Note: Although it is unusual to put on the website the various letters an institution such as the Museum of Genocide Victims receives on a daily basis, we feel obliged to make an exception on this occasion. The letter in question was sent to the Museum by the daughter of the late Dr. Milan Bastašić, former Colonel and prisoner of the Jasenovac concentration camp. Once you read the letter, you may realize why we decided to publish it.
Dear Mr. Djurić,
It has now been seven months since the death of my beloved father, Dr. Milan Bastašić, who had a great deal of respect for you, not only as a friend but for your expertise in history and the period of the Independent State of Croatia in particular.
Personally, I was devastated to lose my beloved dad. To lose a father, irrespective of his age, is always too soon. I spent a lot of time with him last year up until his death in October 2016, talking about various subjects he wanted to discuss before he departed.
He spoke about you with a lot of respect and expressed his wish that it should be you to read the details from his biography and be the first to say goodbye to him at his funeral. He told me that he decided to ask you to take a look at the manuscript of his second book The Black Scarf of Bilogora, publish it under the sign of the Museum of Genocide Victims and make sure all proceeds are used for the Museum’s future researches. He specifically chose you because of the sacrifice you made expertly researching the matter of genocide and its victims. As a token of gratitude, he also decided to gift all the books from his personal library which refer to the people’s suffering to the Museum.
I cannot put to words how relieved my father was when you accepted his proposal to review and prepare the material for the book, as well as to read his biography at the funeral.
He was delighted when you told him that you would list all the donated books as a special fund and enable those who are interested to use them and acquaint themselves with the biography of the donor.
You are well aware that my father had serious problems with his vision, forcing him to use the magnifying glass to read the various written materials and use two fingers to type in the words of his second book on his computer. I believe that is another reason why his work has a special value. I did some proofreading and also printed the written material in a bigger font so he could read without the magnifying glass. He was hoping to write some more, but his heart failed him.
Dear Mr. Djurić, please allow me to use this opportunity had wholeheartedly thank you for everything you did for my beloved father while he was alive and everything you are doing to fulfill his final few wishes.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for mentioning my father and asking me to read excerpts from his second book in front of the audience at the opening of the exhibition Jadovno – Jasenovac – Kozara – Sajmište on 21 April 2017 – the date of the breakthrough of the last detainees from the Jasenovac concentration camp. 21 April 2017 is also the Day of the Museum of Genocide Victims.
You were among the last people to say goodbye to my dad before he died. It meant a lot to him.
I apologize for not expressing my gratitude sooner. My grief was too intense and I still carry it in my heart. As you know, dad’s last wish was that I, as his daughter, take his body, organize the farewell and the cremation in Belgrade before laying the urn in the family tomb in Grubišno Polje, with the priests from Grubišno Polje in attendance. I am happy to have been able to fulfill all his wishes. I am particularly grateful that His Highness the Metropolitan Dr. Porphyrius understood Dad's last will for his body to be cremated and allowed a priest from Grubišno Polje to perform the requiem over the urn before laying it in the family tomb. For this reason, I organized the 40-day and the six-month parastos in Grubišno Polje.
Furthermore, thank you for your comforting words of support I very much needed at the time. Dad obviously knew very well when he advised me to talk to you first when he died.
Tanja Mehle, the daughter of the late Dr. Milan Bastašić