The people who saved aviators did so under tremendous personal risk

John Kraljic, New York, 2005

I would like to share with you the following excerpt from the book "Partizanske veze - Kopno - Otok Krk - Srednjodalmatinski otoci od 1941 do 1945" ["Partisan Ties: Mainland - Krk Island - Mid-Dalmatian Islands From 1941 to 1945], Rijeka: Adamic, 1999. The booklet contains the proceedings of a round table on the topic held on Krk on June 25, 1997.

It should be noted that Krk was under Axis occupation - first annexed by Italy in 1941, it came under German military administration in late 1943. This was not Partisan controlled territory so that the actions taken to save Allied pilots was done in a traditional, "underground" manner.

One of the individuals mentioned in the following excerpt is Ivo Albaneze from Omisalj, Krk. To give one an idea of the complexity of the war in Croatia, Ivo was a Partisan. His brother, Anton "Toto" Albaneze, is my uncle and was in the Domobrans. Anton survived the Bleiburg death march. Their 3rd brother (who's name I don't recall off hand) fought in both the Domobrans and Partisans and was killed as a Partisan in Bosnia.

The following was stated by Ivan Nino Maricic:

"If we weren't so good, then today we would not have here with us, after 55 years, the son of a saved American pilot who came to see the place where his father was saved and where he could thank this people. I was a participant in the effort by chance, as was Ivo Albaneze, when this group of seven or eight fell [to earth] here and we transported them out of here. I remember the one without legs, who fell in Gabonjina [on Krk], that Dr. Variola amputed his leg, that he laid down on some blue mattress, that I gave him tea, that we took him to Olib [Island] where a ship, an amphibious craft, came for him and took him further on. A similar situation occurred at Hlama where one soldier fell from a bombardier [the author calls it a "lajting (layting?) bomardier] and the women from Baska draga took him in. He was taken to Baska via the late Ivo Derecinovic,as well as the home of Ivo Volaric, and he was accompanied by Ivo Dorcic, Nino Tic, Dusan Dekanic and Bonefacic who took him to Rab and from Rab he succeeded in getting to Olib. It was because of [helping him] that the Sersic family - Ivan and Marija - ended up in Dachau." [pp. 79-80] [see however below concerning the Sersic family]

Franjo Orlic gives some further details, noting that the person who was coming to Krk and specifically to Kornic [near Punat] was David Clied, the son of Henry. According to Orlic, Henry was the commander of a "Flying Fortress" which crashed near Krk. [p. 77].

For Brian Gallagher's benefit in the UK, I note that Maksim Blazic, another participant at the roundtable, noted that in Fall 1944 Eugen Domijan from Dramalj (near Crikvenica) led three English paratroopers "to the little port of Vodna from where they were taken to Vis Island via Krk." [p. 24]

Marijan Lindaric remembered the following: "In the western area of Krk English and American pilots came to the ground who were saved and taken care of and whose safe return to their bases was organized by our people. It must be stated that this was a difficult task as many of them were injured. Saving eight aviators from the sea, whose craft fell in the water between Krk and Cres, was an especially dangerous task as it took place during the day. The injured were taken to the Dobrinj area [on Krk] by hand. Ivan Zec, Ivan Jurasic, Nikola Marulic, Kuzam Franolic, Josip Lindaric, Petar Kosic and many others participated in these actions." [p. 39]

I note that Maricic's story concerning the Sersic family on Rab may have resulted from some confusion on his part. According to Orfeo Ticac's article in Zbornik drugog pomorskog obalnog sektora Mornarice NOVJ, Rijeka, 1975, Ticac discusses the Sersic family's role in protecting American intelligence officers. These three men were sent to Rab sometime in early 1944. He was on Vis and he accompanied three American intelligence officers ("of Yugoslav descent," according to Ticac) to Rab. There they established a radio relay station with their headquarters in Italy. However, in March 1944 the Germans occupied the island and the work of the station came to an end. The Americans were hidden in the Sersic home and ultimately taken to safety. However, a German raid on the house uncovered certain material which the Americans were not able to take with them. Ivan and Franka Sersic were arrested and taken to Dachau where they survived. [pp. 62-63].

The people who saved these aviators did so under tremendous personal risk. Unlike the Chetniks, they did not collaborate with the Nazis while saving pilots. I am sure we can find hundreds of examples of like actions taken by ordinary Croats during the War.

This article taken from Croatian World Network - CROWN

Petar Tomic, National Hero of the USA

Croatia - its History, Culture and Science