Jean-Michel Nicolier

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Jean-Michel Nicolier
Jean-Michel Nicollier 1.jpg
Jean-Michel Nicolier during the Battle of Vukovar in 1991
Born (1966-07-01)1 July 1966
Vesoul, France
Died 20 November 1991(1991-11-20) (aged 25)
Ovčara, Vukovar, Croatia
Nationality French
Awards Order of Nikola Šubić Zrinski

Jean-Michel Nicolier (1 July 1966 – 20 November 1991) was a French volunteer and Croatian soldier in the Croatian War of Independence who was killed during the Vukovar massacre.

Early years[edit]

Nicolier was born on 1 July 1966 in Vesoul, France to his mother Lyliane Fournier.[1] He was the middle child of three brothers; his brothers are Pierre and Paul. In Vesoul he finished elementary and high school.[1] Nicolier watched the Croatian War of Independence on television in France, and decided to travel to Croatia.[1] He told his mother:

I want to help these people, they need me. I have to go, but I'll be back. You know that I'm a wild grass that never goes away.[2]

In July 1991, he boarded the train and arrived in Zagreb completely alone.[1] There he joined the Croatian Defence Forces[3] and was set off to the front along the Kupa river in Banovina.[1]

Battle of Vukovar[edit]

In September 1991, Nicolier arrived in Vukovar with the last volunteers.[1][3] Nicolier fought across the Vukovar battlefields and was wounded twice in the three months he was there.[3] On 9 November 1991 he was wounded in the leg by a fragmentation grenade, and was transported to the Vukovar hospital where he was treated for his injuries.[1] Nicolier stayed in the Vukovar hospital until the fall of Vukovar on 18 November 1991.

On 20 November 1991, he was interviewed by a French reporter, Agnes Vahramian, and described his experience in Vukovar as "a slaughterhouse".[4][5] The same day, he was taken from the hospital by paramilitary Serb forces and transported to the hangars[clarification needed] at Ovčara farm.[1][3]

At Ovčara, according to later witness testimonies, a man named Kemo took Nicolier from the hangars, at which point Nicolier was viciously beaten, and killed by a gunshot to the head by one Spasoje Petković, who then took 20 francs from his pocket.[1][6][7]

Nicolier's remains were among sixty not subsequently found.[3]

Last known photo of Nicolier, in Vukovar hospital.


On 15 November 2006 Nicolier was posthumously awarded the Memorial Plaque Vukovar 1991.[citation needed] In 2010, Croatian authors Višnja Starešina and Ivan Maloča released a documentary about the Vukovar massacre, telling the story of Siniša Glavašević as well as Nicolier. the programme was aired in prime-time by HRT on the 19th anniversary of the massacre.[8]

Prompted by the publicity Nicolier's case received in 2010, a Croatian veteran Antun Ivanković from Tovarnik joined with Nevenka Nekić, a retired professor to investigate the story and contacted Nicolier's mother.[2] In October 2011, Ivanković found that Nicolier was never entered into the official list of Croatian defenders, and advocated for the problem to be rectified; the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs entered Nicolier into the Registry not long afterwards.[2]

On 17 November 2011, at the initiative of an NGO led by Ivanković, Nicolier was posthumously awarded with the Vukovar-Syrmia County Tribute for "love, loyalty and bravery in the Croatian War of Independence".[9] That same day, Nicolier was awarded with the Order of Nikola Šubić Zrinski for heroism. Nicolier's mother came to Zagreb with his younger brother Paul, to receive the order from Croatia's President Ivo Josipović.[4][10]

In June 2012, Nekić published Jean ili miris smrti (Jean or smell of death) about Nicolier.[11]

On 31 August 2012, again at the initiative of Ivanković's NGO, Nicolier's mother met the Croatian Minister of Veterans' Affairs Predrag Matić, who confirmed she was entitled to the veteran's pension of her late son.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Priča o dragovoljcu u tuđini koji nema grob". Večernji list (in Croatian). 2012-06-03. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c "Majka: Osjetio je Božji poziv, nisam mogla spriječiti da ode". Večernji list (in Croatian). 2011-11-17. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Priča o hrvatskom domoljubu Jeanu Michelu Nicolieru, mučki likvidiranom na Ovčari, zaslužuje da ode u svijet". Slobodna Dalmacija (in Croatian). 3 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Posmrtno odlikovan Jean Michel Nicollier" (in Croatian). Croatian Radiotelevision. 2011-11-17. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  5. ^ "Jean Michel, hvala ti, učit ćemo svoju djecu o tvojem herojstvu". 24sata (in Croatian). 17 November 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  6. ^ "Jean-Michela Nicoliera ubio je Spasoje Petković Štuka". Večernji list (in Croatian). 2012-01-09. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Štuka se hvalio da je streljao". Novosti AD (in Serbian). 27 September 2004. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "Na Ovčari su ubijeni i Srbi, ali i francuski i njemački dobrovoljci". Večernji list (in Croatian). 18 November 2010. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  9. ^ "Priznanja županije" (in Croatian). Vinkovci, Croatia: VFM Radio. 9 November 2011. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "Predsjednik Josipović posmrtno odlikovao vukovarskog branitelja Jean Michela Nicolliera" (in Croatian). Office of the President of Croatia. 2011-11-17. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  11. ^ "Predstavljen roman o francuskom dragovoljcu ubijenom na Ovčari". Večernji list (in Croatian). 2012-06-12. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  12. ^ "Mirovina za majku vukovarskog junaka Jean-Michela Nicoliera". Večernji list (in Croatian). 2012-05-30. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Majci francuskog dragovoljca ubijenog na Ovčari stan i mirovina". Večernji list (in Croatian). 2012-08-31. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 


  • Nekić, Nevenka (2012). Jean ili miris smrti. Vukovar: Udruga dr.Ante Starčević - Tovarnik. ISBN 978-953-55882-0-8. [1]
  1. ^ "Jean ili miris smrti" (in Croatian). 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2013.