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Vukovar road to recovery
By Nenad N. Bach and Darko Žubrinić | Published  11/11/2023 | Human Rights , In Memoriam , History , Education | Unrated
The Vukovar Hospital in 1991

Thomas Burns: Vukovar road to recovery (audio below)

A detail from the front cover of the monograph published in Vukovar in 2008.

The English edition of the monograph was published in 2008 by the Vukovar Hospital and "Society of the Croatian doctors and volunteers in 1990-1991". Its Organizer council consists of Dr. Vesna Bosanac, Dr. Juraj Njavro, and Dr. Štefan Biro. Especially important is an article by professor Andrija Hebrang, entitled: Silence of the International humanitarian organizations about the tragedy of the Vukovar Hospital.

The Vukovar Hospital 1991, published in Vukovar 2008., ISBN 978-953-55455-0-7

The monograph is the English translation of earliear edition published in Croatian under the title Vukovarska bolnica 1991. The Croatian edition was published in Vukovar in 2007.

The book has A4 format and 385 pp, accompanied with numerous photos, many of them in color. Each page of the book is nicely decorated with the motive from the famous Baška Tablet (on the left), which contains Croatian Glagolitic letters carved around 1100.

The introductory part contains unforgettable Story about the city by Siniša Glavašević, a legendary Croatian newspaperman, who himself was a victim of the aggression on Vukovar, murdered in a mass grave with 200 other victims by the end of 1991.

Dr. Juraj Njavro (1938-2008), one of the editors of the monograph "The Vukovar Hospital 1991"

The book is in fact a collection of articles dealing with the Vukovar Hospital.
Especially imporant for future studies of the tragedy of the Vukovar Hospital is the article by Andrija Hebrang, professor of medicine at the University of Zagreb, a witness of many events.

Andrija Hebrang: Silence of the International humanitarian organizations about the tragedy of the Vukovar Hospital, 243-253

Professor Andrija Hebrang

In his article he pointed out that many questions related to the tragedy of Vukovar remained without answer. According to Andrija Hebrang the 1991 Vukovar tragedy passed unnoticed and without any reactions of the International community. Preserved documents prove that that International observers (The European Mission, Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders - Medicins sans Frontiere) were witnesses of bestialities of the Serbian soldiers on the wounded persons and civilians during the occupation of the Vukovar Hospital, and they did not inform the world public about that. Professor Hebrang concludes that it was easier to conceal the truth then to proclaim the crime, and therewith also help the agressor realize their aims. See pp. 251-253.

This importnat monograph contains a wealth of data, many photos, diagrams, documents. Despite occasional problems with translation of the book from the Croatian original, we can congratulate the publisher for their efforts.

I cannot imagine that any serious scholarly work in the future, dealing with the Vukovar tragedy, could avoid this book. It is an important testimony of direct witnesses, many of them employees at the Vukovar Hospital who survived the immense tragedy by the end of 1991. We warmly recommend you this monograph.

Table of contents

Foreword by Andrija Hebrang

I Old Vukovar - Health care in Old Vukovar, 1-89

II Croatian War of Independence, 94-253

III Exile, reintegration and return, 258-334

IV In memoriam, 341-381

Here is a more detailed description of the content of the book.

I Old Vukovar - Health care in Old Vukovar, 1-89

Vlado Horvat: Vukovar in the middle of the 19th century

Štefan Biro described the history of medicine in Croatia and the history of the Vukovar Hospital until 1991 in the series of forteen articles

II The Croatian War of Independence

Vesna Bosanac:
- Role and importance of the Vukovar Hospital during the Croatian War of Independence,
- Beginning of the agression on Vukovar and the structure of the hospital,
- Cooperation of the war hospital of Vukovar with other relevant institutions for the Vukovar defense,
- War shelters in Vukovar,
- Injuries and suffering of the civilians,
- Cooperation with internation organizations,
- Hardest period for the Vukovar Hospital,

Juraj Njavro and Zoran Aleksijević:
- The war medical service - role and importance of the surgery

Ivan Medved:
- Role of the Main medical headquarter at the Ministry of Health

Ivica Kostović:
- Humanitarian crises in Vukovar during the Croatian War of Independence

Boris Kratofil and Stanko Kušt:
- War anesthesiology in Vukovar during the Croatian War of Indepdence

Edin Zujović:
- Transfusion medicine in the Vukovar Hospital 1991, "Man to man life"

Vladimir Horvatić:
- Ambulance services during the aggression and occupation of Vukovar

Štefan Biro:
- Organization and activities of the stomatological services during aggression on Vukovar in 1991

Binazija Kolesar and Agnezija Aleksijević:
- Nurses in the Vukovar Hospital

Štefan Biro:
- The hospital logistics in the system of War Hospital Vukovar in 1991

Vladimir Emedi:
- Outer station of the Vukovar Hospital,
- Temporary hospital "Borovo-Commerce"

Jakob Grof Eltz Vukovarski and Josip Husar:
- Blocades of Vukovar in 1991,
- Care and evacuations of the wounded persons

Vesna Bosanac:
- Evacuations of the wounded from the Vukovar Hospital,
- Testifying about the last days in the Vukovar Hospital

Binazija Kolesar:
- Evacuations of the wounded and personnel from the War Hospital Vukovar

Štefan Biro:
- The agony of Vukovar - The convoy with the wounded

Vladislav Nadaš:
- War memories of a doctor

Vesna Bosanac and Davor Bandić:
- Children in war

Andrija Hebrang:
- Silence of the internationl humanitarian organizations about the tragedy of the Vukovar Hospital - Incompetence or politics?

III Exile, reintegration and return, 258-334

Vesna Bosanac and Štefan Biro:
- Vukovar Helath care in the exile

J. Kiš, L. Kuruc, J. Dolanski, M. Kasić, V. Bosanac and Š. Biro:
- War Hospital Old Mikanovci
- Medical service o fthe 10th Home guard regiment

Zlatko Šimunović and Štefan Biro:
- Structure of the Vukovar health cares in the exile, The National Health Institute

Marijana Mihaljević, Vesna Bosanac and Štefan Biro:
- Peaceful reintegration of the helath care in Vukovar and in the Croatian Danube basin

Vesna Bosanac:
- Vukovar Hospital now and in the future

... (we skip the titles of 18 articles)

IV In memoriam, 341-381

Marijana Ivančić:
- Memories

Suzana Horvat:
- My war memories

Zoltan Konjetić:
- Memories of a soldier

Members of the War Hospital Vukovar

Employees of the War Hospital muredred, tortured and missing

We want to draw the attention of the reader especially to pp 195-253, dealing with events related to the tragedy of the Vukovar Hospital.

On p. 211 we can find facsimiles of the agreement from the City Hospital of Vukovar:

1. Representatives of the Republic of Croatia, the Yugoslav Peoples Army (YPA), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Medecins sans Frontier and the Maltese Cross met on 18 November 1991 and reached the following agreement regarding a convoy to evacuate the wounded and sick from Vukovar Hospital.


5. The evacuation will include all those wounded or sick undergoing medical treatment in Vukovar hospital who are judged by the authorities of the hosiptial to be fit to make the journey.

On November 18, contrary to the agreement, shelling of the town continued.

Dr. Vesna Bosanac sent numerous messages during several months of Serbian attacks on the city, asking for help. The following dramatic message imploring for help was sent to European Mission (here retyped from the original document published on p 206).

Received by telephone, November 18, 1991, at 4:55 min p.m.



In the Vukovar hospital there are still more than 500 wounde people, among whoom injured children, women and expectant mothers, aas well as around 500 civilians who escaped from their basements and shelters to the hospital, hoping to find protection and evacuation.

Unfortunately, up to now we have not seen anything of the promised help from E.C. Mission and International Red Cross side.

We implore for an urgent help and arrival of the representatives of the E.C. Mission and International Red Cross respectively, without Yugoslav Army escort, as there are no Croatian Amry within the hospital surrounding as were required by the E.C. Mission.

Bosanac dr. Vesna

Dr. Vesna Bosanac, director of the Vukovar Hospital in 1991.

On p. 253 we can see another facsimile of another dramatic document, addressed to European Commission in Hotel I in Zagreb. It was written and signed by Dr. Vesna Bosanac on November 11 2009, with request to be translated into English and sent to Mr. Wijnsents, Mr. Koll, Lord Carrington, Mr. Majer, Mr. Van den Bruck, Mr. Genscher, and to the Ministry of foreign affaires of the Netherlands. The document mentioned continuous attacks aiming to destroy the hospital by artillery and airplanes. And the hospital, situated in the cellar, had among others new born babies, their mothers, wounded children, and women civilians. Because of continuous attacks there were no water supply and medicins. Every moment new wounded were arriving. In the name of basic principles of humanity she implored cease fire and deblocade of the city of Vukovar.

On page 376 we can see the names of twenty emloyees of the War Vukovar Hospital executed at Ovčara near Vukovar (the mass grave contains more than 200 executed persons):
  1. Jozo Adžaga
  2. Ilija Asađanin
  3. Ivan Banrauch
  4. Tomslav Bosanac
  5. Ivan Buovac
  6. Dragan Gavrić
  7. Zlatko Jarabek
  8. Đuro Knežić
  9. Zlatko Krajnović
  10. Tomislav Mihović
  11. Tomisalv Papp
  12. Tomo Pravdić
  13. Stjepan Šarik
  14. Đuro Šrenk
  15. Zvonko Varenica
  16. Goran Vidoš
  17. Mato Vlaho
  18. Miroslav Vlaho
  19. Josip Zeljko
  20. Mihajlo Zera

Four employees of the Vukovar Hospital that were detained druging the Serbian occupation of the city in 1991, and whose destiny is still not known, are:

  1. Ivan Baranjek
  2. Marko Mandić
  3. Ivan Božak
  4. Zovnko Vulić

Twelve identified employees of the Vukovar Hospital, assasinated or victims of the 1991 aggression:

  1. Vlasta Aleksandar
  2. Karlo Crk
  3. Dušica Jeremić
  4. Ljubica Kojić
  5. Goran Krznarić
  6. Nevenka Matić
  7. Zdenka Miličević
  8. Ljubica Obradović
  9. Ivan Raguž
  10. Marica Stanek
  11. Blanka Stefanjuk
  12. Rudolf Terek

In conclusion, there are altogether thirty two (32) employees of the Vukovar Hospital, victims of the Serbian aggression on the city, and four detained employees whose destiny is unknown.

The list of 20 children killed and murdered during the Serbian siege of of the city of Vukovar can be seen on p 237:
  1. Matej Aleksandar, 1989-1991
  2. Dragutin Balog, 1974-1991 (Ovčara)
  3. Josip Bandić, 1976-1991
  4. Tomislav Baumgertner, 1973-1991 (Ovčara)
  5. Željko Cvetković, 1973-1991
  6. Goran Ćećevac, 1990-1991 (less than two years old!)
  7. Dalibor Černok, 1984-1991
  8. Igor Černok, 1977-1991
  9. Vedran Galić, 1973-1991 (Ovčara)
  10. Stevo Gegić, 1973-1991
  11. Sabahudin Gršić, 1975-1991
  12. Gracuela Jelić, 1975-1991
  13. Igor Kačić, 1975-1991
  14. Ivan Kljajić, 1991-1991 (nine months old!)
  15. Mario Kolarić, 1978-1991
  16. Damir Lehkec, 1973-1991
  17. Siniša Marjanović, 1975-1991
  18. Nevenka Markuš, 1974-1991
  19. Karlo Nikolić, 1973-1991
  20. Dario Pakšec, 1976-1992
  21. Damir Pakšec, 1980-1992
  22. Zlatko Palahinjak, 1973-1991
  23. Zorica Pavlović, 1976-1991
  24. Dario Pejić, 1979-1991
  25. Siniša Rajković, 1975-1991
  26. Stjepan Rukavina, 1974-1991
  27. Darko Sučević, 1973-1991
  28. Ante Šarić, 1974-1991
  29. Borislav Šimunić, 1974-1991
  30. Damir Šper, 1973-1991
  31. Đorđe Vidaković, 1978-1991
  32. Antonio Vidaković, 1975-1991
  33. Mario Vuletić, 1973-1991
Three of them have been murdered at the Ovčara mass grave: Tomislav Baumgertner, Vedran Galić, and Igor Kačić. Also included is the list of 51 wounded children with description of wounds in Latin langauge and the date when they were wounded. Four children were missing or imprisoned. See pp. 235-237.

In the whole of Croatia 306 children were killed, 1280 wounded, 4455 lost one parent, and 131 children lost both parents. 185,000 (hundred and eighty five thousand) children lived in exile.

The Vukovar Hospital took care of about 4000 people during the Serbian 1991 aggression, until November 20th, 1991. About 2250 people underwent difficult and long term operations. Each day approximatly 700 (seven hundred) granades was falling on the building of the hospital. The work of medicinal staff was going on in extremely difficult conditions, often without necessary equipment, even without electricity, food and water, in the celler and atomic shelter of the hospital, since the building was totally destroyed.

In 1997 the hospital was reintegrated into the medical system of the Republic of Croatia, and in 1998 its complete renewal was started.

For information about pourchasing the book please contact

Mrs. Jasmina Jelisavac, Opća bolnica Vukovar (The Vukovar Hospital), secretary of Dr. Vesna Bosanac
tel. +385 32 452 011

Dr. Vesna Bosanac

Opća bolnica Vukovar (The Vukovar Hospital)

Nikola Knez: Operation Storm
Croatian Film Institute

Operation Storm was the single-most decisive battle of the Croatian War for Independence. Launched by the Republic of Croatia in August 1995, it was the largest European land battle since the Second World War.

The success of this remarkable military action by Croatia came after four years of brutal fighting. Outnumbered, outgunned, but not outmaneuvered, this tiny new democracy prevailed in a David versus Goliath battle, a moral as well as military victory by an exceptional people.

Storm ended the massive humanitarian disaster and genocide committed by the Serbian Army and Chetnik terrorists. It led to the liberation of one third of Croatian territory seized by the enemy, and it made possible the Dayton Agreement that brought peace to the region.

This film documents the events surrounding this extraordinary battle, demonstrating that Croatia, along with its army and generals, deserve commendation from the world community, if not a Nobel Peace Prize.

Operacija Oluja poznata je kao jedinstvena i odlučna bitka Hrvatskog naroda u borbi za nezavisnost. Oluja koju je Republika Hrvatska pokrenula u mjesecu kolovozu 1995, označena je kao najveća europska kopnena vojna operacija nakon Drugog svjetskog rata i opravdano je postala krunski dragulj hrvatskog Domovinskog rata.

Nevjerojatan uspjeh ove jedinstvene hrvatske vojne operacije ostvaren je nakon četiri godine brutalne borbe. Iako s brojčano manjom vojskom i slabije naoružana, ali s nenadmašnim vojnim profesionalizmom, ova mala i mlada demokratska zemlja uspjela je pobijediti kao u poznatoj biblijskoj priči o Davidu i Golijatu i postigla je potpuni moralni i vojni uspjeh koji su planirali i izvršili izvanredni rodoljubi. Hrvatski vojnici i časnici pokazali su jednistvenu hrabrost i odlučnost.

Operacija Oluja porazila je srbsko crnogorsku agresorsku vojsku i ideju velike srbije te i oslobodila zapadnu Bosnu i Hercegovinu. Oluja je okončala masovnu humanitarnu katastrofu i genocid koji su počinile srbska vojska i četnički teroristi. Oluja je oslobodila jednu trećinu okupiranog Hrvatskog teritorija i omogućila Daytonski sporazum koji je uspostavio mir u zaraćenim zonama.

Oluju ne treba samo gledati kao vojnu operaciju koja je oslobodila veliki dio Hrvatske, već i kao operaciju jedinstvenog humanitarnog karaktera budući da je stanovništvo Bihaća spasila od sigurnog genocida.

Ovaj film jasno i snažno dokumentira događaje te izvanredne vojne operacije, i dokazuje da Hrvatska, zajedno sa svojom vojskom i generalima, zaslužuje priznanje svjetske zajednice, a moguće i Nobelovu nagradu za Mir.

Prigodom uspješnog završetka Operacije Oluja predsjednik Franjo Tuđman je rekao: "Ova pobjeda ne znači samo oslobođenje Domovine, već stvaranje temelja za slobodnu i nezavisnu Hrvatsku kroz stoljeća u budućnosti.

Nenad Bach near the top of the famous Vukovar Water Tower (50 m high), with a spectacular view to the
tormented Baroque city of Vukovar on the Danube river, December 2016. Photo by Vanja Vidaković.

In December 2016 Nenad Bach visited the city of Vukovar as a representative at the State Office for Croatians Abroad. The members of the State Office had the opportunity to discuss various issues of vital importance for Croatia with President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, as well as with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković. He also met legendary Dr. Vesna Bosanac, director of the famous Vukovar Hospital.

The Vukovar Water Tower (50 m high). Photo by Vanja Vidaković.

Drago Štambuk: Croatia
(Many thanks to Mr. Joginder Singh Nijjar, president of Croatian-Indian Society in Zagreb, for his kind information)

CROATIA, London, 1991.

Drago Štambuk: tekst, skladba, izvedba
Arsen Dedić: aranžman
Orkestar HRT-a (HRT = Croatian Radio Television)

Croatia, Croatia, where beats now my heart,
while showers are tearing my loved ones apart.
Croatia, Croatia, where cries now my heart
in brave Vukovar.

The cellars are crowded and God's far away
for Love has been burried in craters of clay,
the children are watching with fear as we pray
in brave Vukovar.

Croatia, Croatia, where beats now my heart
while showers are tearing my loved ones apart.
Croatia, Croatia, where cries now my heart
in brave Vukovar.

The guardsman lies clutching his rosary beads
with each one recalling his dead comrades' deeds.
Angels are bearing him up as he bleeds
in brave Vukovar.

Croatia, Croatia, where beats now my heart
while showers are tearing my loved ones apart.
Croatia, Croatia, where cries now my heart
in brave Vukovar.

Translated into Croatian by Dr. Drago Štambuk (the author of verses and music, and the singer)

Croatia, Croatia, gdje moje srce bije
pod kišom granata koja trga moje ljubljene
Croatia, Croatia, gdje plače srce moje
u hrabrom Vukovaru

Podrumi su prepuni, Bog je daleko
ljubav je sahranjena u glinenim kraterima,
djeca u strahu promatraju dok molimo
u hrabrom Vukovaru

Croatia, Croatia, gdje moje srce bije,
pod kišom granata koja trga moje ljubljene.
Croatia, Croatia, gdje plače srce moje
u hrabrom Vukovaru.

Vojnik leži stežući zrna krunice
svako ga zrno podsjeća na drugova svojih djela.
Angjeli ga uzdižu dok krvari
u hrabrom Vukovaru.

Croatia, Croatia, gdje moje srce bije,
pod kišom granata koja trga moje ljubljene.
Croatia, Croatia, gdje plače srce moje
u hrabrom Vukovaru.

Dr. Drago Štambuk, liječnik, pjesnik i diplomat, autor je teksta i glazbe za skladbu Croatia, koju napisao u Londonu, na engleskom, neposredno prije pada hrvatskoga grada heroja - Vukovara. Skladba nije nikada do sada, na pravi način, prezentirana javnosti, pa je trenutak da se ispravi nepravda prema pjesmi koja obogaćuje prostor vukovarske osjećajnosti.

Uz Dan pada Vukovara, 18. studenoga 1991.

Prigoda je uz ovaj značajan datum sjetiti se pjesnika, veleposlanika, kulturnog djelatnika i liječnika dr. Drage Šambuka i njegove pjesme Croatia koja tekstom i riječima, uz osnovnu poetsku i melodijsku snagu, odaje domoljubni duh, polet i zanos kojega se nikada ne smijemo odreći.

Pitamo zato dr. Dragu Štambuka kakva je povijest pjesme Croatia, kako je ona nastala. Evo što nam je rekao:

- Pjesmu Croatia napisao sam na engleskom i melodijski složio u Londonu, za vrijeme jedne dulje vožnje taksijem, neposredno prije pada Vukovara. Notno ju je zabilježio moj prijatelj, britanski skladatelj Howard Blake, autor glazbe za glasovitog Snowmana. Aranžman je načinio Arsen Dedić koji me i primorao (za boravka u Zagrebu, u studiju HTV-a u Šubićevoj) da je otpjevam, s riječima: To je tvoja pjesma, Dalmatinac si, pjevaj!
I otpjevah je, nevoljko i sramežljivo, otprve, drhtavoga glasa, u studiju Hrvatske radiotelevizije, u siječnju 1992.

Ona je duh iz, sada već, daleke prošlosti kada smo bili puni ljubavi za svoju ugroženu domovinu; dragocjeni je otisak moje, a vjerujem i opće, emocionalne popudbine.

I ne pitajte zašto i za koga pjevam, Njoj pjevam!

Nives Gajdobranski

Many thanks to Dr. Drago Štambuk (a Fellow of Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts in Zagreb) for sending us this information.

Veleposlanik Dr. Drago Štambuk ispred hrvatskog veleposlanstva u Teheranu sa zastavama
Republike Hrvatske i EU spuštenim na pola koplja u spomen na žrtvu Vukovara i Škabrnje.

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