Ustasha Survivor, Dragan Stijakovich

(Pronounced DrAgon SteeYAAkoveech)
From A book by Lazar Lukajich:

“Friars and Ustashas Are Slaughtering”

Original title: “Fratri i ustaše kolju
Published in Belgrade, 2005
by Fund for Genocide Research, Belgrade
Translated by Petar Makara with permission from the author.
Copy edited by Wanda Schindley, PhD.

Drakulich slaughter survivor – Dragan Stijakovich 

Mr. Stijakovich’s story was presented on pages 307-310 of the book.

Translator’s note: The Catholic fanatics known as Ustashas converted the entire “Independent State of Croatia” (ISC) into a slaughterhouse. Everyone, including children, born as a Serb, a Jew or a Gypsy was marked for death. Entire Serbian villages and entire regions of Bosnia and Krajina were slaughtered or machine-gunned. Dragan Stijakovich, nickname Drago, was one of the rare survivors of the Ustasha slaughter perpetrated in his village of Drakulich. It is a Bosnian Serb village near the majority Serb populated town of Banja Luka. The author of the book, Mr Lukajich, is born in a nearby village.

The mass murder of the innocent civilians was perpetrated by an Ustasha military unit [so-called bojna] from Zagreb [capital of Croatia] with help of the local Ustashas, all of which were lead by [Catholic] Friar Tomislav Filipovich Satan. [Filipovic was nicknamed by victims “Father Satan.” At Jasenovac, he used the alias Miroslav Majstorovich.] They were aided by Croatian farmers, the neighbors of Serbs, from those villages.

Catholic Croats and Orthodox Serbs – both Christian people – stem from the same roots and speak the same language: Serbo-Croatian. This is a telling story of the amount of hatred and disregard for human life the Catholic Church was able to install in their followers.

This testimony was collected by Ostoja Ljubich.

The subtitles are ours.

[Beginning of the translation]

Author’s note: Mile Stijakovich was a well known and respected family man from Drakulich. He had a large family. His three adult sons Ilija, Simo and Dragan [nickname Drago] were married men. The three survived the February 7, 1942 [Ustasha] slaughter [of Serbs in Drakulich and neighboring villages].

Drago told his memories of the slaughter.

The Croatian “friend”

“Our normal, daily life was interrupted by the war [WWII]. In Drakulich [village] we heard that Ustashas are slaughtering the Serbs [us]. We started to fear. [Our] father Mile was sighing [in frustration] the most. He would spend entire nights listening and peeking through the window. His belief was that Ustashas were murdering only adult, fighting-age men, so they would not join the [anti-Nazi] resistance. This was why he was most concerned for us, the three grown brothers. Whenever he would spot Ustashas passing on the Prijedor road, he would tell us to hide in the corn field, in the stable or some other place from which we would be able to flee if some danger came. He did not worry about his own safety, thinking that because he was old, no one would hurt him. He also thought that Ustashas would not hurt any other member of the family simply because they were so young and could not be guilty [of anything]. Local Ustashas and our Croat neighbors knew about such mindset.

“He only worried about us, his sons.

“Some three weeks before the slaughter, on January 14, 1942, our [Serbian] Small Christmas and a Serbian New Year, the President of the [Croatian, Ustasha] County of Budžak, [Croatian neighbor] Mr. Andrija Golub visited our house. He came to be served roasted meat, brandy and [milk] cream, which we always kept for Small Christmas. He was our usual guest in earlier [pre-war] years on Small Christmas as well as on other occasions. We [the two families] knew each other from the times immemorial. We were a well off family. Before the war, we lived in harmony [with Mr. Golub’s family]. My father Mile [an Eastern Orthodox Serb] always considered the [Catholic] Croat Andrija Golub as his close friend. Now [under conditions of war and fear], he [Mile] was happy to see Andrija, especially as he was in the Ustasha Government, so Mile believed he [Andrija] could help protect [our family]. Who will help if not the best of friends? [Our father] Mile, our mother and all the rest of us [in the family] greeted Andrija Golub as a dear guest, and we showered him with the best of hospitality. We were as hospitable as we could be. Only the children feared the man in an Ustasha uniform.

“After a variety of unimportant topics of conversation during the lunch, father Mile started talking about the situation [the state of fear] in the village. He tried to get some [any] information from Andrija. Mr. Golub was in the position of power, in the [Ustasha] Government – and my father believed the Government knew. As he was served good food and good plum brandy, [the Ustasha neighbor] Golub mellowed and said, ‘To all you Serbs in these villages, the days are numbered.’

“We turned to stone [with fear]. The entire house [filled with people]. Some [members of the family, probably] thought that he, being drunk, was probably joking or that he was simply boasting, being in the Ustasha uniform [the uniform of temporary power], but my father Mile was immediately struck with fear for [brothers] Ilija, Simo and me. The rumor was that the Ustashas were collecting and taking the adult Serbs somewhere – supposedly so they would not join [Serbian anti-Nazi resistance] the Chetniks. Those who were taken away would be gone for ever. This was why father feared for us [sons]. He was also in fear for our other numerous family [members]. That was why he addressed Golub, ‘Andrija, brother, you know I have those two good oxen, the ones that are considered the best in the village. You take them. Please do not let my sons and my family be persecuted [maltreated] by the Ustashas.’

“That was how my father begged him, not having even a hint that we could all be murdered.

Author, Mr. Lukajich’s note: Mile [Stijakovic] was offering the Ustasha the most precious and [to a peasant] the most dear of all possessions – the oxen. To a peasant, the cattle were very important and dear property, horses and oxen in particular and especially if they were good [of good breed]. The peasant would guard them as if they were his own children. When I was a teacher in Bosnia [after WWII], in the village of Imljani on Vlašic [mountain], one peasant said during a PTA meeting, “Our teacher is like a mother [to our children]. I love him as my own cattle.”

Mile Stijakovich was offering Ustasha his cattle in order to save his family.

“[The Ustasha neighbor] Andrija answered, ‘Mile, why would I take the oxen? Let them stay with you. We will take the oxen when we kill you all off.’

“Mile fell silent. He was staring at Andrija. He could not believe his own eyes and ears. Is he really thinking that, or is he just boasting? Maybe the brandy got him so hard that he was just clumsy [insensitive] in his jokes? Was it possible that Andrija would say such thing – no matter how drunk he may be? They were friends for decades! He just could not believe it, so he geared the conversation toward the weather, the large pile of snow and other unimportant, everyday things.

“The drunken Ustasha left. What he said put apprehension into our house. From that moment on, no one in our house smiled or made a joke. We were all talking with a soft voice. The children were playing quietly next to the stove and whispering. While playing, they did not quarrel any more. The fear got to them, too.

Jovanka Stijakovich
[Sister dies to save brothers]

“That morning my sister Jovanka shouted, ‘They are coming here!’

“We all ran to the window. It was true. A group of Ustashas was approaching our house through a path in the snow. [Ustasha County] President Andrija Golub was among them. We barely recognized him in the morning fog. Even though his presence calmed us a bit, my father told Ilija, Simo and me, ‘You go to the stable. Quickly!’

“He then tried to calm the rest of the family, ‘They will not do anything to us old or to the young [in the original literally: weak] ones. They are looking for the males. Young men. Andrija is with them. They will not harm us…’

“The three of us [brothers] left through the back door toward the stable. Our sister Jovanka joined us. She was 17 or 18 years old. The Ustashas did not notice us. We got under the cattle feeding crib. Jovanka covered it with straw and hay and then returned to the house. The stable was made from wooden logs so you could see the yard and the house [through the gaps] between the logs. I was watching under the crib toward the house. There was a path in the snow between the house and the stable. No one can see me from the outside.

“As soon as Jovanka entered the house, Andrija with three Ustashas reached the [front] door. Other Ustashas remained outside a bit further away. The door on the house remained opened. Everyone in the house is standing. The [other] Ustashas are standing in front of the house. They are saying nothing. [Father] Mile exits in front of the house and says: ‘Good morning, people! How are you, Andrija?’

“[Andrija answers] ‘No matter, Mile… But where are your sons? Tell us that one!’

“[Father Mile says] ‘Ilija and Drago went to the town. Simo went to Chota, to the store to buy salt. There is a shortage of salt. You can not find it anywhere, so he went to see if some came in [to the store].’

“[Andrija shouts] ‘You are lying, you old corpse! You are lying! You should all be brought for questioning – you, Mile will be the first [to be questioned]!’

“One Ustasha grabs Mile under arm, closes the house door and takes him behind the house. A moment later, another Ustasha enters the house and takes our mother outside. Then they started taking children, one by one, in thin clothes [as they were] and in the order as they were standing next to the stove. None of them knew where they would be taken. None of them shed a tear. Obediently, they left for “questioning.” I did not know where they were taken. I could not see what was done to them behind the house. Later on, I could see how Ustashas conducted the “questioning” on the snow behind a wooden hut. They were hitting them with axes to the head. Common axes. All their heads were split. No one made a sound. After that they slashed their throats – so no one remained alive. I saw all of that when the Ustashas left.

“The last person they took out [of the house] was our sister Jovanka. They stopped her in front of the house. All [Ustashas] gathered around her. An Ustasha said, ‘President Golub says that you have brothers. Where are your brothers?’

“Jovanka was silent. She was standing with her arms limp with a stare fixed above their heads.

“Golub yells, ‘Talk, you fool! It is better for you. Why are you quiet?’

“The Ustashas were rushing her, ‘Come on, Girl – talk! We do not have time [for this].’

“From the back, another Ustasha hit Jovanka’s arm with the sharp part of an axe. The arm fell into the snow. The blood was gushing along her body. Jovanka turned pale and said through clutched teeth: ‘I do not know!’

“Then she screamed. The Ustasha cut off her remaining arm. ‘Do you know now?’

“She screamed again. Through clutched teeth, she shouted, ‘I don’t know! I know nothing. Nothing, nothing…’

“Then she dropped on the snow. The Ustashas lifted her up, unbuttoned her shirt and started throwing snow on her naked chest and to her mouth. They were laughing. She started to cry. An Ustasha cut her across her breasts and shouted, ‘Tell about your brothers!’

“‘I don’t know!’

“She fell to the snow. The Ustashas pierced her and left.

“I saw all of this through the dry, crooked logs. Simo and Ilija could not see anything. The logs were close together in front of them. They only heard the conversation held in front of the house. It was quite close–maybe some 20 meters [yards] away. You do not dare move. If any of us coughed, they would find us and kill us all.

“When everything quieted down, we went out of the stable. We went to the front of the house. Jovanka was lying there. The snow was red around her. The blood coagulated. We went to the hut behind the house. Next to the hut was a pile of bodies with split heads. They were slaughtered, too. The snow around them was also red. It even melted a bit from the hot blood. No one was away from the heap. How did they get to the heap?

“The three of us were stunned. No one said a single word. It was as if we were mute. We were just looking at each other.

“Right away, we let the cattle out of the stable. We spilled the wheat. We spilled the brandy and lit the house and the stable [on fire]. Then we went to the forest. No one saw us. [Later] Andrija Golub took our oxen – just as he said to us on January 14, on our New Year [celebration] in our own house. He was the one who was leading the Ustashas to the Serbian houses, and he had the “right” to choose what to take for himself from the Serbian houses.

(End quote)

Author’s note: All three Stijakovich brothers – Ilija, Simo and Dragan – joined [anti-Nazi] Partisan movement. They were fighters of the First Krajina Batallion. All of them died fighting. [With their death] their [Stijakovich] household forever perished… note: Most accounts presented in Mr. Lukajich’s book were collected by Mr. Lukajich himself as he interviewed the survivors who are still alive (and live in Republika Srpska, the Serbian part of Bosnia.) This story is an exception. We thought it worth presenting this story to the English speaking audience for two reasons:

1) The story is illustrative of the desire of the Serbian people (through ages) to make friends with other South Slavs. It is the Serbs who, in their immense capacity to forgive, were able to unite all South Slavs into one country – Yugoslavia. The Serbs were always hoping (beyond hope) that their “South Slav brothers” would stay united in a common front against any foreign intruder into the Balkans.

The Serbs were counting on many years-long friendships, as seen in the above story

2) When the newest “Independent State of Croatia” unhurled its old Ustasha flag in early 1990’s, the Western media portrayed the Serbian resistance to the old Ustasha symbols and ways as some kind of Serb-specific illness. As a paranoia.

Well, despite the Nazi-like, anti-Serbian propaganda stemming from the West, the Serbs were once again right to doubt the intention of their Croatian and Bosnian Muslim “brothers.”

When America and their obedient Western allies decided to follow in Hitler’s footsteps and divide Yugoslavia along ethnic and religious lines, the history repeated itself one more time. The Croats and Bosnian Muslims immediately betrayed the common goal of the South Slavs, “forgot” the old friendships and, eager to once again enjoy Serbian property, sided with the foreign intruder.

Examples are the cases where Muslim “friends” from around Srebrenica found it their duty (!!!) to kill first their Serbian friends of many years. Follow the link to the United Nation Report which describes the cases.

Other excerpts from the book:

Instead of introduction: Testimony of Radomir Glamochanin

The list of 2,315 Serbs slaugtered on February 7, 1942 in the three villages

Motike slaughter survivor – Ljubica Vuchich

Piskavica massacre survivor – Danka Milakovich

Drakulich slaughter survivor – Dragan Stijakovich

Father Satan loved slaughtering children

Jasenovac survivor – Borislav Ševa

MORE EXCERPTS from the book… to come.

More about the book.

Other survivors of Jasenovac speak

What was Jasenovac?

Who were Nazi Croats – the Ustashas?

More on WWII Yugoslavia

Nazi Croatia TODAY!!!

The excerpts from Mr. Lazar Lukajich’s book are presented on with explicit permission from the author.

Mr. Lukajich’s worked very hard in interviewing survivors. His main wish was for the entire world to learn about Jasenovac and other Ustasha-perpetrated atrocities in Bosnia and Croatia, for which Jasenovac has become a symbol, so that this sort of horror will never, ever be repeated anywhere in the world.

The author, Mr. Lukajich lives in Novi Sad, Vojvodina, Serbia.

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