Svetozar Rubin

He was born on 20 July 1940 in the village of Gornja Omarska, Prijedor County.

He testifies:

My father Pantelija and mother Jovanka were farmers. They had a shop of the mixed goods. We lived in a pretty big house. We were living in one part of the house, while the other one was used as the shop. We had other outbuilding as other peasants did. We used to have a lot of neat cattle and sheep and goats. We had two pairs of horses which we used for transportation of goods from Prijedor (the goods which my parents used to sell in their shop).

Our household consisted of: father Pantelija (1906), mother Jovanka (1906); sisters: Mila (1928), Dragica (1930), Dušanka (1935); brother Jovan (1938) and I.

One day, the Croatian soldiers came to our place and asked for my father and uncle Nikola Popović who worked as a forester. The couldn't find them, because they escaped on time.

As I found out later on, in the spring of 1942, some Croatian policemen Jure Tomic and some Alijagic, which name I didn't know, asked for my parents and uncle, because we were known as a wealthy family. The father and mother hid somewhere. These policemen took us to the well and threatened that they would throw us into the well if we didn't tell where were our parents. The sister was holding me in her arms. One of them was shooting at our dog, Luks, probably, wishing to scare us. The dog was whining, We were afraid.Our mother was watching this from the hiding place. Other Croatian soldiers, who were armed, came. They gathered the Serbs from the surrounding villages. It was calculated later on that there were 600 of them. They were asking for both of my parents. We, children, were threatened that we would be killed as our dog. The father heard, went out of the hideout and surrendered. Later on, the eyewitnesses were telling that they were beating him, forcing him to look to the Sun. If he would close his eyes, they would wiping him. Petar, the son of my father's brother, was looking that. He took the axe in order to defend my father, but the women prevent him doing that, because the Croatian soldiers would kill hin straight away. Petar was taken to Jasenovac concentration camp where he was killed.

After torture, my father was taken to Banja Luka's prison called ''Kastel''. My mother found out about that. She was telling us that later on. She went to Banja Luka. Some Luka Marjanović helped her to bribe the guardian. She gave him 6000 kunas. He let our father out of the prison. At that time, the Croatian soldiers driven away only men. Being afraid, we escaped with the rest of the people on the mountain of Kozara. My father got killed there in 1942.

There were fightings on the mountain of Kozara. Our men were protecting and defending us (children) and all the refugees on the mountain. But, it didn't help, because the Croatian soldiers discovered where we were. They caught and expelled us to Stara Gradiška concentration camp. We were walking on foot. Later on, they driven us away to the villages of Mlaka and Jablanica. Of course, they guarded us. The children were forcefully taken from their mothers. I remember when they were driving us off by animal-drawn vehicle, everybody were crying. Our mothers tried to run after their children, but they were returned by the guarians, who used rifles for that. Later on, our mother and sister narrated us that all children weren't driven off, because they didn't have enough animal-drawn vehicles. So, the children, mothers and civilians were deported to Jasenovac concentration camp. Our mother and sister were carring me and my brother on their shoulders, because we were small and weak. I remember that our cousin, Bjelica Đukic, couldn't carry her little son, because she was exhausted. My mother took over her son. I was crying for that little boy. Probably, that was the reason why my mother took over him. My mother used to turn my head from the scenes of torturing and beating. She was wraping my head in the dress in order not to look these scenes that used to happen in Jasenovac.

I remember a detail from the concentration camp. My mother used to fry some green grapes in the open. She was giving us the grapes to eat. A guardian noticed that. He came and crushed the fire.

Luckely, later on, two women who wanted someone to work on their properties, came. They took us, our uncle's wife Milka and her son Savan (born in 1930) and took to some village. I think that the name of the village was Čovac. There, the adults were working on the fields. The children were guarding the cattle. My brother Radovan and sister Dušanka were guarding the geese and other poultry. The names of the women were Jula and Soka. I did not remember their surnames. We slept in some warehouse. The mother and the other adults were going to the fields early in the morning. The brother and I remained. I was frightened then and started to cry. When aunty Jula heard that, she used to hit us with the whip she had in her hand. Then, me and my brother used to be groaning, because aunty Jula threatened, telling us to stop moaning.

I suppose that it was the October when my mother was bitten by the snake. It was under the sheaf of cornstalks.

I remember well that happening. In 1945, our grandmother (mother's mother) found out about us . She came and took us her home. Her name was Jela Popović. When we came to Omarska, we saw that everything was burnt, the very sites of fire. I remembered a detail. We found some corn seeds. Me and my brother were eating that. There was nothing else. We were su hungry.

Later on, we found out that our uncles and their families were expelled to Croatian concentration camps. They never returned from there. They were probably killed. As far as my family is concerned, brother Radovan and sister Dušanka stayed alive. I suppose that the causes of their early deaths should be asked in the sufferings they went through. The main blame-worthy institution was the Independent State of Croatia.

After the end of the war we got some building material. The good people built a small house. My heart is ill because of the fears I went through while I was in Jasenovac. The fear from knife and blood has been following me from the chilhood.

I completed secondary school. I retired in 2000.