Gypsies Killed at Artukovic Camp, Aged Relative Says
An 81-year-old man testified today that 20 of his relatives were killed during World War II at a camp run by accused Nazi war criminal Andrija Artukovic because they were Gypsies.
“People were forced to dig their graves themselves,” Stjepan Nikolic testified in District Court in Zagreb, the capital of the Republic of Croatia. “They were tied with wire and ordered to lean over the pit and then were struck on their heads with mallets.
“Some of them were still alive when camp executioners covered them with earth and lime,” he said. “We did nothing. They took us to the camp only because we were Gypsies.”
Nikolic said the Jasenovac concentration camp, southeast of Zagreb, was run by the Ustashis, a nationalistic extremist group that ran Croatia as a puppet state for the Nazis during World War II.
Artukovic, as police minister of Croatia, allegedly was in charge of concentration camps, where the Yugoslav government said 700,000 civilians and prisoners of war were killed.
“I’ll never forget the scene. Blood was coming to the surface above the earth and lime, which foamed, and the soil seemed like it was breathing,” Nikolic told Chief Judge Milko Gajski.
Artukovic was asked by the judge to comment.
“I never heard of such a thing,” he replied, a comment he has used often since the trial began April 14.