1945 Eviction of Priest

1945 Eviction of Roman-Catholic Priests
from the village of DIOS in Croatia

April 10, 1945

NO. 4.000

Translated by Rosina T. Schmidt

During the investigation in connection with the event in Dios (which we had sent you), the following was established so far:

The County Committee DARUVAR received from Belgrade, from comrade Josip BANKA, the secretary of the County PC Daruvar and from comrade Dusko BBRKIC, Minister, the directive of March 29 to move the priests out from the so called Mary’s House in Dios within 24 hours, to distribute the land among the agrarian applicants and to settle poor people. For that goal, two commissions were set up with the District PC Daruvar on March 30, namely, one for purchase of surplus and the other for implementing the agrarian reform.

These commissions were supposed to make the necessary decisions on the spot and to carry out the eviction. However, when the commissions came to the spot, they had argument with the priests, particularly about the deadline for resettlement, but they managed to resettle the priests to private houses in the surrounding villages. Half-resettled priest complained to the villagers about the action of the people’s authorities, so that this event caused bad comments among the people already on that day.

The next day, on March 31, the commission continued working, and the priests who were nearby asked to be allowed to say Mass. This was permitted by Comrade Alojz PINTAR from the District PC Daruvar. The priests held three Masses, which is not the custom, although it was Sunday and during the sermon, around 12 o’clock, the priest Vinko SRAKA informed the people that they had to move and that there would be no Masses any more. Some people in the church cried and they clamored against the people’s authorities and the agrarian reform after the Mass.

An ensign of People’s Militia tried to convince the people that it was in their interest, but the people didn’t listen to him. Tomo HELENC, the Steward of the priestly estate who had just returned from Zagreb, was saying to the people and the commission that it was incorrect that the priests were moving out and that the priests wouldn’t move out. He likened our authorities to the Ustasha and the Germans. When the commission realized it couldn’t do the job successfully, it left, after various arguments about the deadline of eviction, and the people who were in the yard of the monastery, started returning into the monastery those priests’ things that had been removed the day before.

However, despite this, the priests were gathering wagons for moving away to the village on that day in the afternoon, and on that occasion they said they would also move the statue of Mother of God to Badljevina, ie. Daruvar, and that this statue couldn’t be driven in a wagon, since it had been consecrated, so someone was needed to carry it. Thus the priests prepared the procession that was supposed to carry the statue of Mother of God to Daruvar. Some villagers from the surrounding villages spread the news that on he next day, on Monday, April 1, the consecrated statue of Mother of God would be carried in a procession to Daruvar.

On the morning of the next day, the priests began the move and a procession started from DIOS to DARUVAR, carrying the consecrated statue. There were 200 – 250 persons in the procession, mostly women and children from the village of SUPLJA LIPA, IVANOVO SELO, KONCANICA, BOROVA KOSA, etc. Some women from Daruvar, known for their religious and pro-Ustasa disposition, had learned about the arrival of the procession already on March 31, so they started early in the morning for DIOS to take part in the procession to carry the statue. The broader citizenry in Daruvar didn’t know about the procession. Before the procession started from DIOS, two Masses had been said.

Around 12 o’clock the procession reached Daruvar. Four priests awaited it, whereas there were 8 priests in the procession. Before the arrival of the procession, the bells of the Daruvar church kept ringing, so the people were notified that the procession was coming. In that way the comrades of the CC (County Committee) also learned about the arrival of the procession. They organized our activists to wait for the procession and to prevent anti-state demonstrations for which it was supposed would take place. If for no other reason, than because of the events that took place the day before. The procession through Daruvar sang ecclesiastical songs and shouted the slogans: “‘Long live our priests’, ‘we don’t give up our church and the priests’, ‘down with the agrarian reform’, long live our internees’, down with the government’, ‘you do as the Ustasha’ “, and allegedly, someone shouted “long live the Ustasha youth” in the church into which the procession had entered. In any case, after those anti-state slogans, our activists who had entered the church, attacked the priests and some women who were particularly prominent, beat them and threw them out of the church. They inflicted a minor head injury to the Daruvar priest Mijo ETHINGER.

At first, the persons who had come with the procession and our activists who awaited the procession in Daruvar among whom the most numerous were the invalids from the Invalid’s Home, took part in the fight. During the fight, a spontaneous active participation of some of the citizens of Daruvar in the fight against the priests occurred. There were cases in which individual passers-by, having seen the priests running through Daruvar, ran after them and chased them as far as the railway-station which is at a considerable distance. A large fair took place in Daurvar on that day so that a lot of people actively or passively witnessed the event.

Since no one knew about the outcome of the fight, people in villages rumored that several priests had been murdered, some particular priests were talked about as being killed: but after few days, people saw the priests freely walking in the street, so people were mainly convinced that no one lost his life and the public opinion settled down to a large degree.

By interrogating certain priests and active participants, it was established that the priests had organized the procession and the carrying of the consecrated statue already on March 31 and that they were acquainted with that some religious and pro-Ustasha elements, mostly women. At first the priests tried to claim the procession came into being spontaneously, but their claims were refuted. On the contrary, it was established that they prepared the procession itself in secret, without notifying the authorities at all.

The priests tried to postpone and or prevent the removal itself, exactly by manifestations, which they prepared in a convenient way, making use of the lack of preparedness, clumsiness and lax performance of duties on part of the people’s authorities that tried to evict them. The fact that the organs of the peole’s authorities had tried to remove the priests without any formal decision by the authorites, that everything was done hastily and sloppily, enabled to a large degree the priests and seduced people to manage to demonstrate against the people’s authorities, first in DIOS, and later on the next day, in DARUVAR too.

On April 1 the priest also moved out from the castle in DIOS, so that the people’s authorities will distribute both the castle and the land to agrarian applicants.


M.P – Lieutenant colonerl

Josip Buncic (signed)

Sources: book “Partizanska i Komunisticka represija i zlocini u Hrvatskoj 1944 – 1946 DOKUMENTI, Slavonija, Srijem i Baranja”; ISBN 953-6659-29-8;  by Dr. Vladimir Geiger