brochure “Partizanski spomenik u Mostaru” (1980)
book “Spomenica Mostara 1941-1945.”
another document or proof of the memorial stone (e.g., a photograph).
Ekrem A. JUSUFOVIĆ
EKREM JUSUFOVIĆ, son of ALIJA, born on May 23, 1922, in Mostar, a baker, member of the League of Communist Youth (SKOJ) since 1941 and KPJ since 1942, joined the Battalion in September 1941 as a lance corporal. He died in Janjina near Konjic in April 1942, in the company of Ante Zuanić‘s platoon.
Excerpt from literature:
“When they encountered fierce resistance in Dramiševo on April 8, 1942, the Ustaše forces attacked Janjina and surrounded a platoon of Ante Zuanić. They suddenly swarmed from all sides out of the forest and encircled the house where the platoon was located. It was a single-story rural house covered with planks. The partisans accepted the fight – nine of them against 170 Ustaše soldiers. It was an unequal battle. The platoon positioned themselves in the house and bravely opened fire on the enemy. A fierce battle ensued. The fighters shot through windows, doors, and from the walls under the roof. While the outside was visible, the enemy, met with accurate fire from the partisans, couldn’t approach the house. In that battle, the platoon killed five Ustaše soldiers and wounded several others. However, trouble arose with the darkness. As the darkness advanced, the Ustaše forces began to approach the house. Additionally, the partisans were running out of ammunition. One of the Ustaše militiamen, who was a local resident and familiar with every inch of the surrounding land, took advantage of the darkness and approached the wall, setting the house on fire. The roof and other materials started burning like a torch. The house turned into a blaze. This led to even greater trouble – the fighters started choking on thick smoke. It became increasingly hot and unbearable. The air became so scorching that the defenders felt as if they were under a searing iron. Burnt planks and beams fell on the fighters’ heads, scorching their flesh. Despite this, they continued to heroically fight back and repel all enemy attacks. There was a risk of being burned alive… Among the nine fighters were Mustafa and Husika Kanja, workers from Mostar. One of them was killed on that occasion, and the other was wounded. Some of the surviving fighters began to contemplate taking their own lives so as not to fall alive into the hands of the enemy. Wounded Kanjo, with only one bullet left in his gun’s chamber, turned towards the enemy and exclaimed, ‘Long live the Communist Party of Yugoslavia! Long live the partisans! Long live the Red Army.’ Then he turned the barrel of the rifle towards himself and pulled the trigger. This had a painful effect on the remaining fighters. They decided to attempt a breakthrough. They no longer had ammunition, so they threw a grenade and jumped out of the window. It was impossible to break through the dense circle of enemy soldiers, and they were overcome. This is what the commander of the gendarmerie station in Bjelimić wrote in the aforementioned report: ‘During the fight in Janjina, there was strong resistance from the house where they barricaded themselves, the nine of them, and even when they were called to surrender, they refused to surrender, and when the house was set on fire, they continued to shoot from the house, despite the fire closing in on them. The battle with the partisans in Janjina was one of the most bitter fights that took place on this occasion because the partisans, at the cost of their lives, fought until the last hour, minute, even when half of the roof had collapsed and there was no way out.”
They chased the group of seven tied partisans to Bjelimici. When they crossed the Neretva River, Ismet Kreso and Hilmija Hakalo broke free from the enemy’s grip and jumped into the river, cold and swollen from rain and melting snow. Thanks to the darkness and their swimming skills, they evaded the gunfire. With their hands tied behind their backs, they swam three kilometers down the boulder-filled Neretva to the village of Ladjanice. Exhausted, they emerged on the shore. With one last effort, Ismet managed to reach the village and inform them that Hakalo was left on the shore. The villagers rushed to the Neretva and found him unconscious. He was in tattered clothing, wet, and turning blue. Both of them fell ill for several days, but they saved their lives. (Later on their combat path, both of them died – Hakalo in the Battle of Sutjeska in June 1943, and Kreso in the battles near Jablanica in 1944.) The enemy report also states: “Among these five who remained in our custody are: Leo Stern, late Sigmund, a law doctor, a Jew, originally from Sarajevo…, Ekrem Jusufović, son of Alija, from Mostar, Mehmed Skopljak, son of Avdo from Visoko, Anto Zuanić, son of Ante from Rogatica, residing in Mostar, and Fehim Jažić, son of the deceased Mehmed, from Sarajevo… As they resisted, their clothes were torn, they were almost naked… During the interrogations, none of them wanted to admit anything…”. The exhausted fighters were executed by the Ustaše on April 10, 1942, in Bjelimici. Ante Zuanić’s tenth fell guarding the brotherhood and freedom. The enemy lived in mortal fear, not only of the determination in battle but also of the brave composition of this partisan unit. Among the slain partisans, the enemy saw together a Serb, a Muslim, a Croat, and a Jew, that is, workers, peasants, intellectuals, and students – all the combat builders of the brotherhood and unity of our peoples. In the report of the commander of the gendarmerie station in Bjelimici, who witnessed the drama, it is also written: “When the situation of the partisans was hopeless, we heard them say in the house: We know why we are dying and why we fought, not one of them wants to die without shouting Death to fascism – Freedom to the people!…”. They lived and fought, and they died – bravely and dignified (…)”
Ćemalović, Enver (1986): Mostarski bataljon, Mostar; grupa autora (1986): Hercegovina u NOB 4. dio, Beograd, Vlatko Lazarević, Junačko držanje desetine u Janjini; grupa autora: Spomenica Mostara 1941-1945.
Photo of the memorial plaque: S. Demirović.
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