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Jean-Michel Nicollier
Jean-Michel Nicollier during the Battle of Vukovar in 1991
Jean-Michel Nicollier 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 Nicollier (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[]

Nicollier was born on July 1, 1966 in Vesoul, France to his mother Lyliane Fournier.[1] He was raised with his brothers Pierre and Paul as a middle child. In Vesoul he finished elementary and high school.[1] Nicollier watched the horrors of the Croatian War of Independence on television in France, and then decided to travel to Croatia and help in the defense.[1] Nicollier 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] While in Croatia, he was nicknamed "French" by his comrades.

Battle of Vukovar[]

In September 1991, Nicollier arrived in Vukovar with the last volunteers.[1][3] Nicollier fought across the Vukovar battlefields and was wounded twice in the three months he was there.[3] On November 9, 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] Nicollier stayed in the Vukovar hospital until the fall of Vukovar on November 18, 1991.

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

At Ovčara, according to later witness testimonies, a man named Kemo took him from the hangars, at which point Nicollier 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] Nicollier's remains were among the sixty that were not subsequently found.[3] It's possible that they were initially disposed of in shallow graves, which caused them to be uncovered by the following spring and then thrown elsewhere,[3] or that they were thrown into the Danube.[2]

File:Jean-Michel Nicollier 2.jpg

Last known photo of Jean-Michel Nicollier in Vukovar hospital.


On November 15, 2006 Nicollier was posthumously awarded the Memorial Plaque "Vukovar 1991".

In 2010, Croatian authors Višnja Starešina and Ivan Maloča released a documentary film about the Vukovar massacre, that told the story of Siniša Glavašević as well as Jean-Michel Nicollier, and was aired in prime-time by the Croatian Radiotelevision on the 19th anniversary of the massacre.[8]

Prompted by the publicity Nicollier's case received in 2010, a Croatian veteran Antun Ivanković from Tovarnik joined with Nevenka Nekić, a retired professor who was personally connected to the Battle of Vukovar, to investigate the story and contacted Nicollier's mother in France.[2] In October 2011, Ivanković found that Nicollier was never entered into the official list of Croatian defenders, and advocated for the problem to be rectified; the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs soon responded by entering Nicollier into the Registry.[2]

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

In June 2012, Nekić published the book Jean ili miris smrti ("Jean or smell of death") about Nicollier and his time in Vukovar.[11]

On August 31, 2012, again at the initiative of Ivanković's NGO, Nicollier'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. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 "Priča o dragovoljcu u tuđini koji nema grob" (in Croatian). 2012-06-03. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 "Majka: Osjetio je Božji poziv, nisam mogla spriječiti da ode" (in Croatian). 2011-11-17. Retrieved 6 July 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "Priča o hrvatskom domoljubu Jeanu Michelu Nicolieru, mučki likvidiranom na Ovčari, zaslužuje da ode u svijet" (in Croatian). 2012-10-03. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "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" (in Croatian). 2011-11-17. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  6. "Jean-Michela Nicoliera ubio je Spasoje Petković Štuka" (in Croatian). 2012-01-09. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  7. "Štuka se hvalio da je streljao" (in Serbian). 2004-09-27. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  8. "Na Ovčari su ubijeni i Srbi, ali i francuski i njemački dobrovoljci" (in Croatian). 2010-11-18. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  9. "Priznanja županije" (in Croatian). Vinkovci, Croatia: VFM Radio. 2011-11-09. 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" (in Croatian). 2012-06-12. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  12. "Mirovina za majku vukovarskog junaka Jean-Michela Nicoliera" (in Croatian). 2012-05-30. Retrieved 25 November 2012. 
  13. "Majci francuskog dragovoljca ubijenog na Ovčari stan i mirovina" (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. 

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