Survivor of WW2 genocide: Why do people become so evil when every child's cry is the same?
“I witnessed how Ustasha skinned a man alive. Can you imagine?” says 90 year old Dobrila Kukolj and wipes her eyes with an already damp handkerchief. This is not the first time in our interview. As a child, she has seen a lot of evil during the genocide unleashed by the Independent State of Croatia in World War 2. Hundreds of thousands of mainly Serbs, Jews and Roma perished in the most bestial ways. Yet, only two years ago, I had no idea that this chapter of the war even existed. How was it possible that such crimes went unnoticed by the (what I consider educated) world?
Dobrila shows me a book of her memoirs: “I will leave them to my children to read and keep so that these events will not be forgotten. What is not written, did not happen,” she says and I immediately recall another of my interviews where Vasilje Karan - also a survivor of the same genocide and self-taught writer - listed through his two dozens of books he wrote in his later age. In fact, almost everybody I spoke to during my project had at least a testimony printed somewhere. So there is a lot written about it, I am thinking, maybe it just never left the region to be read by 'the rest'.