Dara (Vucen) Vucenovic [born as Dara Jaican in 1912 in Jelovac, Kozara mountain – died in 1945 in Kozara, Bosnia and Herzegovina (the date of her death engraved on the plaque of the fallen partisans could be an estimate)]
was one of the 9.921 fallen partisans and victims during the Kozara offensive in Kozara mountain in Yugoslavia during World War II. Dara was born in Jelovac and got married to, several years older, Milo Vucenovic, a craftsman with carpentry workshops. They founded a family and in 1929 they got a son named Dušan. In 1931, the family moved to the city of Prijedor in a newly built house. A few years before World War II Milo Vucenovic joined the idea of the Communist Party. At the very beginning of the uprising of July 1941, Dara, Milo and Dušan went to Kozara mountain, where partisans started to fight against the occupation of the Germans and Ustaše (HOS). In this fight, everyone had its own task, so that Milo was separated from his wife and his son.
Upon arrival, from occupied town Prijedor, to Kozara mountain, Dara and her son Dušan, together with other people from surrounding villages, were arrested and taken to the Jasenovac camp on Sava. There, they were recognized by an associate of the Partisans, who smuggled them outside. The associate person covered them up with the corpses from the camp and carried them out on a carriage from Jasenovac (the name of the associate who saved them remains unknown). Dara and Dušan were then rescued in the “free territory” of the forests around Kozara Mountain. After that Dušan joined the Partisans, and his mother Dara joined the Partisan Field Hospital (Poljska Bolnica) as a nurse and they got separated.
Dara was valued and devoted to her work at the hospital on the Kozara mountain until 1943. She got killed during the Fourth German Offensive (or Battle of Neretva) in 1943, under a massive bombardment at the Kozara Mountains among many combatants, civilians, wounded people and patients from the Hospital. Her body is buried in the forest of Kozara, where the prominent monument stands for all dead partisans, soldiers and civilians. She is one of the 9,921 fallen partisan who were killed on the territories of Kozara and Potkozarje during the Kozara Offensive. Dara’s husband Milo Vucenovic, ended the war as an officer of the Yugoslav Army and was buried in the giant's alley in Belgrade in 1983. In memory of the great and meritorious fighters from that region and its bust is set up on Kozara Mountain.
Vucen is a surname given during the Ottoman Empire, which stands for the meaning of a dragged and sold person (like Vucen, Prodan etc). The suffix –ovic/vic was added later on to the end of the surname in order to distinguish Serbs from Muslims and therefore the whole surname stands as Vucenovic. However, the reason that Dara Vucenovic´s name was engraved as Dara Vu?en on the plaque of the monument remains unclear to her family.
Dara Gecic (born in 1953 in Belgrade) is the grand daughter of Dara Vucenovic. She is a pedagogue in pension based in Belgrade.
Maja Gecic (born in 1974 in Belgrade) is the daughter of Dara Gecic and great-granddaughter of Dara Vucenovic. She is a visual artist and professor/lecturer based in Belgrade.
Tara Garvilovic (born in Belgrade in 2012) is the daughter of Maja Gecic.
Kozara Monument to the Revolution is a monument complex at Kozara mountain in Bosnia and Herzegovina, dedicated to the Partisan fighters, fallen soldiers, civilians and all victims who died in the bloody Kozara Offensive in the spring of 1942.
It was built in 1972 and designed by Dušan Džamonja. The materials used are concrete, rebar and steel plates. The condition of the memorial complex is very good.
The monument complex consists of three main elements, the primary monument structure, a memorial
wall to the rear of the monument and a small museum named Mrakovica Museum.
The primary monument is a cylindrical monolith approximately 33m tall, comprised of 20 vertical fins with intermittent curved bulges whose outer-faces are covered in strips of polished stainless steel. The construction of this sculpture required 1000 tons of cement, 4000 cubic meters of aggregate and 200 tons of structural steel to create. It is situated at the centre of Kozara National Park on a plateau near the top of Mrakovica mountain, one of the highest peaks in the Kozara Mountains. Meanwhile, the memorial wall, located behind the main monument, consists of dozens of bronze plaques bearing the names of 9,921 fallen Partisan soldiers, which are all installed into a long concrete wall among the pines. The names of the walls are arranged by the villages in which the fallen persons originated. The Mrakovica Museum was unveiled in 1973 and it was designed by Dušan Džamonja too.
In the spring of 1942, Axis German and Ustaše leadership in Banja Luka learned that Partisan resistance forces had liberated several towns in the central and west Bosnian regions, most notably Prijedor and Bosanski Petrovac. With this Partisan push, Axis forces came to recognize that their regional headquarters of Banja Luka, along with their critical iron mines in Ljubija, were now potentially vulnerable to attack and invasion. In response, Germans mobilized 15,000 soldiers along with 22,000 Ustaše soldiers, 2,000 Chetniks and 5 Hungarian monitor ships for what would come to be known as the Kozara Offensive (which is also sometimes referred to as Operation West-Bosnien). Not only did these Axis forces plan to suppress the Partisan threat, but also, they intended to eliminate any and all citizen support for the Partisans from villages in the Kozara region. Meanwhile, the anti-fascist Partisan opposition forces were only made up of roughly 3,000 soldiers, while aided by 60,000 recruited untrained civilians from the freed land who volunteered to aid in the fight. The fighting at Kozara began on June 10th, 1942, with the Axis coalition of forces, under the command of German General Friedrich Stahl, descending upon the region of Kozara from all directions.
Over the first 10 days Partisans were met with some success defending their positions, however, they began to tire and lose their fighting momentum. By July 3rd, German forces began to break through Partisan defences, which led to a subsequent Partisan defeat. During the final throes of battle, Tito and a small handful of Partisans were able to retreat just as the enemy closed in, escaping towards Grmec Mountain. He moved on to west Bosnia to reorganize his remaining forces after this loss. Of the original 3,000 actual Partisan soldiers who engaged in the battle, roughly 900 fighters survived, leaving the vast majority killed in action. In the aftermath of the battle, some of the surviving Kozara Partisans banded together in September of 1942 to create the 5th Krajina Assault Brigade. It is important to note that while this loss was tragic for the Partisans, it became an important component of the Yugoslavian post-war mythology of how the brave and selfless Partisan soldiers readily gave their lives in the righteous battle against the fascism of German and Croatian forces, even in the face of overwhelming odds and inferior firepower. Meanwhile, of the peasant civilians who aided in the fight against this Axis offensive, it is estimated that an upwards of 10,000 were killed during the battle itself (with some estimates ranging even higher), while an even greater number perished after the battle after being sent to the nearby death camps at Jasenovac.
The Battle of Kozara was by far the largest and most significant battle in the region of the NDH during the course of WWII.
Dušan Džamonja (born in 1928 in Strumica – died in 2009 in Zagreb) was one of the most influential and visionary sculptural artists during the days of Yugoslavia. Having trained at Zagreb's Academy of Fine Arts under Vanja Radauša and Frane Kršinica, Džamonja's artistic focus was combining the organic and inorganic worlds, where inorganic materials such as metal, glass, stone or concrete was shaped and moulded to resemble the organic. Furthermore, Džamonja concentrated on combining simple shapes and forms (such as curves, spheres and ovids) into highly complex and inspiring designs.
Ustaše or, Croatian Revolutionary Movement (Croatian: Ustaša – Hrvatski revolucionarni pokret), was a Croatian fascist, racist, ultranationalist and terrorist organization active, as one organization, between 1929 and 1945. Its members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs Jews and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II. They are variously known in English as the Ustaše, Ustashe, Ustashi, Ustahis, or Ustashas; with the associated adjective sometimes being Ustashe or Ustasha, apart from Ustaše. This variance stems from the fact that Ustaše is the plural form of Ustaša in the Serbo-Croatian language.
The ideology of the movement was a blend of fascism, Roman Catholicism and Croatian nationalism. The Ustaše supported the creation of a Greater Croatia that would span the Drina River and extend to the border of Belgrade. The movement emphasized the need for a racially "pure" Croatia and promoted genocide against Serbs, Jews and Romani people, and persecution of anti-fascist or dissident Croats and Bosnians. The Ustaše viewed the Bosnians as "Muslim Croats," and as a result, Bosnians were not persecuted on the basis of race.
Fiercely Roman Catholic, the Ustaše espoused Roman Catholicism and Islam as the religions of the Croats and Bosnians and condemned Orthodox Christianity, which was the main religion of the Serbs. Roman Catholicism was identified with Croatian nationalism while Islam, which had a large following in Bosnia and Herzegovina, was praised by the Ustaše as the religion that "keeps true the blood of Croats."
When it was founded in 1930, it was a nationalist organization that sought to create an independent Croatian state. When the Ustaše came to power in the NDH, a quasi-protectorate established by Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany during World War II, its military wings became the Army of the Independent Army of Croatia and the Ustaše militia.
The movement functioned as a terrorist organization before World War II but in April 1941, they were appointed to rule a part of Axis-occupied Yugoslavia as the Independent State of Croatia (NDH), which has been described as both an Italian-German quasi-protectorate, and as a puppet state of Nazi Germany.
The 5th Krajina (Kozara) Assault Brigade was a World War II military unit of the Yugoslav Partisans. It was formed on September 22, 1942, at Palež on the Kozara mountain out of the 2nd 'Mladen Stojanovic' Partisan Detachment. On the day of the brigade was formed it had around 1,100 soldiers armed with 940 rifles and 45 light machine-guns.
During actions in September and October 1943, the brigade killed 76 enemy soldiers and one officer, taking as prisoners a further 22 soldiers and one officer, while capturing 25 rifles, 1 light machine-gun, 2 submachine-guns, and 2 pistols, also destroying 5 trucks. These actions raised attention of German 714th Infantry division since it was thought that Kozara was pacified during Spring offensive forcing brigade to leave Kozara to before another offensive was launched.
The unit later participated in many operations, among others the Belgrade Offensive.
Jasenovac concentration camp (Serbo-Croatian: Logor Jasenovac) was an extermination camp established in Slavonia by the authorities of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) during World War II.
The camp was established and operated solely by the governing Ustaše regime rather than by Nazi Germany as in the rest of occupied Europe. It was one of the largest concentration camps in Europe and it has been referred to as "the Auschwitz of the Balkans" and "the Yugoslav Auschwitz".
It was established in August 1941 in marshland at the confluence of the Sava and Una rivers near the village of Jasenovac, and was dismantled in April 1945. It was "notorious for its barbaric practices and the large number of victims". In Jasenovac the majority of victims were ethnic Serbs; others were Jews, Roma, and some political dissidents. Jasenovac was a complex of five sub-camps spread over 210 km2 on both banks of the Sava and Una rivers.
The largest camp was the "Brickworks" camp at Jasenovac, about 100 km southeast of Zagreb. The overall complex included the Stara Gradiška sub-camp, the killing grounds across the Sava river at Donja Gradina, five work farms, and the Uštica Roma camp.
During and since World War II, there has been much debate and controversy regarding the number of victims killed at the Jasenovac concentration camp complex during its more than three-and-a-half years of operation. After the war, a figure of 700,000 reflected the "conventional wisdom", although estimates have gone as high as 1.4 million. The authorities of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia conducted a population survey in 1964 that resulted in a list of 59,188 victims of Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška, the findings were not published until 1989. Croatian academic Vladimir Žerjavic published books in 1989 and 1992 in which he "meticulously analyzed the available data" and concluded that some 83,000 people had been killed at Jasenovac.
His findings were criticized by the director of the Museum of Victims of Genocide in Belgrade, Milan Bulajic, who defended his figure of 1.1 million, although his rebuttal was later dismissed as having "no scholarly value". Since Bulajic's retirement from his post in 2002, the Museum has no longer defended the figure of 700,000 to 1 million victims of the camp. In 2005, Dragan Cvetkovic, a researcher from the Museum, and a Croatian co-author published a book on wartime losses in the NDH which gave a figure of approximately 100,000 victims of Jasenovac. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. presently estimates that the Ustaša regime murdered between 77,000 and 99,000 people in Jasenovac between 1941 and 1945, comprising; "between 45,000 and 52,000 Serbs; between 12,000 and 20,000 Jews; between 15,000 and 20,000 Roma (Gypsies); and between 5,000 and 12,000 ethnic Croats and Muslims, political and religious opponents of the regime." The Jasenovac Memorial Site quotes a similar figure of between 80,000 and 100,000 victims.
Text by Panos Balomenos composed by various sources taken from the internet.
Special thanks to Maja Gecic and Sanja Horvatincic.