Milan Krbavac

* 1925

  • "When liberation occured, my God, the Americans threw chocolate bars, Camel cigarettes, just everything. The Germans started running. The Americans were shooting at them on the fields. Oh, how they were running… We found the deserted ss-kitchen where they were cooking sourkraut. How we „cleaned“ the pots! The Americans arrived and didn't let us eat anymore because many people died from eating since we didn't have anything to eat for a long time, so their stomachs bursted. The Germans were leading us in front of the frontiers for three days. How did the last camp days look like? - The same, not better, not worse. There was an Italian man with us who used to say „Coraggio ragazzi“, just be brave boys, the cannons are shooting, we will be freed. So, there were Italian people as well? – All nations except Americans and English. There were Polish, Russian, Czech, Italian, Croatian, Greek people. Everyone. What was the relationship between the camp prisoners like? We were equally miserable. We used to gather and talk with Russians and Czechs. Their language sounds like a half of Croatian. Just the Hungarians were selfish, selfish, selfish. Ungar tudum tudum magyaro…"

  • „Cleanness first, major strictness and famine. Once a day we would get a piece of bread which we had to share among eight or sometimes ten of us. - Only that to eat for the whole day? - From 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., 8 days per week. - Did you have any medical help? - Some of the people did, but the next morning they were stiff- dead....It was better to die than going to the doctor's. There wasn't any medical help.... We didn't know anything... We would just walk on our ways and eat some grass along it. - Who guarded over you? - We were guarded by the Tot unit, common soldiers. The Ss soldiers used to lead us with the shepard dogs. - Were you beaten and maltreated? - Beaten... when they would start beating, they wouldn't finish until one was dead. Only strictness. Two Polish men ran away through the sewer. They managed to go through it, but the Ss soldiers with the dogs caught them very soon. They brought them back to the camp and wrapped a rope around them and hung them on a willow tree. We had to walk around them twice, so we know we would finish the same way if we tried to escape..."

  • "As soon as we arrived there, they shaved our hair. Not just head hair, but all body hair, everything. Then, we went to the other room with a big tub, desinfection tub, with chlorine and everything else, I don't know… We had to dip into the tub entirely. The ones who feared of getting drowned, they didn't wet their head. A German would call on those men and he made them turn their backs to the tub. Then, the German pushed them inside. They stayed inside, got wet, and went outside. We moved on to the third room where we got a shirt, a pair of pants, blue ones, and a number. It was on Television. My number was 330630 and off we went to the shack. We didn't have anything in there. Nobody gave us food. We just sat and did nothing. There were bunk beds which the Russians called the koikas, two by two by two, so six of those. That way they could put more people inside. On 15 August – on The Assumption of Mary holiday, the English men found out that the factory was connected to the camp, so they bombed it. They didn't damage the camp. Just some pieces of stone landed onto it due to big pressure. Those stones could pierce the devil himself. We stayed there until 5 September. Again, in front of the shack, there was the roll call, the men- count, every morning and evening."

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    Selo Bregi, 26.04.2007

    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Testimonies of Istrian survivors
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I watched them being hunged

  Krbavac Milan was born on 4th of August in 1925. in Brigi village, in middle Istria. He remembers the harsh life conditions of Istrian peasants under the rule of Italy,  especially when collecting taxes on porks and ham. He was recruited into Italian army. After the fall of Italy, he joined the partisans. In 1944, the Nazis arrested him and he ended up in Buchenwald.  After his hair was cut off and after being disinfected, he received clothes, a number and became a camp prisoner. Milan was sent to camp Leo where he worked in underground workrooms where they used to make parts for aircrafts. They didn‘t have food or a doctor, always hungry.  In spring, with the other prizoners, he ate the grass. He saw how people were being punished and fugitives being hung.  While he was participating in the march of  death, the end of the war was announced. The Americans set him free on 1 May 1945. He was taken to healing treatments in Dora camp because he weighed only 38 kilos. Milan returned home through the city of Triest. It was a great surprise to his parents, because they thought their son was dead.