In May each year, the transitional left organises a number of events celebrating the Red Star and the Communist regime. The media mainstream summarises it uncritically, but is almost completely silent about the horrors of Kočevski Rog, where partisans literally slaughtered tens of thousands of people on the orders of the Communist Party after the Second World War.
More than twelve years ago, in the Croatian weekly Hrvatsko slovo, Zoran Božić published an article entitled Kočevski Rog – unpunished genocide or the horrors of Kočevski Rog crave the truth. The text was recently summarised by the Kavarna Hayek portal and is published in its entirety below.
The victims were hung on wooden crosses upside down, stabbed at the ankle and skinned slowly. The skinned parts of the body were rubbed with salt, the unfortunates screamed and fainted. When butchers with butcher experience in the name of the red star, they were called “specialists,” were finished, the victim was scalped, the skin nailed to a tree to dry, and the victims left to die in excruciating pain. The butchers were mostly partisans of the 11th Dalmatian Brigade, and the victims were Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs, who were returned to Yugoslavia from Austria by the British 5th Corps in May 1945 in the arms of savage communists. More than 70 years have passed since one of the largest massacres in the history of the region took place in Kočevski Rog at the end of May and the beginning of June 1945. The massacres were not a “mistake”, a “necessary evil” or a “execution of the occupier’s collaborators”, but a deliberate crime against humanity in the name of ideology, in the name of revolution. The flower of Slovene entrepreneurship, which was replaced by the socialist economy, was dying. This turned out to be a completely misguided economic project that ended miserably.
As very few victims survived, the butchers ended up in psychiatric clinics or were later executed themselves, and there are no written records, as the orders of the party and partisan leadership were oral, the post-war events on the karst plateau, densely dotted with caves and abysses, are still shrouded in mystery and will probably never be fully clarified. Slovene witnesses, who were victims from the ranks of the Home Guard (France Dejak, France Kozina, and Milan Zajec), escaped from the abyss, where the partisans pushed them thinking they were dead. They were so “lucky” to be in a group of those who had previously been beaten with a whip and then shot at. Unlike the unfortunates who were chosen, most of them were Croats, some were also Serbs, who were literally slaughtered at communist cannibal orgies on the outskirts of the hard-to-reach Kočevje forests.
Testimony of “Comrade Jure”
Slaughter with knives, axes and saws was mentioned only by the executioners, as it is not known whether any of the victims survived the torture. Borivoj Karapandžič (author of the book Yugoslav Bloody Spring), Milovan Djilas (author of the book “War time”), and historian Count Nikola Tolstoj (author of the article on the massacres in the British Magazine Encounter) spoke about this for the British BBC before the disintegration of Yugoslavia, after the disintegration of Yugoslavia, Simo Dubajić and Ivan Gugić testified about it. Most horrifying is the testimony of “Comrade Jure”, who in 1992, just before his death, but without remorse, confessed to the Croatian investigator of communist crimes Zoran Božić, who a decade and a half later published an extensive text entitled The Horror of Kočevski Rog longs for the truth in the magazine Hrvatsko slovo.
A detailed description of the massacre of Croatian home guards, Ustashas and civilians caused some stir, but was never denied. Božić was even reported to the Croatian Journalists’ Association (HND), saying that with detailed descriptions of cannibalism and cruelty, such as normal human consciousness, morality and ethics can hardly imagine, he does not sympathise with the victims, but becomes equal to criminals. The HND therefore issued a warning to Božić that he had endangered the dignity of the victims with the article.
According to the testimony, tens of thousands of people were killed in Kočevski Rog, most of them Croats (around 40,000), Slovene home guards, and between 5,000 and 6,000 civilians, and the rest were unfortunates of other nationalities, including Germans. Most of them were first brought from Vetrinje in Austria via Jesenice to the camp collection center in Šentvid, where they were already separated by ethnicity and classified into categories A, B, and C, where classification in B and C meant almost certain execution. Then they were transported by train first to Kočevje (according to some data between 5,000 and 8,000 per day), from there to the forests of Kočevski Rog. The commander of the executioners was the partisan major Simo Dubajić, and his superior was the political commissar Milja, who was later recognised as Milka Planinc, later a high party functionary and between 1982 and 1986 president of the Yugoslav Executive Council.
Jure was a fighter of the 11th Dalmatian Brigade of the 26th Dalmatian Division of the Yugoslav Army. In the second half of May 1945, Commissioner Milja came to their unit, saying that she needed volunteers to execute the “bandits”. With the promise of a rich reward, they were taken to Kočevje. There they were welcomed by Slovene partisans, who drove them to hard-to-reach places. Jure claims that he took part in the massacre from May 29th to June 9th and that his group alone killed around 11,000 people. Except for about 800 Slovenes, they were all Croats.
In the massacre, Commissioner Milja proved to be the best. “According to the witness, she was a talented expert in torturing and killing people with a satanic imagination. It is because of her that the usual mass ‘executions of national traitors’ have turned into a cannibalistic orgy of killing,” wrote Zoran Božić. She personally selected young men and ordered the partisans to slaughter them, scratch their eyes with a knife and spoons, cut their ears, noses and genitals, and then stuff their testicles into empty eye sockets and their genitals into their mouths.
According to the author, the Commissioner was often angry at the “butterfingers” among the butchers who cut the genitals from top to bottom. According to her, the proper partisan castration process began with an incision under the male scrotum, with the knife set on the diaphragm. Then the male genitalia along with the scrotum were cut off with one strong and deep incision. One of her favourite specialties was the so-called “stuffed Croatian brain”. Milja hammered masonry nails into the brains of living people with a hammer and asked the victim after each nail she had driven in: “Have I finally knocked the Independent State of Croatia out of your head?” She called the second specialty “salty Croatian heart”. After four strong blows with an axe to the heart area of the chest in the shape of a quadrangle, she tore out the heart of already living people and dragged it along the floor together with the drawn veins.
“Jure claims that the comrades of the partisans were in the lead in all types of atrocities. They extinguished cigarettes on victims of both sexes and burned the most sensitive parts of the body with scorched iron, especially the vagina and warts on the chest. The women’s uteruses were cut out and torn through their genitals with a bayonet, and then they were pushed into the victims’ mouths, suffocating them. At the command of Commissioner Milja, the partisans sadistically drove pieces of barbed wire to tie their hands through the genitals into the urethra. Pregnant women were stabbed in the abdomen with a knife, and unborn children were torn from the womb,” Božić wrote. Some “comrades” killed the men and women by first driving a water pipe into the anal opening and then shooting through it. Commissioner Milja encouraged the partisans to cut off the breasts of several women, salt them, and then press them back on the amputation wounds. In doing so, they used wire brushes to inflict wounds on the female genitals and then salted them. Every beastly procedure was accompanied by public approval and cannibalistic enthusiasm of the criminals, Božić also wrote in the weekly.
Partisan butchers “worked” in shifts 24 hours a day. When they finished, they usually got together by the fire next to the cemetery before the break and got extra drunk. Some were already going crazy at the time. “Even at the time of slaughter, individuals had mental disorders or so-called ‘assault attacks’. At the time, they were killing in a trance as if on a conveyor belt. Women butchers experienced psychomotor attacks known as Kozara. Then, in a state of obsession, they first mutilated and killed the victims, licked their blood and brains, tore off their clothes and publicly masturbated,” said Božić.
Witness Jure told Božić that, contrary to popular belief, Slovenian partisans participated in the slaughter on an equal footing. Unlike Croatian butchers who used axes and knives, Slovenians also killed with large forestry saws. With them, they sawed people in half, and very slowly, that the victim suffered for a long time. “Slovenian partisans cut off the heads of individual victims and then played football with them when they finished their shift. In addition, human heads were impaled on stakes and burned over a fire,” Božić wrote. Dubajić also joined in person to the murders. He killed Croatian prisoners with a kama, a knife with a blade sharpened on both sides. “In doing so, he drank blood from their jugular veins and licked blood from the knife. Some comrades, including Commissioner Milja, licked the salted brains of the victims from the tip of a knife. Milja was gaining an increasingly satanic image after a series of self-executed executions. She was so bloody that blood dripped from her uniform and hands. Her boots were pink because of walking on the human brain, pieces of skull bones were stuck in her uniform and hair,” Jure told Božić.
The massacre of Croats in Kočevski Rog lasted 12 days. During this time, the cries of victims dying in excruciating pain were heard through the forest. Many asked the partisans not to mangle them anymore, but to kill them immediately. Most were not listened to. In recent days, mining units had arrived, mining caves and abysses where thousands of corpses lay.
Medals for butchers
The British began to extradite the refugees who had taken refuge in Austria before the Communists (there were about 220,000 of them) on May 18th. During this time, Tito was constantly moving between Zagreb and Ljubljana. In his infamous speeches in the second half of May 1945 in Zagreb and at the current Kongresni trg in Ljubljana, he told the crowd that the traitors would never watch the mountains and flowering fields again, and said between the lines that they would settle accounts with everyone. At that time, the returned Slovenes, Croats and Serbs were already being transported to concentration camps and also to Kočevje. According to Jure’s testimony, this location was recommended to Tito by the Slovene party leadership, which, together with Tito, visited one of the slaughterhouses on June 1st. Edvard Kardelj, Ivan Maček-Matija, Franc Leskošek – Luka, Aleksander Ranković, Peka Dapčević, Koča Popović and some other prominent officials supposedly came with Tito at that time. They were obviously satisfied, as an order soon came that the executioners should be allowed a 14-day holiday in Bled. This was taken care of by Ivan Maček – Matija, the head of the Slovenian OZNA, who gave a welcome speech and presented them with decorations.
According to several witnesses, Božić wrote in Hrvatsko slovo, the “strikers” butchers, who executed more than 2,000 “Croatian bandits”, were especially praised. The record holder and holder of the “gold Kočevje medal” was Ante Čepić, a Croat from Makarska, a machine gunner during the war and a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia since 1944. He is said to have killed 3,800 people. Ljubo Periša, a Croat from Šibenik, an OZNA officer and a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia since 1943, won a silver medal for 3,000 killed. After the war, he went crazy and killed his family in Novi Sad with a trophy pistol, with which he also killed in Kočevski Rog. Ado Dragić, a member of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia since 1943, won the “bronze Kočevje medal” for 2,200 killed, and Ivan Bokež (actually Nikola Marić from the Boke Kotorske) and Commissioner Milja (actually Milka Planinc) received special praise for the 2,000 killed. “The gathering of Kočevje butchers by Lake Bled quickly turned into a multi-day unbridled orgy of debauchery, primitivism, and atavism. The cosmopolitan population and employees of this prestigious resort were appalled by the rage of the beneficiaries of the half-month leave, which was personally ordered and approved by the Balkan bloodthirsty man – Marshal Tito,” Božić wrote. Witnesses do not remember Simo Dubajić, but they can see Commissioner Milja clearly in front of their eyes, who danced on the tables of Bled’s cafes and stabbed wood with a knife that was still dirty from blood.
The criminals and those who ordered the crime were never punished. Complaints made in the last ten years against living individuals have usually been dismissed or ended up in prosecutors ’drawers. Tito and the party have always valued butchers, most of whom were not over 25 years old. How many of them did the dirty work in Kočevski Rog, no one knows. One of them, Ivan Gučić, spoke between 60 and 70, but so many were evident only in his group.
The executions were, after all, a demanding and arduous organisational feat. It was necessary to find the location, transport the prisoners, guard them, supply the executioners, close the cemeteries and destroy the evidence, and documents testify that the party members were very afraid that mass graves would not be discovered and that they would remain hidden for a long time. On August 14th, 1946, Assistant Minister of the Interior Boris Kocijančič, the father of Janez Kocijančič, a former party member and long-time president of the Slovenian Olympic Committee, wrote to all district and county departments of the interior. Apparently, Kocijančič was very well acquainted with the bloody massacre of ideological opponents, as he warned his subordinates that “there may be a lot of noise between certain circles, because they will try to deceive the people with various appeals to piety and humanity and create displeasure for the people’s authorities.” Well, the “certain circles” were sooner or later removed, and the murders were obscured for decades (except among immigrants around the world). Even today, some who are still alive are afraid to speak, even though the truth that the successors of the communist regime still cover up by deception should come to light. However, Kočevski Rog is only one of the tragedies.