[ Home ]
[ Library ]
[ Index ]
[ Maps ]
[ Links ]
[ Search ]
[ Email ]
A book by Lazar Lukajić:
"Friars and Ustashas Are Slaughtering"
Original title: "Fratri i ustaše kolju"
Published in Belgrade, 2005
by Fund for Genocide Research, Belgrade
Translated by Petar Makara with permission from the author.
Copy edited by Wanda Schindley, PhD.
Testimonies of survivors of Ustasha (Catholic Nazi Croats) atrocities
Jasenovac survivor: Borislav Ševa
The testimony was presented on pages 625-639 of the book.
Translator's note: Jasenovac
concentration camp survivor Mr. Ševa, a barber by trade, was not a
highly educated man. Mr. Lazar Lukajić, the author and interviewer,
transcribed the audio record of the testimony as Mr. Ševa gave it in
the style of spoken language using modest expression. Most of the
sentences are in the present tense as if the witness is reliving the
events and having difficulty finding and uttering the words. The
sentences are short and frequently grammatically incorrect. The "obvious"
words are missing. The witness simply does not feel the need to say them.
The native Serbian speaker addressed, Mr. Lukajić, understands what is missing.
I am not a native speaker of English or a professional translator,
but I did my best to make the translation as close and as true to the
original as possible. The missing words are added in square brackets
in the English sentences. Also added are short comments to clarify
the text for the English reader.
As you will see, the events Mr. Ševa witnessed and survived are
so shocking that even his plain style suffices to give the reader
an incredible glimpse into the horrors described.
[Beginning of the translation]
[Author, Mr. Lukajić's introduction:] Borislav Ševa was
born in the village of Petrov Gaj [Peter's Forest] near Prijedor
[Bosnia, now part of the Serbian entity "Republika Srpska"] in 1918.
Until the beginning of WWII, he lived in the village of Piskavica
where he shaved men [as a barber]. He also had a talent for music,
so he played and sang at local village pubs and at weddings and
other happy events.
When the war in Bosnia broke out in 1941, the
Independent [Nazi] State of Croatia
started to govern the area. On February 17  the State Expeditionary
Court [Court Martial] in Banja Luka sent a note to the county police of
Banja Luka, a demand to send Mr. Borislav Ševa and Mr. Rade Zrnić to
the Jasenovac concentration camp,
saying there was a suspicion that the two posted a Communist leaflet
at the train station in Piskavica. The demand came exactly at the time
of the slaughter of the Serbian population in the villages of Piskavica
and Ivanjska. The two were marched to Jasenovac. On the very first day
of entering the Jasenovac camp, Mr. Rade Zrnić was burned to death at
the Brick Factory. Borislav Ševa remained in the camp for a much longer
time and, therefore, became familiar with all of its horrors and monstrosities.
By some unusual circumstances, he was allowed to leave the camp and
used the opportunity immediately to join [Yugoslav] partisans. He
survived the war. He died in 2001 in Piskavica.
I visited Mr. Ševa two times--in May and June of 1999. I recorded
his testimonies about the Jasenovac camp and other related events with
an audio recorder. He was, at the time, probably the most compelling
living witness to what happened in Jasenovac. What he said and what
is now published in this book can be verified
by listening to the audio tape. It is quite puzzling and very strange
that no one ever recorded his memories and his testimony. He could
have been a quite convincing witness at the trial of one of the
Jasenovac camp commanders, Mr. Dinko Šakić, held in Zagreb [capital
of Croatia] in 1999.
Mr. Borislav Ševa was a precious and unforgettable witness.
Translator's note: The trial of the Jasenovac death camp commander
Dinko Šakić was staged for the Western media with the intention of
NOT revealing the true story of Jasenovac. The Western, NATO powers
were to convey the opposite--to whitewash the genocide
the Catholic Croat Nazis
committed on the Serbian, Jewish and Gypsy population. The trial was
used to downplay (tenfold!) the number of people murdered in
Jasenovac and exactly WHAT happened
at Jasenovac. This was then sold to the world as an attempt of the
new Independent State of Croatia to fight its Nazi past.
The revamped Nazi Croatia
was about to be invited into the NATO club of "democratic nations."
That is why no one cared to hear what Mr. Ševa and other still living
survivors of the first, the original Independent Nazi State of Croatia,
had to say.
[Survivor - Mr. Borislav Ševa's testimony:]
In Jasenovac because of a leaflet
Mr. Borislav Ševa
Photographed by the interviewer-author,
Mr. Lazar Lukajić
"I was born in Petrov Gaj, near Prijedor [Serb majority area of Bosnia]
in 1918. My father was employed by the railroad company, and I was born in the
railroad station. My father was from this area, from Ševas, in Piskavica. That's
why he made himself a large, two-story house at the railroad station. The land
was given to him by the railways. I learned how to cut hair and shave men.
The shop was not registered. I worked like that, on my own. I would take my
briefcase with tools and go to cut hair and shave people. I learned to play
and sing. Most of all I played guitar. I would go to weddings and celebrations,
to pubs where I would sing and play. I did other jobs, too--all until 1941.
Everyone alive [around here] knew me as I was always among the people.
"We had a Rade Zrnić in our house. He is from here, from Zrnić's [hamlet]
in Piskavica. He is a son of the late Ilija Zrnić. Ilija also perished.
[The official Ustasha document used to send the two to Jasenovac is to be translated]
"Rade was [working] for Vaso Kostić, and he was living in our house.
He had four children. His wife died before [the events]. He had no place to
go to, so he lived in our house. He was in the upper floor as it was empty.
Well, what would he pay? [meaning--nothing.] He was just helping in Vaso
Kostić's trade business. Vaso was a merchant. His shop was right here where
this wall of my house is. His house was large. That was a [big] shop, my friend.
During the Old [Kingdom of] Yugoslavia, he was a rich merchant. The saying was
that even if he was to give one dinar [local currency] to everyone in Yugoslavia,
he would still be able to continue working without a problem. It was so.
"All four of Rade's children are still alive today. He was 15 to 20
years older than me. I was 22 in 1941, and he was more than 40. He was medium
height, quite thin.
"Someone gave Rade and me leaflets which contained a text against the
ISC [Independent State of Croatia] and against Ustasha [Croatian Nazis that
formed the state as Nazi Germany and its fascist allies overran Yugoslavia].
We secretly spread those leaflets across Piskavica. We put the leaflets in
shops, pubs, on trees--at places where people would pass, where Ustashas and
people pass. I did half. He did half. He was putting his in his [hamlet] of
Grabik, at the road there. That is where the church and the school are.
He plastered them there. After two days passed, they came and arrested us.
Who told them that it was the two of us who distributed the leaflets? My dear
brother, who would know! Two [of them] came to arrest us. They were not
Ustashas. They were policemen. They had those police caps. They entered my
house, and one of them said, 'In the name of the law, you are arrested!'
"The same to Rade Zrnić. They tied us together with a wire, my arm
to Rade's arm. It was a strong wire. They shortened it and tightened it by
using pliers. They marched us to a train. By train we came to Banja Luka
[a large town in the Serbian majority part of Bosnia]. The policemen did
not maltreat us or beat us. They marched us into the Dark House in Banja Luka.
That was at the beginning of 1942. In Banja Luka we were under investigation
at least five months. It could have been longer--or the time seemed so
long to me. I remember the events better than the dates. I did not count
the days then. In the prison, the days mean nothing. It was always the same,
so you do not think about it. They questioned us at least ten times--both me
and Rade. We were not together in the jail. They separated us. I was in a
separate cell--alone. Rade and I did not see each other until the day we
were to go to Jasenovac. The food in the Dark House was poor. During
questioning, they would ask me whether I was distributing leaflets. I
said 'I did not,' and 'I did not.' Whenever they would bring me in, they
would say, 'Come tell us--did you distribute the leaflets?' and slap me
in the face. I repeat that I was not and I was not. They would slap me
many times on the cheek--slapping. I tell them, 'You can even kill me,
but I did not.'
"Slapping. Those were civilians, not soldiers. I did not get any
sentence. They told me nothing. They only said I am to be sent to the
Jasenovac camp--the two of us, me and Rade Zrnić. They tell us to get
ready. They take us from the cells. They tie us. I was tied to Rade.
I did not know any of the other prisoners. To the trucks--and the
direction: Jasenovac. There were at
least 30 people [loaded] in the truck. People were exhausted, thin--pure
"At the gates of the concentration camp Jasenovac, there is a
coat of arms with the Ustasha symbol: 'U.' That is that large, metal
gate. They opened the gate, and the truck brings us in. We all got out
of the truck. They untied us as we entered the camp. As we arrived,
immediately they all came out, all officers--Ljubo Miloš, Matković, Picilli,
Luburić. That was their headquarters. They were all there--standing.
They watch and say, 'Right here! Now, this is good for us' [to have fun
"We are standing at the headquarters. There is no table and
no writing person [clerk to record the names]. One of those officers
(I do not recollect which one) says: 'What skill do you have, Shorty?'
"I say, 'A barber.'
"He says, 'Go there! Fuck your mother!'
"Then he says to Rade Zrnić, 'And you, Old One?'
"Rade says, 'I am nothing. I have no skills, but I am sick.'
"Poor him. He thought they would let him go home if he says
that he is sick. That officer tells him, 'You, go there!'
"He chases him to the other group. And to the next one,
'You are sick, too? Go next to the old one!' Next to Rade.
"The next one, who was a wood carver, he sends next to me.
He tells him, 'Go next to the barber!'
"Then a machinist, a blacksmith, a wood worker. They separate
us who have skills. And those who are sick, they are separated, too.
There were around ten of us with a skill. There were nine of those
who were separated as sick. The remaining ones remained in another
group. That is the third group. I do not know how many of them.
They threw Rade Zrnić into
the brick factory fires ALIVE
"Those nine [sick ones] were taken farther away. I see
that two of the Ustashas are leading them. We are just standing
and watching. The officers are here, too. They took them to the
Brick Factory. The ovens were about 50 meters [150 feet] away.
They took them there. They opened the doors to the oven, took
them by the arms and legs and threw them into the oven--nine of
them. Those two were not the only ones throwing [men in the
brick oven]. There were more of them who were throwing. The
oven had large, metal doors. They can be opened as a door to
a room. Two Ustashas grab one [victim]. They do not topple him
[to the ground]. They [simply] grab him by the arms and legs
and throw him into the oven, into the fire. I was watching with
my own eyes. We all watched.
"Oh, yes! Now, we see where we are.
"We are just quiet. I see that it is a brick factory
and that they are throwing them into the fire. You see fire
through the opened door, throngs of fire. The brick factory
is smoking. It was such a scene for me that I--. What were
my thoughts? 'What can I do now?'
"They took those of us with skills to the barracks.
They took me to a barber room right away. Others were taken
to other barracks. When I arrived in mine, I saw around 50
people. With us [newcomers], there were around 60 of us barbers.
We slept in partitions, on straw [bales]. There were always some
50 or 60 of us in the barrack. That's how large the barracks
were. For food, we were getting only starch--every time--only
starch: corn flour and water--not even salted. There is no bread.
Never. Only a bit denser starch. Like a porridge. We, the barbers,
did not have better food. Only starch. I ate only starch until
that [Ustasha Commander] Cupić took me to the 'Economy.'
Everyone has his dish. He comes with the dish. They give him
some half a liter [one eight of a gallon] of that starch. There
were those who were thinner, and there were those who were
not--depends. Those who came recently were not as thin as those
who came before them.
"While I was in the barrack, no one died there. Yes,
those who were [taken] from the barracks to the dam [on the
Sava River where prisoners did hard labor]. [There] he falls,
and they kill him with shovels. I was at the dam, and saw it
many times. That's when I shave charkars [common Ustasha soldiers].
At the dam, they were digging a channel toward the Sava [river].
I was watching with my own eyes as they would kill one [inmate].
I saw so many times when they beat one [inmate]. Ustashas beat
him [an inmate] with just about anything--whatever is handy.
They kill him [an inmate] right at the dam--with shovels, rifles,
wooden spears--. Whoever is sick and falls--only hit, hit.
Ustashas finish him off--those charkars [no rank Ustashas].
They kill him and order that he should be thrown into the Sava
[river]. Or they cover him with mud while he is still alive.
Oh-h-h, there would be, for sure, some 500 to 600 people
[working] at the dam. Every day. Oh, did they work! Ustasha
guards [were] next to them.
[The author, Mr. Lukajić, puts here excerpts from Dr. Nikolić's book. (To be translated.)]
"We were shaving and cutting hair for all. Where ever
there was a head, it was shaved. Every where. Here, here--around.
All were shaved. We had [hand] machines and scissors--and all in
small bags. Everyone had the hair cut to the skin, to the ears.
How were we dressed? Well, we had those clothes--some of theirs.
We barbers had gray clothes. There were other clothes, too.
There were some [taken] from the Jews, so they would give to us.
We had gray long coats. We barbers were cutting the hair of the
prisoners and of them [the guards]. The barbers were mostly Serbs.
There were some Croats--at least 15 Croats among us, 60 of us.
I did not know of any Muslim among the barbers. The Croats were
[those who were] Communists.
"The people we shaved were thin [malnourished]. They
ate only that starch. We ate three times a day and always that
starch. As they would get shaved, there were so many who were
so thin, my brother, thin to the end [to the bare bones]. He
was not able to get to that board that was the toilet. You
would go to that board--large toilets, the ground dug out.
He [one] only comes to that hole. There you would go. Nothing
was enclosed--only more boards put on the ground so more people
can go at the same time. No waiting. Only men. The women were
there in Camp III-C. The camp was enclosed with a barb wire.
THEY ROAST A MAN ALIVE ON A SPIT
"Did I see how they murder in the camp? Oh my, how wouldn't
I see!? When I went to shave at Gradina [the killing ground across
the river from the Jasenovac camp], I saw how they roasted one man.
Under guard, I went to shave in Gradina--two guards with rifles. I
went with my bag. I am shaving them there, and I see one tied [man].
They tied him with a chain. When I was done shaving those Ustashas,
I come to the tied one, and I talk to him. No one is telling me not
to. I ask him where is he from. He says he is from Karlovac [a large
town in the Serbian Krajina region, next to Croatia proper]. He is
good [not thin]. He came recently. He was 40 to 50 years [of age].
I ask him when he came. He says, 'Yesterday.'
"'Are you alone?'
"'No. My wife and four children came here, too.'
"'So, where are they?'
"'At [Camp] III-C.'
[The author, Mr. Lukajić, puts here excerpts from Dr. Nikolić's book. (To be translated.)]
"He knew where they took his wife and children. He said
they took them to the house where they burn them. That one from
Karlovac knew it.
"'But, why did they bring you here?'
"That is the area toward Draksenić [village] on the Sava
[River] banks where they were hanging [people] on that tree. I
watched as they were hanging. I saw them as they [the victims]
were dangling. That's when I was there to shave. Someone is
dangling. When I asked the one from Karlovac why they brought
him there he says, 'What do I know?'
"Ustashas are making a fire. Here and there, they made
a fire. They made holders for a spit and got closer to the fire.
They brought the one in chains. He was so tied [in chains]--arms
tied. They topple him down [to the ground]. They took the spit.
They pierced him in the ass. Legs tied. On the [spit] holders.
And roast him alive. I am watching. I am shaving and watching.
They pierce him on the spit--exactly--and roast him alive.
They eat and drink next to him. They are drunk. They are having
fun and enjoying themselves. They drink next to him and eat.
How could they eat and drink? What do I know--what they are
talking about. Boy, were they singing. It is not far from me--some
10 to 15 meters (30-45 feet) away. What can you do!?
"That was the worst scene for me. There were five or
six of them--Ustashas. Those were not Gypsies. Gypsies would
beat you to death with mallets. That's different.
"When they were burning [people] in the brick factory
[oven] and in the crematorium, it was smoking a lot--lots of
smoke and stench. I heard that they stopped burning so it
would not pollute the air [for them]. It was polluted with
smoke and foul odor. You can imagine as they were burning so
much--day and night. It must have been obvious even outside
the camp that they were burning people. Then they stopped.
Then they killed and buried in earth or were throwing
[victims] into mud and into the Sava [river]. Then they
used Gypsies to hit with mallets.
"I saw as Gypsies were hitting with mallets. The
Gypsies were hitting at the pit in Gradina [across from the
Sava river, in Bosnia]--some 700 [people] in one pit. I watched
that. They would bring [people]--tied. Only men. There were
no women. They wait at the pit and--mallet on the head, not
in the forehead but on the back side. He falls there alive.
I am shaving and listening. [Inarticulate death] gurgles!
Oh-h-h, if you knew the sound! He is tied as they bring him
there. Oh, yes. Arms [tied] behind the back. He [the victim]
squats, kneels on his knees. He [the executioner] hits him on
the back side of the head, and he goes down. A number of them
[executioners] are above the pit--five to six. Then [the
command to] kneel. And then smash. The others are brought.
They kneel, too, and so on. They [the victims] watch as the
ones before them are killed with mallets. They are not moaning.
Why would they? They are silent. They see what it is.
"They [the perpetrators] would not murder immediately
as they would bring them [the new arrivals] to the camp. They
keep [them] two or three days and then murder them. Some are
left even longer--to work. Those that are weak and not capable
of work are killed right away--the exhausted ones. There are
exhausted [men]. They can hardly walk. Those were mostly those
who were working on the dam. Those who recently came were
killed the second or third day when they were sorted for work
or to be killed right away or when their time came to be killed.
It is not easy to accomplish this many [murders]. The Ustashas
can not slaughter all of them in one day when there are too
many [new arrivals]. And there were many, my dear friend, so
"Transports [of new arrivals] are partitioned by
no-rank Ustashas. They stand in front of the masses that
arrived in the camp. Women and children are separated for
Gradina and for the furnace on one side and men for work
on the other. Some of the men, the frail and sick ones,
are sent right away to Gradina [to be slaughtered]. Healthy
ones are forced to dig and make the dam--until they are
weakened. Then they kill them all. Then they bring the
other [new] ones. Gypsies were murdering men with mallets.
"Just as one group was just murdered off, to the
last [one], I ask that Sergeant [Warrant Officer] Vladimir
Cupić from Herzegovina, the Ustasha who saved me [later]:
"'Sir, Sergeant! What are Gypsies doing now?'
"'Go to the chain factory, and you'll see.'
"I did go to the chain factory to see how they
made those mallets. As a barber, I was able to walk through
the camp. I could go. They made other things, too, in the
chain shop--whatever was given to them to do. They were making
chains in the chain shop. It was a factory.
[The author, Mr. Lukajić, puts here excerpts from Dr. Nikolić's book. (To be translated.)]
"Women did not work. I did not see them working.
They were immediately sent to Gradina and killed, or they
were burned in the ovens. The same with the children. There
were no barracks for the women. At least here [at Jasenovac]
there were none. If there were some in Gradina--. Women and
children were immediately sent to their suffering.
"Those men who were killed were [buried] 700 in one
pit. Huge pits were made. A machine would dig a pit. When
they are killed and the pit is full, it is covered. No one
gets into the pit to rearrange the corpses. As they fall,
that way they remain. Some [corpses] are pushed with
something from the edge of the pit. Not by hands. He [his
body] goes down by himself when he is smashed by a mallet
on the head. They fall one atop the other. Then they make
that sound down there. Oh-h-h! The [death] gurgle, my brother!
You can not fathom; you can not listen to that. He goes
into the ground alive. Then, a new pit--and it continues.
And so on.
They murdered off the Gypsie slaughterers
"And that one time, just as they murdered off all [victims]
to the last--700 [corpses] in one pit--and four such pits with 700
when they were done, then they [the Ustashas] gathered those Gypsies.
There were around 60 Gypsies--the same as the number of us barbers
in one barrack. They [Ustashas] gave them [something] to eat and
drink. Machine guns--and killed them all. I was watching that.
I was shaving one Ustasha before his guard duty. On guard [duty],
he had to be [clean] shaven, so I went to shave him. They are
gathering Gypsies, sixty Gypsies with mallets, the ones that used
to hit [to kill with a blow to the back of the head]. They took
them to a separate place to eat, drink and be happy. They were at
a separate place, here. They were given plum brandy. They were
joyful. They were singing there. They had no idea what was planned
for them. As I saw that, I said [to myself], '[the Ustashas] should
be congratulated! They were good to no one, but now they were good
to these [the Gypsies]. Not even I could see what will happen
[next]. How could I? They were sitting outside at tables, benches,
pillows [eating] young sheep meat, roasted piglets--. They were
stuffed [with food]. Then, when they were fed and given enough
to drink, the machine guns and a command--while [sitting] at the
table, all machine gunned. What could I do? I am silently shaving
"I was shaving one colonel then. He puts a hand on his
knife and says, 'See this? If you cut me even a bit, this is for
"You know how I felt. The hand is trembling, but I am
shaving him. He says, 'Oh, you are good--fuck your mother. Here
you are, as you shaved me so good. If not, you know what is waiting
"So he gave me nine cigarettes from Ljubuško [Herzegovina].
Those were the cigarettes that were used at the time. Ustashas were
smoking that kind. He gave me those cigarettes, and I said, 'Thank
"He could kill me if he wanted to. He would be responsible
to no one. At Jasenovac, any Ustasha low-life could kill an inmate
whenever he felt like doing so.
"I shaved the inmates--only sometimes an Ustasha. Ustashas
had their own barber shops. I was sent there under guard to
shave--there where they killed the Gypsies. So, they would sometimes
take me to Gradina to shave whoever they order me to. I saw just
about anything in Gradina.
"Then, later, I saw when they were burning women and children.
I was shaving close to the furnace. I saw them walk into the furnace.
Most of them were burned in the brick factory [oven]. The factory was
in the circle where the [Ustasha] headquarters was. As they [the
victims] arrive, they [the Ustashas] immediately designate those who
would go to the flames. I was watching first as they were burning
Rade Zrnić, the one who came [to Jasenovac] with me.
"Before [Ustasha engineer] Picilli [designed his] furnace,
the burning was done in the brick factory [large brick oven]. There
they [Ustashas] had to grab [the victims] by arms and legs and throw
them in--alive. Immediately they burn away. Plain Ustashas were
throwing [people] into the flames, not the inmates. That's what I saw.
Only Ustashas themselves [were doing that]. When I was watching the
brick factory [oven], there was only one door--huge, always open,
extremely hot. [When] there, you see that it is. A mass of people
stands in front of the furnace. Ustashas are throwing live people
into the furnace, into the fire. No one is screaming. Why would they
scream? They are only silent and moving toward the door. Ustashas
would bringing them by 10 or 15 to the furnace and then throw them
in. The brick factory [oven] was working all the time. I do not
know what [else] was burned in the brick factory, but there was
always fire and smoke to be seen.
"Picilli's furnace or 'Picilli's oven' was such that there
was no need to push [people] inside. It was a crematorium. It had
ten steps. At step number four the air sucks you in. Who would know
how the air could do that. How did it work? I was watching as they
[victims] were going inside, into the furnace. I was shaving there,
too, close to the furnace. They go up the steps, and as they go, the
air sucks them in, into the crematorium. And they walk to, to the--when
they are forced to--as if they were walking to a church. Ah, ah, ah!
Ah, how it slurps and sucks in. Those behind [the next victims] only
watch. And they walk to the steps, so they can be sucked in, too. They
know what will happen to them. They see what is happening--children,
old women, all--barely walking. They are all going inside. Ustashas
only go to the side and only push from down there below. Up high, it
only slurps--the stair case, about two meters [six feet] tall. I was
watching the crematorium [executions] so many times. In front of the
crematorium there would be--a-a-a-h! Oh-h-h! This is an entire
congregation, and [it] is not complaining much--stiff in fear, in the
suits as they were brought in. As a transport arrives they are immediately
marched there. Or they are marched to the [Sava river] ferry [where they
would be transported to be slaughtered on the other bank, at Gradina].
We [inmates] never talked among ourselves about how many of them were
burned. All barbers were watching the burnings, as I did. Yes, Brother,
they all [watched], but not one [of them] remained alive. Later, they
were also burned or taken to Gradina.
"Yes, they killed in the camp [itself], too, right there, on
the spot. Then [the corpse was] given to us, to the stretchers, to
carry him [the corpse] away. They interrogate him [an inmate] some
and shoot him right there. Did I watch when Ustashas were beating
people? Of course, I did. They were beating, beating to death, beating.
Hit and slap. He asks something and then--slap, all of that mostly
outside, not inside [the barracks].
Luburić and Matković were beating me
"I am walking over a bridge across a lake close to "Economy"
[large agriculture section of the camp] when [Ustashas] Matković, Ljubo Miloš,
Picilli, Luburić came [toward me]. I say, 'Za dom! For home!' [Ustasha Nazi
"Luburić says, 'Come here! What are you?'
"'Eastern Orthodox [Christian].'
"'A Serb. I fuck your mother. Why are you saluting?'
"'Well, I have to salute.'
"'Do not salute. It is not your [right] to salute us.'
"And he slaps me in the face a few times. Luburić hits me.
"Later, some other time, I am walking, and they are crossing the
bridge again. I am simply passing by. I am not saluting. Screw it! I was
beaten when I saluted. Then Matković calls me, 'Come here! Why are you
"I answer shyly, 'I was saluting before, and you were beating me.'
"'So! Again, you will be beaten. You have to salute.'
"And he hits me. 'Screw it,' I told to myself, 'Salute or not
salute, you can never be right.'
I WATCHED AS THEY MADE SOAP OUT OF PEOPLE
"I was watching as they were making soap out of people.
"Oh, my dear friend, I once stumbled into one barrack close
to the central barber shop. If I was not a barber, I would not be
allowed to go there. Right there was that barrack--where that [Jasenovac camp]
monument [built in 1965] is. A bit farther up it was--a barrack. For sure,
it was 30 to 40 meters [90 to 120 feet] long. There are huge caldrons
[approx. 5' tall], one next to another--caldrons in the barrack. So many!
The barrack filled with them. On one side, huge caldrons; on the other,
tables. On the tables--human flesh. Like this--you could see human fat.
I saw exactly that, that, that flesh--all oily, human flesh. Heads were
missing. Also parts of the arms. Only the central parts [the thoraxes
remained]. Oily it was. And that fat from legs on the tables. As I was
passing, I saw it. I did not dare stay long. And it is horrible.
Disgusting. Underneath the big pots, they are making fire, and it
is cooking. They are throwing meat into the pots. They are making soap,
so I heard later. I heard that they made soap out of that human meat--fine
soap, some said, with a nice odor. That is what I heard.
"And again, I went to that barrack to see. I watch exactly as they are
throwing that human meat into the huge pots, and they are cooking it.
They are making fire and are cooking soap. They are all Ustashas [who
are doing it]. They have helpers. They choose inmates to feed the fire.
And then they are stirring it. It looks [thick] just like jam, what they
are stirring. You know how it looks when it boils over? How the soap
looks when it boils? The pots were truly huge--larger than this one
for [cooking] jam. Those pieces of meat are brought in [the barrack]
from somewhere. It is brought on carts--meat. Hell, it was such--.
In the camp, the rumor was that fat ones are cut for the soap.
[The interviewer-author, Mr. Lukajić, gives a supporting quote from
a Croatian survivor of Jasenovac camp, Dr. Nikolić. (To be translated.)]
"And I saw as they were hanging people. I saw as they hung one
person on that tree close to Draksenić [village]. They are checking,
then, whether he is dead. I watched it all--and when they were roasting
that other one on the spit. I watched when they were hitting with mallets.
I watched when they killed all the Gypsies [who were at Gradina at the time].
"Surprisingly, I was not in the central barber shop for
longer than five or six months, [just] until [that event] when
[Ustasha] Cupić met me. He found me in the [inmate's] barber room
among the [other] barbers one time [when] I was singing, playing
[music]. I was singing among the barbers, in the barber room, in
the barrack. The barbers persuaded me to sing a bit. They say,
'There are no Ustashas [around]. Hey, Ševa, it is Sunday--sing a
bit as you know [how]!
"We had no job to do. As I am playing a guitar--I found a
Gypsy guitar. But, of course, there is a guitar. They [the Ustashas]
marched in [so many] Gypsies--and then killed them all. There is
everything--drums, guitars, violins--but all of it thrown on heaps.
You could load four or five [farm] carts with those instruments.
I got there and took a guitar from the pile, and I started to play.
And I sing, 'My [beloved] Bosnia, my life, my [old] love and my
"And [suddenly] an Ustasha [appeared] at the door.
"'For home! [Ustasha salute]. Who was singing?'
"'That's it!' I said [to myself]. 'Boro [the survivor's
nick name for his Christian name: Borislav], you fucked up now
to the core.'
"I said, 'Sir, Sergeant! It was me.'
"He simply said, 'At four o'clock, come to my office.'
"And [he] left. That was around 11 in the morning. I am
getting ready for four o'clock in the afternoon. It is my end.
Those who are ordered to appear in front of some Ustasha for
some fault disappear. That person would never come back. Until
that time, I had not ever seen that sergeant. I accepted my
destiny. What can you do!? I told the barbers, 'If anyone [of
you] stays alive, go to Piskavica and tell them that I perished.
Send regards to anyone from my family, if any of them survived.
There is no more Boro. Boro fucked up.'
"At four, I went to the office the [Ustasha] sergeant
pointed to when he gave me the order. I got stiff [from fear].
I enter. He is alone--a young man, probably a bit older than
I am. I say, 'For home--ready!' [Ustasha salute]
"I sit, like that, on the corner of a fancy chair.
Everything is fancy--as if in some [king's] court, pillaged
from Jews and Serbs. That Ustasha says, 'Sit nicely!'
"'But I am dirty, Sir Sergeant.'
"'Does not matter. Lean on the chair like a man! You
are afraid? Don't fear!'
"Screw it. I leaned. I do not understand anything.
What does he want with me? Will he kill me right away?
"He asks me, 'Where are you from?'
"'Do you know Ivanjska [village]?'
"'Of course, I do! Ivanjska is right next to Piskavica.'
"'Do you know anyone from Ivanjska?'
"'Of course, I do! I know them all. [I know a Croat]
Ivan Bjelkan, then that Ustasha, the main one, Juro Tomic--.'
"'You do not have to say anything else. I know that
you know as soon as you said [the name of] Juro Tomić. That
is our commander in Ivanjska. You know them well, so why did
you get here?'
"'I do not know. Because I am a Serb. Who would
"I did not tell him about the leaflets.
"He says, 'Good! And where is the guitar?'
"I say that it is in the barber shop. He presses a
button. Immediately, a charkar [Ustasha soldier] comes in.
He orders the charkar, 'Bring the guitar from the central
barber shop to the barber.'
"He brings the guitar. He [the Ustasha sergeant]
takes out an accordion. [It was] all covered with jewelry--all
the keys. He is trying it out--stretches it--then says, 'Go on!
Here is the key, so tune it!'
"I tune it. I knew how to do it. I was playing with
friends. When I tuned the guitar, he says, 'Go on. Sing that
song you were singing when I went in there!'
"As he called it, I got scared. I forgot everything.
I say, 'Sir, Sergeant, I do not know which one I was singing.'
"'How come you do not know? Didn't you--? Are you afraid?
Don't fear! Why are you afraid?'
"'Was it "Banja Luka [Serbian town], burn in flame!"?'
"'Was it "How large is the market in Prijedor?"'
"'No. Don't you remember? You were singing "My Bosnia."'
"Hell, when he tells me--. He says, 'It's just the
two of us. First, he played it, then he says, 'Come on, sing!'
"I started to sing, 'My [beloved] Bosnia, my life,
my [old] love and my despair.'
[The author noted that he was puzzled about the
impression Mr. Ševa left on the Ustasha, so he asked him
to sing the same song, which the 81-year-old man did with
youthful voice and with passion. (To be translated.)]
"He was playing the accordion, and I was playing
the guitar. I sang the song. I sang 'My Bosnia' once at his
place, then, later, I was singing as long as he was playing.
Hell! I knew lots of songs. I was singing in his office.
He had an office there on the Economy [the farm enterprise].
Fine. He was the commander of the Economy at Jasenovac.
His name was Vladimir Cupić. He was born in Herzegovina.
It was a large economy [large enterprise]. Inmates worked
"Cupić ordered that I should be moved to Economy. When
I was taken away from the central barber shop and brought there
to Cupić's place, I started shaving the workers there in the
Economy, the workers and those charkars--charkar, that was a
common Ustasha soldier. I was shaving them, too. There were more
than 150 workers at the Economy. Those workers were not exhausted.
That's good. They did the agricultural chores. There were lots of
cows and pigs. Lots. I did not see sheep. They were making sausages.
They made chvarke [lard cubes], killed pigs, took care of the pigs
and then killed them. There was [a lot of work]--dig, harvest,
collect hay, all that was needed in an economy. There were machines.
They had better food. Charkars [common Ustashas] ate separately.
They had a separate kitchen there for themselves. I never entered
there. I do not know what happened with the produce from the Economy.
At the Economy, I was a barber. I had a barber shop in a barrack.
They [the workers] were lying in partitions, and I had one corner
where I would cut hair and shave. I was sleeping there in the barber
shop. I had a bed. Those workers did not bathe. Where would you bathe
there? The clothes, you wash yourself. You have a lake there. So
they washed. During winter, it is frozen. I was there during winters,
too. I did not go to [the fields of] the Economy where the camp
inmates were working. I do not know whether they were killed there.
I did not see. I saw when Ustashas were beating workers. Cupić was
beating them, too. He takes a whip and [gives] 25 [lashes] on the
ass when they come from the dam and [dare] enter the Economy, then,
when walking next to the center going into the barracks. He did not
beat those who were working in the Economy--only those who were
working on the dam and were passing there to their barracks.
Poor them--hungry, as they come at night--they get their supper
on the behind--and go. I watched as he was beating. And what do
I think then? How could I? What will be with me? Sometimes, he
was beating. Not frequently. People are silent. What could they do?
Sometimes, he hits one a few times, then another and so--.
He is not cursing or talking. Only beats. He did not beat me.
"One time I went to Cupić, and he says, 'Sit! Every day
you will get a kilo [over two pounds] of bread. Here is the paper.
You will give this other piece of paper to that Jew, Rako. He will
give you chvarke [lard cubes] and sausages at the butcher shop--for
you, as much as you need. Take this third piece of paper to Gara,
so he gives you milk--one liter each day.
"I did not drink [that milk]. Neither did he. He [the
Ustashe sergeant] had juices. He had some sweet brandy, too.
He had everything on his table. They would bring him food, too.
"There was everything [any kind of good] at the Economy.
The Jew Rako in the butcher shop tells me to take everything--as
much as I want. As it was Commander Cupić's order, Rako gave me
everything. Oh, oh, I got--. They say that I got myself in white
[clothes]--as a doctor. I was allowed to walk freely throughout
the camp, wherever I wanted to, as a barber, in a white, long
coat and with my tools in the bag. Charkars [common Ustashas]
knew that I was Cupić's [under his personal protection], from
the Economy, so they never touched me. So, I saw all kinds of
things with my own eyes.
"I saw those officers--that Luburić, Matković, Ljubo Miloš,
Picilli, and such. I saw them walking through the Economy. They were
coming to the Economy. They would pass by. When I was in the Economy,
I would go back to the central circle. Sometimes, I went to the central
barber shop, where I would be with my friends. But I always had a job
here [in the Economy]. The Economy was some 200 meters [600 feet] away,
across the lake. I could go around in my coat. No one would stop me.
That is why I could see anything in the camp. I could walk through the
camp. There were many Ustashas. Everyone was doing his thing--what do
I know. They were going around the camp, guarding the camp. We inmates
could talk. We knew what was happening in the camp. We knew how they
[Ustashas] were killing [people].
"I was watching the transports. Oh, yes! Transports come
with trucks. Train loads bring [people] to the camp, to the circle.
Then, who would get to ferry [large raft used to transport people
across the Sava River to the killing grounds at Gradina] so they
can suffer there. Women and children--immediately, they are
separated for the ferry or for the crematorium. Those folks knew
nothing of where they had arrived.
"That Sergeant [Commander] Vladimir Cupić was from Herzegovina,
but I do not know from which place. He told me exactly when I would go
home--some five or six days before I left Jasenovac. [They] say Cupić
went home and died. He got sick and died. And actually, my dear brother,
it seems he recommended me there so I would be released with those who
were to get out of Jasenovac. Seven of us were let go out of Jasenovac.
"I was in the camp until 1943. I do not recall which month.
I believe it was autumn when I got out. How did I get out? They let
us go, Brother. Seven of us. They let two Croats, three Muslims and
two Serbs go. Ustashas chased us--me and another Serb from Klašnica
near Banja Luka. I do not know his name. They brought us to Banja Luka
to the police station there--the same one from which I was sent to
Jasenovac. When I entered [that office] in Banja Luka, the same woman
that sent me to Jasenovac says, 'You see, Ševa, I told you, you will
come back. Where is that old guy that was with you?'
"She was there when Rade Zrnić and I were sent. Now, she asks
where Rade is. I say, 'I do not know. He must be in Germany somewhere,
"I did not want to tell her that he was murdered, thrown into
the brick oven. She says, 'You are going home. You are free. But do
not go home by train. Partisans destroyed rails at Ivanjska. You can
not go that way. If you know how, go through Duboki. Do you know?'
"[Author's note about the geography of the place to be translated here.]
"'Then I got a pass-through document. In going out of Banja Luka,
I see Ustashas many times. I am walking. So, I go, through Duboki, home.
I looked good. I was not thin. I got strength because of Cupić, the
commander of the Jasenovac Economy.
"Then I went there, and I see [Serbian Royalist guerilla force]
"'Hey, from where are you brother? Are you hungry?'
"'They are hugging and kissing me.
"I say, 'I am not. I just [want to] go home.'
"Before this war [the civil wars of 1990's], four or five
years before, Cupić asked for me through newspapers. In the Zagreb
[Croatian capital] newspaper 'Vjesnik,' it said that Vladimir Cupić,
living in Germany, is asking for Borislav Ševa from Piskavica--if he
is still alive. Cupić left for Germany. I do not know when. I heard
that he owns some hotels in Munich. He was asking me to contact him.
They brought those newspapers to me so I could see it. I did not dare
Author's Note: Boro Ševa died in March of 2001. His memories
are recorded on [audio] cassette and here, in this book.