In early 1944, Mirjana Babunovic-Dimitrijevic, a 22-year-old middle-class woman living in Sarajevo, was arrested by the Ustasa police. After she was arrested along with her mother and aunt, they were all deported to the Jasenovac concentration camp, for refusing to convert to Catholicism. All three women died there in late 1944.
These women were among more than 80,000 victims who perished at Jasenovac between 1941 and 1945. While we don’t know precisely how they died nor what happened during their short lives in the camp, two things are certain.
First, their deaths were the direct result of deliberate political decisions. Second, they died not because of anything they had done but because of what they were. They died because they were different in a state which not only criminalised difference but considered it legitimate grounds for extermination.
The Jasenovac death camp
To listen to Igor Vukic, a guest on the popular afternoon chat show ‘Dobar Dan Hrvatska’ (‘Good Day Croatia’) on Croatian Radio-Television, HRT last week, was to enter a parallel universe in which Jasenovac was not a concentration camp but rather a ‘labour and collection camp’ for opponents of the regime, in which inmates like Mirjana were offered opportunities to learn new professions and skills, given access to drama clubs and sporting facilities and treated with compassion by Ustasa guards.
The furore caused by the appearance of Vukic, a former journalist and the secretary of the Society for Research of the Threefold Jasenovac Camp, on a popular afternoon show, is, in some ways, hard to understand. After all, Vukic and other revisionists have been making the rounds of television shows for years, promoting their theories.
Yes, it’s true there was something slightly shocking about how normalised the set up was: the hosts even thoughtfully plugged the society’s book about Jasenovac to viewers at the end of the segment.
But leave aside the prime-time kitsch, and the episode only seems outrageous if you ignore the past 25 years of public discourse in Croatia about the Holocaust and the Ustasa regime.
It was, after all, in the 1990s, not last week, that the idea of mixing the bones of dead Partisans and Ustasas together and refashioning Jasenovac death camp into a site of ‘reconciliation’ was seriously considered.
Which isn’t to say that people shouldn’t be alarmed by what’s happening now: they should.
I would argue there are two reasons why last week’s programme has cuased such a stir. First, unlike the revisionists of the Tudjman era who tended to minimise the crimes of the Ustasa regime or only rehabilitate only certain aspects of it, the new cohort of revisionists are, by their own admission, aiming to rehabilitate the regime in its entirety.
Second, revisionism in the 1990s had its strongholds in the academy and mainstream politics which had a constraining effect on all but the most committed acolytes.
Now, in an age of mass media it has migrated to media platforms. Revisionism hence seems more prevalent and dangerous now because it has essentially become a branch of the entertainment industry, amplified by the ubiquity of social media.
Lest we forget, only a couple of years ago, director Jakov Sedlar’s highly revisionist and fraudulent film about Jasenovac received its premiere in Zagreb, attended by then Culture Minister Zlatko Hasanbegovic.
But no one should be so naïve as to think the current wave of revisionism began last week or even two years ago. The problem goes much deeper than that.
Arguably, Croatia’s leaders have never really known how to deal with the legacy of the Ustasa regime and Jasenovac, the most enduring symbol of its terror.
The narrative offered by the victorious Partisans provided a useable model, initially at least, emphasising the mass participation of Croats in the Partisan movement and the marginality of the Ustasa movement while placing most of the blame on the German occupiers. This was not exactly false but it was a simplified and idealised version of the truth.
The entrance gate to the Jasenovac death camp
The government of Franjo Tudjman, by contrast, offered a different kind of resolution, combining Ustasa nostalgia and Holocaust minimisation with a much more ambitious project to reconcile Croatian fascists and anti-fascists on the basis of their supposed shared fight for an independent Croatian state.
It also linked Croatia’s struggle for independence in the 1990s to the Croatian ‘independence struggle’ of the 1940s under the Ustasa movement.
In the post-Tudjman years, especially during Croatia’s application to join the European Union, Holocaust memory was Europeanised. As Ljiljana Radonic has written, memory culture transformed Jasenovac into a universal story in which the specifically Croatian identity of the perpetrators was pushed to the margins and the role of the Nazi occupation stressed.
At the same time, the narrative emphasised the specifically Croatian role in the ‘good’ parts of the story, in particular the political oppression of the Croats in inter-war Yugoslavia and the mass participation of Croats in the resistance.
The continued ambivalence regarding the Holocaust in Croatia was apparent at the opening of the Jasenovac Memorial Museum permanent exhibition in 2006 which, as a matter of policy, de-emphasised the national identity of both the victims and the Ustasas as well as their crimes.
Natasa Jovicic, the director of the museum, wrote that the exhibition aimed to restore the individuality of the victims, arguing that the collective identity of the victims and perpetrators had been manipulated in the cause of Serbian nationalism in the early 1990s to generate new hatred.
But this argument was misleading. The people who died in Jasenovac, while they were individuals, were incarcerated in Jasenovac precisely because of their perceived collective identity.
Moreover, in linking the World War II and the wars of the 1990s, the museum exhibition actually legitimated a narrative which has become a leit motif of revisionist forces in Croatia in recent years: namely, that commemorating the crimes of the Ustasa movement constitutes an attempt to blacken the name of Croatia, declare the Croats a genocidal people and criminalise the Homeland War.
On the surface, a narrative which implicated not just ordinary Croats but Croatian identity itself in the crimes of the Ustasa movement through linking defence of the Ustasa regime to patriotism should have permanently discredited revisionists.
After all, when it came to power in 1941, the Ustasa movement enjoyed no popular mandate and was very quickly rejected by a large number of Croats. Still today, the majority of Croats reject the legacy of the Ustasa movement.
Moreover, the constitution of the Republic of Croatia states unambiguously that it is founded on the principles of anti-fascism.
That revisionists have seen their influence actually grow in Croatia is a reflection of the weakness of civil society, a testament to the failure of institutions such as the Catholic Church in Croatia to confront their role in the horror of the 1940s and evidence of the increasingly receptive political climate in which groups such as these are operating.
As the recent controversy about the location of the commemorative plaque for fallen Homeland defenders (1990s Croatian war veterans) in Jasenovac illustrates, invoking the sacrosanct Homeland War has become an increasingly profitable strategy for revisionists and Ustasa nostalgists.
It is no coincidence that Vukic has been a frequent guest on right-wing veteran television shows nor that some of the loudest revisionist voices belong to right-wing war veterans.
At the same time, the growing reach of revisionists would not be possible without the funding and support they have received from the Ministry for Veterans.
In 2017, for example, Vukic’s society was awarded 6,700 euros by the ministry to conduct research on archives related to the Jasenovac camp. Meanwhile, a veterans’ group was awarded 2,700 euros for the publication of a collection of revisionist essays about the Ustasa children’s camp at Jastrebarsko, as part of a scheme which awards funds for applications which “promote the values of the Homeland War.”
What can be done? On the one hand, revisionism and Ustasa nostalgia in Croatia is a problem only Croats themselves can resolve. As the protests of 2016 demonstrated, when large numbers of people come onto the streets across Croatia to say enough is enough, politicians notice.
But there are also more modest actions that can be taken. Paradoxical as it might seem, denying crimes against entire groups of people is much easier than negating crimes against individuals.
As much as anything, perhaps, the Holocaust is made up of small stories and the personal lives of the victims, perpetrators and bystanders. In that sense, the failure of Yugoslav historiography to individualise the victims or perpetrators has been a gift to Holocaust minimizers since it has enabled them to dismiss the official history as an anti-Croatian conspiracy and reframe the victims as opponents of Croatian independence.
One of the reasons, I would argue, why Holocaust denial has tended to be marginal in Austria is because there are reminders of the victims of the Holocaust in every neighbourhood where Jews once lived.
Walk down any street in the old Jewish quarter of Praterstern in Vienna, for example, and there are countless street plaques memorialising the dead, many of them right under your feet.
The Jasenovac death camp
By contrast, the buildings in the Derecinova district of downtown Zagreb or Tuskanac are unmarked.
If such an initiative is unthinkable in Croatia at the moment, journalists, researchers and activists can play their part in restoring to the victims of the Holocaust their individuality while emphasising the collective reasons for their fate.
By the time Mirjana Babunovic-Dimitrijevic was arrested by the Ustasa police in 1944, her familiy was scattered: her husband was in Macedonia, her father had long since been detained, one brother was in Dachau, another was a refugee in Serbia. Her identity was the one thing she had which the regime could not take from her.
Her story and the thousands of similar small, personal stories are not only the history of Jasenovac and the Holocaust, but universal stories of resistance and courage.
They are perhaps the most powerful weapon we have in the preservation of a culture of memory and truth against the revisionist culture of lies.
Originally published on 2018-06-06
About the author: Rory Yeomans is a historian and member of the School of Historical Studies, Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, author of the book Visions of Annihilation: The Ustasha Regime and the Cultural Politics of Fascism, 1941-1945.
Source: Balkan Transitional Justice
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
Prof. Djordje Jankovic, Ph.DFaculty of PhilosophyBelgrade UniversityMiddle Ages in Noel Malcolm’s Kosovo: A Short History and Real Facts Before presenting the interpretations of the mediaeval past of Kosovo and Metohija in Noel Malcolm’s work, one should be aware of the tasks set by the author before writing the book. That way, the acrobatic handling of the evidence which he uses or does not use will become clearer. In the introductory text, ten pages long, he clearly presents his political and ideological position. They are as follows (p. XXXIV-XXXV): “Kosovo” is one of the cultural crossroads of Europe – which is wrong; ...
There is less talk about the rump-Ukraine in the news these days, especially in the western corporate media, and there is a good reason for that: that short-lived Urkonazi “Banderastan” is falling apart. This is hardly surprising since the entire concept was never viable in the first place. Let’s remember how it all began.
It is crucial to remember that there was no spontaneous revolution or insurrection in the Ukraine, the Euromaidan had nothing to do with Europe and everything to do with the USA. Oh sure, the Ukrainian people were told that it was about “joining the EU”, but that ...
It is hardly a coincidence that the Declaration of Independence, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations, and Johann Friedrich Blumenbach’s On the Natural Variety of Mankind were all published within a year of one another, for each supports a necessary aspect of a larger, integrated project. Not only was the rationale for seizing political power (provided by the Declaration) supported by Smith’s popular text (which justified rule by the wealthy business class). Because this wealth and power was contingent on slavery, and territories seized by conquest, Blumenbach’s theory that the “Caucasian race” (a designation he coined, by the way) was the supreme race was ...
Families want to know if one of the reasons of halting the investigation was, as they claim, the fact that the murderer came from the village of Ćuška, the birthplace of the former commander of the Kosovo Liberation Army and the current minister of Kosovo’s security forces, Agim Ceku.
GORAŽDEVAC, SRNA – Tuesday marks the 12th anniversary of the murder of Serbian children in Goraždevac near Peć. On August 13, 2003, Ivan Jovović aged 19 and Pantelija Dakić aged 12 were taking a swim in the Bistrica River when they were shot dead with automatic weapons.
Their peers Đorde Ugrenović aged 20, ...
General Draza Mihailovich with the people during the WWII. Contrary to General Mihailovich, Communist leader "Marshall" Josip Broz Tito posses no one photograph with the people of Yugoslavia from the wartime
In 1971, the movie Klopka za generala, A Trap for the General, was released in Yugoslavia directed by Miomir “Miki” Stamenkovic starring Rade Markovic, Ljuba Tadic, and Bekim Fehmiu. The screenplay was by Dragan Markovic and Luka Pavlovic. The film was produced by the Sarajevo-based company Bosna Film of Yugoslavia and featured a cast made up of Serbian, Bosnian Muslim, and Albanian Muslim actors. The film was released in ...
Fifty years ago this next month (December 1965), with the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rubber stamp approval of President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the United States Air Force started secretly spraying the forests of Laos with a deadly herbicide that was known as Agent Orange.
Operation Ranch Hand, whose motto was “Only We Can Prevent Forests” (a shameful takeoff of Smokey the Bear’s admonition), was a desperate, costly and ultimately futile effort to make it a little harder for the National Liberation Front soldiers from North Vietnam to join and supply their ...
The conflicts that engulfed the former Yugoslavia still remain unresolved in the political arena and open to Western political shenanigans and covert meddling from Turkey and Saudi Arabia in Bosnia and Kosovo. Orthodox Christianity faces many attacks and only a naïve individual would claim that America and the hands of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are clean.
Central Bosnia in 2016: Flags of the ISIS
America and other Western nations did little to stop Turkey invading Cyprus in 1974 and creating a de-facto nation and altering the demographics of northern Cyprus and using this area for military purposes.
Irrespective of the rights and wrongs ...
“This is an historic opportunity to demonstrate the even-handedness of international justice” – Michael Mandel, law professor, York University, Toronto, Canada, 1999
NATO leaders found guilty of war crimes in Yugoslavia
“NATO leaders acted in open violation of the Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12th August 1949, and the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I), 8th June 1977 . . .” Dr Will Podmore, The Lancet (June 26th 1999)
In the District Court of Belgrade on September 22, 2000, the President of the court, Veroljub Raketic, handed down guilty verdicts against government leaders of NATO countries for ...
It seems that the recent developments in Europe, and in particular the rising secessionism (Catalonia, Flandreau, Corsica, Veneto, Scotland), rings a bell, or rather is reminiscent of certain events. The ensuing ones are shedding more light on the roles of the EU (EEC), the USA, Great Britain and Germany. One wonders to what extent those democracies have been guided by the principles of international law and democracy pertaining to the Kosovo crisis.How much did they appreciate the reports of their (expensive) missions in Kosovo and Metohija (КDОМ, КVМ, ЕCMM) depicting the realities on the ground?To what extent have they been ...
With a critical public increasingly turning to social media to scrutinize the claims of the mainstream as well as the credibility of the assertions made by the various NGOs and government-funded human rights organisations, it’s arguably becoming more difficult for the corporate press to pass their propaganda off as legitimate news.
This is particularly the case during periods when the establishment pushes for military conflicts. One salutary lesson from the Iraq debacle, is that the public appear not to be so readily fooled. Or are they?
It’s a measure of the extent to which the mass media barely stray from their paymasters ...
If Trump can defeat the oligarchy and save America, he can go down in history as Trump the Great.
Liberals, progressives, and the left-wing (to the extent that one still exists) are aligning with the corrupt oligarchy against president-elect Trump and the American people.
They are busy at work trying to generate hysteria over Trump’s “authoritarian personality and followers.” In other words, the message is: here come the fascists.
Liberals and progressives wailed and whined about “an all white male cabinet,” only to be made fools by Trump’s appointment of a black male and two women, one a minority and one a Trump ...
The foreign policy of the United States in the post-Cold War era, driven by a doctrine of Exceptionalism and managed by a neoconservative strategy, has been responsible for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, Nato’s war on Libya in 2011 and the covert war waged in Syria using Islamist proxies. It was also at the root of its involvement in the overthrow of the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014. But the geopolitical advantage intended in each enterprise has brought the proverbial blowback.The results are plain to see. Libya is now certifiably a failed state. Accompanying the destruction of ...
The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists — Ernest Hemingway
Military spending is the second largest item in the US federal budget after Social Security. It has a habit of increasing significantly each year, and the proposed 2019 defense budget is $886 billion (roughly double what it was in 2003).
US military spending exceeds the total of the next ten largest countries combined. Although the US government acknowledges 682 military bases in 63 countries, ...
The following text is the introductory chapter of Professor Tim Anderson’s forthcoming book entitled The Dirty War on Syria.
Although every war makes ample use of lies and deception, the dirty war on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. The British-Australian journalist Philip Knightley pointed out that war propaganda typically involves ‘a depressingly predictable pattern’ of demonising the enemy leader, then demonising the enemy people through atrocity stories, real or imagined (Knightley 2001). Accordingly, a mild-mannered eye doctor called Bashar al Assad became the new evil in the world and, according to consistent ...
It is the Unlimited Imperialists along the line of Alexander, Rome, Napoleon and Hitler who are now in charge of conducting American foreign policy…Historically this latest eruption of American militarism at the start of the 21st Century is akin to that of America opening the 20th Century by means of the U.S.-instigated Spanish-American War in 1898. Then the Republican administration of President William McKinley stole their colonial empire from Spain in Cuba, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines; inflicted a near genocidal war against the Filipino people; while at the same time illegally annexing the Kingdom of Hawaii and subjecting ...
Video documentary movie on the first ISIS in Europe in Islamic Caliphate of Bosnia-Herzegovina, 1992-1995.
This movie is made by the British SKY NEWS after the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Similar documentary movies on the ISIS Bosnia-Herzegovina made by the Bosnian Serbs were never shown to the western audience.
Duration of the movie is 8 min. and 17 sec.
In the movie are presented and future Al-Qaeda Mujahedeen holy fighters.
From the movie is clear what was a real nature of the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s.
All copyrights reserved by the SKY NEWS.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask ...
Russian President Vladimir Putin put it succinctly when he recently warned that prospects for peace in Ukraine were negligible as long as the current authorities in Kiev remain in power. Worse, given a new rash of provocations by the Kiev regime, the entire region is being threatened with conflict, and even all-out war.It seems clear – and criminally reprehensible – that the Kiev regime and its President Petro Poroshenko are intent on dragging the United States and the NATO military alliance into a war with Russia. The incendiary conduct of Ukrainian politicians and their military is that of a regime ...
A newly-released Hilary Clinton email confirmed that the Obama administration has deliberately provoked the civil war in Syria as the “best way to help Israel.”
In an indication of her murderous and psychopathic nature, Clinton also wrote that it was the “right thing” to personally threaten Bashar Assad’s family with death.
In the email, released by Wikileaks, then Secretary of State Clinton says that the “best way to help Israel” is to “use force” in Syria to overthrow the government.
The document was one of many unclassified by the US Department of State under case number F-2014-20439, Doc No. C05794498, following the uproar ...
The truth about Kosovo and Metochia.
This documentary film was made by the Czech Republic TV and banned in all mainstream globalist media in western countries.
It will reveal to you the horrifying story of Kosovo that nobody ever wanted to tell you and debunking all hoaxes, lies and propaganda NATO used for trigger events...
In 1999 NATO bombed Serbia for 78 days and destroyed everything on its way bridges,hospitals,schools, telecommunication buildings, military bases...killing more than 2.500 and wound more than 5.000 civilians.
One of the reasons why NATO bombed Serbia is to build the biggest military base in Albania, so they can move ...
Listed are only events that solely occurred on command or participation of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete)
As soon as Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire by imperial edict (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.
Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.
Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.
Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple ...
Noel Malcolm: “Kosovo – A Short History”, 1999. A History Written With an Attempt to Support Albanian Territorial Claims in the Balkans (Third part)
The Euromaidan Ukraine between Fascism, Ochlocracy and Breakup
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
The Murderers of Serbian Children in Goraždevac Remain “Unknown”
Draza Mihailovich in Film: “A Trap For the General” (1971)
War Crimes: Agent Orange, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Other Ugly Legacies of the Vietnam War
Bosnia, Cyprus and Kosovo: America and Islamism in the Balkans
Lawyers Serve Indictment on NATO Leaders for War Crimes
The War on Yugoslavia, Kosovo “Self-Determination” and EU-NATO Support of KLA Terrorists: Dietmar Hartwig’s Warning Letters to Angela Merkel
Why the Latest Claims Against Assad are a Pack of Lies
Post-Maidan Ukrainian Anti-Semitism: Tragic “Blowback” Resulting from U.S. Interventionist Foreign Policy?
U.S Military Bases Worldwide: 682 Military Bases in 63 Countries
“Unlimited Imperialism”: History of American Militarism
Bosnia-Herzegovina ISIS in the 1990s
Kiev Regime – A Western Frankenstein Creation
Clinton: Destroy Syria for Israel
Documentary Film “Stolen Kosovo” (The Czech Republic)
Victims of the (Western) Christian Faith