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WAR DAMAGES TO MUSEUMS AND MUSEUM HOLDINGS IN CROATIA
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JASENOVAC
Jasenovac Memorial Site Memorial Museum

44324 Jasenovac
Telephone: 044/672 033
Museum profile: memorial
Founded: 1968


Category of the museum collection: B
Category of the museum building: C
Number of inventoried museum items: 4088
Number of non-inventoried museum items: 2000
Microfilmed museum inventories: yes
Microfilmed archival material: no
Branch collection:
STARA GRADISKA, permanent museum exhibition about the Stara Gradiska camp
The Memorial Area complex had presented the authentic site of the concentration camp and a memorial to the victims of Jasenovac, the work of architect Bogdan Bogdanovic. Sites of the former open-air camp were arranged as memorial-graveyards, marked with commemorative tablets and monuments.
A museum exhibition was housed in a separate museum building. The holdings included original items that had belonged to camp inmates or were used in the camp, original documents, photographs and mementoes. The museum had a rich archive and documentation (collection of clippings, photo archive, archive of slides, video and film archive, phonoarchive) as well as a library with 2500 titles. The permanent exhibition, enriched with photocopies of documents and photographs, gave an outline of history from 1941, showing the Jasenovac camp and its operations at that time. A big sculpture entitled "To the Victims of Fascism in Jasenovac" by D. Dzamonja and graphic works by I. Delale were a part of the permanent exhibition.
Exhibition tours began with a projection of a film by Dj. Kastratovic, entitled "The Gospel of Evil".
From October 1991 to May 1995 Jasenovac was on the occupied territory of the Republic of Croatia, inaccessible to museum workers and agencies for the protection of monuments.

Protection:

A report by the director of Memorial Area, Jovan Mirkovic, on the state of Memorial Area and Museum immediately before and after the occupation of Jasenovac, was submitted to the Ministry of Culture and Education at the end of 1991. In that report it is stated that, according to the instructions given by the MDC and the decision of the State Institute for the Protection of Monuments (today: Ministry of Culture, Administration for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage), the Memorial Area is according to its holdings classified as a "B" category facility and marked with signs prescribed by the Hague Convention. The permanent exhibition was dismantled, and museum holdings stored in metal cabinets and metal containers, ready to be evacuated. Microfilming of the museum inventories was finished in September 1991 in the Croatian State Archive in Zagreb (a copy of the microfilms is deposited in the archive of the MDC).
INFORMATION ABOUT THE MEMORIAL AREA DURING THE OCCUPATION
* According to report submitted by the director at that time, J. Mirkovic, strong blasts caused by heavy artillery and military aviation, during war operations in September of 1991 on the area round Novska, broke all glass surfaces (200 square meters) on the memorial museum building.
* According to information given out by radio Belgrade on February 7th 1992, in a broadcast hosted by A. Ilic, at a news conference on the protection of monuments of culture (participants were Mr Lukijan, Mr Jovan Pavlovic, Nikola Kusovac, curator of the National Museum in Belgrade) it was stated that a part of the museum holdings had been transferred from Jasenovac to Bosnia and Herzegovina (to Bosanska Dubica and further on to Banja Luka).
* According to report by the EU Monitoring Mission from February 8th 1992, many documents and museum items were plundered, and the memorial had obviously been defiled. (The report is published in the IM, No. 24, 1/4, 1993, page 48).
* According to a report by the EU Monitoring Mission, which had begun an inspection of the state of monuments of culture and museums on the occupied territory of the Republic of Croatia during May of 1994, the museum was completely empty and no information on the holdings could be obtained. The surrounding area, as well as the monument by B. Bogdanovic, was not damaged.
After liberation in May of 1995 the information on the state of Memorial Area was confirmed.
* According to report by Z. Laszlo, MDC's senior conservator, who had on May 17th 1995 with members of the State Administration for the Protection of the Cultural and Natural Heritage inspected churches and museums on the liberated territories of Western Slavonia and Jasenovac and Stara Gradiska, none of the holdings were to be found in the museum building, which was, as well as the natural surroundings, devastated (report in the archive of the MDC).

Building damage:


All glass on the museum building was broken, window frames damaged, electrical installations completely destroyed, wall sockets and switches torn out of walls and taken. Radiators and technical equipment were stolen. Museum rooms were in disrepair and dirty.
Natural environment and memorial graveyards were devastated, neglected and dirty.

Structure damage:


According to the information given by the then director, J. Mirkovic, in 1991, the museum holdings encompassed 6088 items of inventoried and non-inventoried material, 1878 of documentary material and approximately 2500 titles in the library, counting here the holdings from the Stara Gradiska collection.
All holdings and documentation, as well as the inventory books and library holdings had disappeared. The monument by B. Bogdanovic is not damaged.
* updated 10/1999
An interview with a former curator published in "Globus" (No. 457, 10.9.1999) and photographs taken in his apartment – which show museum boxes with holdings and documentation – doubtless confirm that a great part of the missing museum holdings are in Republika Srpska.
The list of war damage to museum holdings is being drawn up. According to the data collected for the Register of Croatian Museums and Galleries, forwarded from the Museum in Jasenovac for 1991, as well as from information given by the director J. Mirković in October 1991, the Museum held the following collections with the following number of items: documents – 2470; objects – 2174; photographs – 989; memoirs – 455; this gives a total of 6088 objects.
The documentation included: newspaper clippings collection – 732; collection of photographs – 989; collection of slides – 85; video collection – 10; film collection – 12; phonographic collection – 50; a total of 1878 items.
* According to the microfilm copies of the inventory books, it was determined that the books were poorly updated before the war, and that most of the holdings and the documentation was not listed in the inventory books. It was shown that lists of holdings were kept in notebooks, but they disappeared from the Museum together with the holdings and the original inventory books.
* The list of damage has been drawn up only on the basis of the information from the microfilmed inventory books, and the enclosed photographic documentation was copied from numerous pre-war publications and books about the Memorial.

Damaged collection details►

The Jasenovac Memorial, 5/95
(Photo: Zelimir Laszlo)

The Jasenovac Memorial,
Ruined rooms after the devastation, May 1995
(Photo: Zelimir Laszlo)

The Jasenovac Memorial
Ruined rooms after devastation, May 1995
(Photo: Zelimir Laszlo)

The Jasenovac Memorial
Ruined rooms after devastation, May 1995
(Photo: Zelimir Laszlo)

The Jasenovac Memorial, May 1995
(Photo: Zelimir Laszlo)

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