The Jasenovac system of Croatian Concentration Camps was built along the model of camps created by the Nazi regime in Germany. By 1941 it was the largest place of torture and execution that ever existed across the territory of the former Yugoslavia. It was third largest concentration camp in all of occupied Europe during the World War Two years 1941-1945. It was run by the Croatian Ustasha whose sadistic cruelty outdid Nazi tortures.
Jasenovac was made up of five camps including a special camp for the extermination of small children from the age of one, where they were deprived of food and water; they were tortured and eventually slaughtered.
The Independent State of Croatia was the only state in the world that created such a camp.
The Jasenovac system of Croatian concentration camps could receive a maximum of 3000 prisoners at any one time, but the regularity of inmate executions made room for more victims and its inmate turnover was extremely high. The efficiency of the Jasenovac killing machine was such that in 1942 the Ustasha General Headquarters issued a circular to all its units that the “concentration camp in Jasenovac can receive an unlimited number of prisoners”
One of the extermination methods was to burn victims alive in special ovens in a former brick-making factory or prisoners were cooked with their remains used to make soap. This soap making plant can be seen in Donja Gradina (in today’s Bosnia Herzegovina).
The official policy of the Independent State of Croatia was to exterminate the entire Jewish and Roma population, to exterminate third of the Serbian Orthodox population, to convert a third of the Serbian Orthodox population to Roman Catholicism (becoming Croatian) and to forcibly expel the rest.
According to figures from the International Commission for the Truth on Jasenovac more than 700,000 Serbs, 23,000 Jews and 80,000 Roma were killed between 1941 and 1945.
Of those victims 110 000 were children under the age of 14. The International Commission for the Truth on Jasenovac is an independent body with no members from any of the former member states of the ex-Yugoslavia.