World War II gave rise to what many consider to be “The Greatest Generation.”

These were the brave soldiers and service members who were born in time to participate, however willing they were or weren’t, in two of history’s bloodiest and most vile wars ever known.

The current stage of warfare was unlike anything the world had seen or was prepared to deal with.

Thanks to the brave efforts of the sacrificed, many of their countrymen and friends could live to see a brighter future. Some of these great souls were not soldiers or trained combatants.

The state of war was so vicious that ordinary people had to be conscripted to fight, not for pride, to defend their homes and lives from invaders. Lepa Svetozara Radić was one of those young souls.

She started fighting at just 15 in her homeland of Yugoslavia. She led a life of hard work, rebellion and stood to deliver final words of warning against her Nazi captors as they hunger her in public to end her resistance.

Her example shows what good common folk can do when faced with the presence of absolute evil.

Wikimedia Commons

10 /10 Yugoslavian Birth

Lepa was born as a Bosnian Serb in what we know today as Yugoslavia. Back then, it was known as the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes.

The history and existence of the Balkan States that exist in the Balkan Penninsula that links Europe with the northwestern corner of Turkey is long and complicated, and two World Wars made it even more complex over time.

Nevertheless, Lepa was part of a hard-working and faithful family that was part of the labor movement.

Wikimedia Commons

9 /10 Yugoslavian Communists

Lepa was a proud communist member as of the age of 15. Her family instilled in her values related to the party’s mission of hard work, owning one’s labor, and benefiting the masses through unified effort.

She showed an interest in her work and in reading advanced literature for a girl her age.

Her uncle Vladeta was her primary influence and her gateway into the labor movement. Her vicious faith in her party and people gave her the tenacity to join the Yugoslav Partisans as the war began.

Everett Collection /

8 /10 State Of Croatia

The Axis powers invaded Yugoslavia in April of 1941.

They established it as the Independent State of Croatia, where they held a foothold in south-eastern Europe that could help them spread throughout the rest of the Balkans.

It existed as a puppet state of Nazi Germany and included the surrounding areas where Lepa and her family lived.

7 /10 Woman At War

Women were not sent to the front line in World War II unless there was no choice. Anyone who served did so in services or as a nurse.

Lepa became a nurse and took advantage of her youth to connect with young people in the village of Lamovita to help bolster the numbers of her party and the support of locals as the invaders encroached on their land.

They had to have loyalty and bravery in the face of tyranny and never betray each other. Those lessons paid off for her in the end. But when the shots were fired, she entered combat just like anyone else.

Public Domain

6 /10 Meeting The Heroes

The Partisans she was part of were led by Commander Jospi Broz, also known as “Tito.”

On one of Lepas missions, she met the commander when she took a group of younger people to harvest grain near an enemy position and bring it back as field supplies.

When the troop inspection was due, she brought forward traditional gifts from the frontier to show their bravery in retrieving them.

5 /10 No Second Chances

Lepa was captured in November of 1941 by the Ustase, the Croatian fascist movement that was working with the Nazis as an undercover Partisan agent.

She and her sister, Dara, were held for their information and lasted long enough to escape without providing the enemy with any details on her allies.

She spent over a month in prison before she could get out and joined with the 7th Partisan Company of the 2nd Krajiski Detachment immediately.

Public Domain

4 /10 Case White

The Nazis went on the offensive directly against the Partisans in operation called “Case White.”

This began a long chain of battles that would see the Partisans nearly wiped out over the following years and forced their existing members into hiding.

Members like Lepa, who remained active and undercover two years later, took an active role once more during the Battle of Neretva by transporting wounded troops to a shelter in Grmec.

Wikimedia Commons

3 /10 Prinz Eugen

Lepa was finally captured in February of 1943 as a result of the Battle of Neretva. The 7th SS Volunteer Mountain Division, known as Prinz Eugen, routed the Partisan troops and made as many captures as possible.

Lepa was among the living they took in and transported her to Bosanka Krupa, far from her allies in Croatian territory.

They tortured her for information for several days but ultimately failed. As such, she was sentenced to death by public hanging for her failure to give in.

Wikimedia Commons

2 /10 Final Words

Lepa, then 17, was ushered up to a platform and had a noose put around her neck. As they did, she declared: “Long live the Communist Party, and partisans!

Fight, people, for your freedom! Do not surrender to the evildoers! I will be killed, but there are those who will avenge me!”

She was given one last opportunity on the spot for a pardon if she revealed the plans for further dissidents among her allies.

Her response was: “I am not a traitor of my people. Those whom you are asking about will reveal themselves when they have succeeded in wiping out all you evildoers, to the last man.”

Wikimedia Commons

1 /10 Unprecedented Defiance

Lepa was hung on the spot that day. The Nazi report on her execution called her a bandit girl and declared that she had “unprecedented defiance.”

She did not buckle or lose her conviction even as she was set up to die. Even when she knew she would be killed, she held fast to her beliefs.

She was given the Order of the People’s Hero award in 1951, one of the nation’s highest military honors. She was the youngest person to receive it in the war, eternally 17 and defiant beyond death.

Continue Reading

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *