CROATIAN FILM INSTITUTE

THE AIRMEN & THE BARONESS

# ( 262 )        61 min           2021    

As World War II raged in Europe, Baroness Vera Nikolińá Podrinska, an artist by temperament and talent, resided in a sprawling estate along the wooded, winding road above the city of Zagreb, Croatia. Born in Zagreb in 1886, she studied painting from the age of 14, attended the Academy of Fine Arts, and continued her studies in Vienna and Paris.

Over the course of the war, the Baroness became the unlikely host and protector of nearly a hundred U.S. airmen who had crash-landed in Croatia and been taken prisoner by the Croatian Armed Forces. Baroness Nikolińá considered the airmen her guests and afforded them the best treatment available given the wartime conditions, including a generous wine ration, and payroll receipts for their work performed in her vineyards. Based on actual events and individuals, this film traces the experiences of several of those American POWs through personal interviews, historical documents, and photographs.

All of the American POW airmen remained safe and protected until the end of the war when they were safely repatriated to their units. Their protectors did not fare as well. The war and its aftermath were costly. The Croatian population was decimated by the communist partisans, their political system scarred deeply. Baroness Vera Nikolińá Podrinska was imprisoned, her villa and sprawling estate confiscated and dynamited. On the very spot where it stood, Communist Marshal Tito had a grand presidential palace erected.


Director            Nikola Knez

Producer          iFilms LLC

Screenplay      Dorothy McClellan

Film Genre      Documentary

Country           USA                     

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