The World Must Know...
KEY WITNESS TO THE USTASHA HELL
Ljubo Jednak talks
The name of the hero of this story is Ljubo Jednak, a Serb born in 1916 in Seliste a village near the town of Glina. Despite the untold horror he went through, despite the path from the hell of death to life he travelled, he was able to keep intact both his physical and mental health.
After the war [WWII], he was the key witness in the lawsuits about the Ustasha genocide perpetrated on the Serbian people. He was a witness in trials of Dr. Andrija Artukovic [Ustasha Minister of Interior who spent 40 years as a free man in California] and Dr. Alojzije [Aloysius] Stepinac [the head of the Croatian Church during the Ustasha reign of horror, the Ustasha spiritual leader]. He was also a witness in other trials of Ustasha war criminals.
As an introduction to the February, 1991 conversations we had with Ljuban Jednak, we have written his words describing the situation in Glina then.
Mr. Jednak lived in Glina all his life until his exodus in 1995.
He said, [then, in February, 1991, only a few months before the civil wars of 1990's started]:
"I have four grandchildren. Two are here in Glina, and two are there in Zagreb [capital of Croatia]. My daughter Dushanka was born after the war, and she lives in Zagreb. The other two sons I have are here in Glina. The older one, Dushan has no children. He has his own house. Our youngest son, Stevo, lives with us, with me and my wife Stana, who I married just before the war. Stevo married a Croatian woman. It is a happy marriage. There is no difference between us and Croats. Our customs are the same. Our language is the same. Only the fait is slightly different. That slight difference was and still is the only source of evil. Stevo and his wife have two children, my beloved grandchildren."
"I am just preserving [smoking] the meat. I hope to eat it in happiness and peace. I will serve it to my guests who are always welcome no matter who they are or where they came from. I also have my plum trees. At some point I had more cattle, some sheep and cows. I got old, and my strength betrayed me so I cannot do it all. I have only some chickens left. Sometimes I keep some pigs just so we have meat for some special occasion."
"I live here in Glina, on Rinana Street, right next to the cattle market. This house belonged to some Serbs. Ustashas slaughtered two Serbian men during the great slaughter of 1941. Only a woman and a small baby remained. Later on the woman died and the daughter left for America. It was a long time ago. I do not know whether she is still alive. This house was in ruins, abandoned. I bought it from the Jaric family. I build it again and kept renewing and fixing it."
"I have only two acres of land outside of Glina, now. Before I had more. After the war, I was a professional soldier. Soon, I saw I am not good at it. I love a peaceful life tied to the land, the house and fruit trees. If we could only live in peace. Every human being comes to this earth, as nature granted that life, to live, if possible, in peace and happiness. Of course - if possible."
"I am not involved in politics. To no one on earth do I wish evil. I never wished evil to any one, not even to those from whose hands I suffered so much."
"It is really hard for me, being so old, to tell again and to live through that slaughter once again, the slaughter I survived only by a miracle. I told it so many times. I was a witness. I am always upset and shocked even when I look so peaceful and composed."
The photo copy of the "Blic" article we obtained ends about here. In the continuation, we will present translation of the transcript from the "Cine Pro" video documentary done by Pancevo author Miroslav ("Mika") Stankovic.
So, what was it that this simple Serbian peasant, Ljubo Jednak, was ready to forgive?
Mr. Jednak starts talking about his exodus from his Glina house in August, 1995. He ran, he left everything he ever owned during the Croat-American operation "Storm." The Croat army with Ustasha insignia was the ground force. The US provided air cover to the despicable Nazis.
Mr. Jednak speaks in dense, compact sentences which teem with information. Interestingly, he addresses his audience in present tense even when he talks about the times long gone. For him, they may not be. This gives the horror he went through additional power.
He speaks with a certain calm as if he were floating above it all. This simple, warm person, so tied to the ground, the fruit trees and the always bittersweet life of a peasant tries to describe indescribable. . . .
I believe he found words where there are no words.
[ The survivor tells to the camera ]
Ljuban Jednak: "SOMETHING TOLD ME - I WILL LIVE"
Where am I? PATH:
The truth belongs to us all.
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Last revised: December 19, 2003