Mass grave of Partizan victims near Zagreb

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Allen Milcic
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Mass grave of Partizan victims near Zagreb

Post by Allen Milcic » 14 Oct 2004 21:52

The following is an article on a possible mass grave - victims of Tito's Partizans in 1945 and 1946. The original article is in the Croatian language, and the translation into English is by myself.

Allen/

Na Tuskancu masovna grobnica zrtava partizana?
Cetvrtak, 14. listopada 2004. http://www.index.hr/

MUP-ov Odjel za ratne zlocine i terorizam zapoceo je s provjerom tvrdnji da je na zagrebackom Tuskancu, na zemljistu koje koriste Hrvatske sume, masovna grobnica zrtava koje su po zavrsetku II. svjetskog rata pogubili partizani. "MUP je jucer zaprimio dopis Drzavnog odvjetnistva na temelju kojeg je zapoceto s obradom tog slucaja", kazao je Hini glasnogovornik MUP-a Zlatko Mehun. Dodao je da je uz zahtjev Drzavnog odvjetnistva prilozena i prijava Miroslava Luksica, hrvatskog emigranta koji tvrdi da je kao 14-godisnji djecak bio svjedok masovnih likvidacija civila na Tuskancu 1945. i 1946. Mehun je kazao da ce policija uskoro razgovarati s Luksicem i "brojnim drugim osobama" koje bi mogle nesto znati o masovnoj grobnici.

"Nakon prikupljanja podataka o svemu cemo izvijestiti Drzavno odvjetnistvo", kazao je Mehun, dodavsi kako za sada, u prvoj fazi obrade slucaja, nije predvidjeno iskapanje zemljista na kojem se navodno nalazi grobnica. Luksic je za danasnji dnevni tisak izjavio da su partizani u lipnju 1945. poceli kamionima, dva puta tjedno, dovoziti skupine od dvadesetak civila. Tvrdi da su zarobljenici strijeljani i zatrpani u jame na dijelu zemljista koje je pripadalo njegovoj obitelji. Likvidacije je navodno promatrao iz gospodarske zgrade udaljene stotinjak metara, pa nije vidio lica zrtava i egzekutora, no tvrdi da je na tom zemljistu zakopan i bratic njegova oca, Slavko Pepelar koji je, kako kaze, strijeljan pred njegovim ocima. Pogubljenja su se, kako tvrdi, dogadjala od lipnja do rujna 1945. te u proljece 1946.

Pretpostavlja da je u masovnoj grobnici pokopano izmedju 500 i 1000 ljudi te da na Tuskancu medju susjedima ima jos zivih svjedoka tih dogadjaja. Kaze da su neki od njih o tome i dali iskaz 1997. kada su odbili dati suglasnost za izdavanje lokacijske dozvole za jedan stambeni objekt prije nego sto se istrazi postoji li masovna grobnica. Imovina na Tuskancu obitelji Luksic je oduzeta i nacionalizirana 1946., kada mu je i otac na smrt pretucen. Miroslav Luksic je 1988. s obitelji otisao u Kanadu, na sto su ga, kako tvrdi, natjerali telefonski pozivi s upozorenjem da mora sutjeti o onome sto je vidio kao djecak. Od 1997. Luksic trazi povrat imovine, a nakon niza negativnih rjesenja 2000. je tuzio drzavu i Grad Zagreb. [Hina]

Translation:

Mass grave of Partizan victims on Tuskanac?
[Tuskanac is a suburb of Croatia's capital - Zagreb]
Thursday, October 14, 2004
http://www.index.hr/

The Ministry of the Interior's Department for War Crimes and Terrorism began looking into claims that on Zagreb's Tuskanac, on land used by Croatian Forests, is a mass grave of victims executed at the end of WW2 by the Partizans. "Yesterday, the Ministry of Interior received instructions from the office of the Attorney General to begin with investigations" stated Ministry spokesman Zlatko Mehun in an interview with HINA. He added that the instructions from the Attorney General included testimony of one Miroslav Luksic, a Croatian emigrant, who claims that as a 14-year old he was a witness to mass liquidations of civilians on Tuskanac in 1945 and 1946. Mehun further stated that police will be interviewing Luksic and "numerous other persons" that may have knowledge of the mass grave.

"After gathering information we will report to the Attorney General's office" stated Mehun, adding that, for now, in the first faze of the investigation, there is no plans to dig up the area that allegedly contains the mass grave. Luksic stated to reporters today that the Partizans, begining in June of 1945, twice a week brought trucks with some 20 civilians. He claims that these prisoners were shot and buried in pits on land that belonged to his family. He allegedly witnessed the liquidations from a farm building some 100 metres away, and was unable to see the faces of the victims and the exectutioners, however he further claims that his father's cousin, Slavko Pepelar, was one of victims, and that he witnessed this shooting. The executions, he claims, occurred between June and September 1945 and in spring of 1946.

Luksic believes that there is between 500 and 1000 victims buried in the mass grave, and he further states that there are other living witnesses of these crimes amongst neighbours on Tuskanac. He says that several of them gave statements regarding these occurrences in 1997 when they refused to allow the issuance of a building permit for a residential building in the area until an investigation into the mass grave was completed. The Luksic property on Tuskanac was nationalized in 1946, when Luksic's father was also beaten to death. Miroslav Luksic emigrated to Canada in 1988, forced, he claims, by the continuing phone calls that warned him not to speak of what he witnessed as a child. Since 1997 Luksic has requested that the property be returned to his family, and in 2000 he sued the city of Zagreb and the state after receiving repeated denials. [Hina]

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Post by michael mills » 15 Oct 2004 05:33

Thanks for this information.

It would be no surprise if these were the bodies of victims of a massacre by Tito's partisans.

After all, the partisans carried out many massacres of many different groups of people regarded by them as enemies.

They massacred Serbs who were loyal to Mihailovic and the King.

They massacred Croats and Slovenes who were anti-Communist.

They massacred Italian soldiers who had surrendered to them in September 1943 and subsequently refused to be integrated into Partisan formations (whether they were anti-Communist or just wanted to go home did not matter).

In the spring of 1945, they massacred Italian civilians in the Venezia-Giulia and Friuli regions who refused to identify themselves as Slovenes and support the annexation of those regions by Yugoslavia.

All in all, there was little to choose between Partisans, Ustase and Cetniks in terms of murderousness towards their respective enemies.

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Post by Larry D. » 15 Oct 2004 17:26

Tuskanac was the "upscale" residential district of wartime Zagreb. Most of the NDH ministers lived there as well as the high ranking military officers. A selective liquidation of the people living there from June 1945 was probably based on assumed close collaboration with the regime due to relative affluence, in that no one who could afford to live in Tuskanac could have been anything other than a collaborator. A good example of communist class warfare as much as anything else.

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Allen Milcic
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Post by Allen Milcic » 15 Oct 2004 17:43

Larry D. wrote:Tuskanac was the "upscale" residential district of wartime Zagreb. Most of the NDH ministers lived there as well as the high ranking military officers. A selective liquidation of the people living there from June 1945 was probably based on assumed close collaboration with the regime due to relative affluence, in that no one who could afford to live in Tuskanac could have been anything other than a collaborator. A good example of communist class warfare as much as anything else.
Hi Larry:

It is unclear, though, whether the victims on Tuskanac were local residents, or individuals brought in from other areas and liquidated here. Remember, the witness recalls that the victims were brought in by truck - they could have been from anywhere. Hopefully, once the investigation is concluded there will be a dig at the site and a full forensic investigation conducted. Perhaps at least some of the victims will be identified.

Best regards,
Allen/

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Post by Larry D. » 15 Oct 2004 18:08

Yes, Allen, that's quite true. But it wouldn't surprise me to find our that Tito and his security people had earmarked the affluent residents of Tuskanac for full or partial elimination. They sure did purge a lot of affluent and professional class Croatians between 1943 and 1946.

Immediately after the war, Tito with great reluctance allowed the U.S. to bring in 6 to 8 Quartermaster Corps graves registration teams to investigate aircraft crash sites in Yugoslavia for the purpose of disinterring remains for reburial in the U.S. and to resolve MIA issues. The teams filed weekly and monthly reports to their regional command located in Italy. I ran into these reports by accident at the Suitland Federal Records Center (NARA Field Branch) about 20 years ago and found them fascinating. The QM team personnel saw a lot and heard a lot while interviewing wartime crash witnesses that had nothing to do with the crashes, supplemented by more information provided by International Red Cross workers based in Yugoslavia. The Red Cross people relied on the QM teams to get the information out of the country because they could get sensitive information out through the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade. The reports are full of reports of liquidations being carried out all over Croatia and B&H by special squads from the Partisan youth brigades under the supervision of the UDBA or its predecessor. They make for some insightful reading, indeed.

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Post by David Thompson » 15 Oct 2004 19:54

Larry D. -- Do you have a more specific record group (RG)/ box citation for those reports?

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Post by Larry D. » 15 Oct 2004 22:37

David Thompson wrote:Larry D. -- Do you have a more specific record group (RG)/ box citation for those reports?

Sure don't, David. But I can tell you that it is not RG 92 - Records of the Office of the Quartermaster General, because those only go through 1942. I was doing research in a number of different record groups at the time, including RG 59 (State Department), RG 260 (Occupation Headquarters), RG 319 (Records of the Army Staff) and RG 407 (Adjutant General). The Graves Registration files were "pulled" by one of the archivists at Suitland for me after I asked a question about a specific U.S. bomber crew that went down in the Krapina area/50 km N of Zagreb in April 1944 and was supposedly executed on the personal orders of Andrija Artukovic. The crew was still being carried as MIA at war's end, although the matter was later resolved and all crew members accounted for. I made some notes on the RG at the time, but those notes and papers have long since been disposed of. However, I have suspicions that the files came from the records of the Mediterranean theater command, but I can't swear to it. It's been nearly 20 years.

Larry

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Post by David Thompson » 15 Oct 2004 22:48

Thanks, Larry.

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