The horrors of German concentration camps during WWII remain well-known and documented throughout history. Lesser known, however, are the atrocities committed at concentration camps in Jasenovac, Croatia — camps in no way affiliated with German soldiers. In fact, if not for Jasenovac concentration camp photos and the determination of Jasenovac concentration camp survivors, the world might have forgotten the camp existed at all. Due to the camp's relative isolation from the rest of WWII, the Ustaše, Croatian fascists, basically allowed themselves free reign against the Serbian population. A combination of the camp's brutality along with government attempts to conceal the tragedy also muddles estimates of the Jasenovac victims list; at least 60,000 were felled there, but tens of thousands more likely did as well.
Jasenovac photography along with memorials and museums dedicated to the tragedy hope to ensure its crimes never get erased from history. Like Holocaust deniers, Jasenovac deniers also try to downplay the history of the camp, despite evidence of its deplorable conditions. After all, how many other places in history got described by German officers as being like Dante's Inferno?
Some Estimate Nearly 100,000 People Passed At These Camps Over Four Years
Regardless of the exact number, between the years of 1941 and 1945, thousands upon thousands of people passed in various concentration camps in Croatia. The numbers remain contested, and range anywhere between 40,000 and 97,000.
There is no way for anyone to really know since people were taken so indiscriminately.
Authorities Kept Jasenovac's Purpose A Secret From Everyone
The Jasenovac camp consisted of five sites grouped around the town of Jasenovac. Known as the "Auschwitz of the Balkans," the camps sat on marshland and fell under the control of the Croatian police, called the Ustaše, sometimes spelled "Ustache."
Though the police used the camp primarily for extermination. The camps were encouraged by members of the Catholic clergy, and a lot of forced conversion happened. When Roma, Orthodox Serbs, or whoever else, resisted these conversion efforts, they were felled.
The Camps Specifically Targeted Serbs, Along With Jews, Roma, And Political Dissidents
Though Croatia took inspiration from German soldiers when creating concentration camps, most of those targeted in Croatia during WWII were Serbs rather than Jews. But, much like German camps, basically anyone other than Catholics, fascists, or Croatians was subject to horrible treatment in these camps, including Roma and anti-fascists.
The Guards Took Joy In Harming Prisoners, And Even Held Despicable Contests
The conditions at Jasenovac were brutal to say the least. Poor sanitation led to rampant disease; prisoners slept in tunnels, on stone, or even outside, and had no access to clean water. A large part of the experience at Jasenovac came from the guards.
Some guards held contests to see who could take out the most prisoners.