November 1, 1943 – April 25, 2020
It is with great sadness that we must report the death of our friend and colleague Jovan Mirković. Jovan Mirković was one of the most important historians and authorities on the history of the Holocaust in Yugoslavia, particularly focusing on and dedicating his life to research on the Independent State of Croatia’s genocide during the Second World War against the Serbian, Jewish and Roma people and clergy. His work will have a lasting impact on the future of the scholarship on this subject. He had a long collaboration with Jasenovac Research Institute that began when he and Barry Lituchy met in Banja Luka in the year 2000. Jovan was the JRI’s keynote speaker at the JRI’s 14th Annual Conference and Dinner in New York on April 26, 2015.
Jovan Mirković was born in 1943 in Subocki Grad (Brezovac Subocki) in Slavonia. He received a BA in History from the Faculty of Philosophy in Sarajevo, where he continued his postgraduate studies. He was the director of the Jasenovac Memorial Area on two occasions. He served as Director for the first time from 1978 to 1980. At that time, he tried to make the Jasenovac Memorial Area a central research institution for crimes of genocide. But this was blocked by the authorities of that time.
His second term as Director (1990-1991) started with clashes with the Croatian government over the financing of programmatic tasks, and ended with his arrest by members of the National Guard Corps. The so-called “Zenge” (Croat militia that wore yellow boots, hence the name) intended to kill him. But he was saved by an artillery strike against the police station where he was detained. He fled and reached Sarajevo, where the war made him a refugee once again. From 1999 to 2013 he worked as a curator-researcher at the Museum of Genocide Victims in Belgrade. The first major result of his extensive work was his book-length study Published Sources and Literature on the Jasenovac Camps (2000), which also appeared as an electronic edition in 2005. This amazing bibliography contains an analysis of over 2500 titles of special editions and articles published on the Jasenovac camps.
In his last interview, Jovan Mirković said:
“With the book Published Sources and Literature on Jasenovac Camps, I tried to prove, and I think I did, that the Jasenovac theme was not what many, I will not say historians but historical publicists, call a ‘Taboo Topic’. The sheer number of titles published (some 2,500 titles up to 2000) was not a taboo topic of historiography but, as I stated in the book, it was more of a ‘taboo of consciousness,’ especially for people in the historian’s profession. To deal with this matter expertly and scientifically, I started working on collecting material for a new edition of my bibliography on Jasenovac. I collected almost as many new titles for the period from 2000 up to 2020. However, my illness prevented me from continuing work on it.”
On January 30, 2020, the Holy Synod of Bishops of the Serbian Orthodox Church awarded Jovan Mirković with the high decoration, the Order of Saint Despot Stefan Lazarevic for his work on documenting the suffering of the Serbian people.
His three most important books are Objavljeni Izvori i Literatura o Jasenovachkim Logorima (Published Sources and Literature on the Jasenovac Camps) 2000, Stradanje Srpske Pravoslavne Srkve u Nezavisnoj Drzava Hrvatskoi (Suffering of the Serbian Orthodox Church in the Independent State of Croatia), 2016, and Zlochini nad Srbima u Nezavisnoj Drzava Hrvatskoi (Crimes Against Serbs in the Independent State of Croatia (2014). These three books remain essential reading for anyone interested in the subject. We also thank those who saved Jovan’s life in the 1990s, for by saving Jovan they saved his great legacy as well.
Written by Nada Ljubić and Barry Lituchy
Jasenovac Research Institute
29 April 2020