Croatian Schooling ‘Leaves Pupils Ill-Informed’ About WWII Regime

Hits: 610

Many Croatian schoolchildren know little about crimes committed under the country’s World War II-era fascist regime – but experts claim that the revisionist political environment is more to blame than the education system.

The former Jasenovac concentration camp, one of the most important World War II historical sites in the former Yugoslavia, is around 110 kilometres from Croatia’s capital Zagreb – an hour and a half by bus.

But no schools in Zagreb sent their pupils on trips to the Jasenovac Memorial Site last year.

Out of a total of 909 primary schools in Croatia, only seven of them organised visits for pupils to Jasenovac in 2018, while only eight of the country’s 401 high schools did so.

As the trend towards historical revisionism continues in Croatia and the crimes committed by the country’s WWII fascist Ustasa regime are often publicly downplayed, children in Croatian primary and secondary schools do not have many opportunities to become familiar with what happened under Ustasa rule from 1941 to 1945.

Miljenko Hajdarovic, a high school teacher from the town of Cakovec, told BIRN that teachers are only obliged to devote a minimum of one school period (45 minutes) each year to the topic of the Ustasa-led WWII-era Independent State of Croatia, NDH, which established the Jasenovac concentration camp – although individual teachers can devote more time to the subject if they wish, as Hajdarovic does.

Pupils’ knowledge of the period is patchy, experts believe. According to research conducted by Croatian NGOs led by the GOOD initiative in 2015, 48 per cent of senior secondary-school students were not sure if the NDH was a fascist creation, and about 22 per cent thought it was not.

Anja Gvozdanovic, one of the authors of the research, told BIRN that this uncertainty largely stems from the post-war socio-political context in which the students have grown up and been educated.

“Since the 1990s, the state leadership has opened the door wide to Ustasa-ism in the form of rhetoric, symbols and even cultural elements, and the unquestionable public condemnation of the NDH period has more often than not been absent,” she said.

Textbooks identify dictatorship

According to the Jasenovac Memorial Site, the Ustasa killed over 83,000 Serbs, Jews, Roma and anti-fascists at the camp between 1941 and 1945, when the NDH government lost power.

BIRN analysed four separate textbooks for schoolchildren at primary and secondary schools and found that they all presented the historical facts related to the NDH in a similar way. All of them pointed out that NDH was an unrecognised, dictatorial state which was dependent for leadership on Nazi Germany and fascist Italy.

“Even though it was called ‘independent’, in nearly all the important issues from the beginning to the end of its existence, it depended on Italy and Germany,” says the textbook for the 4th grade of secondary school, written by Hrvoje Petric and Jaksa Raguz.

The textbooks explain the racial policies of the Ustasa movement and mention the official number of victims at Jasenovac, although some of them say that Serbia tried to inflate the death toll “to create a myth of the genocidal [character] of Croats”, according to the Petric and Raguz textbook.

A primary school textbook by Kresimir Erdelja and Igor Stojakovic notes however that “on the Croatian side, there were attempts to reduce the number of victims or even claims that there were no crimes in the [Ustasa-run] camps, but that the only victims were those who died a natural death”.

Teachers who spoke to BIRN said however that textbooks are not the major problem with teaching on WWII history.

Hajdarovic said that another serious issue was insufficient knowledge among history teachers themselves, as well as outdated teaching methods such as learning by rote.

“Official documents such as curricula or textbooks are the least of our problems. A much bigger problem is how the Ustasa and the NDH are taught in numerous [university] history departments, or what teachers actually teach in the classroom,” he said.

“We are still focused on what information the students will learn by heart, and will forget before the end of the same grade, instead of focusing on the development of historical thinking, researching and critical thinking,” he added.

In the coming weeks, a new history curriculum is to be introduced, and experts have already expressed fears that it will be worse that what exists now – less autonomy will be given to teachers, and students will be more burdened by the obligation to memorise facts. There has also been speculation that lessons on the 1990s ‘Homeland War’ will take up a third of the lessons dedicated to the 20th Century.

In terms of the deficiencies of teaching on WWII, Hajdarovic suggested that it was significant that the Education and Teacher Training Agency, a public institution, organizes an annual meeting with teachers on the topic of the Holocaust which is limited to just 50 participants.

“If only history teachers come to this seminar, it would take more than 30 years for everyone to go through that education. But since various subject teachers are involved, it seems that we will need at least a double that, or at least a century,” Hajdarovic said.

Students and teachers alike are only superficially acquainted with the suffering of the Roma people in the Ustasa camps; only recently was the first handbook on the issue for teachers published.

The handbook, entitled ‘Roma in the Second World War and in the Independent State of Croatia, 1941-1945’, was produced after an exhibition about the Roma was displayed at five schools in Croatia.

“Teachers and students’ reactions to the exhibition were positive, we had calls to set it up in other schools, but unfortunately there was no money [to fund it],” Ivo Pejakovic, the director of the Jasenovac Memorial Site, who was one of the authors, told a presentation of the handbook in Zagreb this month.

Students surprised by brutality

Pejakovic said that there are so few school trips to the Jasenovac Memorial Site because there is no ministerial funding on offer, unlike school trips to Vukovar, the scene of a devastating 1990s siege by Belgrade’s forces, which are funded by the Veterans’ Ministry.

A two-day visit to the town of Vukovar has been compulsory for eighth-grade pupils as part of the school curriculum since 2016.

“So [the organisation of trips to Jasenovac] is all about the enthusiasm of some professors and teachers working in schools,” Pejakovic said.

One of the teachers who has such enthusiasm is Hajdarovic, who often takes students on excursions to Jasenovac because he sees field trips as a unique opportunity for learning. “I use field trips to Jasenovac [as a basis to teach] the whole story about the events during the Second World War in Croatia,” he explained.

In the spring of 1945, after became evident that the Nazi Germany and the Ustasa would be defeated, the camp and the village of Jasenovac were demolished and burnt to the ground in order to cover up the traces of the crimes committed.

That means the memorial area at Jasenovac is not like the biggest Nazi camp, Auschwitz in Poland, where visitors can see barracks, gas chambers, crematoria, prisoners’ rooms and other original or partially-reconstructed buildings.

The Jasenovac memorial complex has a huge monument to the victims, while the original sites of buildings and execution sites within the former camp itself are marked by earth mounds and hollows.

But Jasenovac does have a museum and education centre, and assistant curators work with visiting school groups. At the education centre, children are told how, for example, renowned inventor Nikola Tesla’s cousin was killed at Jasenovac, so that the pupils can relate to someone whose name they know.

“Students are usually surprised by the brutality of events and it is difficult for them to imagine that something like that was possible. The most common questions were how the perpetrators could engage in a crime, what the detainees did wrong, and whether they provided resistance,” said Hajdarovic.

Igor Despot, a teacher from one of Zagreb’s primary schools, expressed regret that he has never taken his pupils on a school trip to Jasenovac.

“I never tried it because I assumed that there would be resistance in school and in the local community. Unfortunately, in most of Croatia, there is no possibility of ‘real teaching’ because publicly-supported revisionists have done their job. I accept part of the responsibility,” Despot told BIRN.

Role models outside school

Teachers and campaigners also suggest that children’s views of Croatia’s WWII history are affected by what they see and hear outside school – including the open public use of Ustasa symbols and slogan by role models like footballers.

“A good example is [Croatian football star] Josip Simunic who shouted [Ustasa slogan] ‘Za dom spremni’ after a match on the microphone, as well as [right-wing pop star Marko Perkovic] Thompson, with whom Ustasa iconography is frequently linked, who performed at a reception for the [Croatian national football] team after the World Cup,” Nikola Puharic, a historian and a member of the Youth Initiative for Human Rights NGO, told BIRN.

Some young Croatians revere the Ustasa regime and use hate speech targeting minorities, particularly Serbs; some also display their nationalist views on T-shirts with right-wing messages.

In May last year, some pupils from a Zagreb high school wore T-shirts with the slogan “Za dΩ [the symbol for ‘ohm’] spremni” – a reference to Ustasa salute ‘Za dom spremni’ – during a graduation celebration.

There has also been a series of books published in recent years that deny or downplay crimes committed by the Ustasa regime; their authors are often featured by Croatian media.

“We live in times that are really marked by the concepts of alternative truth or ‘post-truth’ in society and politics. Children live in such a society; such materials are available in news, the on [state television channel] HRT, and on websites,” Hajdarovic said.

Pejakovic believes that these works have a negative influence on the whole of society, and that this trickles down to schoolchildren.

“One should not forget the importance of what students learn about different interpretations of history at home, because a family member – a father, a mother, a grandparent – may sometimes be a greater authority for a child than a history teacher,” he explained.


Originally published on 2019-01-31

Author: Anja Vladisavljevic

Source: Balkan Insight

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”]

 
READ MORE!
Fake News Laundered 1950-53 US Slaughter of 3 Million Koreans to Maintain US 1%’s Rule of South
40 yrs after Prez Teddy Roosevelt gave Korea to brutal Jap Empire in return for its recognition of Philippines as US Territory, US invaded Korea long AFTER Jap surrender, overthrowing its Korean  gov., cutting it in two parts, installing a US dictatorship in its south now documented to have murdered 100,000 of its own citizens. What Western media calls ‘Communist China,’ is a China governed by its Communist Party since 1949, and lying just across the Yalu River from a Korea, which between 1950 and 1953, was merciless bombed by the US, both north and south, all cities and towns of ...
READ MORE
The 9/11 Attacks: Understanding Al-Qaeda and the Domestic Fall-Out from America’s Secret War
With American military personnel now entering service who were not even alive on 9/11, this seems an appropriate time to reexamine the events of September 11, 2001 – the opaque motives for the attacks, the equally opaque motives for the counter-offensive by the United States and its allies known as the Global War on Terror, and the domestic fall-out for Americans concerned about the erosion of their civil liberties on the homefront.Before venturing further, it’s worth noting that our appraisal is not among the most common explanations. Osama bin Laden, his lieutenants at Al-Qaeda, and the men who carried out ...
READ MORE
Trump the Great
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 ...
READ MORE
Nazi Collaborator Greeting Becomes Official Ukraine Army Salute
August 24th, Ukrainian Independence Day, will see a ceremony introducing the country's new official army salute, as prescribed by Ukraine’s Presidential decree: Glory to Ukraine! - Glory to the Heroes! "We have consulted with the Minister of Defense, National Security and Defense Council, Government and I have decided that starting from August 24 these words will be heard for the first time as part of the official military parade ceremony on the Independence Day of Ukraine," Petro Poroshenko was quoted saying on the Ukraine President's official site. Glory to Ukraine! - Glory to the Heroes! is a slogan of the UPA, the ...
READ MORE
Warning! Neocons are Close to Starting a Nuclear War with Russia
We, the undersigned, are Russians living and working in the USA. We have been watching with increasing anxiety as the current US and NATO policies have set us on an extremely dangerous collision course with the Russian Federation, as well as with China. Many respected, patriotic Americans, such as Paul Craig Roberts, Stephen Cohen, Philip Giraldi, Ray McGovern and many others have been issuing warnings of a looming a Third World War. But their voices have been all but lost among the din of a mass media that is full of deceptive and inaccurate stories that characterize the Russian economy ...
READ MORE
The Lies that are Used for Denying the Legitimacy of Crimea’s Breakaway
Crimea’s breakaway from Ukraine and rejoining Russia is treated in the US-and-allied world as being justification for the explosive re-emergence in 2014 of America’s Cold War NATO alliance as being a restored war against Russia; and, so, whether or not that ‘justification’ is truthful is the paramount geopolitical issue in our era; and it will therefore be discussed and (via the links here) documented in this article.Though international law is generally an unenforced mess that is interpretable far more by partisanship than by any clearly applicable principles, the US Government does quite blatantly violate it on a routine basis, by ...
READ MORE
Kosovostan – Islamization of EuroChristian Kosovo: Photo Evidence
Photo evidence of a rapid Islamization of EuroChristian southern province of the Republic of Serbia - Kosovo-Metochia. The province is occupied by NATO gangsters in June 1999 and since that time the province is experiencing massive destruction of Serbian Christian Orthodox churches and monasteries followed by building of new mosques by Muslim Albanians. Financial support for Islamization of Kosovo-Metochia is of three sources: 1) Muslim Albanian diaspora living & working in Western countries; 2) The Wahhabites of Saudi Arabia; and 3) Other Sunni Islamic countries especially Turkey. During the last 15 years there were more built mosques than during 400 years of Ottoman ...
READ MORE
The Roots of the Current Crisis in the Middle East
It is now fully five years since the greatest upheavals in the modern history of the Arab World started in Tunis. Always impressed by the latest events, we tend to forget the deep roots of the current violent struggle. But unless we confront the causes, there is little chance that the symptoms will be healed. (A partial version of this article in Spanish was published earlier in Free Haifa) The wave of refugees that has reached Europe and the terror attacks in Paris reminded many people in Europe and beyond of the crisis in our region – but at the same time ...
READ MORE
Broken Promise: NATO Expansion and the End of the Cold War
IntroductionSome have tried to debunk the view that the West implicitly or explicitly promised Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO would not expand east after German reunification and dissolution of the Warsaw Pact). These claims are misleading and obfuscate the historical record of at least a clear understanding, if not promise that there should be no NATO expansion eastward in any way, shape or form. At the very least the West made a implied commitment not to expand NATO east. It is more precise to say, however, that the West gave an explicit verbal, that is, unwritten guarantee not to ...
READ MORE
The History of Yugoslavia: Srebrenica and the Ratko Mladić Verdict
While Zimbabwe was changing under various inexorable forces of power, the more sterile surrounds of The Hague and the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia offered the scene for a conviction.The “Serb Warlord” or the “Butcher of Bosnia”, as he has been termed in various circles, had finally received a verdict few were doubting. One of the doubters was, naturally, the man himself, Ratko Mladić, who accused the judicial officers of incurable mendacity.Of the 11 charges levelled at Ratko Mladić, he was acquitted of one – genocide in Bosnian municipalities outside Srebrenica. Others covered genocide, war crimes and crimes ...
READ MORE
What’s Behind Time Magazine’s Putin Demonizing?
“Russia Wants to Undermine Faith in the U.S. Election. Don’t Fall For It.” Thus reads the cover ofTime magazine with a photo of Vladimir Putin on the cover staring at me from shelves as I sit in an airport. Genuinely curious, I check out Massimo Calabresi’s article online. Of course, U.S. elections are almost completely unverifiable and do not even pretend to meet international standards. Jimmy Carter doesn’t even try to monitor them because there’s no way to do it. Much voting is done on machines that simply must be trusted on faith. Whether they accurately count the votes entered is ...
READ MORE
Paul Craig Roberts’ Address to the International Conference on the European/Russian Crisis Created by Washington
Paul Craig Roberts’ address to the Conference on the European/Russian Crisis, Delphi, Greece, June 20-21, 2015 
Paul Craig Roberts, formerly Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy, Associate Editor, Wall Street Journal, Senior Research Fellow, Stanford University, William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. The United States has pursued empire since early in its history, but it was the Soviet collapse in 1991 that enabled Washington to see the entire world as its oyster The collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the rise of the neoconservatives to power and influence ...
READ MORE
Threats to World Peace and America’s Imperial Wars: Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea
Afghanistan has gained lead story status in the western corporate and government-sponsored media outlets again for the wrong reasons. This Central Asia state has been at war since the late 1970s when the United States under the then President Jimmy Carter developed a counter-insurgency program to remove the socialist-oriented administration ruling from Kabul. Of course today there is largely no mention in these same press agencies about the organization, training, funding and diplomatic cover provided by Washington through the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Pentagon and State Department for al-Qaeda (the core) which facilitated the armed struggle waged against the Soviet-backed system ...
READ MORE
The Caliphate of Trump
They are the extremists. If you need proof, look no further than the Afghan capital, Kabul, where the latest wave of suicide bombings has proven devastating. Recently, for instance, a fanatic set off his explosives among a group of citizens lining up outside a government office to register to vote in upcoming elections. At least 57 people died, including 22 women and eight children. ISIS’s branch in Afghanistan proudly took responsibility for that callous act -- but one not perhaps quite as callous as the ISIS suicide bomber who, in August 2016, took out a Kurdish wedding in Turkey, missing the bride and groom but killing at ...
READ MORE
Pearl Harbor Day and the Fantasy of US Victimhood
The United States is indisputably the world’s most frequent and extensive wager of aggressive war, largest occupier of foreign lands, and biggest weapons dealer to the world. But when the United States peeps out from under the blankets where it lies shivering with fear, it sees itself as an innocent victim. It has no holiday to keep any victorious battle in everyone’s mind. It has a holiday to remember the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor — and now also one, perhaps holier still, to recall, not the “shock and awe” destruction of Baghdad, but the crimes of September 11, 2001, ...
READ MORE
Separatism in Kosovo and the Caucasus: Similarities and Differences
After February 2008 when Kosovo Albanian-dominated Parliament proclaimed Kosovo independence (without organizing referendum) with obvious US diplomatic support (unilateral recognition) with explanation that the Kosovo case is unique in the World (i.e., it will be not repeated again) one can ask the question: is the problem of the southern Serbian province of Kosovo-Metochia really unique and surely unrepeatable in some other parts of the World as the US administration was trying to convince the rest of the international community?[1] Domino effect in international relations The consequences of recognition of Kosovo independence by bigger part of the international community are already (and going ...
READ MORE
The U.S. War Crimes against North Korea: Sinchon Massacre by the U.S. Military Exposed
SINCHON COUNTY, North Korea–Over the past few years the Korean people have been able to expose the truth about a number of atrocities by Washington’s military forces during the 1950–53 Korean War. Many others, however, remain covered up and receive virtually no mention outside the Korean peninsula. One such massacre took place in Sinchon, a city located in what is today North Korea.During the Socialist Workers Party and Young Socialists leadership delegation’s visit to the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK), we toured the Sinchon Museum, which documents what north Koreans consider the worst atrocity to have taken place in ...
READ MORE
Russian Military Interventions Throughout the World since 1945
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & 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
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
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 ...
READ MORE
Europe’s “Little Guantanamo”: Why the U.S. Wants Serbia to Give Up Kosovo
The U.S. military base in Kosovo was constructed in 1999 without consulting with the government of Serbia and is the largest U.S. military base built outside of the U.S. since the Vietnam War. The site was apparently used for extraordinary renditions and has been referred to as a “little Guantanamo”. This is a very little known fact as NATO, the U.S., the European Union and the West are in the process of forcing Serbia to effectively give up Kosovo, and indicates the real motive for the West’s support of the Kosovo Liberation Army which it had deemed a terrorist organization ...
READ MORE
Fake News Laundered 1950-53 US Slaughter of 3 Million Koreans to Maintain US 1%’s Rule of South
The 9/11 Attacks: Understanding Al-Qaeda and the Domestic Fall-Out from America’s Secret War
Trump the Great
Nazi Collaborator Greeting Becomes Official Ukraine Army Salute
Warning! Neocons are Close to Starting a Nuclear War with Russia
The Lies that are Used for Denying the Legitimacy of Crimea’s Breakaway
Kosovostan – Islamization of EuroChristian Kosovo: Photo Evidence
The Roots of the Current Crisis in the Middle East
Broken Promise: NATO Expansion and the End of the Cold War
The History of Yugoslavia: Srebrenica and the Ratko Mladić Verdict
What’s Behind Time Magazine’s Putin Demonizing?
Paul Craig Roberts’ Address to the International Conference on the European/Russian Crisis Created by Washington
Threats to World Peace and America’s Imperial Wars: Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea
The Caliphate of Trump
Pearl Harbor Day and the Fantasy of US Victimhood
Separatism in Kosovo and the Caucasus: Similarities and Differences
The U.S. War Crimes against North Korea: Sinchon Massacre by the U.S. Military Exposed
Russian Military Interventions Throughout the World since 1945
Pseudo-Democracy, Reparations, and Actual Democracy
Europe’s “Little Guantanamo”: Why the U.S. Wants Serbia to Give Up Kosovo

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu