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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
Motike slaughter survivor - Ljubica Vučić
The testimony was presented on pages 238-248 of the book.
Translator's note: The Catholic fanatics known as
the entire "Independent State of Croatia" (ISC) into a slaughterhouse.
Everyone, including children, born as a Serb, a Jew or a Gypsie was marked for death.
Entire Serbian villages and entire regions of Bosnia
and Krajina were slaughtered or
machine-gunned. The survivor talks about the destiny of her village of Motike.
It is a Bosnian Serb village near majority Serb populated town of Banja Luka.
The author of the book, Mr Lukajić, is born in a nearby village.
All the content in square brackets are translator's. The intention was to
make the text easier to understand to the English reader.
The verb tenses, though sometimes inconsistent, are maintained when the speaker
is telling the story as if reliving it.
[Beginning of the translation]
[Author, Mr. Lukajić's introduction:] Ljubica Vučič was
born in 1929, in Donje Motike in a hamlet of Vasič's [Translator's note:
usually the hamlets (neighborhoods) in Bosnia are named for the largest
family that lives in it.] She is one of only a handful of surviving witnesses
of the mass slaughter which happened on February 7, 1942. She told me her
story while sitting in her house in Motike [village]. Her testimonies
were never recorded before despite the fact that 60 years have passed
since the slaughter.
Despite the time that has passed, she has a good, crystal clear memory
of many details as if it happened yesterday. She was a 13-year-old girl
at the time of the slaughter, and that is an age when events are easily
remembered and kept in memory for a long time to come, and the slaughter
was an extraordinary event of her life.
Ljubica is a healthy, energetic and quite intelligent woman. Her testimony is
gripping and convincing. There was not a moment that she would resort to
exaggeration or self-promotion. She concentrated on the events. Only a few
comments would be as if she was talking to herself and not the
interviewer. It is a monologue--sparse, short, quiet--interrupted with a
sigh as if she were alone.
Her remembering of the names and minute details is exceptional. She was
covered with wounds. It is a miracle she remained alive. Destiny!
Here are her recollections:
Testimony of Ljubica Vučić -|
put on paper for the first time after 60 years!
Motike slaughter survivor:
Motike slaughter survivor,|
Ms. Ljubica Vučić
Photographed by the interviewer-author,
Mr. Lazar Lukajić
"I was born in 1929 in Vasići. That was a pretty hamlet in
Donje Motike [village], where Serbs and Croats lived together.
Motike [village] is close to Banja Luka and you could easily get to
[that] town by foot--in no time--then and now.
"Vasići [hamlet] is close to the road that goes from Banja
Luka toward Motike's school. That road then goes through Motike
and connects to the road that goes from Banja Luka to Bronzani
Majdan [means "Bronze Mine"] and further to Sanski Most
[another town in Bosnia]. The roads join some 12 kilometers [8 miles]
from Banja Luka. Our houses were on a hill, a bit elevated and facing
the road on the right side when you go from Banja Luka toward the
school. At that time, it was a macadam [paved road]; now it
"Our soil is good and fertile. Everything grows well--wheat,
fruit and vegetables. There are also--I do not know how many--lots of
forests. Nowhere is it steep. All the hills have mild slopes.
"In my village, before the war [WWII], we lived nicely.
Vasići had no rich people, but there were also no poor ones. Every
family lived a decent life--a life of [decent] culture. The town is
close, the dirt is fertile, there was plenty of everything both to
consume and to sell. Every day you would go to the town to work,
to buy or sell something - especially on Tuesdays. That was a market
day in Banja Luka--a fair.
"We lived in peace and--I would say--happiness.
"On Sundays and on holidays everyone would dress well,
especially the young--young boys and girls. So, they would get
together to tell stories, to joke, to sing and dance. That was
a common thing to do.
"As a child, I was healthy and happy. Later, when all of
that disappeared, I would always remember the happy life in
Vasići, in Motike.
"In our village the Serbs and Croats lived in harmony.
[Throughout the testimony Ms. Vučić uses a non-derogatory nickname
for Croats (Catholics): Šokci].
"The daily life and work was the same for both of us. The only
difference was the one relating the faith [to the brand of
Christianity]: the Baptism, the church [Croat altar faces West,
the Serbian one faces East], [different dates for] Christmas,
Easter, [the way] the marriage [ceremony was conducted] and
celebration of Saints with Serbs. [The Serbian families would have a
Saint protector and celebrate their Saint's Day as a holiday].
Everything else was the same. The [difference in] faith was
respected, and no-one was touching [ridiculing] other people's
customs. No one was even thinking that other [disrespectful] way.
Everyone was minding his/her own business. No-one was bothering anyone.
The Serbs and Croats did not intermarry, though. A Serbian woman
would marry a Serb and a Croatian one a Croat. As far as I know it was
always like that. But our hamlets were intertwined and at some places
even houses in the same hamlet. The Serbian hamlets in Donje Motike were
[all named after family's last names] Vasići [meaning Vasićs],
Maleševići, Todići, Brkovići, Kovačevići and Šešići were completely
intermixed with Croatian hamlets of Josipovići, Martinovići, Ljevari and
"Intermingled also were their forests, paths, people and cattle.
Only right before the war was there any avoidance of one from the other,
but I can hardly remember that. I only remember that there was some
cooling off [of the relationship] and it was not as happy and open
as before. Most of my memories are tied to my family and other
families from Vasići.
"In February 1942 before the slaughter, there were nine houses
in Vasići. Those were our house ([my father] Milan's), houses of my
uncle Cvijan and uncle Ilija, then the houses of Mikajlo, Lazar,
Ilija, Stanko, Djoka and Risto Vasić [for whom the hamlet was named].
"On February 7, 1942, Ustashas
slaughtered 77 [seventy seven] members of the Vasić family.
"I am the only survivor
of the slaughter in Vasići"
"There were six of us in my [immediate] family: my father Milan,
42 [at the time], my mother Danica ([age] 32), brothers Mladjen (9), Stojić (7)
and Miroslav (5), and me. I was 13 [thirteen] years old. Before the war, my
father Milan worked as a road worker. With the formation of the
Independent State of Croatia, he [lost job and]
started working in the Rakovac mine, close to our village. Ustashas killed him
there the same day they also slaughtered in our house--on February 7, 1942.
So, father was not at home when Ustashas were slaughtering us.
"Actually, when Ustashas came to our house, only my mother Danica
and my brothers Mladjen, Stojić and Miroslav were at home. That morning I was
visiting a neighbor's house, and they stabbed me all over in that other house.
"That February 7  was a Saturday. I remember it well, and I know
it for sure. We all got up round 7 in the morning. Mother started the fire,
and we children got dressed, put our shoes on and washed up. I had my
breakfast and soon afterwards went to a neighbor's house--to the house of
Mihajlo Vasić. The house was close to ours, on the right side of the
road. My mother sent me to get some flour from them.
"While I was approaching Mihajlo's house, I saw old Mihajlo, who was
around 60 years old, as he climbed to the roof and was taking snow off
his house. There was lots of snow on the roof, and it had to be taken off
so it [its weight] did not collapse the roof. The snow was some 1.5 meters
[about 5 feet] deep. It fell recently, so it was still fluffy.
"I passed by him and entered his house. I took a dish with flour
and immediately started to go back toward my house. You could not simply
sit when your mother sent you for something and was waiting for you. As I
was near a well that was between Mihajlo's house and ours, someone called
me two times.
"'Ljubo [nickname for Ljubica], come back! Ljubo, come back!'
"I do not know who called me. I looked around, but I did not see
anyone. I went back to Mihajlo's house. Mihajlo was continuing to take the
snow off the roof. Outside, around the house, there is no one. As I
entered Mihajlo's house, Mihajlo's family asked me why did I came back.
They see that I am holding the dish with flour in my hands. I told them that
someone told me to come back. Who told me to come back? I look through the
window to see if there is someone outside.
"They stabbed old
Mihajlo all through"
"At that instance, three Ustashas
[Croatian Catholic Nazis] appeared in front of the house. They have rifles on
their shoulders and bayonets [knives] on the rifles. They have helmets on their
"I did not know those people. They were not from our village. All three
were young and dressed in crisp new uniforms. We are looking through the window as
they are ordering Mihajlo to get down from the roof. He got down. They ask him:
"'Do you have any money? Where are your horses?'
"He says: 'I have no money, and the horses are there - in the stable.'
"An Ustasha says: 'Take off the jacket!'
"Mihajlo had on a short jacket of thick cloth. Old people had that
while the young ones would have coats. He takes it off and puts it next to him
on the snow. One Ustasha takes the rifle off his shoulder, comes
closer to Mihajlo, and pierces him with that knife that is on the rifle -
into the back. Mihajlo drops forward on his face. He is twitching and
making a gurgling sound just like a slaughtered lamb. While he is lying
down, the Ustasha is stabbing him in the back. Only one is doing the
stabbing; the other two Ustashas are just watching. They are not moving
"We in the room pile on the windows and watch all of that in fear
and confusion. The one [Ustasha] who was doing the stabbing uses his finger
to take the blood off the bayonet and licks it [his finger]. Then, all three
of them took Mihajlo by the arms and legs and threw him into the uncleaned
[not cleared away] snow, off the path. They threw his jacket on top of him.
The blood flows on the snow where Mihajlo was lying.
"We have time to see it all. The Ustashas are not in a hurry. They do not
even know that we are watching what they are doing. All of us in the room
grow pale from fear. We are moving from wall to wall and watching through the
"The old Vaja, Mihajlo's wife, was sick. She was lying on a straw
mattress that was put on the floor. As she heard that Ustashas are
stabbing Mihajlo in front of the house, she got up and joined us at the
window to see. She then went back to the mattress, got pale and died.
In a second. She was not showing any signs of life. She was lying on her
back--calm. Dead. She said nothing.
"Beside dead Vaja there are seven of us - alive: Mihajlo's
daughter-in-law Draginja, wife of his son George, who was 35 years old
at the time; her children [son] Boško ([age] 15), [daughter] Ljubica
(12), [daughter] Danica (9), [son] Petar (8) and a smaller child, very
small child, whose name I do not remember; and me.
"The Ustasha pierces a mother
and a child, naked on the snow"
"When I entered Mihajlo's house, [his daughter-in-law] Draginja was
bathing her child. She warmed water in a small pan, and she was holding
her child with one hand while with the other she would soap and wash
it. She was still washing the child when I returned to the house and when
Ustashas came. It all lasted only minutes. As Draginja saw how
Ustashas stabbed Mihajlo, she started to walk round the house while holding
that naked child in her arms. She was the oldest one present [and still
alive] in the house, but she was telling us nothing. She is not trying to
console us. She is only walking around the house without aim, and she is
sighing - as if she lost her mind. The rest of us are also walking fast
around the room - just like sheep would walk in a pen as the wolf runs
around it watching and trying to find a way to enter and slaughter them
all. Boško [a boy, age 15] is looking through the window as if he would
jump out somewhere. There is NO way out! Ustashas are standing next to
the window. The doors of the room are opened. We see both doors to the
house. One Ustasha is entering one, another the other one.
"The Ustasha who was stabbing Mihajlo is entering the room.
The knife on his rifle is covered in blood. He is ordering us all to
get out. Draginja is the first to exit - with her child in her arms.
Right behind her are Boško, Petar and Ljubica. Draginja's younger
daughter Danica was sleeping all this time in her bed in the room -
during the time when I came, as Ustashas came, and now. The Ustasha
does not even pay attention to her or to [old] Vaja lying close to
the floor. He is only looking at me. He sees that I am not moving.
I am not going out with the others. He is ordering me to get out.
I will not. He is not addressing me any more. Instead, he went toward
those who were already outside. He knows that I am left in the room.
Three of us are in the room: myself, Danica--in her bed, still
asleep--and dead Vaja. I am waiting for the Ustasha to come back and
order me to get out. He is not coming back. I go to the window to see
what they will do with the ones who went outside. The Ustashas were
standing on the same spot where Mihajlo was stabbed to death.
They are standing on the path covered in blood - Mihajlo's blood.
Mihajlo's corpse is under his jacket a step or two into the
"[Mother] Draginja jumped and started to run down - toward the
road. She clutched the naked child on her chest with both hands. She made
four or five steps. An Ustasha started running after her. He got to her and
stabbed her in the back with the knife on his rifle. He ran after her and
got her. She immediately fell on the path, on the side, while the child
flew whole into the snow next to the path. The naked child is waving arms
and legs in the snow as if in the soap in the house and screeches
[screams]. It was only six months old. It was still nursing. I think
that [mother] Draginja, quite consciously dropped it on the side so she
would not crush the child as she was falling. Maybe she threw him into the
snow aside from the path. Who knows? Maybe it was mother's instinct - a
wish to hurl the child away from death.
"The Ustasha goes closer to the baby and stabs it, too, with the
bayonet. He carried it on the bayonet and then threw it onto the path.
The child immediately stopped crying.
"While the Ustasha was murdering Draginja and the baby, Boško and
Ljubica tried to run away behind the house. They ran next to the house
where there was no snow because of the roof overhang. The second Ustasha
caught up with them though and killed them. I only saw as they started
to run--Boško first, followed by Ljubica, and then the Ustasha after them,
but I did not see how they were killed as they turned corner to the
other side of the house that could not be seen from the window. The next
day, I noticed their bodies all stabbed through on that side of the
house. Petar [8 years old boy] was stabbed in front of the house at the
same spot where Mihajlo was [murdered].
"After that, the three Ustashas entered the house. Two came right
into the room, and the third one remained at the room's entrance door.
He is not entering. One of those who entered swung the rifle that had a
bayonet covered in blood on it and immediately cut the neck of the old
woman Vaja. She was laying with her head twisted backwards so that her
neck was completely exposed. The head rolled off the pillow under the
bed. Vaja was lying on a straw mattress that was put on the floor next
to a bed with her head on a thick pillow. Not even a drop of blood rolled
from the severed neck. None. Only the blood vessels and the nerves
protruded. They are sticking out of the slashed neck and wiggle. She
died not long ago, and her body was not cold yet.
"The second Ustasha approaches the bed. Danica is still sleeping on it.
I have no idea how come she did not wake up in the commotion, but those
of us who were [at some point] in the room were not talking. There was
no noise. It was silent all the time. We were only roaming round the
room without a word uttered. The Ustashas were not talking either. Maybe
a word or two. By the way, all of this lasted a very short time. It was
better for Danica that she was so firmly asleep. She did not see the
evil in the house. She did not have to feel fear before her death. She
was calmly lying on the bed, on her back with her face turned upwards.
She was covered up to her head. I was two or three steps away from her.
Everything is happening in front of my very eyes.
"The Ustasha lifts his rifle with the bayonet and lands it suddenly on
Danica. The bayonet cuts Danica's face across the forehead, sideways to
the half of the head. The blood spilled across the face and the pillow.
Danica did not make a single move or made a single sound. The Ustasha
slashed her only once.
"I was voiceless. I am walking through the room away from the two of
them. It was as if one was to catch a chicken in a chicken coop. They are
coming toward me, after me. They are not in a hurry. They go slowly as if
they were just strolling. One comes from the direction of the door, the
other from the bed on which Danica lays. The one who holds in his hands the rifle
with the blood-covered bayonet turned toward me.
"I jump over grandma Vaja, but I have nowhere to go. I crunch myself in a
narrow corner behind the stove. The stove is next to the wall, but its
back part -- used to make bread -- was a bit moved from the other wall.
I am barely fitting in the corner. I can not turn. I am only stiff and
standing. I watch the Ustashas. Both come in front of me. One says: 'You are
not from this house. I know that. Where are you from? Whose [child] are
"Our neighbors, Croats, as I later learned from many people, knew full
well which Serbian family had how many children. They knew the age and
sex of the children and also knew where the children would usually be at
[this hour] seven in the morning and what they would be doing. The
Ustashas that were slaughtering us were not from [the village of]
Motike. It was said that they came to our village from somewhere for the
first time that day. The Croats from our village would bring them to the
Serbian houses and would inform them, in detail, how many children lived
in which house. Those [Croat] neighbors would stay outside, in front of
the house or hidden behind it. They were not entering the rooms in which
the slaughter was perpetrated. That is how the Ustashas knew that I was
not from that house and that the house of Mihajlo Stijaković does not
have two girls with almost the same age -- as my name sake Ljubica and I
were -- but only one - and they killed her next to the house. Probably
up next to the house, there was a neighbor Croat who brought the
Ustashas - but I did not notice him. He could not see me, but he could
know that I was in the house if the Ustashas told him that [there is one more
girl in the house] when they were outside. The Ustashas knew, right
away, that I do not belong in that house. That is why they were not in a
hurry to kill me. They were not clear about something. They did not know
whether I was a Serb or Croat. The Croat children were coming to our
neighborhood into our houses as we were into theirs. That is what
"I told them: 'I do not know where I am from or whose [child]
I am - when you are doing this!'
"The nails on both my hands and turned black and blue from fear.
What do you think - would I die [of fear] if they did not stab me?
"They tell me: 'Recite 'Ave Maria!'
"'I can not recite or even talk as I see what you are doing.'
"One Ustasha asks: 'What shall we do with her?'
"The one at the door says: 'Pierce!'
"The one in front of me immediately stabs me in the front side, next to
the chest bone [sternum]. As he is bringing the bayonet toward my chest, I see
that it is covered in blood. I immediately fell on the floor and lost
consciousness. Just before I lost conscience, I remembered one stone on our
field where I used to play with my brothers Mladjen, Stojić and
Miroslav. That stone just appeared in my mind with the knowledge that I
will never, ever again go to it. That is the last I remember.
"The Ustashas then stabbed me six more times - while I was lying
unconscious--two times on the left side and three times on the right
side - all into the central part of my body. They also stabbed me into
the left arm biceps. The biggest wound was the one at chest bone.
"I still have scars from all seven wounds. Each scar is easily
visible, even though 58 years passed from the time. One of the scars on
my left side is 5 centimeters [almost two inches] long. The others are
shorter. look at this one on my arm. You can clearly see. That one is
reminding me of the slaughter the most as it is on my arm so I can
see it all the time.
"Some time late at night I gained consciousness. I became aware.
First, I felt great thirst. I crawled along the room in search of water.
It was too dark to see. It is night. In crawling from the corner of the room,
I got to the middle. I crawled over grandma Veja who was laying on the straw
mattress that was on the floor between the stove and the bed. She was cold
and stiff. I felt [with my fingers] a small pan with water. That
pan was filled with water as Mihajlo's daughter-in-law stopped
washing her child because of the Ustashas' arrival. It had been filled as
the Ustashas arrived at the moment when she started to wash the child. I
still remember well that pan. It was blue on the outside and white
inside. It was actually a bit deeper, large pot with a handle made of
wire so it could be easily hung. We call that kind of handle -
"povrazac." That kind of pot was also used to warm milk
or water or to cook food for a few members of the family.
"I drank water from the pan. [Suddenly] a huge heat wave came over me even
though the night was cold. I was putting my head into the pan all the
time and drinking water in sips until morning. As it dawned, I noticed that
both doors and windows are open. But I had no fear. I saw that nothing
was left of me.
"Grandma Vaja is [still] lying on the bed but has no head.
There is her head under the bed. There is no blood on her. Her pillow is
clean. Her neck is short. Gone.
"As it got brighter, I got up a bit by leaning on the wall and the bed.
Danica, age 9, is on the bed and is giving no sign of life. Her face is
cut. You could see coagulated blood and [inside] the bones that were
cut. Her blood was frozen on the pillow. Only now do I notice that I am
covered with blood myself.
"As I started school that winter my father bought me new good and
heavy-duty shoes. They were all covered in blood. Both my hair braids
were in blood. The blood soaked in them and coagulated and froze, so the
braids are hard as if they were sticks. Everything was frozen and stiff.
I do not remember how cold I felt, but I was stiff myself. Only the wounds
were making sound as I breathed. I went into 'the house' -- that is what we
call the top room where a common fire place is. There I found grandpa
Mihajlo's cane, which was bent on the top. I took the cane and started
walking home while leaning on the cane. It is hard to walk. I go slowly.
I stop at the [snow] path. I somehow manage to get to the first [house], to
a neighbors' house, which was not far. That is the house of Đoka [nickname
for Đorđe - Serbian name for George] Kostić. I enter the house to
rest a bit and to see what happened there. I found no one in the house.
The Ustashas had chased them all out and murdered them. I can not go on.
"The room has a bed, one made of wood. There is a wooden box next to it.
I climbed into the box, and, covered with blood as I am, I lie on the bed. There
is some cover on it. I am starting to loose consciousness. The wounds feel
cold and hurt a lot. God, do not give anyone [such pain]! I was afraid
that they will start slaughtering us again.
"I was lying in the bed. I did not sleep. There is nothing left of
me. I am waiting to die.
Saved by Croatian neighbors - the thieves
"Then Sunday came, and they [local Croats] came to pillage. They do not
know that I am in the room. I covered all of myself, over the head. My
body sank in the straw bed and some clothes that were on top of it. I am
quiet, and I wait. I hear them as they talk: 'Here is this; Here is that;
Take this; Carry that; Give me this.’ They are searching for money, and
they are collecting things. I do not know who they are. I do not see
them. Some one pulled the pillow under my head but is not seeing me still.
I peek. There are two of them. I do not know them.
"Not even ten minutes passed before another two came. One
says: 'Is anyone alive!?'
"They lifted the cover as if one would lift a cover on a child. I see
who they are. One was Božo Josipović and the other one Mirko Josipović my
school-mate. Both are Croats from the neighboring hamlet. Božo is an adult, a
married man. Mirko recognized me. Božo knows me too.
"Mirko says: 'Ljubo [nickname for Ljubica], is that you?'
"I say: 'Yes. I am all stabbed through!'
"He asks: 'Do you want to go with us?'
"Božo is standing quiet.
"I say: 'I will go if you are not going to kill me. If you want
to kill me, kill me here. Do not take me to your side of the brook.'
"Božo says: 'Do not be afraid! Nothing will happen to you.
I'll carry you.'
"He takes me on his back and starts carrying me. Mirko is watching. As
he lifted me, he covered me completely with some old coat. Some old, ripped
coat was on the bed. It has holes. I can see through one hole, so I
peek. I put my head so I can see better through that little hole. My
arms are stretching over Božo's shoulders. They are hung as if dead.
Božo is carrying me to toward the house of my uncle Ilija. That is some
fifteen, twenty meters [yards] away from Djoka's house in which I was
lying all stabbed. There is a flat place in front of Ilija's house. That
is the place where we used to gather to sit or play. The Ustashas forced
Todić and Vasić families onto that flat area
and killed them all there. Many of them are lying on the snow. I see it all
through that hole in the coat. Some [bodies] are still moving even though
24 hours passed since the slaughter. A body would only twitch or stretch
and then be calm again. I hear as someone gurgles [makes death noise]. They fell
over each other all different ways as they were chased and murdered. On
the snow path and on the uncleaned snow - blood is everywhere. Frozen.
Everything looks ripped away. Some have their mouth open; others have
their eyes bulging out. Some were pressing the snow with their faces.
Bodies are turned in different directions. Clothes on many are covered
with blood -- as if they were twitching and rolling on the snow before they
would pass away and get motionless. There were some 150 souls on that
spot. In some houses of Todić and Vasić families, there were ten even
fifteen children. Here is where two entire hamlets were collected and
killed off - Todići and Vasići. The snow is compressed and red. That's
where they were murdered. Some tried to run, but no one ran away from
there. They were all caught. Some [death] sounds are heard - sounds I am
not able to describe. Non-dying people can not make such sounds. I do
not know how they did not become completely frozen during the night.
"Božo and Mirko stopped. They are watching the corpses. This is why I
could observe them for a long time. They are not paying attention to me
- as if I do not exist. Nothing is hidden from my eyes, and all those dead
are not bothering me--as all of it was not horrible. I am not afraid.
With exception of the three of us there, is no one alive on this plane.
The three of us are silently watching. It seemed to me that it lasted
for a long time. Then I said: 'If you are to kill me - kill me here -
where these ones are [killed]. Do not take me to the your side to kill
"They are telling me not to be afraid and that they will not kill
""Božo tells Mirko to take off the shoes from one of the slaughtered men. It
is an adult man, so the shoes would be a good size for Božo. Mirko went to
that dead man and started to untie the shoes. They were deep-side shoes.
They look good - like new. Mirko is trying to take them off. Božo is
just standing and carrying me on his shoulders. We are both watching as
Mirko is trying hard and suffering as he is pulling a shoe off the
dead, frozen man. Suddenly, he dropped the leg of the dead man got up and
said: 'It can not be taken off. The feet are frozen inside the shoes. It
is not going. Let us go!'
"Božo says: 'OK. Let's go.'
"We are going toward the brook [that separates Serbian and Croatian
hamlets]. As we approached it, I saw on the other side of the brook,
from Croatian houses there was a column of people approaching. The column
contained all kinds of people - Domobrani [Ustasha "Home Guards"],
Ustashas, village militia, guards, civilians. They were coming
toward our [Serbian] side, toward our houses. Soldiers are carrying
rifles, and they are without mounted bayonets. They are coming to finish
off the wounded and to pillage.
"I am telling them [Božo and Mirko]: 'Do not carry me to them!
Don't you see how many of them there are? They will kill me.'
"'Do not fear! Just be quiet,' says Božo.
"He wrapped me even better with the coat. We passed by them.
No one is asking anything. Maybe they did not see a child underneath
the coat on Božo's sholders. Maybe they thought the bundle was containing
pillaged goods. Maybe to keep killing was already forbidden, as I heard
at some point later.
"Mirko is walking behind us. We crossed on their [Croatian] side.
Mirko asks whether I want to be taken to Božo's or to his - Pejo's house.
Pejo was Mirko's grandfather. Mirko's father was Marko Josipović but the
head of the family was the old Pejo. I told him to take me to Pejo's
house. I went with the children from the house to the same school, and
I was playing with them. So, Mirko said that we should go to his house.
Croats are curing the wounds
"Božo took me to Pejo's house. He and Mirko told him how they found
Milan's Ljubica alive. Their house had 70-year-old Pejo, his two
daughters-in-law -- Janja and Jela. Janja died [by now] and Jela is still
"Pejo told them: 'Take her and bathe her!'
"They washed me. I do not remember them giving me the bath. As soon as
they poured warm water on me, I lost consciousness. They [later] told me that
they took me to the school in Motike. The order was that all who survived be
brought there. I can not remember any of it. I was not conscience until the next
morning. As I woke up the next morning - they say that I said: 'Mama, give me
"Janja gave me warm milk. I got conscious. I looked around, and I see
that it was not my mama, my mother. Then I remembered that Božo and Mirko
brought me in. I am looking around. I see that I am lying in a room on a
straw mattress next to a stove.
"They are asking me: 'Are you in pain Ljubo? Do not be afraid.'
"The wounds were hurting me since they washed me. I said: 'It hurts.'
"I could not move any different way.
"Peja's son Ilija went to the town. That is not far away. He bought
grease and alcohol. They washed my wounds and put grease on them. After that
I was unconscious for 24 hours. They called a neighbor, Anto Martinović,
a Croat, to be present so no one could say that they killed me.
It was already forbidden to kill any more. [Translator's note: When the German
occupiers learned of the massacres at about 2 p.m., they intervened and stopped
the massacres. Those who were killed were killed between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.]
He spent the night there. Janja says that I got conscious once: 'You were to
die, Ljubo. You were not giving any sign of life. Only the pulse was visible
on your neck.'
"The second day, after [applying] alcohol, they put me in a sitting
position. They propped me with pillows. I was sitting like that a bit.
There came Ilija Josipović. He was a Croatian policeman. He told me: 'Your
sister Bosa is in her house. She is sitting in her bed and is not
talking. She does not want to go anywhere. No one is forcing to. Everything
is taken from the house. They took the cover under her so she sits on the
"Bosa was my "sister" on my uncle's side. [Actually a close
first cousin in Serbo-Croatian is called a sister or a brother with a
description on what side. Here, Bosa was Ljubica’s father's brother's
daughter - thus "sister on the uncle's side"]. She was 5 or 6
years old. Ustashas killed all in her house. Bosa hid under the bed, and
that is how she remained alive. Maybe her mother pushed her under the bed.
I do not know. She was alone in the room for two days. Before Ilija, no
one else found her.
"I told Ilija to bring her to me. Later he told me that he
found her on the bed and called her to come with him. She just said: 'I won't.'
"Only when he told her that I am also at the other house did she agreed.
So he brought her to me. He carried her to the door and then put her down.
She started crying and ran to me. She toppled me down. I lost consciousness.
"Bosa was not even wounded.
"I was lying in Pejo's house for two months. I was lying on my knees and
my forehead until my wounds closed. I could not lie on any side of my
body. My wounds would hurt. During a day, they would lift me to sit
as long as I could endure. I lost consciousness every time they dressed
my wounds. Janja and Jela would dress my wounds.
"I started to eat. For a whole month, I could only drink milk - one glass
three times a day. I could not have anything else. They would always offer to
me [other food] - but how could I eat?
"Both of us [girls] were with them [the Croat neighbors]. The old one
told [the rest of his family] that no one should mention us [to other Croats]
until an order came that we should not be killed, that is, that those who
survived should not be killed. Some say that such an order came a few days
later [when it was clear that almost no-one survived]: 'Those who survived
should not be killed.' The old man did not trust that. He kept hiding us for
a long time.
"We were in the house of Pejo Josipović from February 8, 1942. Bosa
stayed until June , and I stayed until St. Peter's Day - July 12, 1942.
Peja's family were taking care of us as if we were their own family. I
have only good, only pleasant memories about them.
"Some two weeks before me, Bosa was taken by her aunt Milica Savić
to the nearby village of Ramići. That is where she remained until the end of
the war [WWII]. She then got married into the Todić family. She has a family
of her own and she lives in Todići [hamlet].
"On Sunday, St. Peter's day, July 12, 1942 my aunt Vida, sister of
my father Milan, took me to her house in Macanovići, a village next to Čokore
village. She sent a message to the Josipović family to bring me to [the town of]
Banja Luka, supposedly so I can identify our cow, so the Josipović family
could take the cow to their house. In Banja Luka the aunt and I sneaked out and
ran to [her village] Macanovići. I lived there until the end of the war and
a bit afterwards. After the war I married Gojko Vučić, a young man from the nearby
[hamlet] of Vučići (which is also a part of Čokore [village]). With him, I went
back to my father's property in [the village of] Motike, where we had children and
grandchildren. Even today, I live on my father's property, in Donje Motike...
"Our [aunt's] place, after the slaughter, was frequented by Domobrani
[Ustasha Home Guards] and village militia. Many of those were
Croats from Motike. They were snooping on us. They would come to binge
[at our expense]. We would give them the best we had - just to keep
them happy. After they ate and drank enough, they would tell us that
we have nothing to fear.
"They would always ask where the men are. Did they leave somewhere? They
feared that they [the Serbian men] would leave for the forests and join
the [anti-Nazi] resistance. Before the slaughter no one from our village
was in the resistance. Everyone [was a peaceful citizen and] stayed at
home. The [Croat] policemen and [Croat] village militia were always
checking us. They knew exactly how many family members each Serbian
family had, and they would check whether everyone was present. If someone
was absent, they would search until they found that person - no matter
how young or old the person was. That is how, on February 7 [1942,
on the day of the massacre] they could take the Ustashas [the
Croatian Catholic Nazi elite] to every single Serbian house and help them
so that every single Serbian soul could be found and - be murdered. They [the
local Croats] were guarding the Serbian houses - so no one ran away.
Later, they would go from house to house to finish off those Serbs who
survived and to pillage the Serbian property. But they were not the only
ones who participated in the pillaging. All other Croats joined - our
neighbors but also those who were not. They took everything away. They
took wheat from our silos.
"The family of Pejo Josipović, the one that took care of me and
Bosa, took some of the wheat. Other [Croats] gathered everything before
they could. All cattle was also stolen. I do not know who [did it]. I could
not find out who even though I went back to Motike after the war and I lived
there with Croats ever since. I only learned, later on, that my brothers
Mladjen ([age] 9), Stojić (7) and Miroslav were slashed in front of
[our] house. My mother was murdered inside the house. My father was murdered
the same day in the Rakovac mine [the other mass slaughter of the
Serbs done by the Ustashas - on the same day], not too far from our
home. In the springtime, when I felt better, I would leave Peja's house and
visit our home often. The walls in our home had traces of blood.
That is where they murdered my mother Danica. I heard that our boys
tried to run away, but our Croat neighbors would ambush them and kill
them with knives, axes and wooden spears. There was very little
[rifle] fire. Just a few [shots].
"Later, I heard what happened to my aunt Dosta Todić. She was about
to give birth. Ustashas toppled her on her back and then put a plank on her
belly, using it as a pivot for a see-saw. They [the Ustashas] were then riding
the "see saw" and watched as Dosta was "giving birth" -
until they pushed baby out of her. They did not pierce her or slaughter her.
They tortured her as [described] above and then finished her off with an axe.
"My sister [cousin] on my father's side, Bosa, Ilija's daughter, the one who
survived the slaughter and who was brought to the house of Peja Josipović where
we were together for a while, told us how she went out of the house after the Ustashas
left. On the snow, in front of the house, she found her mother Cvijeta. She
was pregnant. She was about to give birth. Bosa tells: 'My mother is lying
and stares. I call her - 'Mama, mama!' - She only stares.'
"She left her mother and returned to the room, to bed. She covered herself
and stayed. From time to time, she would get up and try to find something
to eat. She remembers how policeman Ilija Josipović asked her to come with him
and that she did not want to. She said that she would stay at home and wait for
[her] dad. Her father was also murdered at Rakovac mine.
"In the room where Bosa was remained a crib with a 24-hour-old baby in
it. It was the newborn child of my and Bosa's aunt Stana, wife of our
uncle Ilija. Stana was from the nearby village of Pavlovci, from the Štrbac
family. The Ustashas ordered her out [of the house] and the baby
remained in the crib in the room. Alive. No one noticed it. When, after
the slaughter, the baby started to cry, [5 or 6 years old] Bosa tried to
feed it by putting bread in its mouth. She saw how her mother was feeding
other children. The baby died.
* * *
"Right after the war, a policeman from SUP [Ministry of Internal Affairs]
came to see me and asked me couple of questions. He ordered me to keep silent:
'Do not tell anyone about the slaughter. Do not tell anyone that I talked to you.
What happened - happened. Do not tell to anyone!'
"I told almost no one about the slaughter of my family. If I did, it was in
secrecy. I was afraid. I am still afraid that
[new] Ustashas or
Turks [Bosnian Muslims]
will slaughter us all. What do you think? Can it happen?
[End of Ljubica Vučić's testimony. The Author continues with
aunt Vida Macanović's testimony.]
* * *
[Author's note:] Vida Macanović was born in Motike in 1912 and died in Čokori
in 1999. In 1932 she married my uncle Gavro Macanović from Čokori. Despite her
advanced age of 87, she could see and hear quite well and she was regularly
performing her daily house chores. Until her death she vividly remembered
the events of the war [WWII] to the last detail. She told me how, during the war,
she brought to Macanovići her thirteen-years-old niece Ljubica from Motike.
[Beginnig of Vida Macanović's testimony:]
"I was born before World War One in Motike, in the house of Vasa Vasić.
I do not remember my father Vasa. He left for the First World War, and he perished
in the war. My mother Stoja died close to the end of the war in 1918. There were
four of us children [siblings] - my three brothers and I. The brothers partitioned
[father's] property before WWII, and I married in 1932.
"The oldest brother's name was Milan. His wife Danica was from Gornje
Motike. Before the slaughter they had four children - three sons (Mladjen, Stojić
and Miroslav) and daughter Ljubica. [The second brother] Cvijan's wife Ljubica was
from Ramići [hamlet]. They had two children, Nikola and Bosa. [The third brother]
Ilija and [his wife] Stana (who was from Štrbac's in Pavlovac) also had two
children - [a girl] Gospava and newborn son in the crib.
"All of them were slaughtered on Saturday, February 7, 1942, with the
exception of Milan's [daughter] Ljubica, Ilija's [daughter] Bosa and that
newborn son in the crib that they barely saw and who--being abandoned--perished.
"We, living in Macanović [hamlet] knew - the same day - about
the slaughter [perpetrated by Ustashas] in Motike. We immediately ran
to [the hamlet of] Matići, in [the village of] Bistrica. With us were
[Serbs] from Pavlovčani near Banja Luka who ran to [the village of]
Čokori when Ustashas burned Ninković's house in Pavlovac. Families of
Vasilije and Simo Štrbac found refuge at our house in Macanovići. We were
related. Their sister, Stana married my brother Ilija in Motike.
"A few days after [the mass slaughter], I heard that in my
hamlet of Vasići two children survived. My brother-in-law Nikola who was a
miner in the Rakovac mine told me that. He did not go to work that Saturday,
so he remained alive. I do not know how he heard about it [the surviving
children]. I immediatelly thought that the surviving children could be
my brothers' children. And it was so. The two that remained alive
were [my brother] Milan's [daughter] Ljubica, age 13 and [my brother]
Cvijan's [daughter] Bosa, age 5.
"It was forbidden to enter Motike until summer 1942. After that you
could risk it. They were not killing women and children [there] any
more. Adult males would not dare go. I dared. I went to Motike. I was
avoiding the main road. I knew quite well all paths and short-cuts. I
was born and I grew up in Motike. At Dvori [hamlet], one Croat woman
noticed me. She knew me. She asked: 'Where are you going? Why are you in
black?' [Black is the traditional color of sorrow for the Serbs.]
"I answered her: 'Well, I just came.'
"'Okay, then,' [she said].
"Even Croatian God is slaughtered.
"I did not meet anyone until I got to the house of Pejo Josipović.
There were no [Croatian] guards on the road. I was alone in the Ustasha village.
I was the first [Serbian soul] to walk through their village after the slaughter.
I am afraid but I am walking.
"I got to Peja's house. It was Sunday. They left for the church.
I found Ljubica and Peja's wife Ruža alone at home. Ruža was a bit silly
even before [the war]. She would carry a load of stones on her chest.
She knows me. Immediately she started crying about my slaughtered family.
Ljubica was alone at home with her and with Marko's child. Marko was Peja's
son. Ljubica started screaming and crying: 'Oh, aaauch, aunt! Are you alive?
They told me that you were killed.'
"I did not dare cry [myself], so they would not kill me.
[As a Serb, she did not want to make noise to draw attention to
herself in the Croat village].
"We are both shivering [in fear].
"'Dear aunt, run. Run to your children. They will come from church
"I was not afraid being with Ljubica. She was stiff from fear. It was
Sunday morning. The old lady [Pejo's wife] was crazy and was outside.
She was much older than me.
"I spent two hours with Ljubica. We were alone. I had nothing
to eat or drink. Bosa was already taken by her [other] aunt to Ramići.
She [that aunt] converted to Catholicism, so she dared come earlier and
take Bosa. I did not dare do it earlier. Ljubica told me how she survived
in the house of Mihajlo Vasić. She was just there to borrow some flour
from them. As soon as she got there, the [Ustasha] soldiers came. They
slaughtered Mihajlo and chopped off the head of his wife Vaja in the room.
They stabbed Ljubica in seven places and left her. They thought
that she was [already] dead. After that, Croats took her to their house
and adopted her. Pejo's son Marko wanted to adopt her as his daughter so
e could take possession of her property. Vasić family was wealthy. They had
lots of fertile lands. The other of Pejo's son wanted to adopt Bosa so he
can take her property. Those were good, large properties. Fertile lands.
"I left before they came back from the church.
"When I returned to Macanovići, I sent a message to Marko Josipović
to give me back the child. He did not want to. I did not dare come back
to Motike, but I dared go to [the town of] Banja Luka. I sent Marko
a note that I found Ljibica's cow in [the hamlet of] Pavlovac and that I
will bring it to Banja Luka. He should send Ljubica to identify the cow.
They can then take the cow to [their family at] Josipovići. He replied
that they will come.
"Krsta Mirnić, wife of Lazar Mirnić and I then went to Banja Luka
on St. Peter's Day, July 12, 1942. Mirnići [hamlet] is close by. We
take water from the same well. Krsta was also born in Motike as I was.
Marko's wife, Janja brought Ljubica. We met at [Muslim] Imza Kadunić's,
close to Feradija. That was a place where the villagers would usually
gather. We gave Imza some gift and we stayed in his store and we waited
there. That is the first time after the slaughter that I saw my neighbor
Janja. She waited at Imza's while Ljubica left with Krsta and me,
supposedly to identify her cow and to take it to the Josipović family.
"It is good that [Josipović family] were so greedy to get the cow.
"Krsta and I took Ljubica and instead of going toward Pavlovci
and Motike [as expected] we went the opposite direction, next to the Vrbas
[river], then toward Gornji Šer, through Krčma, Gajići and Surtelija
to Macanovići. While walking I told Ljubica: 'My dear child, I am taking
you to my place.'
"She was silent. Only when we were to enter Macanovići, she said:
'My dear aunt! What the evil people have done! They slaughtered our entire
"She was dressed in some common clothes, but still quite a bit
better than our children. They [Josipović's] were closer to the town.
Ljubica was third grade of the school then.
"We notified Josipović's that we took the child. They were not
angry as they knew that the child is more important to me. Later,
after the child [Ljubica] was with us for a while, Krsta and I went
to Motike. First we entered the house of Krsta's parents. The house was
closed. We opened it. It was empty. On the walls, we saw traces of dry
blood next to the bed. We were crying. Her old parents were slaughtered in
their bed. We went to Vasići [hamlet]. All of the houses were standing.
People were killed in houses or in the yards; some were burned in stables.
We were passing by Maleševići [hamlet]. Pejo Malešević had seven sons
and seven daughter-in-laws who had lots of children. All slaughtered.
The only remaining survivor was Pejo's youngest daughter-in-law Ljubica.
She was washing clothes at the brook. When everything was calm again,
she went back to the Malešević household. She cleaned one of the rooms,
and she lived there. She opened a store. She would give us anything we
needed. We would not eat or drink at her place though - she was always
dressed in black. [She was always in mourning.] She carried a pistol.
She was ready to shoot.
"'Do not worry, Dear' [we would tell her]. 'There will be no more
"It was my brother Milan's wife... After some time when it was
[supposedly] calm again, they killed her one night - most probably -
Ustashas. They butchered her. They cut off her breasts.
"After we saw Ljubica Malešević the two of us returned to
Čokori. We would bring Ljubica to Josipović family so they could see
her. I took nothing from them but Ljubica's clothes. She even got
married from our house. She married into Vučić family, also from
Čokori. She is living now on her father's property in Vasići [hamlet]
[End of Vida Macanović's testimony.]
* * *
Here the author adds his own recollections.
(End quote and end of the translation from the book.)
I remember when Ljubica came to Čokori in the summer of 1942.
Her aunt Vida brought her to Macanovići [hamlet]. Her aunt
[on her father's side] was my aunt [on my mother's side]. She was
the wife of my uncle Gavro Macanović, brother of my mother Jovanka.
Macanovići was close to Lukajići. Our fields and our forests were
intermingled as well as our cattle on the grazing grounds and
the children who were guarding the cattle. Our field
"Brdo" was some 100 meters [yards] away from the
house of uncle Gavro and aunt Vida. Other than them I had
three other uncles in Macanovići - Nikola, Mladjen and Drago.
Nikola was a miner in the Rakovac mine but, on the day of the
slaughter [at the mine, also], he did not go to work because of
all the snow that fell. We loved our uncles and they loved us, [their
sister] Jovanka's children, even more. They had lots of children of their
own, so we frequently spent time together and socialized. Aunt Vida died
in 1999. She was always such a smart and noble woman and she was always
good to us, Jovanka's children.
As Ljubica appeared at her aunt Vida's place in Macanovići -
everyone in the entire area knew it immediately. Everyone came to
see her or to ask her something. I remember it well. I was fully
eight years old then. Mom and I would go to visit Ljubica and to hear
her tell us how she survived. The slaughter in Motike and the
survivors were our constant subjects. Ljubica already recovered
when she came to Macanovići. As I saw her then, she seemed to me
to be the prettiest girl in our village. She was clean, with combed
hair, dressed like a town girl, blonde and serious. She somehow
looked to be above us.
That summer, she was guarding cattle with us in Brdo, Brankovac,
Metaljci, Viškovac, Korita and other places. We played together.
We all had a special respect and took special care of her as her
entire family was killed.
Ljubica lived at my uncle Gavra's place until 1946 when she married
Gojko Vučić and left for Motike to live on her father's property.