The Croatian (Ustashas) massacre in Ostrozin - Kordun 1941 -

Period: Second World War

Region: Kordun

The Croatian (Ustashas) massacre in Ostrozin - Kordun 1941

The crime in Ostrožin is savage slaughter committed by Ustashas during December of 1941 against Serbian civilians from the village Ostrožin and surrounding villages- Stipаn, Šljivоvаc, Тrеpčа, Kirin and Dugо Sеlо located in the region of Kordun in the municipality of Vrginmost.

The perpetrators were members of the Pavelić’s guard under command of Ante Moškov, his man of trust.

Like many others, this crime shows the bestiality and insanity of Ustashas and their ideology based on extreme hatred nourished by clerical fascism.

After the Second World War, the monument was raised in the memory of victims, and anniversaries were regularly marked until the middle of 1990s when the entire population of the Kordun region including these villages, was expelled during the criminal operation “Storm 95”.

Even today, Croatian extremists and hooligans often vandalize the memorial place of NOR, not only in these villages, but in the entire Croatia.



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The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians, the first South Slavic state, later renamed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was created after the First World War, with its promulgation on December 1, 1918, in Belgrade. The territory of the Yugoslav Kingdom was divided into banates in 1929 and the structure of its government was a parliamentary monarchy.

Proclamation of the first South Slavic state

The royal title was held by the Serbian Karadjordjević dynasty. It consisted of Southern Serbia, Šumadija, Raška, Kosovo and Metohija, Eastern Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vojvodina, Slavonija, a small part of Dalmatia, the Dubrovnik Republic, Lika, Kordun, Banija, Zagorje, Gorski Kotar, and Slovenia.

After the assassination of King Alexander I Karadjordjević in Marseilles on October 9, 1934, the country was ruled by regents: Prince Paul Karadjordjević, Dr. Radenko Stanković, and Dr. Ivo Perović, and the government was formed by Dragiša Cvetković and Vlatko Maček.

Belgrade's demonstration on March, 1941.

In the mid-1930s, Europe witnessed the rise of Nazism and Fascism, especially in Germany, Italy, and Spain. This led to the formation of the Tripartite Pact, on September 27, 1940, between Germany, Italy, and Japan. In the next months, this alliance was joined by the following countries: Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, etc. Thus, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia found itself surrounded by Axis Powers.

In Vienna, on March 25, 1941, the signing of the protocol between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Nazi Germany took place regarding the passage of German and Italian troops through Yugoslav territory. Among the patriotic forces of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, this was interpreted as treason, and the British and Soviet intelligence officers organized a military coup and demonstrations on March 27, 1941 in Belgrade resulting in the overthrow of the governorship led by Prince Paul and putting on the throne a minor king Petar II Karadjordjević.

Hitler changed the plans and the armed forces' plans to attack Greece, were diverted to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.


The massacre in Blagaj was committed by Ustashas against Serbs from the place of Veljun and surrounding places in the period between 6th and 8th May 1941. This was the first massive genocidal crime against Serbs in the Kordun region. The crime was planned and organized by the leadership of the Independent State of Croatia (NDH) and aimed at extermination of Serbs from the territory of NDH.

In this crime, around 530 men from Veljun and surrounding places were caught or lured into the gendarme barrack and the school in Blagaj, where they were brutally massacred with cold weapons, except for one group that was shot.

Forced conversion of Orthodox Serbs into Catholicism

The capitulation of the Army of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia brought fear and insecurity to the people of Kordun. The stories of Ustashas’ evils and massacres in Veljun were spreading. Unfortunately, in the villages, some people, who were in communication with administrators from the municipality of Lasinja, thought that even NDH must have been some sort of state and that extermination and expulsion of Serbs would not take place.



With the rising of rebellion in Kordun, Ante Pavelić ordered the action of cleansing at the end of 1941, when he sent two groups of Ustashas from Jasenovac to Lasinja. The two groups surrounded the village of Prkos out of which men escaped after they had been alarmed by the village guard.

Ustashas took children, women, and the elderly- 478 in total- and killed them in the forest Brezje, burning all houses in Prkos at the same time. A catholic friar and gendarme sergeant Nikolić who knew the men from the village, tried to alarm them, but without success. As revenge for his attempt, Ustashas shot Nikolić together with his family.

Collaborators- Croatian Archbishop Stepinac and Ustasha leader Ante Pavelić

Following days, the forest Brezje witnessed the massacre of people from other villages, as well- Stipаn, Sjeničak, Kirin and Dugо Sеlо. All of them were exhumated in the 1950s and placed in the burial place where the names of people of Prkos were only written.

In the villages of Vrginmost (Ostrožin, Stipаn, Šljivоvаc, Тrеpčа, and Dugо Sеlо) at the north-eastern Kordun, on 21st December 1941, Ustashe began the genocidal action against Serbian people. At least 670 Serbs were killed, including 100 children younger than 12.

Together with the villages of Prkos, Kirin, and Sjeničak, the total number of victims massacred in the monstrous ways- with hammers, knives, spades, buried and burnt alive- was estimated to 1,446 including 360 children under the age of 15.

The abomination and monstrosity of the crime is reflected in the rape of almost all women in front of their cousins, forcing relatives to choose among themselves who was going to be killed first, and plunder of corpses.

The most morbid act taking Maca Markovina, a pregnant woman born in 1923. They killed her, cut her stomach, take the baby out, and put the living cat inside.

Around 4 am on 21st December, Ustashas left Lasinja and went to Prkos and Dugo Selo. At the same time, at 6 am, 15 people from Lasinja were ordered to dig a pit- 3 km wide, 4m long, and 4m deep- in the forest Brezje.

At noon, they dag the pit and returned to Lasinja with a strong guard. The day was cloudy,  foggy, and visibility was around 200m. In the afternoon, the weather cleared up, and the fires in the villages of Prkos and Dugo Selo could be seen.

At 1 pm, lines of men, women, and children were coming in the rows of 4 to 6, followed from both sides by Ustashas holding knives. There was also a cart with a woman who gave birth while the line was moving. Upon arriving at Lasinja, they were placed in a warehouse.

At 4 pm the same day, prisoners were taken to pits. There Ustashas waited with knives and hammers which they used to kill them and throw them into the pit. Victims were tied to each other, and thus, they fell into the pit together, someone even alive.

The slaughter lasted for hours, until 1 am. After the crime, Ustashe returned to Lasinje with bloody hands to wash. At the same time, a group of other residents were brought to bury victims, who, upon realizing that they had to bury even those who were calling for help, lost their consciousness.
That group was replaced by another next day, which finished burial around 6 am.

Data suggest that the next morning, several people managed to get out of the pit- a forty-year-old man who went to Novo Selo, but was captured by Ustashe and killed; a thirty-old woman who went along the stream of human blood towards the river Kupa, but was captured 4 km far by Ustashas and killed. A 12-year-old boy, Milorad Manić from Dugo Selo, got out of the pit and went towards the river Kupa and after a day of wandering, he came to Trepča, but also captured by Ustashas and killed.

Later, Ilija Buđan from Prkos was seen lying with three stabs in the neck; he broke away from the line, attacked an Ustasha, but another Ustasha slaughtered him with a knife. During the slaughter, the night was pitch-black, so ustashas had to light lamps. Not a single bullet could be heard. People didn’t know where they were going until they were brought to the pit. People from the village of Lasinja also didn’t know this, until they were told by people who buried victims.

Taking of Serbs to concentration camps

The same day, 22nd December 1941, the remaining residents were captured and brought to Lasinja where they were forced to dig a pit for themselves. The Radanović family, mother and father in the presence of their 5-year-old child, dag the pit, and then, they all-together were killed and thrown into the pit- father, mother, son, daughter, and the youngest daughter.

Until 23/24 December, four pits were dug where more than 1,100 victims were thrown into.

On the night of 21st December, one Ustasha got a nervous breakdown. He was killed by his comrade and thrown into the pit. Two days before the year of 1942, around 60 women and children were taken through Lasinje to Dugo Selo by two trucks. In the hamlet Kljajići, a Ustasha and the war criminal Josip Pavek organized and was personally involved in bringing these women and children into a wooden house which he poured petrol on and burned. He was arrested in 1942 and sentenced to death punishment by the court of NOVJ, after which he was publicly shot in Lasinja.

The surviving soldiers said that the achieved results by that time allowed partisans in charge of the protection of the village, to relax. In one of the meetings where the discussion on the protection of people took place, some participants suggested that only men should retreat, and women and children stay at home; this means that they didn’t make a unanimous decision to retreat all residents to free territory, in the case of Ustasha’s attack.

“From the direction of Dugo Selo, we heard shooting. From the Kobačko brdo, people were spreading news that the village of Stipan was burning. Stjepinac was also covered in flame. Flame was further spreading towards Šljivovac, the Abez forest, and Vrginmost. Distraught innocent people were running from the stable to the house, and from one fence to the another. Two days ago, they celebrated St. Nicholas which most families here celebrate every year. Today, they don’t know what to do.

The braver among them could be heard accusing Nikola and Milan Vidović from the neighboring village who disarmed Ustasha’s patrol and quickly shot two of the captured Ustashas. The silence of hesitation was broken by a machine gun from the nearby Lukinići hamlet of the Čremušnica village where several Croatian families lived among hundreds of Serbian households. This was a sign that the action began. Soon Ustasha members appeared notable for wearing black shirts, under command of Ante Moškov, with the support of local ustashas.

They started forcing people out of their houses and lining up every single living person. In the house, no. 28, a 12-year-old Marko Kobac was left in the bed because of fever caused by lung inflammation. They didn’t allow his parents to take him. Neighbors, cousins, mothers, children, sisters, brothers, husbands, and wives, everyone was forced by Ustashas to walk uphill towards Lasinja. But not too far.

They entered a garden and pushed the people into a shop owned by Vasa Kobac. People were silent. They saw their neighbors coming after they were captured in the nearby forest Rečica and near the river Šentuša. The shop was too small, yet, everybody was forced to move in. They were pushed by ruthless “creators of Croatian state” who threatened them with machine gun-

If someone tries to escape, we will kill you all.

Motionless people could heard the laugh and songs of drunk Ustashas. With bloody eyes, they organized the line of the victims again. The remaining people were taken to the place where the river Trepča enters the river Kupa, and where the nearby pit had already been chosen. Houses near Trepča were in flame.”

471 people of Dugo Selo (Vrginmost) were killed during Ustasha's violent action in the free territory of Kordun. Most of them were women and children. The total number of children younger than 16 was 180. The most victims were killed in the Brezje forest near Lasinja. The village was completely burned. During the war, the village had 516 victims of Ustasha's terror, and everybody was killed by ustashas.



In 1941, 186 people lived In the Trepča village. 100 of them were killed, mainly women and children. 33 underage children were killed. Most victims were killed in the village which was burnt. In one day, 101 people were shot, 9 were taken out of the village, and killed in the Brezje forest and Jasenovac.

13 people of  Šljivovac village were killed.

24 December 1941-  31 Serbian people of the village Banski Moravci near Lasinja (Vrginmost) were killed, with 15 children among them.

27 December- 1941- 11 people of the village Gornja Trstenica near Vrginmost were killed by Ustashas. 17 people of the village Golinja near Vrginmost were killed. The village Golinja had 747 people in 1931.

28 December 1941- 11 people of the village Bović (Vrginmost) were killed with 6 children, among them. The village was plundered and burned. 17 people of the village Kozarac (Vrginmost) were killed with 5 children, among them. The village was also plundered and burned.

The corpses of Serbian victims were transported from the forest to the burial place during the 1950s. Of the total of 600 residents in 1941, today only 35, mainly older, people live there.

These crimes prove that the Ustasha regime was genocidal because it is clear that they didn’t send their troops to fight against another army, instead they had a plan of ethnic cleansing of Serbs which involved killing children, women, and old people in monstrous ways.

In the first year of the war, Kordun became one of the most suffering places (together with Herzegovina) of the occupied Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and until summer 1945, it became the most suffering place in the Balkans.

The tragedy is even greater when it is known that the Supreme Headquarter of NOVJ completely ignored the fact, and often happened that they sent the 8th Kordun Division out of the Kordun region, only to find certain death. When Serbs of Kordun realized that this was the plan, the trail of Kordun was initiated.

From the end of 1941, Kordun was mainly free. Neither occupation forces, nor members of the Independent State of Croatia had an approach to this territory. And the territory was large enough and with sufficient population to establish new authority and organize life during the war.

Opposition to the idea of establishing “The Committee of National Liberation Front of Kordun” was initiated by Vladimir Bakarić, then commissioner of the Supreme Headquarter of Croatia. The basic idea of Croatian communists was that Kordun couldn’t be ruled from the places of Vojnići and Vrginmost, but from Zagreb.



In the village of Prkos near the town of Karlovac, a protest was held regarding the destruction of monuments devoted to the 1,500 Serbs from Prkos and nearby villages who were killed by Ustashas in December 1941. Around a hundred residents gathered at the protest, together with their cousins who live in other places, members of the Serbian minority of Karlovac county, non-government activists, and members of anti-fascist fighters from Zagreb and Karlovac.

The memorial service for the victims at the beginning of the 21st century

Self-government representatives and a representative of the Croatian Government said that it was a shame for Croatia to allow destroying the monument, but also that the increasing number of people don’t care about these actions.

This all suggests that many people in Croatia have dark incentives that, if allowed, can bring serious consequences. Not only the memorial place was destroyed, but the ossuary with the remains of 1,500 women, children and elderly were demolished.

Young activists of the “Documenta- the centre for dealing with the Past” planted a tree of peace next to the monument, in honor of the victims and the 65th anniversary of the victory over fascism.


There is little written evidence about the crime in Ostružin in December 1941. The communist regime banned every public discussion on crimes committed against Serbs because they feared it could disturb brotherhood and unity among South Slav nations.

Not any book specifically dealing with this crime has been published so far.  Only a historian Đuro Zatezalo described this crime in his books, and something can be found in his book of testimonies “Radio sam svoj seljački i kovački posao” which was published only in 2005.

A documentary about the crime in Ostružin hasn't been made so far.


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