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Demonstrations in front of the parliament, Ljubljana, March 23 1993. Photo: Tone Stojko. © Muzej za novejšo zgodovino Slovenije [National Museum of Contemporary History], collection Tone Stojko, inv. n. TS19932303_22.

In November, researcher dr. Jelena Seferović, continued to explore the medical records of female patients of the former psychiatric hospital in Pakrac. This time, she focused on the analysis of their personal documentation, dating back to the years after the end of WWII, from which, unexpectedly, she was able to gather data on the diverse options for choosing women’s jobs during the war. It is interesting to note that it was not uncommon for these female patients to perform jobs that were not gender stereotyped, and that they continued to pursue “male” jobs during the peacetime. It is significant to point out that previous research has shown that for some of them, a key turning point in life was related to the loss of a spouse and divorce. The negative consequences of the repressive NDH political regime on the family dynamics of mixed marriages are partly visible in this case. Specifically, the patient was of Serb ethnicity and her husband was Croat. For example, in the case presented below, the beginnings of depression and alcoholism in this women were allegedly related to a divorce from a husband who subsequently joined the Ustasha and did not want to protect her mother and sister from the execution in the Ustasha concentration camp in Jasenovac. In addition, this isolated representative case is an indicator of the issue of travel documents and crossing borders in the early 1950s in Yugoslavia.

On the photo are ruins of the Royal General Hospital, located in Pakrac and built in 1898.  Odiel za bolesti duševne (or Department of mental illness), psychiatric hospital, was built in 1910, where Royal General Hospital used to reside.

The following content was extracted from the medical record of a 33-year-old patient hospitalized in a psychiatric hospital in Pakrac during the early spring and early summer of 1955 and was treated under-diagnosis alchocolismus. Her profession was officially stated to be a “quilt worker”, however, information from her medical record indicates that she was engaged in a number of other occupations, traditionally male jobs. Which was the reason why she was formally told that she was a quilt worker and that she was married and not divorced after a year of marriage remains an open question that will seek to clarify from a culturally anthropological perspective as part of the presentation which will be held in February 2020 at the Museum of Pakrac.

On the photo are ruins of the Royal General Hospital, located in Pakrac and built in 1898. Odiel za bolesti duševne (or Department of mental illness), psychiatric hospital, was built in 1910, where Royal General Hospital used to reside.


“As a child, she was healthy. She did not attend school because her father did not let her go. As a girl, she was constantly healthy. She married in 1942. She divorced her husband in 1943 because her mother and sister were killed in Jasenovac, and he could have saved them but he did not want to that. The husband was an Ustasha […] In 1943 she went to Germany to volunteer for work. She was in Germany until the end of the war, working at a tire factory. In 1945 she started working on a Russian military ship and worked there until 1947. While working on the ship, she lived unmarried with one Hungarian and has one male child with him. She intended with the Hungarian wedding, to come to Yugoslavia in 1947 and to look for documents. […] She could no longer work on the ship because she was not married to a Hungarian and had to leave that job. After that, she stopped working on the ship and she started to participate in the construction of the building in a new part of Belgrade for about a year. In 1949 she started with her craft at her home / as an upholsterer /. She learned that job in Germany. Until 1955 she worked at home her craft […] In the month of September 1953, she was arrested because she stole one bale of cloth in one shop and men’s coat at another store and wore it across the street at eleven hours before a set. She did it all in a drunken state. When she was arrested, she was in prison 3-4  days. When she became sober, she was released and defended herself from outside. While the investigation was ongoing, she decided to flee across the border with the intention of taking her child and returning through the Yugoslav consulate back to Yugoslavia. She agreed with five others to cross the Hungarian border of the Bezan, but one of the six betrayed them because he was spying on them. After being arrested for trying to flee across the border, she was sentenced to 18 months. She has been in the women’s prison in Slavonska Požega for 14 months now. She started drinking in 1943. She drinks wine, she can drink a liter to two, so she’s fine. She drank when she had money […] In the summer of 1955, as she escaped with two patients from work when they bought hay in a field. Since she has not returned to the department to date, she was fired from a psychiatric hospital in Pakrac.”

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