April 30th of 1944
We go back to wartime 1944. It’s spring, April 30th, Sunday lunch time. The village of Lipa, as well as the entire Liburnian Karst area is under German occupation within the Operational Zone of the Adriatic Littoral. Together with the occupational forces there are fascists who, after the Italian armistice of 1943, continued to operate under the German command. Partisans are gathering in great secrecy, taking numerous guerrilla actions dependent on the local population that provides them hideouts, food an supplies. So-called Ten Commandments, rules issued on the 24th of February 1944 by general of the 97th German army corps Ludwig Kübler, incourage occupators to use looting, arson of civilian property and killing of civilian population as effective means of fighting the Partisan „gangs“. One such operation of cleaning the territory of Partisans, named Braunschweig, has just started.
Two women from Lipa, Katarina Kalčić Garićeva and Ivanka Ujčić Marocina are preparing to take milk to the Partisans hiding on the nearby Ravni hill. Katarina still hasn’t finished cooking lunch so Ivanka leaves alone. She’s carrying a child on her back anyways, so Katarina will catch up with her. Granpa Jakov Smajla heads out of the house to play bocce in the village. Suddenly a gunshot echoes leaving Jakov dead on his house front steps. His daughter Marija grabs her four young children and hides under the staircase. Ivanka, as she climbs towards Ravni, turns around facing Lipa and watches soldiers marching from Rupa entering the village. In the next few hours, 269 civilians from Lipa were tortured and killed, amongst them 96 children from the age of 7 months to 18 years. That day and the following days, Nazis and Fascists burned the bodies, stole the villagers belongings, destroyed their properties and burned all the houses (87 of them) and outhouses (85 of them). Lipa no longer existed. Ivanka never saw her friend Katarina again. Together with Marija (daughter of granpa Jakov) she’s one of the few survivors who managed to protect their children from the horrors of that day.
How to cope with such a legacy? Does it concern just people from Lipa or can we agree that it’s a universal legacy because it raises questions relevant to everyone? How did Lipa manage to do a „salto mortale“ and resist death? Was it by living as the only way possible? … these are just some of the questions in the focus of interest of the recently opened Memorial Centre Lipa Remembers.
Lipa is now restored and has 125 inhabitants.