Today (May 16/29) the Church celebrates holy martyr Vukasin, originally from Klepci, Herzegovina, who was, together with thousands of Serbs from Sarajevo, taken into one of the most monstrous concentration camps in World War II, Jasenovac. The song “Djurdjevdan” stayed as a testimony of their path of no return.
The song Djurdjevdan is created in the train to Jasenovac.
On that St. George’s Day the whole Universe cried over the destiny of Serbian people. Bloodthirsty hordes and armed scum sent off innocent people into casemate.
Written by Vukasin Beatovic
The World War II was a nightmare for our country. It was a hard situation on every inch of the country and Sarajevo even then took a very difficult burden of war. That city lost too much blood because of all that evil and of every thoughtful eccentricity of hangers regardless of which side they were turned to God.
From the very beginning of the conflict, the Ustashi had arrested Serbian people. Because of cruel persecution, Serbs started to leave Sarajevo. They had found the shelter in the neighboring mountains or in Serbia. Of course, some of them stayed in their city, believing that the haters would have a little humanity and empathy. They did not even suppose what the devils prepared for them.
It is St.George’s Day!
May 6th, 1942 dawned. It was a cold Sarajevo morning. The police od Independent State of Croatia ordered to prepare „St. George’s early rising“. Thus about 4 o’clock in the morning columns of prisoners poured in the city from Jajce barracks form the hill above Bembasa.
They were joined by fellow-sufferes from the camps Beledije and Ćemaluše, Central and City prisons, as well as from the Vojvoda Stepa barracks. The colums were met on the Kulin ban coast where there were death trains.
The tram line in Sarajevo had a width of narrow railways and the train from Brod, by order of the leadership of the Independent State of Croatia , entered the city. A train composition long from the Town Hall to the Power plant appeared in front of the Serbian martyrs on the Kulin ban coast.
There were about 3000 mostly young people in the column. Among them were the hosts imprisoned along with their sons, and also Muslims who had stuck up for the Serbs, or declared themselves as Serbs.
An unrestrained Ustasha in front of the column was shouting: „Where are you Serbs! We are taking you to a celebration in Jasenovac for free!“
On those carts was written „seven horses or forty soldiers“, but the Ustashi brougth about 200 hundred of people into a cart. On St. George’s day, May 6th, the death train started from Sarajevo to Jasenovac. On the way, the prisoners without food and water fell into crises, full of fear and uncertainty. In general despair, one of them, who was a member of „Sloga“ in his own spasm and weakness with his baritone courageously from the heart, started singing:
„Spring is landing on my shoulder, green lily of the valley , to everyone except me – it’s St George’s day!“
According to available testimoines, the Ustashi closed the windows on the carts because of the song and the prizoners stayed without air, close to each other.
About three thousand of people left Sarajevo, but just 2000 of them came to Jasenovac and only 200 survived torture. Thanks to the survivors, we know about this event.
Bijelo Dugme- Djurdjevdan
Under the impression of this story, Sarajevo musician Goran Bregovic handled the song which the prisoners sang – „Djurdjevdan“ (St.George’s Day). This song has become a planetary hit which is performed in several languages. But to our great sorrow, many Serbs today do not know about this death train and the real meaning of this song. We are all witnesses that it is present at every celebration of Serbian people, along with alcohol and raised hands.
It would be wonderful if we started to respect our past. It is the only way to prevent future from „swallowing“ us and some new bloody St.George’s Day from coming.
Let all victims of Jasenovac casamate rest in peace!
St. Vukasin of Klepci also was in one of those trains.
Our father among the saints, Vukašin (Mandrapa) of Klepci (in Serbian: Свети Вукашин из Клепаца), was a Serbian Orthodox Christian from Herzegovina who was martyred by fascists during World War II for refusing to acknowledge the Ustashi leader.
Little is known about the life of Saint Vukasin. What is known about him is from the event resulting in his martyrdom. He was born in the village Klepci, in Herzegovina, at the turn of the nineteenth into twentieth century. At the beginning of World War II, members of the Croatian fascist Ustashi arrested him in Sarajevo and transported him, together with other Serbs of that region, into the notorious concentration camp of Jasenovac (the number of victims at this camp have been estimated at least 700,000). After horrible days full of torture, Vukasin was brought before an Ustasha soldier who was supposed to execute him. The soldier said he would spare Vukasin’s life if Vukasin cried loudly: „Long live Ante Pavelic!“. Ante Pavelic was the leader of Ustashi. Vukasin who saw a knife in the hands of the soldier, replied calmly: „My child, you do what you must„, and refused to obey the soldier`s request. The Ustasha soldier brandished his knife and cut off Vukasin`s ear. The soldier then repeated his request. Vukasin repeated his answer. The soldier then cut off Vukasin’s other ear, followed by his nose, and then scarred Vukasin`s face. Next his tongue was cut. After repeating the request to Vukasin to utter the vicious words and hail the Head of the Ustashi (Ante Pavelic), Vukasin once again calmly replied: „My child, you do what you must“. Distracted, the soldier eventually killed him, and afterwards went mad.
At the regular session of the Holy Assembly of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church in 1998, Vukasin, from Klepci village, was entered into the List of Names of the Serbian Orthodox Church as a saint. His feast day is May 16th (Julian Calendar).
Prepared by FB page „Pravoslavlje život večni“
English edition: FB page „Orthodoxy Eternal Life“