In October of 1941, Jewish people in Sarajevo, Croatia were being captured by a pro-Nazi group, the Ustashe. One Jewish man, Isidor Baruh, was walking by Olga Kukovic’s home when someone told him to hide. Isidor knew Olga’s sister, so he asked Olga, a Serb who lived in the city, to help him. Olga’s daughter, Liliana, was able to find Isidor’s sister, Hanna, and bring her to their home, but Hanna’s husband had already been abducted.
Hanna and Isidor were in danger, so Olga decided to take them to Mostar, a zone in Yugoslavia that was run by Italy. The commander of the area would not enforce anti-Jewish policies, making it relatively safe for the Jewish people. The trip would be risky, so Olga decided to disguise her Jewish friends as Muslims because she had heard that the Ustashe or the Germans were not targeting Muslims. Olga bought Hanna a Muslim dress, and she was able to make it into Mostar by train in disguise.
Isidor had red hair and other facial features that the Nazis viewed as typically Jewish, so it was more difficult to get him into Mostar. Olga used her imagination, and decided to have Isidor’s hair colored black. She then dressed him in Muslim clothing and bribed a policeman to obtain a fake identity card for Isidor. Olga made contact with one of Isidor’s Muslim friends who helped Isidor safely board a train to Mostar.
Isidor, Hanna, and Hanna’s husband all survived the war and returned to Sarajevo thanks to Olga’s help. They later moved to Israel where Olga visited them in 1964.
Edited by Stephanie Surach