brought along and threatened with death anyone who declined to do so. Since our pasture lands and tillable land lay scattered between the estates of the neighboring Montenegro villages, the people thought this assembly to be reasonable and normal for the given circumstances and obeyed without argument. Anyone who grumbled and hesitated got yelled at in a stern voice by the Ustasha patrols: "What are you waiting for? You heard the order!" and were forcefully brought to the Sokolski Dom.

Around 4:00 p.m. on this fateful day, a larger group of Ustashe came into our cafe with Kreso Herman Tonogal heading them. My brother Golub and I served them drinks, of course without getting paid. As soon as they had warmed themselves a bit, the Gauleiter Tonogal called: "Enough! Take them away!" Some of the Ustashe pointed their guns at us and shouted: "Hands up!" After a thorough search, they asked us where the money, our storage area, and the keys for the shop and the cash register were. We showed them everything without argument and asked the Gauleiter for permission to say goodbye to our father, who was lying upstairs on his sick bed. We hoped that they would allow this and planned to escape. But as he must have read our thoughts, the Ustasha shouted gruffly: "No way!" With great effort, I suppressed my anger, turned calmly to him, and said:

"Sir, it is sad that they are arresting us with no reason whatsoever. We have been earning our living here honestly and with great effort. Everyone who has been in here we have treated fairly and hospitably with no concern for their religion; for the duration of the former state, neither I, my father, nor my brother have ever hurt a fly, not to mention committing any harm to a human being. Your armed people know that, too; just ask them."

"I know who you are and how you are, but I can't help you; I can't help the fact that you are Serbs, that you belong to the people among whom the new laws of the state make no distinction. You are all guilty for what happened during the time of the former Yugoslavia, and you will pay for it, everyone of you, down to the last." This was his answer, and then he called: "Forward!"

At this command, the henchmen shoved us crudely with their rifle butts and drove us into the great hall of the Sokolski Dom, which was stuffed with arrested people, our neighbors. At the doors, two guards were posted and at the window a machine gun. One Ustasha came in with us and informed the arrested people that the meeting would be held only when everyone was there, right down to the last man, and when the head of the Ustasha government was there from Gacko.

We sat in the humid and clammy room on the bare floor. In the worried faces of the people, one could see a terrible fear, like people who are condemned to death. All night long we did not sleep and spoke in whispers about what would happen to us. Most of them found consolation in the hope that they would be hauled off to do compulsory labor or put into some sort of a camp, the way the Austro-Hungarian government did in the First World War. When day came, we asked a guard why the meeting was not being held and when they would release us. He answered that the Gauleiter was not there and that no one would be released without him.

In the course of the 3rd of June, women came with bags and blankets, but they were not allowed to have contact with us; the guards brought the things in and gave them to those for whom they were meant. I will never forget the moment when Gojko Bjelica cut into a piece of smoked lamb and cried: "No one from my family will get out of this alive; I don't have a brother anymore; only one of us will survive - severely wounded." Although I was never superstitious, Gojko's talk this time seemed uncanny.

In fear and confusion, we spent one more sleepless night from the 3rd to the 4th of June. On Wednesday the 4th of June, suddenly the Gauleiter Tonogal came in the morning and informed us in a threatening voice that all those who would surrender their hidden weapons - "We know that you have some," he shouted angrily could go home right away, while those who refused would have to go into forced labor. After he left, I looked through a hole in the side door and saw what was happening outside. I saw how the Ustashe were getting into formation; there were enough there. Their oldest ones stood in front of the ranks; one of them said something. During the whole time of his speech, the others were holding their left hand on their breast. Later I learned that the Moslems, according to their religious customs, did this when they took oaths to kill nonbelievers, since this was an act pleasing to God.

After administering the oath, the Gauleiter with a pistol shot gave the sign to begin the massacre. Here I must mention that there is no truth in the talk that some Ustasha guards gave us a clue in any way as to what awaited us and this allegedly gave us the possibility to escape. Quite the contrary. Their behavior toward us was inhuman - like that of a henchman. It is true that not all of them hit us and tormented us in the same manner (some apparently avoided it), but none of them defended us. Since all leading Ustasha personalities at this time publicly called for the slaughter of the Serbs and for their expulsion from the land, it is hardly believable that those who came to Korito did not know why. It is much more likely that they all had appeared voluntarily for this pogrom, firmly convinced that now the Serbian people in the NDH and of course in Herzegovina would be grubbed out like weeds. That's why they hastened to beat the others out in grabbing their possessions.

When the sign was given to begin the slaughter, some Ustashe pushed their way in to us and commanded: "Sit down!" After each of us sat down right where we were standing, they led one after the other into the cloak room, where five chosen henchmen, probably volunteers, were waiting. One of them (Becir Music) cut a wash line (not wire, as some people maintain) into pieces and gave these to Alid Krvavac from Gacko, who with two helpers whose names I do not know, bound the victims' hands behind their backs; at first singly and then in threes - back to back. With a pistol in his hand and in a new airforce uniform, Serif Zvizdic from Gacko observed their work.

When it was my turn, my brother Golub was already bound. Once they had searched me thoroughly, they tied my hands behind my back and then they tied me and Golub together back to back. Then they brought Gavrilo Glusac in, searched and bound him the same way as me and finally tied him sideways to us. Since we were standing with our backs to each other, we could not move, so they simply pushed us into the adjoining room, or better said, the torture chamber, which was already full of bound people. There they beat us and abused us terribly and searched us for weapons, equipment, money, and gold jewelry. While doing it, they constantly emphasized that those who confess and would do what was demanded of them would be released immediately. Only Vidak Glusac fell for this trap. He yielded after gruesome torture and confessed that he had a gun.

They immediately untied him, acted as if they would let him go to fetch the gun and said: "Go and get the gun. Don't worry. We will bring you home right away, while all the others will go into forced labor."

Vidak Nosovic, who was crying like a child, turned to a young and beautifully dressed Ustasha and asked him to loosen the bonds of his hands just a little which were pulled so damned tight that the rope around his swollen hands couldn't be seen anymore. But the Ustasha replied cold bloodily: "You deserve that. I don't feel sorry for you." Then he turned to me and said "I feel sorry only for these two brothers, because they will die innocent." He lit a cigarette and put it in my mouth. Vidak begged him in the name of Allah and in the faith of the prophet to give him a cigarette, too, but the Ustasha didn't listen to him, just as if this was some wild animal in front of him instead of a human being. When he had left our presence. I spit the burning cigarette over to Vidak, who somehow picked it up from the floor with his bleeding mouth.

Filip Svorcan, when they were tying him up, asked the Hodza Muharem Glavinic to look through his papers carefully. He would be able to see quite clearly that he (Film) served 15 years with honors as the commander of the police station, which could easily be proven. The Hodza grabbed his pistol and screamed in rage: "Fuck your 101 Serbian crosses. Just wait an hour, and l will read you the whole book of Serbian regulations." (This was told to me later by Jakov Milovic, who was in the same group with Filip and who managed to flee from the outer edge of the Koritska Jama.)

During that whole fateful June night, the quietness of the spring was again and again shredded by the tormented human screams coming from the Sokolski Dom mingled with the roar of Mumo Hasanbegovic's truck from Avtovac, with which the henchmen took groups of 25 to 30 people one after the other up to the Kobilja-Kopf as far as the gorge Golubnjaca, where they killed them (at first mostly with blunt instruments) and threw them into the abyss.

When it was the turn of me, my brother Golub, and my godfather Gavrilo Nosovic (I think we were in the fourth group), the Ustasha pushed us in over boards into the truck, which had driven up to the door. After us they pushed in eight or nine more groups of three and then closed the tailgate of the vehicle. There were only three Ustashe on the truck: one in the cab with a machine gun directed at us, the second in the right-hand corner and the third in the left corner, both with cocked guns. The cab door was hardly closed when the truck took off. It crept slowly past our shop, on which the moon was shining. The first thing I noticed was the torn-down monument of the volunteers of Solan from the village of Korita, which was close by; then the icon of St. Nikola (on the day of St. Nikola, we had had our christening celebration), which was hung on the shop where formerly the business stood. I became afraid that they had also hauled my family off someplace and perhaps had killed them. Since we were moving on the road to Gacko, there was still a slight hope that they were taking us to a hearing there.

But when the truck stopped just before the gorge Golubnjaca on the Kobilja-Kopf surrounded by Ustasha who were armed to the teeth, it was quite clear to us that this was to be an execution site, where these henchmen would slaughter us like cows or club us like rabbits. The helpless people suddenly became restless; desperate cries and tumult arose: some cried like children when they thought of their poor children, wives, and parents; others gnashed their teeth in helpless despair, while others spit in the faces of their henchmen and cried out defiantly: "You crooks will answer dearly to God and to humanity with blood for your outrageous deeds!" Fired with rage, the Ustashe hit us with their fists, feet, rifle butts, the blunt edge of axes, and other objects to try to subdue the wailing and to be able to carry out their slaughter in peace.

The bright moonlight lying on the rocky peaks of the Bjelasnica and Troglav mountains sank into darkness and was lost in the horror of what was expected. To our misfortune, we three (l, my brother Golub, and my godfather Gavrilo) were sitting close to the cab of the truck, since we were the first to be thrown into the truck, and now were the last in turn for the slaughter. So we had to watch the tormented deaths of 27 neighbors, friends, and godfathers and to be convinced that people are worse than the most bloodthirsty animals. This horrifying sight on the rim of the Koritska Jama brings tears to my eyes yet today, rips me from the deepest sleep, and accompanies me like a shadow throughout my whole life. I can find neither peace nor calm, especially since among the murderers our acquaintances and nearest neighbors were most active: Halid Voloder, the servant Mumo Hasanbegovic from Avtovac, Dervo Custovic, shepherds from the village of Kljuc Hodza Muharem Glavinic from Begovic Kula near Trebinja, Velija Hebib from Kljuc, Sucrija Fazlagic from Kula Fazlagic, Atif Hidovic, Velija Dzunkovic from Hodinic and the son of Sukrija Tanovic, who had come to Gacko from Tuzla, who by slaughtering innocent people could avenge his father, who had been killed by the band of Maja Vujovic after the First World War.

Contrary to the previous groups, they tried to kill us not with wooden hammers (they probably didn't think they could kill so many people this way before dawn), but shot us by using only two bullets for each group of three. The henchmen placed us in threes, tied back to back at the edge of the gorge in such a way that one of us at the tip of the triangle was turned with his face to the gorge, the second to the right, and the third to the left. The shots, which came from close up, were fired into the temples of the two standing at the sides and hit the back of the head of the one facing the gorge. Apparently the henchmen did not check to see whether all three were mortally wounded each time, but instead just immediately threw them into the 20-meter-deep gorge, causing anyone who was not dead to perish there in torment. From some, they had first taken articles of clothing - the pay for their efforts, because the Koran, as they said aloud, didn't permit undressing the dead.

These Ustasha bandits hauled one group of three after the other from the truck to the edge of the gorge, from where ugly curses and blunt blows, together with painful cries of helpless people fell on our ears.

The tormenting wait, which seemed to us to be unending, was finally at an end. The Ustashe dragged us roughly from the truck and pushed us to the entrance of the gorge, all the time hitting us mercilessly. Our attempts to escape the blows or to fend them off really awakened the base instincts of these monsters in human form. Once they had gotten us to the edge of the gorge, they placed me with my face to the abyss, Golub facing the one henchmen, Gavrilo the other. Both henchmen were waiting with guns loaded for the signal to shoot us in the head from close up. I saw sparks at the muzzle of the murder weapons and I heard the shots that threw us to the ground. Although my right shoulder was burning, I was conscious; I noticed that I was not mortally wounded. One bullet had flown past my collar without injuring my neck while the other had penetrated my right shoulder. I heard Golub and Gavrilo die gurgling and tried to think what to do. I felt the murderers loosen the strings on my shoes. I thought that they would perhaps untie my hands to get my coat (I was wearing a long coat and Golub had one of leather), and that that would give me a chance to escape. And indeed they did begin to untie our hands as they were removing my shoes. At this moment, I could hear a commanding voice say: "What are you guys doing there?"

"These are Golub and Milija. We want to get their coats," answered the one who was in the process of untying our hands.

"There's no time for that, and it isn't allowed; stop it and throw the bodies down," said the same man in a stern voice.

But the henchmen did not want to give up their booty. Without thinking of the Koran, they untied our hands and took off our coats. Although my hands were free, I could not move my right arm; it felt like I was still tied. When they picked us up from the ground to toss us into the abyss, I cried out in despair: "Kill me. I am still alive!"

"You won't stay alive. Fuck your Montenegrin mother," hissed the murderer and plunged a bayonet into my breast - fortunately on the right side.

When I regained consciousness, I learned that I was at the bottom of the hollow on a heap of bodies. I was terribly thirsty and slowly got used to the darkness. Somehow I managed to pull my left, uninjured arm out from under my body. With its help, I pulled out my right, completely immobile arm. Carefully I felt around me. Everywhere there were only bodies. There was something sticky on my hand. I began to shiver from the cold. In the heap of bodies, someone was gasping as if he were snoring. The horrifying feeling to be on a heap of dead people forced me to find a safe place, no matter where. I heard something that sounded like water dripping, which instilled even more the feeling of thirst in me. I stared in that direction and felt my way to a little split in the cliff and stuck my head in. In vain I tried to get a few drops of water into my dry mouth. Suddenly I heard the rattling of the motors, then people running back and forth and screams of pain, then the cracking of guns and the dull sound of victims rolling down the cliff. They fell like logs all around me, like the stones that the shepherds of Korita used to throw into the gorge to frighten the pigeons. This process was repeated about ten times in brief spurts; then there was dead silence in the Koritska Jama.

Once the truck had taken off in the direction of Korita, I noticed that someone was scraping along the walls of the cliff. He found my hiding place, laid himself between my legs, and rested his head on me. I felt his head with my good hand and asked: "Who are you?"

He gave a start, quickly composed himself and answered: "it's me!"

By his voice I recognized Vidak Glusac and said: "For God's sake, Vidak. How did you get here? Didn't the Ustashe release you after you confessed to having a gun?"

"Oh no!" cried Vidak. "Those scoundrels broke their promise; after I surrendered the gun, they brought me back again and put me in the truck. Then they drove me to the gorge and threw me in alive."

Three more times the truck came to the gorge from the Sokolski Dom loaded with the other unfortunate ones, and the massacre was continued in the same way. At first we could hear curses mixed with cries of pain, then the crack of guns, dull blows, and finally the bodies rolling down the face of the cliff. The heap of bodies at the bottom of the gorge got higher and higher. From there we could hear the last gasps of the victims who were not yet dead; with our help, a few managed to escape death.

When in the twilight of 5 June the last group had been liquidated, we determined that a total of eight people had survived this fateful night: Milija Bjelica, Radovan Sakota, Dusan and Acim Jaksic, Rade Svorcan, Vidak and Vlado Glusac, and Obren Nosovic. With an insane fear, we were sure that the bodies of our wives, children, and elders were lying there before us. We breathed a sigh of relief and for a moment forgot this darkest human insanity that we had survived under miraculous circumstances, when into the pit fell our bags, the blankets, and other things that our women folk had brought while we were imprisoned in the Sokolski Dom. Also various tools fell down: axes, hammers, adzes, with which the henchmen had killed their victims. Some hand grenades also followed, which fortunately fell into the cliff wall high above us and exploded there. Finally a whole heap of rock debris came tumbling down. We also heard derisive calls like: "Haman, didn't we find you a nice hiding place and covered you with a nice soft blanket."

A while later we heard the bells of a big herd of cows passing the Koritska Jama in the direction of Kula Fazlagic. While the gorge of Golubnjaca was still steaming from the blood of the murder victims, the murderers ran into the village like beasts of prey to plunder the animals and other mobile belongings of their victims, thus leaving the orphaned children, wives, and weak old folk without a drop of milk. Later I read in an Ustasha report that on this occasion 5,294 head of small and large animals were driven from Korita. I maintain that the number was greater by far, for the village of Korita had been famous for its wealth of animals, especially goats and sheep.

We spent all of 5 June in the gorge and didn't try to do anything. Only in the evening twilight, when everything was still, did Dusan Jaksic and Radovan Sakota, who were not seriously wounded, try to get out of the gorge. First Radovan Sakota laid me so that the water would drip on any face from the side; I managed to get individual drops into my mouth. Dusan and Radovan used axes and rope that the Ustashe had thrown into the gorge and they succeeded in climbing out. We waited in fear for what would happen then; we were afraid that Ustasha guards had been placed around the gorge. Only when a belt was thrown down from above (we planned it thus) did we know that everything was OK. This again aroused our hopes for rescue.

But we had to wait for a long time yet in the dark grave of so many people and in the unbearable stench of blood and bodies. Again on 6 June, the Ustashe plundered the village and liquidated the arrested Milosevics from the village of Nemanjica and the Milovics from Zagradac near the school in Korita. Along with the Milosevics and the Milovics, Radovan Sarovic from Stepen was killed on this day, while the mutilated bodies of Dorda Glusac and Branko Kovacevic were found later at the wall of the Trkljina. On the Kubilia headlands, they shot seven of the Milovics, while three men (Radovan, Blagoje, and Lazar) were able to escape; the brothers Milovan and Dusan Milosevic managed to escape from the courtyard of the school at Korita, so that the news of the Ustasha crimes was spread like the wind throughout all of northeast Herzegovina. Armed people from Gornje and Donje Crkvice, Vrbica, Somina, Crni Kuk, and other neighboring villages rushed to the Koritska Jama to rescue the survivors. All the adults of the Kurdulija fraternity joined them, who knew this area well. After they had gotten strong backup from Gacko and Bilece, a group came to the gorge. As long as I live, I will remember the moment when we heard the strong voice of Todor Micunovic from Crkvice: "Oh Milija, try to be patient. Don't worry, we will get you out of here." Soon the brave and bold Petar Kurdulija climbed down on a rope into the gorge. From up above they called to him that he should tie me first, because I was the most seriously wounded; then one after the other, as many as they could; apparently they were afraid that stronger units of the Ustasha or of Italians could come. But I asked Petar to take up the 16-year-old Rado Svorcan first, because his mother had only him, while mine had two children. Only after I heard a determined voice from above: "Don't worry, Milija, you will all get out," did I consent to being the first to be pulled up. Petar wrapped the rope around my belly, tied my broken right arm to my breast, and told me that I had to hold the rope tight with my left hand and kick myself out from the cliff with my legs. That's how I was pulled up from the gorge of Golubnjaca, which since this terrible event has been known as Koritska Jama, the common grave of Svorcan, Bjelica, Glusac, Nosovic, Jaksic, Sakota, Milosevic, Milovic, Kovacevic, and all the others - in all, over 150 victims. While the others were being pulled out, there was a misunderstanding: someone called out that an Italian, motorized column was coming from Bilece. The rescue was thus interrupted; only Obren Nosovic was still in the gorge. But our rescuers waited. When the error was cleared up, Ljubo Kurdulija, later a fearless warrior whose heroic deeds were the talk of all of Herzegovina, climbed down into the gorge and brought Obren up.

After I had been brought up into the daylight, I could hardly believe that I had escaped death, which had been hovering before my eyes for almost five whole days (I was arrested on 2 June). I heard and recognized the voices of my rescuers, among whom was my mother. She asked about Golub, and I only looked at her. Obren Nosovic's son pulled at my sleeve and asked: "Uncle is my father still alive?"

"One Obren Nosovic is alive. But I don't know which one, since both had been thrown into the gorge," I replied with great effort.

They immediately put me onto a horse and we took off. In the saddle, I managed to hold out until we got to Mrda Kurduliga's house, which was not far away. There they had prepared a stretcher, on which they carried me to the house of Vulo Micunovic in Crkvice. Soon the other survivors from the village of Korita came there. The residents of Crkice and the members of other neighboring Montenegrin villages welcomed us as kindly as their grandfathers had done in the past. They shared not only their homes with us, but also the last piece of bread. Armed men went to Gacko immediately, where, as they told us, battles had begun against the Ustasha For that, the surviving inhabitants of the village of Korita will forever be grateful to them.

We who had survived the massacre in the Koritska Jama were examined by Dr. Vojo Dukanovic and Dr. Jovan Bulajic. Vojo gave me a shot for blood poisoning and told Vulo Micunovic, in whose house I was, to get me to the hospital in Niksic as quickly as possible and to have me operated on there, because it was the only way to save any life. That is what happened. Micunovic and the Kraljevics brought me to Miksic on a stretcher with the help of other residents of Crkvice; with us came also the two doctors mentioned above. Thanks to their connections, I was taken into the hospital and operated on immediately. I was in treatment for 48 days.

(Quoted in Dedijer, p155-164)

First-hand testimony of survivors and eyewitnesses is compiled in this shocking and graphic account of the crimes committed during World War II at the largest death camp in Yugoslavia. At the small Croatian town of Jasenovac, the fascist "Independent State of Croatia" (a satellite state of the Nazi Third Reich) constructed a concentration camp where more than 200,000 people, mostly Orthodox Serbs, were systematically murdered. Among the participants in this genocide were members of the Roman Catholic Clergy, from the Franciscan monk who became the camp commandant to the infamous Archbishop Stepinac, the spiritual advisor to the fascist state appointed by Pope Pius XII. Vladimir Dedijer, a close associate of Marshall Tito, has collected irrefutable documentary and photographic evidence, attesting to thousands of atrocities and the complicity of the Catholic Church in these crimes. The events described in this important volume provide a historical context to the current conflict in Yugoslavia and shed light on the motivations behind the apparently senseless ethnic and religious strife which is tearing Yugoslavia apart. The massacre at Jasenovac was the terrible culmination of centuries-old animosities between Orthodox Serbs and Catholic Croats, and a dark episode in the history of the Church, one that the Church has attempted to hush up for fifty years. The late Vladimir Dedijer held many high state offices in the government of Yugoslavia, including the post of official delegate from Yugoslavia to the United Nations. He was considered a leading authority on genocide in the twentieth century and, together with Jean-Paul Sartre, chaired the Bertrand Russell International Tribune on War Crimes. Dedijer was also a highly-respected scholar of modern history, who taught in universities throughout the world, and the author of many books, among which is his widely acclaimed biography of Tito. ". . . the range of evidence he presents of genocide in Croatia is impressive.. . . a great deal will be found within its pages to stimulate thought and new debateand for some, it will probably prove to be quite uncomfortable." The Slavonic Review