Ilija Lemajiþ

Ilija Lemajiþ

Born: 1897

Svrackovo Selo, Yugoslavia

Ilija was born in a village in the Croatian part of Yugoslavia. Like his parents and two brothers, Ilija was baptized in the Serbian Orthodox faith. The Lemajic family lived in a part of Croatia inhabited mostly by Serbs. After Ilija had completed grade school, his family moved to the village of Dubovac. When he was 30, he married a local girl and moved to Novska, where he found work.

1933-39: Ilija has a nice wife and two beautiful young daughters. He is employed in the village of Novska in Croatia as a tax collector for the Yugoslav government. As Serbs in a predominantly Roman Catholic Croat village, Ilija and his family must travel whenever they want to attend a Serbian church. Yugoslavia's King Alexander was murdered in 1934--he was a Serb and many of the local Croats celebrated his death by throwing rocks at the windows of Serb homes.

1940-44: When the Germans invaded Yugoslavia, Croatian fascists came to power in Croatia. The new government told Ilija that he'd have to convert to Roman Catholicism if he wanted to keep his job. Ilija refused and was fired in July 1941. He moved his family to the nearby town of Okucani where he managed to find work. But in Okucani he was arrested, once by the Germans and once by the Croatian fascists. Both of those times he was released. Now he has been arrested yet again by the Croatian fascists. His crime--being a Serb.

Croatian fascists murdered Ilija near Okucani in September 1944. He was 47 years old.