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Diana Budisavljević (born Obexer; 15 January 1891 – 20 August 1978) was a humanitarian of Austrian descent who led a major relief effort in Yugoslavia during World War II.

Diana Budisavljević
Diana Budisavljevic 1.jpg
Born15 January 1891
Died20 August 1978(1978-08-20) (aged 87)
Known forHumanitarianism
Spouse(s)Julije Budisavljević (2 March 1882 - 5 May 1981)[1]


Early lifeEdit

Born in Innsbruck, Diana Obexer married Dr Julije Budisavljević, an ethnic Serb[2] who at that time worked as an intern physician at the surgical clinic in Innsbruck. In 1919, Dr Budisavljević was appointed professor of surgery at the School of Medicine, University of Zagreb, so the couple moved to Zagreb, at the time in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.[citation needed]

World War IIEdit

During World War II, Yugoslavia was invaded by the Axis forces in April 1941 and the Nazi-allied Independent State of Croatia began a genocidal campaign against Serbs, Jews and Roma, setting up numerous concentration camps in Croatia. After she learned about children held at the camp Lobor-Grad, in October 1941, together with a number of collaborators, in particular Marko Vidaković and Đuro Vukosavljević, she launched a relief campaign named "Action Diana Budisavljević". The Action took care of mostly Serbian children but also women held in various concentration camps including the Jasenovac death camps.[3][4]

With help from the local Jewish community, which was forced to support the camp inmates, her team sent supplies of food, medicines, clothes and also money, first to Lobor-Grad and later to another camp at Gornja Rijeka, both situated north of Zagreb. Her team also helped the members of the Croatian Red Cross at the main railway station in Zagreb, providing travel supplies for workers in trains that stopped there on their way to forced labor in Germany - some of those men, women and children returned to Zagreb after they were stopped in Maribor and Linz and were not allowed to travel further due to their illness - they were taken care by the Red Cross and the Action. During that work, in March 1942, Budisavljević met the head nurse, Dragica Habazin, who became a close collaborator in the following months and years in helping the inmates from various camps that were relocated to Zagreb and other places.[5]

At the beginning of July 1942, with assistance from German officer Gustav von Koczian,[6] She obtained written permission to take the children from the Stara Gradiška concentration camp.[5] With the help of the Ministry of Social Affairs, especially prof. Kamilo Bresler, she was able to relocate child inmates from the camp to Zagreb, Jastrebarsko and later also to Sisak.[7]

After the rescue efforts in Stara Gradiška, Budisavljević, wearing the uniform of a Red Cross nurse, took part in the transport of children from Mlaka, Jablanac and Jasenovac. More than 6,000 children had been moved away from those camps by the "Action" in July and August 1942. After obtaining permission in August 1942 to move the children from the institutions in Zagreb into the care of families, she worked together with the Zagreb Archdiocese branch of the Caritas and in that way made it possible for several thousands of children to be placed with families in Zagreb and rural communities.[8]

Out of 15,536 children that Budisavljević saved, 3,254 children died during the rescue or immediately after leaving the camp, exhausted by torture, hunger and disease, while more than 12,000 rescued children survived the war.[9] Eleven members of her team were killed during World War II. On the basis of transport lists and other sources, a card-file of children was made, which by the end of the war contained information of approximately 12,000 children. Upon a request from the Ministry of Social Politics in May 1945, she handed over the card-files that she had managed for four years together with Ivanka Džakula.[10]

Later lifeEdit

Budisavljević was almost forgotten after the war, publicly unmentioned in Yugoslavia for decades, because the post-war authorities did not look favorably upon her.[2] She lived in Zagreb with her husband, for a total of 53 years before 1972, when they moved back to Innsbruck. She died on 20 August 1978, aged 87.[citation needed]


Budisavljević granddaughter, Silvija Szabo, wrote that, as a 1980s Vjesnik story had described her as a mere Communist Party activist inside the Red Cross, which she knew had not been the truth, she decided to read Budisavljević's diary in 1983 to learn the full extent of her grandmother's deeds.[11] In 2003, the Croatian State Archives' director Josip Kolanović edited and published Budisavljević's war-time diary, translated from German to Croatian by Silvija Szabo.[12][13]

A Zagreb film production studio Hulahop produced a documentary about Diana Budisavljević, titled Dianina lista, and produced by Dana Budisavljević and Miljenka Čogelja. The documentary won the prize from the EAVE European Producers Workshop at the When East Meets West Forum in January 2012 in Trieste.[14]

On 15 February 2012, at the Serbian Statehood Day, the President of the Republic Boris Tadić posthumously decorated Diana Budisavljević with the Golden Medal of Miloš Obilić for courage and personal heroism.[2][15]

On 18 October 2013, Patriarch Irinej of Serbia awarded posthumously Diana Budisavljević with the high distinction of the Serbian Orthodox Church - the order of Empress Milica.[16]

Streets in Belgrade, Kozarska Dubica, and Gradiška have been named for Diana Budisavljević.[17] Her birthplace on Maria Theresia Street in Innsbruck is known as Obexer House.[citation needed]

Since May 2012 a park in the Eastern part of Zagreb has been named "Park Diane Budisavljević".[18] In October 2017, a park area with a memorial plate for children injured in Sisak concentration camp has named "Park Diane Budisavljević".[19] In September 2018, the local district representation of Donaustadt (Vienna), decided to name a local alley "Diana-Budisavljevic Gasse".[20]

The managing board of the European co-production fund Eurimages has, at its 147th meeting, held from 19-23 June 2017 in Bratislava, Slovakia, granted 160 000 EUR in support for the Croatian-Slovenian-Serbian co-production The DB Campaign (working title - Diana's List) by Dana Budisavljević.[21]

The world premiere of the film "The Diary of Diana B." [22] will be shown at the Pula Film Festival on 18th July 2019.[23]


  1. ^ Otimala decu ispod kame. In:, 13. Mai 2011; siehe auch Slobodan P. Đorđević, Dr. Julije Budisavljević (2 March 1882–5 May 1981). In: Srpski arhiv za celokupno lekarstvo. Bd. 111, 1983, S. 861–864.
  2. ^ a b c "Hrabrost Diane Budisavljević jača od zaborava". Večernje novosti (in Serbian). Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  3. ^ Koljanin, Milan (2007). Akcija Diana Budisavljević (Tokovi istorije) (in Serbian). pp. 191–207.
  4. ^ Dragoje Lukić, Rat i djeca Kozare (Beograd: Književne novine, 1990), p. 27
  5. ^ a b Kolanović 2003, p. 284.
  6. ^ "Repository". Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  7. ^ Ajduković 2006.
  8. ^ Kolanović 2003, p. 285.
  9. ^ Lomović 2013, p. 28.
  10. ^ Kolanović 2003, pp. 284-85.
  11. ^ Ajduković 2006, p. 8.
  12. ^ Ajduković 2006, p. 4.
  13. ^ Kolanović 2003.
  14. ^ "'Dianina lista' hrvatskih autorica osvojila Trst". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 26 January 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  15. ^ "Tadić odlikovao Đokovića" (in Serbian). Radio Television of Serbia. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  16. ^ "Diana Budisavljević posthumously awarded with high church dinstinction" (in Serbian). Serbian Orthodox Church. Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  17. ^ Sl. Pešević. "Banjaluka: Diana Budisavljević da dobije spomenik i ulicu". Večernje novosti (in Serbian). Retrieved 22 March 2015.
  18. ^ "Park Diane Budisavljević" (in Croatian). Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  19. ^
  20. ^ "Diana-Budisavljevic Gasse" (in German). Retrieved 16 October 2018.
  21. ^ "Croatian co-production The DB Campaign by Dana Budisavljević is granted support from Eurimages". Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  22. ^ "Hulahop - The Diary of Diana B." Retrieved 17 June 2019.
  23. ^ "The Diary of Diana B - Pula Film Festival". Retrieved 17 June 2019.


Further readingEdit