About an interrupted childhood...
After two hours of carefree play, he returned home. At the door, he was greeted by the troubled face of their maid Jaga....
Slavko forever remembered the moment when his childhood was interrupted. It was in April 1941. And as an old man, he remembered that unfortunate day well... That morning, his best friend visited him. He invited Slavko to play in the streets of Karlovac. Thirteen-year-old Slavko immediately rushed towards the door. Running down the long corridor, he almost bumped into a tall figure. His father blocked his way. His face was worried. In a serious tone, he asked Slavko where he had gone. Slavko replied that he was going to play. Seeing that the father was upset, he asked him if he could. Father nodded affirmatively. - Just come back before lunch! - he shouted after him, but the boy had already run away.
Just a day before, massive tanks of the Third Reich arrived in Karlovac. The Ustashas had already started propaganda that denigrated the Jews, turned their neighbors and former friends against them, and eventually tortured them and sent them to camps. Slavko did not expect all of this back then.
After two hours of carefree play, he returned home. At the door, he was greeted by the troubled face of their maid, Jaga. - Your father was taken to prison. - she told him shortly. The previously playful boy suddenly became the head of the house.
After a few weeks, they also took the mother away. The mother believed that the good and beloved servant Jaga, a peasant and a Croat, would take care of the boys, so she was not afraid to leave. But the Ustashas had another plan. They imprisoned both the mother and the maid, and the boys were left alone.
The next day, early in the morning, the railwayman rang the bell and without a word handed Slavko a telegram that read in German "They are taking me to Lika. I'll get back to you as soon as I can." Not knowing that his father was taken to the Jadovno concentration camp that day, Slavko believed that he would see him again.
During those terrible days, little Slavko had to take care of himself, but also of his younger brother Danko. His mother's friends helped him financially. He soon lost his only home. The family apartment was assigned to a local Ustasha commander. Slavko remembered the day when he knocked on the door to claim it. He told him: - Slavko, I got this apartment. You don't even have to move out right away, take a few days and get used to it. –
Shaken and lost, the boy went to his mother's friend. He devised a plan with her. Younger brother Danko was sent to Tuzla, and Slavko tried to go to Jaga, who was released in the meantime. The plan was to travel by boat. In Karlovac, he was waiting for the boat that brought peasants from the surrounding towns every Thursday so that they could come to the fair. Early in the morning, immediately after the arrival of the ship, he hid in it, and thus hid the whole day waiting for departure. The ship set sail in the evening...
Slavko happily arrived in Banski Kovačevac. The whole village knew that the family was hiding a little Jew, but nobody betrayed Slavko. There he also got books from a local teacher so that he could learn a little, and Jaga took him to church. He lived as happily as a refugee can be called happy, until one day Jaga's cousin arrived.
He told him that an offensive was being prepared in the village. He warned him that it would be stormy and that it was best for him to go to his mother. By that time, the mother had already been released from the Women's Penitentiary in Savska cesta on the initiative of the Karlovac Ustasha prison controller, who was merciful to his fellow citizens, and left for Kraljevica.
Slavko was then taken to a train and sent to Kraljevica, which was under Italian occupation. Mother, seeing Slavko, was very happy. She said that now she will also bring Danko. In order to bring the younger brother from Tuzla, they asked for help from a young Ustasha lieutenant who was not politically active. The young man was easily able to obtain an Italian travel pass. He went to Tuzla and took over little Danko. When they were waiting for the train at the station, he told him to tell everyone how his older brother was doing.
They legitimized them many times, but little Danko lied deceitfully. The duo successfully arrived in Kraljevica. The family was together again. But not for long. Slavka and his mother realized that their only chance for survival was to join the partisans. And then Slavko's exciting life story just began...
At the end of the war, Slavko was only 17 years old, and he already held the rank of partisan lieutenant. Then, together with his brother, he went to Israel where he participated in the establishment of the new Jewish state. After that he returned to Yugoslavia where he studied literature and philosophy at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb. Then he started working as a journalist, and he also founded the popular newspaper "Vjesnik u seredu", the HSLS party, and even wrote screenplays for which he was awarded.
A difficult childhood made him stronger. We remember him as an important Croatian politician, screenwriter, lexicographer and historian, and his contribution to Croatian culture is immeasurable.