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Stjepan Filipovic
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Martyr
    (January 27, 1916-May 22, 1942)
    Born in Opuzen, Croatia
    Commanded the Tamnaskvo-Kolubarski unit during the Yugoslavian Partisan uprising of 1991
    Captured by Serbian collaborationist Chetniks (December 24, 1941) and handed over to the Gestapo
    Executed by hanging in Valjevo, Serbia
    When the noose was placed around his neck, raised his arms and shouted, 'Death to fascism! Freedom to the people!'
    He was a Communist.
    When a German soldier hit him with a rifle butt to shut him up, he tried to kick back, lost his balance, and fell off the bench he was standing on, hanging himself.
    After his exhortation, the Germans occupying Yugoslavia stopped letting condemned prisoners deliver last words.
    A statue of him in his hometown was demolished (1991), as were most other anti-fascist monuments in Croatia. (Presumably reflecting that Croatia had been a puppet state of the Nazis during World War II.)
    He refused to cooperate during interrogation, with the Gestapo labelling his file 'Impossible case.'
    The Germans attempted to suppress the photo of his defiance and seize all copies. However, a German officer showed Branko Kesler (a local doctor who the Nazis trusted because he was of German ethnicity, but was secretly aiding the Partisans) the photos, and Kesler hid one under a rug.
    He was declared a National Hero of Yugoslavia (December 14, 1949).
    The photo of him became a symbol of resistance to fascism and has been exhibited at UN headquarters in New York City.
    A 52-foot tall monument to him was erected in Valjevo (1960).

Credit: C. Fishel


 
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