Ivan Vranetić

This post is edited from last year’s A to Z post on Zagreb. It’s not a crime to plagiarize yourself!


“I have always wanted peace all my life. That is why I did what I did.”

Ivan (Ivica [Ee-VEETS-ah]) Vranetić, 1926-3 February 2010

When planning out my 2015 theme last year, I couldn’t find an I entry for some reason. There are obviously a number of Righteous Among the Nations and other heroes of the Shoah whose forenames and surnames started with I, but I just couldn’t find one whose story spoke to me. Now I realise it was hashgacha pratit (Divine Providence) at work, so I could spotlight the heroic Ivan Vranetić again, and the beautiful story of a love that knew no bounds.

Ivan Vranetić, a Catholic, was born in Vrbas, Bosnia, and grew up in the spa town of Topusko, Croatia. He was raised with a love of humanity and instinct to do the right thing. At age 17, in 1943, he began helping Jewish refugees released by partisans from a camp on Rab Island. Topusko was very pro-Ustashi, but Ivica was one of the righteous Croatians who would have no part of these foul, fascist fiends’ repulsive, racist ideology.

When Ivica tried to help a Jewish doctor struggling with a heavy load, a soldier beat him so badly he lost the hearing in his left ear. But that didn’t stop him, and he continued finding hiding places, leading people to safety, and providing food, clothes, medicine, and other necessities. Sometimes he had to carry children and the elderly on his back as they trekked to safety. He also served in the partisans.


Arna Montilio, Copyright http://www.yadvashem.org/, Use consistent with fair use doctrine

One of the people Ivica saved was Arna Montilio, a young widow whose husband was murdered in Jasenovac. He also saved Arna’s mother and infant daughter. After the liberation, he kept in contact with many of the people he’d saved, including Arna. They were in love, but their mothers disapproved. Arna remarried and moved to Israel with her mother and daughter, having two more children.

In 1963, Arna’s second marriage ended in divorce. By this time, her mother had passed away. Arna wrote to Ivica, who came to Israel to see her. After so many years, their love was rekindled, and they were finally married. Theirs was a love which knew no bounds, a love which was worth waiting for.

In 1970, Yad Vashem honoured Ivica as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. In 1986, he was elected chairman of the organisation, a position he held for over 20 years.

In 2009, Ivica and six Shoah survivors were honoured at a Yad Vashem memorial ceremony, at which the former Pope Benedict XVI was also a guest. Ivica reported he felt as excited as a little boy to be meeting the Pope.

Ivica is buried in Tel Aviv.


11 comments on “Ivan Vranetić

  1. Miriam E. Thompson says:

    Remarkable story of courage, bravery and humanity! Thanks for sharing!


  2. It is so lovely that their love survived so long and such a brave man ended up with the love of his life.
    Tasha’s Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)


  3. I think I remember this one – it made me smile that love was patient and came to fruition in the end 🙂
    Sophie’s Thoughts & Fumbles
    Wittegen Press


  4. Arlee Bird says:

    A wonderful story that is worthy to be retold.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out


  5. Ula says:

    A really beautiful love story set in such tragic times.


  6. Tarkabarka says:

    What an amazing person, and what an amazing love story. I am happy they ended up together 🙂

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary – Epics from A to Z
    MopDog – 26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary


  7. jazzfeathers says:

    Beautiful story 🙂


  8. What a beautiful love story that survived many years. I love how their love was rekindled…even after such a long separation ❤


  9. Sue Kuentz says:

    What an amazing true tale of heroism and true love! I can’t believe a movie script hasn’t been made! Thank you so much for introducing me to Ivan! I too am writing of heroes (both literary and true.


  10. I can’t for the life of me understand how her mother could not approve of him–he saved her life! Ah well… I guess the prejudice against marrying outside one’s faith was very strong then… Another great post, Carrie-Anne!


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