Saturday May 2, 1998

By Roy Gutman


Washington—The United States released a document Friday that said at least 120,000 people were killed at a camp run by a World War II concentration camp commander from Croatia, who was arrested at his home in Argentina on Thursday.

The State Department released a German document detailing the activities of Dinko Sakic, 76 who was arrested at his home south of Buenos Aires after Argentina received Croatia's formal request for his extradition to stand trial.

The full death toll at the Jasenovac camp has not been determined. Serbian politicians use figures of 600,000 to 700,000 Serbs, Jews and Gypsies, while Croatian President Franjo Tudjman speaks of 30,000. Until now, leaders of Zagreb's tiny Jewish community have used estimates of 80,000 to 100,000.

In newspaper and television interviews, Sakic said he served in senior command posts at the Jasenovac camp for three years and commander for one year. But he has denied that anyone died at the camp other than from illness.

Meanwhile, Croatia's national archives has been unable to locate the government's documentation on the Jasenovac camp except for three documents, according to Croatian press reports. Friday, the U.S. State Department welcomed Sakic's arrest and Croatia's plan to put him on trial and, bearing in mind the missing documents, produced the first evidence from U.S. war crimes archives.

The document, handed out to reporters, was a top-secret December, 1943, German Wehrmacht report on senior officers of the Ustasha, the Croatian fascists, who took power in 1941 with support from Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

It said the first commander of the Jasenovac camp, Ustasha Maj. Max Luberic, had ordered 80,000 people executed at Alt-Gradiska, a subsidiary camp to Jasenovac, 120,000 at Jasenovac and 20,000 at other camps. The report called Luberic a "pathological personality" who had personally taken part in the slaughters, "a willing tool of the Poglavnik [Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic] capable of anything" and "the driving force for the bloody developments in Croatia." The German military, it said, "has repeatedly called for Luberic's removal, but without success." Shortly after the report was issued, Luberic was sent to Zagreb and Sakic took charge. Sakic had married Luberic's sister and, in an interview with the Zagreb weekly Magazin, in 1995, said he had been Luberic's "most trusted and closest soldier." Sakic was named camp commander after Luberic.

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