Nada Dimić (September 6, 1923 – March 17, 1942) was a communist partisan and martyr. She died young at age eighteen by firing squad at the Stara Gradiška concentration camp in March of 1942. For her valor, she was awarded the title of People’s Hero of Yugoslavia in 1951. Few people in Croatia and ex-Yugoslavia today are interested in the fates of former anti-fascist fighters who are seen as tied to the old, communist order. I have tried to piece together her memory here through her story and some of the sparse images that are available online.
Nada Dimić was born in the small village of Divoselo which is today in Lika-Senj County, Croatia near the city of Gospić. In Gospić, she attended four years of elementary school and then moved to the town of Zemun in modern-day Serbia for her secondary schooling. In 1938, she joined the Communist Youth of Yugoslavia; and in 1940, the Communist Party. While in Serbia, she organized and participated in a demonstration in Belgrade and was imprisoned for fifteen days in Zemun for her activities. After being released from prison, she traveled to Sisak with her brother. In April 1941, Yugoslavia was invaded by Hungarian, German, and Italian forces who soon took control of the country and established a Nazi puppet-state in Croatia led by the Ustaša, the fascist “Croatian Revolutionary Movement” (Hrvatski revolucionarni pokret).
In June 1941, Dimić joined the first anti-fascist resistance movement in Croatia which was based in Sisak. It was formally called the Sisak People’s Liberation Partisan Detachment or the 1st Sisak Partisan Detachment. Most, if not almost all, of its 79 members were Croats aside from Dimić who was a Croatian-Serb. The unit was based in the forests of Brezovica near Sisak since the city was overrun by Ustaše forces. That month, she participated in raids and sabotage on the Zagreb–Sisak railroad. Then, in July, she was given the task of re-establishing links between communist party organizations in the surrounding cities which had been interrupted. She traveled to Sisak dressed in man’s clothes but was identified by Ustaše agents and sent to prison in the city. She was tortured, but admitting to nothing, and was then transferred to another prison in Zagreb where she attempted suicide by swallowing poison. It did not kill her and she was was taken to a hospital in Zagreb, where she managed to escape with the help of communists in the city. She fled to Petrova Gora, a mountain range in central Croatia. Here, she worked alongside party members from the city of Karlovac under the leadership of Josip Kraš who was a member of the Croatian Communist Party’s Central Committee.
After recovering from her poisoning, Dimić was given the task of discreetly moving people from Karlovac to the partisan-controlled region of Kordun as an undercover agent. The Italians troops stationed in Karlovac soon discovered her and she was handed over to the Ustaše authorities on December 3rd, 1941. She was tortured while captured, but again refused to reveal any information. She was then moved to a prison in Zagreb, and then to the Stara Gradiška prison camp where she was killed on March 17th, 1942.
- Nada Dimić – dvostruka kolektivna amnezija
- An iconic textile factor in Yugoslavia near Zagreb was named after her, but since independence the factory has filed for bankruptcy. Some photos can be found here.