brochure “Partizanski spomenik u Mostaru” (1980)
book “Spomenica Mostara 1941-1945.”
another document or proof of the memorial stone (e.g., a photograph).
Tatjana L. PEŠKO
TATJANA TANJA PEŠKO, daughter of LAZAR, born in 1923 (according to some sources, in 1924) into a prosperous merchant family, a student of the Gymnasium, a member of SKOJ since 1940, and KPJ since 1941. As a young woman and the League of Communist Youth SKOJ member, she participated in the work of the progressive Muslim People’s Library in Mostar. She wrote literary compositions with social and political content. Her participation in an action, during which goods were extracted from her father’s shop for the needs of the movement, has also been recorded. She was one of the founders of a special women’s committee in June 1941 at a meeting on Hum Hill, in a pine forest (Tanja Peško, Fadila Bilal, Emina-Mina Haćam, Šamila-Šana Bilić, and Sonja Milićević gathered and agreed on how to establish women’s organizations in different city quarters). At the age of only seventeen, she met a tragic fate. When the Serbs were persecuted in the summer of 1941, Tanja’s family (father Lazar, a wholesaler (1889-1962), mother Jovanka (1900-1988), sister Ksenija, and two younger brothers) went into hiding for a while (father Lazar in Brankovac “in a barn full of hay,” mother with younger brothers at Nadžida Hadžić’s, and sister Ksenija escaped to Montenegro). When permits were obtained, it was decided that the family would move to Serbia. Tanja refused to leave Mostar, her comrades, and the movement. She hid during those days at the house of her comrade Nada Bajat (according to some sources, also at Hatidža Kreso). The next day after her parents’ departure, on August 2nd or 3rd, 1941, she tragically passed away.
In historical literature, there are several similar descriptions of Tanja’s death. At that moment, she was in the company of Hamdija Brkić and Remza Čevro (according to some sources, the younger brother of Jusuf Čevro, who was killed the previous day). According to one version of the events, Remza, nervous about his brother’s death, handling a pistol, suddenly fired and hit Tanja “right in the heart” while she was sleeping on a bed. According to another version, she died during weapon cleaning with Remza, who jokingly pointed the gun at her and accidentally fired (later doubts were expressed that it wasn’t accidental because he was “very jealous” since Tanja was in love with Hamdija).
Desperate, the SKOJ members decided to “bury Tanja under a crooked pine tree at the edge of the old Orthodox cemetery.” At that time, her parents had just left for Serbia and were unaware of Tanja’s death until the end of the war. Remza was a fighter in the unit, but according to some assumptions, sensing that things would not end well for him, he surrendered to the Italians who sent him to the Mamula camp and then to Italy. According to some eyewitnesses, he became an informant and collaborated with the occupiers. After Italy’s capitulation, when numerous prisoners joined Slovenian units, Remza refused to return and remained in Italy.
During the war, Father Lazar would come to Mostar “to preserve the remaining property. All his efforts to learn something about Tanja were in vain until the eve of Mostar’s liberation when a fighter from the Mostar Battalion told him the approximate location of his daughter’s grave…” He dug up the grave and, with friends, laid Tanja’s remains in the family tomb.
Tanja is described as “the most prominent student in the gymnasium, always defiant and combative.” Her name was recorded on the memorial plaque at the Mostar Gymnasium after the war (source). The plaque disappeared without a trace during the war events of 1992-1995. Tanja is immortalized in the song “Mostarska mati” by Mostarske kiše (full lyrics).
Recollections of Vasko Gnjatić about Tanja’s death:
“UNCOVERING THE TRUTH ABOUT TANJA PEŠKO’S DEATH: It was during that period, precisely in that area, that I made a painful discovery of the truth, or at least its indication, regarding the death of Tanja Peško, a pre-war student of the Mostar Gymnasium and a SKOJ member. At that time, Remza Čevro arrived with us, in the battalion, from Mostar. He was assigned to a platoon in Zaborani. When I heard this, I remembered a tragic event from Mostar… On a hot day in July 1941, while living in hiding and frequently changing hiding places, I found myself above Brankovac, in the vineyards. Luka Knežević and I were together. Skoj members Zvonko Bekavac and Drago Knežić would regularly inform us about everything they learned in the city and the neighborhood. They would update us daily about the movements of the Ustasha and the police, about raids. They also carried out courier tasks. On that day, Drago was quite agitated. As soon as he arrived, he told us in one breath that Tanja Peško had died! Tanja, already a member of the Communist Party (KPJ), had remained behind when her parents left Mostar and went to Belgrade due to the forced relocation of Serbs from Mostar. She stayed because, as a Skoj member in the gymnasium, she had been involved in revolutionary youth work. And now, as a member of the Party, preparing to join the Partisans, she had also left her parents. I remember well that Drago Knežić told us that Tanja, along with Hamdija Brkić and Remza Čevro, with whom she had been attending the gymnasium, was cleaning weapons in a house below Brankovac when she was killed. It happened, I believe, in an abandoned house where Skoj members would hide weapons and ammunition. That day, they were cleaning rifles, and at one point, Remza accidentally shot Tanja. There was no one else in the house except the three of them. Hamdija and Remza got scared, and after regaining their composure, they dug a grave and buried Tanja’s body. Drago told us how Hamdija, who shared this story with him, was deeply saddened and couldn’t believe that it had really happened. If this case had been investigated before my departure to join the Partisans (on August 17, 1941), I would probably have known more about it and could have testified more credibly. Later, Remza Čevro joined us in the Partisans, as mentioned earlier, and was assigned to the platoon in Zaborani. Neither I nor anyone in the leadership ever asked him about the case of Tanja Peško’s murder, let alone interrogated him about it. Perhaps there was no time or opportunity for that, and he, truth be told, avoided any encounter or conversation with me. This struck me as suspicious and became somewhat clearer later, during the unsettled times after Remza’s desertion from the Partisans and his surrender to the Italians in Nevesinje. It happened on the day when Hamdija Brkić also joined us in the Partisans. It was probably in early March or late February 1942, depending on when the first courier, after the severe winter and heavy snow, managed to break through to us and bring another group of fighters from Mostar. I spoke with all the newly arrived comrades. On that occasion, Hamdija told me that he wanted to have a special conversation with me because he had something important to share. Hamdija then told me mostly everything that I had heard from Drago Knežić on that July day in Brankovac. He described to me that tragic incident that occurred during weapon cleaning and training in rifle and pistol handling. On that occasion, Remza Čevro, seemingly jokingly, pointed the rifle at Tanja and said, ‘I will kill you!’ Hamdija told me, ‘He fired a shot, and Tanja fell dead.’ Afterward, Hamdija told me that he couldn’t claim it for certain, but he suspected, and was increasingly convinced, that Remza Čevro did it intentionally. He also told me that Tanja had sympathized with him, Hamdija (which was confirmed to me by Drago Knežić), while Remza was ‘insanely jealous.’ I wouldn’t draw firm conclusions from all of this today, but some facts speak for themselves: Remza Čevro, as soon as he found out that Hamdija Brkić had joined the Partisans and had been with me in the battalion headquarters, immediately deserted from the platoon that same night and went to surrender to the Italians! To be more precise, Remza Čevro, as soon as he learned from comrades that Hamdija Brkić had come to the battalion, abandoned his guard post and left his position towards Nevesinje Field to surrender to the Italians. After Remza’s disappearance, an investigation was initiated in the platoon headquarters in Zaborani. They questioned some locals, but I immediately halted it. I did so because we were informed from Nevesinje (where Remza was initially located) or from Mostar that Remza Čevro was with the Italians. Later, in the Mamula camp (according to the statements of several comrades), Remza Čevro was a freelancer and a collaborator of the occupiers.” (Vasko Gnjatić, Sa Mostarcima u konjičkom kraju, p. 707)”
grupa autora: Spomenica Mostara 1941-1945.; Seferović, Mensur (2009): Zvijezde stajaćice, Zapisi o djevokama i majkama iz dva rata 1941-45 i 1991-95.; https://yu-nostalgija.com/prva-partizanska-eksplozija-u-okupiranom-gradu/; https://poskok.info/mostarke-u-doba-okupacije-sloboda-nije-stigla-iz-bajke/ ; Konjhodžić, Mahmud (1981): “Mostarke”: fragmenti o revolucionarnoj djelatnosti i patriotskoj opredjeljenosti žena Mostara, o njihovoj borbi za slobodu i socijalizam, Opštinski odbor SUBNOR-a Mostar; grupa autora (1986): Hercegovina u NOB 2. dio, Beograd
Photo of the memorial plaque: S. Demirović; photo of fighter: Danilo Marić, “Drugarica Tonja”, from the book “Mostar – moj grad VI”, IC Štamparija, 2021.
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