Massacre at Ivanovo Selo – The Most Tragic Day for the Czech Community in Croatia during the Homeland War

On 21 September 21, rebel Serbs committed a horrible crime against the civilian population in Ivanovo Selo near Grubišno Polje.

In addition to Croats, the area possessed a diverse population of national minorities such as Czechs, Hungarians, Germans, Italians, Jews and Serbs. During the summer of 1991, this diversity caused numerous tensions in the Bilogora region which by September escalated into fierce clashes between Croatian forces and rebel Bilogora Serbs.

On that fateful 21 September, Serbs from the surrounding villages of Treglava, Rastovac and Donja Rašenica invaded Ivanovo Selo, whose population predominantly consisted of ethnic Czechs. Numerically stronger, the Serbs attacked several local volunteers defending the village. In the early morning, they blew up the bridge over Peratovica Creek going towards the town of Grubišno Polje from where assistance could arrive quickly to Ivanovo Selo. This was followed by a mortar attack and then infantry attack on the village from three directions. Fortunately, the Czechs had sent their children to the town of Janske Koupele in the Czech Republic the previous day and thus spared them from any violence.

Some attempts at defense were successful, but much of Ivanovo Selo came under attack by the enemy. After invading the northern and eastern parts of the village, enemy forces burned houses, stole valuables and dragged civilian peasants into the street and used them as human shields. As the defenders did not surrender, the rebel Serbs fired a rocket from an armoured combat vehicle at the hostages gathered near the village square. Five civilians were killed instantly and several people were wounded, of which one died the next day. One Serbian soldier was also killed in the explosion.

Croatian forces led by Milan Filipović broke through to Ivanovo Selo from Šuplja Lipa as assistance also arrived from Daruvar. After hand to hand combat in Ivanovo Selo, the Serbs were forced to withdraw. Guardsmen and village volunteers witnessed horrific scenes after the fight. The wounded were tended to very quickly and transferred to the Town of Daruvar.

The attack on Ivanovo Selo resulted in nine dead (seven civilians and two guardsmen) and 9 wounded (six civilians and three guardsmen). There was also much material and property damage to the village as the homes of 10 households were burned along with agricultural machinery and an automobile and most of the community facilities were destroyed. The dead were buried two days later in a common grave in the center of the village where still today as Croatian Czechs they rest under the Croatian flag.

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