One of the archival fonds kept in the Archives of Vojvodina recently raised huge public attention in Serbia. Thе fonds is F.562 or personal fonds of Slavko Odić (1915–2006). Actually, it is one dossier of that fonds in particular that received close attention. It is the dossier with archival signature F.5188.8.131.52.2. While these numbers do not mean much to someone not affiliated with the archival science, it might be expected that those interested in the topic of war crimes in ISC will certainly very well remember the said signature.
Slavko Odić, born in Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina, was member of Partisan movement, awarded by Commemorative Medal of the Partisans of 1941. After the war, Odić, a reserve colonel, worked in the ministries of internal and external affairs and in diplomacy as the consul general in Toronto. At the same time, Odić wrote several notable historiographical books, focused mainly, but not exclusively, on subjects related to the activities of secret services in occupied Yugoslavia. His interest in secret services might be explained by the fact that during a part of his military career he was a member of the Department for People’s Protection or OZNA, the Yugoslavian intelligence agency at the time. With the background and status of a member of Yugoslavian communist elite, Odić gained access to an archive unavailable to general public.
Not long after Odić’s death, seven boxes of his personal archive found their way to the Archives of Vojvodina. Due to limited staff and resources, the archive was not arranged and processed immediately. But after one archivist had started working on it, he became amazed – archive contained a lot of interesting and valuable documents. Some of them were even originals created by the occupation authorities, among which was the dossier later marked by the archival signature F.5184.108.40.206.2.
This dossier consisted of huge quantity of documents – more than 600 sheets of paper. It was titled in Serbian “Ustashe Atrocities in ISC”. By closer examination, the archivist determined that almost all of the documents in the dossier were in fact in German, dated 1941/1942: they were either made by German intelligence institutions in Croatia and Serbia, or by Serbian collaborationist government departments, mainly Commission for refugees. Some of the documents were letters or reports of individuals, prominent citizens or commanders of paramilitary units, which were translated into German. In addition to that, there were 63 photographs of inmates of ISC death camps and victims of the first massacre of Serbs in ISC, committed in the village of Gudovac near Bjelovar in April 1941. All photographs, along with brief descriptions, were attached to the paper sheets with memo and sign of the head of the Nazi security police in Serbia (Befehlshaber der Sicherheitspolizei und des Sicherheitsdienstes in Belgrad, abbr. BdS). Since there were a lot of documents with sign of or directed to BdS, the archivists assumed that the dossier was perhaps made by the institution of BdS, who might had been interested in what was happening in ISC for intelligence reasons. However, further proofs for that assumption need yet to be provided.
After the potential significance of the dossier was realized, the Archives of Vojvodina immediately applied for a grant from the Ministry of Culture. Granted funds will be used for publication of the dossier, which will be translated into Serbian. Apart from general introduction, the book will also contain articles about the documents in the dossier, written by prominent experts in the field of war crimes committed in the occupied Yugoslavia. The original documents in digital form will also be attached to the book. Regarding culture of remembrance, publication of this dossier will be of great importance for several reasons: it has already been mentioned it contains huge number of original documents made by occupation authorities and secret services; those documents are related to the same subject – atrocities in ISC; it is most likely that the majority of those documents have not been published previously, have been unknown or incomplete.
The dossier is currently unavailable to the public, in order to avoid the risk of potential damage of its valuable documents. However, digital copy has already been made and it can be browsed on the Archives’ premises. The Archives’ staff calls interested public to show patience, while complete dossier with all attachments is being published. Until then, if you have any questions related to this matter, please contact us via official email of the Archives of Vojvodina.