The Death of Dr. Juraj Njavro – Director of the Vukovar Hospital during the Homeland War

Dr. Juraj Njavro, hero of the Homeland War died on 15 September 2008 in Zagreb, Croatia.

doktor Juraj Njavro

Born near Neum in 1938, Njavro attended the Jesuit Classical Gymnasium in Dubrovnik and completed his studies in Mostar. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine in Zagreb and started working at the Vukovar Medical Center in 1969. Since 1974, he had been working with Dr. Vesna Bosanac at the Vukovar Hospital. He was the Head of Thoracic and Vascular Surgery when the Homeland War broke out and he was responsible for leading the war ambulance services in the region during the siege of Vukovar. In addition to performing surgeries, Njavro provided ongoing care for the wounded especially in the last months of the Battle of Vukovar.

After the fall of Vukovar, Njavro was arrested and taken to a prisoner of war camp in Sremska Mitrovica, Serbia where he was detained along with Croatian soldiers and civilians. Although he was addressed respectfully, he was beaten by camp guards and an indictment was prepared against him for his participation in the attempted overthrow of the Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia.

Ultimately, Njavro departed the camp during a prisoner exchange and came to Zagreb where he was elected as a member of parliament for the Croatian Democratic Union (CDU) in 1992. He served as the Minister of Health in the government of Prime Minister Hrvoje Šarinić from 1992-93 and Minister of Humanitarian Affairs in the government of Prime Minister Nikica Valentić from 1993-95. Njavro was re-elected to parliament in 1995 and was the Minister of Croatian Homeland War Veterans during the government of Prime Minister Zlatka Mateša from December 1997 to January 2000. He was re-elected as a Member of Parliament yet again that same year and although he retired in 2003, Njavro continued to advocate on behalf for Croatian military invalids of the Homeland War. His experiences during detention in Serbia were recorded in his memoir entitled “Head Down, Hands on your Back”.

He was buried in Mirogoj Cemetery with the highest military and state honours and a street in the Blato neighborhood of Zagreb was named after him in 2012. His colleague Dr. Vesna Bosanac remembered him with the following words: He was the embodiment of all that was good before, during and after the Homeland War.

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