Largest concentration camp in Croatia

The largest concentration and extermination camp in Croatia. Jasenovac was in fact a complex of several subcamps, in close proximity to each other, on the bank of the Sava River, about 62 miles (100 km) south of Zagreb. The women's camp of Stara Gradiska, which was farther away, also belonged to this complex.

Administration and Structure

Jasenovac was established in August 1941 and was dismantled only in April 1945. The creation of the camp and its management and supervision were entrusted to Department III of the Croatian Security Police (Ustaska Narodna Sluzba; UNS), headed by Vjekoslav (Maks) Luburic, who was personally responsible for everything that happened there. Scores of Ustasa (Croatian fascists) served in the camp; the cruelest was the former priest Miroslav Filipovic - Majstorovic, who killed scores of prisoners with his own hands.

Murder of Serbs, Jews and Gypsies

Some six hundred thousand people were murdered at Jasenovac, mostly Serbs, Jews, gypsies, and opponents of the Ustasa regime. The number of Jewish victims was between 20,000 and 25,000, most of whom were murdered there up to August 1942, when deportation of the Croatian Jews to Auschwitz for extermination began. Jews were sent to Jasenovac from all parts of Croatia - from Zagreb, from Sarajevo, and from other cities and smaller towns. On their arrival most were killed at execution sites near the camp: Granik, Gradina, and other places. Those kept alive were mostly skilled at needed professions and trades (doctors, pharmacists, electricians, shoemakers, goldsmiths, and so on) and were employed in services and workshops at Jasenovac. The living conditions in the camp were extremely severe: a meager diet, deplorable accommodations, a particularly cruel regime, and unbelievably cruel behavior by the Ustase guards. The conditions improved only for short periods - during visits by delegations, such as the press delegation that visited in February 1942 and a Red Cross delegation in June 1944.

The acts of murder and of cruelty in the camp reached their peak in the late summer of 1942, when tens of thousands of Serbian villagers were deported to Jasenovac from the area of the fighting against the partisans in the Kozara Mountains. Most of the men were killed at Jasenovac. The women were sent for forced labor in Germany, and the children were taken from their mothers; some were murdered and others were dispersed in orphanages throughout the country.

The End of the Camp

In April 1945 the partisan army approached the camp. In an attempt to erase traces of the atrocities, the Ustase blew up all the installations and killed most of the internees. An escape attempt by the prisoners failed, and only a few survived.

Courtesy of:
"Encyclopedia of the Holocaust"
1990 Macmillan Publishing Company
New York, NY 10022