The story begins in a small rural village in Slavonia, Ladimirevci, in 1943, where a land owne...
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Eighty years after World War II, survivors return to the sites of former Ustasha camps only to find that they owe their lives to the selflessness and determination of one woman. An untold story of Austrian born Diana Budisavljević who led one of the largest children’s rescue campaigns of World War II.
Diana Budisavljević leads the comfortable life of the Zagreb upper-middle class alongside her husband, an eminent doctor, her daughters and a baby granddaughter. In the fall of 1941 she learns that Jewish and Orthodox women and their children are being taken to Ustasha camps where they are left to die of starvation and disease. Since the Jewish Community is only allowed to send provisions to the Jewish prisoners, the equally vulnerable Orthodox women and children are left helpless. Taking advantage of her Austrian descent, Diana appeals to the authorities, the Catholic Church and the Red Cross to at least try and save the children, but no one wishes to take that responsibility. At her own apartment and with the help of a few friends, Diana begins collecting provisions and organizes a campaign that, by the end of World War II, will have saved more than 10,000 children from certain death. Among those children are Živko, Milorad, Zorka and Nada. Almost 80 years later, they visit the camps they were interred in as children and learn that they owe their lives to the unwavering strength of a selfless woman. Aware that the war will eventually come to an end, Diana kept meticulous records of all the children and the fate that befell them. Once the war was over, however, Diana’s Germanic descent and bourgeois background became undesirable leading to the records being confiscated by the Communist authorities in 1945. The chance discovery of Diana’s diary by her granddaughter has shone a light on the heroic role of a woman who firmly believed the lives of the persecuted innocents to be as precious as her own.
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