On September 27th, I got the following email from Zoran Almuli:

Dear family and friends,

It is with great sadness that we have to inform you that our dear Jasa Almuli passed away yesterday in London.

He leaves a personal and public legacy of which his family is truly proud. We will also always remember and treasure the time he spent with us, his great interest, curiosity, wise advice and, at times, frank comments.

Jasa has been battling with illness for a few months but only learned about his severe lung cancer three weeks ago. He passed away peacefully surrounded by his family.

Jasa will live on in our memories and hearts forever.

His loving family.

In Serbian:

Draga porodice i prijatelji,

Sa velikom tugom vam saopstavamo da nas je nas dragi Jasa napustio juce popodne u Londonu.

On ostavlja za sobom velika licna i javna dela na koja je njegova porodica vrlo ponosna. Mi cemo uvek pamtiti dragoceno vreme koje smo proveli zajedno, njegov kuriozitet, mudre savete, a ponekad i njegove iskrene primedbe.

Jasa se junacki borio sa bolescu poslednjih nekoliko meseci, ali je saznao za diagnozu raka pluca pre svega tri nedelje. Napustio nas je u miru i okruzen porodicom.

Jasa ce da zivi zauvek u nasim srcima i mislima.

Sa ljubavlju od njegove porodice.

There was contact information for the family listed as well, so if anyone wishes to contact Jasa’s children or wife, email me through this website’s contact form and I’ll send it to you.

I don’t know how old Jasa (pronounced like the Russian “Yasha”), was upon his death, though definitely somewhere in his 80s. We do know that he was a Holocaust survivor, a historian, and defender of the Serbs. Among many of his works was, I’ve been told, a definitive contextualizing and debunking of the popular notion that WWII Serbia was “the first Judenfrei city in Europe,” as minimizers of the Croatian genocide like to decoy. Unfortunately, there is no English version of the text, something Jasa hoped to remedy when he had the chance. He told me, “I wrote about it in my fourth book The Destruction and Rescuing of Serbian Jews, but the text is in Serbian. I will send you my article about the Holocaust in Jugoslavia included in my fifth book They Stayed Alive. Unfortunately it is also in Serbian. When I get a shorter version in English I will send it to you.”

One Almuli book that was translated into English, Jewish Women Speaking, got the first prize at the public competition by the Federation of Jewish Communities in Yugoslavia in 2004, and was sold out in Belgrade. Both were about hidden Jewish children, one in Greece and one in Serbia.

For his efforts at the truth, he was predictably called a revisionist by revisionists, accused of minimizing Auschwitz because he dared to describe the more demonic nature of the killing at Croatia’s Jasenovac complex. Interestingly, just this week The Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Ephraim Zuroff told Vecernje Novosti that the Serbs ought to take the lead in fighting Croatian nazism, saying among other things, “The tragedy of the Jewish people is one of the greatest in history. But to be entirely frank, the Holocaust in the former Yugoslavia was a sideshow for the much bigger mass murder of Serbs.”

(Oh, would that the Serbs be ‘allowed’ to take such a lead; as we know, observable fascism ceases to be such if a Serb points to it.)

Here was one site citing Jasa on the topic:

Mass murder and cruelty

According to Jaša Almuli, former president of the Serbian Jewish community, Jasenovac was a much more terrifying concentration camp, in terms of cruelty, compared with Auschwitz. In the late summer of 1942, tens of thousands of Serbian villagers were deported to Jasenovac from the Kozara mountain area (in Bosnia) where NDH [Croatian] forces were fighting against the Yugoslav Partisans. Most of the men were killed at Jasenovac, but women were sent to forced labor in Germany. Children were taken from their mothers and either killed or dispersed to Catholic orphanages.

On the night of 29 August 1942, the prison guards made bets among themselves as to who could liquidate the largest number of inmates. One of the guards, Petar Brzica, boasted cutting the throats of about 1,360 new arrivals with a wheat cutting knife that became known as srbosjek (”Serb-cutter”).

Other participants who confessed to participating in the bet included Ante Zrinusic, who killed some 600 inmates, and Mile Friganovic, who gave a detailed and consistent report of the incident. Friganovic admitted to having killed some 1,100 inmates. He specifically recounted his torture of an old man named Vukasin; he attempted to compel the man to bless [Fuehrer/Poglavnik] Ante Pavelic, which the old man refused to do, although Friganovic cut off his ears, nose and tongue after each refusal. Ultimately, he cut out the old man’s eyes, tore out his heart, and slashed his throat. This incident was witnessed by Dr. Nikola Nikolic.

I don’t mean to mar this tribute to Jasa by such horrific imagery, but the fact is, he was right. Finally, here are two letters he wrote in the early 90s about the (still ongoing today) attempts to equate WWII Serbia with WWII Croatia.

Jasa Almuli, R.I.P.