Digging his own grave

Old rusty shovel in sand on building.

In 1943, my father was taken prisoner by the communist guerrillas in Croatia only because he was traveling in a passenger train which they attacked with a bomb to take hostages.

He was a journalist in an independent weekly. When he was identified by the guerrillas, its chiefs decided to condemn him to death without judgment nor possibility of defence. He dug his own grave with another 18 men also sentenced the same way.

When he was tied to the others in a line in front of the whole dug on the ground, and in front of them the guerrillas were getting ready with their guns to shot them, one man went out of the main cabin  and said: “the comrade journalist, out!.”

One of the guerrilla untied my father and push him away from the group. Suddenly my dad heard shots and turned. He saw all the others falling dead in the grave that they had been digging. He was in shock, trembling. He had been prepared to die, and now he have been reprieved, but why? What was in store for him?

He soon knew what they wanted from him: They needed a journalist to work for them in Agitation and propaganda (Agitprop). Dad said no because he was not a communist and he didn’t want to work against his conscience. They tortured him and finally they send him to a concentration camp.

Fifty years later, after long time of exile, dad came back to Croatia very sick. He was pretty known and his presence in the country was mentioned in the media. He was so sick he almost couldn’t leave his hotel room.

One day, an unknown old man came to see him. My mom and my sister asked him who he was and he said: I am the man who took him out of the line of execution.

He and dad embraced with deep emotion. Dad said he had prayed for that man every day from 1943 and continued to do so till his death.


Author: Olga Brajnović

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