Gordan Lederer, one of Croatian National Television’s most prominent cameramen was killed on Čukur Hill overlooking Hrvatska Kostajnica on this day in 1991.
He died from enemy sniper fire while filming Croatian soldiers on a reconnaissance mission during an enemy attacks along the Una River.
A graduate of Film and Television Videography studies at the Academy of Drato matic Arts in Zagreb, Lederer also studied photography and archeology. He first became a war cameraman in Iraq at the beginning of 1991 and upon his return to his war-torn homeland, Lederer was assigned to cover crisis areas from Knin to Vukovar. Among other things, he filmed the first open armed conflict between Croatian forces and insurgent Serbs in Pakrac in early March.
After returning from an assignment in war-torn Slovenia, Lederer went to the Banovina region where he was embedded with Croatian soldiers in order to spread throughout the world the truth about Serbian aggression against Croatia . As early as 8 August, he and members of the “Tigers” Battalion led by Tomo Medved were surrounded at Šuplji Kamen near Hrvatska Kostajnica but units led by Damir Tomljanović Gavran broke up the enemy formations with artillery support.
Two days later, Lederer set out on a reconnaissance mission towards Čukur Hill with Damir Tomljanović and a group of soldiers from the 4th “Tigers” Battalion. Moving through the forest, they reached the road towards Čukur where they noticed a barricade. Lederer and two soldiers approached the barricade but were spotted from nearby enemy positions. Heavy infantry fire followed and as they retreated briefly towards the forest, Gordan Lederer was shot by sniper fire as he filmed. While receiving first aid, Lederer suffered even more serious injuries from mortar shellfire from Serb positions.
Even though he was a professional journalist active on both sides of the frontlines, the wounded Lederer was denied helicopter transport to a hospital in Zagreb by General Andrija Rašeta, Chief of Staff of the 5th Army District of the Yugoslav People’s Army. The time lost driving though roadblocks were crucial for the young cameraman who died en route. He was 34 years old.
Lederer’s final footage was posthumously edited into the film Banija’s Dawn of War which for many has remained one of the most impressive testaments to the Homeland War. The memorial Broken Landscape was placed at the site where Gordan Lederer was struck down.
Graduated with a Master’s Degree in History from the University of Zagreb. He has worked at the Croatian History Museum and as a researcher for the popular TV Calendar program for Croatian Radio and Television. He has authored several books and documentaries about Croatia’s Homeland War and is the creator/producer of the immensely popular “It Happened on this Day – Homeland War” Facebook page as well as the online portal Domovinskirat.hr. Borna also is the host and editor of the daily segment “Patriotic Minutes” on Croatian Catholic Radio. He created CroHis to promote the values of the Homeland War and ensure that the sacrifices of those who defended Croatia’s independence would not be forgotten.