Vladimir Balaić

* 1928

  • „When you were doing your duty on patrol ships on the border have you ever met any Italian ships, did you make contact with other ships?“ „There were all sorts of it. First the minor ones: ours who want to ran to Italy without documents or anything, second to try smuggling, third, the intrusion of war and civil ships, it's a big difference between one and other, a there were plenty of that. One case, with 137 and Italian destroyer. Between Rovinj and up to Umag is open sea where I was usually performing my duty and in Gulf of Trieste. One Italian ship I can always see, right in the area closed for fishing boats. I went towards him on foot acting nonsuspiciously, and continued away. One morning I set sail from Gulf of Trieste and made a good turn inside near 10 or 15 miles from the coast when in front of me in that area I saw that one on the left, and on the other side I saw the destroyer. And that destroyer was here second and next time, and this fishing boat serves only to provoke. And now what should w do? Something needed to be done. Go after him and he will escape in the open sea or this will...So I started to drive slowly and when I arrived close to him, maximum speed between them. When he saw thath he can't go there, he was closing like this, I always go this fast and and make aboard on it, and five sailors, four sailors and an officer with machineguns were on that boat. The crew was taken down below, that ship was neutralized.“

  • „It was spoken about and the influence from interior ambience was arriving. Even the random passages with those people...“ „So in 22nd May 1943 you've ran away.“ „Yes. One day we ran away...we were at school that day and right after class we went to Bilogora where we came on..how to call that group...a group of people which were organized in that partisan war, who...normally approached each other, they accepted us like that. And when 16th brigade came down fro western part...and came at Bilogora then they sent us to...“ „Where to report?“ „Where to report.“ „Did you receive any combat training?Did you know how to shoot?“ „Training?Through combat.“ „Through combat.“ „My first weapon was a rifle, and what was, I was assistant gunner, carrying his equipment.“ „How much did you weigh?“ „I was normally developed child.“ „Was it hard to carry?“ „It's not hard at all. That equipment..it's not so heavy.“ „Not even half year has passed and I got my machine gun instead that equipment. So we went to...from Bilogora to Zagorje and then from Lepoglava I was a gunner.“

  • „This unit in which I was, this 16th brigade, second battalion, we folowed them. But in the night when they had arrived, there's a creek which goes across here, and this road across and this unit in which I was, it came and throw them back over, but now they spent the night there. It was a silent night and I, as a comissar of the unit feeling responsible, when the morning arrived I went to inspect men at positions. And what a hell nobody shot me, it was pointed right at us. A bomb struck right next to me and exploded.It flayed my chest and my arm. On my chest there was a wound about this wide all the way down to my ribs, blood was coimng out of my mouth. About half a kilometer away was a working mobile ambulance. So I arrived there, all by myseld without escort. „What happened?“ – he looked at me like that. On the table so he can help me...So when he started to...I shouted at him: „At least grab a sharp knife and cut it off, not like this!“ So they cut it off and for hour or two I was there to bandage it and so on. One truck came to pick up the wounded. On the track Zagreb – Beograd there before Suhopolje...On that track down the road where to cross, two regular wagons...one and the other door were wide open do they put me there inside all alone...I mean it was inhumane. There was no locomotive nor anything. So the whole day we spent in the wagon. Only the next morning the locomotive took us away...“

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    Pula, 10.08.2015

    media recorded in project Testimonies of Istrian survivors
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..I was a gunner...

Vladimir Balaić
Vladimir Balaić
photo: Pamět národa - Archiv

Vladimir Balaić was born in 1928 in Breznički Hum, by father Mijo a mechanical engineer and mother Anka, a teacher in elementary school. During his childhood he rarely saw his father who was often absent because of his work, so he mostly spent his time with his mom. Mitigating circumstance was that apartment where they lived in, was located in school where his mother worked. During childhood Vladimir often moved, first in Ogulin then in Slatina and finally in Virovitica where the next chapter of his life began on May 22nd 1943 when he joined partisan 16th brigade at the age of 16. He had heard about the partisans from stories that were told to him by his neighbours and random passengers but what attracted him to partisans was  interpersonal relationship that existed in their units. He never received military training and built his experience through fighting. He started as assistant gunner and after three months he got his own machine gun. He quickly rose through the ranks and at the age of 17 was promoted to political comissar of a troop. During his war time he was involved in fighting  against the Germans and Croatian ustasha soldiers and for the latter he said that they were always in fighting mood. He was severely wounded at Pitomača in 1945 when his unit met with German forces in retreat. A bomb, which fell several meters next to him, inflicted him heavy injuries on ribs and left arm and the war was over for him. After the war he continued his education in partisan high school and joined Yugoslav navy. During his service he encountered with smugglers, Italian invasion of Yugoslav territorial waters and civilians trying to pass the border illegally. He worked on island of Brijuni as a commander of communication at Brijuni where he met president of Yugoslavia, Josip Broz Tito.