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Resistance in the camp

Within the camp wires and walls, resistance was practiced due to isolation, dehumanization, starvation, and disease. Such resistance was seemingly invisible, but it often saved the person who practiced it. Any direct resistance by the detainees was severely punished, most often by death. This refers to open disobedience or the escape of detainees, after which other detainees from his working group would often be punished by death. No matter how diligently he worked on it, the Ustasha regime failed to completely destroy various types of resistance in the Jasenovac camp, either individual or collective resistance.

When it comes to organized resistance within the camp, it should be noted that it primarily meant the mutual association of detainees, which implies communication and eventual action. Since most of the detainees in the Stara Gradiška camp were people who were active in the communist movement or assisted it in various ways, organizing among the detainees was somewhat easier than in the Jasenovac camp. Organized resistance in the Jasenovac and Stara Gradiška camps was first practiced in the economic communities, and then in the secret party organization that operated in the camp.

During 1942, economic communities in the camp came under the auspices of the Communist Party and became the bearers of various resistance actions in the camp, and with the influx of new detainees, a larger number of members joined. The first major blow to the community was carried out by the commander of the Stara Gradiška camp, Nikola Gadžić, who began to execute detained communists. At the end of March 1942, the first group of twenty communists was imprisoned and sentenced to death by starvation and thirst (so-called death cells). Since the work of the party camp organization continued even after their death, it was decided to imprison an even larger group in the solitary confinement. Thus, on July 5, 1942, a performance was convened at which forty-six other detainees were singled out. An additional reason for this detention was the arrival of a large group of prisoners from Kozara, whom the Ustashas feared would come into contact with the detained communists, which would lead to the expansion and strengthening of the party's camp organization.

Thus weakened, the camp party organization nevertheless continued to work and in 1943 managed to get in touch with the partisan detachments in Psunj and Kozara, and the Committee for Aid to Camps in Zagreb. The main tasks of the secret organization were aimed at distributing food among the detainees, raising morale, reporting on the efforts of partisan units in combat (the detainees received news via a radio they assembled and hid in the Stara Gradiška camp), and organizing break out of the camp.

The breakthrough of the detainees was possible only at the end of the war, when it became apparent that the Ustashas with their allies were losing the war.

The last group of about 700 women was executed on the eve of April 21, 1945. The same evening, the Camp Command ordered the remaining 1,073 men to be transferred to the women's camp building (in the eastern part of the camp). As all the group members were separated and executed during the evening, and as the detainees assumed what might happen, about 600 men led by Ante Bakotic decided to break out of the camp on a rainy Sunday morning, April 22, 1945. Only 92 detainees survived the breakthrough. The same day, just a few hours later, the breakthrough of the detainees from the Tannery began. Of these 167, only 11 survived.

"Because, all of us camp inmates, deprived of everything but hope, we hoped that we would get out of that hell one day, and in order to get out, we had to stay alive. We fed on hope and infused it with each other. Every shot at Kozara, every news about our successes in Bosnia and other parts of our country, and news from allied battlefields, gave us the strength to endure and unbearable. The most important thing, therefore, was to simply survive. " Daniel Kovačević, The First Day in the Jasenovac Camp, Words Not Slaughtered V, Jasenovac: Jasenovac Memorial Area, Biblioteka Poruke, 1986, p. 134-135.


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