There were 71 concentration camps and 329 pre-trial and other prisons on the territory of Yugoslavia in the Second World War. Yugoslavs were also detained in 69 different camps outside Yugoslavia.
The Jasenovac concentration camp was the largest execution site in Yugoslavia in terms of the number of detainees killed. Of the 1,706,000 lives lost in the war, several hundred thousand people were killed in Jasenovac.
With the occupation of Yugoslavia, Nazi Germany and fascist Italy founded the Ustasha Quisling creation, proclaimed under the name: Independent State of Croatia.
Since the establishment of the Independent State of Croatia, organized terror against the population has begun with all the elements of crimes against humanity and war crimes. Already in the first days of the creation of this “state”, in addition to the terror of the so-called “wild Ustashas”, in fact formations derived from the organizations “Catholic Action” or “Pure Catholic Action” of Archbishop Stepinac and the Vatican (“Crusaders”, etc.) terror. By enacting a series of legal provisions, the Ustasha government legitimizes the system of terror with formal legal regulations. An organized system of terror also includes concentration camps.
The Ustashas organized “a whole list of different gathering places and camps in accordance with the purpose for which they were intended.” Although it was not until November 25, 1941. Officially enacted “Legal provision on sending unwanted and dangerous persons to forced stay in concentration and labor camps” many of the “death camps” already existed and were even liquidated (Slana and Metajna on Pag, “Danica” in Koprivnica, Jadovno near Gospić, Kruščica near Travnik). “Pavelić took over the first concentration camps from the Banovina of Croatia and the former Yugoslav regime”, and the first formed by the Ustashas in mid-April 1941 was “Danica” in Koprivnica. In May 1941, the Jadovno camp was founded, which was assigned the role of carrying out mass liquidations, and the Slana camp on the island of Pag also had this function.
Namely, the Ustashas founded the entire system of camps: “Danica” in Koprivnica, Kerestinec, Lepoglava, Gospić with Jadovni, Kruščica, Caprag, Loborgrad, Sisak, Jastrebarsko, Tenje, Slano, Đakovo, Gornja Rijeka, Feričanci, Vinkovci, Slavonski Požega Bjelovar. , Jasenovac, Stara Gradiška, etc., a total of 24 camps.
Due to the Italian reoccupation of the demilitarized zone conditioned by the development of the national liberation uprising (which began on August 15, 1941), the Ustashas had to quickly liquidate the Gospić (Jadovno) and Pag (Slana) camps. The last group of detainees who were not killed by the Ustashas was transferred on 19, 20 and 21 August 1941 via Jastrebarsko to the newly formed Jasenovac camp, and some to Kruščica near Travnik.
The Ustasha Surveillance Service (UNS), and later (since January 21, 1943) the General Directorate for Public Order and Security, established concentration camps that were under their jurisdiction. The first office – politically, made and confirmed camping decisions. The third office was managed directly (the Department of Camps), and the Ustasha defense, as a military-police organization, secured the camps, guarded and liquidated the detainees.
The establishment of the first camps was directly managed by Eugen-Dido Kvaternik, and their boss was Mijo Babić – Đovani, and when Vjekoslav Luburić – Max died, he remained until the end of the Independent State of Croatia with some minor interruptions. Vjekoslav Luburić is the direct organizer of the Jasenovac camp system. Luburić even spent ten days in Berlin at the beginning of October 1941, where he visited the General Directorate of the Gestapo, which enabled him to get acquainted with the system of organization and management of several Nazi concentration camps.
The Jasenovac concentration camp – unlike the makeshift and makeshift camps established immediately after the proclamation of the Independent State of Croatia – was the first systematically built concentration camp and the largest execution site in the occupied Yugoslavia. Previous research, published historiographical works and memoirs have not decisively answered the question why the camp was founded in Jasenovac.
This question (why the camp in Jasenovac?) Was asked at the first scientific meeting in Jasenovac in 1984. The answers to this question range from the geographical, strategic and traffic advantages of the Jasenovac area in the then NDH, which is certainly true, however, so far the research has not offered any original document that would definitely argue the answer to this question. The Jasenovac camp complex was located on an area of 210 square kilometers, from Krapje – 12 km west of Jasenovac and Dubičke (Baćinske) krečani – about 20 km upstream along the Una, to Stara Gradiška – about 30 km east and from Struga in the north to the Draksenić line – Bistrica in the south.
The “Jasenovac Concentration Camp Command” is being formed in Jasenovac. The system of Jasenovac camps is actually represented by camps marked with numbers I – V, other camp facilities and localities (execution sites, farms, etc.). The order and time of origin of individual camps Jasenovac (I and II) are given differently in the literature and this is also one of the questions answered on the basis of credible documentation. Acceptance of camp marks given by the Croatian National Commission for Determining the Crimes of the Occupiers and Their Helpers, since other departments in the literature do not have appropriate arguments, and this statement of the National Commission is still a verified document at some time, in this paper we use the National Commission .
“Camp Jasenovac no. I ”was located near the village of Krapje, 12 km upstream (west) from Jasenovac. In a fenced area next to the forest of Gornja Krndija, right next to Strug, between the villages of Krapje (where the NCO school was later located) and Plesma, the first transports were delivered to two barracks on poles (sojenica appearance).
“Camp Jasenovac no. II called “forest” was located in the area of ”Bročki jasenina”, along the road Jasenovac – Bročice, along the edge of the forest Donja Krndija. There were three barracks in the wire fenced area. Due to the autumn floods, in November 1941, the Ustashas with most of the detainees liquidated camps I and II, and transferred the remaining part to the area of industrial facilities of the company “Bačić and others” (1.5 km downstream from the Sava from the center of Jasenovac) and formed a camp Jasenovac no. . III “called” Brickyard “.
In the town of Jasenovac itself, there was an industrial plant “Kožara” which was turned into camp no. IV. The camp in Stara Gradiška is referred to in some documents as the “Command of the Stara Gradiška Concentration Camps”, and in a number of documents as Camp no. V system of the Jasenovac camp. In addition to the official name “Ustasha Defense Command / Jasenovac Concentration Camp”, ie “Jasenovac Concentration Camp Command”, the names “Jasenovac Concentration Camp” and “Jasenovac Concentration and Labor Camp” were also used.
When we talk about the Jasenovac camp, we mean mainly Camp III – Ciglana, which existed until the liquidation in late April 1945, and when we talk about the Jasenovac camp system, we primarily mean Camp III – Ciglana and Camp V – Stara Gradiska, but in fact other camps and sites are also implied. In certain periods, the Đakovo, Lepoglava camps and the economy belonged to the “Jasenovac Concentration Camp Command”, and except in the immediate vicinity of the camps (Mlaka, Jablanac, Bistrica, Gređani, etc.) they were (as a kind of branch) in Feričanci and Obradovci.
The security of the Jasenovac camp was constantly carried out by Ustasha defense units, separated from Office III (Camp Department) into an independent military formation. Members of the Ustasha defense, in addition to the direct security of the camp and the guard service, guarded the detainees at external works and participated in individual and mass executions, as well as in repressive actions in the wider area of the Jasenovac camps.