Ratimir Deletis - a Croatian Righteous© by dr. Vedran Deletis, Beth Israel Hospital, New York
On this web site with permission. I take the opportunity to express my deepest gratitude to dr. Vedran Deletis, son of Mr. Ratimir Deletis (Umag, Croatia), who kindly sent me the following two testimonies translated from German.
Darko Zubrinic, June 2000
| May 25, 1987|
24 Shalom Aleichem
63343 Tel – Aviv
Tel – Aviv April 3, 1987
Regarding: Rescue of almost one hundred Jews by Mr Ratimir Deletis from being sent to the extermination camp Jasenovac
My Name: Domany (Desider) David
During the war I lived in Varazdin, Tuzla and Split, all of which were in Yugoslavia (NOTE FROM TRANSLATOR: present day Croatia). Shortly before the German invasion in 1941, I sent my family (my wife and a four-year-old son) to my parents in Tuzla, where I later joined them. We chose Tuzla because I had good friends there and the general atmosphere in the city was particularly tolerant. We stayed in Tuzla until February 1942, more or less free, but we could not leave the city. From time to time we were forced to do some work.
I am a friend of Ratimir Deletis from primary school. He is now residing in E. Milosa 31, 51470 Umag, Yugoslavia (NOTE FROM TRANSLATOR: present day Croatia). Our friendship was not interrupted during all these years. While I went to Brno, CSR to study textile business, Rato finished law school in Zagreb and began working in the district court in Tuzla where he served as a judge and district attorney. My frequent visits to my parents in Tuzla gave us an opportunity to renew our friendship. During the occupation and the regime of the fascist Ustashe I had ample opportunity to see how Rato helped Serbs and Partizans.
He helped the Jews of Tuzla on two occasions. The first time, about 30-40 Jews and a couple of Serbs were held captive because the Partizans attacked the railroad trains in the area. As a district attorney and a good speaker Rato accomplished to release the captives.
The second intervention was much more difficult for him and very dangerous. At the end of 1941 somebody announced to Zagreb that there were still free Jews in Tuzla who were allowed to go about their business, while the other cities under German control were “Judenrein” (free of Jews). Following that, an order was released to round up all the Jews in a deportation camp. After a short council, Rato decided to go to Zagreb (together with another citizen who later perished in the war) and try to speak to the person responsible for the Jews in the camp in order to have the above mentioned orders revoked. This person was the infamous Kvaternik (Himmler of Croatia) before whom even the powerful were afraid. With certain connections Rato had in Zagreb, he accomplished to be received by Kvaternik. The moment Kvaternik realized their objective, he wanted to have them executed right away. It is only because of Rato’s persuasion that they got out unharmed. After a long negotiation Kvaternik agreed to put together a list of 16 families who would be released from anti-Jewish laws. Also, the local authorities used a generous interpretation of who belonged to those families. Therefore almost 100 people were freed.
One of Kvaternik’s preconditions was that these 16 families convert to Catholicism or Islam so that no more Jews would exist. This was done in a pro-formal manner. After they received the list, the local authorities issued identification cards with which one could travel. Most of the released people took that opportunity to get to the Italian occupied zone. The worst thing happening there was an internment in an Italian camp.
I managed to get to Split with my wife and son which was under Italian occupation and we stayed there from May 1942 until the capitulation of Italy. After that we fled to Bari, and from there on June 1, 1944 to Palestine.
Ratimir Deletis in now retired and lives with limited means for survival. I have to emphasize that he never asked for any material reward for his big help and sacrifice. What he did, he did for friendship and humanity. His now deceased wife, Katja was standing by his side, so thanks are also to her.
Many of the saved came to Israel, some of them returned to Yugoslavia, some emigrated to other countries. Others, however, for various reasons, did not cease the opportunity to leave and were deported later.
On the next page are names and addresses of people who I know who were in the group which was saved.
Thank you for your interest in this case.
D. Domany (signed)
P.S. This letter is concerning your message on February 2, 1987.
Tel – Aviv, June 17, 1987
Concerning our rescue from the extermination camp by Ratimir Deletis
In answering your letter from May 25, 1987, I declare the following:
My Name: Lina Wiesler. Maden name Zavidovits
During the war, I lived in Zagreb, Tuzla and Kraljevica. All of which were in Yugoslavia (now in Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina).
At the end of March, 1941, shortly before the German invasion, we (that is my husband and my two children Ruben and Dina who were 9 and 5 years old) moved from Zagreb to Tuzla, where we felt safer.
In Tuzla, anti-Jewish measures were not strictly enforced. We lived there for almost a year in relative safety.
Towards the end of 1941 the situation changed and deportation order came directly from Zagreb and all the Jewish men were rounded up in a deportation camp.
During this time, friends of Ratimir Deletis, who today resides in Umag, Yugoslavia (NOTE FROM TRANSLATOR: present day Croatia) and who worked as a district attorney for the Tuzla county, asked him for help. Mr Deletis decided that the only possibility to accomplish something would be to go to the headquarters of the Ustashe government. On the same day, together with another colleague who is not alive any more, he traveled to Zagreb and there he managed to see the infamous Kvaternik and plead for the release of the Jews of Tuzla. After the initial threats to execute the delegation, Mr. Deletis talked Kvaternik into releasing sixteen families from the anti-Jewish measures.
Our family was on this list, so that after a short period of time, we were able to travel to the Italian occupied zone. From there we were able to get to Palestine in 1945.
To my best knowledge. Mr Deletis never received any material reward for his deeds and has never asked for any.
I hope this statement is of an assistance to you.
Lina Wiesler (signed)