Lest we forget
An excerpt from book by: Ms.
The Serbs choose war
Published by: Garden City;
New York; 1943
Source: A legal affidavit, signed
and sworn to by Herberovic Hilmija, a Mohammedan
[Muslim] resident Croatia, in regard to the Glina
"I came to Belgrade in 1938
and lived there until the war. At first I made my livelihood by selling
various trifles on the street; later, I was employed as office servant
by the Centralno Transportno Drustvo of Kolarceva, Belgrade.
"On the day of the bombing
I was in Belgrade, and I left on the same day to report to my command in
Susak; in accordance with my mobilization orders....
I cannot remember the date, but
I thillk it must have been the I7th or 18th of April 1941. The company
commander on that date called all the soldiers together and informed us
that the war was over and everyone should proceed home....
I arrived home in Bosanski Novi
about the 24th of April, 1941....
Then I received an order from
the military command in Petrinja to report there....
beginning of June my company was ordered to Glina to establish order
and peace in that district and to collect
all the arms and ammunition from the people....
On our arrival in Glina we searched
the houses of that town and then went to the neighboring villages. When
the searching was over the Ustashis arrived from Zagreb and Petrinja and
we were then ordered to round up from the villages all men from twenty
to fortyfive years of age....
At the beginning we arrested
only the men. We collected them from the villages and shut them in the
Court gaol. There they remained several days, until the gauls were filled,
and they were thell put to death. The killing
was done in several ways. Some were locked up in the Orthodox Church
in Glina, which could contain 1,000 men. Then the company oficer chose
about fifteen men to do the killing. They were then sent into the church
with knives. During the butchering, sentries were placed before
the church. This was necessary because some of the Orthodox Serbs dimbed
up the bell tower and jumped into the porch. All these were killed by the
sentries in the porch. I was three times chosen to do the killing. Each
time we were accompanied by some officers, Dobric Josip and Cvitkovic Mihailo,
and some Ustashi officers.
"When we entered the Church
the oficers remained at the door and watched while we did the killing.
Some we struck in the heart and some in the neck. Some we struck haphazard.
During the killings there were no lights in the church, except that some
soldiers were specially appointed to light our way with electric torches.
It happened on several occasions that some Serb rushed us with his fists
or kicked us in the stomach, but he was butchered immediately. There was
always much noise during the killing. The Serbs used to shout 'Long live
Serbia,' 'Long live the Serbs,' 'Down with Pavelich,' 'Down with the Ustashis,'
'Down with the Croatian State,' etc.
"The killing usually began
at about ten o'dock in the evening and lasted until two o'clock in the
morning, and the cries were continued until the last Serb was killed. These
killings in the Church took place seven-eight times, and I took part in
them three times. Every time we were so bespattered will blood that our
uniforms could not be cleaned. We therefore changed them in the magazine
and washed them later. The church was washed after every killing, after
the corpses were taken away in motor trucks. Usually they were thrown into
the river Glina. Sometimes they were buried.
"Some Orthodox Serbs were
taken from the gaol to the river Glina and mashine-guned. Usually three
to four hundred persons were machine-guned at a time. They were stood up
in two ranks on the bank, tied arm to arm with ropes, and then shot with
machine guns which were placed a few yards away. The machine-gunning was
done by the Ustashis while we stood guard around. The corpses of these
persons were thrown into the Glina....
"My company's task was to
round up the Serbs in Glina and in the Glina district, but orders were
also given that all Serbs in the districts of Topusko and Vrgin Most as
well as Glina should be rounded up and killed. I do not know exactly how
many Serbs we re Killed, but I have heard it said that about 120 thousand
Serbs from the abovementioned districts have been killed....
"I have nothing more to
add. These notes have been read out to me, and all my statements have been
correctly written down.
"I can read and write."
Source: Letter written
by a Jewish physician, professor in the Department of Medicine in the University
of Belgrade, to a friend in London on his escape from Yugoslavia
in 1942. As the writer is a Jew, for the sake of relatives who remain in
Yugoslavia his name cannot be used.
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Last revised: Nov. 26, 1997