The expert meeting “Genocide against Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia /NDH/ and the Uprising, Kozara 1942-2022”, cooperation of institutions and diligent work of historians do not allow the names of victims to fall into oblivion, said the director of the “Kozara” National Park, Bozidar Nikoletić.

On the occasion of an expert meeting on Mount Kozara, organized by the “Kozara” National Park and the Republika Srpska Center for Research of War, War Crimes and the Search for Missing Persons, Nikoletić has said that such a conference is being held for the first time after 45 years, namely, the last such conference was held in 1977.

“A total of 10,000 soldiers and 40,000 civilians were killed here,” he told reporters on Mrakovica.

Predrag Lozo from the Republika Srpska Center for Research of War, War Crimes and the Search for Missing Persons has said that the expert conference is a special way to mark the 80th anniversary of the Kozara epic and three decades since the creation of Republika Srpska.

“Our past, which consists of sufferings, pain, and the struggle of our people, is best symbolized through Kozara and Republika Srpska. We feel that it is the responsibility of experts to provide answers after 80 years in a dignified manner, without political abuses, manipulations, divisions,” Lozo said.

He pointed out that it is important to summarize where Kozara is today in the culture and politics of remembrance, what it represents for the Serbian people, Republika Srpska, Serbia, but also the entire region because this was a cult place of remembrance in the former Yugoslavia.

“The period between 75 and 100 years is crucial in something called the culture and politics of remembrance when individual memory passes into generational memory, and generational memory into collective memory,” Lozo said.

The head of the sector of cultural and historical heritage in the National Park “Kozara”, Marina LJubičić Bogunović, said that today’s scientific gathering is the first in a series of events that will mark the great jubilee of the Kozara epic.

“Kozara is important not only to us, Kozara residents, but also to historical trends and researchers among historians, which can be seen from the composition of today’s gathering,” said Bogunović.

She recalled that the battle on Kozara lasted from June 10 to July 18, 1942, and that 80,000 civilians were on the mountain at that time, mostly women, children and the elderly, and one partisan detachment of 3,500 people who had already been there, so they just stayed in the area.

“Civilian losses were really huge. Sixty-eight thousand six hundred people were taken from Kozara to concentration camps, starting from Jasenovac where most people were taken, so the people of Kozara even reached Norwegian concentration camps. Of that number, 23,585 were children under 14 and I think that is certainly the greatest tragedy of Kozara,” pointed out Bogunović.

Milan Vulić, a historian from the Institute of Contemporary History Belgrade, said that this gathering is of great importance because it reminds us of the tragedy on Kozara 80 years ago and brings it into the focus of the professional and general public, which is another step in the cooperation between experts from Serbia and Republika Srpska.