Why does Croatian Media Give Revisionists a Platform?

Hits: 685

In recent weeks, we have witnessed yet again how public broadcaster Croatian Radio-Television, HRT, continues to offer a platform to obscure historical revisionists.

Jasenovac’s reality

Last week, while presenting the Festival of Patriotic Film dedicated to Goran Lederer, a Croatian journalist killed by the Yugoslav People’s Army in 1991, the organisers of the festival were given time to present highly controversial films on HRT’s widely-viewed morning show ‘Good Morning Croatia’.

Besides the fact that the main organiser of the festival is a war veterans’ association whose president and founder was Croatian war criminal Tomislav Mercep, their selection of films is symbolically even worse.

“There is also the ‘The Jasenovac Myth’ by Roman Leljak. I’m glad you’ve included him too, he’s been investigating a lot about this, so it’s going to be interesting to look at his two films,” host Liljana Vinkovic said excitedly, while holding a printed advert for the film.

“We need to go with the truth, and it is high time that we don’t divide ourselves up into left and right and that we accept the past as it is,” Smiljan Tomasevic, one of the organisers, then said.

Leljak is a Slovenian self-proclaimed researcher of Communist crimes and his documentary film and book ‘The Jasenovac Myth’ both seek to completely distort historical facts and research into the Jasenovac concentration camp, run by the Croatian fascist Ustasa movement between 1941 and 1945.

In his film, using the tactic of flashing cherry-picked documents in the face of viewers, Leljak wants to “deconstruct” what he calls the “myth about Jasenovac”, which he claims was constructed by the Yugoslav Communists. In the film, he alleges that the official, research-based name-by-name list of 83,145 deaths at the concentration camp is massively inflated from the “real” number of 1,500.

Leljak also claims that Jasenovac camp continued working as a camp until 1948, it becoming more brutal under the Communist management. This is a favourite historical fallacy in Croatia’s far-right parallel universe – which looks like Upside Down world in Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ series.

Actually, it is enough to look into Leljak’s personal history and the criminal deeds of which he has been convicted, as well as his contradictory statements, to see how reliable he is.

But all this wasn’t enough for HRT’s hosts, who casually talked about ‘The Jasenovac Myth’ in the context of ‘patriotic films’, although the connection between downplaying Ustasa crimes and patriotism eluded me.

During the same TV show, the hosts presented another controversial documentary, ‘A Hundred Years of Serbian Terror – From Karadjordjevic and Pribicevic to Vucic and Pupovac’, by the king of the ‘alternative facts’ genre, Jakov Sedlar.

In the film, Milorad Pupovac, an MP representing Croatia’s Serb minority, is portrayed alongside the Yugoslav king Aleksandar Karadjordjevic – who suspended parliament and political parties, introducing a dictatorship – and current Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, who is known for his inflammatory rants against Bosniaks in the 1990s.

Jasenovac’s reality

Photoshopping history

Sedlar’s film continues to make the same argument he has for years -that the Ustasa regime was only a reaction to the brutal Serbian repression of Croats.

He explicitly argues this in his historical quasi-documentary ‘Jasenovac – The Truth’, which caused its own share of outrage when it premiered in Zagreb in 2016.

Amid the numerous misconceptions and factual mistakes in the film, I’ll just mention an attempt to present a Photoshopped cover of state daily newspaper Vjesnik from 1945 as ‘proof’ of the lies told by the Yugoslav regime about Jasenovac.

When it was released, it was also HRT that gave Sedlar a platform to present his fraudulent film.

In May this year, HRT then offered a platform to another self-described researcher, Igor Vukic. His book ‘Labour Camp Jasenovac’ is also in the line with Leljak’s and Sedlar’s theories about the concentration camp.

According to Vukic, Jasenovac was just a mere labour and punishment camp for the enemies of the Croatian state. Like Leljak, he claims the death toll was only around 1,500, and that Jasenovac became a death camp only in the post-war years, under the Communists.

On HRT’s ‘Good Day Croatia’, show Vukic casually went on to explain how Jews were sent there only to be saved from deportations to Nazi camps. The hosts did offer an awkward unpleasant smile, but allowed Vukic to continue – after all, the show must go on.

Amid the shock created by the show, one of the hosts, Marina Medved Pulic, said that she allowed Vukic to speak because he claimed he had talked to witnesses and seen documents.

All this goes to prove that these ‘incidents’ are not exceptions, but the rule – they are part of HRT’s editorial policy.

To be fair though, HRT isn’t the only mainstream media outlet offering a platform to revisionists.

It was daily newspaper Vecernji list’s commentator Milan Ivkosic in August who praised Vukic’s book in a review entitled “Jasenovac cleansed of ideology, bias and communist forgery”, which has drawn negative reactions from Holocaust experts.

In the review, Ivkosic morbidly claimed that “there was fun in the camp”, mentioning football matches and theatre plays that inmates allegedly staged.

Proof that this wasn’t an ‘incident’ either is that Vecernji published a special magazine on the history of Jews in Croatia, in which, as well as valid scientifically-grounded articles, it smuggled in an interview with Sedlar. In the interview, Sedlar is shown as a friend of the Jews, due to his professional relations with Israeli Jews – after he claimed that Ustasa were “saving” Jews.

Even Jutarnji list, which some still consider a liberal daily, has ventured into the field of rewriting history.

In its magazine History, Jutarnji published a sensational article on the 1945 battle – more like a massive shootout – between Ustasa forces and the Serbian ultra-nationalist Chetnik movement on Lijevca Field, in northern Bosnia.

The article offered a highly inflated number of killed Chetniks; the mythologised idea of an epic battle is a fairytale nurtured over the decades in both Ustasa and Chetnik emigree circles to create the impression that they were arch enemies.

In the Croatian context, the article was probably intended to serve as ‘proof’ that the Ustasa really did fight the Chetniks – whereas, in reality, there was much more collaboration than fighting between them.

Zagreb, EuroCroatia

Clickbait logic

All in all, in Croatia there is a trend towards historical revisionism in society coming from the right, with mainstream media acting as a drummer, giving tempo to the movement by offering it space.

Why do they do it? First of all, historical revisionism as such is a widespread and growing social phenomenon, with the rise of a generation of Google and Wikipedia know-it-alls. Their alleged scepticism however is solely built on ‘alternative facts’, obscure propaganda and over-simplification.

Another reason for media to give space to revisionists is sheer business logic – it’s easy clickbait.

Sensationalist interpretations of history which offer one-dimensional mythologies that conveniently dovetail with the present-day realities of poor relations between Croats and Serbs are far more appealing to an average reader. In the case of Jutarnji, the idea that “the Ustase were fascists but at least they killed Chetniks” fits in perfectly with the dominant social narrative of Croats and Serbs as ancient enemies.

In other words, as media have given up on widening the horizons of their readers, dumbing down has become the only way to go.

Also, media give a platform to revisionists under the pretext that they offer space to “all sides concerned”. Therefore a historian isn’t put in a TV duel with another historian, but with a self-proclaimed researcher without any valid academic background; a geographer with a YouTube vlogger who claims that the Earth is flat, and so on.

Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion, but this doesn’t mean that everyone’s opinion is equally valid. I may have great ideas about treating brain cancer, but I don’t expect to be invited onto a TV show to debate with neurosurgeons and medical scientists.

But why should media give up on historical revisionism if it’s bringing them readers?

I am aware that most media outlets don’t care if victims are killed for a second time when the crime is denied. And while I also know that newspapers don’t want to enlighten their readers, media should think of the very direct consequences of their work.

Not so long ago, media in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Montenegro inflamed the masses. Either through fabricated news, fake readers’ letters, historical revisionism or simply by offering a platform “to all sides concerned”, media contributed to the violence of the 1990s.

The media can’t be blamed for starting the war, but it can be blamed for putting fear and hate into readers’ and viewers’ heads.

Newspapers, TV and radio stations never apologised for these crimes, nor did they sanction the journalists and editors involved. Some either ignored the whole thing or even continued to celebrate their wartime reporting.

Today, we don’t need their apologies anymore. We need them to stop before the spiral of hate gets out of hand.


Originally published on 2018-10-29

Sven Milekic is a PhD candidate at Maynooth University, Dublin, funded by the Irish Research Council under the Government of Ireland Postgraduate Programme.

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.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

EuroCroatia today

READ MORE!
Before the U.S. Congress: HM King Peter II’s of Yugoslavia Speech at the Capitol in 1942
A highlight of Peter II’s 1942 official state visit to the U.S. was his speech before the U.S. Congress. That speech solidified and affirmed Yugoslavia as an ally of the U.S. during World War II.Following the Axis invasion of Yugoslavia on April 6, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt had issued a statement in support of Peter II and the Yugoslav government.FDR’s message of April 8, 1941 emphasized that the U.S. would provide aid and assistance to Yugoslavia:“The people of the United States have been profoundly shocked by the unprovoked and ruthless aggression upon the people of Yugoslavia. The Government and ...
READ MORE
Trump is Racist? What is About Obama!
Compare Donald Trump and Barack Obama: Trump bans people from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia but Obama bombed people from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Somalia! The question is: Who is a bigger racist?Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe 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.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]
READ MORE
The Problem is Washington, not North Korea
Washington has never made any effort to conceal its contempt for North Korea. In the 64 years since the war ended, the US has done everything in its power to punish, humiliate and inflict pain on the Communist country. Washington has subjected the DPRK to starvation,  prevented its government from accessing foreign capital and markets, strangled its economy with crippling economic sanctions, and installed lethal missile systems and military bases on their doorstep. Negotiations aren’t possible because Washington refuses to sit down with a country which it sees as its inferior.  Instead, the US has strong-armed China to do its bidding by using their diplomats as interlocutors who are expected to convey Washington’s ultimatums as threateningly as possible.  The ...
READ MORE
United States War Crimes
Human Rights Day, December 10, 2016, we bring to the attention of our readers an important article published in 2002 on the record of US war crimes. The issue of War Crimes emerged after World War I at the Versailles Conference, but it was not until the end of World War II that a more comprehensive definition of what constitutes war crimes was developed. First among new international conventions addressing war crimes was the 1950 Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal. Its fundamental premise was that the conduct of war in violation of international treaties was a crime against peace. Ill treatment ...
READ MORE
The Korean War and Crimes against Humanity
“ON JANUARY 3 [1951] AT 10:30 AM, AN ARMADE OF 82 FLYING FORTRESSES LOOSED THEIR DEATH-DEALING LOAD ON THE CITY OF PYONGYANG. … “THE NUMBER OF INHABITANTS OF PYONGYANG KILLED BY BOMB SPLINTERS, BURNT ALIVE AND SUFFOCATED BY SMOKE IS INCALCULABLE, SINCE NO COMPUTATION IS POSSIBLE. SOME FIFTY THOUSAND INHABITANTS REMAIN IN THE CITY, WHICH BEFORE THE WAR HAD A POPULATION OF FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND.” [UN Repository]With tension ever mounting in the Korean peninsular, all the higher every year with US bombers conducting annual drills over South Korea within direct strike range of North Korea, it is notable and deeply regrettable the West has lost all ...
READ MORE
Violation of Human Rights of Serbs in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija
The struggle for peace and the struggle for full respect of universal human rights, as defined by UN Declaration on protection of human rights, are interdependent and non-separable. Violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity, military interventions, aggressions and occupations go hand in hand with massive violations of the basic human rights.It is clear that there are no humanitarian military interventions.NATO military aggression against Yugoslavia ( Serbia ) which started March 24rth, 1999 was launched to allegedly protect human rights of Kosovo Albanians. It was carried out in blatant violation of the basic principals of International Law and without approval of ...
READ MORE
Countering NATO Propaganda on Russia: NATO Intervention in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, Ukraine
Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part VA follow-up of Professor Vladimir Kozin’s comments on NATO’s Fact Sheet about relations with Russia published in December 2014. The topics to be covered in this part:NATO’s operation in Afghanistan was a failure;The NATO-led mission in Afghanistan failed to stop the Afghan drugs trade;NATO’s operation over Libya was illegitimate;NATO’s operation over Kosovo was illegitimate;The cases of Kosovo and Crimea are identical;Russia’s annexation of Crimea was justified;The Ukrainian authorities are illegitimate.NATO’s operation in Afghanistan was a failureNATO claim: NATO took over the command of the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan ...
READ MORE
Muslim Albanian Women from Kosovo are Training ISIS Terrorists
Accoring to the “Zeri” news agency from the city of Priština, women who join the Islamic state are mostly 23 years of age, and before joining them they were “modern girls“. One of them is Laura Huseni who was, according to the editor-in-chief of the “Zeri” magazine, a typical teenage girl from Kosovo who used to go out and have fun with her mates. – She would take a cab and go with her friends for a drink. She used to dress like all her friends, she would wear skirts of jeans. She was very modern – said Faik Ukasmajli, whose son married ...
READ MORE
England’s Irish Slaves
Records are replete with references to early Irish Catholics in the West Indies. Gwynn in Analecta Hibernica, states:  ‘The earliest reference to the Irish is the establishment of an Irish settlement on the Amazon River in 1612.”(1)  Smith, in Colonists in Bondage, reports: “a Proclamation of the year 1625 urged the banishing overseas of dangerous rogues (Irish Political Prisoners); kidnapping (of Irish) was common.”(2)Condon states that the first considerable emigration from Ireland to the southern latitudes of America was to Guiana in 1629.(3) Newton declares that Antigua and Montserrat were occupied as early as 1632 and that many emigrant Irish ...
READ MORE
Ten Lies Told about World War I
This Remembrance Day will doubtless see strenuous efforts by some to justify the fruitless bloodbath that was the First World War. Revisionist commentators have long attempted to rehabilitate the conflict as necessary and just, but the arguments do not stand up. It does no service to the memory of the dead to allow any illusions in the justice or necessity of war, particularly so when the precedents will be used to argue for the next ‘necessary’ conflict. From the causes of the war, to its prosecution and its results, here are the counter-arguments to ten common pro-war ploys.1. The war ...
READ MORE
Final solution of Serbian Question in Jasenovac
The controversial film director has been reported to authorities by the Antifascist League.A criminal complaint against film director Jakov Sedlar has been filed due to historical counterfeits that he used during the production of his documentary “Jasenovac – The Truth”. The complaint has been filed by the Antifascist League of Croatia due to criminal offense of incitement to violence and hatred, reports tportal.hr on July 15, 2016.In the explanation of the compliant, the Antifascist League states that Sedlar in the film publicly denied and significantly reduced the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes, primarily directed against members ...
READ MORE
Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirović about the Situation in Ukraine
Professor Vladislav B. Sotirović, Ph.D. is a Senior Lecturer of: “Middle East Studies” at the Mykolas Romeris University, Vilnius, Lithuania; “Mediterranean Studies;” “Ethnicity, Multiculturalism and Globalisation;” “Balkan Nationalism and Ethnic Conflicts” and “Europeanisation: Process and Results.”Prof. Dr. Sotirović is a distinguished expert on the History of the Early Byzantine Empire, 330–846”, Comparative History of Central and South-Eastern Europe and Ottoman History, History of Lithuania and Ukraine. He is well known abroad for his influential books and popular lectures about Lithuania, the Russian Federation, the Balkans, and Baltic Nations, and Multiculturalism.Professor Sotirović has studied at the Central European Summer University, Budapest, ...
READ MORE
Jonas Noreika: Nazi Collaborator or National Hero? A Test for Lithuania
For the tiny village of Sukioniai in western Lithuania, the exploits of General Storm, a local anti-Communist hero executed by the Soviet secret police in 1947, have long been a source of pride. The village school is named after him, and his struggles against the Soviet Union are also honored with a memorial carved from stone next to the farm where he was born. All along, though, there have been persistent whispers that General Storm, whose real name was Jonas Noreika, also helped the Nazis kill Jews. But these were largely discounted as the work of ill-willed outsiders serving a well-orchestrated ...
READ MORE
Ethnic Intolerance Against Christians in Kosovostan
Recent episodes of ethnic intolerance against the Serbian minority exacerbate conditions in a country which is increasingly an “Islamic island” in the heart of Europe. Kosovo is once again the centre of attention in Orthodox Church circles. In addition to new instances of intolerance against the ethnic Serbian minority, recent actions taken by Russian Patriarch Kirill and Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov), abbot of the Moscow monastery of Sretensky Stavropegic, have drawn attention. Violence against Orthodox Serbs is growing: unsurprisingly, some of them speak openly of cultural genocide. Approximately one hundred and fifteen churches were destroyed or severely damaged during the Albanian attacks, and ...
READ MORE
Countries Destroyed by Hillary Clinton
In an email sent to his business partner and Democratic fundraiser Jeffrey Leeds, former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote of Hillary Clinton, “Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”Clinton’s tenure as Secretary of State during Barack Obama’s first term was an unmitigated disaster for many nations around the world. Neither the Donald Trump campaign nor the corporate media have adequately described how a number of countries around the world suffered horribly from Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy decisions.Millions of people were adversely harmed by Clinton’s misguided policies and her “play-to-pay” operations involving favors in return for donations ...
READ MORE
Suddenly Europe is an Open Question – ‘A Nazi EU?’
An establishment pillar of the European ‘order’ – the Frankfurter Allgemeiner newspaper – explicitly touches the ‘live rail’, which is to say, it ran an op-ed last month titled ‘A Nazi EU?’, speculating on whether or not the present EU, dominated by Germany, should be understood as a lineal extension of German National Socialism. This has not before been an issue at all touched upon in mainstream German discourse. That it appears at all signals something important: a recognition that the dissidence being experienced by the EU has its roots in something other than just populist grievance tantrums. It is the resurfacing of ...
READ MORE
Who was US Special Representative to Kosovo Frank G. Wisner?
On December 19, 2005, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced the appointment of Ambassador Frank G. Wisner as the Special Representative of the US Secretary of State to the Kosovo Status Talks. Who is Frank G. Wisner, Jr.? If his name sounds familiar that is because he is the son of Frank Gardiner Wisner, Sr., the CIA agent most responsible for the recruitment of Nazis by the US government after World War II. A former member of the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the World War II precursor to the CIA, Frank G. Wisner, Sr., was one of the most infamous ...
READ MORE
The World According to ISIS
This article is excerpted from Fawaz A. Gerges’s forthcoming book, ISIS: A History.Although the spectacular surge of ISIS must be contextualized within the social and political circumstances that exist in Iraq and Syria and beyond, the group’s worldview and ideology should be taken equally seriously. Ideology is, after all, the superglue that binds Salafi-jihadists known as revolutionary religious activists or global jihadists of the ISIS variety to each other. The Salafi-jihadist movement emerged from an alliance between ultraconservative Saudi Salafism (or Wahhabism) and revolutionary Egyptian Islamism which was inspired by the Egyptian master theorist, Sayyid Qutb. The Afghan war against ...
READ MORE
Israel Stamps Approval on Europe’s Largest Post-WWII Ethnic Cleansing
Back in February, we warned about the prospect of Israel selling F-16s to Croatia, a state in which WWII revisionism and Holocaust denial are running rampant, and memories of the Nazi puppet Independent State of Croatia are routinely glorified. In the meantime, that has become a done deal. But there is more. Not only will Israel sell half a billion dollars worth of fighter jets to Croatia, but on August 5, three Israeli F-16s, crewed by Israeli pilots, took part in a parade to celebrate the 23rd anniversary of the “Operation Storm,” in which more than 2,300 Serbs were killed, including more than 1,200 civilians, among which more ...
READ MORE
Golan Heights and the Greater Israel Project
After the first ever cabinet meeting in the Golan Heights, Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a speech on April 17, 2016 that the territory “will remain under Israel’s sovereignty permanently.” This elicited admonitions from some of Israel’s greatest allies, the United States and Germany, and renewed attention on the issue.The Golan Heights were opportunistically occupied by Israel after its victory in the 1967 six-day-war. A United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) has monitored the region since 1974, when Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement, and it has been considered an occupied territory of the UN and the ...
READ MORE
Before the U.S. Congress: HM King Peter II’s of Yugoslavia Speech at the Capitol in 1942
Trump is Racist? What is About Obama!
The Problem is Washington, not North Korea
United States War Crimes
The Korean War and Crimes against Humanity
Violation of Human Rights of Serbs in the Province of Kosovo and Metohija
Countering NATO Propaganda on Russia: NATO Intervention in Afghanistan, Kosovo, Libya, Ukraine
Muslim Albanian Women from Kosovo are Training ISIS Terrorists
England’s Irish Slaves
Ten Lies Told about World War I
Crimes of Genocide Against Serbs in Croatia
Prof. Vladislav B. Sotirović about the Situation in Ukraine
Jonas Noreika: Nazi Collaborator or National Hero? A Test for Lithuania
Ethnic Intolerance Against Christians in Kosovostan
Countries Destroyed by Hillary Clinton
Suddenly Europe is an Open Question – ‘A Nazi EU?’
Who was US Special Representative to Kosovo Frank G. Wisner?
The World According to ISIS
Israel Stamps Approval on Europe’s Largest Post-WWII Ethnic Cleansing
Golan Heights and the Greater Israel Project
FOLLOW US ON OUR SOCIAL PLATFORMS
Share