Donja Gradina

There are those who consider that Jasenovac was an extermination camp and the reason is called Donja Gradina. Ustaša (the ruling party of the independent state of Croatia) intended to make Croatia ethnically cleansed, mainly from Serbs, but Jews and Gypsies also fell victim to the Ustaša regime’s ambitions for an ethnically cleansed Croatia. Thousands of people (mainly Serbs) were murdered during World War II by the Ustaša regime at special execution sites. By far the largest of these was Donja Gradina across the river Sava from the camp Jasenovac III. Donja Gradina was formerly a village whose inhabitants had been evacuated by the Ustaša regime so it could be used as an execution site. The first executions took place in January 1942. The bodies had to be cremated in former inhabitants houses because the frost in the ground made it impossible to dig graves. Most of those murdered were beaten or stabbed to death with axes, hammers, sticks, knives or other weapons or implements.

Current status: Monument (2009).

Location: 45°16'11.90"N 16°55'08.20"E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Donja Gradina is today located right on the border with Croatia and is not part of the Jasenovac camp Museum. The border is formed by the river Sava with each site on either side of the river. The mass graves are scattered over a large area connected by paths. It’s a short walk from Jasenovac and crossing the border between the countries is easy.

Exactly how many were murdered in Donja Gradina remains a sensitive issue and the actual number will certainly never be determined. In any case, the majority of those murdered were Serbs. Whether Donja Gradina is to be considered a extermination camp on the same grounds as its Nazi counterparts is up for debate. Any consensus between Serbs and Croats doesn’t exists. But in a way, Donja Gradina has become for the Serbs what Auschwitz is for the Jews. According to the memorial, there are about 700 000 people buried in the area, including 200 000 children. This can be compared with the 70 000 people mentioned by the museum in Jasenovac on the Croatian side. By 2009, 105 mass graves had been map out over an area of 10,130 square meters. In addition, further 22 mass graves have been found, but its scope is yet to be determent. 

Follow up in books: Lituchy, Barry M: Jasenovac and the Holocaust in Yugoslavia (2006).