The Muslim (Ustasha) slaughters in Korićka pit - Herzegovina 1941 -

Period: Second World War

Region: Herzegovina

The Muslim (Ustasha) slaughters in Korićka pit - Herzegovina 1941

The slaughter of Korićka pit refers to the gruesome crime that Muslim Ustashe committed against Serbs from Southeast Herzegovina in June 1941. This horrific crime was conducted by the orders of Hodza (Muslim religious teacher) Muharem Glavnić and under command of Ustashe representative Herman Togonal.

Ustashe from Fazlagic Kula at the place of Gacko killed at least 134 Serbs in just several hours, although postwar research found out that 180 skulls were discovered in this pit. The youngest victim of this monstrous slaughter was a 14-year-old boy, Kosta Glušac, and the oldest- 80-year-old man, Jevto Svorcan. 

Only in 1953, the first investigation of the experts from Sarajevo was conducted, and the first memorial was built in 1963, that is 25 years after the crime.

Several books were published with respect to this crime. In his book “Bloody dance in Herzegovina”, Savo Skoko brought up some details of this crime happened in 1941, at the very beginning of the War in the territory of Yugoslavia. 



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The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians, the first South Slavic state, later renamed into the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, was created after the First World War, with its promulgation on December 1, 1918, in Belgrade. The territory of the Yugoslav Kingdom was divided into banates in 1929 and the structure of its government was a parliamentary monarchy.

Proclamation of the first South Slavic state

The royal title was held by the Serbian Karadjordjević dynasty. It consisted of Southern Serbia, Šumadija, Raška, Kosovo and Metohija, Eastern Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Vojvodina, Slavonija, a small part of Dalmatia, the Dubrovnik Republic, Lika, Kordun, Banija, Zagorje, Gorski Kotar, and Slovenia.

After the assassination of King Alexander I Karadjordjević in Marseilles on October 9, 1934, the country was ruled by regents: Prince Paul Karadjordjević, Dr. Radenko Stanković, and Dr. Ivo Perović, and the government was formed by Dragiša Cvetković and Vlatko Maček.

Belgrade's demonstration on March, 1941.

In the mid-1930s, Europe witnessed the rise of Nazism and Fascism, especially in Germany, Italy, and Spain. This led to the formation of the Tripartite Pact, on September 27, 1940, between Germany, Italy, and Japan. In the next months, this alliance was joined by the following countries: Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, etc. Thus, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia found itself surrounded by Axis Powers.

In Vienna, on March 25, 1941, the signing of the protocol between the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Nazi Germany took place regarding the passage of German and Italian troops through Yugoslav territory. Among the patriotic forces of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, this was interpreted as treason, and the British and Soviet intelligence officers organized a military coup and demonstrations on March 27, 1941 in Belgrade resulting in the overthrow of the governorship led by Prince Paul and putting on the throne a minor king Petar II Karadjordjević.

Hitler changed the plans and the armed forces' plans to attack Greece, were diverted to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.



Immediately after establishing their authority in the Independent State of Croatia, Utstashe started their bloody slaughter by killing prominent and rich Serbs, and Orthodox priests. In other words, everyone who could organize resistance to the Clerofascist State of Croatia was killed. 

Similarly, the place of Bileća in Southeast Herzegovina witnessed the widespread persecution and murders of Serbs. At the beginning of June 1941, residents of Bileća and surrounding places were being arrested. The initiative came from Muslim hodza from Gacka, Muharem Glavnić, while the operation was led by the government representative of the Independent State of Croatia, Herman Togonal, aka Kresho. 

Muma Hasanbegović, a tradesman from the place Avdovac, gave his truck to Ustashe where they put arrested Serbs who were held in the falconry club. After killing around twenty Serbs, the truck of death set off towards Gacka, and stopped near Kobilja Glava, the place between mountains Troglav and Bjelašnica located near Golubnik pit, 25-30 meters deep. 

There waited a group of criminals who immediately started to take Serbs in a group of three to the very edge of the pit where they killed them with guns, mauls, gunstocks, axes, knives, and threw them into the pit. This was repeated at least seven times since 8 pm on 4 June until the next morning. 

After killing one group of Serbs, the truck went back for others until the last group was brought. Finally, ustashe threw grenades and stones into the pit to secure that no one survived. 

This crime was recorded in an official document from 25 June 1941, made by the division in Bileća stating the numbers of victims, the plundering of the village, and people who were granted the looted property. 



Nevertheless, some Serbs managed to survive and gave testimonies after the War. One of them was Milija Bjelica. 

“When the truck stopped at the place Kobilja glava near the Golubnik pit which was surrounded by armed Ustashe, it was clear that this was the place of liquidation and that these killers were going to kill us. 

Unfortunately, since three of us (my brother Golub, my best man Gavrilo and I) had been first taken into the truck, we were the last to be slaughtered, doomed to witness the death of 27 martyrs (this was the number of people in that group) who were our neighbors, cousins, and friends. Infinitely waiting for our moment, it finally had come. Utstashe brought us out of the truck, hitting and pushing us towards the edge of the pit. Our attempts to escape beatings only caused the dark instincts of these monsters to explode. When we finally reached the edge, I found myself facing the abyss, while Golub was looking at one, and Gavrilo at another executioner, who were waiting for the signal to open fire. 

I heard and felt shooting that threw us on the ground. I felt pain in my right shoulder, but I knew that I hadn’t been mortally wounded. One bullet went through my necklace and another through the right shoulder. I heard Golub and Gavrilo dying and thought about what should I do.

I felt that killer was unfastening laces of my shoes. It came to my mind that perhaps he was going to untie my hands to take off the coat, too, and that this could give me a chance to escape somehow. But at that moment, someone shouted with his loud voice “What are you doing?” 

“These are Golub and Milija, we want to take off their coats”- answered the man who was untying my hands. “We don’t have time for that, let it go, throw away corpses”- said the commander severely. 

Killers yet didn’t want to leave their booty, and they untied our hands and took off our coats. Although my hands were untied, I couldn’t move the right one; it seemed to me that I was still tied. When they began to raise us from the ground, I desperately shouted: “Kill me, I am still alive.”

“You shall not live, you Montenegrian bastard!” cried the killer and stabbed me in the chest with his bayonet, luckily on the right side. When I was brought back to consciousness I realized that I was lying in the abyss, on the pile made of corpses.”



The majority of victims were members of the following families- Svorcan, Bjelica, Starović, Trklja, Šarović, Šakota, Glušac, Rogač, Jakšić, Dumnić, Kovačević, Kurdulija, Kosnić, Milošević, Milović, Nosović, Radan…

These are all Serbian families that used to live there for centuries. 



No one has been tried for this slaughter even though there were the witnesses who knew the identity of the perpetrators. The Communist regime didn’t permit spreading the truth about crimes against Serbs since this would disturb the brotherhood and unity of South Slav nations. 

Investigation of the pit was conducted two times by the team of experts from Sarajevo. They found 180 skulls, some of which were identified. The first investigation was conducted in 1953, and the second three years later. Body remains of the Herzegovina Serbs were buried near the village of Korito. 

In 1966, the memorial was erected on the 25th anniversary of this crime. On the 50th anniversary, in 1991, a sculptor, Nandora Glida from Belgrade, placed his sculpture. 

Memorial for serbian victims near town Bileca

1941 YEAR

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