Fifteen kilometres east of Krapje and 10km south of the Novska exit of the Autocesta highway, Jasenovac is the site of a notorious World War II concentration camp, which stretches alongside the main road into town from the Novska direction. Established in autumn 1941, this was the largest in an archipelago of camps stretching from Krapje in the north to Stara Gradiška in the south. It was here that the pro-Nazi puppet state, the NDH (Nezavisna Država Hrvatska or “Independent State of Croatia”), incarcerated Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascist Croats and set them to work producing bricks and metal chains. Unproductive or unwanted prisoners were murdered in cold blood, while overwork, malnourishment and a succession of cold winters took their toll on countless thousands of others. When Jasenovac was finally wound up in April 1945, the Ustaše attempted to murder the remaining inmates, six hundred of whom staged a mass breakout – a total of 91 got away. Ever since World War II Jasenovac has been a bone of historical contention, with Serbian nationalists inflating the number of victims in order to draw attention to Ustaše-sponsored genocide, while their Croatian counterparts have minimized the importance of Jasenovac in order to sweep memories of the Ustaše period under the carpet. Outside observers nowadays consider 70,000 to be a fair estimate of the numbers killed here, of which around 40,000 were Serb and at least 14,000 were Roma. The camp was razed in the late 1940s and turned into a memorial park (spomen-park) two decades later.

The rest of Jasenovac still bears the scars of a more recent war: the centre of town was cleared of Croats in 1991, and its church dynamited. The local Serbs suffered a similar fate when the Croats returned in May 1995.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Croatia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Island-hopping in Croatia: a practical guide

Island-hopping in Croatia: a practical guide

With its mountainous coastal backdrop, scattering of tawny islands and giddyingly translucent waters, the Croatian Adriatic offers one of the most compelling se…

13 Jun 2017 • Jonathan Bousfield insert_drive_file Article
The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

The 10 best summer festivals for escapism in 2017

Festivals are a different beast in 2017. They used to be associated with drinking warm cider while watching crusty bands in your naffest clothes; now the best e…

07 Jun 2017 • David Hillier insert_drive_file Article
Video: a 1 minute guide to Croatia

Video: a 1 minute guide to Croatia

Croatia is one of Europe's most popular summer destinations, thanks to its superb food, fun festivals and string of beautiful islands. Whether it's beaches, nat…

12 May 2017 • Rough Guides Editors videocam Video
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month