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KEY WITNESS TO THE USTASHA HELL

Ljuban Jednak:
"How I survived Ustasha hell"


by Ljubomir Tesic
Published in newspaper "Blic,"
on May 20, 1997


As the sole survivor of Ustasha massacre of Serbs in Glina church, Ljuban Jednak was a key witness in a law suit against Artukovic and Stepinac. In 1995 he was expelled from Glina.

I was with Ljuban Jednak four times. I listened to his testimonies and wrote them down during his testimonies in the Artukovic trial, in Glina in 1991, then in 1992, and the last time, in 1995 when he came to Belgrade as a refugee - sad, unhappy, desperate as the evil of half a century ago was repeating itself in similar ways. While documenting this unheard of kind of suffering, I was guided by two things: TRUTH and that this evil will never be repeated again.

These days all media -- electronic and printed ones -- reported the sad news: At age eighty one, Ljubo Jednak, the sole surviving witness to the slaughter in Glina's [Serb] Eastern Orthodox church "God-mother's Birth" died. He survived the infamous Ustasha hell that happened in the night between August 3rd and 4th, 1941 - on Saint Ilija's Day. That otherwise very popular Eastern Orthodox holiday was the day when some 1,500 Serbian men were brutally murdered [inside the Glina church] - mostly by use of [Ustasha invented knife-glove known as] "Serb-cutter." "Serbosjek".

Their only guilt was that they were born as Serbs.

Ljuban Jednak died as a refugee in poverty and with a tortured soul. He was particularly upset by Serbian disunity. His last wish was to rest at the graveyard where, for centuries, his forefathers were buried in Banija and Kordun [parts of Krajina.] That wish, unluckily will never be fulfilled. What was not achieved by [Ustasha fuhrer] Pavelic and Hitler was now achieved by revamped Croatia under Tudjman and with help of USA, Germany and the Vatican. Banija, Kordun, the entire Krajina, home to the Serbs for many centuries is now ethnically cleansed of the Serbs.

Six years ago, during a news conference, ABC News reporter Sergey Bodich asked then Croatian Minister of War Sime Djodan whether he ever visited Banija and whether he was informed that the sole survivor of 1941 Glina church massacre, Mr. Jednak, is again in the same if not worse situation. Mr. Jednak's house is demolished, ruined, burned and he is forced again, half a century later, to run to save his bare life, this time from so-called Croatian National Guard, the Croat army that sports the same symbols and the same behavior of Pavelic's Nazis.

Obviously at the very edge of verbal explosion, Croat Minister of War, Mr. Djodan said: "Sir, do not spread Chetnik [WWII Serb anti-Nazi guerilla] propaganda here! Those gentlemen of Banija were first Chetniks and then they joined [Tito's] partisans. That gentleman you are talking about had a project in 1941 -- and he still has it -- whose purpose is to destroy anything Croatian."

Paris' book
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."

[End quote]


Translator's notice:

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.

Petar Makara,
December 2003


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    [ The survivor tells to the camera ]
    Ljuban Jednak: "SOMETHING TOLD ME - I WILL LIVE"


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Last revised: December 19, 2003