Who is history’s greatest badass, and why?

Answer by Danilo Fatic:


“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”*
  The room is full of children. Kids of all age. There is no laughter inside this room. All you can hear is heartbreaking crying. Crying and heavy breathing.  The ones who can speak are calling for their loved ones. Others just cry. It's cold inside the room, especially when you sleep on a bare floor, a floor covered in piss, blood, human feces and pinworms. Disease and coldness kill slowly but inevitably. This is not a room they want to be in, this is not a room they deserve to be in. Small and fragile they are thrown into this factory that produces only death. They are "unworthy", and them living is inappropriate and offensive. They represent a threat that must be dealt with. And it will be.
  During the WWII Croatian nazis called ustase, created the most despicable, morbid creation of war, children concentration camps in which they killed tens of thousands children. These camps were filled with Serbian and in smaller number Jewish kids of all age. Rooms like the one described could have been seen in Jasenovac, Stara Gradiska, Jastrebarsko and other death camps across Independent State of Croatia. Unfortunate kids that were interned to these camps were left to die in cruel condition or got executed by ustase slaughterers. Their only hope was brave Austrian woman Diana Budisavljevic. During the course of 4 years Diana and her team saved more than 15000 kids from Croatian concentration camps, while more than 12000 of those kids survived the war. She saved 10 times more people than Oscar Schindler and 5 times more people than Irena Sendler.
  Born in Innsbruck as Diana Obexer, in 1917 she married Julije Budisavljević, an ethnic Serbian medical doctor who at that time worked as an intern at the surgical clinic in Innsbruck. In 1919, Dr Budisavljević was appointed professor of surgery at the University of Zagreb, so the couple moved to Zagreb, at the time in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. When Germany attacked Yugoslavia, Croatian nationalist separated from Kingdom and declared Independent State of Croatia. Soon after the opening of  first concentration camps word about ustase brutality was spread amongst people. Diana decided that something needed to be done.
  She got a written permission from German officer Albert von Kotzian to take children from Stara Gradiska concentration camp. At first, she had to convince mothers to let their kids go with her, but after a while, she couldn't accept all the kids that wanted to leave. Crying mothers would persuade kids to go with Diana knowing that they will probably never see them again. Diana did everything that was in her power to not let that happen. She kept the record of every saved child, along with their photos in her archive so they could be returned to parents after the war. Unfortunately, after the war, all of the files were confiscated by OZNA (Yugoslav security agency). Communist tried their best to suppress stories of crimes committed during the war, in the spirit of the new national slogan "bratstvo i jedinstvo" (brotherhood and unity). Most of the kids saved in Diana's action never found out their origin and backstory, and never had the chance to thank their saviour.
  Dressed as a Red Cross nurse, she kept saving kids from Jasenovac, Jablanac, Mlaka. One time she had to pick kids to take with herself. She would pick them up and those who were strong enough to stand on their feet were saved. Those who were too weak to stand were left to die. Diana and her team didn't have enough resources and people to take care for all of kids. Many of the kids chosen in the camps were in fact so weak and so sick that they would die during transport to their new homes.
"Some children should have been transported to Gornja Reka, but then they had to stay due to illness. Some of them died there, and some of them after being handed to us, as so many of these little martyrs, as unknown, nameless children. And every one of them had a mother who cried bitterly for him, had his home, his clothes, and now is piled in a mass grave. Carried for nine months, born in pain, enthusiastically welcomed, cared with love and nurtured, and then – Hitler needs workers, bring the women, take their children, let them collapse; what immense sorrow, what a pain …"**
Stuff that she saw during her work left a deep mark on her. During first few months as a humanitarian worker, she lost 16 kilograms, lost half of her hair and went grey. Stress caused 3 strokes that she survived along with typhus she got in one of the camps. Every time she stepped a foot into those camp she took a chance. Every saved child was a risk. Ustase respected her for her German origin but despised her for being married to Serb. They killed 11 of her associates, threatened her, ignored her demands, did everything to make transporting kids as difficult as they could. But she never backed down. She walked straight into the mouth of the human eating beast and prevented it from chewing with her own body. She made a feat unparalleled in history. Unfortunately, she never got recognition for things she has done. After the war her heroic deeds had to be hushed up. She was part of a prewar elite and she knew stuff that needed to be forgotten for the sake of stability of the new country. She was a second class citizen, degraded and humiliated.
"From the very beginning I was responsible for the action, everything was done with my name and my risk. I was left with no choice but to take the responsibility by myself. I had adopted a view that my life was not more valuable than life of the innocently persecuted"***
In 1972. she moved back to Innsbruck. She died in 1978, aged 87. 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. On 18 October 2013, the Serbian Patriarch awarded posthumously Diana Budisavljević with the high distinction of the Serbian Orthodox Church – the order of Empress Milica. Serbia finally recognised greatness and bravery of the greatest Serbian benefactor. Now it's time for others to do the same.
* Winston S. Churchill
**passage from Diana's diary
***passage from Diana's diary

Please feel free to point out any grammar mistake or any other kind of mistake you see

Who is history's greatest badass, and why?

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