One of the Ten Commandments - ''You Shall Not Murder''- which should be obayed by all Chirstians, was completely forgotten in Surmanci, on August 6, 1941.


Young girls from Prebilovci. Only five of them survived.

At the beginning of WWII, Prebilovci experienced one of the greatest atrocities recorded in the history of that war. The village was attacked by nearly 3,000 Ustasha from the so-called NDH. The destruction and suffering of Prebilovci can be compared only with that of the Czech village of Ladice. Ladice, which was smaller than Prebilovci, was leveled to the ground, whereas in Prebilovci, only 172 out of around 1000 members of the households managed to escape death, particularly the one in the pit at Golubinka near Surmanci, where, on August 6, 1941, more than 500 living women, children, young girls and old women were thrown. Moreover, in the village and its surrounding area there were also 48 places of execution where people were tormented and killed. Those people were primarily men who tried to save their lives by hiding in the mountains surrounding the village. The consequences of the Ustasha atrocities were disastrous. They terribly affected every Prebilovci family, and went to the complete destruction of 52 families, or to a very few cases where only one member of the relatively large families survived (Bancur, Keso, Cuk). They also affected the historical duration of the names of those families in Prebilovci, which was settled by the Croatian nationals of the so-called NDH, which also changed its name to Novo Selo. In 1999, the Japanese newspaper "Asahi Shimbun," with a million-copy printing, carried out a project "Messages of the 20th Century," where four villages from the world were represented. One of them was Prebilovci, just because of its suffering as, according to the report of this newspaper, the tragedy of the Serbs in the NDH of 1941, is one of the hallmarks of the global 20th century history.

The fourth day of August 1941 marked the beginning of  the Ustasha mass atrocity against the inhabitants of Prebilovci. According to the  reports of the Mostar district court, 237 children and 233 young girls, women and old women were led to the place of execution at Surmanci where all of them were killed on August 6, 1941. 
Of the great number of children, their mothers and elder persons who were led to the village school and afterwards transported to the site of execution at the Surmanci pit, only five women survived, namely, four who were released from the school, about which one of them, Mara Bulut, neé Moro, gave a detailed testomony, and one who fled from a grain elevator at Tasovcici, namely Joka Jahura, neé Еkmecic. Since the morning of August 5, there had been no living witness to the biblical tragedy of the children and their mothers from Prebilovci. On the basis of all available sources, it can be concluded that the greatest number of the people killed in the pit at Surmanci, had been transported to the train station in Capljina from the grain elevator in Tasovchici, which served as a collection camp for the Serbs, before they were led to the site of execution. They walked from the grain elevator to the bridge on the Bregava, where they were jammed into trucks and transported to Capljina. At the place called ''Vranac'', near the pit, they were searched and taken away all their money and valuables. From there, they were sent off, in larger groups, to a place where they were again devided into smaller groups and taken to the pit, predetermined as their guillotine and grave. 
The only problem faced by the butchers, about which some of them spoke even in court, was that especially small boys were not willing to surrender without resistenace, but, instead, feverishly took hold of every rock, bush and legs of their murderers. That is why the Ustasha murderers, as they claimed themselves, had to throw them toward the middle of the hole so that the boys could not resist their flight into death. 
One of the Ten Commandments, ''You Shall Not Murder'', which should be obayed by all Chistians, was completely forgotten in Surmanci, on August 6, 1941. 
One of the executioners, sentenced to life imprisonment, Jozo Jerkovic, nicknamed ''Zlic'', from Bijakovic, describes, according to the verdict, how the victims were led from a place called ''Vranac'' to the pit: ”From here groups of 25 to 30 children and women were taken to a place some 40 meters away from the pit, wherefrom small groups of 4 to 5 victims were led to a crevice situated next to the very pit and leading to the pit itself. The crevice is the only natural access to the pit.” The accused Jerkovic confessed at the trial that he had shoved women and children into the pit, explaining that he did that with a club, аnd by order of Ivan Jovanovic ”Crni.'' He also said that, among those who were thrown into the pit, there were infants, and even babies ''who were taken away from their mothers’ arms and thrown up into the darkness above the gaping pit, before falling into its depths.” 
At the principal trial, the accused described some details pertaining to each other’s participation in this terrible crime. For example, Jozo Ostojic, nicknamed ''Sperkic'', from Surmanci, sentenced to death by firing squad, said of Mirko Arar-Ankovic, also sentenced to death by firing squad, that he “threw a baby into the air above the pit” and that he ”remember Arar telling him (Mirko) that the baby has  pissed onto his hands.”  When confronted with Jozo Prusac, sentenced to death by firing squad, he said: ”When Prusac threw a four or five-year-old boy, he (Prusac) said: ‘Look! How he squirmed’ and cursed his father.” 
Mothers where killed, together with their seven or even as many as nine children.
Stana Ciric, neé Nadazdin, was 48. Down to the last of the nine daughters of Stana and Tripko Ciric joined their mother in her death: Stanka, Joka, Dara, Sava, Radojka, Slavojka, Stoja, Nedja and a five-year-old Angelina. A son, whom Stana and Tripko had eagerly desired to have for more than 20 years, their three-year-old Slobodan, was left with his father. Ten members of this family were killed on the same day: mother with the daughters in the pit at Surmanci, on August 6, while the day before, father holding his son in his arms had been found in Dol below the village. This brutal murder of all the members of the twelve-member household from the Ciric family is the biggest of all the family tragedies that befell Prebilovci, but only one of the total of 57 of them comitted by the Ustasha in August of 1941. 
The accussed and convicted of this serious crime by the Mostar district court were only the last link on a chain of this crime. Ivan Jovanovic ”Crni'', condemned to death by hanging, had organized the execution of the people who were condemned to death out of court, against the innocent children and women who were to be murdered only because they were Serbs and followers of Orthodox Christianity. That is why they were condemned to such a brutal death by the Ustasha organization, which captured and transported them to Surmanci. It is there that they were captured by Ivan Jovanovic ''Crni'' and his executioners from Surmanci and Bijakovic, the swarn members of the same Ustasha organization. 
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ReferenceFace to Face, a book by Milan TasovacBеlgrade, 2006.
ThebookhasbeenpublishedinSerbian(in Cyrillic and Latin scripts) in the Prebilovci village website: www.prebilovci.net

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